Re: Wall Street Journal: The Church of Darwin By Phillip E. Johnson

Stephen E. Jones (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 06:50:13 +0800


On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 17:08:33 -0400 (EDT), Marcio Pie wrote:


>>MP>...Modern scientific
>>>method "assumes" that all factors influencing the results are
>>>naturalistic-materialistic and then uses the results of their analyses to
>>>corroborate those assumptions. It looks circular to me, but I would like
>>>to know more opinions about that.

>SJ>It not only "looks circular", it *is* circular. Materialism-naturalism is a
>>fundamental *assumption* of the "modern scientific method", not a finding
>>of it:

>problem is that the models based on "materialistic-naturalistic"
>assumptions have been successful in predicting a lot about how "the
>universe out there" works. Does it mean that materialism-naturalism is a
>valid assumption? I don't think so, but I would like to hear your opinion

I see materialistic-naturalism's success like Newtonian mechanics success.
It did work up to a point. But anomalies accumulated and eventually
Newton was absorved into Einstein's more general theory.

So too with materialistic-naturalism. It works OK in the ongoing physical
world because God in fact governs the physical world by rational laws. But
materialistic-naturalism has anomalies in a number of areas, e.g.: 1) origins;
2) design; 3) human consciousness; 4) information.

Theism can account equally as well for all the facts that materialistic-
naturalism can account for, plus the anomalies that materialistic-naturalism
cannot account for:

"Why believe that there is a God at all? My answer is that to suppose that
there is a God explains why there is a world at all; why there are the
scientific laws there are; why animals and then human beings have evolved;
why humans have the opportunity to mould their characters and those of
their fellow humans for good or ill and to change the environment in which
we live; why we have the well-authenticated account of Christ's life, death
and resurrection; why throughout the centuries men have had the apparent
experience of being in touch with and guided by God; and so much else. In
fact, the hypothesis of the existence of God makes sense of the whole of
our experience, and it does so better than any other explanation which can
be put forward, and that is the grounds for believing it to be
true."(Swinburne R.G., "The Justification of Theism", Truth: An
International, Inter-Disciplinary Journal of Christian Thought, Volume 3,

>>MP>Also, if we *assume* that God influenced directly evolutionary processes,
>>>can modern scientific method detect that influence?

>SJ>*Before* "modern scientific method" can detect the "influence" of "God" it
>>must *first* have a philosophy that can does not rule out in advance the very
>>possibility of that "influence" of "God", before it even looks at the evidence.


MP>I think that the materialism-naturalism assumption is not perfect, but I
>can't see a better alternative.

What "alternatives" has Marcio examined? In particular, has he examined theism?
What books on theism did he read?

After examining the evidence for theims in those books, what did Marcio find that
"materialism-naturalism" can explain that theism can't? And what did Marcio find
that theism "can explain that "materialism-naturalism" can't? And after all this
comparison of the two alternatives, what were the decisive facts that convinced
Marcio that "materialism-naturalism assumption" is "a better alternative than

MP>Also, I don't see how it would prevent
>totally the detection of ID. What would be your alternative?

See Swinburne's quote above for starters.


"Our theory of evolution has become, as Popper described, one which
cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable
observation can be fitted into it. It is thus `outside of empirical science' but
not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas,
either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in
extremely simplified systems, have attained currency far beyond their
validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by
most of us as part of our training." (Birch L.C. & Ehrlich P.R.,
"Evolutionary History and Population Biology", Nature, Vol. 214, 22 April
1967, p352)
Stephen E. Jones | |