I’ll be giving a talk, “Against Multiverse Theodicies”, at the Baylor University philosophy of religion conference in January. The program is available here. (Also, the paper on which the talk will be based is forthcoming in the journal Philo.)

Due to threats that I’m not in the mood to deal with, I have removed this post.

A new review of my book is now available, in the journal Philosophia Reformata. Here’s my favorite part:

I wish that every scientist, philosopher, theologian, or public figure who wants to say something about ID would first pick up a copy of this book, study it carefully, and then reconsider whether she or he really wants to say it. I’m sure that would save us all a host of muddled arguments and unwarranted opinions.

I’m on the editorial board of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, and I’m pleased to announce this new essay prize. (For the record, Jon Kvanvig, not I, gets the credit for helping to put together this prize.)

$8000 Younger Scholars Prize in Philosophical Theology

The Younger Scholars Prize program, funded by The Ammonius Foundation and administered by the Editorial Board of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, is an annual essay competition open to scholars who are within ten (10) years of receiving a Ph.D. or students who are currently enrolled in a graduate program. Independent scholars may also be eligible, and should direct inquiries to the Editor of OSPR (see below). The award is $8,000, and winning essays will be published in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.

Submitted essays must report original research in philosophical theology. Essays should generally be between 7,500 and 15,000 words; longer essays may be considered, but authors must seek prior approval by providing the Editor with an abstract and a word count prior to submission. Since winning essays will appear in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, submissions must not be under review elsewhere. To be eligible for next year’s prize, submissions must be received, electronically, by 31 August 2010. Refereeing will be blind; authors should omit remarks and references that might disclose their identities. Receipt of submissions will be acknowledged by e-mail. The winner will be determined by a committee of members of the Editorial Board of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, and will be announced in late October or early November 2010. (The Editorial Board reserves the right to extend the deadline further, if no essay is chosen.) Each entry will be simultaneously considered for publication in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, independently of the prize.

Inquiries should be directed to the Editor, Jonathan Kvanvig, at jonathan_kvanvig at baylor.edu, or by post through regular mail at:

Professor Jonathan Kvanvig

OSPR Younger Scholars Prize

Philosophy Department

Baylor University

One Bear Place #97273

Waco, TX 76798-7273

A nicely thought-out, even if somewhat critical, review of my book has been posted online here. Here’s how it starts:

Bradley Monton’s new book, Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, is an exercise in the principle of charity. Rather than join the chorus of critics dismissing Intelligent Design (henceforth ID) as vacuous, a religious conspiracy or pseudoscience, Monton – himself the atheist of the subtitle – attempts to develop it into the strongest form possible and see if perhaps there is anything to it after all. Although doing so may win him few admirers, he sets to the task with enthusiasm.

A nice summary/review of my book has been posted here. (Sheperd Project ran the Castle Rock ID conference I went to a few months ago.)

Here’s the most interesting part of the review:

Personally, my own conclusion is that Monton is coming across much like a judge presiding over a court case. He’s pointing out valid arguments, weeding out the unnecessary fluff, and willing to let the two sides present their cases. And he does so in a respectable manner, fairly summarizing both points of views. And while his conclusions lean towards an atheist worldview, the majority of the book is concerned with letting the court case unfold, and not so much about his personal final sentencing.

As a pilot project, Broadview Press has made three of their books available electronically for purchase, and mine is one of the three. You can get the electronic edition of my book here.

Here is a good review by Doug Groothuis of a recent talk that Michael Shermer gave in Denver. While I didn’t see this particular talk by Shermer, I did see him talk a few years ago, and it sounds like nothing’s changed; Groothuis’s critiques are mostly on-target.

I’m mentioned in one part of the review:

Shermer emphasized that creationists and ID thinkers believe that Darwinism leads to atheism which leads to relativism and social decay. He said, “It’s all about worldview.” His argument seems to be that since there is no good science involved, the challenge to Darwinism can be reduced to a political agenda. But Shermer did nothing to refute the idea that atheism can lead to relativism and social decay—besides scoffing at the idea. …

More importantly, the social motivations of critics of Darwinism and defenders of design are utterly irrelevant with respect to the science they are assessing. What counts are their arguments. To attack motives in order to discredit arguments is to commit the fallacy of poisoning the well. Bradley Monton, an atheist who is sympathetic to ID, makes just this case in Seeking God in Science.

The video of the debate I moderated between William Lane Craig and Francisco Ayala is now available here.

Here is my followup to Part I of my reply to the comments on Matt Young’s review of my book. (My reply to Young’s review itself is here.)

(1) eric writes:

In contrast IDers want significant classroom time spent on it (far more than 10 minutes), with no mention of why its wrong, or why 150 years ago this idea was rejected.

While I’m sure some IDers are like that, it’s worth noting that the whole Dover trial was about whether a statement should be read to the students before they learned about evolution in 9th grade biology class; reading that statement would take about 30 seconds.

(2) John Kwok writes:

I think Monton has bought into the Wedge ever since his graduate school days at Princeton, where, incidentally, he apparently overlapped with a Princeton Theological Seminary student named William A. Dembski.

For the record, I never met Dembski when I was at Princeton; the first time I met him was years later, when he came to University of Kentucky to debate Michael Shermer. And also for the record, I don’t buy into the Wedge strategy, nor am I a proponent of the Wedge strategy.

