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Atheists Against Darwinism - Page 3

Johnson's claims were nuanced: "I do not think that many scientists would be comfortable accepting Darwinism solely as a philosophical principle, without seeking to find at least some empirical evidence that it is true."[23] (Nor are creationists comfortable accepting their model of creation solely as a theological dogma.[24]) But as Johnson observed: "there is an important difference between going to the empirical evidence to test a doubtful theory against some plausible alternative, and going to the evidence to look for confirmation of the only theory that one is willing to tolerate."[25]

For Johnson, belief in the doctrine of creation "does not imply opposition to evolution"[26] as a model of creation, since "a Creator might well have employed such a gradual process as a means to creation. 'Evolution' contradicts 'creation' only when it is explicitly or tacitly defined as fully naturalistic evolution?"[27] Hence Johnson advocates philosophical neutrality concerning evolution:

I am a philosophical theist and a Christian. I believe that a God exists who could create out of nothing if he wanted to do so, but who might have chosen to work through a natural evolutionary process instead. I am not a defender of creation-science, and am in fact not concerned . . . with addressing any conflicts between the Biblical accounts and the scientific evidence.[28]

As Johnson said in the second edition of Darwin on Trail:

I am not. . . taking sides in a Bible-science conflict. I am interested in what unbiased scientific investigation has to tell us about the history of life . . . This project does not imply opposition to "evolution" in all the senses of that highly manipulable term . . . Darwinists tell us that . . . natural mechanisms like mutation and selection were adequate to perform the job of creation. I want to know whether that claim is true, not just whether it is the best naturalistic speculation available. . .[29]

According to Johnson:

scientific evidence, when evaluated without an overwhelming bias toward  materialism, does not support the Darwinian creation story . . . the evidence  actually supports the supposedly discredited view that an intelligent  designer outside of nature had to be involved in biological creation.[30]

However, these are secondary and tertiary issues for Johnson, whereas getting our philosophy of science right is primary in developing a fruitful debate on origins.

Johnson navigated a trail similar to that blazed by Alvin Plantinga's articles "When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and the Bible"[31] and "Evolution, Neutrality, and Antecedent Probability: a Reply to Van Till and McMullen"[32], in which he argued:

a Christian . . . believes that God has created and sustains the world. Starting from this position . . . we recognize that there are many ways in which God could have created the living things he has in fact created; how, in fact, did he do it? . . . Did it all happen just by way of the working of the laws of physics, or was there further divine activity (activity not restricted to the upholding of matter in existence and concurring in the causal transactions expressing its nature)? That's the question, and the way to try to answer it . . . is to ask two others: first what is the antecedent probability of his doing it the one way rather than the other? And second what does the evidence at our disposal suggest? . . . Starting from the belief in God, we [i.e. Christians] must look at the evidence and consider the probabilities as best we can.

Johnson advanced the debate by arguing that it isn't just those with a belief in God who should privilege scientific evidence over philosophical prejudice when trying to explain biological complexity: Anyone willing to acknowledge a distinction between science and materialism should do the same.


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