Re: Don't forget about me! (distal vs. proximate)

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Sun Apr 15 2001 - 21:12:04 EDT

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    I can understand why people can formally object to the label of theistic
    evolutionist. After all it conflates a theological position (theism) with a
    particular scientific theory (evolution). This is a dangerous thing to do.
    "Evolutionary creationist", though perhaps better, is similarly flawed. However,
    we all have to accept the labels that others put on us, even Christians did so in
    the beginning.

    However, I can't understand why you appear to be insisting in this thread that
    Christians must "critique" evolutionary theories, in a way that is distinctive to
    a way that a Christian chemist might critique bond theories, or a Christian
    physicist might critique as aspect quantum mechanics. Rather one would think
    that a Christian palaeontologist or evolutionary biologist would make a positive
    contribution to our understanding of biological formation by original research,
    rather than simply through a negative critique.

    The charge that "theistic evolutionists" criticize their YEC or ID brethren but
    not the aggressive naturalists such as Richard Dawkins, is one often made,
    especially by Phillip Johnson. While those of us who accept the validity of
    organic evolution must take note of this criticism, as a generalisation it is
    baseless in my experience

     I note that Sam Berry, professor of genetics at the University College London
    has published extensively on evolutionary ecology and made important advances in
    biology in this area. As a leading Christian he has also written several books
    on the subject. In all the ones I have read he has severely criticized the
    extension of evolutionary theory into theology an metaphysics. Michael Poole, the
    science educator, similarly repeatedly pointed out both the validity of organic
    evolution as a scientific theory and the dangers of inappropriate extension. He
    has publicly debated with Richard Dawkins on occasion. C.S. Lewis, though either
    a scientist nor a theologian, was one of the most influential Christians of the
    20th century. He recongised that the validity of organic evolution was a
    scientific question, not a theological one and also strongly attacked
    evolutionism (his poem on the subject is brilliantly funny). Donald MacKay was
    another highly influential writer on the science-faith interface who criticized
    the misuse of evolutionary theories. How many more examples do you want? In
    fact, I am hard pushed to think of any Christian who has defended organic
    evolution who has not also, to some degree, criticized its misuse in support of
    atheistic or naturalistic metaphysics. As Tim Ikeda has also pointed out, there
    are quite a a number of non Christians who have also express concern over such a
    misuse of science.

    Jon wrote (in part):

    > In a message dated 4/13/01 11:28:16 AM, writes:
    > << The books by Howard Van Till serve as a stellar example. In both *The
    > Fourth Day* and *Science Held Hostage* there is "equal time" given to the
    > critique of YEC and of the atheistic naturalists. As you know Howard and I
    > don't see eye to eye on everything, but I have no doubt that he offers a
    > sustained critique of atheistic naturalism as a philosophical/theological
    > system. It just doesn't trickle down into any critique of evolutionary
    > science that Johnson and company want it to. >>
    > Terry,
    > I am not sure Howard would consider himself a TE. As I recall, he objected
    > strenuously to this label in the book _Three Views of Creation_ (I think
    > that is the title. Maybe someone can help me here.) You might want to ask
    > him.
    > <<I just had a chance to read George Murphy's article in the latest
    > Perspectives, posted on the web at
    > While I can't
    > say I had my nit-picking glasses on, I found it to be a good explanation of
    > why we might not expect "differences" between theistic and non-theistic
    > science. As I've argued elsewhere, non-theists are actually doing theistic
    > science, they just don't know it or won't admit it.>>
    > I read George's article, too, and found his cross-centeredness a profound
    > theological perspective. The hiddenness of God in creation is also a helpful
    > insight. But my impression was that the thrust of the article was targeted
    > primarily at the ID community rather than the non-theistic science community.
    > You or someone else would do me and perhaps others a favor if you would post
    > a list or collection of TE writings that address the problem you mentioned in
    > your first post, a philosophical/theological critique of the atheistic
    > biological community.
    > Thanks for your help.
    > Bob

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