Allegations of Sneaky Machinations at BioLogos and Discovery: Overreaction on Both Sides

The commenter “Bilbo” recently stirred up a very constructive hornet’s nest at BioLogos with his thread on the origin of life (OOL). I appreciated the way he held the feet of the materialists (and of those ECs who lean to a materialist portrait of nature) to the fire on this question. However, he doesn’t always achieve constructive results, as can be seen from his new thread on the alleged sneaky machinations of people associated with Discovery.

Bilbo begins by objecting to the term “Kremlinologist” employed by David Klinghoffer in an article posted at the Discovery Institute. I gather that Bilbo finds the implied comparison of the BioLogos organization with the workings of the former Soviet government to be polemical and unwarranted. For the record, I agree with him about that. BioLogos has many faults, and I’ve been one of those who has documented them, but I don’t think we can fairly impute sinister plans for world domination, or even for domination over American evolution/creation discourse, to BioLogos. I sometimes wish that Discovery’s columnists would pull back on the rhetoric; employing it leaves ID folks on the low moral ground, when they should seek to stay on the high. I think it’s better to show by evidence and reason that some positions taken by BioLogos writers exhibit bad science, bad history of science, bad philosophy of science, and bad Christian theology, than to impute dark motivations to the BioLogos organization.

Thus, if Bilbo’s complaint had stopped there, I would have agreed with him. But he was tempted to go on, and do the same kind of motive-imputing to Discovery that he found unfair when the target was BioLogos:

“I suggest a little investigating of ENV is in order. For example, while Dr. Ann Gauger has no reticence of mentioning here at BioLogos that she thinks Adam and Eve may have existed over a million years ago, and may have been members of Homo erectus, I’m pretty sure she’s never made mention of that at ENV. A need to hide things from their YEC audience?

“Likewise, you will often find attacks against the idea of common descent at ENV. But as far as I know, not once has it been mentioned there at Prof. Michael Behe argues for common descent in his book, The Edge of Evolution. Why? Again, could it be because of their YEC audience?”

A little thought, plus a little more industrious research regarding Discovery, would have indicated to Bilbo that his reasoning here was flawed, and his implied charges unreasonable.

First of all, anything Ann posts on BioLogos is public, and just as accessible to YEC readers as anything she posts on the Discovery site, and in fact many YECs frequent BioLogos and therefore can read her statements there. If she were really concerned about hiding her views on Adam and Eve from YECs, she would not publish them anywhere, not even on BioLogos. So the suggestion that she might be playing a double game, saying one thing for one audience and another for another, does not hold up. The internet now makes it possible to hold anyone to any statement they have made anywhere.

Second, the YEC constituency of Discovery is well aware that many leaders of the ID movement are Roman Catholic, and that Roman Catholics do not generally interpret Genesis with the strict literal-historical approach that YECs use. They know that Behe, Richards, O’Leary, and Ann Gauger (and several other Discovery folks) are Catholic. There is no reason why they should be shocked if Ann entertains the possibility of an Adam and Eve who lived much longer than 6,000 years ago. It’s exactly what they would expect of a Catholic ID proponent. So there is no reason why she should hide such a view from ENV readers. So even if she has never directly advocated on ENV for a very old Adam and Eve, that is no evidence that she has concealed her views on the matter.

Third, there are many statements on Discovery, e.g., here, indicating that ID is compatible with common descent, and Discovery has never hidden the fact that Behe and other ID folks endorse common descent. I don’t know where Bilbo has been in the past two years, but during that time Discovery has published three books by Michael Denton, who endorses common descent in all of them. The idea that Discovery might be trying to hide the existence of ID proponents who accept common descent, or an old earth, or an Adam and Eve a million years back, lest young-earth creationists get angry and drop their support for ID, is simply lacking in evidence. Everyone in the creationist community understands that ID is a “big tent” which includes evolutionists as well as young- and old-earth creationists. Those in the creationist community who refuse to dwell in that big tent aren’t obliged to, and some of them (like Ken Ham) bad-mouth ID. But Discovery has stood its ground, maintaining a body of Fellows who are Jewish and Catholic as well as Protestant, and who accept as well as reject common descent. Discovery has proved quite willing to forgo income and support from the sort of YEC who likes Ken Ham. There is no secrecy, no deliberate attempt to conceal anything from YECs.

