Archive for the ‘Francis Collins’ Category

The ID v. Biologos debate that I had reported yesterday is apparently now off, and it does not appear that this is coming from the Discovery Institute.

Bruce Waltke had previously reported that Francis Collins may have a policy of not dialoguing publicly with ID proponents:

In a personal correspondence, one highly respected scholar—were it otherwise, I would not cite him– wrote that it is alleged that Collins will not publicly engage an adherent of anti-evolution ID; he further suggested that if this is not so, Collins should make this clear.

If this is true, it is a real shame.  Waltke also had this to say:

The organizations seeking to refute evolution and/or to narrow the gap between creation and evolution must address one another with respect and openness to be optimally effective. The gap between BioLogos and ID, I suggest, can best be narrowed by open dialogue, not by entrenched confrontation.

I agree.

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Before continuing with this series on the many false and misleading statements about ID in the book The Language of God, I wanted to comment on some of the larger problems with Francis Collins’ discussion.  The specific factual problems with his treatment of ID really matter, because of the larger problems with this chapter.

1.  Collins does not accurately explain what ID is.  He defines it in a way that is at odds with how the leading ID proponents describe it, and he does not disclose this.

2.  The whole chapter on ID reads like a polemic, and it seems that he is trying to marginalize ID proponents and encourage Christians to dismiss ID without considering its claims.

3.  He seems to want to paint ID as unscientific and a product of a Christian lawyer.  Again, this will not encourage thoughtful reflection on the key issues.

4.  He does not acknowledge that he makes ID arguments in his book, and does not give any explanation as to why he seems to think some design arguments are good while others are bad.

5.  His discussion of ID will harm ongoing civil discourse, not help it.  This is obviously not what the Christian community needs right now.


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How many false and misleading statements can you find in this passage from The Language of God, by Francis Collins, published in 2006?

Intelligent Design burst on the scene in 1991.  Some of its roots can be traced to earlier scientific arguments pointing out the statistical improbability of the origins of life.  But ID places its major focus not on how the first self-replicating organisms came to be, but rather on perceived failings of the evolutionary theory to account for life’s subsequent stunning complexity.

ID’s founder is Phillip Johnson, a Christian lawyer at the University of California at Berkeley, whose book Darwin on Trial first laid out the ID position.  Those arguments have been further expanded by others, especially Michael Behe, a biology professor whose book Darwin’s Black Box elaborated the concept of irreducible complexity.  More recently, William Dembski, a mathematician trained in information theory, has taken up a leading role as expositor of the ID movement.


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Jonathan Witt has the best article I have seen discussing the design argument that Francis Collins makes in his book The Language of God:

The mainstream media have emphasized two aspects of the book: Its insistence that Darwinism is no threat to Christianity, and its argument that Darwinism better explains a range of physical evidence than either creationism or intelligent design. What has gone begging for ink, however, is a feature of the book hidden in plain sight: Francis Collins makes a scientific case for intelligent design.

According to the theory of intelligent design, which extends from the origin of matter to the origin of mind, an intelligent cause is the best explanation for certain features of the natural world. In chapter nine Collins argues against intelligent design in biology, and this the media have picked up. But in chapter three, “The Origins of the Universe,” he argues that an intelligent cause is the best explanation for certain features of the natural world, in this case, features that existed before the origin of life.  (bold mine)

Francis Collins may not be a big fan of the modern intelligent design movement, but he certainly likes some design arguments from nature very much.  He thus takes his proper place on The Design Spectrum.

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