David Heddle has a post ripping into the goings-on at William Dembski’s “Uncommon Descent” weblog.
Uncommon Descent is again proving to be a major embarrassment. Or, more accurately, it has not yet ceased its never ending pursuit of making a fool of itself. The state of affairs is so bad that I really don’t know how other members of the ID community refrain from publically distancing themselves from the site’s absurdity. It would be amusing if it were not for the fact that, by extension and association, Christianity is impugned in the process.
There’s a good deal more. Check it out.
Now, you should understand that Heddle is a former non-nuanced advocate of “intelligent design”. Over the past year or so Heddle has repudiated element after element of the Discovery Institute’s version of “intelligent design” and has broken with the “big tent” strategy that mandates that young-earth creationism will not be criticized. His current position, IIRC, is that he still thinks that “intelligent design” can be cast as a valid scientific research program based upon cosmological arguments.
Myself, I think that attempts to rehabilitate the label “intelligent design” are simply wrong. “Intelligent design” as a purported field of human endeavor originated as a new label for “creation science”, and the whole of the intent behind its creation was to allow creation science advocates to evade the Edwards v. Aguillard Supreme Court decision and have their arguments taught in K-12 classes anyway. It is bad civics, and unquestionably morally corrosive.
But then, I’ve found antievolution as a whole to be a field where professional mendacity is rampant. The wholesale telling of falsehoods that underlies the body of argumentation that comprises antievolution has long elicited from me the same reaction that Heddle is having now with respect to the recent UD shenanigans.
I can’t claim any originality, though, in thinking that passing off rampant nonsense as truth harms Christian belief. That goes back at least 16 centuries.
Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances,… and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all that we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, lest the unbeliever see only ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.
(St. Augustine, “De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim” (The Literal Meaning of Genesis))
I have, by the way, been trying off and on for some time now to fill in the ellipses in the above quote, so far without success. If anyone can clear that up, please let me know.
Update: Glenn Branch sent me a link to a fuller quotation:
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]
Thanks. I feel better knowing that the ellipsis is harmless, if inexplicably pointless.
Update: The mainstream media is starting to notice the extremist cant at UD.