Oh boy. It all started when Jacob Weisberg wrote a piece for Slate, titled "Evolution vs. Religion: Quit pretending they're compatible" (see Mike's comments here) in which he stresses that evolution and religion really are competing for the same turf. Julian Sanchez echoed his views, and Timothy Sandefur, writing on The Panda's Thumb, endorsed it, saying "Julian Sanchez has it exactly right." Nick Matzke, another contributor to PT reacted by posting a critique of Weisberg and Sanchez. Sandefur responded, as did Paul Myers, a developmental biologist who in addition to being a contributor to PT also runs Pharyngula.
In reading through all of this material (and the discussion continues in the comments to each of those posts!) a peculiar thing struck me: Some of the ID critics are sounding a lot like creationists on this topic. For example, many creationists claim that Darwin's loss of faith was caused by his thoughts on evolution (as opposed to the death of his daughter Anne), yet we find Weisberg making the same claim:
"That evolution erodes religious belief seems almost too obvious to require argument. It destroyed the faith of Darwin himself, who moved from Christianity to agnosticism as a result of his discoveries and was immediately recognized as a huge threat by his reverent contemporaries."
"What Nick is doing is promoting one kind of religious belief, a sort of abstract deism, as compatible with evolutionary biology. Sure it is; I'll agree with him one hundred percent. But there are probably about as many people who practice that particularly fuzzy sort of religion as there are atheists, and what he is actually doing is pushing a kind of sectarian faith that will only serve to annoy the Baptist and Methodist and Catholic and miscellaneous Evangelical creationists. In order for the two to be compatible, we're insisting that these religions strip out articles of faith that they may consider indispensable. "
Where have I heard this before? Oh yes, here it is:
"Naturalistic evolution is consistent with the existence of "God" only if by that term we mean no more than a first cause which retires from further activity after establishing the laws of nature and setting the natural mechanism in motion."
Phillip E. Johnson, "Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism", First Things (1990)
What's interesting is how ID critics for years have been talking as if Phillip Johnson's views on the relationship between evolution and religion are hopelessly wrong, yet here we find Paul the scientist saying the same as Phil the creationist.