Fratricide: New Atheists vs. Framing Atheists

As of late there has been a lot of spittle passed between two camps in the Darwin-sphere. Things are getting really nasty, as so often happens among atheist factions. On one side are the new atheists: Coyne, Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, Myers. On the other side are the … well for want of a better word — the “framing” atheists: Ruse, Mooney, Kirshenbaum, Nisbet, Scott. With the exception of a few theist Darwinians (an oxymoron, I know) like Ken Miller, the motivation of the combatants seems to be the same: how to best advance an atheist-Darwinian understanding of man and nature. The factions differ on tactics. The new atheists advocate militancy. They believe:

Robert Wright’s “Grand Bargain” on Evolution? Maybe Not So Grand After All

I like Robert Wright and enjoyed his recent book The Evolution of God. One thing I value about him is his candor. Thus in his New York Times op-ed on Sunday proposing a “grand bargain” between religion and science (i.e., Darwinism), he can’t help but blurt out what would be asked in this bargain even of religious believers who think they’ve already managed to square God with Darwin. These believers, notably adherents of “theistic evolution,” with their minimalist view of the Deity, should be prepared to “scale back their conception of God’s role in creation.” If I’m reading Bob Wright correctly, even the theism-lite of theistic evolution can be reconciled with a full-bodied Darwinism only at the cost of further Read More ›

A “Heretic” in Jewish Terms? Someone Who Denies Intelligent Design

Last week some readers of my Beliefnet blog had a hard time accepting that the rabbinic term “apikoros,” a kind of heretic, denotes someone who rejects — if I may use the contemporary term — intelligent design. One fellow, by a rigorous Google search, even believed he’d found Internet-based proof that an apikoros designates a Christian! Um, no. The Mishnah uses the word without explanation, for a category of persons who have no share in the World to Come. The Talmud links it with insolence either to the face of the Sages or in their presence. (See Sanhedrin 90a, 99b.) Maimonides finds an etymological connection to an Aramaic word for “disparagement.” But what of the idea content of the term? Read More ›

Francis Collins and the Overselling of Evolution

In two recent posts (here and here), I discussed the continuing misrepresentations of intelligent design by Francis Collins, whose confirmation as head of the National Institutes of Health in the Obama administration was announced on August 7. Today I would like to shift the focus to Dr. Collins’ misrepresentation of evolutionary biology–or more precisely, to his misrepresentation of the scientific usefulness of evolution to biology. Collins has every right to endorse neo-Darwinian evolution if he wishes, but his view of evolution’s value to scientific research is pretty much over-the-top. In a recent interview, he claimed: Trying to do biology without evolution would be like trying to do physics without mathematics. There is no doubt that modern neo-Darwinian theory has had Read More ›

Francis Collins’ Hear-No-Evil, See-No-Evil Approach to Persecution of ID Proponents

Last week I discussed an interview with Francis Collins in Books and Culture where Dr. Collins wrongly called intelligent design (ID) unfalsifiable. Before offering more critiques of the interview, I want to say that in some respects, I have found Francis Collins’ voice to be a welcome addition to the debate over evolution and ID. I am very much in agreement with Dr. Collins on certain issues, such as the evidence for design from the fine-tuning of physics and the frailties of Darwinian explanations for many higher aspects of the human psyche and behavior (i.e. our moral and religious urges). Collins is of course entitled to disagree with ID in biology, but I’m becoming saddened by the charged and inaccurate Read More ›