Re: I would be prepared to reconsider my TE/ECs claim if... (was A

Jonathan Clarke (
Fri, 15 Oct 1999 19:54:35 +1000

Hi Stephen

As usual, the posts increase exponentially in size. I know I have been slow, but I was
away for several weeks and it takes a while to catch up with things.

Stephen E. Jones wrote:

> Reflectorites
> On Thu, 16 Sep 1999 21:55:40 +1000, Jonathan Clarke wrote:
> I received two posts with the same title and first and last lines, but different
> times from Jonathan. I have not compared them line by line but I assume
> they are the same. I am here responding to the later one.

Yes, the first one I inadvertently replied only to you, so I just forwarded to the
reflector, which is where you got the second message.

> JC>Stephen E. Jones wrote:
> Before this I also wrote:
> SJ>I would be prepared to reconsider my claim that "TE/ECs...have" to
> >varying degrees "been taken `captive' by a `hollow and deceptive philosophy'
> (Col 2:8), if TE/ECs:
> >SJ>1. were willing to frankly acknowledge that scientific materialism-
> >>naturalism *was* a hollow and deceptive philosophy;
> JC>Of course, with the proviso that my understanding of what comprises
> >"scientific materialism-naturalism" might differ from yours in some respects.
> Before we go any further, I would appreciate it if Jonathan would state
> what: a) his "understanding of what comprises `scientific materialism-
> naturalism'" is and b) what he assumes mine is.

(a) material-naturalism (I consider the two terms to be interchangeable) occurs in two

1) Doctrinaire: matter is all there is.

2) Pragmatic: matter is all that matters.

I reject both and hope that how I live reflects this rejection.

"Scientific" materialism is an attempt (invalid in my view because it confuses material
and metaphysical realities) to justify materialism by an appeal to science.

(b) I would not be so presumptuous!

> Since at the end Jonathan gives his score, I will indicate how I score Jonathan's
> addressing of my criteria. Here I cannot yet give Jonathan a score on this one
> (#1 = 0).
> >SJ>2. admitted that as scientists, trained in scientific institutions
> >>dominated by scientific materialism-naturalism, there was at least a *possibility*
> >>that their thinking had (perhaps unknowingly) been adversely influenced by
> >>scientific materialism-naturalism;
> JC>Again, of course. We are all potentially unwittingly influenced by all
> >sorts of things. However, most Christians in science I know have carefully tried
> >to identify these influences and respond accordingly. Being mere mortals we may not
> >be completely successful but we do try.
> Good. We may be making progress!
> I will score on this one (#2 = 1).

Thank you!

> Having established that TE/ECs are at least are "potentially unwittingly influenced
> by" scientific materialism-naturalism, I would appreciate Jonathan posting examples
> of where TE/ECs *in particular* have "carefully tried to identify these influences" of
> scientific materialism-naturalism and where and how they have "respond[ed]
> accordingly"?
> >>3. acknowledged that as Theistic Evolutionists, the very name of there
> >>position is prima facie evidence that TE/ECs are trying to combine the
> >>two competing philosophies of Christian theism and scientific materialism-
> >>naturalism;
> JC>As I have said before I dislike the term "theistic evolution" because of
> >the very confusion that your statement highlights. However, I do not see that
> >those who are labelled or identify themselves as theistic evolution are necessarily
> >combining two competing philosophies.
> I will score on this one (#3 = 0).
> The fact is that Christian theism and naturalistic evolution *are* two
> diametrically opposed philosophies. To try to combine the "theistic" and
> the "evolution" of each system will end up with the "two masters" problem
> of Mt 6:24. As Jesus said, when a man tries to "serve two masters", one
> ends up dominant. And in our culture, as Johnson points out, it is the
> *naturalistic* master who usually becomes dominant:

Of course, the Lord is correct, however I do not believe accepting a particular scientific
theory on the origin biological diversity means that a person is guilty of this, any more
than accepting plate tectonics makes them guilty of two masters.

