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Alan Jacobs - What Became of the Christian Intellectuals?

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What Became of the Christian Intellectuals?

Really interesting article up on Harper's by Alan Jacobs about Christian intellectuals. He has some excellent commentary on Cornel West and especially Marilynne Robinson but I think the claim that "The Christian intellectuals chose to disappear" is a little too overblown as Christian social conservatives who may have aspired to be public intellectuals (Francis Schaeffer is the main figure that comes to mind; I think it's Molly Worthen who claims Schaeffer's devotees were always miffed that he wasn't taken as seriously by those outside of the Religious Right) may have been barred from "the liberal table."

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Isn't Schaeffer an example of someone who, despite self-styling himself as a Christian intellectual, further forged the notion of Christian scholasticism outside of mainstream academic circles? So, that's where I see him fitting into Jacobs' thesis. I've only read Schaeffer's The God Who Is There, btw, and I wasn't terribly impressed to be honest.

I think Jacobs is spot on by the way. 

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46 minutes ago, Anders said:

Isn't Schaeffer an example of someone who, despite self-styling himself as a Christian intellectual, further forged the notion of Christian scholasticism outside of mainstream academic circles? So, that's where I see him fitting into Jacobs' thesis. I've only read Schaeffer's The God Who Is There, btw, and I wasn't terribly impressed to be honest.

I don't know to what extent Schaeffer refused contact with mainstream intellectuals (he didn't become a professor at a seminary and L'Abri was across the Atlantic in the mountains). At the same time, Schaeffer was also more open to engaging with non-Christian thought and art. He would discuss films by Bergman and Fellini, the philosophy of Sartre and Camus and commented on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. 

There was a turning point, I think sometime in the 1970s, when Schaeffer became more rigid and militant. It's from that point that I see him fitting into Jacobs' piece.

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The problem with the Schaeffer rebuttal to Jacob's argument (which I have seen several people make) is Schaeffer lacks intellectual credibility outside of the Christian Scholasticism Anders mentioned.

He engaged stuff in post-modernity, but he didn't do it with much vigor, clarity, or within an existing academic dialogue.

I kept waiting for the Schaeffer shoe to drop in Jacob's piece, and was glad to see it never did. Schaeffer's books and videos were part of my first exposure to post-modernity, but I was fortunate enough to have teachers lead me later to more accurate and compelling constructs of our era. I still get students molded by Schaeffer's very thin, dismissive account of contemporary culture, and it is hard to encourage them to think more deeply than that.

There are some positive's to Schaeffer's work. I just don't think they elevate him to the role Jacobs is exploring.

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The Jacobs piece is good, but I hope that as he goes on to consider this topic, he also considers that the role of the prominent, public intellectual has largely disappeared in general, not just in Christian spheres.

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Right, Ryan. So many factors here. Our big ideas are formed differently now than they were in the post-war era. Our technocracy has grown to encompass the space in which we develop morality, virtue, and cultural reflection. Science has actually advanced enough to make the kinds of claims about reality and biology prior empiricists only dreamed of.

I am kind of in a weird spot. I spent the last seven years at the vanguard of US science, and keep my ear fairly well to the ground of humanities and theology-based Christian intellectual discussion. The latter doesn't quite understand the former, which I think makes their voices irrelevant other than as guests to the liberal table, invited out of periodic kindness - as Neuhaus described it.

At least Lewis and Chesterton were ahead of the curve on the science discourse. Schaeffer totally dropped that baton in the relay. Public theology has been likewise stumbling to catch up ever since.

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On 19/08/2016 at 2:31 PM, Ryan H. said:

The Jacobs piece is good, but I hope that as he goes on to consider this topic, he also considers that the role of the prominent, public intellectual has largely disappeared in general, not just in Christian spheres.

He has a 2017 book set to come out called How To Think: A Guide for the Perplexed so it looks like this will get fuller treatment.

 

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Jacobs piece is a good one, although I wish he, as Ryan has pointed out, would also explore the loss of influence that "public intellectuals" currently have in our culture.  Jake Meador responded over at Mere Orthodoxy:

“... Jacobs is right, then, in saying that we desperately need Christian interpreters to help those outside the faith understand it. But it seems that Jacobs sees the post-war social order as being basically salvageable, provided we have the right Christian leaders speaking to it and that we address certain specific neuroses that can be treated separate from the broader liberal democratic order.

