"This second extension to his 1996 classic, Darwin’s Black Box (where he first outed himself as an advocate of intelligent design), argues that unguided mutation and natural selection are indeed able to adapt organisms to their environments, but only within strict limits." - TGC
J. P. Moreland is a seasoned Christian philosopher who has provided the Church with some very good tools in defense of the Faith and the Christian Worldview. He has been Professor of Philosophy at Biola for many years. This timely book is most welcome as it engages one of the most pernicious false ideas that has arisen from man’s innate hatred of God (Rom. 1:18-25).
Scientism is essentially the belief that only science, especially the hard sciences, can give us solid knowledge of the world. Although many of its advocates do not come right out and say it in such blunt terms, that is their faith.
Moreland refers to “hard scientism” and “soft scientism,” the difference between them being that the softer variety allows that other fields of study may have something to say, but nothing as authoritative as the pronouncements of “science” (29-30). This belief in the magisterium of the lab coat has come about because of a shift in the “plausibility structure” in the society (32-33). The organized and heavily guarded groupthink that permeates school and university curricula and the media. Behind this is the ever-potent force of people not wanting God to be there (191-194).
In the third chapter the writer relates how the universities were transformed into bastions of secularism, and this was chiefly done by the acceptance of scientism. This shift did not occur because of evidence. “Rather, it was merely a pragmatic sociological shift” (48. Italics are the author’s).
Lesser mortals like me can’t claim to fully understand everything Alvin Plantinga writes in books like Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. What we can do is pick up some high-protein food for thought, and possibly, along the way, improve our thinking habits in some potent ways. I read the book primarily as an audiobook, but also in the hardcover form.
First, some context. Plantinga is an analytical philosopher. He writes from a Christian worldview, but—at least in this book—isn’t really doing apologetics for Christianity or for creation doctrine, except maybe indirectly.
Rather, the book is focused on a single two-part question—and the author’s focus throughout is laser sharp. The question is this: Is there really any substantial conflict between science and “theistic religion,” and is there instead substantial conflict between science and naturalism?
Much of the time, Plantinga refers to Christian theism in particular, but he occasionally points out that most of what he is attempting to show applies to other theistic religions as well. His thesis is stated in the Preface:
There is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism. (ix)
Plantinga sums up what he means by naturalism. Also from the Preface:
"Jonathan Morrow of the Impact 360 Institute explains why he believes Gen Z can’t seem to commit to a Christian worldview. He lists two main reasons: the fear of being seen as judgmental and all that it encompasses, and what he calls the 'crisis of knowledge.' ... the belief that we can only glean knowledge from the hard sciences." - Christianity Today
Agnostic Marcelo Gleiser "famously blasted scientists who do not consider religious beliefs when they explain the universe’s origins. He terms such attitudes as 'arrogant.'" - WRN