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A couple years ago at a Christian publishing convention, I was talking trends with an astute industry veteran. We happened to be standing near a table on which several books relating to evolution and Intelligent Design (ID) were arrayed. "Well," my friend said with a dismissive backhand wave, "at least that seems to be just about played out."

My friend was guilty of wishful thinking. Like many Christian intellectuals, he was weary of the evolution debate, which had seemed not so long ago to have settled down to a low murmur. Then Phillip Johnson and his crowd of ID troublemakers came along, challenging the Darwinian establishment head-on (couldn't they have been less confrontational about it?), and then there was a flurry of school cases (mostly in Bible Belt regions), and before you knew what hit you it was starting all over again, like an embarrassing family episode brought to light. (For an account of the rise of ID and its salient arguments, see Edward Larson's review of Thomas Woodward's Doubts About Darwin on p. 89 of this issue.)

At the moment, at least, there are no signs that the debate is cooling down—on the contrary. And there is a good deal to celebrate in that. In particular, the ID movement has performed an invaluable service in highlighting the way in which much Darwinian thinking rests on philosophical assumptions that have no scientific warrant. At the same time, the aggressive ID attacks on Christian scientists who have not rejected evolutionary theory lock, stock, and barrel—"accommodationists," as they are called in ID literature, where they are treated rather like collaborationists with the Nazis during World War II—have pushed theistic evolutionists to formulate their own views more ...

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hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2004

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