“Serious universities aren’t concerned with the angst of evangelicals who fear science”

That’s what the IDM’s ‘Timaeus’ says over at UD. What do people here think?

http://www.uncommondescent.com/christian-darwinism/unlucky-thirteen-last-year-terrible-for-evolution-says-karl-giberson/#comment-487951

 

[Speculative allegations about Timaeus’ background deleted by Lizzie]

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23 thoughts on ““Serious universities aren’t concerned with the angst of evangelicals who fear science”

  1. So far as I know, Timaeus is correct on this particular point: the evangelicals who are anxious about evolution just aren’t taken seriously by real theologians.

    His claim was that

    What evangelicals who follow these issues on the internet don’t realize is that Collins, Falk, Giberson, Lamoureux, Venema, etc. belong to a “shadow academic world” when it comes to theology and science. Their works are talked about only in the *evangelical* academic world. No one at Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Toronto, Melbourne, Paris, Oxford, Edinburgh, etc. reads Giberson or Collins or Falk on theology and science. They might read Polkinghorne, or Robert Russell, or Owen Gingerich, but the BioLogos crew is simply not on the intellectual radar. The knowledge of theology isn’t there, the historical knowledge of Christianity isn’t there, and the philosophical depth isn’t there.

    At my current institution, there’s a department of theology that offers one class called “religion and science”. The authors read in that class are: Francisco Ayala, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Daniel Dennett, Owen Flanagan, John Haught, Laurence Krauss, Kenneth Miller, Ronald Numbers, Alvin Plantinga, John Polkinghorne, Michael Ruse, and the Dalai Lama.

    That seems perfectly correct to me. What’s the objection? Or is this just your personal vendetta against Timaeus because you don’t believe he has the right to post under a pseudonym?

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  2. Methinks Gregory doth protest too much.

    Seems Timaeus’ critique of pseudo-intellectuals posing as experts in areas they know next to nothing about hit a little too close to home.

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  3. “The authors read in that class are: Francisco Ayala, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Daniel Dennett, Owen Flanagan, John Haught, Laurence Krauss, Kenneth Miller, Ronald Numbers, Alvin Plantinga, John Polkinghorne, Michael Ruse, and the Dalai Lama.”

    Francisco Ayala, John Haught, Kenneth Miller, Ronald Numbers, Alvin Plantinga and John Polkinghorne are featured on BioLogos. So are Robert Russell and Owen Gingerich, who Timaeus has said he has not read. Ted Davis criticised Timaeus for not having read ‘theistic evolution’ (note the lack of ‘-ism’ added) works when he visited ASA under Davis’ protection. That is directly relevant to this thread.

    So, what’s your point, KN?

    Francis Collins is probably the most well-known scientist living today in the USA. Human Genome Project – rings a bell? Calling that a “’shadow academic world’ when it comes to theology and science,” is not just absurd, it is either plain ignorant or deceptive. But that’s Timaeus IDist propaganda for you, KN, which now you seem to be defending as an atheist-agnostic.

    “the evangelicals who are anxious about evolution just aren’t taken seriously by real theologians.”

    Which ‘real theologians’ do you mean, KN? Please be specific. Thanks.

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  4. I’d say that the cited comment by Timaeus is a pretty good assessment of Giberson. I’m not aware that Giberson has ever claimed to be a theologian. The statements that say he is are probably just marketing hype, over which he has no control.

    I’m not sure of phoodoo’s criticism in comment #15 (same UD post). He does not provide a link to the HuffPo article that he is commenting on. I’d say that it is fine for Giberson to point out that the scientists who criticize evolution are mostly not biologists. But if Giberson actually said that those scientists should just shut up, then that would be hypocrisy.

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  5. Perhaps Gregory could provide us with a sampling of serious criticism of evolution, so we could judge whether there are any cattle to accompany the hat.

    I keep reading about the dangers of evolutionism without seeing any examples.

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  6. It seems a perfectly legitimate statement.
    Of course it explains why Timaeus and ID are largely ignored (after having been considered, and rejected as the creationism it is), while Giberson and Biologos are regarded as doing legitimate work in defending science.

    Surely it can never be as important as attacking evolution with made-up numbers while providing no evidence for design or a designer, but we can’t all be Timaeus.

    Glen Davidson

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  7. Gregory: Francis Collins is probably the most well-known scientist living today in the USA. Human Genome Project – rings a bell? Calling that a “’shadow academic world’ when it comes to theology and science,” is not just absurd, it is either plain ignorant or deceptive.

    My take is that you are misreading Timaeus.

