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Re: I have felt I have had to leave the ID movement due to my advocacy of common ancestry

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  • Stephen E. Jones
    Group I wish to announce that I have left the ID movement, my position having become increasingly untenable, due to my advocacy of of common ancestry within
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18, 2004
      Group

      I wish to announce that I have left the ID movement, my position having
      become increasingly untenable, due to my advocacy of of common ancestry
      within ID, it being finally suggested by Phil Johnson that I leave.

      While the ID movement's *official* position is that "intelligent design is
      compatible with ... God seamlessly melding all organisms together into one
      great tree of life":

      "Where does intelligent design fit within the creation-evolution
      debate? Logically, intelligent design is compatible with everything
      from utterly discontinuous creation (e.g., God intervening at every
      conceivable point to create new species) to the most far-ranging
      evolution (e.g., God seamlessly melding all organisms together into
      one great tree of life). For intelligent design the primary question is
      not how organisms came to be (though, as we've just seen, this is a
      vital question for intelligent design) but whether organisms
      demonstrate clear, empirically detectable marks of being
      intelligently caused. In principle an evolutionary process can exhibit
      such `marks of intelligence' as much as any act of special creation."
      (Dembski W.A., "Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science
      and Theology," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1999,
      pp.109-110)

      in fact ID's *real* position is that of the later Phil Johnson (see tagline),
      which is still heavily influenced by Biblical literalism, the earlier Phil
      Johnson himself in 1993 claiming that "The `evolution of human beings from
      apes' is not an unacceptable hypothesis for me":

      "Since Hasker speculates about my own subjective leanings, I will
      try to satisfy his curiosity. The `evolution of human beings from
      apes' is not an unacceptable hypothesis for me. Obviously, God
      could have made humans unmistakably distinct from other creatures
      and did not do so. The hypothesis of LCA [Literal Common
      Ancestry] was bold but justifiable as of 1859, if it were stated in
      testable form rather than as a dogma. Subsequent investigation,
      when evaluated without extreme Darwinist bias, establishes that
      LCA is disconfirmed for the plant and animal kingdoms as a whole,
      and also in this specific case. Even if `evolution' in some vague
      MCA [Metaphororical Common Ancestry] sense should turn out to
      be the true explanation of the similarities between apes and humans,
      Darwinian science has only wild speculation to offer to explain the
      unique human characteristics: relative hairlessness, upright posture,
      and especially human consciousness. I do not know whether I am a
      `progressive creationist.' For the time being, I am content to say
      that, however God chose to create, it was not by neo-Darwinist
      LCA." (Johnson P.E., "Response to Hasker", Christian Scholar's
      Review, Vol. XXII, No. 3, 1993, pp.297-304, p.302.
      http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/pjcsr223.html)

      but by 2002, common ancestry for Johnson had become (or maybe always
      was) "a fantastic proposition" (see tagline).

      As I wrote (with some minor changes) in my final message on ID's mailing
      list, commenting on the tagline quote from Johnson's "The Right Questions":

      "The supreme irony is that Phil thinks he avoided Dawkins' trap,
      when in reality he fell right into it! After Phil denied common
      ancestry, Dawkins did not *need* to continue with any "series of
      follow-up questions designed to tighten the noose". That's why
      Dawkins *asked* the question "would [Phil] admit that humans and
      lobsters share a common ancestor"? Of *course* Dawkins expected
      Phil to deny it, fitting Dawkins' stereotype of ID just being the
      latest variant of Biblical literalism (Dawkins says something like
      that in his foreword to a recent book "How to Keep Dinosaurs"
      (http://makeashorterlink.com/?T2E362558). Now if Phil had instead
      inserted a wedge between common descent and evolution (as I do:
      http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/pe11fact.html#fctfvltncmncstry),
      that would *really* have rattled Dawkins!

      As it was, Dawkins was probably *overjoyed* that Phil had
      obligingly accepted `his part in the play that the Darwinists had
      written for him'. You see, Phil, not being a biologist, really doesn't
      realise how strong the evidence for common ancestry is. But
      Dawkins does, and he no doubt thinks that if Phil denies that,
      then there is no need to argue him out of it.

