Colson on ID Supporters
In the course of replying to a recent New York Times article about H.L. Mencken, Charles Colson offered these thoughts on scientists sympathetic to to ID:
The Times also exposed its ignorance of the kind of people who espouse intelligent design. Does it realize it is calling Albert Einstein a boob? Einstein once said: “God does not play dice with the cosmos”—he found design in the universe. Scientist Fritz Schaefer—four times nominated for a Nobel Prize—is another “boob” who believes in the intelligent design theory. So does Professor Michael Behe, the Lehigh biochemist who has proven the “irreducible complexity” of the human cell structure. And then there is Oxford Professor Antony Flew, the famous British philosopher. Throughout his long career, Flew argued that there was a “presumption of atheism”—that is, the existence of a creator could not be proved. Intelligent design caused Flew, at the age of 81, to reverse himself and acknowledge God as creator. Flew is “ignorant”?
Stephen Jay Gould once observed that “creationists are singularly devoid of shame” in parroting any favorable argument that anyone has ever raised, no matter how nonsensical or frequently refuted. Here we have a case in point.
First, Einstein (who actually said “God does not play dice with the universe”) did not believe in any religious notion of God. In fact, he once ridiculed the notion of a personal God as a childish delusion. His occasional references to God, like the one above, were just shorthand for a general sense of awe at the laws of physics. He certainly would not have accepted any notion that we must allow supernatural explanations to be a legitimate part of science.
Second, describing Fritz Schaefer as a four-time nominee (strangely, most anti-evolution sites describe him as a five-time nominee) is just the sort of cheap, empty talking point of which creationists are so fond. It is not necessarily a great accomplishment to be nominated for the Nobel Prize. Nominations for the prize come from a variety of sources, and since the whole process is secret we have no way of knowing how seriously Schaefer's nomination was taken. For more on this, click here.
As for Antony Flew, Wikipedia has a good rundown of all the contradictory things he has said on this subject in the last few years. After initially saying that he had switched from atheism to deism on the grounds that there was no plausible naturalistic explanation for the origin of DNA, he later said he had made a fool of himself on that subject and admitted that he had not kept up with the relevant science. He also said that he was impressed in large part by the arguments of Gerald Schroeder, but then had to admit that he was unfamiliar with the many devastating refutations of Scroeder's arguments. And throughout all of this Flew has been unambiguous that he does not believe in anything beyond an especially limp sort of deism.
Which leaves Michael Behe. He's the genuine article, a scientist who believes there is evidence of design in the universe. But given his disastrous involvement in the Dover trial, I don't think many ID proponents want to brag about having him on their side.
Which brings us, actually, to the most important point of them all. For ake a look at the Times quote that led to Colson's little rant:
Sanity has triumphed in Dover, Pennsylvania, where the boobs who tried to foist intelligent design on the local lyceums have been soundly thrashed . . . Would that this victory were permanent. It will take more than jurisprudence to retire the forces of ignorance. Meanwhile, we can only hope they engage in less egregious forms of buncombe—like installing the Ten Commandments in public squares, or speaking in tongues.
This was intended to be written in the style of H.L. Mencken. What is obvious is that the boobs being referred to were not people who believe in ID, but rather the people in Dover who tried to froce the ideas into public schools.
So let's review. Colson begins by misrepresenting what the Times writer said. He then replies to his own distortion by providing four prominent people who believe in ID. In three of those four cases, what he wrote was either misleading or incorrect.