Friday, December 02, 2011

Read Along: Christian Apologetics Ch13

Today we continue with chapter thirteen of Read Along with Apologetics315, a weekly chapter-by-chapter study through Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Christianity by Douglas Groothuis. Please leave a comment on your reading below. This is where you can interact with others reading the book, ask questions, or add your own thoughts. Series index here. Click below for the audio intro, chapter 13 study questions PDF, and summary:

[Audio Intro] - Dr. Groothuis introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 13 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) - PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] - Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Thirteen: Origins, Design and Darwinism
(pages 266-296)

Chapter thirteen provides an overview of the topics in its title, outlining the key ideas of each area. Regarding origins, Groothuis describes three main Christian positions: theistic evolution, creationism, and progressive creationism. He offers his critiques of the first two, and his reasons for affirming the third view as most faithful to the Scriptures and to nature.

Regarding design and Darwinism, the author's main goals include arguing for two main theses: (1) Belief in Darwinism as a comprehensive explanation for the biosphere has become a deterrent to Christian faith; thus a cogent refutation is in order. (2) Darwinism suffers from fatal flaws both logically and evidentially. It is far less well-supported than commonly thought. (p.267)

The chapter includes descriptions and critiques of some of the main tenets of Darwinism, while showing the proper place for these critiques in an overall case for Christian theism. Groothuis also paves the way for the following chapter, which makes a case for intelligent design.

Notable quotes:
But Darwinism is far more than a biological theory. It is integral to the secular worldview of the Western intellectual elite that wants to marginalize religious faith as having no claim on knowledge. The natural sciences and humanities are dominated by this naturalistic and secular worldview, and so they either ignore Christian claims or attack them forthrightly. Disputing Darwinism is, therefore, central in dislodging this secularist mindset that affects so much of elite intellectual life. (Christian Apologetics, p. 277) 
While methodological naturalism appears modest and agnostic to the untutored, it is a ruse for metaphysical materialism. Methodological naturalism assumes that even if God or anything supernatural exists, this cannot be evident in the universe. It thereby issues a metaphysical veto against any empirical evidence for the immaterial -- such as the soul, God or the supernatural -- regardless of the evidence that may be available(Christian Apologetics, pp. 278-279)
Natural selection itself does not provide the engine for speciation (macroevolution). Although it helps explain the survival of species (since species must adapt somewhat to environments if they are to survive over time), it does nothing to explain the arrival of species(Christian Apologetics, p. 283)  
  1. Do you find the author's reasons in favor of progressive creationism convincing?
  2. Do you think it is important to critique Darwinism? Why or why not?
  3. What are your thoughts on the role of methodological naturalism in science?
Next week
Chapter Fourteen: Evidence for Intelligent Design


Paul Bruggink said...

Why is it that supporters of YEC, OEC, Progressive Creationism and/or Intelligent Design almost always want to attack the easy target (Darwinism) and ignore the meaningful target (biological evolution)?

Paul Bruggink said...

Re: "Darwinism suffers from fatal flaws both logically and evidentially. It is far less well-supported than commonly thought." (p.267)

Darwinism may have many metaphysical naturalism flaws, but biological evolution has few methodological naturalism flaws. To think that biological evolution is "far less well-supported than commonly thought" is wishful thinking.

The problem that I have with this book, Greg Koukl's "Tactics," and other apologetics books is that otherwise good books are spoiled by unrealistic discussions of biological evolution.

Paul Bruggink said...

It is interesting to note that there are numerous references in the text and footnotes of Chapters 13 & 14 to authors who support Intelligent Design (e.g., Michael Behe, William Dembski, Michael Denton, Phillip Johnson, Stephen Meyer, and Jonathan Wells) and, except for Francis Collins in one footnote, there are NO references to Christian BIOLOGICAL scientists who support biological evolution (e.g., Denis Alexander, Francisco Ayala, Darrel Falk, Karl Giberson, Denis Lamoureux, Kenneth Miller, Simon Conway Morris, Dennis Venema, etc.).

It appears that Prof. Groothuis has for some reason chosen to totally ignore what is really going on in biological evolution, preferring to attack the strawman of Darwinism, which he mentions 29 times in Chapter 13 before even attempting to define it. Christian apologetics would be better served if Chapters 13 & 14 were used to discuss the progress being made by Christian scholars who are working to integrate the implications of biological evolution into our Christian faith.

Paul Bruggink said...

On page 296, Prof. Groothuis states "While we need not necessarily defend a "young earth" or six literal days of creation, the Bible does commit us to claims about God's hand in the creation of the major groupings (kinds) of life."

If the Bible does not commit us to defending six literal days of creation, how does Prof. Groothuis rationalize that the same passage in the same Bible does commit us to claims about God's hand in the creation of the major groupings of life? Why are some of the "days" of creation to be taken literally while other "days" of creation don't need to be?

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