Tag Archives: Francis Collins

Apologist Melissa reviews “God and Evolution” by Jay Richards


Book Review: God and Evolution
Book review: God and Evolution

Mysterious Melissa reviews Jay Richards’ “God and Evolution“. Jay is the editor, and there are lots of chapters by lots of different people. I am currently reading this book before bed, so this review is timely and encouraging for me.

Here’s the overview:

God and Evolution, edited by Jay W. Richards, is an essay anthology designed to explain and clarify the essential definitions, scientific claims, theological issues and philosophical problems that pervade the debate about the compatibility of neo-Darwinism and religious faith. The central question of the text, specifically, is whether or not theistic evolution is a tenable position for theists of Christian or Jewish persuasion. Each essay expands upon a different aspect of the subject, but together they have a common goal: to shed light on what Richards refers to as the God and evolution enigma. He argues that this is a gray area that sorely needs illuminating; he says, “In a sense, it touches all of the biggest questions we can ask about ourselves and the world we live in.”

So what part looks the most interesting?

This part:

Section II begins with Jonathan Witt’s essay, “Random Acts of Design,”  in which he reveals the inconsistency of Francis Collins’ argument for theistic evolution inThe Language of God. Witt points out egregious flaws in Collins’ view of intelligent design theory and problems with the rebuttals Collins makes against irreducible complexity.

Jonathan Wells picks up the case against Collins’ viewpoint in the following essay, “Darwin of the Gaps.” Specifically, he answers Collins’ claim that intelligent design is a “God of the gaps” argument. Rather, he says, it is an inference to the best explanation, given the evidence. Wells goes on to point out the failure of Collins’ past assertions about “junk” DNA and its supposed support for Darwinian evolution.

Next, Jay Richards critiques Howard Van Till’s Robust Formational Economy Principle in “Making a Virtue of Necessity.” Richards explains that the appeal of Van Till’s position is that it attempts to make Christianity compatible with methodological naturalism by claiming that the creation is entirely self-sufficient in its creative power, exhibiting no evidence of divine activity. He then points out the fundamental theological problem with the Principle, namely, that there is to reason to assume a priori that God should have or did indeed create a world that never needs his intervention.

In the subsequent essay, “The Difference it Doesn’t Make,” Stephen Meyer describes and critiques the idea of “evolutionary creation” promoted (most notably) by Dennis Lamoureux. Meyer points out the theological and scientific shortcomings of this view, which entails a purposeful “front-loaded” creation instilled with natural laws capable of producing biological complexity and diversity.

There are basically three (related) groups of people who I really cannot stand. The first group is pastors and campus club staff workers who refuse to learn and promote apologetics. The second group is people who think they are Christians but who support the political left. And the third group is theistic evolutionists. I really, really, really do not like theistic evolutionists. So any time someone is set to give them a good thrashing, count me in. Which is why I’m reading the book. There are also chapters explicitly for Protestants, Catholics and Jews in the book.

Other things that Jay does

By the way, science and philosophy aren’t the only things that Jay Richards can do. Check out the links below, he is heavily into economics. In fact, he is the one who recommended Thomas Sowell and F.A. Hayek to me back when he was writing “Money, Greed and God“. And he has a new book out that you can pre-order called “Indivisible“. I haven’t ordered that new book yet, but it might be something like this free booklet (click to download PDF) that he edited for the Heritage Foundation. All my favorite scholars are in the booklet – Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann, Jennifer Roback Morse and Arthur Brooks. The funny thing about that booklet is that it is a collection of essays by fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. But all the social conservatives had to write about fiscal conservatism, and the fiscal conservatives had to write about social conservatism! Who knew?

Related posts

Seven videos from the Biola University conference on God and evolution

I have been weaseling out of my apologetics posting this week, and this is my last chance to get something good up so I can make it onto Brian Auten’s weekly apologetics bonus links at Apologetics 315, the best Christian apologetics site ever.

So I am posting SEVEN video clips from a recent Biola University conference on theistic evolution. (H/T Mysterious Jonathan)

Conference details:

Can you believe in God and Darwinian evolution at the same time? Scientists and scholars have an answer that may surprise the audience as they explore this and related questions at the God & Evolution conference on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

The conference will focus on the conflict between neo-Darwinism and traditional theological views of Protestants, Catholics and Jews.

What is “theistic” evolution, and how consistent is it with traditional theism?

What challenges does Darwin’s theory pose for Protestants, Catholics, and Jews?

Is it “anti-science” to question Darwinian Theory?

These questions and more will be addressed at the one-day conference by Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine, biologist Jonathan Wells, political scientist John West, philosopher Jay Richards, attorney and science writer Casey Luskin and authors David Klinghoffer and Denyse O’Leary.

In the century and a half since Charles Darwin first proposed his theory of evolution, Christians, Jews, and other religious believers have grappled with how to make sense of it. Most have understood that Darwin’s theory has profound theological implications, but responses have varied dramatically.

