I stumbled across a blog the other day by an ID advocate. Not just any ID advocate, but “a student at the Honors College at Baylor University where he is double majoring in philosophy and political science. He works as a research assistant at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, he is the director of the Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center (IDURC), the student branch of the Access Research Network (ARN), and he moderates the new Overwhelming Evidence website.”
Connected to a seminary, ARN, and William Dembski — he’s obviously a die-hard. I happened to read one of his posts: The Irrationality of Richard Dawkins, which begins “It is an excellent assessment of Richard Dawkins and his newest book, The God Delusion…” and goes on to paste an article by Dr. Francis J. Beckwith of Baylor University. So, what is this “excellent assessment” of Richard Dawkins? The article states:
Point #1: Kurt Wise was a promising young scientist:
According to Dawkins, Wise was at one time a promising young scholar who had earned a degree in geology (from the University of Chicago) and advanced degrees in geology and paleontology from Harvard University, where he studied under the highly acclaimed Stephen Jay Gould. Wise is also a young-earth creationist, which means that he accepts a literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis and maintains that the earth is less than ten thousand years old.
Point #2: Wise decided that Evolution and Literal Genesis were incompatible, and chose to believe in Genesis:
Wise writes: “Either the Scripture was true and evolution was wrong or evolution was true and I must toss out the Bible. . . . It was there that night that I accepted the Word of God and rejected all that would ever counter it, including evolution. With that, in great sorrow, I tossed into the fire all my dreams and hopes in science.”
Point #3: Dawkins is dismayed by Wise’ choice to ditch science for religion:
Writes Dawkins: “I find that terribly sad . . . the Kurt Wise story is just plain pathetic—pathetic and contemptible. The wound, to his career and his life’s happiness, was self-inflicted, so unnecessary, so easy to escape. . . . I am hostile to religion because of what it did to Kurt Wise. And if it did that to a Harvard educated geologist, just think what it can do to others less gifted and less well armed.”
Now, Beckwith is setting us up for his big punch: the irrationality of Richard Dawkins. Get ready for it.
Dawkins harshly criticizes Wise for embracing a religious belief that results in Wise’s not treating himself and his talents, intelligence, and abilities in a way appropriate for their full flourishing.
But Dawkins, in fact, does not actually believe that living beings, including human beings, have intrinsic purposes or are designed so that one may conclude that violating one’s proper function amounts to a violation of one’s moral duty to oneself.
But this means that his lament for Wise is misguided, for Dawkins is lamenting what only appears to be Wise’s dereliction of his duty to nurture and employ his gifts in ways that result in his happiness and an acquisition of knowledge that contributes to the common good. Yet because there are no designed natures and no intrinsic purposes, and thus no natural duties that we are obligated to obey, the intuitions that inform Dawkins’ judgment of Wise are as illusory as the design he explicitly rejects. But that is precisely one of the grounds by which Dawkins suggests that theists are irrational and ought to abandon their belief in God.
Um, what? His whole argument rests on the notion that the only way Dawkins can lament Wise’ rejection of science is through the notions of “proper function”, “intrinsic purpose”, and “duty to nurture and employ his gifts”. I’m amazed that this sort of argument was written by a professor, and then called an “excellent assessment” by Chen. Clearly, we don’t believe in “intrinsic purpose”, but we can feel sad that someone who was talented has rejected science (something he enjoyed), and that science has lost the contributions he would have made if he was not barred by his religion. The whole argument is ridiculous. The only thing I can guess is that they are so deep in their own worldview, that they can’t imagine how anyone else could function outside of it. I posted a response, but – as I often find with creationists and ID advocates – it’s moderated, and my post still hasn’t appeared after three days. I’ve become quite accustomed to having my responses rejected by creationists and ID advocates – afterall, they can’t have sympathetic visitors seeing their ideas dismantled.
A quick google search reveals that other people have noted Chen’s tendency for censorship and spin as well. It’s always funny to have them complain about censorship by the evil “darwinists”, and then block anti-ID arguments from their websites. Meanwhile, the evolutionist websites are wide open for competing ideas. I’ve seen a few people banned from websites like the Panda’s Thumb and Pharyngula, but even in those cases, the websites tend to be extremely (and probably overly) patient with people.
There are times when Christians and creationists (ranging from YECs to ID advocates) make arguments that are so bad, you have to stand back and think, “it’s hopeless to believe these people can be brought around with logic”. They’ll make one logical error after another – always benefiting their own side, of course. And if you set them straight on one error, you know they’ll just make another one tomorrow. In some cases, these are competent people in many areas of life, but sometimes it seems like they drop a good 30 IQ points when they talk about creationism or God.