This is the stumbling block in our conversation. Could you please explain what it is that
makes organic evolution incompatible with Christian theology, in a way that quantum
mechanics, or plate tectonics, or give the gas diffusion laws are not. Also please
explain why you maintain this when you have said things like

"Personally I would have no problem with even the most extreme form of
Darwinist `blind watchmaker' evolution, if it were proved true, since the
Bible teaches quite clearly that God is in total control of all events, even
those that appear random to man (cf. Proverbs 16:33; 1 Kings 22:34)."
(message to evolution reflector Wed, 09 Jun 1999 05:01:34 +0800)

> "If a fundamentalism that is at odds with genuine scientific knowledge is
> the only apparent alternative, blurring the issues a little to save a place for
> theistic religion in a naturalistic intellectual culture may seem like a sound
> strategy. Of course, I do not agree with that strategy. I do not think that
> the mind can serve two masters, and I am confident that whenever the
> attempt is made, naturalism in the end will be the true master and theism
> will have to abide by its dictates." (Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial", 1993,
> pp169-170)
> The problem is that if "theistic evolution" *is* a "hollow and deceptive
> philosophy" (Col 2:8) then the fact that TE/ECs did "not see that" it was,
> would be no argument against it. The test of whether TE/ECs is a true or
> false philosophy is in its "fruit" (Mt 7:16-20). And the fruit of most (if not
> all) TE/ECs on this Reflector over 4 years is profoundly sub-Christian if
> not anti-Christian:
> a. TE/ECs routinely attack their Christian brothers who are creationists
> with anger and ad hominems. And other TE/ECs do not seem to recognise
> it *is* sub-Christian;
> b. TE/ECs rarely (if ever) attack the positions of naturalistic evolutionists
> (NEs) and certainly not their persons, as they do with their creationist
> Christian brothers.
> c. NEs on this list rarely argue with TE/ECs. The pervasive pattern is
> usually *both* NEs and TE/ECs agreeing with each other and arguing with
> creationists.
> JC>In my case I see God as sovereign creating by biological evolution just
> >as He is by plate tectonics, stellar evolution, magmatic differentiation,
> >conception and embryo development, and all the other creative processes
> >we see in the world.
> As I have posted previously on this Reflector, this routine confusing by
> TE/ECs of the *origin* of something with its ongoing maintenance, blurs
> the Christian doctrines of Creation "God's Originating Work" (Erickson
> M.J., "Christian Theology", 1988, p365) and Providence "God's
> Continuing Work" (Erickson M.J., 1988, p387). It is in fact more evidence
> for my thesis that TE/ECs are under the controlling influence of naturalistic
> categories of thinking.

Why does it blur the doctrine of creation? How does it conflict with Biblical revelation?

> >SJ>4. were prepared to: a) rationally discuss the possible influence of
> >>scientific materialism-naturalism on their thinking, b) be prepared to listen to
> >>Christian apologists and ID critiques of scientific materialism-naturalism; c)
> >>be prepared to identify evidence of scientific materialism-naturalism
> >>influence on their thinking (eg. anti-supernaturalism, anti-creationism,
> >>pro-evolutionism, etc); and be prepared to diminish and eventually give up
> >>scientific materialism-naturalism.
> JC>In my case yes.
> I will score on this one (#4 = 1).
> This is encouraging! Perhaps Jonathan could start rationally discussing the
> possible influence of scientific materialism-naturalism on his thinking?

It is hard to see one's own faults! I suspect for me, "scientific" materialism is not the
issue - I can see is problems and can avoid them, it is an intellectual exercise.
Avoiding the pragmatic materialism that creeps up on one in every day life... that is the
challenge. Remembering the reality of our daily (and moment by moment) dependence on God
and living each day by faith, trusting in His grace, that is where the struggle is.

> >SJ>5. show they are open to and in principle not opposed to Christian
> >>supernaturalism by: a) being seriously open to the real possibility
> >>that God might have intervened supernaturally in life's history (that as
> >>Christians they would admit He has in human history); and b) by supporting, or at
> >>least not opposing, creationists and ID theorists.
> JC>(a) Yes
> More encouragement! If Jonathan is *really* "seriously open to the real
> possibility that God might have intervened supernaturally in life's history"
> what type of evidence would it take for Jonathan to believe that God *has*
> "intervened supernaturally in life's history"?