Now someone might say that Bilbo was not offering these charges seriously, but only trying to give Discovery folks the taste of Klinghoffer’s rhetoric against BioLogos, to teach them a lesson. Well, that’s hard to be sure of; Bilbo’s words read to me as genuine claims about Ann Gauger’s and Discovery’s motives. But even if that’s the case regarding Bilbo, it’s worth making the points I’ve made, because Bilbo is not the first to suggest that Discovery is controlled by a YEC agenda. In fact, it’s an extremely common charge coming from atheists and ECs alike. And it’s not a credible charge. Three books by Michael Denton (an agnostic or at best a Deist who never appeals to or even mentions the Bible), all advocating a naturalistic account of evolution, and YECs are in control of Discovery? The promotion of two books by evolutionist Michael Behe, and a vigorous defense of Behe’s claims in numberless Discovery columns, and YECs are in control of Discovery? A President of Discovery (Bruce Chapman) who is Catholic, and YECs are in charge of Discovery? Only an addict to conspiracy theories would try to maintain such an absurdity.

Are YECs a constituency of which Discovery is aware? Yes, certainly, but they don’t call the tune. The most important people at Discovery, in terms of day-to-day operation — John West, Stephen Meyer, Ann Gauger — aren’t YECs, and understand their task to be that of holding together the big tent, which includes others beside YECs. Indeed, if there is any institutional bias at Discovery, it’s probably toward OEC; an informal count suggests that more of the key people at Discovery, both among the Fellows and in everyday operations, are OEC than anything else. Bilbo and some other people need to do a more careful study of the organization before they offer their criticism.

Edward Robinson

About Edward Robinson

Edward Robinson (Eddie) started his university career on a science scholarship, but ended up as a philosopher/theologian researching the relationship between religion and natural science. He has published several books and articles on religion/science topics in both mainstream academic outlets and denominational and popular periodicals. He has also taught courses in various departments in several universities.
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13 Responses to Allegations of Sneaky Machinations at BioLogos and Discovery: Overreaction on Both Sides

  1. drnmud says:

    Edward,

    “… Bilbo is not the first to suggest that Discovery is controlled by a YEC agenda. In fact, it’s an extremely common charge coming from atheists and ECs alike.”

    From what I can recall from my limited experience, this does seem to be a widespread perception.

  2. drnmud says:

    Edward,

    One other thought:

    Sometimes I wonder about the large number of people with such a wide spectrum of “origins” beliefs – Natural OOL, Supernatural OOL, OEC, YEC, ID, TE/CE, (other?) – and wonder if Christ is thinking once again
    “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” !

  3. swamidass says:

    Perchance, are you Eddie one such Kremlinologist? 🙂

    Honestly do not know what the fuss is about. Seemed like a playful turn of a phrase.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      I guess the fuss from Bilbo is over the fact that Discovery seemed to be likening BioLogos to the former Soviet government, which could be taken as polemical, insulting, etc. But of course the BioLogos folks are already convinced that Discovery is polemical and insulting, so probably this latest remark will not bother them as much as it apparently bothered Bilbo.

      I was more concerned with Bilbo’s tit-for-tat retaliation against Discovery, which I didn’t think was warranted. BioLogos writers, commenters, and others are constantly charging or implying that Discovery is controlled by YEC interests. I just don’t see that. Most of the famous ID leaders are OECs; I think Nelson is the only top-ranking Discovery fellow who is YEC. Do these critics imagine that some wealthy YEC donors are going to pull the plug on Discovery if it allows old-earth or evolutionary views? I see no evidence of that. But everybody loves a good conspiracy theory.

      • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

        Eddie

        The fact is that all the rich donors plotting to bring in a theocracy and destroy western civilization are Young Earthers. People thought it was the Russians trying to influence elections worsldwide, but who was watching the Discovery Institute? Or should they have been watching BioLogos? I’m confused now.

