Man and Creation
Review of Michael Bauman, editor, Man and Creation: Perspectives on Science and Theology, 1993, Hillsdale, Mich.: Hillsdale College Press, 306 pp., $9.95.
(This was originally posted in four parts to the talk.origins newsgroup between January 2 and February 9, 1994.)
Before Christmas I mentioned that I had recently obtained a copy of this book. I managed to read the book during my flights to and from the American Philosophical Association conference in Atlanta, and so what follows is a brief overview.
Mark A. Kalthoff, “God and Creation: An Historical Look at Encounters Between Christianity and Science”
Kalthoff, an assistant professor of history at Hillsdale College, argues that the military metaphors frequently used to describe the relationship between science and religion are inappropriate, and mask the complexity of the relationship in history. He looks at the history of the use of military metaphors, beginning with Andrew Dickson White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896) and John William Draper’s History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (1874). Kalthoff argues that the Christian church was actually the major patron of science and played a significant positive role in its development. He briefly looks at the publication of Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus and Galileo’s run-in with the Inquisition, maintaining that the early supporters of Copernicus were Christians and that Galileo’s main opposition came from university scientists who were overly committed to Aristotelianism. He points out that in the case of Galileo, all participants were Christians who acknowledged biblical authority, but who disagreed on theories of biblical interpretation. He argues that Galileo made tactical errors by endorsing Copernicanism for reasons other than his examination of the scientific evidence (Kaltenhoff is not any more specific than this) and by endorsing a liberal interpretation of the Bible.
I think Kaltenhoff’s article is pretty good, though it would have been nice to see a bit more detail in his case studies. (He does cite plenty of references for further information.)
Ronald L. Numbers, “The Evolution of Scientific Creationism”
This selection is an excerpt from his book The Creationists–a Reader’s Digest version of the book in 43 pages.
Richard H. Bube, “Seven Patterns for Relating Science and Theology”
Bube, emeritus professor of materials science and electrical engineering at Stanford University, sketches out seven possible views of the relationship between what he calls “authentic science” and “authentic theology,” which he defines as follows:
By the term “authentic science” we mean a particular way of knowing based on human interpretation in natural categories of publicly observable and reproducible data obtained by sense interaction with the world. (p. 76)
By the term “authentic theology,” we mean a way of knowing based on the human interpretation of the Bible and human experience in relationship with God. (p. 79)
He defends each of these definitions with a few pages of argument, and claims that “It is impossible to do science without a faith commitment to a number of fundamental presuppositions–that the world is understandable through rational processes of the human mind; that natural phenomena are reproducible; that patterns of order can be sought and found, and that there is a physical reality that does not depend ultimately on us.” (p. 78) He also contrasts “authentic science” with “pseudoscience,” which he says “springs from three identifiable sources: (a) bad science, in which the basic guidelines of authentic science are neglected or ignored; (b) claims of scientific achievement that exceed the capabilities of science–for example, the derivation of ethics from science; (c) attempts to arrive at scientific conclusions under pressure from a philosophical, metaphysical, religious, or political ideology that defines from the beginning what the results must be.” (p. 79) Corresponding to “pseudoscience,” there is also “pseudotheology,” according to Bube.
Bube’s seven patterns are:
Pattern 1: Science Has Destroyed the Possibility of Faith
Science and theology tell us the same kinds of things about the same things. When scientific and theological descriptions conflict, one must be right and the other wrong. In this encounter science always proves to be the winner. (p. 83)
Bube cites as holders of this view Freud, Marx, and V. Y. Frenkel.
Pattern 2: Faith Is to Be Upheld in Spite of the Findings of Science
Science and theology tell us the same kinds of things about the same things. When scientific and theological descriptions conflict, one must be right and the other wrong. In this encounter, the theological descriptions always have priority. (p. 86)
Bube cites as holders of this view John Whitcomb and Henry Morris and Phillip Johnson. (He cites their works in a footnote on the sentence “The attempt is made to determine by theology which theories in science are consistent with Christian faith and which are not, or even to reformulate science so that its format can be dictated by theology.”)
Pattern 3: Science and Faith Are Totally Unrelated: Neither One Can Say Anything About the Other
Science and theology tell us different kinds of things about different things. There is no common ground between them. Science has absolutely nothing to say about theology, and theology has absolutely nothing to say about science. Conflict is impossible. (p. 88)
Bube also calls this “compartmentalization,” and cites Karl Barth as a proponent.
