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Groothuis: “ Darwinism is terribly overrated scientifically. ”

Douglas Groothuis

Here’s a swatch from Lee Strobel’s interview with philosopher Douglas Groothuis who, we are told, spent more than 8 years producing Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith.

Q. What’s the strongest argument in the arsenal of atheists these days? And why does it fall short?

A. That’s a big question. Different atheists will use different arguments, but they often confront Christians with two things: (1) Darwinism has refuted the idea of Designer and so defeats Christianity (and every other form of theism). They claim that undirected, purely material causes and entities can explain all of biology. (2) The existence of the amount of evil in the world destroys the idea that there is a God who is all-good and all-powerful. No such God would allow this to happen. This is called the problem of evil.

I address (1) in chapters 13 and 14 of Christian Apologetics. To put it into a nutshell: Darwinism is terribly overrated scientifically. Darwinists usually presupposes a materialistic worldview—this is their philosophy, not something derived from science itself—and then interpret everything in biology according to those categories. In other words, “What my net don’t catch, ain’t fish.”

But once we admit intelligent design as a legitimate category of explanation, we find that Darwinism loses its persuasive power as a comprehensive explanation of the biosphere. In fact, Darwinism cannot explain the existence of molecular machines (such as the bacterial flagellum) or the information in DNA code. Nor can it even present a compelling case that all life evolved from a common ancestor.

This is all useful for Christians to keep in mind when we hear Christian Darwinists claim we can be just as good Christians if we believe what Darwin believed about life. If you’re anywhere near them, look out for the flying sandals.

Hat tip: Wintery Knight

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7 Responses to Groothuis: “ Darwinism is terribly overrated scientifically. ”

  1. “Darwinists usually presupposes a materialistic worldview”

    Isn’t it more accurate to say that the majority of all scientists in all disciplines presuppose a materialistic worldview, not just Darwinists? Or put another way, what’s an example of a successful scientific field that doesn’t have a materialistic foundation?

    And isn’t it possible that Groothuis, who is a career Christian apologist, may be influenced by his own non-materialist and religious presuppositions? Doesn’t it work both ways? Or is it only the Darwinists who have these kinds of philosophical issues?

  2. Woodford,

    You are right. Must scientists do presuppose a materialistic worldview. I don’t think that Groothuis is being hypocritical though because I think he’d freely admit that he has a non-materialist world view and that it is not science-based. The difference is that he does not pretend that his philosophy is derived from science like Darwinists do.

  3. “most” not “must”

  4. There’s a lot of ambiguity in this word “materialist” as you know. There’s philosophical materialism, and then there is methodological materialism.

    The first says that the nature of reality is nothing but atoms (or its close cousin, math), therefore the proper study of nature–science–must be materialistic. The second says that reality can have all kinds of immaterial attributes, but that the materialist study of those attributes is science. Note carefully that science can be expressed in immaterialist ways, that science is itself a philosophy and therefore not reducible to materials so that science cannot be studied scientifically. This is not a self-consistent subject, since the results of science are not themselves objects of science.

    However, it does say that the approach toward nature that is concerned with hows and whats, the material causes of nature, is the proper field or expression of science.

    Many fine christian scientists hold to this second view. In fact, over the past 500 years, many of the famous discoveries were made by scientists who were christians, and discussed their work in overtly religious and immaterial ways.

    So it is incorrect to think that the majority of scientists are of the first, philosophical sort of materialists.

  5. I don’t think anyone’s philosophy is derived from science.

    I think people are drawn to science because it has a fairly long history of acquiring useful knowledge incrementally.

    It supports technology, which gives iPods and digital watches and such. There, and always have been, people opposed to technology. It has costs as well as benefits. But it continues, because someone somewhere can provide just one more incremental benefit to someone.

    Same with pure science. Someone somewhere has just one more avenue to explore.

    My own philosophical view of materialism is that it’s a Russian doll. No matter how many you open, there’s always a smaller one inside.

  6. I agree with Robert’s useful distinction. But still, when it comes to the actual nuts-and-bolts practice and application of science, aren’t those in the second camp really assuming the techniques and methods of the first camp?

    Is there an example where a scientist in the second camp brought their philosophy to bear in conducting their science? In other words, when it comes down to it, can we tell the difference between the methods of a first and second camp scientist? If we hadn’t known Newton was a Christian, could we distinguish his science from a soup-to-atoms scientist? Or did his metaphysical beliefs actually hinder his science (e.g., his interest in alchemy)?

  7. Woodford at #1:

    “Isn’t it more accurate to say that the majority of all scientists in all disciplines presuppose a materialistic worldview, not just Darwinists?”

    No, it is not more accurate. It is rather incorrect.

    Historically speaking, the great majority of (what we call today) scientists and especially until the beginning or mid 20th century had a non-materialistic worldview, but rather a theistic or idealistic worldview.

    Even today a scientist, even one that professes a materialistic worldview, is fundamentally motivated to “discoverer” or “bring to light” assumed rational laws, rules that governs material phenomena and behaviors.

    A “pure materialist” worldview will mean that a scientist will be just a bored observer , data collector and at most a statistician of “what happens around” but without any real interest or expectation of extracting any generalizations, rules, invariants and common patterns (assumed rational).

    The scientist with a pure materialist worldview is basically inconsistent with his worldview when in his biochemistry or micro biology lab is trying “to dig” for new cell control patterns, molecular mechanisms or machinery. Or in his astrophysics research tries to capture the galaxies behaviors in common governing equations.

    Why should he search for order, non-material rules, laws, ideas, and invariant patterns of behavior when his worldview is based on matter and only matter?

    Isn’t paradoxical that the purest materialist scientist is stubbornly trying to ‘squeeze” meaning – i.e. ideas, non-material staff – by just playing, probing and observing matter? Isn’t he subconsciously striving to escape the ‘suffocating’, ‘meaningless’ realm of matter?

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