        I must say, I thought the “Kremlinologists” quip was more a self-mocking joke against the temptation of the DI to be paranoid than a comparison of BL to Stalin. Silly games.

  4. Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

    Jon:

    Bilbo is now aware of this discussion. See his comment at BioLogos:

    “Jon Garvey found things to like and dislike about my post and spells it out in great detail at his own blog. I tried responding there, but had trouble when I copied the new password down sloppily, so I wasn’t able to enter it correctly.”

    Could you perhaps write to him privately, giving him a password again, so that he can join us here?

    Note that he has confused you with me; for some unaccountable reason, he seems oblivious to the “Edward Robinson” byline at the top of my article; or perhaps he thinks that you write here under several pseudonyms, and is unaware that the Hump has several columnists!

    In the same place, Bilbo also writes:

    “Jon, when Dr. Gauger posts something at ENV letting people know she suspects Adam and Eve were members of Homo Erectus, living anywhere from 450,000 to over a million years ago, let me know.

    “And when ENV points out that Behe not only accepts common descent but actually argues for it in his book, based on shared pseudogenes between chimpanzees and humans, let me know that, too.”

    I’m not sure why Bilbo is putting so much emphasis on what is explicitly stated in ENV opinion columns. As my article above indicates, Behe’s position on common descent is well-known to all ENV readers, and Ann Gauger’s speculations about a very early date for Adam and Eve are now known to all BioLogos readers, and in consequence (since websites are open to all) potentially knowable by all ENV readers as well.

    There is no reason why any ENV article should lay stress on the fact that Behe endorses common descent. Common descent, per se, is not an issue that ID addresses. ENV articles are naturally going to lay stress on Behe’s view that multiple, co-ordinated mutations are not likely to occur *by chance*, since the contrast between chance and design is central to ID. So any discussion of *The Edge of Evolution* at Discovery will focus on the incapacity *of Darwinian mechanisms* rather than on the subject of common descent itself.

    I’m not sure what Bilbo is asking for. Does he want Behe and Gauger to write columns on ENV, saying explicitly, “I disagree with a number of my ID colleagues on common descent” or “I disagree with a number of my ID colleagues on the dates for Adam and Eve”? Why would he expect that, given (a) that everyone knows Behe’s position on common descent, and (b) Ann has made clear that her view on Adam and Eve is tentative and that she and colleagues are still working on mathematical models on the subject?

    Does Bilbo ask the same thing of BioLogos columnists? Does he ask them to openly disagree with each other on some things where they plainly have differences? For example, Francis Collins has in the past (I don’t know his current view) suggested that while evolution requires no intervention, the creation of the first life might well have required intervention; but Dennis Venema’s oblique remarks on the subject suggest that is strongly inclined to the view that even life itself required no intervention, but merely the random combinations resulting from the sloshing around of chemicals in a primordial ocean for a few hundred million years. Is Bilbo going to demand of Dennis that he make that disagreement with Collins explicit in the form of an argued column against the special creation of the first life?

    Again, some EC leaders (though they keep rather quiet about it) come from Reformed backgrounds and therefore, if consistent, will reject anything that smells of Open Theism; is Bilbo going to demand that those leaders write columns on BioLogos explicitly rebutting the Open Theism of Oord, which was presented on BioLogos?

    I think the BioLogos leaders would say that it’s only natural that BioLogos columnists write about what they all agree on, i.e., that macroevolution is real and that Genesis should not be read literally or as a science textbook, and not focus on places where they disagree. If Bilbo accepts that excuse from BioLogos for papering over strong differences between ECs, then why can he not accept that as an excuse from Discovery? Does he really expect *any* advocacy organization to lay stress on where the members of its “big tent” disagree with each other, rather than on where they agree?

  5. Bilbo says:

    Yay! I finally had success logging in!

    Sorry for confusing you with Jon, Eddie. Similar writing styles?

    I’ll just post here what I posted earlier at BioLogos:

    I think the clearest indication that ENV is not on the up and up came in yesterday’s post there of an interview of J.P. Moreland, in which he said that ID confirms the Bible. Now ENV knows exactly how YECs will understand that. Klinghoffer was the one writing the article. Did he bother to correct any misinterpretation that YECs might have of Moreland’s words? Hell no. Why not? On other occasions, Klinghoffer goes to great pains to point out that ID is not a religious theory. You think he might offer just a slight correction to possible misinterpretation of Moreland’s comments. So why didn’t he?