Isn't it nice!

> JC>(b) Yes, and this includes that correcting them in they err in fact and
> >reasoning.
> I have no problem whatsoever with "correcting...creationists and ID
> theorists..." when "they err in fact and reasoning".
> But I will be interested to see if Jonathan does in fact "support...creationists
> and ID theorists" on this List over and against the attacks of NEs and other
> TE/ECs.
> Since this was for Jonathan to "show", not just *say*, I will score this
> point (#5 = 0) at this stage.

I will do my best to be even handed - thank you for the incentive.

> >SJ>6. start being even-handed by criticising publicly the atheist/agnostic
> >>scientific materialist-naturalists to the same degree that they criticise
> >>their fellow Christians who are creationists and IDers.
> JC>I try to.
> I am unaware of any such instances where Jonathan has on this List criticised
> "publicly the atheist/agnostic scientific materialist-naturalists". Can
> Jonathan please post examples of same?

This list is not the beginning and end of what I do in this area. For example I have
criticised the mis-use of science in defence of materialism in religious education classes
in schools, and in conversations with non Christian colleagues. An extended list would be

> Pending Jonathan's clarification of the above, I will score this (#6 = 0).
> >SJ>7. show that they are decisively under the control of Christianity by:
> >>a) stopping their sub-Christian ad hominem comments about their fellow
> >>Christians who are creationists (eg. Mike Behe being a "liar", Johnson
> >>being "only a lawyer", etc); and b) starting to show that Christian
> >>`blood' is thicket than scientific materialism- naturalism `water';
> JC>We should all avoid attacks of the dreaded ad hominems. However, there
> >>is a difference between a personal attack on a person and a criticism of a
> >>person's information, reasoning, or even competence in a particular area.
> This is still arguably a form of the ad hominem argument, namely the
> "argumentum ad Hominem (circumstantial)":
> "Argumentum ad Hominem (circumstantial)....This time, the argument is
> not an assault on the man's character, but on some special circumstances
> surrounding him." (Geisler N.L. & Brooks R.M, "Come, Let Us Reason:
> An Introduction to Logical Thinking", 1996, p94)
> No one would object to criticisms of Johnson's "information", but I am not
> aware of any. I have refuted Glenn and Howard's claim that Johnson didn't
> know that the ancestral mammal was not a literal "rodent" but they keep
> making it, which is confirmation that their real agenda is an ad hominem
> attempt to discredit Johnson.
> As for Johnson's "reasoning", Johnson has a very high (if not genius) IQ,
> which is shown by him being accepted into Harvard without finishing High
> School and then later topping the University of Chicago Law School.
> When critics criticise Johnson's "reasoning" it is usually the critics'
> "reasoning" that is at fault in not understanding the depth and brilliance of
> Johnson's arguments.
> As for Johnson's "competence in a particular area" this is often made by
> scientists (eg. astronomers, geophysicists, etc) who have no special claim
> to "competence" in evolutionary biology either! Johnson would always
> agree (he says this on his tapes) that we are bound to accept the *facts*
> presented by a scientists in his particular field. But the problem is rarely
> with the actual facts, but the scientists *interpretation* of the facts, which
> in turn is a product of the scientist's materialist-naturalist *philosophy*.
> In addition to the philosophical problem of interpretation, another problem
> in evolution in particular is that the evidence for evolution spans a number
> of disciplines and few (if any) scientists are expert in all of them. As
> Johnson points out, "a scientist outside his field of expertise is just another
> layman":
> "Before undertaking this task I should say something about my
> qualifications and purpose. I am not a scientist but an academic lawyer by
> profession, with a specialty in analyzing the logic of arguments and
> identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments. This
> background is more appropriate than one might think, because what people
> believe about evolution and Darwinism depends very heavily on the kind of
> logic they employ and the kind of assumptions they make. Being a scientist
> is not necessarily an advantage when dealing with a very broad topic like
