Over at the DI’s blog “News and Views”, Professor Alvin Plantinga engages with Jay Richard’s commentary on Plantinga’s book, Where the COnflict Really Lies. In the book, Plantinga investigates the relationship and compatibility between modern science and religious beliefs. For the content of Plantinga’s post, head over to the DI site to read it. I just want to make a brief note on how well Plantinga exercises intellectual methods that are all too often missing from the public debates about evolution and intelligent design, namely, the practice of carefully defining and distinguishing. It often happens in this debate that two people who hold similar opinions express them in precisely opposite terms. One may say, “I accept evolution” and mean by it that he has no problem with the idea of organic descent and common ancestry, although he rejects the philosophical nihilism that insists that evolution is truly “unguided.” Another may say, “I reject evolution”, and mean by it that while he has no problem with descent, he rejects the Darwinian mechanism of change. The nature of each man’s opinion and the points of real debate are, in this case, obscured by broad sweeping terms that carry different baggage for different people. The problem becomes even more severe when such lack of distinguishing and definition is combined with the assumption of motives: as when any and all forms of evolution are rejected or accepted, depending on your preference, because of shoddy arguments claiming that evolution supports atheism. The way forward, for those truly interested in honest investigation of truth, lies in the old Scholastic maxim: Always distinguish.