The whole “who is dividing the pro-science camp” debate has jumped the shark. Dr. Myers made the following comment at Pat Hayes’ blog:
The only ones who are advocating openly sticking the knife in any subset of the evolution side are these resentful middle-of-the-roaders who want to get rid of the people who openly disbelieve in religion.
Those, like Moran, who want to divide the movement to defend science education—and in the process hand ultra-right fundamentalists an undeserved victory—“simply are not on the same team and are not working [toward, RSR] the same goal,” says Brayton.
Larry Moran, of course, kicked off this microtiff by referring to Ed Brayton as a member of the “Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists.” That phrase, in turn, was borrowed from RIchard Dawkins latest book, in which he also refers to agnosticism as “pap” (yes, he invents an acronym to justify it, and also makes it clear that the meaning of the acronym is intentional).
Moran has also claimed that his camp is the defender of science and rationality, unlike that Chamberlainish school. Neener neener, he started it.
Without actual, you know, evidence, Moran claims that:
Many of the so-called Theistic Evolutionists also promote a version of evolution that Darwin wouldn’t recognize. They are more “theist” than “evolutionist.”
For some reason the Neville Chamberlain team is willing to attack the bad science of a Michael Denton or a Michael Behe but not the equally—and mostly indistinguishable—bad science of leading Theistic Evolutionists. Isn’t that strange?
Note that we are left to imagine what bad science theistic evolutionists are advancing in holding that evolutionary biology is an accurate description of biological history, and that God may have used natural processes as a tool in the process of creation. Nor is it clear which, if indeed any, TEs are “more theist than evolutionist.”
To top it off, it is not at all clear what, if any, theology Charles Darwin subscribed to at any point in time. He declared himself agnostic at times, studied to join the clergy, and avowed decidedly theistic evolutionish beliefs elsewhere. Not that it matters.
What Darwin wrote was about science. It was a series of testable claims about the universe, and extensive tests of those claims. God’s existence or non-existence is not testable, and he tended to simply avoid discussing it. Indeed, he famously declined an offer that a book promoting atheism be dedicated to him, writing:
though I am a strong advocate for free thought on all subjects, yet it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; & freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds which follows from the advance of science. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science.
If there be camps, I see Dawkins and Moran drawing the line between them, and I also see pretty clearly which side of the line Charles Darwin himself fell on.
Let’s all get over this silliness. I started my blog as an attempt to draw on the sort of writing PZ Myers and Ed Brayton were doing, with heavy influences also from Chris Mooney and Dave Neiwert (plus the usual assortment of political blogs). I’ve worked closely with Pat Hayes here in Kansas, and despite what Dr. Myers seems to believe, we won using the strategy Pat and I (oh yeah, and Darwin) advocate. It also happens to be the strategy that Kansas Citizens for Science has used to win two critical battles, uniting theistic evolutionists, agnostics, atheists, and others who support good science. I admire and respect all of them, and most of the other people who have weighed in. Life’s too short to argue about untestable metaphysics.