Re: The Church of Darwin (WSJ 16 Aug 1999)

Allan Harvey (
Wed, 18 Aug 1999 08:49:14 -0600

Phil Johnson's article had a revealing paragraph:

>The reason the theory of evolution is so controversial is that it is the
>main scientific prop for scientific naturalism. Students first learn that
>"evolution is a fact", and then they gradually learn more and more about
>what that "fact" means. It means that all living things are the product of
>mindless material forces such as chemical laws, natural selection, and
>random variation. So God is totally out of the picture, and humans (like
>everything else) are the accidental product of a purposeless universe. Do
>you wonder why a lot of people suspect that these claims go far beyond the
>available evidence?

Johnson rightly points out the use (or abuse) of evolution to support
metaphysical naturalism. Where he goes wrong is with regard to what
evolution "means". The "mindless", "God is totally out of the picture"
aspects are not part of the science -- they are philosophical
extrapolations. Faced with that alleged "meaning" of evolution pushed by
some like Richard Dawkins, one has two choices:

1) Accept the purported "meaning", which forces one to attack the science
itself in order to defend theism.

2) Deny the philosophical extrapolations, pointing out that, especially
from the standpoint of Christian theology, it is unjustified and just
plain wrong to invest the natural explanations of evolution with that
sort of "meaning". In this latter case, one can still discuss the merits
of the science but it is no longer theologically necessary for the
science of evolution to be wrong.

Johnson chooses to play on the turf of Sagan and Dawkins by choosing
course #1, which is why many of us in camp #2 feel that Johnson's
theological shortcomings are more of a problem than his scientific

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | "Don't blame the |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | government for what I |
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