Re: criticising scientific naturalism

From: SteamDoc@aol.com
Date: Tue Dec 11 2001 - 15:06:07 EST

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    In a message dated Tue, 11 Dec 2001 10:50:31 AM Eastern Standard Time, RDehaan237@aol.com writes:

    >
    > You wrote <<let me just point to Van Till's book, Science Held Hostage, as
    > an ideal example of just this.>> An example of what? A critique of
    > evolutionism? It has been a long time since I read Howard's book, and my
    > copy is still in storage. But as I recall it, it was a criticism of creation
    > scientists, YECs, who were the ones holding science hostage. Howard can
    > correct me if I am wrong.

    I'm not Howard, but I read the book more recently and can correct you. Approximately equal portions of the book were spent criticising "creation science" and criticising people like Carl Sagan and P.W. Atkins who preach that God is eliminated by the natural explanations of science.

    Since I'm also in the Evolutionary Creationist category (resisting the TE acronym for reasons we have discussed in the past), I can point to similar examples in my own writings, which one can find at:
    http://members.aol.com/steamdoc/writings.htm
    See especially "Science and Christian Apologetics" and "A Personal View of the Evolution Issue."

    Here's a quote from the former:
    <<The right thing to do is to remember that God is sovereign over nature, that the atheist argument that natural explanations mean God is absent isn&#8217;t science, it&#8217;s completely unjustified philosophy. We can tell people that natural explanations may eliminate the God of the Gaps, but they don&#8217;t eliminate the Christian God.>>

    Here's a quote from the latter:
    <<A sixth way in which "evolution" is sometimes used is to refer to a metaphysical position in which atheistic philosophy is grafted onto the science in the mistaken belief that finding a natural explanation for something puts God out of the picture. An example is Carl Sagan's line, "The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be." This is sometimes called "evolutionism," though a better term is simply "naturalism" or "metaphysical naturalism." Such philosophical extrapolations are completely unscientific, and it is shameful when some try to pass them off as results of science.>>
    and another passage from the same essay:
    <<I think sometimes scientists, for fear of encouraging abominations like the "creation science" movement, are reluctant to admit that there are still unanswered questions with regard to evolution. Ultimately, we will be better off if everybody is honest about both the strengths and weaknesses of this and any other scientific theory.>>

    I can also note that the 2 letters I've had published in PSCF over the past couple of years have had some critique of Dawkins et al.

    However, it is true that in my writings, as well as in most others cited in this discussion, one will find *more* criticism of Christian anti-evolutionists than of preachers of naturalism like Sagan and Dawkins. Some harp on this difference as though it betrays bias (I notice from some old e-mails that Bob made a similar accusation back in April), but I think there are some legitimate reasons for the difference:

    1) Richard Dawkins and his ilk are not going to listen to me anyway, so why should I waste my time critiquing him. It is not inconceivable that somebody like Paul Nelson might listen to me.

    2) I am writing primarily for a Christian audience. Therefore, the attention should be primarily on the things that I feel are leading Christians astray. Most Christians who are even slightly familiar with the issues already realize that Richard Dawkins is philosophically full of it; but most have probably not stopped to think about how Phil Johnson, for example, seems to share the same mistaken philosophical presupposition of "natural explanations exclude God."

    3) I think that, as Christians, getting our own house in order is supposed to be a higher priority than pointing out error on the outside.

    I'd be interested if anybody has good counterarguments to the above reasons, suggesting that I and others should change the focus of our writing.

    Allan Harvey, steamdoc@aol.com



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