Re: Phillip Johnson at Northshore Church

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Mon Apr 23 2001 - 09:38:15 EDT

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    Following is a letter to the editor of Christianity Today that I sent over 6
    years ago. It was published, but without the bulk of the first paragraph.

    Seems I was not far off target. The depressing thing for me is to see how
    evangelical Christianity jumps on the PJ-ID bandwagon nonetheless.

    Howard van Till


    October 22, 1994

    Mr. David Neff, Executive Editor
    465 Gunderson Drive
    Carol Stream, IL 60188

    Dear David (for publication as a letter to the Editor):

    As I reflect on Phillip Johnson's essay, "Shouting 'Heresy' in the Temple of
    Darwin," (October 24 issue of CT) I am reminded of the phrase that he once
    applied to influential persons who preach caricatures of both science and
    Christian belief for the purpose of advancing their own agendas. There is in
    Johnson's writing "just enough truth to mislead persuasively."

    There is truth in Johnson's charge that the secular academy is guilty of
    distorting and neglecting Christian scholarship. And I join him in
    encouraging Christian scholars to contest vigorously the way in which those
    academics committed to a Naturalistic worldview exploit the prestige of
    modern science to give the illusion of empirical warrant for their
    antitheistic propaganda.

    But when Johnson the law professor masquerades as an "expert witness" in the
    court of scientific theory evaluation, he dispenses a grossly misleading
    sense of reassurance to Christian skeptics of the scientific enterprise. And
    when he sets himself up as judge of what motivates most Christian professors
    of science to accept the possibility that God has gifted his Creation with
    the truly awesome capacities required for the evolutionary development of
    his creatures, Johnson stoops to cheap accusation and offensive

    Johnson's rhetoric is skillfully crafted to persuade those who have not
    given their professional careers to the practice and evaluation of science
    from a Christian perspective. But if he and his disciples are successful in
    their zealous crusade to promote the rejection, not only of the Naturalistic
    exploitation of biological evolution, but also of the very concept of
    genealogical continuity among God's creatures, then I believe that the
    constructive interaction of natural science and Christian belief will be set
    a century back on its already difficult course.

    Sincerely yours,

    Howard J. Van Till
    Professor of Physics
    Calvin College

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