What can we swallow? (was: More than Three views?)

Allan Harvey (aharvey@boulder.nist.gov)
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 12:46:43 -0700

At 10:49 AM 2/25/99 -0600, Robin Mandell wrote:
>Hi I have a ? about this:
>[Allan Harvey wrote]
>>OK, that is a useful clarification. Howard is fairly strongly committed
>>to God not having left any "gaps" in what he endowed creation with from
>>the beginning, but open to the possibility that he might have done some
>>things in natural history directly in spite of that (as an extra
>>expression of his character rather than as a necessity).

>If God "did some things in natural history" and if he did more things than
>expected since He is not Tame and is rather creative and large then
>shouldn't one be careful swallowing all of the modern descent by natural
>mechanism story? Even if it is totally sound and logical with such a
>lively God might some of Darwinism be an interesting possible path but
>historically untrue.

I personally have no problem with wanting to be careful about
"swallowing" all the "natural" explanations for descent. Though one
might ask why (apart from possible differences in strength of evidence)
we should be more reluctant to "swallow" those scientific explanations
than we are to swallow gravity as a natural explanation for planetary motion.

Where I do have a problem (this has come up in previous discussions about
Phil Johnson) is when people are not merely careful about swallowing
these explanations for how God created, but insist that they must be spit
out in order for Christianity to be true. There's nothing wrong with a
healthy skepticism about natural explanations, but it becomes bad
theology and bad apologetics if we take the Sagan/Johnson position that
such "natural" explanations mean God is absent (that is the essence of
the "God of the Gaps" error), implying that the truth of Christianity
depends on the "natural" explanations being false and on specific
postulated "gaps" in natural history being present.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | aharvey@boulder.nist.gov |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | "Don't blame the |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | government for what I |
| 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303 | say, or vice versa." |