1 Methodological Naturalism Under Attack Mi chael Ruse De part ment of Phi los o phy Florida State Uni ver sity Tal la has see, FL USA Abstract Meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism is the as sump tion or working hypothesis that un - der stand ing na ture (the phys i cal world in clud ing hu mans and their thoughts and ac tions) can be un der stood in terms of un guided laws. There is no need to sup pose in ter ven tions (mir a cles) from out side. It does not com mit one to meta phys i cal nat u ral ism, the be lief that there is noth ing other than na ture as we can see and ob serve it (in other words, that athe ism is the right the ol ogy for the sound thinker). Re cently the In tel li gent De sign move ment has been ar gu ing against meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, and in this project they have been joined by the Chris tian phi los o pher Alvin Plantinga. In this pa per I ex am ine Plantinga's ar gu ments and con clude not only that they are not well taken, but that he does no good service to his religion either. In the last de cade, Bib li cal lit er al ism es pe cially the ver sion known as Creationism, con cerned with denying evo lu tion and af firming the truth of the early chap ters of Gen - e sis, has shown con sid er able vigor. More over, it has gained a re mark able re spect abil - ity, for whereas pre vi ously the sup port ers of Creationism al though of ten qual i fied in var i ous ar eas of sci ence or the hu man i ties had lit tle stand ing in the ac a demic com - mu nity, now we find en thu si asts among peo ple of de servedly re nowned pres tige from the very best in sti tu tions. With this rise in sta tus has come a new way of ap proach ing the prob lem. A new way which I sus pect is part cause, and part ef fect of the rise. Twenty years ago, the Creationists chief ap peal was to their un der stand ing of the facts of sci ence: the fos sil re cord, homologies, and so forth, but now philosophy has come to the fore. It is true that this is not an en tirely new phe nom e non. In deed, in the cel e brated Ar - kan sas Cre ation Trial of 1981, when a fed eral judge ruled that Creationism could not be taught in the bi ol ogy classes in publically funded schools in the United States, I my self a pro fes sional his to rian and phi los o pher of sci ence was an ex pert wit ness for the plain tiffs. Af ter the event, I felt thus en cour aged to put to gether a col lec tion on the philo soph i cal is sues in the dis pute But Is It Sci ence? The Philo soph i cal Is sue in the Cre ation/evo lu tion Con tro versy (1988) show ing among other things that philo - soph i cal ques tions were be ing raised even be fore Charles Dar win pub lished his On the Or i gin of Spe cies in Yet, truly, phi los o phy was but a side is sue. Now, how ever, the new in fu sion of Creationists have taken up the philo soph i cal is sues in a ma jor way and in many respects it is these that are at the front of the dispute.
2 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) 45 In par tic u lar, per haps real is ing that a straight fron tal sci en tific ap proach will not suc - ceed al though, as you will learn, ul ti mately I am not sure that the sci ence is now quite as ab sent as ev ery one pre tends the new Creationists are mak ing much of the claim that the es sen tial dif fer ence be tween evo lu tion ists on the one hand and Crea - tionists or the ists (as they pre fer to call them selves) on the other is one of con flict ing phi los o phies (John son 1991, 1995). Evo lu tion ists, sup pos edly, are com mit ted to the secular atheistic materialistic philosophy of nat u ral ism and from this evo lu tion fol lows as a con se quence. Creationists, on the other hand, are com mit ted to some form of spir - i tual or re li gious phi los o phy of theism and from this fol lows their com mit ment to a Gen e sis-based world per spec tive. (To be fair, most of the new Creationists seem will - ing to for sake a very young earth. But they stand rock firm on such things as the in - stan ta neous mi rac u lous cre ation of life from non-life, to a de nial of evo lu tion, and par - tic u larly to a spe cial and priv i leged place for the ar rival and sta tus of hu man life. Un - like ear lier Creationists, one hears lit tle about the Flood. This may be be cause the new Creationists tend not to be Dispensationalists and hence feel no need for an ear lier ca - tas tro phe bal anc ing the pre dicted Ar ma ged don. See Num bers 1992 for more on the