    As I read him, he did not say anything about a shadow academic world when it comes to science, and he did not say anything about a shadow academic world when it comes to theology. As I see it, his reference to “shadow academic world” was intended to be with regard to theology and science taken as a single form of study of the two in combination.

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  8. Neil Rickert: As I see it, his reference to “shadow academic world” was intended to be with regard to theology and science taken as a single form of study of the two in combination.

    And, more specifically, of people who write about “science and religion” without a sophisticated understanding of the history of science or of theology.

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  9. My take is that you are misreading Timaeus.

    As I read him, he did not say anything about a shadow academic world when it comes to science, and he did not say anything about a shadow academic world when it comes to theology. As I see it, his reference to “shadow academic world” was intended to be with regard to theology and science taken as a single form of study of the two in combination.

    It’s more ambiguous and target-shifting than that, though. To be sure, the most immediate context puts theology and science together, but he goes on to another (but clearly continuing) comment that ignores the “importance” of doing so, concluding with this tripe:

    Meanwhile, much smarter people by far, people like Nagel and Plantinga and Monton and Flew and others, are telling the world that ID isn’t creationism and that the world should give it a serious hearing. Giberson, Falk, etc. are simply going to be left behind.

    Nagel, Monton, and Flew are great at discussing theology and science together? No, he doesn’t really care about that, other than as an illegitimate attack upon Giberson, one that no longer matters when he’s praising his heroes with their dubious understanding of science.

    Complain that Giberson is no theologian, then praise people who are at least as lacking in knowledge of theology as Giberson.

    The big complaint I have against Giberson is that I can’t see how 2013 was at all bad for evolution. Darwin’s Doubt? Who cares, it’s just another apologetic book to sell to people who won’t read it and likely wouldn’t understand it if they did. Meanwhile, creationism seems to be slowly losing adherents, with no indication that 2013 is any exception.

    Glen Davidson

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  10. I would say that creationism is not losing its true believers, but the middle is eroding.

    The Behe/Demsky wing of ID is giving way to the fine tuning wing.

    It is becoming more obvious that evolution encompasses the correct reading of history, and that intervention is an unnecessary bag. What’s left of ID is the assertion that the history of life is in some way prefigured in physical constants.

    Universal homunculus.

    Is that evolutionism?

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  11. I followed BioLogos (notice the “L”, Gregory?) right from it’s early days. In fact, I first met Gregory as a fellow commenter there. He had moderation problems there as I recall. The site seemed to become less and less high-profile after Collins left although there were some interesting OPs the steam seemed to go out of it and I’ve not followed it for a while.

    I think it was Lincoln Phipps at UD that linked to Jerry Coyne’s blog where I followed a link from Karl Giberson in his article where he says

    I was forced to communicate and even meet with hostile external constituents to defend well-established science against people who knew nothing about it beyond the challenges it posed to their interpretation of the Bible. One such watchdog group, the Reformed Nazarenes, rejoiced when I finally left the college.

    Following the link Giberson gives, makes me realise this is not just some academic difference of opinion. It is a real political struggle that is hard to appreciate, as an outsider, and easy to underestimate.

    ETA links

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  12. Whats a non serious university?
    I am evangelical and don’t see why universities are relevant except as a focus for the small number of people who study origin subjects.
    Its all about accomplishment and intelligence in these subjects.
    That is making your case and debunking the others case.
    Universities only matter to give authority or credibility to conclusions in subjects.
    However easily they fail at this.
    Nothing will stop the serious criticism of certain conclusions in certain subjects touching on origin matters.
    Evangelical YEC get credit for a long rejection but these days its non evangelical ID thinkers that are quickly bringing the demise of the old errors.
    This forum exists because of this reality of a serious threat.
    Evolutionism can’t take a cage fight and is still clinging to counting heads of those well degree-ed.
    I don’t think 15 years will pass before its over for evolution as a theory of biology as it is now.
    This year already finds a big debate between the famous Mr Nye and Ken Ham.
    It shows there is a threat in the land and evolutionists everywhere are scrambling for to do.

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  13. I’m unclear at to what the to-do is about. No, Giberson and the BioLogos folks are not academic theologians. They’re engaged in combating anti-science beliefs in the evangelical church. Others who are involved in the same struggle (whether at Harvard or at little no-account universities or even, if such a thing be conceivable, not at any university at all) will probably be familiar with them; those not involved in that struggle are less likely to know most of them.

    One might argue as a Christian that combating error in the church is a rather more important function for a theologian than getting published in the Review of Metaphysics or noticed at Harvard, but we mustn’t upend people’s value systems, I suppose.

