The original mission of TSZ, as intended by the U.K.’s Dr. Elizabeth Liddle, who promoted the site to apostate peers & ‘skeptics,’ often at anti-religious online forums, lists & discussion boards, has passed its due date. She & they (many of the early people who joined) shared the experience in common of being ‘expelled’ (banned) from the IDist blog Uncommon Descent (UD) & to have their own sandbox to critique UD was the main mission of TSZ. There was no ‘inspirational’ core that Liddle offered upon departure from her own site, but returning to it in November to talk mainly about UD again could only be a fool’s errand.
My argument here is that UD is by now pretty much outdated. UD is generally seen as oddball &/or gutter-level IDist discussion, far adrift from serious conversation on the topic. It is shrinking in relevance now year on year. It thus isn’t really worth ‘reporting’ on or ‘opposing’ UD at TSZ anymore, though that IDist site was the early focus of TSZ & what brought many (most) of the early participants together. Is UD really worth time for ‘skeptics’ nowadays?
More importantly, the new blog Peaceful Science (PS) has recently surpassed BioLogos in terms of daily & hourly regular traffic & far outreaches the topics that UD used to breach. It has actual scientists, elderly or retired ‘science & religion/worldview’ people who contribute often a LOT, woolly protestants & ‘unitarian’ (or maybe just one who posts as much as 5 people), pedantic ‘natural theologians’, & S. Joshua Swamidass actually just called one person a ‘prophet’ as a welcome greeting. PS even ‘welcomes’ atheists (Swamidass has made it a point to defend Freedom From Religion Foundation proponent who is a self-described ‘militant atheist’ against multiple Christians) & agnostics & patiently fields all legitimate ‘scientific’ questions. Are you skeptical of ‘Peaceful Science’ and a ‘Science of Adam’ as proclaimed by quasi-creationists, ideology-starved geneticists & fence-sitting ‘reformers’?
Well, regarding atheists, that is, they are apparently welcome at PS until they behave like a recent atheist visitor from TSZ who was banned there & subsequently also temporarily suspended here for making a post about PS & Swamidass that violated site rules. Nevertheless, one of the 2 atheist/agnostic TSZ moderators has started to post there, showing that TSZ has already begun taking an interest in PS. Indeed, I encourage more people from here to go there to participate as it is much more lively & interesting than here or UD.
What are the atheists/agnostics here waiting for when you can go discuss with ‘scientists’ (the ones you count as having the ‘most real’ or ‘most valuable’ knowledge) there too?
The author of this writing was likewise banned years ago from Uncommon Descent & considers it in hindsight & with distance now as one of the historically filthiest instruments of the IDM, though few from the DI post there anymore. ENV would quickly descend to the same level if it opened comments, which is why it doesn’t. UD, however, is much less active & important now than it was 3-7 years ago, after being founded by once-ID Poster Boy, then disgraced retiree, now reinvented ‘intelligence’ apologist, William Dembski.
At this point I will not discuss my distant personal relationship with Swamidass, only to say that I find his views highly distorted by an insidious ideology that he simply refuses to acknowledge openly & thus tosses himself into fits about each time we meet in public. Such philosophistry has a cure with time, Joshua! Nevertheless, I am quite pleased to see Swamidass’ founding & participation at Peaceful Science during the summer months. He has held back on Patreon for now (bombast necessitated he set up the page at least, right?), but will surely be looking for a sponsor to become the mantle he seems intently desirous to build for himself as ‘5th Voice’. If he keeps this up, he *will* find a sponsor soon, though TSZ won’t ever find a sponsor because it is largely valueless & merely ‘skeptical’ of what is full of value and good in comparison. I will continue to watch with interest as Dr. Swamidass is putting forward a position that looks like it will be thoroughly crushed by scholars and scientists alike, across the spectrum of atheist to theist. That is, if ever it enters the ‘actual’ arena that he has only pretended to have entered already; the arena of ‘strictly natural science’ with his almost Feyerabendian anarchism & scientistic views of biblical/scientific ‘Adam & Eve’. It’s a rather unique combination of views & more importantly attitude, that in its current discombobulated state is destined to collapse or just constantly ‘re-invent’ & ‘reform’ itself (as Luther’s shadows lately darken with discontent over PS & BioLogos).
