"One hundred twenty professors [at Iowa State University] have signed a statement denouncing the study of intelligent design and calling on all faculty members to reject it. The statement reads, in part, 'We, the undersigned faculty members at Iowa State University, reject all attempts to represent Intelligent Design as a scientific endeavor. . . . Whether one believes in a creator or not, views regarding a supernatural creator are, by their very nature, claims of religious faith, and so not within the scope or abilities of science.'
What's really stunning to me is that they unabashedly claim that Intelligent Design is not an acceptable scientific view because it is "an abandonment by science of methodological naturalism." Now this has nothing to do with the evidence; it is a bald-faced admission that evolutionary science is driven by a philosophical commitment prior to examining the evidence. In fact, their statement requires scientists to first adopt a presupposition that will filter how they filter and judge the evidence.
The professors at Iowa State have done us a great service by finally admitting what we have long known: Modern science is strangled by a philosophical commitment of naturalism. That is the real debate, not the facts and evidence.
And then there are the scientists who are open to the questions the evidence poses.
Further interesting reading on the topic is an online debate between Dr. Frank Beckwith and Dr. Douglas Laycock.
Yesterday John Roberts was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with these words:
"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same."
As I listened, it occurred to me that no one with a "living document" view of the U.S. Constitution could make this pledge in good conscience.
This oath requires that the words of the Constitution have determinate meaning; the words mean something fixed and particular.
If there is no determinate meaning, there is nothing to pledge fidelity to. There is nothing in particular to "support and defend," and nothing specific to "bear true faith and allegiance" to.
For those who think this means I believe in a "dead" Constitution, I have this response: I believe our Constitution is alive; it's alive with its original intent. By contrast, the only thing alive in the "living document" view is the imagination of justices.
I read Doug Pagitt's post on John 14:6. He's irritated by Christians who use this text to promote an exclusivist or "foundationalist" view. I encourage you to read it (it's short), if for no other reason than to give you insight into how this Emergent Church leader thinks. Read the response posts, too. Then read John 14 for yourself.
Next, ask yourself a couple of questions.
First, what does foundationalism, understood in the epistemological sense (see Pagitt's Wikipedia link), have to do with John 14:6? I have training in philosophy and I don't see the connection as Pagitt doesn't.
I guess that means I agree with Pagitt (but for different reasons, I suspect): The verse does not teach foundationalism. That's because it has nothing to do with foundationalism, a point, I think, Pagitt missed. And so did his readers. The sympathetic posts talked of almost nothing else (they must not have hit the Wikipedia link).
The important word in Pagitt's post is not "foundationalism." It's "exclusivism."
Which brings me to my second question: What was Jesus trying to communicate to His disciples in this passage? Pagitt thinks the "way, truth, life" triplet was a term of art for Torah, which Jesus then identified Himself with. That's all. No exclusivist stuff.
I read the chapter and I don't see it. Whatever else is going on there, it seems pretty obvious Jesus is saying in as clear a way as possible for confused Thomas (et al) that He is the only means by which people can get to the dwelling place prepared for them in Heaven by the Father. That looks an awful lot like exclusivism to me. I could be missing something, but I don't think Pagitt is on to it.
Even if Pagitt is correct that this is an allusion to Torah, it's likely, then, that Jesus was following the same pattern as earlier in the Gospel of John where He contrasts the lesser to the greater: physical birth to spiritual birth (Jn. 3), the Samaritan woman's well water to His living water (Jn. 4), the manna from heaven to Himself as the bread of life (Jn. 6), etc. If that's the case, then in John 14 He was not saying "He was as Torah" (Pagitt). He was saying the Torah is only a faint reflection of the ultimate: Himself. This strengthens the exclusivist claim, not weakens it, as Pagitt imagines.
Not all the "I AM" statements were metaphors, by the way (e.g., Jn 8:58, Jn 8:24). But even if they were, Pagitt's denial of exclusivism in this verse wouldn't follow.
Final thought: This matters. The Great Commission is grounded in this claim along with others by Jesus that He is the only way to reconcile with the Father. How you understand John 14:6 (and a host of verses in the NT much like it, a hundred by my last count) will dictate how you play out Jesus' final command to His church.
The media continues to hype the miraculous promise of embryonic stem cell research (more accurately describe as destructive embryonic stem cell research) and virtually ignore the actual progress being made in developing effective therapies from adult and umbilical cord stem cells. The problems with destructive ESCR are growing and no useful therapies have been developed yet. Wesley J. Smith reports on the latest developments.
By contrast, there is a steady flow of good news from the realm of stem cell research from adult cells and umbilical cords.
Scientists have used umbilical cord blood stem cells to restore feeling and mobility to a spinal cord injury patient who's been a paraplegic for 19 years.