    What exactly are we supposed to be arguing about?

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  14. Robert Byers:

    I don’t think 15 years will pass before its over for evolution as a theory of biology as it is now.

    Given that people have been saying this since Darwin first published, at what point will you accept you are wrong?

    20 years?
    50 years?
    Never?

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  15. Aside from gossip about who’s sleeping with whom, is this going anywhere? Why should we care about academic infighting.

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  16. I think that anyone deeply concerned with the influence of right-wing evangelicals on American politics, and esp. the role they play in shaping science policy, should be basically informed about the issues that GIberson talks about — how right-wing evangelicalism has put itself in an impossible position with regard to science, and how young evangelicals are inculcated with a “science vs. religion” mindset.

    But beyond that, I don’t know if the specific details about the players involved are all that important.

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  17. Yes, but evangelicals have been on the warpath against evolution in the U.S. for 90 years. They Won all the battles until Sputnik. My 1962 high school biology textbook doesn’t mention evolution — neither the word nor the concept. No mention of change over time whatsoever.

    Geology is not taught in most high schools, even though it provides a fair number of high paying jobs, and is useful in evaluating construction sites.

    I’m not interested in university politics. I want to know what Gregory thinks is wrong with evolutionism. Why is it wrong? What is the damage? What opportunities missed?

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  18. petrushka: I want to know what Gregory thinks is wrong with evolutionism. Why is it wrong? What is the damage? What opportunities missed?

    If you’re asking Gregory for specifics about his objections to evolutionary theory, you’re in for a long wait. If you’re asking Gregory for specifics about by the criteria whereby he distinguishes between evolution-qua-theory and evolution-qua-ideology (“evolutionism”), you’re in for a long wait If you’re asking Gregory for polemics about “evolutionism”, long on invective and short on argument, he’ll be more than happy to oblige.

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  19. petrushka,

    Geology is not taught in most high schools, even though it provides a fair number of high paying jobs, and is useful in evaluating construction sites.

    Heh. I think its uses might be ever so slightly more broad than that.

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  20. I’m posting from Harvard, the paradigmatic Serious University, and so I can now comment on what goes on in these austere halls. I note that
    1) Even though I have a valid Harvard ID, I’ve still read Giberson, Collins and Falk on theology and science, and
    2) I still have no idea what Gregory means by evolutionism.

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  21. I’m not happy about TSZ being used to host speculations about internet alter egos. It is precisely counter to the entire raison d’etre of TSZ, and unfortunately only just now did I notice what was going on here.

    I’ve deleted some of the OP, contrary to my general principle, as well as not only moving two of Gregory’s comments to Guano, but deleting some of their content.

    Gregory, please do not use TSZ to carry out your own personal vendettas. Use your own blog.

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  22. llanitedave:
    petrushka,
    Heh.I think its uses might be ever so slightly more broad than that.

    Yes, but high school in the U.S. was originally justified as job training. One could do worse than consider job prospects when choosing a field of study. So I was speculating on why geology is neglected. I suspect because there is no way to whitewash it’s conflict with Genesis.

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  23. Where I would take issue with Timaeus, however is this:

    ID folks, by contrast, have mostly moved on. They aren’t talking about defending a literal Genesis, they aren’t contesting the age of the earth, etc. They are talking about information theory, about engineering and computer science conceptions of systems and design, about the physics of molecular structures and Platonic forms of protein folds etc. — all stuff which should interest any serious student of nature, but which Giberson etc. don’t care about. Giberson and his friends are intellectually frozen in a past era of religion/science controversy. And because they still think in outdated terms, they force ID into the old “creation versus evolution” mold, and then write ID off as “creationism.” Meanwhile, much smarter people by far, people like Nagel and Plantinga and Monton and Flew and others, are telling the world that ID isn’t creationism and that the world should give it a serious hearing. Giberson, Falk, etc. are simply going to be left behind.

    Yes, ID has moved on from literal Genesis and the age of the earth (although Dembski had a spot of bother with the global flood, I recall), but is still way behind the curve with its own math. It’s no good just saying that “the world should give it a serious hearing”. A lot of people have given Dembski, for instance (including some here) an extremely serious hearing, complete with equations and close-reading of the text – and found it wanting.

    I do notice that Timaeus omits Dembski – but that’s quite a big omission if we are talking about “ID folks”, and including “information theory, about engineering and computer science conceptions of systems and design”.

    I think ID needs to catch up with the collapse of Dembski’s core concept.

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