This has all happened just in the past 2 years, with Swamidass loudly clawing at the hearts of Francis Collins’ BioLogos with his racism scandal involving Deborah Haarsma, Jim Stump & Dennis Venema that continues to rock Swamidass’ tense relationship with their all-white leadership. Three years ago the guy didn’t exist on the scene; now with tenure in hand he wants to genealogically & genetically relativise ‘Adam & Eve’ as loudly & defiantly of Christian orthodoxy as he can muster backed by naturalised authority & laboratory money. Thus, he continues to feud with BioLogos about how ostracised by fellow evangelicals he feels himself to be, while acting just as evangelically as ever before, armed to proselytize his own sketchy & often-changing personal ‘confessions’ as a ‘practising evolutionary scientist.’
At the same time, Seattle quakes its protective, sheltered voice with Discovery Institute Senior Fellows Ann Gauger & Paul Nelson now partially engaging people at PS too. Hurrah, Joshua! IDists are usually quite simple opponents in debate. Yet they claim they are not & puff up the DIs PR machine to protest otherwise. Still, when it really comes down to arguments, ‘Intelligent Design’ the way the DI means it & its political & (natural) theological proponents have aimed it, isn’t much to take apart, easy to set aside & quick to move safely beyond, though it still snares some people. Even for Abrahamic monotheists, who already accept the theological ‘design argument,’ it is not that difficult to politely & properly put away from polite conversation the sincere, often kind, usually earnest appeals of either naively misinformed, or chronically double-talking IDist authors from the DI.
With the recent arrival of the IDM’s gentle, wordy dragon Eddie Robinson at PS via retired MD & amateur social psychologist Jon Garvey’s blog of protest-oriented theological musings, fireworks seem set to ensue. This is largely because Eddie Robinson displays DI’s hyper-conservative fear-concocted ‘Expelled Syndrome,’ a psycho-social complex that several leaders of the IDM have developed, though Dr. Garvey leaves them all out of his analyses as ‘still reforming good guys’ & thus not actually in need of healing from Expelled Syndrome at all. Swamidass obviously welcomes too ‘non-denominational’ religious studies iconoclastic IDism as part of the promotion of defiant peace-making. They’ll have to do a LOT of off-site or private scripting to find a ‘middle road’ among them. Let us hope that together they can appeal to a greater good & find a better way forward than the warring & conflict language Swamidass so often returns to, using repetitive conflict-oriented, almost militaristic language (he gladly accepts self-described ‘militants’ at his site, which shocked this Canadian) in order to try to promote peace. I guess USAmericans have their own vision of ‘peace’ that most of the world simply does not accept & which makes it a rather difficult conversation given that most of the coordinated action on this topic is still USA-centred.
As a sociologist of this conversation for @15 years, I foresee major problems ahead at PS between George & Patrick, Eddie & Patrick, Eddie & George & between Swamidass & his embrace of evangelicalistic institutional power. Swamidass’ low-level philosophical relativism will ruin many opportunities that could have been achieved had he not started with unrealistic expectations placed upon himself & ‘Peaceful Science.’ There is Jeremiah 6:14 and yet Swamidass tries valiantly to be a peace-monger in a war-drenched, hyper-competitive nation of people. Again, he will deny all of this because it is outside of what he was ‘scientifically’ trained to understand, nevertheless, Swamidass’ ‘charming’ (word fumbling & stumbling) relativism may indeed be exactly the opening people here need to enter a conversation that has oftentimes eluded them. Why not visit PS to try it? Mung certainly won’t be waiting to test his IDist faith out there, right?
Swamidass seems to consider his own personality & family story as a force of Adamic empowerment. His desire is for people to sit up on the ‘Empty Chair’ he is showing everyone from right next to that Chair, in order to provide what he considers (after the BioLogos racism fiasco in which Swamidass basically dismissed himself) a much-needed ‘5th Voice’ – true Justice delivered by what he himself coined as ‘the Swamidass Model’ – among a larger cohort of mainly Millennial USAmericans. This is the ‘same approach, but different’ from most evangelical creationists, while at the same time Swamidass is vying for mainly evangelicals’ time, attention & missionary support. Swamidass sets himself up like a protestant guru of ‘genetic/genealogical Adam & Eve’ discourse, as if his message should be pertinent not only for every scholar in the academy, but specifically for non-evangelical Christians, Muslims, Jews & even Unitarians & Buddhists to embrace & celebrate GAE.
The emergence of Swamidass’ loud, ambitious & currently active position certainly has added many surprises to the conversation involving natural evolution, divine Creation & ideological IDism. I will be watching Swamidass’ new site curiously at a distance while working on other things. TSZers, they are inviting you there to engage ‘them’ in quite a new way. How many skeptics will dare challenge their skepsis with Swamidass & co.?