Adult stem cells were used to develop a therapy that cured mice with advanced juvenile diabetes.
The really tragic thing is that there are limited research dollars available from private and public sources, and so far the media's false hype has encouraged support of what seem to be fruitless research instead of funding research producing measurable results.
Opponents with ethical objections to destructive ESCR are often portrayed as being against progress. But not only do we have valid ethical concerns, the evidence is mounting for perfectly ethical lines of research.
We'll be able to confirm our speakers very soon, but I thought I'd give you a taste of what we have planned for next year's STR cruise. On September 16 we'll sail from Montreal heading up the St. Lawrence Seaway, landing in Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, two stops on Nova Scotia, Bar Harbour-Maine, and ending in Boston on September 23. We'll be sailing again with Holland America aboard the msMaasdam, which will have just gone through a major refurbishment in the spring.
When we were still planning the Alaska cruise we went on last month, I spied this trip and wanted to make it our next. Fall colors, beautiful scenery, oodles of history of the founding of our nation, a stop where "Anne of Green Gables" is set, excellent speakers on stimulating topics....It's an ideal trip. And we hope you join us.
That's all I can tell you for now. More details soon to follow.
An aptly-timed article related to my comments in the earlier post today that both sides of the evolution debate better understand the other side, The Discovery Institute has a new article describing the origin of Intelligent Design theory. Most news articles that report on the debate characterize I.D. as gussied up old-fashioned creationism, Bible-thumping, and mere religion rather than a bona fide scientific theory. Jonathan Witt provides some education for those interested in understanding what the debate is really about.
The New York Times reports (registration required) that museums are training their docents to deal with "anti-evolutionists" who sometimes challenge the facts exhibited in the evolution displays.
There are two main issues in this article. First, it sounds like some of the Christians who don't buy evolution are quite aggressive in their conversations with the docents. One docent interviewed for the article ended up fleeing the encounter. And the training instructs docents to end a conversation they deem fruitless to excuse themselves to use the restroom.
I think some Christian groups have instructed people on the facts about evolution, but have neglected teaching them to also use wisdom and character when they challenge evolutionists. From personal experience, I know that some creationists can be unpleasant, primarily I think because they believe much is at stake. I agree that evolution needs to be challenged, and one-sided museum exhibits are a fair place to engage in conversation bout the facts, but we have to be aware of how we engage in potentially contentious debate and also realize that sometimes a dispute is fruitless to pursue. I don't doubt that some of docents have encountered Christians who haven't kept those things in mind. One says that "it is as if they aren't listening." That isn't a good witness in any regard. (Thought I'm sure some of the Christians who've engaged docents have felt the same thing.)
As reported in the story, many of the Christians the docents encounter are not necessarily arguing on the basis of good science either. It doesn't advance the discussion to respond that "it does not say that in the Bible." There's plenty of evidence in the natural world that indicates a designer, and that common ground of evidence is a good place to start a discussion.
Some evolutionists think that Christians who disagree with them also believe they are evil atheist evolutionists. Not only is there a scientific view at stake in this debate, but Christians should never lose sight that there are also souls at stake for eternity. I don't think it's helpful if they're made to feel that they are our enemies. It's important to win this debate, but it's more important to win their souls.
Second, the way Christians who contend with the status quo about evolution are depicted in the article and by the evolutionists interviewed in a way that shows they obviously don't understand the debate. They would do well in their training to truly understand the debate.
Evolution is portrayed as settled science, and objections to evolution are characterized as purely religious views. "The landscape tells a story based on geological events, based on science," as if the natural evidence unambiguously proves evolution. Those who think a designer was involved in the creation of the universe are all "religious fundamentalists." "I like the idea of stressing that this is a science museum, and we deal with matters of science." So evolution is the scientific, rational view, and design can only be supported by faith and the Bible.
Both sides of this debate need to understand the issues well, especially the opposing view. And both sides need to treat those who disagree with respect. Intelligent people can disagree; people holding either view should not be dismissed as irrationally religious or evil atheists. Only then will the discussion have the hope of bearing some good fruit.
As the Scopes decision turns 80, the debate continues in a Pennsylvania courtroom where the freedom to introduce counter-evidence to Darwinism is at stake. However, this time the roles are reversed.
Joe Manzari at the American Enterprise Institute recounts recent cases where the debate was stifled. The irony is that the man at the center of the original controversy might just agree with the Intelligent Design side of the controversy. John Scopes: "If you limit a teacher to only one side of anything, the whole country will eventually have only one thought....I believe in teaching every aspect of every problem or theory." Well, that's pretty much what has happened in the last 80 years...even though he lost his case.
Many myths surround that original legal challenge to teach the debate. Chuck Colson illuminated some of the facts in an article a few months ago.