In this telling, the post-Christian America that emerged in the 1960s is something that might have been avoided with better management of institutions and more careful interaction with the public square on the part of orthodox believers. This seems naive to me given the way new technologies changed the media landscape in the US and the fact that the post-war economy, which was always hostile to the traditional family, was already being established in the late 40s and early 50s.

What we need is a different kind of interpreter, less Reinhold Niebuhr, that establishment figure who lived and taught in New York City, and more Francis Schaeffer, the missionary-in-exile, far removed from the hubs of power and influence and better equipped to speak to them in distinctly Christian ways precisely because of his distance from them. We need to recognize that the modern western social project (if it even rises to the level of ‘social project,’) is not something which can be reconciled with the faith by simply making some basic alterations to the machine. Market-backed, government-subsidized expressive individualism is the founding principle of today’s western world. And there can be no salvaging such a project ...”

The thing is, as evident from The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and Attending to Technology: Theses for Disputation, Jacobs has demonstrated that he is well able to apply the influences of technologies to how we think in culture.  And, based on his support of the Benedict Option, Jacobs certainly does not think the modern projects of individualism, progressivism, technocracy, etc. are worth salvaging.

I do think Jacobs is too critical of Marilynne Robinson.  Robinson cares far less about identifying with or not identifying with political camps than Jacobs thinks she is.  It's the weakest part of his essay; he's essentially criticizing Robinson for being published in The New York Review of Books.  If people don't read what Robinson writes because of where she's published, that's their loss, not hers.

As far as the "what about Francis Schaeffer argument?" goes, it assumes too much.  Schaeffer cannot be taken seriously in every field he tried to engage with.  He got a number of things wrong and he was unfair to a number of other thinkers.  That all said, Schaeffer was a Christian leader that was curious about and asked serious questions about a number of subjects that many churches I've visited completely ignore.  His creation of L'Abri was great work, it was open and inclusive to all questions and ideas, and it is still doing good work today.  I have friends who have spent time at L'Abri, and every one of them came out of it refreshed, more intellectually curious and better for the experience.

The uncomfortable fact that I have not seen anyone engage with yet in their discussions of Jacobs' piece is that the "Christian intellectuals" that they are discussing the disappearance of - well, they exist.  They are writing books, lecturing, occasionally making public appearances and discussing their ideas.  Marilynne Robinson, and oh say Wendell Berry, may be more great essayists than they are intellectuals with scholarly work.  But the Christian intellectuals who have done important powerful and scholarly work do exist.  The generation after Lewis and Niebuhr included, besides Richard John Neuhaus, the likes of Whittaker Chambers, Eric Voegelin, Richard M. Weaver, Czeslaw Milosz, Russell Kirk, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Thomas Merton.

Today, we still have Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, David F. Wells, Roger Scruton and even Thomas Pfau.  They exist.  The problem doesn't seem to be so much their lack as the lack of people who actually read and think about their work.  The question isn't necessarily "What became of the Christian intellectuals?"; rather it could perhaps be more precisely worded as "What became of the readers of Christian intellectuals?"

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3 hours ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

The uncomfortable fact that I have not seen anyone engage with yet in their discussions of Jacobs' piece is that the "Christian intellectuals" that they are discussing the disappearance of - well, they exist.  They are writing books, lecturing, occasionally making public appearances and discussing their ideas.  Marilynne Robinson, and oh say Wendell Berry, may be more great essayists than they are intellectuals with scholarly work.  But the Christian intellectuals who have done important powerful and scholarly work do exist.  The generation after Lewis and Niebuhr included, besides Richard John Neuhaus, the likes of Whittaker Chambers, Eric Voegelin, Richard M. Weaver, Czeslaw Milosz, Russell Kirk, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Thomas Merton.

Today, we still have Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, David F. Wells, Roger Scruton and even Thomas Pfau.  They exist.  The problem doesn't seem to be so much their lack as the lack of people who actually read and think about their work.  The question isn't necessarily "What became of the Christian intellectuals?"; rather it could perhaps be more precisely worded as "What became of the readers of Christian intellectuals?"

Lots of great stuff to respond to here, but just a couple points. Firstly, Jacobs has responded to the Wendell Berry nomination over at this blog: http://blog.ayjay.org/uncategorized/excerpts-from-my-sent-folder-wendell-berry/

As much as I love Taylor, and I do (he's essential to my own academic work), the problem is that he's not really "public." Who outside of narrow academic circles reads him? At least he is read by both Christians and non-Christians in those circles. I think you're on to something in the last question. The "Christian public intellectual" hasn't existed because he or she has a very small audience.