(3) Wheels writes:

his selection of reviews for Seeking God in Science consists half of Discovery Institute fellows and the other half philosophers friendly to ID’s framing of the issue, and hostile to real science. Of the latter, Groothuis has also decided that ID isn’t traditional Creationism and argues that it’s not religious, that “Darwinism” has problems ID addresses, etc. etc. (Roberts doesn’t seem to have much out there to be cited, but his page at Chapel Hill has papers where he re-jiggers and defends the Fine-Tuning argument for Design, as well as a lot of other things which are lost on me but might be interesting to those more familiar with contemporary philosophy.)

I assume Wheels is talking about the people who contributed blurbs for the back cover. These are by Groothuis (theist), Dembski, (theist), Berlinski (agnostic), and Roberts (atheist). Only Dembksi and Berlinski are affiliated with the Discovery Institute. Roberts is a pre-eminent philosopher of science at one of the top philosophy departments in the country, UNC-Chapel Hill.

(4) Glen Davidson writes:

Pennock doesn’t leave Monton’s nonsense alone in US New & World Report. That was before Monton’s book was published, which apparently was sometime last summer.

And Pennock does a bad job addressing my arguments, as I point out here (well worth reading for anyone who has read the Pennock piece, in my opinion).

(5) raven writes:

It is up to Monson, if he is an IDist, to explain who the Designer(s) are and what evidence there is for design.

We shouldn’t have to guess or wonder. He is a college professor and should be capable of simple communication.

I’m not an IDist. I do talk about what evidence there is for design in my book. You don’t have to guess or wonder; it’s out there for you to read.

(6) Gary Hurd writes:

I am thinking that writing for a creationist audience, touted and flouted by the Discotutes, will pay more than real work. And I would not be surprised that the DI sent a little “love” to Monty.

I have not received any money from the Discovery Institute.

(7) raven writes:

chances are Monton is getting paid somehow by the DI. They have a budget of 4 million USD/year and it all goes to PR and propaganda. We don’t really know though, just a guess.

I would ask him point blank but it is useless. My experience is that when you corner these people, they refuse to answer or lie or simply run.

raven should have actually tried asking me point blank.

(8) Matt Young helpfully writes:

The following is not whining and is completely off task, but it may explain why I do not think Professor Monton wrote his book for the money:

I published my first book, an optics book, in 1977. At that time royalties were typically 10% of list price. Between that book and a book on technical writing, I probably had a couple of years in which my royalties amounted to the low five figures, counting to the left of the decimal point.

Typical royalties today, I think, are 7.5% of sales, or about half what they were in the 1980’s. On subsequent books, I have received royalties each year in the middle or even upper five figures, but now I have to count on both sides of the decimal point.

I haven’t received any royalty money from my book yet; I think I will in February. I also don’t know what the sales figures are. I’ll be happy to make the information public when I do get the royalty money and sales figures. But Matt is right, I didn’t write the book for the money; academic books just don’t sell that well. I wrote the book because I thought many of the criticisms of intelligent design were unfair, and that the best way to further the cause of reason was to give state the case for intelligent design the best way one can, and then to give the best criticisms one can of intelligent design. To give unfair or misguided or emotionally driven or culturally biased criticisms of intelligent design is really just helping out the intelligent design proponents, by making it look to the neutral observer like their critics are intellectually unsophisticated people.

(9) Frank J writes:

I’d bet that Monton agrees with the 4.5 BY that mainstream science and most DI Fellows claim, and accepts common descent.

Yes, that’s right.

(10) John Kwok writes:

Am not sure Matt Young realizes how much of an apologist Monton has been for the Dishonesty Institute, but anyone reading Monton’s CV would realize how much he’s been one, and especially one quite dedicated to the DI’s conception of Intelligent Design even before the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial.

For those who are interested, here’s his CV:

http://spot.colorado.edu/~monton/Br[…]ton%20cv.pdf

I encourage people to look at my CV, because I really don’t know what Kwok is talking about here; I have not been an apologist for the Discovery Institute, as far as I can tell. Also, in Chapter 1 of my book, I take issue with the Discovery Institute’s conception of intelligent design.

(11) Brenda writes:

I believe Monton was driven to his position by his companions’ obnoxious attitude towards Creationism. Not with the arguments themselves, but the attitude. When Monton tried to give a Creationist the benefit of the doubt /here and there/, he was verbally attacked, as if he were “one of them”. He just wanted to distance himself from that s#!t, and look where he wound up. Everyone here at PandasThumb, keep up the good work and you’ll see scores of Bradley Montons.

In part Brenda is right, but it’s not just the obnoxious attitude toward intelligent design that bothered me; it was the bad arguments. The second half of Chapter 2 of my book, where I criticize Pennock’s take on intelligent design, gives evidence of what motivated me to write the book. But Brenda is absolutely right that I’m being unfairly attacked as if I am one of the creationists, when in fact I’m not.

(12) Brenda also writes:

Mike Elzinga charges: “Your loyalties are misplaced. And you should learn some real science so that you can tell the difference between what is real and what is fake.”

Your jumping to conclusions about me (and in both cases they’re wrong) is irritating. It’s that kind of thing that irritated, and pushed away, Monton, too.

I will agree that the jumping to conclusions by the various commenters in this thread is irritating. It’s an example of really bad reasoning, and it’s concerning that people who think of themselves as scientifically-minded people are engaging in such bad reasoning.

(13) phantomreader42 writes, addressing Brenda:

The reason you’re ineffectual is that you don’t have the slightest fucking idea what the hell you’re talking about, and you can’t be bothered to live up to your own bullshit standards for five seconds.

That provides an answer to this request by Wheels, regarding my blog:

Would be nice of you to turn on comments.