    And again, let me know when Dr. Gauger bothers to write an article at ENV in which she expresses her opinion that Adam and Eve lived at least 450,000 years ago and were members of homo Erectus.

    Or let me know when ENV posts an article letting people know that Behe argued for common descent by noticing the pseudogenes that chimpanzees and humans have in common.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Hi, Bilbo. Glad to hear from you.

      On your last two paragraphs, see my reply to Jon, two posts above yours.

      As for the specifics of Klinghoffer’s ENV columns, I am not going to try to guess why he writes what he writes. Nor do I know Moreland’s position well enough to comment on it. As for saying that ID agrees with the Bible, that in itself doesn’t necessarily imply support of YEC. Something very broad might be meant, i.e., that design in nature might point to a Creator. That’s hardly an endorsement of YEC, which is a much narrower belief about a literal reading of Genesis.

      Am I happy with every single column on the Discovery site? No, I’m not. I wish the writers would employ less rhetoric and employ a more dispassionate tone. Is Discovery an advocacy organization, with the “slant” one expects of advocacy organizations? Yes, it is. Just like BioLogos.

      Is Discovery hiding from the world the fact that Behe accepts common descent? No. Is it embarrassed about the fact that some ID proponents accept common descent? No. (Three of Denton’s books published by Discovery in the past three years.) Will it try to conceal from the world the fact that Ann Gauger is open to a first couple that lived half a million years ago? No. If she wants to put that opinion of hers in a column, they won’t stop her. (Especially since she’s pretty much in charge of that aspect of their operations now!)

      Behe has been part of the ID team since Phil Johnson first assembled that team in the 1990s. No YEC who has been living on this planet since 1995, and actually reads ID writings, is unaware that Behe and some other ID folks accept common descent. It would not be possible to conceal Behe’s views even if Discovery wanted to.

      In fact, as someone who hears a fair bit of internal ID discussion, I can tell you that many YECs within the ID community feel that OEC is overly favored in comparison with YEC. So the perception over at BioLogos, and elsewhere, that YEC is calling the tune within ID, is not one that is shared by YECs themselves. To the charge that YEC has too much power over ID thought, many YEC folks could only respond: “I wish!”

      Discovery is trying to do a very difficult thing, which is to hold together three different groups, with three different historical accounts of origins, all around the unifying theme of intelligent design. In political terms, ID is not a unitary nation-state, but a loose federation. So you are never going to hear on Discovery the pure single voice you will hear on YEC, OEC, and EC websites. You are going to hear a variety of emphases. That may strike some as incoherent, and others as duplicitous. But it’s in the nature of the beast.

  6. Bilbo says:

    Hi Eddie,

    You’re telling me that behind the scenes at ENV, there are complaints that OEC people get more of a say than YEC people. In other words, the very thing – in house back room disputes – that Klinghoffer has accused BioLogos of, is going on at ENV. I think I could just rest my case right there. But regardless of back room complaints by YEC, I think they are the ones holding the cards. For example, Dr. Gauger’s article on their new book:

    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/11/mammoth-critique-of-theistic-evolution-will-be-out-on-november-30/

    “As Paul Nelson notes, on November 30 a book called Theistic Evolution: a Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique will be published. … three chapters arguing against common descent, and four chapters about human origins.”

    “We have everything! …the historicity of an original human pair.”

    So in the four chapters about human origins, do you think Dr. Gauger will bother to mention that she thinks the original human pair lived at least half a million years ago? I’m willing to bet you the price of the book that she doesn’t. Further, I’m willing to bet the price of another book that there is no commital in the book to an old age for the Earth.

    I’m not sure all ENV readers know that Behe accepts common descent. But I’m willing to bet the price of his book that not all ENV readers know that he argued for it by citing examples of identical pseudogenes in chimpanzees and humans. Given that ENV has argued against common descent on many occasions, you would think they might point out that they are arguing against Behe, as well.