Some believers have rejected it outright; others, including “theistic evolutionists” such as Francis Collins and Karl Giberson, have sought to reconcile Darwin’s theory with their religious beliefs, often at the cost of clarity, orthodoxy, or both. As a result, the whole subject of God and evolution is a source of confusion for many believers.

Join us for this one-day seminar, featuring contributors to the new book, God and Evolution, exploring these issues and offering a wide-ranging critique of those who seek to reconcile materialistic theories such as Darwinism with belief in God.

Here is the playlist for all SEVEN video clips.

Clip 1 of 7: Jay W. Richards: The Central Issues (34 minutes)

Clip 2 of 7: John G. West: Three Big Questions (22 minutes)

Clip 3 of 7: Casey Luskin: Why the New Atheists Won’t Be Appeased (21 minutes)

Clip 4 of 7: Denyse O’Leary: Catholics & Evolution (29 minutes)

Clip 5 of 7: David Klinghoffer: Judaism & Evolution (17 minutes)

Clip 6 of 7: Jonathan Wells: Science and Theistic Evolution (26 minutes)

Clip 7 of 7: Panel Discussion with Marvin Olasky (99 minutes)

So it looks like there are 2 Catholics (Richards, O’Leary), 2 Jews (Luskin, Klinghoffer), 2 Protestants (West, Olasky) and 1 “Other” (Wells) in that list. It’s a diverse group.

Do leading evolutionists think that evolution is compatible with God?

Here is a post from Jerry Coyne’s blog: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/selective-creationists/. (H/T Retha from Christian Rethinker)

Coyne is a radical atheist and evolutionist. And he is also a very prominent biologist.

He writes:

Only a tad more than one in four teachers really accepts evolution as scientists conceive of it: a naturalistic process undirected by divine beings.  Nearly one in two teachers thinks that humans evolved but that God guided the process.

Can we count those 48% of “guided-by-Godders” 0n our side?  I agree with P. Z.: the answer is NO.  Yes, they do accept that our species changed genetically over time, but they see God as having pulled the strings.  That’s not the way evolution works.   The graph labels these 48% as believers in intelligent design, and that’s exactly what they are, for they see God as nudging human evolution toward some preconceived goal.  We’re designed.  These people are creationists: selective creationists.

To count them as allies means we make company with those who accept evolution in a superficial sense but reject it in the deepest sense.  After all, the big revolution in thought wrought by Darwin was the recognition that the appearance of design—thought for centuries to be proof of God—could stem from purely natural processes.   When we cede human evolution to God, then, we abandon that revolution.  That’s why I see selective creationists like Kenneth Miller, Karl Giberson and Francis Collins as parting company with modern biological thought.

Just to let you know, Ken Miller and Francis Collins do not think that science can perform experiments and detect that an intelligent cause is the best explanation for some effect in nature. They are committed to explaining every effect in nature as the result of natural processes, before they ever sit down in front of a microscope to look and see. That is their faith commitment – naturalism. I.e. – God didn’t do anything in nature that we can know about using objective measuring.

Theistic evolution versus atheism

Who was the foremost evangelical proponent of theistic evolution? Well, one of them was Howard Van Till of Calvin College. Why do I say “was”? Take a look at this event he did for a FREETHOUGHT group a while back.

Excerpt:

FROM CALVINISM TO FREETHOUGHT: The Road Less Traveled
by Howard J. Van Till

Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Emeritus
Calvin College
Presented 5/24/2006 for the Freethought Association of West Michigan
Lightly edited 5/26/2006

Precis: Born into a Calvinist family, shaped by a Calvinist catechism training, educated in the Calvinist private school system, and nurtured by a community that prized its Calvinist systematic theology, I was a Calvinist through and through. For 31 years my
teaching career was deeply rooted in the Calvinism I had inherited from my community.

During most of that time it was a fruitful and satisfying experience. Nonetheless, stimulated in part by the manner in which some members of that community responded to my efforts to practice what I had learned from my best teachers, I eventually felt the need to extend my intellectual exploration into philosophical territories far outside the one provided by Calvinism. Did I complete the lengthy journey from Calvinism to Freethought? The listener will be the judge.

Freethought is atheism, by the way.

I think that either God can interfere or he can’t. Theistic evolutionists and atheists think that he can’t intervene – at least not in a way that is independent of “faith” – by which they mean blind belief ungrounded by evidence. What theistic evolutionists are really saying is that God interferes where we can’t test in a lab (the resurrection), and he doesn’t interfere in the area that they can test in a lab (science). This allows them to appease their wives and churches with pronunciations of orthodox beliefs (of course I believe in miracles, honey), and also to appease their scientific colleagues (God didn’t do anything that we can know objectively). Well. Isn’t that convenient for them AND THEIR CAREERS as scientists?