Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Theistic evolution and creationism

Over at "He Lives" the blog of the ever indominable David Heddle, he complains that the Pandas Thumb denisens don't like to give specific definitions of what makes a 'creationist'. Apparently, Dr. Heddle comes up with some conspiracy theory that they are just avoiding alienating 'good guys' such as theistic evolutions (like myself) and many Roman Catholics such as Ken Miller. I think David seems to believe that the PT crew would think I may get highly insulted and have a hissy fit or something.

To quoteth from Davids post, noting that reading the whole thing is best for establishing proper context:
Creationist: someone who believes, to some nonzero but unspecified extent, that invoking supernatural intervention is necessary to explain the natural world.

I accept that as nice, concise description. No muss, no fuss. There are, however, problems for the PT faithful with that definition—I’ll get back to that point.

Later in his definition, Russell performs a little sleight of hand. After arguing that theistic evolutionists might be shoe-horned into this definition, he adds: “But as long as they recognize that their understanding of divine intervention can never fall under the purview of science, they’re not ‘creationists’.”
I happen to agree with the original definition as well, I am also a creationist in a sense because I view God as creating the world via natural laws (physics, evolution, chemistry etc), usually called "theistic evolution". Calling it "theistic evolution" is IMO, simply a bait and switch to simply avoid the rather distastful association with creationists like AiG and Hovind. The key difference between theistic evolution compared to standard creationism is that I do not view signs of that creation are directly and empirically visible in nature. Ergo, I don't buy fine tuning for example and most importantly, I do not want my metaphysical beliefs taught in schools. In fact, I would be opposed to people teaching that God directly used evolution to create man as *fact* in a science classroom, simply because there is no empiracle justification for such a claim. What I believe is different from what science tells us about the natural world and how it works, with one of the things it can't tell you about is what role God played in it.

In terms of what David discusses, the 'creationists' that the likes of the Pandas Thumb crew basically dislike are those pushing 'creation science' or those of the Discovery institute led ID movement. For the record, I have never been personally attacked by any atheist on the pandas thumb for my religious beliefs (engaged voiciferously however) or even on internet infidels. I have had my faith in God attacked numerous times by creationists, highly visciously as well, and usually at every opportunity to do so. This is partly why I am so immensely aggravated (or frustrated) in discussions with creationists and my accompanying lack of patience at times.

As to Russel attempting to make a 'loophole' for me or something, I find it rather commendable but unnecessary. I'm not embarassed that I believe in God and I'm equally not embarassed to admit I believe God used natural principals like evolution to make what we see today. I don't require a disclaimer on my beliefs that reads:
But so long as you agree to think you can't test for Gods interactions with the natural world we won't call you a creationist, *nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink* eh eh
For all intents and purposes a theistic evolutionist is a creationist. The difference is the political and ideological motivations are entirely different from the stealth creationists and the typical YEC/OEC groups that want to 'dismantle' evolution.

In terms of definitions, I want to stress again I have little problem with someone thinking I'm a 'creationist' because technically that's what a theistic evolutionist is to begin with. Trying to define 'creationist' without the "God* created the world part" is impossible. I believe God created the world and I don't see the point in hiding that fact behind a layer of bollocks. It doesn't mean that I give any credence to ID creationism (as the discovery institute tries to hide it) or to biblical creation science. Reading what I have wrote on evolution at this blog or elsewhere should make that immensely clear.

If the fact I happen to have my beliefs about God lowers an atheists respect for me (or anyone else for that matter), rather than the quality of what I actually write here, that is their decision and I couldn't care less.

Update: David Heddle has made a reply to my response to him. Looks like I could be on two fronts soon once Krauze posts his reply to my reply to his reply. Oh my!

*Or Allah, or a collection of deities or a flying spaghetti monster. Whatever.