    Oh well, let’s move on to their most recent example of duplicity: J.P. Moreland is quoted in Klinghoffer’s article saying:

    ” The quality of Christian literature is getting better and better when it comes to showing that the Bible gets it right. Both theistic and naturalistic evolution are rationally inferior to Intelligent Design theory theologically, philosophically and scientifically.”

    “The Bible gets it right”? We live in a world where because 81% of white, evangelical Christians voted for Trump, he is now our President. I’m willing to bet most of those 81% are also YEC. Time to make sure they see ID in the “right” light. Time for red-baiting those who disagree with ID.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Hi, Bilbo.

      I’ll offer you partial disagreement and partial agreement.

      But first, please be careful in how you paraphrase my statements. I didn’t say anything about “behind the scenes at ENV”. I’m not an employee there, and I don’t even know who all the authors are (some of the ENV articles are written by “staff” with no individual named). I make *no* claim that the specific people who write the articles at ENV, or work in the Discovery offices, are in any kind of conflict behind the scenes regarding YEC vs. OEC. I was speaking about what I’ve heard from members of the ID community — which is much wider than the people at the Discovery Institute. I have heard several YEC-ID folks who don’t work at Discovery voice their perception that Discovery gives a stronger voice to OEC or to Behe-like perspectives than it does to the YEC perspective.

      My point in saying this was that you seemed to be saying, and several people at BioLogos have definitely suggested, that Discovery is somehow beholden to YEC folks, but that the perception of many YEC folks is that they do not have a huge influence. So there are differing perceptions.

      I don’t want my remarks blown out of proportion. I’m saying only that the YECs who support ID often don’t perceive ID as leaning strongly in a YEC direction. I’m saying that they don’t perceive themselves as having the power to shape the Discovery agenda that you and others seem to impute to them. That’s all. Further, even under this perception, the YEC-IDers are solidly onside with ID; they accept the “big tent” arrangement and think it is overall for the benefit of all concerned. There is no internal animosity — not that I’ve detected, anyway.

      I doubt there will be any official position on the age of the earth in the new book (and by the way, isn’t the publisher someone other than Discovery?), but that’s not because anyone is afraid to offend YECs (you attribute awesome power to those YECs!); it’s because the various participants simply don’t agree on the age of the earth. Just glancing over the list of authors, I see at least three whom I know or believe to be OECs, for example. So what would you expect — that in a book whose target is theistic evolution, the writers will turn their fire on each other, and argue over the age of the earth? That would make no sense for the purpose of the volume.

      Similarly, arguing over the dating of Adam and Eve would make no sense for the purpose of the volume. But that said, if Ann Gauger indicates even the *possibility* that Adam and Eve could have lived half a million years ago, that clearly establishes that she is not a YEC. And in fact, when asked by Brooks on BioLogos if she were a YEC, she replied directly in the negative. So no one reading the new volume should be in any doubts about her position re YEC.

      Note that even if the book endorses the historicity of an original pair, that does not make it an endorsement of YEC. OECs also believe in an original pair. For that matter, there are Catholics who fully accept macroevolution that think that Adam and Eve were created as an original pair, with respect to their special quality of humanity anyway (even if their bodies were prepared by an evolutionary process). So again, your characterization of this group effort as a “YEC” effort is inaccurate.

      On the other side, I do agree with your point that ENV editorials are sometimes inconsistent with other ENV editorials. This is probably a function of two things: (1) Different writers; (2) Over-enthusiasm for the latest product of ID writers, even where there are some theoretical differences with earlier products of ID writers. If I were in charge — but again, I’m not even a lowly employee, let alone the boss — I would appoint someone in charge of “continuity” to make sure that the pure ID notion — ID is about design detection, not common descent or the age of the earth — was never lost sight of in the columns, and that the temporary enthusiasms of columnists for YEC or OEC or evolution didn’t bias the coverage of the book in question.

