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September 17, 2007

The Unpardonable Sin in Academia

What do William Dembski, Frank Beckwith, and Dr. Robert J. Marks have in common? All three have been victims of academic suppression not at Cornell, Stanford or MIT, but at Baylor University—the world’s largest institute of higher learning in the Baptist tradition.

In 2001, Baylor shut down the Michael Polanyi Center and removed Dr. William Dembski as its director because of the center’s focus on ID. Last year, Baylor tried to deny tenure to Frank Beckwith—a scholar who is recognized as a world class philosopher with a prodigious publication record and high teaching marks--for his views on ID.

And now the campus thought police have Robert Marks in their crosshairs. Marks is a Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor who chairs several national and international committees, has authored over 300 technical papers and three books, and has received numerous awards in the field of computational intelligence.

This past June Dr. Marks launched a website on the Baylor server called “Evolutionary Informatics Lab.” The purpose of the lab was to distinguish “the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems.”

Although not an ID site per se, Evolutionary Informatics was ID-friendly, containing quotes by Michael Polanyi and links to publications of ID researchers like William Dembski. That was enough for a group of anonymous complainers to pressure the administration into purging the site from the Baylor system.

In sad irony, the science building where Dr. Marks works bears the words of Paul, "By Him all things are made; in Him all things are held together."

Even sadder is the fact that Baylor, as a Christian-based school, is not alone. As Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute explains, "In the academic world, if you question evolution, you come under attack. There's been a pattern of discrimination against ID all over the nation in the past couple years."

It seems that the one commandment enforced by secular and Christian schools alike is: “Thou shalt put no other gods before Darwin.”

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What does it tell you that even Baylor will poo poo ID? Hmmmmm? Doesn't that speak volumes?

IDers will get no credibility until they start doing science. What are they waiting for?


Steve, please define science and demonstrate how evolution qualifies.

Mike Perry

As a joke, the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle is selling a breath spray that claims to enable you to "Understand Modern Art" with just one whiff and without the bother and hard work of studying the topic.

It recently occurred to me that the same is true of Darwinian evolution. One little whiff makes anyone, whatever their academic training, into an instant expert on biology, no matter how complex the topic and no matter how shrouded the actual events are in far-distant prehistory. Toss in a few words about evolution, species, and survival and you sound like an expert. You're protected by one of the most zealously guarded dogmas in human history.

The occasion for that flash of insight was the start of a Stanford University iTunes university class on "Modern Theoretical Physics." What are the chances of a professor teaching such a course knowing much about biological evolution? Virtually nil. And yet he opens his course, not by talking about physics, but by talking on and on about evolution teaching the predatory cats of Africa complex principles of physics.

Exactly how was that proved? Do we have a carefully preserved collection of cats who were not subject to evolutionary pressures and who are thus dismally ignorant of the physics of the chase? No, all we have are cats that have that knack, at least by the time they reach hunting age. We know nothing about how that ability came to exist.

Evolution is merely a surmise, a clever way to explain almost anything with a few catchwords. It's just as reasonable to assert that these cats have no such innate ability, that they're merely clever enough to learn like people learn--by personal observation and experience or by being taught by others of their species. And it's just as easy to assert that this ability was installed into the minds of cats much like we install an operating system on our computers.

The oddest thing about this is that the professor himself was living proof that evolution hasn't taught us physics. We still have to take courses taught by people such as himself.

--Mike Perry, Seattle
Editor: Eugenics and Other Evils by G. K. Chesterton


I have a (non-rhetorical) question:

Why is evolution considered such a heresy by many bloggers and readers on this site? What in your theology rules it out as a possibility?

Kim Moreland

It's not "evolution" per se, it's the strict scientific materialism that we fight against.

To quote from one of my older articles starting with a quote from Rhetorical historian Thomas Woodward's, "ID’s purpose isn’t to stop good scientific practices—quite the contrary. It will open the stifling Darwinian regime to include considering “natural and intelligent causes in this history of biological origins and innovation,” writes Woodward. What is particularly inviting about the ID movement is its big tent policy. It is comprised of a wide spectrum of people from diverse backgrounds and professions who believe in different origin stories—such as those who believe in guided evolution, others who believe the world was created old or young, and still others who have no particular faith.

Regis Nicoll

Brian—To agree with Kim, there’s nothing wrong with “evolution” as long as we’re talking about small scale changes--like different breeds of dogs and drug-resistant bacteria--due to genetic variation, adaptation and natural selection. The issue is with Darwinian macro-evolution which holds that the panoply of life is traceable to a common ancestor that emerged from a primordial recipe produced by some subatomic particles that mysteriously appeared, then haphazardly collided eons ago into a very fortuitous configuration. It is a enchanting narrative, but evidentially impoverished, as I write in some detail in my BP piece Against the Ropes with Darwin (http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=5915)

Steve (SBK)

"Steve, please define science and demonstrate how evolution qualifies."
Anna, I think you meant "Dave". :)

Brian, likely any complaint you'll hear against evolution is an implicit conflation of it with (something like) materialistic naturalism (which goes without saying should, as a worldview, be considered 'heresy'). And this understanding is not unreasonable given that "evolution/darwinism/etc" is more often than not cited to promote an atheistic worldview.

