Re: methodological naturalism (long)

George Murphy (
Fri, 27 Mar 1998 11:23:12 -0500

Howard J. Van Till wrote:
> Having watched the recent exchanges on the topic of 'methodological
> naturalism,' I have decided to break my lurking silence and make a few
> comments. .............................
Of course I'm in considerable agreement with what Howard says in
this post. There are 2 points where I differ, minor and major:
1) The term MN is indeed used in confusing ways, but I doubt
that the situation will be improved by new terminology. Experience
(e.g, the attempt to get physicists to talk about negatons & positons
rather than electrons and positrons, or _Sky & Telescope's_ contest to
rename the Big Bang) has shown new & better terms are usually ignored in
favor of familiar though poorer ones. Even if the new terminology
catches on, the old will not be dropped, & confusion will be multiplied.
2) Much more importantly, while emphasis on the integrity of
creation implied by the Scriptural teaching of the goodness of creation
is crucial, it does not get at the heart of the problem. That is the
notion that a God who "makes a difference" (aka a God who is not "a
paper tiger") show himself in ways acceptable to our ideas of how God
should act in the world, & that reference to God must be necessary for
the understanding of natural processes. In brief, the only way to make
any theological breakthrough here is a "Copernican revolution" which
insists that we must begin our understanding of God and God's action in
the world from the apparent absence of God on Calvary. An adequate
Christian doctrine of creation must be closely linked with christology.

George L. Murphy