significance of the Flood in traditional literalist thinking.) Evo lu tion ists do not speak with a uni fied voice, but my im pres sion is that gen er ally, in im por tant re spects, they are in clined to agree with their op po nents: they do think that nat u ral ism, some how de fined, is in deed an im por tant un der pin ning to their po si - tion. How ever, where they dis agree with the Creationists is in the im pli ca tion that this means that evolutionism is sim ply a man i fes ta tion of an athe is tic world phi los o phy. At least, those con cerned with the fight be tween evo lu tion and Creationism are un will ing to make this con ces sion. There are evo lu tion ists no ta bly Rich ard Dawkins (1995, 1996), Dan iel Dennett (1995) and Wil liam Provine (1989) who are ma te ri al ists, athe ists, nat u ral ists and evo lu tion ists, and who see ev ery thing as a united pack age deal. But these men do not speak for all evo lu tion ists or all nat u ral ists. Those of us for I am one who are un will ing to be pinned into the cor ner of athe is tic evolutionism point his tor i cally to the fact that there have been dis tin guished evo lu tion ists who were prac tic ing Chris tians. In this cen tury, no ta bly the two lead ing evo lu tion ists Sir Ron ald Fisher (1950) in Eng land and Theodosius Dobzhansky (1967) in Amer ica were both ab so lutely and com pletely com mit ted to the idea of Je sus as their Sav ior. Philo soph i - cally, those of us who would sep a rate athe ism and evolutionism sug gest that sim ply us ing a catch-all term nat u ral ism con ceals sub tle ties in peo ples ap proaches. Once these sub tle ties are un cov ered, the clash be tween evolution and Creationism is no longer seen to be the simple black and white philosophical matter that the Creationists claim. Pick ing up on this last point, evo lu tion ists who want to di vorce their sci ence from sup pos edly athe is tic im pli ca tions in vite one to draw a dis tinc tion be tween two forms of nat u ral ism. On the one hand, one has what one might call meta phys i cal nat u ral - ism : this in deed is a ma te ri al is tic, athe is tic view, for it ar gues that the world is as we see it and that there is noth ing more. On the other hand, one has a no tion or a prac tice that can prop erly be called meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism : al though this is the work ing phi los o phy of the sci en tist, it is in no sense athe is tic as such. The meth od olog i cal nat u - ral ist is the per son who as sumes that the world runs ac cord ing to un bro ken law; that hu mans can un der stand the world in terms of this law; and that sci ence in volves just such un der stand ing with out any ref er ence to ex tra or su per nat u ral forces like God. Whether there are such forces or be ings is an other mat ter en tirely, and sim ply not ad -
3 46 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) dressed by meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism. Hence, al though in deed evo lu tion as we un der - stand it is a nat u ral con se quence of meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, given the facts of the world as they can be dis cov ered, in no sense is the meth od olog i cal nat u ral ist thereby com mit ted to the de nial of God's ex is tence. It is sim ply that the meth od olog i cal nat u - ral ist in sists that, in as much as one is doing science, one avoid all theological or other religious references. In particular, one denies God a role in cre ation. This is not to say that God did not have a role in cre ation. Sim ply that, qua sci ence, that is qua an en ter prise formed through the prac tice of meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, there is no place for talk of God. Just as, for in stance, if one were to go to the doc tor one would not ex pect any ad vice on po lit i cal mat ters, so if one goes to a sci en tist one does not ex pect any ad vice on or ref er ence to theo log i cal mat ters. The phy si cian may in deed have very strong po lit i cal views, which she may or may not share. But pol i tics are ir rel e vant to med i cine. Sim i larly, the sci en tist may or may not have very strong theo log i cal views, which one may or may not share. But in as much as one is go ing to the sci en tist for sci ence, theology can be and must be ruled out as irrelevant. Nat u rally enough the new Creationists have re sponded to this line of ar gu men ta tion. The way taken by the well-known critic of Dar win ism, Phillip John