Pattern 4: Science Provides the Rational Basis That Demands Faith
Science and theology tell us the same kinds of things about the same things. The scientific descriptions of the world provide such overwhelming evidence of the truth of the Bible and Christian theology that we have no choice but to believe them. (p. 89)
Bube cites J. P. Moreland and John Warwick Montgomery as advocates of this view. At least one of Bube’s criticisms of this view, however–that it gives science priority over theology–does not apply to Moreland’s views in the book he cites (Scaling the Secular City). (I think a case can be made that Moreland fits better under pattern 2.)
Pattern 5: Science Provides the Philosophical Structure in Which Faith Needs to Be Redefined
Science and theology tell us the same kinds of things about the same things. Traditional biblical theology must be thoroughly redefined and rewritten in order to be consistent with the developments of modern science. (p. 91)
Bube cites R. W. Burhoe, R. J. Russell, and F. Capra and D. Steindl-Rast with T. Matus.
Pattern 6: Both Science and Faith Need to Be Redefined So That an Appropriate Synthesis Can Be Achieved
Science and theology should tell us the same kinds of things about the same things, but the present status of science and theology makes this impossible. What is needed, therefore, are radical transformations of science and theology into new approaches compatible with one another and a new understanding of reality. (p. 94)
There’s some overlap here with pattern 5; Bube cites Russell, Capra et al., J. Templeton and R.L. Herrmann, M. Dowd, and J. White as advocates and characterizes this as a “New Age” position.
Pattern 7: Faith and Science Provide Complementary Insights into Reality That Need to Be Integrated
Science and theology tell us different kinds of things about the same things. Each, when true to its own authentic capabilities, provides us with valid insight into the nature of reality from different perspectives. It is the task of individuals and communities of individuals to integrate these two types of insight to obtain an adequate and coherent view of reality. (p. 96)
This is Bube’s preferred view, which he also attributes to H. J. Van Till, J. Polkinghorne, I. Barbour, D. MacKay, and R. J. Berry.
This is one of the better papers in the volume, though I think the definitions of “authentic science” and “authentic theology” that he uses leave something to be desired. He also doesn’t say much about the possibility of hybrid or overlapping views, apart from his remarks about pattern 5 overlapping with pattern 6.
J. P. Moreland, “Creation Science and Methodological Naturalism?”
Moreland, professor of philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (formerly at Falwell’s Liberty University), makes more or less the same argument that Alvin Plantinga has made in a few recent papers. He sets out five different views of the relationship between science and theology which are slightly different from Bube’s, and does so without attempting to define either term. His categorization scheme is roughly as follows:
- Science deals with the natural, theology with the supernatural. These are two distinct realms of reality.
- Science and theology deal with the same reality, but do not interact because they deal with different kinds of questions.
- Science produces the view of reality which theology must come to grips with.
- Theology produces the view of reality which allows for science (understood in realist terms) to be practiced.
- Science and theology deal with the same reality, they interact, and can be in conflict or agreement.
Moreland advocates 5, and puts Howard Van Till in one of the first two categories, thus pointing out that he construes these categories quite differently than Bube.
I think that Bube’s categorization is superior to Moreland’s in that it draws a distinction between the kinds of things being examined and the kinds of information being produced, while still allowing for interaction. Bube’s pattern 7 is like Moreland’s 2, except that it disagrees with Moreland’s definition on the subject of interaction (which Bube calls “integration”).
Moreland argues for the possibility of “theistic science,” science which begins with a commitment to:
- God, a personal agent of great power and intelligence, has purposely created and designed the world through direct primary agent causation and indirect secondary causation and has intervened directly in its development at various times (including prehistory, i.e., history prior to the arrival of human beings);
- the commitment expressed in Proposition 1 can appropriately enter into the very fabric of scientific practice and the use of scientific methodology. (p. 107)
Moreland specifically cites progressive creationism and young-earth creationism as consistent with the program he spells out.
Moreland examines the claim that science requires the adoption of methodological naturalism, i.e., that the supernatural can play no role in science. He specifically criticizes arguments to this effect from Paul de Vries and Howard Van Till. First, he sets out three propositions which he takes to be definitive of the position, and observes that they are not claims of science about some phenomenon, but rather are second-order philosophical claims about science:
- By its very nature, natural science must and should adopt methodological naturalism.
- Theistic science is a religion, not a science.
- The concepts of God and miraculous, primary causal acts of God are not appropriate to natural science. (p. 108)
Moreland next distinguishes three types of theory change which can occur in the history of science:
TC1: A new theory replaces an old theory. The old theory is considered inadequate, but still scientific. (Moreland gives as an example the replacement of phlogiston chemistry with oxygen chemistry.)
TC2: A new theory replaces an old theory; some scientific standards of theory excellence are revised; the old theory is still considered scientific. (Moreland’s examples: the transition from classical to quantum models of matter; from vitalism to mechanism in biology.)
