Griffin (last)

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Wed Jun 20 2001 - 13:11:26 EDT

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    Here is the last of my notes on Griffin's book. Griffin's discussion of
    "evolution" is particularly good.

    John Burgeson (Burgy)
           (science/theology, quantum mechanics, baseball, ethics,
            humor, cars, God's intervention into natural causation, etc.)

    Griffin Notes -- chapter 8

    Creation and Evolution. 70 pages

    In the this chapter, Griffin presents reasons for suspecting the falsity
    of Darwinian Evolutionism. Following that, he shows how Whiteheadian
    theistic naturalism is in accordance with both what is left and what is

    He describes a certain term, Darwinian Evolutionism, and discusses 14
    dimensions of it.

     1. Microevolution
     2. Macroevolution (all present species have come from previous species)
     3. Naturalistic
     4. Uniformitarianism

     Griffin accepts these dimensions.

     5. No theistic guidance, either non-casual or "directing influence"
     6. Positivism. All influences are, in principle, causally detectable
     7. Predictive (in principle) Determinism. No teleology.
     8. Macroevolution understood as microevolution happening long enough
     9. Natural selection acting on mutations the sole cause
    10. Gradualism. Tiny step by tiny step
    11. Nominalism
    12. Atheistic
    13. Amoral
    14. Nonprogressive

    A significant argument for Darwinism is that we require a materialistic
    theory (because we are good methodological naturalists) to explain how we
    got here and Darwinism is not just the best such theory, it is the only
    such theory (garbage dumped on the earth millennia ago just moves the
    area of interest from the earth to a more universal playground).
    Therefore, if materialism is true, Darwinism must be true. Materialism
    being the scientist's playground, Darwinism is the only game that can be
    played there. Other disciplines can play on their own playgrounds; the
    unspoken attitude is, of course, that the playground of the scientist
    comprises all of the reality of the universe possible to apprehend.

    Griffin observes that this argument can be turned against Darwinism. If
    materialism has proved inadequate for other issues, such as human
    consciousness, or for psi effects, or for certain religious experiences,
    then the obvious presumption ought to be that it is also inadequate for
    Darwinism. Wesson writes:

    "The faith that all things can be attributed to analyzable material
    causations, in the end, only faith like more candid faiths."

    Griffin concludes by rejecting dimensions 5 through 14.

    God, says Griffin, not being external to the universe, is essentially the
    SOUL of the universe, and exists with the universe, with equal necessity,
    being coeternal. As I said at the end of chapter 4, I can't buy this
    myself. Even if, as Griffin asserts, it solves the problems of theodicy.
    Even if the concept of creation "ex nihilo" is extrabiblical, that does
    not help the thesis (IMHO of course).

    end chapter 8

    Griffin Notes -- chapter 9 (Epilogue, 8 pages)

    Griffin summarizes, and argues again that "ex nihilo" is not a biblical
    doctrine. He sees that doctrine at the root of the modern problem. He
    briefly reviews history, and implies that the next step is to work out a
    relationship between the world's major religions. Griffin identifies
    himself as a Christian. He is up front in saying that a Whiteheadian god
    cannot be the "ONE TRUE GOD" of Christianity, or of any other faith. Why,
    indeed, should we WANT to hold that the Christian God is this God?

    Maybe, David, because we really really think it is true?

    end of the epilogue

    Griffin has an extensive bibliography, 16 pages. Probably in excess of
    300 citations. Among the authors I recognize Asimov, Behe, Bohm, Boyle,
    Crick, Darwin, Dawkins, Dennett, Denton, Dyson, Eccles, Eddington (one of
    my favorites from years ago), Einstein, Futuyma, Gould (many citations),
    Griffin himself (17 citations), Haught, Hodge, Johnson, Jung, Kurtz,
    Otto, Plantinga, Popper, Provine, Rhine, Russell, Searle, Shapiro,
    Skinner, Tart, Van Till (4 citations), Weinberg, Whitehead (of course),
    and Wilson.

    Missing -- C.S. Lewis, Jastrow, Sagan

    end of the end John Burgeson

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