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Evolution's materialism or naturalism denies a role for God (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Evolution's materialism or naturalism denies a role for God (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CA601.1:

Evolution's materialism or methodological naturalism denies a role for God. "Methodological naturalism asks us for the sake of science to pretend that the material world is all there is" (Dembski, 1996).

Source: Johnson, Phillip E. 1999. The church of Darwin. Wall Street Journal, 16 Aug. 1999


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. This is simply a lie. There are numerous scientists who embrace both evolution and God. They believe not only that God created a universe in which evolution occurs naturally but that God works constantly in their and other people's lives. The claim otherwise by Johnson, Dembski, and others is an overt rejection of other people's religious beliefs.

What exactly is the lie that the author of Talk.Origins refers to? It is true that evolution's materialism or its methodological naturalism denies an active role for "God", since every explanation submitted to it has to be purely naturalistic, devoid of the supernatural. And it doesn't really allow for a passive role, since again its adherence only to the forces of nature leave out the forces of the supernatural. Where does deity fit in? Perhaps the author must be saying "you can have a deity in your own head, just don't let him out amongst our naturalistic community and atheistically "scientific" discussions.

It may be true that a number of scientists embrace both evolution and "God". The important question is "who is this 'God'?" Where is his description? It cannot be the Bible since that offers a description of a Deity who is the activity behind creation, and has an active role in its history. The god they worship may be immensely subjective, crafted and created by what they feel agrees with evolutionary "science", or the god of deism who can never be known because he hasn't revealed himself.

Another point is that for a person to be convinced that something is right, then something else has to be wrong. The religious belief of the evolutionist (Darwinist) rejects any other faith or philosophy that rejects the main tenets of evolution. Creation science rejects Darwinism. You can't really have it both ways.

2. This claim applies not only to evolution; it logically should apply to people who believe in materialism or methodological naturalism in any science or any aspect of life.

This point has been dealt with in response to Talk.Origins' rebuttal to the claim that (Talk.Origins) evolution requires naturalism, which deals with methodological naturalism and its abused form in evolution. Real sciences do not use the all-pervading dogmatic naturalism as is used in evolution and make no definitive statements about the unobserved past. Real sciences are based on evidence in the present in the real world, observed and refined for human use or further exploration.

All people who believe that God does not intervene to keep planets rotating, cause winds, or make sodas fizz, according to this claim, must be atheists. It is obvious that they are not.

The author makes another straw man with this. If it is the Almighty who set natural laws in motion concerning the motion of planets, stars and galaxies, and atoms, then the next statement about the lack of constant intervention in natural things means nothing.

Many famous scientists were and are devout Christians who use, in their work, exactly the same sort of naturalism that evolutionary science uses.

This needs evidence. Which scientists is he talking about? Was it that these men were theistic evolutionists? Does being a Christian necessarily mean that a person is a biblical creationist? The fact that evolution's abuse of methodological naturalism and adherence to dogmatic philosophical naturalism denies a role for God is not really dealt with in this point. One can use adequate observed natural causes to describe an effect in nature, like the air-currents that make hurricanes. That is not the same sort of naturalism as is used with evolution, which is a hypothesis full of inadequate causes for unobserved mega-changes within organisms.

3. From a practical point of view, the people who make this claim are denying more than advocating a role for God. They say that theistic evolution is no different from atheistic evolution because it does not show God acting directly. For them, a God that does not act supernaturally is equivalent to no god at all. But nothing supernatural is happening around me right now; in fact, I have never seen anything supernatural occur. Does that mean God is not around?

Practically speaking, it is true that a god that does nothing in the universe is equivalent to no god at all. Setting the universe in order, with all its orbits and intricacies, and creating life, are supernatural acts, since nature cannot do it on its own. What the author seems to be looking for is constant supernatural disruptions in natural laws already supernaturally set in place, when there is no likely need for them. There have been historical disruptions in nature that people have observed and experienced. Healings, divine rescues, the national incident at Mt. Sinai witnessed by a multitude which is part of a nation's history—all these have been observed although rejected by people like those who help build Talk.Origins. But such disruptions are not needed for acceptance of the God of the Hebrew Scriptures. The miracle of life, something nature cannot produce on its own without intelligent (supernatural) agency, is enough evidence for many about the active role of the supernatural.

According to Johnson and others who believe his claim, God is irrelevant for almost all of our lives.

But Phillip Johnson et al. are correct: the god believed by those who accept the all-pervading philosophy of naturalism and materialism, as revealed in the theory of evolution, is irrelevant to our lives, because he has done nothing in history and nothing objectively. He may be relevant in the heads of those who accept him, but he is irrelevant to the rest of the world. The Deity who actively created the earth and the life on it, as described in Genesis, is relevant to everyone, whether they accept him or not, since he is objectively true and his work can be observed through all of creation and his standard of morality is relevant to all as well.

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