Also, Jacobs' response here he qualifies his definition of "public intellectual:" http://blog.ayjay.org/uncategorized/once-more-around-the-christian-intellectual-block/

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Berry's work has always suffered from the problem of translation, too.

When Jacobs says this in his response to Strachan, I think this is his no-holds-barred description of the problem, and it is true:

"But often when they have shown me that work, I have read it and thought: This isn’t very good. You’re not making a strong argument. You seem only to have read what your fellow Christians have to say on the subject, and are unaware of the larger scholarly conversation. Had I been the editor of that journal, I would have rejected this too."

In my experience, the smartest Christian scholars I know are not writing for popular outlets that would make their voices fill this Public Christian gap. They are too busy doing work within their guild, teaching courses, and shouldering the increasingly demanding administrative burdens of being a professional academic.

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18 minutes ago, M. Leary said:

In my experience, the smartest Christian scholars I know are not writing for popular outlets that would make their voices fill this Public Christian gap. They are too busy doing work within their guild, teaching courses, and shouldering the increasingly demanding administrative burdens of being a professional academic.

I think this is true of many scholars, and why there are so few "public intellectuals" period, regardless of Christian or not. There is a sense in which (N. Atlantic) society has moved on from the kind of approach that a public intellectual takes. Instead they just fight about it on Twitter, or don't give a s**t at all.

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Nowadays they have blogs and Facebook pages and write to their fans rather than the wider world, all the while hoping that they will be heard more and more. I could name off several people y'all have probably never heard of that I consider quite intellectual. I think the problem is not less intellectuals but more and more rising up and being heard by niche audiences, there's a larger feast at the table and more chance to fall into your own little crowd...

The Internet has given just about everyone a voice.

The whole reason I stopped blogging is that it's just too hard to become well known, and there were also many voices I felt deserved that popularity more than me. That's probably what is going on here with Jacobs, a lament that the kind of voices that shaped him aren't as widely read anymore, and that is a valid lament, though a subjective one. What even defines intellectual is itself rather subjective. But what isn't is that there are a lot out there, they just have smaller audiences. 

Edited by Justin Hanvey

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22 minutes ago, Anders said:

I think this is true of many scholars, and why there are so few "public intellectuals" period, regardless of Christian or not. There is a sense in which (N. Atlantic) society has moved on from the kind of approach that a public intellectual takes. Instead they just fight about it on Twitter, or don't give a s**t at all.

Right. An important point - that this is not just a Christian cultural issue, but a general one. TED talks are now the norm for public intellectual engagement, which are very. very heavily slanted toward STEM, as per my point above.

"Instead they just fight about it on Twitter, or don't give a s**t at all." And conferences. Endless conferences. 

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1 hour ago, M. Leary said:

When Jacobs says this in his response to Strachan, I think this is his no-holds-barred description of the problem, and it is true:

"But often when they have shown me that work, I have read it and thought: This isn’t very good. You’re not making a strong argument. You seem only to have read what your fellow Christians have to say on the subject, and are unaware of the larger scholarly conversation. Had I been the editor of that journal, I would have rejected this too."

I just read the full exchange between Jacobs and Strachan, and I find Jacobs' points more compelling.  He is intentionally focusing on what Christians can do differently.  Even if this is a broader cultural problem, Christians have a special duty to preserve the intellectual life even when the world around them seems to be abandoning it.  I am hearing Jacobs when he says: "I just want to give as complete a picture as I can — but err on the side of emphasizing what we Christian scholars need to do to live up to our calling as fully as we possibly can."  He seems to have decided that, broader cultural problems aside, there is the more particular question of what we should each individually do about it.  Making our work more informed of the larger scholarly conversation will include being able to point out that "this is not just a Christian cultural issue, but a general one."  If there is going to be any return of the public intellectual, Christian or otherwise, it will be someone who does not limit themselves to their own little sub-cultural bubble, whether academic or denominational.

1 hour ago, Justin Hanvey said:

I think the problem is not less intellectuals but more and more rising up and being heard by niche audiences, there's a larger feast at the table and more chance to fall into your own little crowd ... That's probably what is going on here with Jacobs, a lament that the kind of voices that shaped him aren't as widely read anymore, and that is a valid lament, though a subjective one. What even defines intellectual is itself rather subjective. But what isn't is that there are a lot out there, they just have smaller audiences. 

