Re: Johnson's assumptions

Paul Arveson (
Tue, 28 Jan 97 09:14:12 EST

In message <> writes:
> Paul,
> I appreciate your conciliatory comments on Phil Johnson.
Thanks. I really do like him, and as I said, I'm glad he is an ASA member
and an articulate critic. We need more minds like his.

> I do not think, however, that you have caught the depth of the concern of
> Johnson and others like him. You wrote, "it is clear to me that Johnson in
> effect presupposes that Darwinism and theism are contradictory. This is one
> of Johnson's starting-point assumptions, apparently, and the rest of the
> argumentation follows from that, leading inexorably to a view that supports
> some kind of special creation."
Frankly, I don't care what concerns Johnson. What concerns me is getting at the
truth about nature.

> Johnson's deepest argument is with *philosophical naturalism* which is now
> the reigning orthodoxy of the Western intellectual world. Alvin Plantinga
> describes philosophical naturalism as follows: "Perhaps the easiest way to
> understand naturalism is to see it as the view that there is no such a
> person as God (no all powerful, all knowing and wholly good person who has
> created the world and has created human beings in his image), nor any thing
> at all *like* God. The naturalist--the contemporary naturalist, at any
> rate--typically adds a high view of science, seeing it as the only possible
> source of our salvation." This is clearly in opposition to the Christian
> World View.

I read Plantinga's arguments which were published in Perspectives a few
years ago, in conjunction with a debate with William Hasker. I think that
Plantinga too did not actually show theological or philosophical arguments
at the crucial points, but resorted to personal judgements. He said as much.

> Since Darwinism is imbedded in philosophical naturalism, Johnson also attacks
> its philosphical base. He maintains that many conclusions of evolutionary
> authors are based on their allegiance to the philosophical base rather than
> to objective, empirical data.

You too are begging the question here.

The question is whether what we observe in the fossil record could have been
done by a sovereign God, but without 'gaps' due to some kind of non-physical
events. That is the question. Is it possible to answer it
this way without assuming that God doesn't exist? In other words, is it
possible that God could have done it in some other way than by
miraculous gap-ridden special creation?

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, Signatures Directorate, NSWC
9500 MacArthur Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817-5700
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-4511 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)