TC3: A new theory replaces an old theory; some scientific standards change; the old theory is considered unscientific. (Moreland’s only example is creationism to Darwinism, but he is going to go on to dispute its classification.)
He points out that each of these is a successively stronger claim than the previous (i.e., it takes more to establish a claim that a particular theory change is an instance of TC3 than it does to show that it is an instance of TC1 or TC2).
Next, Moreland describes methodological naturalism as making four claims about science:
- The goal of science is “to place events in the explanatory context of physical principles, laws, fields” (Moreland quoting de Vries, p. 111 of Moreland)
- Methodological naturalism is not metaphysical naturalism. The former restricts what science can study and what entities are permissible in scientific explanations; the latter claims that there are no entities which are not natural.
- Scientific explanations answers “how-questions,” and the answers it gives are true.
- Personal agency and action (divine or human) fall outside the scope of natural science. (Science can give true explanations of human behavior at the level of neurons, but there is another level of explanation involving intentions which is not scientific.)
Moreland’s criticism of (1) is exceedingly lame. He writes:
it is implausible to claim that natural science has only one goal. A number of goals have been offered for scientific theory formation, use, and testing: construction of theories that are: (1) simple (yet capable of various interpretations); (2) empirically adequate; (3) predictively successful; (4) internally clear and consistent; (5) useful in solving external conceptual problems raised by other disciplines; (6) fruitful in guiding new research; and (7) free of certain kinds of explanatory devices. (pp. 114-115)
This doesn’t at all contradict the statement of the first feature of methodological naturalism he gives (he says more than I have above). These seven items can be seen as subgoals of good natural explanations (i.e., what makes a theory a good natural explanation is that it has these features).
He next brings up the possibility of anti-realist interpretations of scientific theories as an argument against the third plank of methodological naturalism, but gives no reason for thinking that scientific anti-realism is true or even has merit. At best, then, all he shows is that the third plank is not logically necessary.
He offers no objections to the second or fourth planks. (Actually, later on he objects to the fourth; see below.) The second is OK, but I think the fourth is problematic. Van Till and de Vries’ position commits them to a view that psychology cannot be scientific (at least if it is to take into account intentional states of human beings). That seems highly dubious to me, as well as to everybody in cognitive science except the eliminativists. (I see no reason why, for example, Dennett’s proposal of a scientific theory of intentional systems is impossible.)
Moreland next discusses “theological concepts and external conceptual problems.” External conceptual problems are problems brought by other disciplines to science–they involve externally imposed constraints on scientific theories. Specifically, Moreland argues that theology places constraints on what counts as a good scientific theory–for instance, it gives us reason to reject physicalism and, therefore, the truth of a purely naturalistic theory of evolution.
I think the point about external conceptual problems is a good one, but I’ll just add that reasons are needed to provide justification for putative external conceptual problems, and I am skeptical of attempts to do this for theology. (Moreland’s Scaling the Secular City is an able attempt, but one that I think falls short of the mark. Ditto for his and Gary Habermas’ Immortality, which tries to argue for dualism, an immortal soul, and heaven and hell. [I’ve reviewed the latter at https://infidels.org/library/modern/jim_lippard/immortality.html)
He goes on to describe more specifically how he thinks theology can contribute to science:
- By stimulating the desire to think God’s thoughts after Him and be a good steward of His creation …
- [It] can provide external conceptual problems (e.g., that human life arose in the Middle East) for certain scientific theories (e.g., those that postulate the beginning of human life in Asia).
- Theology solves certain internal conceptual problems that are difficulties for naturalistic theories (e.g., illegitimate spectator interference in pre-biotic soup experiments in order to overcome the probability against life having arisen by chance).
- [It] can provide pictures of what was and was not going on in the formation of some entity (e.g., the universe, first life, the basic kinds of life, man, and for some, the geological column). These pictures can serve as guides for new research (e.g., by postulating that a purpose will be found for vestigial organs). They yield predictions that certain theories will be falsified (e.g., theories of natural selection working at the level of macroevolution, theories entailing a universe without a beginning) and certain discoveries made (e.g., gaps in the fossil record, fixity of created “kinds”).
- The notion of God as an intelligent designer and/or primary causal agent can explain certain phenomena (e.g., the origin of life or the information in DNA) that science can investigate. (pp. 122-124)
With regard to (5), Moreland points out that appeal to intentional states is scientifically legitimate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, archaeology, forensic science, psychology, and sociology, and so argues by analogy that appeal to divine intentional states should also be scientifically legitimate.
I think he’s right that appeal to divine intentional states does not necessarily make a theory unscientific. I just don’t think there any such good scientific theories.