I doubt that any theology "rules it out as a possibility", but that depends on how you define "it".

How do you define it? And, what in your theology speaks for it? (In essence this is a reversal of your question, which, when phrased this way shows that likely we aren't talking about the 'science' but the 'philosophical assumptions' made about the topic ... in my opinion).

Steve (SBK)

And... it looks like 2 bloggers (at least) have beaten me to the punch. :)


Thanks for the clarification everyone.

I certainly understand that the science of evolution needs to be studied further. I remember even in 9th grade biology having some questions I felt went unexplained. At the same time, I'm surprised at the often knee-jerk reaction to dismiss evolution.

Evolution makes no claim for or against divinity. It simple states, the laws of nature (however they got there) act upon living organisms (however they came to be) in a particular--even remarkable--way.

The God that I believe in is all-powerful and all-knowing. God exists outside of time, before there was anything. And I am here because of that God. Whether that God designed a wonderful unvierse for me to live in, calculated laws of math and science, formulated natural conditions, and breathed God's spirit into Creation all so that I might sit here today or whether God simply picked up some dust and performed a magic trick, it matters not to me. In fact, God seems all the more powerful to me in the former case.

Nothing in my theology mandates evolution but neither does it rule it out. When religion is based upon what we think we don't know, it crumbles when we find it out. I don't want to adhere to a god-of-the-gaps theology because as those gaps close, that god would be pushed away.

But God is not threatened when we seek to understand Creation nor is God threatened when we find out we didn't know quite right.

I seek to understand God's creation and if that means I discover I share a common ancestor with a chimpanzee, I feel special nonetheless. In fact, I marvel even more that God found a way to bring me here today.


And all that comes down to:

Would our efforts be best spent (and most glorifying to God) in searching to understand God's creation by exploring all options rather than setting up a science vs. faith dichotomy?

Steve (SBK)

I think the point of the post was that here we find a(n?) University that is squashing the debate (or if you like, setting up a science vs. faith dichotomy) based on the assumptions some of the scientists have about the Universe. You can't very well understand God's creation if you are not allowed to explore it.
(But, I understand what your concern is).


Brian, what rules Darwinian evolution out for Christians and Jews is Creation-Fall-Redemption, the very underpinnings of our worldview. Accept evolution and you can have some sort of theism, but it won't be Christianity, and it won't be Judaism.

Christian parents need to stop sending their children to Baylor, and Christians need to stop funding it in any way.


You propose that "[ID] will open the stifling Darwinian regime to include considering 'natural and intelligent causes in this history of biological origins and innovation,'" but could not evolution include a Creator God? From what I learned, evolution makes no claims about the origins of the universe, it only attempts to explain how the world has been functioning since it was formed.

Regis, you simplify evolutionary theory to state that "the panoply of life is traceable to a common ancestor that emerged from a primordial recipe produced by some subatomic particles that mysteriously appeared, then haphazardly collided eons ago into a very fortuitous configuration."

Could you not rephrase it that: The God of the Universe designed the laws of physics, math, science and even logic. From nothing all things were created by God. And God so carefully crafted our Universe that because of God's infinite wisdom, colliding subatomic particles would give rise to precious children?


labrialumn, how does evolution undermine creation-fall-redemption?

God created a universe and created humans to occupy a special place within that universe, indeed God breathed life into us and made us in God's image. Humans, by our conscious actions, have betrayed God and betrayed one another, and thus have soured God's perfect creation. And yet, God descended into creation and provided for humanity a perfect model to live by, a perfect sacrifice to die by, a perfect to teacher to leave with us.


Brian, neo-Darwinism says that evolution is driven by such things as adultery, fornication, rape, theft and murder. And God said "It was good" So, why did Jesus die upon the cross, again?

The fact is, we live in a non-normative universe. God isn't evil, He is good. Affirm evolution, and you deny the Fall, you deny any distinction between the universe before and after the curse. And therefore, as Dr. Francis Schaeffer points out in some detail in his _Genesis in Space and Time_ you have no answers.

You also have no gospel. You could see Jesus as a teacher who taught against the Father's will in evolution, or you could see Him as an example of how not to live (according to evolutionary psychology) but you won't have Christianity, or the substitutionary atonement in Hebrews. You will have a different gospel, a different ethic, and a different god.



I think it needs to be said that there's a difference between Theists and Christians. For Theists, Evolution can be welcomed and encouraged, provided that it makes room for God. Exactly like your statements above. Those are very theistic in that they acknowledge a deity as having a role in the evolutionary process.

