Re: Open letter to rescind NABT revision

George Murphy (
Sat, 07 Feb 1998 08:00:01 -0500

Paul A. Nelson wrote:

> The 1995 NABT statement apparently offended some religious
> fundamentalists, chiefly among them Berkeley lawyer Phillip Johnson
> (author of "Darwin on Trial" and other misleading literature on
> evolution). Apparently, Johnson and others have claimed that the
> statement implies that evolutionary theory is an ideological statement,
> since the words "unsupervised" and "impersonal" automatically exclude
> any divine intervention. This was explicitly suggested by a letter to
> the NABT by what the NCSE qualifies as "distinguished scholars" Alvin
> Plantinga, John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame
> University, and Huston Smith, Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion at
> Syracuse University. Notice that while these esteemed colleagues may
> very well be "distinguished", they certainly are not biologists.

Yes - but the problem with the original version with
"unsupervised" and "impersonal" is just that it allowed itself to get
outside the domain of pure biology & to introduce a philosophical and
theological (or more accurately, anti-theological) intrepretation of
evolution. Thus a response of philosophers and theologians to this part
of the statement was completely appropriate.

George L. Murphy