Re: Johnson's concluding remarks (fwd)

Allan Harvey (
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 13:17:59 -0700

Allen Roy quotes Phil Johnson as follows:

>I was asked to supply a theme for this conference, and the theme
>I chose was this: "The first step for a 21st century science of
>origins is to separate materialist philosophy from empirical

Separating materialist philosophy from science is a good goal. But it
seems that Johnson replaces the intrusion of materialist philosophy into
science with an equally inappropriate intrusion of his own philosophy,
which one might call "interventionist theism". I think we'd all be better
off if philosophy/theology did not pretend to be able to answer questions
in the realm of science, and vice-versa. Johnson is playing a dangerous
game by setting up a scientific theory (Darwinian evolution, as opposed to
its philosophical extrapolations) as the antithesis of Biblical theism. If
the world gets the message that theism and evolution are incompatible, then
we are set up for apologetic disaster if evidence for evolution continues
to accumulate. If, on the other hand, one takes as foundational that God's
status as creator doesn't depend on the scientific description of *how*
God's activity is manifested, science can be pursued in a religiously
neutral way that, for Christians, further testifies to the glory of God.

> <SNIP> We
>need to replace Dawkins-style and Sagan-style science with a
>science that is humble about what it can do. A science that
>sticks to its data, that is careful to consider alternative
>explanations, and that does not allow itself to be ruled by a
>philosophical or religious agenda of any kind. A science that
>does not commit the original sin of believing what you want to
>believe. A science in which the scientists do not fool
>themselves and therefore do not try to fool the public either.

I agree, but I think this criticism applies about equally to what I've seen
of the "Intelligent Design" movement. For example, one sees claims (I
think even by Johnson, though maybe not by Behe himself) that Behe has
definitively shown that "irreducibly complex systems" (whatever those are)
*cannot* have evolved naturally. This surely violates the "humble" part of
the above criteria as much as Dawkins does. And, of course, the YEC
movement is orders of magnitude worse in its violations of these criteria,
but that's another subject.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
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