I don’t think anybody objects to (4) in principle–you take your ideas where you can get them. I just don’t think theology has proved to be the least bit fruitful in such endeavors, or that it will be in the future.
Moreland concludes his paper with a look at potential objections to points (1)-(5) above, and offers replies. Some examples: Obj: “It’s a God-of-the-gaps model.” Reply: it isn’t, since it offers no restriction on where God can fit into the picture. Obj: Creation can’t be observed and therefore can’t be tested. Reply: Observation and testability doesn’t work that way; statements are tested in groups (the Duhemian/Quinian point), not individually. (This reply, by the way, also works against the Institute for Creation Research’s claim that evolution is not scientific because it’s not directly observable.) Obj: This approach isn’t fruitful. Reply: Something can be true without being fruitful; and besides, it just shows that theistic scientists need to do more work. (Moreland actually devotes several pages to this reply, and it’s worth a look–but I remain skeptical that theistic science will ever produce anything.)
Howard J. Van Till, “Where Faith and Reason Meet”
This paper originally appeared in the Christian Scholar’s Review (June 1993) as a reply to Alvin Plantinga’s “When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and the Bible” (September 1991). Van Till examines the skepticism of evolution promoted recently by Plantinga and by Phillip Johnson, asking what motivates it:
- Does today’s skepticism toward the macroevolutionary paradigm stem primarily from the reasoned judgment that there is insufficient empirical support for this concept, or perhaps that the evidence even undercuts it? […]
- Does today’s skepticism toward the macroevolutionary paradigm, a paradigm characterized by natural processes and genealogical continuity, stem from the judgment that the Bible, taken at face value, requires its believers to picture creation as a series of irruptive acts in time […]? […] critics like Johnson and Plantinga insist tha their skepticism […] is not at all based on biblical literalism. In any case, however, I shall soon argue that representative and highly respected shapers of early Christian thought [St. Basil and St. Augustine -jjl] favored a picture of the world’s formative history that was marked, not by a series of irruptive interventions in the course of tme, but by a continuity of natural phenomena. […]
- Does today’s skepticism toward the macroevolutionary paradigm stem from the judgment that it is merely the product of the naturalistic worldview being foisted upon modern Western culture by an anti-theistic intellectual establishment? […]
- Finally, might the contemporary skepticism toward the macroevolutionary paradigm have grown largely out of an apologetic fear that naturalism could be correct in asserting, “If there are no gaps, then there is no need for a creator”? […] (pp. 143-145)
Van Till agrees with Plantinga and Johnson that the truth of common ancestry doesn’t entail that there is “nothing left for a creator to do.” He claims that “the phenomena of random mutation and natural selection by themselves are conceptually insufficient to account for the present array of life-forms” (p. 145).
Van Till looks at the views of St. Basil and St. Augustine, with extensive quotations from Hexaemeron and De Genesi ad litteram, and puts forth a view he calls “evolutionary creation.” He argues that the young-earth creationist view is inconsistent with Basil and Augustine, and that it is wrong to describe the YEC view as a “deliverance of the faith.”
Craig Chester, “The Star of Bethlehem: Science of the Ancients”
This article tries to use astronomy to calculate the year of the birth of Christ by identifying a conjunction of Jupiter and Regulus as the “star of Bethlehem.”
Phillip E. Johnson, “What Is Darwinism?”
Johnson begins by describing what he thinks is uncontroversial about Darwinism:
Darwinian theory tells us how a certain amount of diversity in life forms can develop once various types of complex living organisms are already in existence. If a small population of birds happens to migrate to an isolated island, for example, a combination of inbreeding, mutation and natural selection may cause this isolated population to develop characteristics different from those possessed by the ancestral population on the mainland. When the theory is understood in this limited sense, Darwinian evolution is uncontroversial and has no important philosophical or theological implications. (pp. 177-178)
He immediately goes on, however, to say that
Evolutionary biologists are not content merely to explain how variation occurs within limits, however. They aspire to answer a much broader question: how complex organisms like birds, flowers and human beings came into existence in the first place. The Darwinian answer to this second question is that the creative force that produced complex plants and animals from single-celled predecessors over long stretches of geological time is essentially the same as the mechanism that produces variations in flowers, insects and domestic animals before our very eyes. (p. 178)
Johnson claims that this latter view is “a philosophical doctrine so lacking in empirical support that Mayr’s successor at Harvard, Stephen Jay Gould, once pronounced it in a reckless moment to be ‘effectively dead.'” (p. 178)
He asks how so many people could hold such an unscientific theory, and states that the answer requires definition of key terms: creationism, evolution, science, religion, and truth.