      I disagree with Moreland’s contrast between “intelligent design” and “theistic evolution”. Here you and I may agree. I think there is no in-principle incompatibility between “God created through a process of evolution” and “It may be possible to detect design in nature”. I agree that the *form* of theistic evolution typically championed on BioLogos is incompatible with ID; but theistic evolution need not adopt the doctrinaire position that “it is not possible to detect design in nature”. It is partly because most of the people associated with BioLogos are doctrinaire on the non-detectability of design that ID and BioLogos are at war.

      I have no idea what Moreland’s statement about the Bible means. It is broad and vague. How can I say whether or not I agree with it, when I don’t know what precisely he is arguing? I know this: if Moreland takes a hard-line YEC stance on what the Bible means, I would not agree with him. And I would say that no ENV columnist should be agreeing with hard-line YEC position, either. An ENV columnist can *present* the YEC position as one among several ID options; that’s fine. But there should be no endorsement of it (or of the OEC position or any other position, except the generic ID position).

      So is Klinghoffer endorsing YEC by quoting Moreland? I don’t know. I’m not sure that Klinghoffer himself is a YEC. He is a Jew, I think an Orthodox or Conservative Jew, but I’m not sure that all Jews, even all Orthodox Jews, are automatically YECs. But I would agree with you that if Klinghoffer gives the impression that Discovery supports YEC, he is out of line with official Discovery policy, which is neutral on the age of the earth, the literalness of reading of Genesis, etc.

      I prefer to keep Trump and U.S. politics out of the discussion. I have no idea how many Christians who voted for Trump were YEC. And Trump got plenty of votes from secular humanists on the political right, who certainly aren’t YECs or Christians at all. In any case, Discovery has been around for years now, long before the Trump era, and there is no reason to suppose that Discovery defines ID with a view to what people who vote for Trump would like. I don’t see what is to be gained by dragging Trump into it, or party politics into a discussion of how BioLogos and Discovery operate as institutions.

      I also think it would be wrong to represent ID as holding the Biblical position and BioLogos as holding an anti-Biblical position. In fact, both Christian ID proponents and BioLogos folks are trying to interpret the Bible. I often flat-out disagree with YEC-ID Biblical interpretations, and I often think that BioLogos interpretations of the Bible are strained, and externally motivated (trying to force the sense of the text until it harmonizes with Darwin), but I assume good will and honesty on behalf of both ID and BioLogos folks. I don’t think anything is gained by saying “we are the true Christians, and you aren’t.” It just creates ill will. Both camps are guilty of this. BioLogos folks are guilty of it whenever they say that ID is “bad science and bad theology”. If Moreland implies that the creationist wing of ID has the Bible on its side and that no EC/TE person is sincerely devoted to the Bible’s teaching, I think he is not going to help matters. The proper approach is to assume that the other camp is as sincere in its faith as our own camp, and then show where the other camp makes interpretive errors.

  7. Jay313 says:

    Hi, Eddie! Just a quick comment on this:

    I don’t see what is to be gained by dragging Trump into it, or party politics into a discussion of how BioLogos and Discovery operate as institutions.

    Discovery itself opened this can of worms by pushing changes in science curricula in states across the country. The organization jumped feet-first into the Culture War, from the beginning. As I told Ann Gauger in a thread at BL, if Discovery would give up its crusade to “teach the controversy” in high school science classes, most of its problems with the scientific and educational establishment would evaporate. At that point, their scientific research and opinions might even receive a little more fair hearing. But, you and I both know that Discovery won’t give up its political goals, so the question is moot.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Jay:

      Good to hear from you.

      You and I have discussed this before. The details of Discovery’s role (vs. the role of various fundamentalists who use the notion of “ID” for their own local purposes) in different controversies in different states would take us onto a whole new topic, so I’ll not start into it.

      I assume that your main point here is that there is a political dimension to Discovery, e.g., its call for cultural renewal. But even if there is, I don’t think the specific example of Trump helps matters. Trump rode to office on a sea of general discontent, not simply the support of the religious right. In fact, as I read Trump, he is essentially a very secular man and any lip service he pays to religion is of dubious value. Lots of atheist libertarians voted for him as well as religious fundamentalists. And lots of people voted for him because he was perceived of as anti-establishment, or because they hated Hillary Clinton. I heard more from Trump about building a wall across the Mexican border or abolishing Obamacare than I did about opposing Darwin in the schools. I don’t think the election was fought over evolution vs. creation or the high school science curriculum. So I think mentioning Trump in this context simply leads the discussion down a fruitless path.

