Thursday, October 13, 2005

Heads Up

As the above announcement indicates, Viewpoint is going to be down for some server maintenance this weekend. Bill has discovered the reason our blog has been intermittently unavailable over the last month or so, and he's going to be correcting the problem tomorrow. We expect to be down starting Friday afternoon for an indefinite period. We may be back by Friday night or maybe not until Sunday. Check back with us when you get the chance.

I wish to take the opportunity of this post to thank all of our readers for your interest in what we're doing. It's gratifying to know that people are reading us and finding us worth their time. If you come across one of our posts that warrants it, please link us to your friends.

ID Critics Self-Destruct

One of the chief opponents of teaching Intelligent Design in public schools nevertheless encourages teachers to teach religion in science lessons in elementary schools. Steve Peterman at Telic Thoughts reports that:

In one fell swoop Eugenie Scott destroyed so many arguments of ID critics it is hard to believe it. The so called Wedge complaint. The complaint that IDists are trying to smuggle religion into high school science classrooms. The argument that ID=religion under the guise of science. The adamant assertion by ID critics that religion does not belong in science. That science is detached from metaphysical assertions and ideology. All gone in one fell swoop!

Eugenie Scott is the president of the National Council on Science Education and has frequently written against teaching ID in public schools because because ID is religion and religion doesn't belong in science classes, especially in classes of young students. Yet in the article linked above she endorses doing precisely what she wants to prohibit others from doing. Indeed, she recommends that teachers use religion to teach evolution to elementary students.

It's too bad that some newspaper reporter doesn't ask her to explain herself, but it's not likely that any of them will.

Idiots and Ignoramuses

A Stephen Gordon of Utah submits a letter to the 11/2005 Discover magazine:

"I am sick of scientists tiptoeing around the topic of religion. Scientists need to make it clear that if you believe in God you are most likely an idiot or at best uneducated....To treat beliefs as if they mean anything merely elevates them to equal status with is pathetic when an adult thinks demons, angels, Satan, and God are real."

Well. Let's trot out a roster of those uneducated idiots: Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Kant, Locke, Dostoyevsky, Galileo, Newton, Brahe, Boyle, Aggassiz, Faraday - we could go on, but you get the point. Perhaps Mr. Gordon would scoff and say that these are all pre-twentieth century thinkers, and that it was easier to believe back in their day than it is in ours. We might ask him, if we dare, why that is so. What do we know today that makes belief in God impossible for any but an idiot or an ignoramus? We should not hold our breath waiting for an answer to that one.

In any event, it doesn't matter whether or not Mr. Gordon has an answer for us since the basic assumption that only the mentally defective or uneducated can believe in God in the modern era is quite at variance with the facts. Let's take a look at just a few of those whose intellects are of the first rank and who also believe that God exists (and may even believe some of those other things Mr. Gordon contemptuously dismisses as well): Pope John Paul, George Marsden, Mark Noll, William Lane Craig, Karl Barth, Alvin Plantinga, William Alston, William Dembski, Os Guiness, Richard Swinburne, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, J.R.R. Tolkein, Carl Henry, William Buckley, John Stott, Reinhold Neibhur, Alistair MacIntyre, Antonin Scalia, Richard Neuhaus, John Polkinghorne et multi, multi plus.

Among the scientists so esteemed by Mr. Gordon, as many of them believe today as believed a century ago, and the number of believing scientists is about the same as the number of their skeptical colleagues (see here, for instance).

Mr. Gordon may not be familiar with these names, but then one probably needs a modicum of education to be acquainted with them. Perhaps Mr. Gordon is indeed conversant with many of them but thinks them mere pygmies in comparison with his own intellectual gifts, and they may be. It's hard to say because, although I've heard of these Christian intellectuals and read their work, Mr. Gordon has till now escaped my notice, doubtless to my detriment. Consequently, I'm unaware of his scholarly credentials which must surely be impressive.