But Jacobs' main point is not a subjective one.  His main point is, in fact, that there is a real extent to which Christian thinkers have allowed themselves to fall into their "own little crowds."  There may have been pressure to do that.  It may have been easy.  The broader cultural influences may have been moving towards fragmentation and isolation.  But our problem is the extent to which we have helped this fragmentation along.  Too many modern Christians have allowed their voices to grow smaller and weaker by only reading what their fellow Christians have to say and by only conversing with those who believe as they do.  It's actually even worse than that.  There are bubbles within bubbles.  There are Christian leaders who have limited their conversation not just to their fellow believers, but to only within their own denominations, their own movements, their own publishing houses.  Jacobs is saying that Carl F.H. Henry was different from C.S. Lewis in that Henry was speaking only to fundamentalists/evangelicals, not to everyone.  To the extent that other Christian thinkers intentionally made their audiences even smaller, they contributed to the current problem.

This is certainly also a much commented upon problem within the secular and increasingly specialized academy.  But an academic with a specialty does not have the same obligations speaking as an academic, as he possesses speaking as a orthodox Christian thinker.  There may be times to speak to a small audience, but there are also times to speak to everyone else.  What Jacobs is arguing we lack is Christian intellectuals who speak to everyone.

My objection to Jacobs' point was that there are prominent, respected, authoritative and must-read Christian intellectuals like Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor who do speak to everyone, but that hardly anyone is listening to them.  My objection fails if Jacobs says that that is precisely what he means - almost no one is listening to them.  Why is no one listening?  In whom does the fault lie?  To the extent that Jacobs argues the fault partially lies in the majority of Christian scholars who have willingly limited themselves within their own little bubbles, I think he makes a vitally important point.

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I don't disagree with that Jeremy, I think the widening of the conversation has had good (more egalitarian, more marginalized voices), and bad (factionalism, and less interest in broadening ones horizons of what voices they listen to) results

Edited by Justin Hanvey

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I definitely had a bunker mentality in undergrad, especially when the major thinkers we interacted with were hostile to religion and Christianity (Comte, Marx, Foucault, etc...). That's one of the reasons why I appreciate James K.A. Smith and his Who's Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church. He is able to translate their basic thought and show potential Christian appropriations. Most evangelicals denounce rather than interact constructively with non-Christian thinkers (although I think there are a few that have been mined by evangelicals, such as Thomas Kuhn's Structures of Scientific Revolution and Philip Rieff's The Triumph of the Therapeutic and more recently, Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind). But in contested areas such as sexuality, how many evangelicals have been content to read Piper and Grudem's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and nothing by Judith Butler? They may certainly not agree with someone like Butler, but the point is is that a thinker like Butler is framing the "other side's" discourse (although I think the problem is a two-way street; how many Butler follows would read something like Theology of the Body? - again, the bubble mentality).

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20 hours ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

My objection to Jacobs' point was that there are prominent, respected, authoritative and must-read Christian intellectuals like Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor who do speak to everyone, but that hardly anyone is listening to them.

I think Justin pretty much nailed it. I think you and likely Jacobs are trying to parse out differences that ultimately still all collide. How does one speak to everyone when everyone either isn't listening or just plain doesn't care? Which leaves only two possible points, why is everyone not listening and/or how exactly is one speaking to everyone that everyone should listen?

I think both points exist in tension. On the one hand there really is a much broader group of speakers which in itself will create some sort of fragmentation. People can't listen to everyone, so they become selective regarding who gets their attention. Then as the speaker/writer, if you actually want to be heard you have to also listen to what people are listening to and decide are they hearing what you are actually saying, or, if not, how do you bring them around to what you are saying. how many Christian intellectuals have there been at any given time that everyone (or at least many people) listened to? Are we really that short of speakers now?

Then, also, as the Christian Intellectual, why should anyone listen to you? Never mind if Christians can even be taken seriously any more when what we say does not equal what we do. Everyone could and would listen to Lewis because he earned the ability to be listened to. He wasn't insular, sure, but he had the chops to function in non-religious environments as well as religious. He paid his dues. He earned the respect of the non-religious intellectuals even when they disagreed with his Christianity. How many Christian intellectuals today can say this?

I don't know or have those answers, just asking them to find out.

Joe

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jfutral wrote:
: Everyone could and would listen to Lewis because he earned the ability to be listened to. He wasn't insular, sure, but he had the chops to function in non-religious environments as well as religious. He paid his dues. He earned the respect of the non-religious intellectuals even when they disagreed with his Christianity. How many Christian intellectuals today can say this?