      Bilbo’s original point was that Discovery has an internal politics, just as BioLogos has an internal politics. Well, I grant that is true of any advocacy organization, and both are advocacy organizations. Discovery has to keep peace among the various groups which support it, and BioLogos has to keep peace among the various groups which support it. We saw the results (but not the political machinations behind the scenes) when BioLogos dumped Giberson (one of its founding leaders), Enns, and Sparks. Everyone who knows anything about the inside of the Christian evangelical world knows that many evangelical donors and supporters of BioLogos were unhappy with those three and thought they were too liberal even for theistic evolutionists, and we can infer why they were sacked, regardless of what the official story was. It wouldn’t surprise me if analogous pressures exist behind the scenes at Discovery, either. It has donors and supporters who doubtless voice their opinions.

      But the specific charge of Bilbo was that YEC supporters have an inordinate amount of power over the organization, and I see no evidence of that. All that can be shown is that Discovery generally does not take an official stand on the age of the earth. That is just as consistent with my interpretation (i.e., the founding parties disagree over it and have agreed to set it aside in order to concentrate on arguments for design) as with Bilbo’s (the YECs are so powerful that they can threaten to pull the plug on the whole organization if their demands are not appeased).

      Bilbo has not answered my point that the majority of prominent ID folks endorse an old earth. They may not say out loud in ENV columns that they disagree with YECs over the age of the earth, but on the other hand their views on the age of the earth are public and no secret to the donors and supporters of Discovery. Everyone knows that Behe, Meyer, and most of the rest (the most prominent exception being Nelson) accept an old earth and therefore are not YECs. If Discovery has any “tilt” it is toward Old Earth Creationism — not by official policy but by the leanings of its leaders. So the theory that there is a cabal of YECs in a smoky back room, calling the shots at Discovery, just does not wash.

      The most that can be said is that there is a constituency in the American public of YECs that Discovery is aware of and does not go out of its way to attack. If that’s what is meant by political behavior, then I accept the term. But the notion that Mike Behe or Stephen Meyer let Ken Ham or Henry Morris tell them what to put in their books is not unsustainable, and the notion that YEC readings of the Bible are implied in any of the definitions of ID found on the Discovery site is also unsustainable.

      The reason I supported ID when I heard about it was that it *wasn’t* “Creation Science” — that illegitimate fusion of Biblical exegesis and cherry-picked science created by the likes of Gish, Morris, etc. in the 1960s and 1970s. I read Behe’s books and saw not a single line of Biblical exegesis, not a single argument against radioactive dating or distant stars, not a single false claim about human bones being allegedly mixed in with dinosaur bones, etc. Later I discovered that creationists were using ID for their own purposes, e.g., at Dover. But Behe limited his defense of the Dover school board to its right to criticize Darwinian theory; he did not endorse any of the Bible-thumping views of the trustees. And Meyer’s 500-page book on the origin of life didn’t discuss the Bible at all; it simply argued that secular origin-of-life science had after decades of work come up virtually empty-handed. I see no influence of YEC or fundamentalism in any of this.

      That the YECs outside of Discovery, in all kinds of church and public arenas, are glad to make use of Behe and Meyer, I freely grant. But the idea that they are behind the scenes, pulling the strings, just cannot be credited. If that were the case, they would have had sufficient power (and they had plenty of motivation) to stop Discovery from publishing three pro-evolution books by Michael Denton. Bilbo overestimates the power of YEC over the day-to-day operations of Discovery.

      At the most it can be said that for internal diplomatic reasons Discovery does not *lay stress* on differences between YEC and other positions. But how is that any different from an anti-abortion organization, in which the Catholics do not *lay stress* on their differences with their fundamentalist allies over the authority of the Pope? The fact that Ann Gauger doesn’t use her ENV columns to have a showdown with Paul Nelson over the age of the earth is not indicative of any sinister politicking behind the scenes; it’s just organizational common sense. Bilbo seems to see some problem here that I just don’t see.

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