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Jon Garvey (“Hump of the Camel”) weighs in on the late Phillip Johnson


He encountered him at a debate:

As it happens (but unknown to my friend) I’d heard about Michael Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box in 1998 through the Christian grapevine, and found it intriguing. I was subsequently slightly surprised that the review by the Christian Medical Fellowship journal slammed it, basically on naturalistic grounds. It may be significant that the same reviewer was also noted for taking a skeptical and cessationist position on contemporary miraculous healing. So I suspended judgement on Behe, being at that time only peripherally concerned with origins stuff, compared to my busy medical practice…

He saw that the primary issue was not about evidence, but about metaphysical commitments wrongly substituted for inadequate evidence. He has a superb grasp not only of the then-current state of both evolutionary and origin-of-life science, but of the philosophical and historical background behind the science. And not only behind the science, but behind the various existing Christian responses to the science, from Creation Science (with which he radically, if respectfully, disagrees) to theistic Evolution of the semi-deist type that so frustrated me in my years interacting at BioLogos.

Respect for his opponents is evident in the whole book, which makes later accusations that he misused his sources entirely unjust: he is at pains to point out when the conclusions he draws from others’ work differs from their own convictions.

Jon Garvey, “On Phillip Johnson” at The Hump of the Camel

His critique of Peaceful Science, BioLogos, etc., is worth attending to,.

“Theistic evolution” is a church-closer because the whole point of it is to limit what God did by divine power and increase what would “just happen naturally.” In other words, a slow road to naturalist atheism.

There is no excuse for it in the Christian tradition because, for example, at one point, Jesus rebukes people who are sure that they are right with God by saying “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”

Of course, if we are theists, we must believe that that is true. God can create ex nihilo. Claims like “God wouldn’t do it that way” are mere opinion. The question for a scientist who is a Christian is, what did he do?

And once we are forced back on the evidence, the theistic evolutionists’ darling, Darwinism, comes more and more to be seen as the toad who is not turning into a prince when we finally get the princess to kiss him.

That would actually make a good skit, you know. She kisses the frog several times and he remains a stone cold, stupid amphibian.

And then she grabs a broom and starts whacking her theistic evolution advisors out of the room—sparing the stupid frog, of course. Him she dumps into the lily pond and thereafter goes on with her life, wiser.

See also: Darwinian philosopher Michael Ruse says farewell to the late Phillip Johnson He jokes that the way his life intersected with Johnson’s was one of the best proofs of the existence of God.