Eh? My impression is that Lewis is widely respected (now, at least) as an English professor, but that his more apologetical writings aren't all that highly regarded outside of the Christian bubble. Actual historians like N.T. Wright don't think much of Lewis's thoughts on the historical Jesus, actual philosophers don't think much of Lewis's thoughts on miracles, etc., etc. And during Lewis's lifetime, I was under the vague impression that his writing on Christian subjects held him back in terms of academic politics, career advancement, etc.

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I think you are conflating a couple of issues. First is time frames. How Lewis may be regarded, within Christian circles and without, now is not the same as in his lifetime. And truly may address the OP and the quoted writer's issues, as far as I'm concerned (complete with today's broadly accepted or contested presuppositions compared to Lewis's time).

And writing overtly about Christian themes in just about any 20th century setting will always have political and career implications. But that doesn't mean he didn't speak to a broad audience, and that he wasn't heard and engaged, certainly on an intellectual basis, by his peers. His peers may not have agreed with him, may even have held his Christianity against him (particularly if they were atheists _with_ him), but he spoke and was heard by many, certainly more than just about any Christian intellectual today.

So the question remains. Where are the Christian intellectuals of today and, if they exist why aren't they more broadly heard? I think Justin hit on a few key points.I think. Also, both broadly and probably especially within intellectual circles, with probably few exceptions (and I feel I am being generous here since I can't really think of any exceptions), Christians have lost integrity and the trust of those we may want to speak more directly to outside the Church. After all the 20th century intellectualism we may have tried to establish, we were constantly countered by how Christianity was exemplified, such that no matter how well we could logically and intellectually argue for Christianity, our actions regularly undermined our words. Why _should_ any one take us seriously? Why should we be heard by everybody?

Joe

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There are Christian intellectuals today.  There's actually been an increase of Christians involved with philosophy and teaching it in the universities since Lewis' time, and this probably at least partially influenced by the likes of Plantiga.

Coming from this are renowned Protestant philosophers/scholars/apologists like Alvin Plantiga, J.P Moreland, William Lane Craig, Nancy Pearcy etc.  There's also the Evangelical Philosophical Society who regularly publishes a journal.

Then moving out of the Protestant world there are scholars/philosophers like David Bentley Hart.

Or there are Christians thinkers involved with the Discovery Institute (which isn't only Christian, but rather Christians, Jews, and a few agnostics).

 

Then there's still older thinkers like Richard Swinburne and Roger Scruton.

 

Or there's guys like J Warner Wallace, Hugh Ross, and Richard Beck who are combining their previous field of study with Christian thinking and apologetics.

 

It don't think the problem is the lack of Christian intellectuals, there are arguably more than there have ever been, and from what I can tell there are Christians who are reading them.  I think the problem is that we are living in a society that has, in general, fallen farther away from Christ than in C.S. Lewis' time and is just simply often more inclined to mock or ignore these thinkers than to consider what they are saying.  We're living in a society where a great many people will pick up books by the "Four Horsemen" (and other similar writers) which aren't as intellectually solid as these people are influenced to believe, and then will ignore the plethora of books that show their thinking to be silly.

So the problem isn't the lack of Christian intellectuals, the problem is the spiritual climate that they have to contend with right now, and yes, this climate is existing in part because of previous Christian folly.  I think the good news is, that we are starting to see the beginning stages of a shift in the world at large, back towards considering what some of these folks have to say.  

In other words, some of their arguments are stronger than ever, and we might be on the edge of a breakthrough.  Time will tell.

 

Edited by Attica

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Attica wrote:
: Or there are Christians thinkers involved with the Discovery Institute (which isn't only Christian, but rather Christians, Jews, and a few agnostics).

I'm not sure I'd cite the "intelligent design" crowd as evidence of "Christian intellectuals", at least of the sort under discussion here.

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1 hour ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

I'm not sure I'd cite the "intelligent design" crowd as evidence of "Christian intellectuals", at least of the sort under discussion here.

Why not?  We don't have to agree with everything they say to have them fit that bill (and I think that there is going to be some breakthrough in regards to them as well - it's already happening, what with even a major secular/atheist philospher Thomas Nagel haven written that they have been marginalized unfairly [paraphrasing]).  Also, the Discovery Institute isn't just involved with Intelligent Design, ID is only one portion of what they are publishing about.  There's no doubt that some of those guys are pretty smart, agree or disagree.

I submit that the Discovery Institute can be considered as exhibit A when it comes to a group which is being mocked, while often being not read, or while being misunderstood.  

