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Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?

Published by : Access Research Network (Colorado Springs, CO) Physical details: appx. 2 hrs.
Subject(s): Apologetics | Science
Year: 1994
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Phillip E. Johnson, William Provine

William Provine, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, cites numerous lines of evidence supporting neo-Darwinian theory and argues that microevolutionary processes can be extrapolated to account for the origin of all biological diversity and complexity. He concludes that modern evolutionary theory is incompatible with belief in God and deduces that there are no absolute moral and ethical laws, that free will does not exist, and that human character is formed by a combination of heredity and environment - because "that is all there is". Provine explicitly articulates the naturalistic philosophical implications of Darwinian evolution that many other evolutionary scientists are only willing to imply.

Phillip Johnson, Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, agrees with Provine that modern neo-Darwinian theory is fundamentally athiestic. He argues, however, that this is not because Darwinian science has discovered how plants, animals, and human beings can come into existence without a creator. It is because Darwinists assume at the start that nature is all there is, and that purposeless material forces like mutation and selection therefore had to be capable of doing all the work of biological creation. Johnson acknowledges that as a theory of limited variation within pre-existing types, neo-Darwinism is scientific. However, as a general theory of how the complex types of plants and animals were created, he argues that it is a philosophical dogma that is inconsistent with the evidence.

In this debate before students and professors at Stanford University, two eminent professors come to grips with the most important of all questions: Do we owe our existence to a creator? Can the blind watchmaker of natural selection take the place of God? Vigorous arguments and a lively question and answer period illuminate the contemporary debate between naturalistic and theistic ways of understanding our existence.

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