November 2008

A key reason I got involved in the intelligent design debates is that I was unhappy with some of the standard criticisms of ID given in the literature. Of course there are lots of bad arguments for ID out there — there are bad arguments given for every position. But it’s unfair to focus on the bad arguments, when there are better arguments that are given — or even when there are better arguments that could be given (even though they currently aren’t being given by the ID proponents). 

Similarly, it’s unfair to saddle ID proponents with their history. Just because they espoused religious views in the past in conjunction with ID, or treated ID as a lot like creationism, that doesn’t follow that the doctrine of ID has to be understood religiously, or like creationism, now. It’s perfectly legitimate for one to make changes to the doctrine one is espousing, and it’s unfair for critics to simply focus on the past bad doctrines proponents used to espouse, when there are more plausible doctrines being espoused now. 

Here’s an update on the status of my book. Barring any last-minute changes of mind, the book will be called Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design. The manuscript is about 70,000 words. Those who are familiar with my published articles know that I lean towards pithy writing, so having 70,000 words worth of things to to say is a major accomplishment for me. The manuscript is currently in the copy-editing stage. It’s coming out with Broadview Press, and if all goes well it will be out this coming summer. 

You can read a brief chapter-by-chapter summary here. That summary was written a while ago, and doesn’t completely capture the focus of each chapter of the book, but until I get around to writing another summary it will do.

The fifth and final (for now) podcast interview with me is available here.

Oops, when I said Part III was the final podcast, I was wrong — there’s a part IV!

The third and final (for now) podcast interview with me for ID the Future is now available.

I consider myself an atheist — while I’m not certain that there is no God, I think it’s pretty unlikely that there is. (Some intelligent design arguments make me less certain that there is no God than I would be had I not heard the arguments, so that’s why, even though I’m an atheist, I think intelligent design arguments are worth taking seriously.) 

But some people have questioned my claim that I’m an atheist. For example, in response to my claim that there are objective moral truths, someone weighed in with this:

When someone talks about not believing in God, but believing in some sort of objective reality like “morality existing in the universe,” it just makes me think that they are just rejecting the cartoon “God” of so many Christians, rather than the real God.  To me that objective morality or directionality of the universe IS God.  Get rid of the beard and the clouds…  Love.  Creativity.  Truth. Morality…  In my mind if you believe in an objective reality of these things, you do believe in some sort of “god”, perhaps just not a personal aspect of “it”.  

Well, I certainly don’t believe in a cartoon version of a Christian God. But I don’t believe in the Christian God either, as long as one construes the Christian God to be the God who became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and died for our sins, or even just if one construes the Christian God to be the God that will provide at least some people with an afterlife in communion with him. 

So I don’t believe in the Christian God. Do I believe in some sort of God? Well, it depends on how people define God. I believe in love, and I believe in objective morality, and I believe in creativity — if one wants to simply define God as love, or morality, or creativity, then yes I believe in God. But normally when I think of God, I think of a being that created the physical universe, and I don’t think that love or morality or creativity created the universe. Also, normally when I think of God, I think of a being that is immensely powerful and knowledgeable, and I don’t think that love or morality or creativity is immensely powerful or knowledgeable. In fact, I don’t think it even makes sense to say that love or morality or creativity is knowledgeable — this is known in philosophical circles as a category mistake

But if it turns out that there are lots of theists who say that they believe in God simply because they believe in love or morality or creativity, then I guess I’d happy to join their side, and say that I believe in God too. I would worry, though, that I was misleading people when I said that, because there are at least some people out there (like me right now) who have a quite different conception of God than that, and that’s what leads some of us to say that we’re atheists.

Part II of my interview on the ID the Future podcast is now available here.

I recently taped a few interviews with Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute for the ID the Future podcast, and the first one is now available.

This should go without saying, but just to be clear, my doing an interview with the Discovery Institute does not entail that I endorse the ideas of the Discovery Institute.

The palpable unhappiness that some people on the atheist side of things expressed at my THINK! talk has got me wondering — why is it that some people who are opposed to intelligent design or theism are so emotional and angry about it? It’s not intellectually healthy, in that it leads them to give bad arguments for atheism and against the positions they oppose. I came across an interesting discussion of this point by William Lane Craig, in response to two questioners (one an atheist, one a theist) who are also wondering why this is the case. When you click that link, scroll down for Craig’s reply to the questions; it’s worth reading.

One of the reasons it’s worth reading is that Craig, one of the most prominent Christian apologists around, says:

atheism is not an implausible worldview and … therefore the poverty of atheist argumentation cannot be written off to the bankruptcy of atheism itself.

I appreciate his intellectual honesty in saying that. 

Anyway, regarding the trend of atheists being angry and emotional, I wish I had an answer as to why this trend is happening, but I don’t. I can form various hypotheses for why this trend is happening, but none of them seems plausible enough to bother typing out here — I’m sure the hypotheses that you can form are at least as good as mine. 

More perspective on this is provided by this previous post of mine.

A nice summary of and commentary on my THINK! lecture is available here.