Materialistic Science

Howard J. Van Till (
Wed, 1 Sep 1999 15:12:30 -0400


Here's a quick response to your request.

>One of our English faculty is using Johnson's paperback on Defeating
>Darwinism in Freshman Composition....

Help me understand *that* choice. :)

>We (the academic community) seem to have decided that good theology is not
>required to do good science. An unbeliever can do it just as well as a

Yes, I suppose that's so, *provided* that each is working with a set of
presuppositions and a methodology that are fitting to the character of the
universe. ( I assume that you are speaking of the 'natural' sciences, right?
The behavioral sciences would present a far more complex consideration.)

>Is good theology necessary to do good science? Can an unbeliever do science
>just as well as a believer? (If so, some form of naturalism is part of

See the comment above. As I have stated in numerous ways, I see much good
natural science flowing from the presupposition that the formational and
operational economies (menus of the formational and operational capabilities)
of the universe are sufficiently "robust" (rich with capabilities) that the
'natural' sciences need not appeal to extranatural agent action to account
for what takes place. That is not to say that extranatural agent action does
not, or could not, occur, but simply that the 'natural' sciences are, by
definition, dedicated to the task of seeking explanations without appeal to
such. Furthermore, the "robust formational economy principle" could either be
assumed (with little warrant, I would say) by an atheist or seen (with
warrant) by a theist as an expression of the creativity and generosity of God.
If this principle is appropriate, then the theist and atheist could
prreesumably do equally good natural science.

>Johnson and Moreland have [been] pushing the view that says "No" to the above
>questions. My view is that J and M are wrong. What do others feel? Is the
>study of evolution more naturalistic or materialistic than the study of
>atoms, molecules and forces?

It certainly need not be. It could become so, however, if either the atheistic
practitioners of natural science or the theistic detractors of natural science
defined 'evolution' in such a way as to incorporate tenets of a naturalistic
worldview. The book you cited does so. Will that be pointed out to the
students who are asked to read it?

Howard Van Till