Fw: Underlying assumptions

Russell Maatman (rmaat@mtcnet.net)
Mon, 9 Dec 1996 11:17:32 -0600

George Murphy wrote

> Russell Maatman wrote, among other things:
> > the a priori assumption of gradualistic evolution is not warranted and,
in fact,
> > is equivalent to assuming the validity of methodological naturalism.
> 2 problems which I have with your position surface here.
> 1) IMO the basic aspect of evolution as a scientific theory is
> not "gradualism". Quantum theory has made us realize that the old axiom
> that "nature does not make jumps" is wrong. Maybe we will find out that
> biological evolution "makes jumps", and perhaps even that we will need a
> reformulation of the theory as radical for biologists as quantum theory
> was for physicists. But that need not imply the introduction of
> "intelligent design" or something of the sort into the theory.

George, if you want to move the debate to postulating that biological
evolution makes jumps just as quantum theory describes jumps, fine. I
wonder how many evolutionists will be your allies.

> 2) More serious to me is the use of "methodological naturalism"
> in this way. Your (and others') use of the term seems to take it for
> granted that all Christians agree that it is bad. I do not. I think
> that you and others are making an inadequate theological assumption
> here. The classical doctrine of concurrence, Luther's theology of the
> cross, and van Till's "functional integrity of creation" are all things
> within the Christian tradition which point toward the idea that we
> _ought_ as much as possible to be "methodological naturalists", spoiled
> as that term may have become by its pejorative use. In any case, this
> ought to be the focus of discussion in this area. If this "underlying
> assumption" is not adequately dealt with, we will continue to talk past
> one another.

If we can agree that "methodolgoical naturalism" is defined so that it
refers to God's prescriptive law, which allows for no interference, and not
descriptive law, which is formulated by humans and is therefore inherently
limited, then I am with you.

In the Lord,

Russell Maatman
e-mail: rmaat@mtcnet.net