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Dembksi at OU

As Abbie mentioned last week, intelligent design proponent William Dembksi will be in Norman next week. He will be preaching at Trinity Baptist on Sunday (Sept. 16) and speaking at the University of Oklahoma’s Meacham Auditorium (in the Student Union) next Monday (Sept. 17). He is being hosted by the Pursuit College Ministry, a (reportedly very new) student group affiliated with Trinity Baptist Church.

A lot of people have pointed out that the fact that Dembski is the guest of a church undermines the whole assertion that ID isn’t (in any way) religious. I don’t quite see it that way – after all, if your philosophy appeals to a church group, there’s nothing wrong with them inviting you to speak. Anyway, the title of Dembski’s talk is “Why Atheism is no Longer Intellectually Fulfilling: The Challenge of Intelligent Design to Unintelligent Evolution.” So is he going to talk about something new, or rehash the same old arguments he has been using for years?

The first part of the title seemed promising – “Why Atheism is no Longer Intellectually Fulfilling” sounds like he is trying to cash in on the latest cottage industry – attacking Richard Dawkins. The title is derived from Dawkins, who wrote in The Blind Watchmaker:

An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

(or something like that; since I just found it online I’m not going to be too surprised if there’s an error or three in the wording).

So if Dembski had admitted that ID really wasn’t viable post-Kitzmiller, and had decided to move on, I’d say “good for him”. After all, unlike biology (in which Dembski, despite “more degrees than a thermometer,”* has no formal training; no, having a biologist for a parent doesn’t count), Dembski actually has a Ph.D. in philosophy. But the second part of his title suggests that he’s still sticking to ID. “The Challenge of Intelligent Design to Unintelligent Evolution”. I suppose it’s a hopeful sign that he isn’t saying “random evolution”, at least not in the title.

So how does “intelligent design” challenge the “intellectual fulfillment” of atheism? Good question. How does slickly marketed lies and disinformation affect the intellectual fulfillment of atheism – or theism, for that matter? Good question. Maybe I will find out next Monday.

* I first heard the descriptor “more degrees than a thermometer” used as a criticism of the NAR in the run up to the 1986 elections.


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