But when you begin to talk of Christians, as a Bible-believing community, then you have a different issue at hand. To say "God is not threatened when we seek to understand creation", could be construed as presumptious. If you believe that the Bible is literally God's very word, His instructions and doctrines for mankind...basically, His wishes for the people He made: then it's basically a slap in His face when we say "that's not good enough, I've got to find out on my own!". And that is what theists do essentially. They hold to a God, but not necessarily His Word. And if the Bible really is His Word, I think He would be rather offended by us saying that we need more authority than Himself.

To illustrate: imagine a group of Harry Potter fans telling J.K. Rowling that they don't believe she's right about the end of her last book; that the events told therein actually transpired differently. She'd consider them the most pompous and arrogant little snots! She is the author, and her characters are hers to do with and to direct. Just like God. And it is the height of arrogance and pride to tell the Creator that His account of the world's origin just isnt' good enough.

Peter D. Buikema

Trouble with evolution is that it's a priori is "no God." Darwin was led down the garden path by his supporters who wanted a "plausible" theory that did not require a higher power.

The other problem is that the second law of thermodynamics does not allow for "anti-rot." Nature tends toward chaos, not organization, and certainly not improvement.

Steve Klein

There is a theological underpinning to all of this: it seems clear that evolutionists generally disregard the mere discussion of ID because it generates questions about who the designer is. A designer has implications beyond mere theory: lifestyles choices and worldviews come into question. If in fact there is no scientific basis for ID, then evolutionists need only refute it with scientific fact. Why quell the interchange of ideas? From what I've read, ID proponents have genuine, objectively good reasons to support their position; they're not operating according to faith (though they may have faith), but according to fact.

Lucifer Peccato

"Posted by: Steve (SBK) | September 18, 2007 at 01:40 PM

Brian, what rules Darwinian evolution out for Christians and Jews is Creation-Fall-Redemption, the very underpinnings of our worldview. Accept evolution and you can have some sort of theism, but it won't be Christianity, and it won't be Judaism.

Christian parents need to stop sending their children to Baylor, and Christians need to stop funding it in any way."


I don't think that you can speak for those of the Jewish faith. You know absolutely nothing about Judaism if you think that they think of the real Bible as being some sort of a true account of history.

The Jews and christians believe in a completely different God. Actually, if you asked 100 Jews what theor belief in God is, you'd get 300 answers. The belief in God to most mainstream Jews is more of a pantheistic belief. Additionally, most people of the Jewish faith accept what real scientists say about how humans got here...evolution.

Please, don't ever group christians and Jews together. They are two completely different religions. Christianity tends to be much more credulous than Judaism.

Lucifer Peccato

M. Schroyer

What does "ID" stand for?

Regis Nicoll

ID stands for "Intelligent Design."

Steve (SBK)

Lucifer Peccato,
I think you meant to attribute the quote to labrialumn, or at least, you should have since they were his words.

However, I don't really understand your complaints. Most of my Jewish friends do see their Scriptures as based in history. All their traditions proclaim this (e.g. Passover meal). Christians and Jews don't believe in the same God? They share the same scriptures (the Christian Old Testament); all the first Christians, including Jesus, were Jews; pantheistic? Ever hear of The Shema?; perhaps by mainstream you meant secular?; You seem to think it strange or out of the ordinary labrialumn grouped Jews and Christians: Ever heard of the term: Judeo-Christian?; The main difference focuses on the Nature and Works of the Person of Christ.

But, that's just my take - even though I wasn't the originator of your complaint.

Perhaps some other people can also comment.

jason taylor

In the first place there is some confusion about the term "creation". Creation means "bring into being from nothing by divine intervention." It is neither provable nor disprovable and saying that science has disproven "creation". As for whether science has disproven "Creationism", as "creationism" is primarily criticism of Darwinism, saying that is saying that science has disproven creation which is impossible.
Even if it were proven that given the "laws" of nature as they currently exist , evolution must have taken place one must still prove that those laws hold absolutely true through all time and space to prove Darwinism. Furthermore there are several ways to account for Genesis even assuming evolution to be true in the sense Darwinists claim.

1. It could be a tale-God cannot lie or err, but it is not said that He cannot tell stories.

2. Things happend at a faster rate earlier so the carbon dating is out of whack.

3. What was created in seven days was the programing of the Earth to produce given creatures at a given time.

None of these are "falseifiable". They aren't intended to be. They are only intended to show that scorn for those who believe the Bible is unwarrented.

Moreover "science"(usually meaning the scientific consensus)is always changing. Changing so often that it is illogical to put certainty in it.

Of course Religion cannot be proven either. Which is why believers are called believers-and not "knowers"


The hypothesis of the big bang leaping into existence and claiming that science has disproved God making something out of nothing is merely conjecture. But the main motivation for such a statement is the hate towards Christianity, and the promotion of secularism.

Interesting enough, as science grows so does some defections within the higher ranks of education. It has alarmed special interest groups like the militant atheists, so much so that they watch for any publication within their ranks that might lead toward ID. If they suspect a person as such, the push for having that person undermined, and removal starts within the ranks then picked up by the blogs...

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