      Phil is simply *wrong* all through this. I (for one) am not a
      materialist or an evolutionist (and nor is Mike Behe) and I accept
      common ancestry on the basis of the *evidence*. Dawkins *did*
      "have scientific evidence stemming from" his "specialized
      knowledge as a zoologist that ought to convince someone who does
      not already share" his "belief" in common ancestry, namely "the
      universality of the genetic code and other biochemical
      fundamentals". The genetic code *is* AFAIK universal, except for
      a *very* minor exception or two, and only at the level of codons,
      not at nucleotides.

      It is a Fallacy of False Dilemma for Phil to claim that it is either: 1)
      "a common designer" or 2) "a common physical ancestor"; because
      there is a third alternative, 3) "a common designer" who *realised* His
      design through "a common physical ancestor". Does Phil *really*
      claim that physical reproduction is not designed?"

      However, as I also wrote:

      "I am not bitter, more *relieved*. I will not go out of my way to
      attack the ID movement (and I still believe in the work of Bill
      Dembski and Mike Behe), and of course in *design*, but where I
      consider that ID merits criticism, e.g. in its claim not to be
      influenced by Biblical literalism, but denying common ancestry
      primarily on those grounds) I will feel free to make it.

      I will continue to pray for the ID movement, as I continue to
      pray for the ICR and AIG, in its struggle against materialism-
      naturalism, the *real* enemy."

      I will probably leave my "Complete' web links: "Phillip E. Johnson"
      (http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/pjurls.html), "Michael J. Behe"
      (http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/idbehemj.html) & "William A.
      Dembski" (http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/iddembsk.html), but
      de-emphasise them by moving them off my home page. They are way
      out of date anyway.

      To those IDists on CED who may feel let down, I have not become an
      anti-IDist, more like a post-IDist. If you advocate ID on CED, you
      need fear no attack from me, but rather *support*.

      I can now concentrate more on writing my book "Problems of
      Evolution" (http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/pe00cont.html), so I
      regard this as just part of the "all things [that] work together for
      good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his
      purpose" (Rom 8:28).

      As I wrote privately to an IDist friend:

      "Its like the kid growing up and leaving home"!
      [...]

      Steve



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      "Dawkins tried a variant of this `fatal concession' ploy on me in an e-mail
      conversation by demanding to know if I would admit that humans and
      lobsters share a common ancestor. if I had agreed to such a fantastic
      proposition (the supposed `fact' of evolution), I would have left myself with
      no logical basis for doubting any other Darwinian claim, and Dawkins
      would have had grounds to insinuate that I must be only pretending to
      disbelieve. Dawkins had ready a series of follow-up questions designed to
      tighten the noose, but I changed the subject, asking: `On what basis are you
      so confident that the hypothetical common ancestor of lobsters and humans
      is not merely an artifact of evolutionary theory but actually lived on the
      earth? My understanding is that your confidence is founded on philosophy,
      specifically on your belief in materialism and reductionism. That is what
      permits you to proclaim 'Universal Darwinism,' that is, that something like
      Darwinian evolution must be the explanation for the existence of complex
      life even on distant planets where we can make no observations. Am I
      correct, or do you have scientific evidence stemming from your specialized
      knowledge as a zoologist that ought to convince someone who does not
      already share your belief that the existence of this ancestor is a
      philosophical necessity?' Dawkins responded that `the reason we know for
      certain we are all related, including bacteria, is the universality of the
      genetic code and other biochemical fundamentals. Philosophical
      commitment to materialism and reductionism is true, but I would prefer to
      characterize it as philosophical commitment to real explanation as opposed
      to complete lack of explanation, which is what you espouse.' I knew then
      that I had turned the tables on Dawkins and induced him to accept a fatal
      premise that must undermine his position in any extended public debate.
      That `universal genetic code' is not truly universal, but the more important
      point is that biochemical similarities, like the musical similarities in
      Beethoven's symphonies, may be evidence of a common designer rather
      than a common physical ancestor. By appealing to the philosophical
      question of what constitutes a real explanation, Dawkins had conceded that
      the fundamental question was outside the professional domain of biology."
      (Johnson P.E., "The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning & Public Debate,
      InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2002, pp.82-83)
      Stephen E. Jones http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones
      Moderator: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign
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