Is Theistic Evolution Intelligently Designed?
A battle of websites is rising, and New Scientist is gloating. Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project (and a candidate to lead the National Institutes of Health) has launched a website promoting theistic evolution called Biologos.org. The intelligent-design think tank Discovery Institute has offered a counter-site called FaithAndEvolution.org.
Amanda Gefter wrote for New Scientist, “Christians battle each other over evolution.” Gefter, who subscribes to Stephen Jay Gould’s “NOMA” strategy (non-overlapping magisteria), believes that science and religion must remain separate spheres. She thinks the latest website battle betrays religious motivations behind the ID group: “The Discovery Institute has now made it crystal clear that they have no interest in reconciling science and religion – instead, they want their brand of religion to replace science.” She used an analogy: “Watching the intellectual feud between the Discovery Institute and BioLogos is a bit like watching a race in which both competitors are running full speed in the opposite direction of the finish line. It’s a notable contest, but I don’t see how either is going to come out the winner,” she said. But even if this analogy were appropriate, presumably the first to go around the globe could still win the race, but it begs the question whether evolution is even in the race. A more important question is whether the controversy is just between Christians.
Evolution News and Views denies that their initiative is about replacing religion and science. Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute explained the two-fold purpose of Faith and Evolution: “Thus, the first goal of FaithandEvolution.Org is to present the scientific information about evolution and intelligent design that is typically left out of the discussion,” he said. “A second goal is to tackle tough questions that are usually ignored about the consequences of Darwin’s theory for ethics, society, and religion.” The problem with Biologos is that it caters to Darwinian natural selection without revealing these consequences.
The Faith and Evolution website was in fact prompted by the need to answer claims in the mainstream media made by Francis Collins that Christianity and evolution are compatible, not to promote Christianity or any other religion. In fact, David Klinghoffer, who is Jewish, defended the site on Evolution News. John West said, “It’s ironic that many of the pro-Darwin groups that claim to be promoting ‘dialogue’ about science and religion are really offering only a monologue. They do their best to exclude those who disagree with them. But we have nothing to fear from a free and open exchange of ideas.” John West goes into more detail in a podcast on ID the Future.
Gefter’s smirking attitude fails to take into account the overtly religious arguments by the new atheists that tie Darwinism to unbelief. The Darwinists routinely discuss the religious (or anti-religious) implications of evolution. If she thinks ID folk want to replace science with religion, why is she not complaining about Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens who use evolution to justify atheism? Why is she not complaining about the NCSE, which has a Faith Network Coordinator and printed a curriculum for adult Sunday School classes? What about the activists who encourage pastors to preach from Darwin on Evolution Sunday? Gefter specifically lets Dawkins off the hook. Consistency is apparently not a virtue for Darwinists. Their beliefs evolve according to the need to combat any threats to their dominance.