Johnson begins with creationism, which he says “means simply a belief in creation.” He chides Darwinists for using the term to refer to young-earth creationists, which he takes to be an illegitimate way of setting up a false dilemma. (Here, I think the blame falls as much on non-young-earth-creationists as it does on evolutionists. By failing to stand up to the young-earthers and make it known that belief in a creator doesn’t entail such views, the use of the term “creationist” has come to mean “young-earth creationist” in the English language. Old earth creationist Davis Young concedes the term “creationist” to the young earthers in his book Christianity and the Age of the Earth.)
Johnson goes on to say that in the broadest sense, a creationist is someone who believes that there is a creator who has created the world and its inhabitants with a purpose.
He then asks if creationism in his sense is compatible with evolution. Of course it is, right? Here’s Johnson:
The answer is “absolutely not,” when “evolution” is understood in the Darwinian sense. To Darwinists, evolution means *naturalistic* evolution, because they insist that science must assume the cosmos to be a closed system of material causes and effects that can never be influenced by anything outside of material nature–by God, for example. (pp. 179-180)
Johnson has just complained about illegitimate narrow definition of “creationism,” but then he immediately turns around and does exactly what he was complaining about to “evolution”! Further, even the definition of evolution that Johnson gives here is, contrary to his claims, quite consistent with the existence of a creator, at least a deistic one. It is perfectly consistent for a theist to say that God created the universe as “a closed system of material causes and effects that can never be influenced by anything outside of material nature” AND that what is produced in that closed system has meaning and purpose as a result of God’s design. (BTW, it is a consequence of the commonly held evangelical Christian view that God is “outside of time” and immutable that the universe is such a system. See the first few chapters of Richard M. Gale’s On the Nature and Existence of God, 1991, Cambridge Univ. Press, for detailed argument. Gale argues that theists should give up both the “outside of time” notion of God’s eternity and the immutability doctrine.)
Next, Johnson talks more about “materialistic evolution.” He says that on this view, evolution is at bottom based on chance, “because that is what is left when we have ruled out everything involving intelligence or purpose” (p. 180). He maintains that evolutionary speculation need not be confirmed by any evidence (experimental or fossil), but that “To Darwinists the ability to imagine the process is sufficient to confirm that something like that must have happened” (p. 180).
The next term to be defined is “science.” Johnson maintains that Darwinists (all of them, apparently) assume “scientific naturalism”–that (a) science is inherently limited to the natural and (b) science (potentially) describes all there is. This claim is falsified by Van Till, who accepts evolution and (a) but rejects (b), by me (I accept evolution, reject (a), and am agnostic about (b)).
Johnson goes on to say that scientific naturalism has normative rules which govern criticism and replacement of theories based on Kuhn’s notion of a paradigm–that acceptable explanations must fit the requirements of the paradigm (in this case, evolution), no matter how wild and contorted such explanations may be. Unless a suitable replacement paradigm is available, this process continues. (Johnson explicitly says that the contortions may involve deception: “Supporting the paradigm may even require what in other contexts would be called deception” (p. 182).)
The last term to be defined is “truth,” which Johnson claims “is not a particularly important concept in naturalistic philosophy” (p. 186). (This is completely at odds with the naturalism advocated by such persons as Philip Kitcher (The Advancement of Science) and Alvin Goldman (Epistemology and Cognition), for whom truth is central to their epistemological views.) Johnson’s reason for his statement is that scientific knowledge is dynamic rather than absolute–what was scientific knowledge in the past is not so today. This seems to take for granted the Kuhn/Laudan critique of scientific progress, which I think is a major mistake (chapters 4 and 5 of the above-mentioned Kitcher book give a good account of genuine scientific progress and elucidate problems with Kuhn’s and Laudan’s arguments).
Johnson maintains that theism is a source of truth which competes with science and gives a framework from which one can reject evolution because of its weaknesses (which he claims the scientific naturalist can’t do unless another paradigm comes along).
Near the end of his article, Johnson again argues for his claim that creationism and evolution in his senses are contradictory (which I disputed above). Here’s the core of his argument:
Darwinian evolution is by definition unguided and purposeless, and such evolution cannot in any meaningful sense be theistic. For evolution to be genuinely theistic it must be guided by God, whether this means that God programmed the process in advance or stepped in from time to time to give it a push in the right direction. (p. 188)
Here I think there is a possible confusion of levels of description. One can consistently hold that the processes of evolution are inherently “unguided and purposeless” at one level of description, while simultaneously holding that the system in which the processes operate was “programmed in advance” by God. Johnson seems to hold that it is contradictory for God’s plan to have components that make use of randomness.
