Good science, bad conclusions; Bad science, bad conclusions

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I’m a firm believer in giving credit where it is due, whether or not I agree with a person. I’m a relatively liberal Democrat, but I recognize there are Republicans who have done and are doing great things.  I don’t want John McCain in the White House next January, but I see no need to assail his character or to deny that he has done good things as a Senator.  Similarly, I am hesitant to throw out the baby with the bathwater in the case of Christian scientists.

I am not a scientist.  I would feel inappropriate delving too deep into scientific questions on this blog because I feel unprepared and unqualified to contribute much to the scientific debate.  I will leave it to others to debate science.  However, in this case the topic transcends the realm of science and moves into the realm of politics, education and philosophy.  

I am no fan of the Intelligent Design movement.  I agree with the general prognosis that it is nothing more than repackaged creationism in its ultimate goals.  At the same time, there are those in the ID community that I think are well intentioned, if wrong.  There are men and women who I think are good scientists, even if they come to some bad conclusions.

As a Christian, I spent a great deal of time reading and studying the works of Hugh Ross, the astronomer,  astrophysicist, and apologist (alliteration, whoa!).  When my faith began to stress under the weight of evidence to the contrary, I slowly began to reject one conclusion after another of Hugh Ross (technically a Progressive Creationist).  The theories and hypothesis he draws from his science are erroneous at many points, in my opinion.  However, I cannot for the life of me make myself call him a bad scientist.  For better or worse, he is a competent scientist who I think has some bad ideas.

On the other hand, I look at creationists like Ken Ham and shudder at the thought that they are indoctrinating millions of American citizens (many of whom while they are children) with pseudo science filth.  Beyond his (mis)use of science, the man has an insufferable personality.  He is overconfident, overzealous and overbearing.  When still a Christian searching for answers, I watched a debate between Ross and Ham and found Ham to be lacking in humility or grace. In light of his bad science and his bad manners, I cannot comprehend the following that Ken Ham has.

I have noticed a pattern in intentionally non-Christian circles to lump these two camps together.  Young earth creationists and ID activists are the same.  From a marketing view point, I’m sure that works.  For those of us who want to see theism eliminated from society (via peaceful, dialectic methods, of course), it is tempting to lump all theists into one big category of backwards country bumpkins.  But it simply is not the case.

I am convinced that Hugh Ross is a good man, an honest man and a competent scientist.  I think he has come to some flat wrong conclusions, and I think he has since then allowed his preconceived notions cloud his judgment when looking at the data, but I am not prepared to dismiss him simply because he is a theist.  I look forward to watching the unfolding dialogue between him and his atheist counterparts.

This is not to say that I am sympathetic to the cause of introducing ID into the education system.  I think this so-called scientific evidence that claims to refute Darwinism and posit belief in a Designer is filled with factual inaccuracies and an obvious agenda.  I take some comfort from the thought that Ross, too, has been (at least in the past) opposed to the persistence with which ID advocates have attempted to introduce ID texts and theories into the school system.  Of course, his opposition has come because he felt that the movement was “not ready” and mine is because they are just wrong.  But I can at least appreciate his honesty.

All this to say that I am content to dismiss movements like Answers in Genesis under the leadership of Ham.  At the same time, I am uncomfortable too closely associating him with groups like Reasons to Believe under Hugh Ross.  Young Earth Creationists seem to me to be ‘too far gone’ to reasonably dialogue with.  Ham and his followers have an agenda which they will pursue as long as they possibly can, and I hope that reasonable people do whatever they can to stop that agenda from being fulfilled.  On the other hand, I see individuals like Hugh Ross as smart people who have come to believe bad ideas.  Ross may be wrong, but he is not a monster.   Like him, many Christians are genuinely seeking truth.  When they delve into the realm of Intelligent Design it is because there is at least a latent desire to truly understand why their faith is the best paradigm of creation.

I myself was a progressive creationist for a time.  Through diligent research and honest dialogue I came to reject the theories of Ross and those like him because they didn’t stand up to the test.  I know from personal experience the frustration with being lumped together with the Young Earth crowd.  Now that I am on the other side of the fence, I am convinced that it can be detrimental to furthering intelligent discussion to alienate the very people who we are trying to convince.

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One Response to “Good science, bad conclusions; Bad science, bad conclusions”

  1. YO, my firend you speake the truf! altouh i lovded the creation museum when i went last fall to it. but we all haves our own fualts! i loved this sciences shit!

    PS
    WHAT The FUCK is up wit you deliten my commentses?
    dat hurt homie!>!?

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