Re: Why methodological naturalism?

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Fri Feb 15 2002 - 16:31:32 EST

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    >From: "Steven M Smith" <>

    > That review by Oakes generated several replies and rebuttals that were
    > also published in "First Things". In Oakes' reply (published at
    > )
    > the term "Deism under a stroboscope" was used to great effect.
    > Here is the full quote (with apologies to Karl, who suggested a long time
    > ago that I send this quote to the ASA list)
    > "Now Prof. Johnson's concession of microevolution to materialist
    > Darwinism while cordoning off macro evolution as a redoubt of
    > Intelligent Design is either Creation "Science" on the installment
    > plan, or (more likely) Deism put under a stroboscope. If one must
    > conceive of the universe as an artifact (and how odd that materialist
    > Darwinians and Intelligent Designers both hold that life is a
    > mechanical artifact), then the idea of a Clockmaker God who winds
    > it all up and then departs the scene has a certain plausibility, I
    > suppose.
    > But the idea that God swooshed down from heaven 3.5 billion years
    > ago to toggle some organic-soup chemicals into self-replicating
    > molecules and thereafter, as occasion warranted, had to intervene to
    > jump-start new species is, quite literally, incredible. Prof. Johnson's
    > God is not even the recessive Clockmaker God of the Deists. Rather,
    > his God is one who, with disconcerting inconsistency, intervenes
    > every now and again. As I say, Deism under a stroboscope."

    My own version of that sentiment can be found in the book, Darwinism
    Defeated? edited by Denis Lamoureux.

    "The intelligent design concept as it has been promoted by Johnson, with its
    intense emphasis on episodes of form-imposing intervention and its frequent
    association of material processes with naturalistic causes, could perhaps be
    more accurately called a theory of punctuated naturalism." p. 88.

    This does not, of course, endear me to advocates of ID, but the term of that
    endearment probably expired even before that was written.

    Howard Van Till

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