PJ and Saganism

Allan Harvey (aharvey@boulder.nist.gov)
Mon, 16 Aug 1999 12:20:47 -0600

At 11:03 AM 8/15/99 -0600, Burgy wrote:
>Allan Harvey commented:
>"when Phil Johnson
>starts by accepting the Sagan-ish proposition that "natural" explanations
>rule out God (therefore requiring one to argue against natural
>explanations in order to defend theism)."
>This is an interesting twist. Maybe it explains a lot of PJ. Can you give
>a source for this claim?

We've been through this several times on the ASA list, so I'll just make
a few comments:

1) To argue against the theory of evolution as though the truth of theism
is at stake is implicitly to accept the proposition I mentioned. If it
is really OK for God to do his work via "nature", then a "natural"
explanation like evolution is no threat to theism. But Johnson frames
evolution and theism as mutually exclusive, which implies that he thinks
the "natural" explanations of evolution leave no room for God (and
therefore must be opposed in order to defend theism).

2) A while back on this list, I challenged Johnson to agree or disagree
with a statement that said God was not diminished if his creative work
was through "natural" processes. Several people, including Burgy, were
happy to endorse it and could not see why anybody wouldn't. Johnson,
while unwilling to state specific areas of disagreement, would not agree
with the statement.

3) Among writings that suggest Johnson thinks God must, as a theological
necessity, "leave his fingerprints all over the evidence" in order for
theism to be tenable, here's a quote from _Defeating Darwinism_ that
Terry Gray first pointed out to our list:
"I therefore put the following simple proposition on the table for
discussion: God is our true Creator. I am not speaking of a God who is
known only by faith and is invisible to reason, or who acted undetectably
behind some naturalistic evolutionary process that was to all appearances
mindless and purposeless. That kind of talk is about the human
imagination, not the reality of God. I speak of a God who acted openly and
who left his fingerprints all over the evidence."
Clearly, a God who works behind the scenes in nature does not pass muster
with Johnson.

| 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 |
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