Richard D. Alexander, “A Biologist’s Approach to Human Nature”
Alexander’s article offers a sociobiological explanation of the human mortality curve.
Owen Gingerich, “Where in the World Is God?”
Gingerich begins by explaining that his title is not meant to ask where God is as though he’s missing, but rather to ask what God’s relationship is to the natural world. He describes a fireball which exploded over Switzerland in 1492, and points out that it was taken to be a miraculous sign from God. Since then, we have come to accept former mysteries of the world as natural phenomena which are not miracles or signs from God. Gingerich points out that we could appeal to God’s will to explain why an apple falls to the ground when released, since “I firmly believe that God is both Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, and part of this sustaining power is the maintenance of the laws of the natural world” (p. 210). But this would not count as a scientific explanation, because “science requires … a broader explanatory scheme, one that links falling apples and the fall of the moon, and that enables us to calculate the trajectories of rockets or the spin of a skater” (p. 210). (Surely Gingerich does not really mean to suggest that unification with the rest of science is a necessary condition for a theory to be scientific!)
Gingerich goes on to take issue with “the materialistic and anti- religious bias” of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” series, and to describe episodes of his proposed “Space, Time, and God” series in which Gingerich plays the anti-Sagan. He describes the second and fifth episodes, “Was Copernicus Right?” and “Are We Alone?” In the latter, the episode begins with Gingerich photographing a stained glass window (Masaccio’s “Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden”) when he is confronted by Jehovah’s Witnesses offering a copy of Life–How Did it Get Here? By Evolution or Creation?. Gingerich says he thinks the book is asking the wrong question, that it should be “design or chance?” rather than “creation or evolution?” He goes on to say that even that has problems, and that “purpose or accident?” is a better question.
In all of this I am, of course, articulating the theistic view of the universe. I passionately believe in a universe with purpose, though I cannot prove it. (p. 216)
Gingerich claims that in order for a *scientific* theory to account for the data of biology, it must be “an automatic, mechanistic approach” (p. 217). He goes on to describe his favored view of the relationship between God and the universe:
We can envision God as creating and recreating the universe from moment to moment. […] Each moment is an independent creation, yet we observe an apparent connectivity. […] The late Donald McKaye, a neurophysiologist and a thoughtful examiner of the relations of science and religion, compared this activity of God’s to the carrier wave of television–it makes it all possible, but it is not the program. And what science is interested in is the program. (p. 220)
Near the end of his article, he describes three possible views of the relationship between God and the universe, using the paradoxides trilobite as an example.
Option 1 is to say that at one moment once upon a time there was no *paradoxides* and the next moment it was there, like the magician’s rabbit pulled from an empty hat. […] It agrees perfectly with the observations, that is, with the fossil record. Scientifically, however, it is a dead end, because it provides no explanatory framework whatsoever for all the relationships addressed by the theory of evolution by natural selection, or for the observational data that 99.99 percent of all species that ever lived are now extinct. (pp. 221-222)
[Option 2] starts with a creature similar to *paradoxides*, but with a mechanism that is considerably more detailed. A few cosmic rays zoom through the DNA of the parent creature’s germ cells; mutations occur, and its offspring is different. After one, or perhaps a series of steps, a *paradoxides* is born. […] though [the mutations are] triggered by uncertain causes and their intentions masked by the uncertainty principle […], these are sent by God to achieve a definite goal.
[…] it too matches the observations. [And it is scientifically interesting.] (pp. 222-223)
In option 3, God’s plan and design of the universe prepares for living beings to arise without further immediate intervention according to preordained rules of order. God could create potential forms at the outset, leading to what Van Till has described as “possibility space.” […] Part of the purposeful planning would involve pathways and catalysts that make it much easier to get from inert molecules to life forms, from prokaryotes to intelligent life. […]
Even the atheists must admit that such pathways exist. Otherwise the sheer amount of genetic information contained in the cellular DNA is completely inexplicable by random association of atoms in the time available. The fact that we exist would tell them as much. A theistic scientist, convinced that option 1 provides a satisfactory solution, might refuse to search for such pathways. […] Philip Johnson, an outspoken critic of Darwinian evolution, remarked that he would not waste his own money on scientists loking for such pathways for the chemical formation of life. But since such pathways continue to be discovered, those opting for the first scenario will be increasingly hard pressed to explain why they are present if they are unnecessary. (p. 223)
Gingerich goes on to cite some evidence which he believes favors option 3–“what Darwin calls ‘imperfect adaptation.'” He gives the example of hemoglobin S producing sickle cell anemia in homozygous individuals while giving malaria resistence in heterozygous individuals.
