Re: How do Christians in Science avoid being marginilized by PJ?

Murphy (
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 18:28:26 -0500

Joel Cannon wrote:

> Unfortunately, outside of this listserv and isolated communities of
> intellectuals, Johnson seems to have been very successful at
> marginalizing those of us who disagree with either his theology or his
> biology. Ironically, Johnson spoke at the NTSC of a "culture war" of
> "ad hominem arguments" that had prevented discussion of theistic
> science in the academy while using precisely the same strategy to
> attack opponents within the Christian community.
> The important question is how can we collectively and constructively
> raise our voices to say that many Christians with far better
> scientific qualifications than Phillip Johnson feel that he is
> misleading the Christian community. In particular, how are we to
> respond to things such as the upcoming Christianity Today issue that
> has appears to have been orchestrated by Johnson (that is my
> impression anyway)?
> We need more than articles in "Perspecives".

Johnson's arguments have had the largest impact in the
Evangelical (in the popular American sense) community. Among people
interested in science-theology issues, this means among those likely to
be associated with ASA. I must remind you all again that ASA is by no
means the only, or even the most important, group of Christians
interested in these issues. Those connected with CTNS, CCRS, & the
various denominational work groups which participate in the ecumenical
roundtable on science & technology (ELCA, UCC, PCUSA, RCA, Episcopal,
United Methodist, & others) - not to mention those outside the USA -
seem to have little interest in Johnson.
The primary theological need in connection with evolution is to
develop adequate ways to express Christian doctrines such as creation,
_imago dei_, and original sin in an evolutionary context. That can only
be done if one takes evolution seriously. Johnson's primary fault is
that he has given some Christians an excuse not to engage this
theological task. That isn't surprising in view of the fact that he
seems to care little about theology, but this doesn't minimize the
damage he has done, especially to ASA.
Some will respond that the other groups I mentioned are too
"liberal". In part, I agree. But they represent people who are
interested in the type of theological task which Johnson encourages
others to shirk.
George Murphy