Many critics insist on labeling Michael Behe a creationist. But in doing so, the critics, as a community, end up sending a confused double message, that I highlighted by noting, "Combine the logic of the two scientists and we find that acceptance of the fact that we are African apes, cousins of monkeys, descended from fish is transparent creationism." The critics, who find it important to label Behe a creationist, are thus put in the awkward position of looking for ways to explain why it is that someone who accepts human evolution is a creationist. To accomplish this, the critic invariably ends up promoting the creationist fabrication. And it is at this point that we should consult the wisdom of George Orwell:
Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable""¦.Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearers to think he means something quite different. – George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," from Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (Harcourt, 1950), p. 83.
To make their political word stick, the critics typically have to water down the definition of "˜creationist' and employ guilt-by-association. What they never do is factor the way the term "˜creationist' is commonly understood. And this, according to Orwell, is dishonest.
Whenever you seek to label someone, you are trying to communicate something about that person. The act of labeling people is typically a political and/or sociological act, and thus we are rationally obligated to consider how the average person will interpret that label. If a critic labels Behe a creationist, what is he trying to communicate about that person? Does the critic convey the information that Behe accepts that we are African apes, cousins of monkeys, descended from fish? No. On the contrary, the critic is communicating the exact opposite. Given that denial of human evolution is a central tenet of creationism, it would be wrong to label Behe as a creationist because most people, upon hearing the label, will think it means that Behe denies human evolution.
In reality, it is more accurate to label Behe a theistic evolutionist, as this label would accurately communicate that a) Behe is an evolutionist and b) believes God was involved in the process of evolution. And in fact, this is how most people interpret theistic evolution, as some sort of God-guided process. How most people interpret a label is the most important point.
Consider a recent survey on origins:
God created humans in present form – 51%
Humans evolved, God guided the process – 30%
Humans evolved, God did not guide process – 15%
As you can see, the general public (those who would hear and interpret the label), guided by mainstream pollsters, have three basic categories in mind when it comes to the question of human evolution (note that only 4% of respondents did not feel comfortable adopting one of these descriptors). I think it rather obvious that this breaks down as 51% creationists, 30% theistic evolutionists, and 15% atheistic evolutionists. And while the pages of obscure philosophy or sociology journals may attempt to break these down some more and explore the different sub-types in each group, all that matters is the common perception among the large audience that hears the label. In essence, the label serves to tell people which of these three tribes someone belongs to.
Better yet is this report that is actually hosted by the NCSE. Here it becomes obvious that Behe's position is much better described as theistic evolution than creationism:
While most US scientists think humans are simply smarter apes, at least 4 in 10 believe a creator "guided" evolution so that Homo sapiens are ruled by a soul or consciousness, a new survey shows. Scientists almost unanimously accept Darwinian evolution over millions of years as the source of human origins. But 40% of biologists, mathematicians, physicians, and astronomers include God in the process"¦"¦"I am surprised to find that so many are theistic evolutionists" Duncan Porter, a Virginia Tech botanist and Darwin scholar, said in an interview"¦"¦. The belief that God creates through evolution has been called "theistic evolution" though there are different views on how much God intervenes in the process.
So as you can see, the belief that God creates through evolution is theistic evolution. Of course, just as there may be different types of creationism, so too are there different types of theistic evolution, where the nature and frequency of interventions differ (even to the point where there is no intervention). Thus, if we label Behe a theistic evolutionist, we tap into this common understanding and more accurately communicate.