> evolution, which cuts across many scientific disciplines and also involves
> issues of philosophy. Practicing scientists are of necessity highly
> specialized, and a scientist outside his field of expertise is just another
> layman." (Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial", 1993, pp13-14)
> >JC>Johnson is "only a lawyer" in the area of science as I am "only a scientist"
> >>in the area of law. I would be justifiably attacked by lawyers for offering
> >>a public legal opinion (and lucky if that is all that happened) as a mere scientist.
> This is fallacious. No one denies that in any highly technical area of science
> and law, the technical expertise of a practitioner in the relevant discipline
> should be given great, even decisive weight, as Johnson himself
> acknowledges:
> "CJ: So, your outside perspective coming at the problem from a
> background in law has been a real benefit to you, while you've also had to
> deal with the criticism you've taken for not being a scientist?
> Phil: That's right. It's really within my field. Biologists who spend their
> lifetimes studying biology will be legitimate authorities, obviously, on the
> details of what they've learned in that investigation, and an outsider can't
> really challenge that, but an outsider definitely can challenge their thinking,
> particularly when it turns out that they believe in what they believe in not
> because of what they know as biologists, but in spite of what they know as
> biologists. It's a philosophical movement based on materialism. And they
> say, "Well, materialism--that's science and that's our philosophy, and you
> should believe it because we believe it." At this point, you know, they're
> not entitled to any particular respect because they are not telling you what
> they know as biological specialists. They're telling you the prejudice that
> dominates the their field. So, that's a thinking issue, and it's really more
> within my discipline than it's within theirs." (Lawrence J. "Communique
> Interview: Phillip E. Johnson," Communique: A Quarterly Journal, Spring,
> 1999.
> But rarely is it the scientific *facts* which are at issue, and rarely are the
> scientists who are expert in a particular field in total agreement.
> Moreover, in the case of evolution the facts span a number of disciplines.
> In fact mostly the arguments are about the *interpretation* of the scientific
> facts, and that can involve issues of philosophy and theology, which few
> scientists, if any, have expertise in.
> I would have thought that Johnson's "specialty in analyzing the logic of
> arguments and identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments"
> (Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial", 1993, pp13-14) is more relevant in the
> field of biological evolution, with its heavy reliance on philosophical and
> even theological arguments, than the expertise of *astronomers* like
> Howard and *geophysicists* like Glenn who are prominent in this
> "Johnson is a lawyer" ad hominem!
> JC>Of course we must always be careful to treat others with courtesy, even
> >if they do not reciprocate.
> The fact is that most of the TE/ECs on this List don't "treat others with
> courtesy" if those "others" are their Christian brothers who are creationists.
> This is so pervasive among TE/ECs on this List that it is itself a fact which
> cries out for an explanation. The explanation is readily apparent in Jesus'
> warning to Christians about "serving two masters" (Mt 6:24) and Paul's
> waring to Christians not to become "captive through a hollow and
> deceptive philosophy" (Col. 2:8).
> Again this was a "show" not *say* criteria. I will score this (#7 = 0).

Sorry Stephen, you have lost me, despite the quotes. You seem to be saying that no
criticism of "fellow Christians who are creationists" is justified. Is this right? If
not, then please explain how it is possible to correct inaccuracies without being guilty.

> JC>Hmm, 5 out of 7.
> Not by my reckoning above. Total score above was (#1 = 0; #2 = 1; #3 = 0;
> #4 = 1; #5 = 0; #6 = 0) = 2 out of 7.
> I would appreciate Jonathan itemising which criteria he thinks he met that
> I scored 0.
> But at least Jonathan was prepared to address these criteria, and that is
> better than his fellow TE/ECs did! I thanks him for it.

You are very welcome! Should you choose to respond please accept my apology in advance
that I may be some time in replying, as I will shortly be overseas for several weeks.

> Steve

God Bless