Re: Johnson's assumptions

Loren Haarsma (lhaarsma@OPAL.TUFTS.EDU)
Tue, 28 Jan 1997 20:23:17 -0500 (EST)

Paul Averson 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."

and Bob DeHaan responded:

> He [Johnson] maintains that many conclusions of evolutionary
> authors are based on their allegiance to the philosophical base rather than
> to objective, empirical data.

Paul is close to the central issue, but I think that Bob is even closer.
After reading and listening to Johnson and other ID proponents for
several years, I have come to the conclusion that this claim is at the
heart of it:

(C1) "Intelligent Design" proponents (such as Johnson) claim that people
believe in macroevolution *in spite of* the scientific evidence,
*because of* a Naturalistic philosophical bias.

They come to that conclusion primarily because of the "popular" books
and articles on evolution; indeed, it is easy to see how they would
reach that conclusion.


(C2) Evolutionary creationists claim to believe that macroevolution is
probably true *because of* the scientific evidence, interpretted within
a thoroughly *theistic* (not deistic) philosophical framework.

As you can see, the EC claim is a threat to the fundamental assumptions
of most ID proponents. This, I believe, is the real source of tension.
In the face of (C2), one must either acknowledge that (C1) is not
universally true, or else claim that evolutionary creationists have
unknowingly succummed to (C1).

I know of a few ID proponents who are willing to grant the EC claim ---
namely, that it *is* possible on the basis of the evidence, interpretted
in a theistic framework, to favor macroevolution. They simply disagree
with that interpretation of the evidence. They are, in my experience,
the minority. Most ID books and articles agree with Johnson --- with
greater or lesser degrees of charity --- that EC's have tainted their
theology with Philosophical Naturalism. Of course, this claim of
tainted theology is a secondary source of tension.

Loren Haarsma