An unbeliever must assume that observations are meaningful, that we can
model patterns in these observations, and that things under the same
circumstances behave the same way. Believers have good reason to assume
these, because God created us to be stweards over creation (which requires
the ability to make accurate observations and predictions) and because He
is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This responsibility as stewards
also makes science an important task for the believer.
Unbelievers could take the pragmatic approach of "these methods work, so
use them", but have trouble explaining why. There are probable evolutionary
advantages to being able to accurately predict or explain things, but this
does not explain why it is possible to do so. Also, if some natural laws
had varied too greatly in the past, we would not exist, but this does not
seem to guarantee future consistency.
An additional consideration would be the possibility that the believer,
working "as for the Lord" might do better work. Conversely, the unbeliever
might idolize his work and get more achieved than the believer who
maintains a balance with church, family, and societal responsibilities.
>Johnson and Moreland have pushing the view that says "No" to the above
>questions. My view is that J and M are wrong. What do others feel? Is the
>study of evolution more naturalistic or materialistic than the study of
>atoms, molecules and forces?
As discussed above, I think the believer has better grounds for doing
science. However, I believe that "methodological naturalism" is actually
the sort of science that should result from such theistic presuppositions,
and that the "theistic science" that they advocate reflects a particular
view of how God acted which is neither required by the Bible nor supported
by the available evidence.