The Creator On Trial – Part 2

The interviews in Strobel’s book, “The Case for a Creator,” are written in the form of Socratic dialogues, where Strobel takes on the role of skeptical questioner, as if he were still unconvinced of the Creator’s existence. His biography contradicts this, stating that he converted to Christianity in 1981. This book was published in 2004, so posing as a religious skeptic is disingenuous, merely a writer’s artifice to gain credibility for the arguments. His position as a Christian apologist is clear, from his earlier arguments in Part 1.

Strobel states that he chose “doctorate-level professors who have unquestioned expertise, are able to communicate in accessible language, and who refuse to limit themselves only to the politically correct world of naturalism or materialism.” A little research on the contributors to this book revealed a strange coincidence: All of the interviewees are associated with the Discovery Institute (DI). What a fortunate institution to have a monopoly on such wonderful, open-minded, unbiased communicators!

Wikipedia has this to say about the Discovery Institute (DI):

“The Discovery Institute is a think tank structured as a non-profit foundation, founded in 1990 and based in Seattle, Washington, USA. The stated mission of the organization is to “make a positive vision of the future practical.” Several of the institute’s practices have placed it at the center of numerous controversies, particularly its campaign promoting intelligent design and the religious goal outlined in the institute’s “Wedge” strategy to “reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

Strobel has chosen the contributors to his book from a small group of people who are openly committed opponents of the theory of evolution, whose agenda is to discredit it and replace it with Christian dogma. That was the single-minded agenda of creationists long before the Scopes trial in 1925. Intelligent Design (ID) is the latest incarnation of this agenda. Is Strobel’s book skeptical, objective journalism, or is it thinly disguised religious propaganda? (That’s a rhetorical question.  The answer is obvious.)

Here are some facts about the interviewees:

Jonathan Wells – A senior fellow at the DI and a well-known author of anti-evolutionary books. In his book “Icons of Evolution (2000), he “attempts to overthrow the paradigm of evolution by attacking how we teach it.” Although he studied science first, he ended up getting a degree in religious studies.

Stephen C. Meyer – One of the three founders of DI, he is also a Vice President and a senior fellow. He has been described as the “father of Intelligent Design” and has published books and papers promoting the idea. He is a strong advocate of the “teach the controversy” position, pushing for the teaching of creation theory in high school science classes.

William Lane Craig is a fellow at DI. He became an evangelical Christian at the age of 16. From Wikipedia: “William Lane Craig is an American philosopher, theologian, New Testament historian, and Christian apologist. He is a prolific author and lecturer on a wide range of issues related to the philosophy of religion, the historical Jesus, the coherence of the Christian worldview, and natural theology. He is currently a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology.”

Robin Collins – A fellow at DI, he has published articles and essays on Intelligent Design.

Guillermo Gonzalez – Senior fellow at DI, he has published articles and books on Intelligent Design.

Jay Wesley Richards – Senior fellow at DI, his education is in philosophy and theology. He has published in various academic journals on religious subjects.

Michael J. Behe – Senior fellow at DI, Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. Behe’s current research involves delineation of design and natural selection in protein structures.

J. P. Moreland – Fellow at DI. Wikipedia: “J.P. Moreland, is an American philosopher, theologian, and Christian apologist.”

Before the interviews, the author fires the first salvo at evolution. He cites “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” a statement by 100 scientists in rebuttal to the 2001 PBS series, “Evolution.” Their statement, as the author says, was “direct and defiant.” It says, in part:

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.”

Strobel gives the hundred signatories the stature of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, claiming that they risked “professional persecution” by asserting a “politically incorrect opinion that the emperor of evolution has no clothes.”

What Strobel does not say is that the statement and the list were published in a full-page newspaper advertisement paid for by DI. He also ignores the critique issued by The National Center for Science Education shortly after the list was published, describing the wording of the statement and of the advertisement as misleading, and noting that “None of those listed was recognizable as a prominent contributor to the scientific literature debating the role of natural selection in evolution.” Furthermore, from interviewing a sample of the signatories they found that some were less critical of evolutionary theory than the advertisement claimed. At least one of the signers had second thoughts. When Robert C. Davidson, a retired University of Washington professor, read that DI was calling evolution a “theory in crisis,” he withdrew his signature. “It’s laughable. There have been millions of experiments over more than a century that support evolution,” said Davidson.

In a more recent criticism, a February 2006 New York Times article pointed out that only 25% of the signatories were biologists and a sampling of those signing “suggest(s) that many are evangelical Christians, whose doubts about evolution grew out of their religious beliefs.” Perhaps the most telling criticism came from science writer Ed Brayton who said, “The majority of the people on that list have no training or expertise in evolutionary biology at all. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t know what they’re talking about, but it does mean that putting them on a list that is used solely as an appeal to authority is ridiculous, since they have no authority in the field.”

Continued in Part 3

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