In his closing remarks, he admits that God can intervene to cause miracles, and that option 2 is neither wrong nor impossible–just “unscientific.”
Donald B. Heckenlively, “Scientists Who Keep the Faith”
Heckenlively, vice president for academic affairs and a professor of biology at Hillsdale College, argues for theistic evolution. His article has three parts: 1. interpretation of Genesis. 2. evidence for natural selection, microevolution, and macroevolution. 3. his view of the relation between faith and science in biology.
In the first part, he argues that not all of the Bible should be taken literally, giving Psalm 90:4 as evidence (“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night”). He maintains that literalism can be retained via one or more of four methods: (1) Compartmentalization, (2) Distrust of Science, (3) Selective Use of Evidence, and (4) Ignorance of Science.
Heckenlively objects to theistic science as promoted by Johnson and Moreland by claiming that what science requires is measureable, objective phenomena. He endorses the claim that it is “a basic limit of science, that it cannot deal with supernatural phenomena” (p. 236).
In the second part, he describes natural selection with sickle cell anemia as an example. He distinguishes micro- from macroevolution, and gives five pieces of evidence for the latter: (1) Microevolution itself, (2) Fossil intermediates, (3) Living intermediates, (4) Similarities in genetic structure, and (5) Philosophical support, via other parts of science which fit with the macroevolutionary picture. Each of these are discussed in some detail. A good quote from his section on fossils:
A telling counter-argument [to the objection that the fossil record is full of gaps] is to ask the question, “Is there a better explanation for the fossil record than macroevolution?” So far, I haven’t heard one. (p. 243)
In the third part, Heckenlively rejects deism and argues for (or, perhaps a better description, he asserts) “neo-vitalism”–that “God intervenes in the formation of each new living organism with a spark of life” (p. 245).
Michael Bauman, “Between Jerusalem and the Laboratory: A Theologian Looks at Science”
Bauman, associate professor of theology and culture at Hillsdale College and the editor of this volume, has written what I think is the worst article in the book. He begins with a fairly outrageous quotation from Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker: “It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane.” Bauman argues that this is a religious statement, though not until p. 257.
At the beginning of his article, on pp. 247-248, he maintains that there is but one world for theology and science to describe, and but one “full and correct answer” for “any well-formed question relating to it.” He admits that science and theology agree about many things, but focuses on the disagreements:
if scientists are to be undeceived about their own shortcomings or blindspots it will probably be because someone who did not share those blindspots was able to point them out. Such is my intention: I want to suggest to the scientists that, at least to some outsiders, they occasionally appear narrowly informed, unteachable and as dogmatic as any ecclesiastical or political inquisitor could ever hope to be. (p. 248)
(In my opinion, it’s scientists with the mote and Bauman with the beam.) Bauman offers five observations:
1. “the history of both science and theology as intellectual disciplines tends to make me significantly more skeptical about the allegedly secure answers offered by the scientists than those offered by the theologians. That is, science seems a far more fickle pursuit than theology, especially when viewed over time.” (p. 249)
Bauman briefly recounts some scientific revolutions, and compares them to the Apostle’s Creed, which he says “though it has grown over time, has never required anything resembling a fundamental overhaul.”
In the process of making this comparison, Bauman has (a) overlooked the fact that scientific change is progressive (pace Laudan, Kuhn, and Putnam) and (b) made a completely unreasonable comparison. If he’s going to put a whole series of broad theories on the science side, he should compare to something of similar scope on the theology side, like Christology. I don’t see how any reasonable person could avoid concluding that science is more progressive than theology.
Bauman does devote a couple pages to the claim that “Widespread theological disagreement seems obvious to the man on the street” (p. 250), but maintains that “While a cross section of views at any moment yields more agreement among the scientists of that age than among the theologians, a cross section taken over time yields the opposite result” (p. 251). I am unconvinced that the latter is true, and I question both the science side and the theology side. (On the science side, I think there is a clear accumulation of facts, concepts, and explanatory schemas over history, and on the theology side, I think there is substantially more dissent over history than Bauman seems to think.)
2. “because scientists are human, and because human beings tend to resist the overthrow of their most cherished beliefs, scientific theories, once accepted, are often exceedingly difficult to supersede” (p. 252) Bauman cites Kuhn and Laudan to argue that “dogmatism … characterizes the periods of what we might call normal science.” There is something to be said for this, but there’s also a lot to be said against it. (For one thing, it’s not so clear that there really is a clear distinction between periods of “normal” and “revolutionary” science. Once again, I recommend Kitcher’s The Advancement of Science for criticism of Kuhn and Laudan.)
