Douglas Groothuis

Defending Christian Faith, December 7, 2004






I.          Christianity and Scientific Claims:  Warfare or Reconciliation?


A.        Rival sources of authority


B.        Naturalism and macro-evolution.  Evolution as the only game in town.  See Phillip Johnson, Darwin on Trial (IVP, 1993), etc.


C.        Rhetorical situation between Darwinism and its rivals.  See Thomas Woodward, Doubts About Darwin (Brazos, 2003)


D.        Models of relationship between science and Christianity


E.         The emergence of the intelligent design movement (or ID).  See The Discovery Institute:


II.        Theories of the Nature of Science


A.        Philosophy of science and science proper


B.        Debates on the nature of science (epistemology)


1.         Realism:  science can know (or approximate) objective truth about the part of the universe it addresses


2.         Nonrealism:  science may be “successful” without discovering truth


C.        The limits of science (illogic of scientism)


D.        Pascal on the human limits of science (Groothuis, On Pascal, chapter 3)


E.         The philosophical presuppositions of science


III.       Models of Integrating Science and Theology


A.        Different in essence


B.        Different in approach


C.        Theology as foundational for science.  See work of Stanley Jaki


D.        Science delimits religion


E.         An interactive model:  only apologetically fruitful method


IV.       Objections to Creation as a Scientific Explanation


A.        What should we defend about creation?  See Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time (InterVarsity) and Lewis and Demarest, Integrative Theology


1.         Ex nihilo creation (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1)


2.         God’s intervention to create the first life (Gen. 1)


3.         God’s intervention to create species (Gen. 1)


4.         God’s intervention to create first humans (Gen. 1)


5.         Age of the universe and earth question.  See Francis Schaeffer, No Final Conflict (IVP)


a.         “Day” sometimes used for “age” in Scripture


b.         “Days” mentioned before the sun and earth, so not literal


c.         Biblical genealogies not meant to be exhaustive chronologies


d.         General revelation seems to reveal a very old earth and universe. See Hugh Ross, Creation and Time (NavPress, 1994)


·         Big Bang cosmology: 14-15 billion year old creation


B.        Why not theistic evolution?


1.         Exegetical/hermeneutical issues:  the Bible doesn’t allow it (literal first couple, literal fall)


2.         Scientific issues:  problems with evolutionary theory


3.         Philosophical issues


a.         Evolution makes Christian much theism less likely and God less involved in the universe (more like Deism)


b.         Evolution invented to exclude God from explanation; it is still used as an alternative to theism (R. Dawkins especially)


C.        Biblical creationism (ICR) and intelligent design distinguished.  See also William Dembski, Intelligent Design (IVP, 1999) (appendix)


D.        Creationism:  literal six-day creation; global flood; negative program; theologically maximal


·         Institute for Creation Research web page:


E.         Intelligent design:  not necessarily six-day creation; leaves flood out of it; theological minimal


·         Attempt to introduce intelligence into science as an irreducible explanatory element; “wedge” strategy. See Phillip Johnson, The Wedge of Truth (IVP, 2000)


F.         Objections to concept of intelligent design in science


1.         God is a religious concept alien to science


2.         Idea of creation assumes the supernatural, which is unscientific


3.         Idea of creation derived from the Bible, therefore, not scientific


4.         Idea of creation makes no scientific predictions


5.         Idea of creation too narrow-minded to be science


6.         No positive evidence for creation; only criticisms of macro-evolution


7.         Idea is nothing but “God of the gaps” based on ignorance


V.        Problems with Macro-Evolutionary Model


A.        What is the theory of Darwinian evolution? Descent with genetic modification through natural selection accounts for all of life on earth


·         Some (such as Stephen Jay Gould) add other factors beyond what Darwin allowed, but retain descent with modification through selection


B.        “Icons of evolution” and the evidence(see Jonathon Wells, Icons of Evolution)


C.        Problems with naturalism outside of evolutionary theory:  remember natural theology and negative apologetics against naturalism (naturalism leads to nihilism, etc.)


D.        The prebiotic soup and the origin of information. See the prolific work of Stephen Myer especially. See his referee journal article:


E.         Problems with the fossil record (but this is not the only issue)


F.         Extrapolations from micro-evolution to macro-evolution:  finch beaks and peppered moths (see J. Wells, Icons)


G.        Other sources of knowledge may contradiction scientific theories


VI.       Intelligent Design as a Scientific Research Program


A.        Finding empirical evidence for design through a “design filter”


B.        Ruling out necessity (natural law) and chance as sufficient explanations


C.        “Specified complexity” (information) as the sign of intelligent design.  See Dembski article in First Things


D.        Finding contingency, complexity, specification in “nature” (creation)


·         Irreducible complexity as evidence of design (M. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box):  springing the mousetrap


VII.     Intelligent Design and Christian Apologetics


A.        “The wedge” against naturalism (leading competitor to Christian theism)


B.        Opening to theistic and Christian explanations for natural phenomena


C.        Opening for non-Darwinian, non-theistic explanations of life


D.        Brings into the spotlight the problem of evil—design flaws or degenerated design?