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As to:
He (Phillip Johnson) saw that the primary issue (between ID and Darwinism) was not about evidence, but about metaphysical commitments wrongly substituted for inadequate evidence.
Indeed, I first naively thought, when I first started debating Darwinists, that science was about the impartial weighing of the evidence and accepting the hypothesis that most adequately explained the evidence. Boy was I mistaken. Evidence simply takes a back seat for Darwinists (if evidence is even allowed in the car at all). The Darwinists' metaphysical commitment to Atheistic Naturalism, at least in their thinking, is simply never allowed to be questioned no matter what the evidence says to the contrary. And the evidence does indeed have much to say to the contrary:
Darwin’s theory holds mutations to the genome to be random. The vast majority of mutations to the genome are not random but are now found to be ‘directed’. Darwin’s theory holds that Natural Selection is the ‘designer substitute’ that produces the ‘appearance’ and/or illusion of design. Natural Selection, especially for multicellular organisms, is found to grossly inadequate as the ‘designer substitute. Darwin’s theory holds that mutations to DNA will eventually change the basic biological form of any given species into a new form of a brand new species. Yet, biological form is found to be irreducible to mutations to DNA, nor is biological form reducible to any other material particulars in biology one may wish to invoke. Darwin’s theory holds there to be an extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever. Charles Darwin himself held that the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Yet, from the Cambrian Explosion onward, the fossil record is consistently characterized by the sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within the group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. Moreover, Fossils are found in the “wrong place” all the time (either too early, or too late). Darwin’s theory, due to the randomness postulate, holds that patterns will not repeat themselves in supposedly widely divergent species. Yet thousands of instances of what is ironically called ‘convergent evolution’, on both the morphological and genetic level, falsifies the Darwinian belief that patterns will not repeat themselves in widely divergent species. Charles Darwin himself stated that “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Yet as Doug Axe pointed out, “Basically every gene and every new protein fold, there is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in that gradualistic way. It’s all a mirage. None of it happens that way.” Charles Darwin himself stated that “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.” Yet as Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig pointed out, “in thousands of plant species often entirely new organs have been formed for the exclusive good of more than 132,930 other species, these ‘ugly facts’ have annihilated Darwin’s theory as well as modern versions of it.” Charles Darwin himself stated that, ““The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God. Yet ‘our conscious selves’ are certainly not explainable by ‘chance’ (nor is consciousness explainable by any possible reductive materialistic explanation in general), i.e. ‘the hard problem of consciousness’. Besides the mathematics of probability consistently showing that Darwinian evolution is impossible, the mathematics of population genetics itself has now shown Darwinian evolution to be impossible. Moreover, ‘immaterial’ mathematics itself, which undergirds all of science, engineering and technology, is held by most mathematicians to exist in some timeless, unchanging, immaterial, Platonic realm. Yet, the reductive materialism that Darwinian theory is based upon denies the existence of the immaterial realm that mathematics exists in. i.e. Darwinian evolution actually denies the objective reality of the one thing, i.e. mathematics, that it most needs in order to be considered scientific in the first place! Donald Hoffman has, via population genetics, shown that if Darwin’s materialistic theory were true then all our observations of reality would be illusory. Yet the scientific method itself is based on reliable observation. Moreover, Quantum Mechanics itself has now shown that conscious observation must come before material reality, i.e. falsification of ‘realism’ proves that our conscious observations are reliable!. The reductive materialism that undergirds Darwinian thought holds that immaterial information is merely ’emergent’ from a material basis. Yet immaterial Information, via experimental realization of the “Maxwell’s Demon” thought experiment, is now found to be its own distinctive physical entity that, although it can interact in a ‘top down’ manner with matter and energy, is separate from matter and energy. Darwinists hold that Darwin’s theory is true. Yet ‘Truth’ itself is an abstract property of an immaterial mind that is irreducible to the reductive materialistic explanations of Darwinian evolution. i.e. Assuming reductive materialism and/or Naturalism as the starting philosophical position of science actually precludes ‘the truth’ from ever being reached by science! Darwinists, due to their underlying naturalistic philosophy, insist that teleology (i.e. goal directed purpose) does not exist. Yet it is impossible for Biologists to do biological research without constantly invoking words that directly imply teleology. i.e. The very words that Biologists themselves use when they are doing their research falsifies Darwinian evolution.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
The primary metaphysical commitment that Darwinists hold, in spite of the evidence, is, of course, Atheistic Naturalism. In science this metaphysical commitment to Atheistic Naturalism plays out with their supposed 'ground rule' for doing science of 'methodological naturalism'.
Methodological naturalism Excerpt: Pennock's testimony as an expert witness[21] at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial was cited by the Judge in his Memorandum Opinion concluding that "Methodological naturalism is a 'ground rule' of science today":[22] - per wikipedia
Yet, methodological naturalism, (i.e. only 'natural' causes are allowed to be invoked to explain any given effect), never has been, nor is it now, the supposed 'ground rule' for doing science. In fact, the Christian founders of modern science would have found the artificial limitation of methodological naturalism, prior to any investigation mind you, to be quite absurd:
Intelligent Design as a “Science Stopper”? Here’s the Real Story – Michael Flannery – August 20, 2011 Excerpt: If the “ID is a science stopper” argument rests on weak philosophical foundations, its historical underpinnings are even shakier. The leading natural philosophers (what we would call “scientists” today) of the 16th through 18th centuries, the men who established modern science as we know it — Copernicus, Galileo, Vesalius, Harvey, Newton — would have considered the MN (Methodological Naturalism) dogma absurd and indeed rather peculiar. In fact, James Hannam has recently examined this issue in some detail and found that religion, far from being antagonistic or an impediment to science, was an integral part of its advance in the Western world (see my earlier ENV article on the subject). https://evolutionnews.org/2011/08/id_a_science_stopper_heres_the/
Quite to the contrary of what atheists want to falsely believe beforehand, the quote/unquote ‘ground rule’ for doing science, in so far as science can even be said to follow a strict ‘ground rule’ in the first place, is not whether a theory may adhere to methodological naturalism or not but is if a given theory in science may be falsifiable or not. As Karl Popper stated, "In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality."
"In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality." Karl Popper - The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge
In fact, Karl Popper explicitly rejected the 'naturalistic view' precisely because it was a convention that was liable to turn into an unfalsifiable dogma.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery - Karl Popper - page 49 Excerpt: "I reject the naturalistic view: It is uncritical. Its upholders fail to notice that whenever they believe to have discovered a fact, they have only proposed a convention. Hence the convention is liable to turn into a dogma." https://books.google.com/books?id=cAKCAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT49
And it is easy to see why Darwinists would shun falsification as the ground rule for doing science and adopt methodological naturalism. Darwinian evolution, as was already shown above, has been falsified by numerous lines of scientific evidence,,, and yet, despite being falsified by numerous lines of evidence, Darwinists simply refuse to ever accept any of those scientific evidences as falsifications of their theory. Darwinists, as far as the science is concerned, are very much akin to Monty Python's black knight who keeps fighting despite having all his limbs cut off.
Monty Python - I'll Bite Your Legs Off! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0idLSOQZmRw
Since Darwinists simply refuse to accept falsification of their theory no matter what the evidence says to the contrary, then obviously Darwinian evolution does not even qualify as a real and testable science in the first place. As Denis Nobel stated, "it is then incumbent on modern neo-Darwinists to specify what would now falsify the theory. If nothing can do this then it is not a scientific theory.”
Central tenets of neo-Darwinism broken. Response to ‘Neo-Darwinism is just fine’ - 2015 Excerpt: “If, as the commentator seems to imply, we make neo-Darwinism so flexible as an idea that it can accept even those findings that the originators intended to be excluded by the theory it is then incumbent on modern neo-Darwinists to specify what would now falsify the theory. If nothing can do this then it is not a scientific theory.” - Denis Noble - President of International Union of Physiological Sciences https://jeb.biologists.org/content/218/16/2659
Besides Darwinists refusing to adhere to the criteria of falsification for their supposed scientific theory, by any other reasonable measure that one may wish to judge whether Darwinian evolution even qualifies as a science, as is shown in the following video, Darwinian evolution fails to meet those criteria as well:
“There are five standard tests for a scientific hypothesis. Has anyone observed the phenomenon — in this case, Evolution — as it occurred and recorded it? Could other scientists replicate it? Could any of them come up with a set of facts that, if true, would contradict the theory (Karl Popper’s “falsifiability” tests)? Could scientists make predictions based on it? Did it illuminate hitherto unknown or baffling areas of science? In the case of Evolution… well… no… no… no… no… and no.” – Tom Wolfe – The Kingdom of Speech – page 17 Darwinian Evolution Fails the Five Standard Tests of a Scientific Hypothesis – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7f_fyoPybw
Simply put, Darwinian evolution simply fails to qualify as a rigorous and testable science by any reasonable measure one may wish to invoke and is therefore more properly classified as a pseudoscience, even as a religion for atheists, rather than being classified as a real and testable science. Moreover, contrary to what many people have been falsely led to believe by Darwinian atheists, the fact of the matter is that all of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based on the presupposition of intelligent design and is certainly not based on the presupposition of methodological naturalism. From the essential Christian presuppositions that undergird the founding of modern science itself, (namely that the universe is rational and that the minds of men, being made in the ‘image of God’, can dare understand that rationality),
Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21) Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics. http://www.robkoons.net/media/69b0dd04a9d2fc6dffff80b3ffffd524.pdf
,,, to the intelligent design of the scientific instruments and experiments themselves, to the logical and mathematical analysis of experimental results themselves, from top to bottom, science itself is certainly not to be considered a ‘natural’ endeavor of man. Not one scientific instrument would ever exist if men did not first intelligently design that scientific instrument. Not one test tube, microscope, telescope, spectroscope, or etc.. etc.., was ever found just laying around on a beach somewhere which was ‘naturally’ constructed by nature. Not one experimental result would ever be rationally analyzed since there would be no immaterial minds to rationally analyze the immaterial logic and immaterial mathematics that lay behind the intelligently designed experiments in the first place.