3. “scientists often fail to admit, sometimes even to recognize, that so many of the issues and findings of science are neither purely scientific nor genuinely empirical” (p. 253). Here Bauman argues for the “theory-ladenness of observation” and for a strict separation of science from philosophy of science, which he sees as more fundamental. Here he just completely ignores recent moves towards naturalistic epistemology and philosophy of science (Kitcher’s The Advancement of Science (1993) and his “The Naturalists Return” (Philosophical Review, Jan. 1992), Laudan’s “Progress or Rationality? The Prospects for Normative Naturalism” (American Philosophical Quarterly, January 1987), Husain Sarkar’s A Theory of Method (1981), Alvin Goldman’s Epistemology and Cognition (1986), Ronald Giere’s Explaining Science (1988), and much more).
Bauman further goes a bit overboard, giving an argument somewhat similar to the one posted here recently from Henry Morris:
science is not theology-free, and that is so precisely because science intentionally operates according to a procedural agnosticism, if not atheism. That is, science operates as if God cannot be known or else as if He were altogether irrelevant, if not entirely absent. By its means and its conclusions, science implicitly, perhaps even explicitly, denies that Christ is Lord of the laboratory, an inescapably theological denial. […] Because Christ is foundational to the universe, He is foundational to science. (pp. 254-255)
Bauman puts the point even stronger:
Let me put it more graphically. Any intellectual endeavor in which theology is segregated from the other disciplines and relegated to an intellectual ghetto is an instance of Jim Crow come again to the college campus because it explicitly asserts that the best intellectual paradigm is not well informed academic integration but some form of “separate but equal,” which, as we learned in the old South, meant separate but unequal, not because of actual inferiority, but because of bigotry. By acting as if God Himself were irrelevant to the universe He has made and to our understanding of how it operates, scientists, in effect, practice “disciplinism,” a widespread form of intellectual prejudice, even tribalism, whereby the research and discoveries of scholars are systematically disregarded simply because those scholars are members of another discipline. The Queen of the Sciences has been banished to the back of the bus by her own bigoted descendants. The fool has said in his heart that there is no God, and the scientist permits himself to operate as if the fool were right. (p. 256)
Next, Bauman argues that “Our alleged ape ancestors are treated with immense respect” (p. 257) and makes his accusation that the Dawkins quote is a statement of religion–that attacks on evolution are viewed as heresy.
In the eyes of an uninformed public, many scientists, without meaning to do so, undermine our only sources of morality and freedom: God, tradition and reason. They do so by propagating the notion that only those things that are testable under controlled laboratory conditions qualify as hard knowledge; all else is merely opinion. But even a moment’s reflection reveals that if every question of morality, of politics, of philosophy, and of theology, is a matter of mere untestable opinion, they can be settled only by force, not by reason. In that way (and in others) scientists sometimes lead us into tyranny. Fascism and pseudo-liberalism are the not-too-distant offspring of modern man’s widespread belief that science alone is trustworthy […]. (pp. 257-258)
4. “we ought to be more skeptical than we are both of scientific taxonomy and of the translation of the world outside our heads into numbers. That is, scientists do not actually deal with the world as they find it, they manipulate that world into words of their own choosing, into categories of their own making, into experiments of their own devising, and into numbers” (p. 259).
Bauman maintains that “While the beings that populate such categories most emphatically do, families, orders, classes and phyla, as such, *do not exist outside the taxonomist’s mind.* Such categories are a taxonomist’s useful fiction.” (p. 259) He goes on to spell out his position, and it’s clear that he’s a scientific anti-realist. He rejects the existence of natural kinds, at least discoverable by science. (I suspect he thinks they are unproblematic in theology, however.) He states that data crunching by scientists is “guided by philosophical deliberations,” and that
Judging from the philosophical and theological naivete of most of the scientists with whom I have ever spoken, those intellectual deliberations might not have been deliberations at all, but merely the unexamined and unacknowledged *a priori* assumptions of a mind untrained in a number of difficult but acutely relevant fields throughout the humanities. (pp. 261-262)
He goes on to argue that predictive success is no indication of truth, and that to assert that “science is measurement” is a philosophical assertion that may be unprovable or wrong.
5. “because science itself yields no code of ethics, science pays too little attention to the virtues or evils of research, especially research involving the human body” (p. 263). In this last section, Bauman argues that cadavers should not be used in anatomy classes because human bodies need to be kept undamaged in preparation for the resurrection on Judgment Day. He similarly argues against use of fetuses for scientific research.
[The only copy of these postings I have ends with “In the fifth and last part of my summary/review, I’ll look at the Van Till/Johnson exchange and Art Battson’s contribution.”, but I seem to have misplaced that final posting.]