Re: Methodological naturalism

George Murphy (
Mon, 30 Mar 1998 15:02:42 -0500

Paul A. Nelson wrote:
> Allan Harvey asked:
> >Paul Nelson, are you willing to make such a statement? Does the
> >theory of evolution, if true, negate Christianity, or not? It seems
> >like such a simple question to be dodged so many times.
> In November last year, I lectured at Whitworth College in Spokane.
> During my visit, Steve Meyer showed me a paper written by a former
> student of his, now studying at Fuller Seminary under the tutelage
> of Nancey Murphy.
> The subject of the paper was how Christians need to reconcile the
> doctrine of original sin with neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.
> The author argued that neo-Darwinism is true, and that whatever is
> true cannot contradict the Bible. Therefore the doctrine of original
> sin, he said, needs a thorough-going revision.
> Which this young man then provided. In their natural state, he wrote,
> humans are good and capable of perfection, because a holy God would
> not have employed an evolutionary process which was intrinsically evil.
> Only by not living up to our full evolutionary potential do we "commit
> sin," and indeed this is what it means to "fall short of the glory of God."
> How does that strike you, Allan? Does the theory of evolution, if true,
> negate Christianity, or not?

It's a huge & unwarranted jump from a poor attempts by an
undergraduate to deal with this difficult problem to a conclusion that
it in fact can't be dealt with satisfactorily, & that therefore
Christianity & evolution are antithetical. (True, you don't say that in
so many words but it seems to be what you're driving at.) Try instead
e.g., Phil Hefner's _The Human Factor_ (Fortress, 1993). You will not
agree with it _in toto_, & in fact I have some differences with Phil's
treatment & certainly don't regard it as a complete solution. But why
not discuss the work of an established theologian rather than that of a
pre-sem student?

George L. Murphy