Naturalism and Self-Refutation – Michael Egnor – January 31, 2018 Excerpt: Mathematics is certainly something we do. Is mathematics “included in the space-time continuum [with] basic elements … described by physics”?,,, What is the physics behind the Pythagorean theorem? After all, no actual triangle is perfect, and thus no actual triangle in nature has sides such that the Pythagorean theorem holds. There is no real triangle in which the sum of the squares of the sides exactly equals the square of the hypotenuse. That holds true for all of geometry. Geometry is about concepts, not about anything in the natural world or about anything that can be described by physics. What is the “physics” of the fact that the area of a circle is pi multiplied by the square of the radius? And of course what is natural and physical about imaginary numbers, infinite series, irrational numbers, and the mathematics of more than three spatial dimensions? Mathematics is entirely about concepts, which have no precise instantiation in nature,, For Clark, thoughts merely appear out of matter, which has no properties, by the laws of physics, for generating thought.,,, Furthermore, the very framework of Clark’s argument — logic — is neither material nor natural. Logic, after all, doesn’t exist “in the space-time continuum” and isn’t described by physics. What is the location of modus ponens? How much does Gödel’s incompleteness theorem weigh? What is the physics of non-contradiction? How many millimeters long is Clark’s argument for naturalism? Ironically the very logic that Clark employs to argue for naturalism is outside of any naturalistic frame. The strength of Clark’s defense of naturalism is that it is an attempt to present naturalism’s tenets clearly and logically. That is its weakness as well, because it exposes naturalism to scrutiny, and naturalism cannot withstand even minimal scrutiny. Even to define naturalism is to refute it. https://evolutionnews.org/2018/01/naturalism-and-self-refutation/ What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict? - M. Anthony Mills - April 16, 2018 Excerpt: Barr rightly observes that scientific atheists often unwittingly assume not just metaphysical naturalism but an even more controversial philosophical position: reductive materialism, which says all that exists is or is reducible to the material constituents postulated by our most fundamental physical theories. As Barr points out, this implies not only that God does not exist — because God is not material — but that you do not exist. For you are not a material constituent postulated by any of our most fundamental physical theories; at best, you are an aggregate of those constituents, arranged in a particular way. Not just you, but tables, chairs, countries, countrymen, symphonies, jokes, legal contracts, moral judgments, and acts of courage or cowardice — all of these must be fully explicable in terms of those more fundamental, material constituents. In fact, more problematic for the materialist than the non-existence of persons is the existence of mathematics. Why? Although a committed materialist might be perfectly willing to accept that you do not really exist, he will have a harder time accepting that numbers do not exist. The trouble is that numbers — along with other mathematical entities such as classes, sets, and functions — are indispensable for modern science. And yet — here’s the rub — these “abstract objects” are not material. Thus, one cannot take science as the only sure guide to reality and at the same time discount disbelief in all immaterial realities. https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2018/04/16/what_does_it_mean_to_say_that_science_and_religion_conflict.html
Moreover, following the atheist's artificial restriction of methodological naturalism on science, (that is to say, following the false presumption that only natural, material, and/or physical causes are allowed to be given in order to explain any effect in science), leads to catastrophic epistemological failure of science itself and even to the catastrophic failure of all human knowledge.
Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable, (i.e. illusory), beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft). Who, since beauty cannot be grounded within his materialistic worldview, must hold beauty itself to be illusory. Bottom line, nothing is truly real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, beauty, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,, Darwinian Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism vs. Reality – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaksmYceRXM
Thus, although the Darwinian Atheist firmly believes he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to. It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.
2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Jon Harvey here, from The Gump of the Camel (my mother's maiden name was Harvey, so maybe it's not an error...). I've made much criticism of BioLogos over the last 9 years, and as you observe I note how many of the skeptics from there have strayed to Peaceful Science. Yet both forums have been very productive and stimulating for me. From BioLogos came the discussion that led me to conclude the ongoing goodness of the natural creation, the invitation to write about it and, ultimately, the book deal for God's Good Earth - which uses standard Darwinian theory itself to disarm scientific "red in tooth and claw" ideas, but has a robust theology of nature that gives God a more active role than even many ID people admit. (What - no review on Uncommon Descent yet?? It's nearly a year old now! Plug). At Peaceful Science I got to know both Ann Gauger and Paul Nelson, as well as some of the RTB folk, and worked with Josh Swamidass on the genealogical science that enables a recent, historical Adam to be compatible with the secular historical sciences. His book on the science comes out in December, but I've been able as a result to develop a whole biblical theology of Adam, which comes out in the New Year as The Generations of Heaven and Earth. As it happens Josh and I met up here in England this summer to pitch the Genealogical Adam paradigm at the very academic institution where Paul Nelson, Steve Meyer and Doug Axe (I believe) met to formulate the Intelligent Design project way back. The old barriers are breaking down, and I've no doubt whatsoever that Phillip Johnson would be pleased at that turn of events, whilst holding his corner as ideas competed for space, instead of being suppressed or, as bad, ghettoized. Jon Garvey

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