Barbarians at the Gates

Henry Neufeld over at Threads from Henry’s Web has started a conversation on ID. Joe Carter (Evangelical Outpost) and Matthew Anderson (Mere Orthodoxy) have chimed in offered a few thoughts. In my clumsy fashion, I too will comment as well. Mr Neufeld states his case strongly, and perhaps overly so, for some things seem wrong to me. For example:

I am sometimes asked why I spend so much of my time on the / controversy. The reason is simply that there is a full scale assault going on against free inquiry, something that is essential to the integrity and continued progress of science.

I find this a hard thesis to support. Has Mr Neufeld not read (regularly or at all) for example Macht at Prosthesis or the any of the works by other authors blogging at Tellic Thoughts. I find it hard to contend that these just mentioned gentlemen are engaged in any sort of assault on free inquiry. In fact, if one looks at the diatribe and venom spewed out by prominent a blogger on the evolution/creation question, it seems clear that any “full scale assault” against free exchange of ideas going on is by bloggers like Mr Myers at Pharyngula. It closely depends on your definition of the word “integrity” if one is to pass any sort of metric of that in a comparison there. How is this comment by Mr Carter for example:

This post expresses an opinion that I believe to be logically-consistent, biblically-based, and necessarily-true. But I am humbled by the knowledge that my view differs from some of my fellow Christians–many of who are certainly more wise, discerning, and knowledgeable about Scripture than I will ever be. I am open to correction.

in Mr Neufeld’s words to be considered “a full scale assault on free inquiry”? I must demurr and insist … this thing it is not.

Additionally, from an educational perspective, I think the matter is barely relevant. My opinion on education is that we need to teach, at the primary and secondary levels, the ability to learn. In teaching this to a high level, students will as a matter of course obtain excellence in some few areas of study. What those areas of study might be matters little for success in any field of endeavor later in life. If a child learns to do four things well, they will excel1. Evolution in science and quite possibly creation as such in theology are topics relegated to the corner. Evolution as a science is a backwater, barely necessary for a coherent description of Nature. While ex nihilo and Creation as such is a cornerstone of Christian (and Jewish?) theology, interpretation of “day” and literal vs figurative (or my preference ontological as in Leon Kass’ The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis … see this and this) is pretty much also adiophora, i.e., a difference that make no difference.


1Those things discussed elsewhere being: memorization, diligence, reasoning, and perseverance. To put it simply, if a child remembers what is taught, can make (insightful) connections between those things, is careful and hard working they will do well. If you disagree find me a counter example, a child who excels at those but fails or succeeds without them.

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  1. […] responded to my post Why the Creation-Evolution Controvery is Important with a post of his own, Barbarians at the Gate. It appears that was his gentle way of telling me that I’m a bit over the top, at least about […]