Edited by Attica

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The Discovery Institute isn't the only organization  of intellectuals that is challenging strict Darwinism (not counting the various YEC groups), there's also scientists and philosophers with no direct connection to faith, such as the Third Way of Evolution.  

So, currently much of what the Discovery Institute is saying is not outside of intellectual discourse, even though it may be outside of mainstream acceptance.  But really, isn't much of what Christians intellectuals are saying right now in general, outside of mainstream acceptance?   At least within the Academy?

Edited by Attica

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Attica wrote:
: I submit that the Discovery Institute can be considered as exhibit A when it comes to a group which is being mocked, while often being not read, or while being misunderstood.  

A group that people aren't listening to (and for very good reason) doesn't seem to me like a group that would qualify for "public intellectual" status. There is also the question of people claiming to be experts on fields outside their area of expertise (e.g. the Discovery Institute's co-founder Phillip Johnson, a lawyer who has written many error-filled books about biology). "Public intellectuals" do talk outside their area of expertise, of course, sometimes to one degree more than another (e.g. when C.S. Lewis talks about the historical Jesus or Richard Dawkins talks about religion), but should they be known *primarily* for doing that? C.S. Lewis had a *lot* to say about literature, of which he was indeed an expert; and Dawkins has a *lot* to say about evolutionary biology, of which he is indeed an expert; but when has Phillip Johnson ever been considered a "public intellectual" for his thoughts on the legal system?

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But Peter.  Phillip Johnson is far from the only person publishing through the Discovery Institute.  Actually, I would think that, right now, there are others who are publishing more, have a more relevant education and background, and are on the leading cusp of the debates.

Are you following what they are doing?  They have sections of their group dealing with Economics, Technology, Human Exceptionalism.  They've got guys like Michael Denton  who are talking within their area of expertise, as are Myers and Behe etc, whom if you've ever watched one of their debates can hold their own (some would say and then some) against their peers.  They've got David Berlinski, who I don't think you can deny is an intellectual.    They have the Biological Institute, with people trained in the field.  People like Anne Gauger who has a PhD in developmental biology.  They have the Evolutionary Informatics Lab with William Dembski.

Here's Dembski's education.  Have a look.  That tells me that he has some expertise.  Also, how can a person have that degree of education, have written several books... and not be considered an intellectual (even if you don't agree with him)?

The have fellows like William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland, both of who were recently considered two of the most influential modern philosophers.  One of those philosophers, Thomas Nagel, has defended the Discovery Institute as being unfairly marginalized in his book Mind and Cosmos.

They are connected with Guillermo Gonzalez, who has a PhD in Astronomy and has written in connection to this.

Then they have Richard Weikart who is a professor of history, with a PhD in European history who has written in connection to this (and whom I believe is a Christian).

 

The list goes on.  

 

If you don't agree with everything all of these guys are saying, that's fine, but it strikes me as kind of unfair to say that they aren't intellectuals in light of what is going on, and this, it would seem, largely based on Phillip Johnson's books that were written, what, 25 years ago.  Books which I haven't read, but which near as I can tell current biology may be agreeing with, at least in the sense that Darwinism IS in trouble, and as I've linked to above, it isn't merely people from the Discovery Institute (or Young Earth Creationists) who are pointing it out.  Again, see the Third Way of Evolution website.

From the site - "This web site is dedicated to making the results of that research available and to offering a forum to expose novel scientific thinking about the evolutionary process. The DNA record does not support the assertion that small random mutations are the main source of new and useful variations."

These include some top dogs in the field, like James A Shapiro who wrote this book.    Or Denis Noble.

 

These people may not be in agreement (or complete agreement?) with Intelligent Design, but they ARE in agreement that modern biology is showing strict Neo-Darwinism to be untenable.  In these regards they are coming into alignment with what the Discovery Institute has been saying for decades, and there IS a conversation happening around this.  

I would also think that this is indication that maybe there isn't as good of a reason for people not listening to them as you may think (in regards to biology, not the various other things that they are publishing)... I mean if certain major players are at least somewhat in agreement with them.

 

So, again, you can disagree with the people from the Discovery Institute, but I think it's quite unfair to say that they are not "public intellectuals".   I mean, they are debating their contemporaries in the public sphere, and as I've indicated, seem to hold up fine in that domain.  For example, the recent debate between Richard Weikart, Peter Singer and Susan Blackmore (Blackmore and Singer being two of the most prominent atheist philosophers right now).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Attica

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