son (1995) an ac - a demic law yer on the fac ulty at Berke ley de nies that one can thus sep a rate meth od - olog i cal and meta phys i cal nat u ral ism; at least, John son thinks that any such sep a ra tion is bound to be un sta ble. In his opin ion, meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism how ever well-in - ten tion ally for mu lated in ev i ta bly col lapses within a very short time into meta phys i - cal nat u ral ism. Hence, even though one may claim that evolutionism has no ma te ri al is - tic, athe is tic, philo soph i cal un der pin nings, in fact it is impossible to keep such underpinnings out of the picture. Frankly, in tel lec tu ally, I am not sure about the depth of this re sponse. Cer tainly, those of us with philo soph i cal train ing and in cli na tions ask for more. And this we do now have, thanks par tic u larly to Amer ica's most dis tin guished phi los o pher of re li gion, Alvin Plantinga (1991a, b, c, 1993, 1994, 1995). Al though serv ing on the No tre Dame fac ulty, Plantinga is a re formed Chris tian, a Cal vin ist who be lieves strongly that evolutionism is rest ing on shaky philo soph i cal foun da tions. The ap peal to meth od - olog i cal nat u ral ism fails, and Plantinga has there fore taken it upon him self to ex pose its in ad e quacy. It is this at tack which is the fo cus of dis cus sion here: a fo cus given a per sonal sa vor by the fact that I am one of the chief objects of Plantinga's at tack. 1. Meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism as in co her ent Plantinga has a num ber of cri tiques of meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, one of the first of which di rected di rectly against me is of the very co her ence of the no tion of meth - od olog i cal nat u ral ism. I have characterised the no tion as I did above, as in deed I did in the Ar kan sas Cre ation Trial (and as was picked up by the judge in that trial, and used as a sup port of his judg ment against Creationism) as an ap proach to the em pir i - cal world that de mands un der stand ing in terms of un bro ken law (Ruse 1982, 1984, 1996, 1988, 1995). That is to say, un der stand ing in terms of reg u lar i ties, which in some way or an other we feel are more than mere con tin gen cies, but rather part of the nec es sary suc ces sion of the em pir i cal world. Nei ther I, nor any one else, has ever in - sisted in our char ac ter isation of meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism that the ne ces sity of law be in ter preted in and only in some par tic u lar way. I my self have en dorsed a neo-humean po si tion, see ing the ne ces sity of laws as a nat u ral reg u lar ity on which one im poses an evolutionarily de rived psy cho log i cal con struc tion. But were some one to see the ne ces -
4 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) 47 sity in some other (non-god-invoking) way, I would not deny them the status of methodological naturalist. Plantinga ob jects to this char ac ter isation on a num ber of grounds, one of which in - volves re peat abil ity. He writes as follows: But take re peat abil ity, and con sider this pas sage by Andrei Linde: speak ing of the Big Bang, he says, One might think it very dif fi cult to ex tract use ful and re li able in for ma tion from the unique ex per i ment car ried out about 10 years ago. Ac cord ing to Linde, the Big Bang is unique and there fore, pre sum ably, un re - peat able at any rate it might turn out to be un re peat able. If so, would we be obliged to con clude that con tem po rary cos mo log i cal in qui ries into the na ture of the Big Bang and into the early de vel op ment of the uni verse are not re ally part of science? (Plantinga 1997, 146) As a mat ter of fact, Plantinga here is rais ing an ob jec tion which has of ten been raised by crit ics of the claim that sci en tific un der stand ing in volves ref er ence to law. His point, as was theirs, is that there are many unique events that sci ence must surely try to cover and un der stand, but that given the unique ness of these events, in some sense this pre cludes law ful un der stand ing. But, as many crit ics of the crit ics have coun tered, there surely has to be some thing wrong with this ar gu ment. Take for in stance the de - mise of the di no saurs at the end of the Cre ta ceous. This was in it self a unique phe nom - e non and un re peat able; but, unique ness not with stand ing, the de mise was made up of many fac tors which can in di vid u ally be brought be neath law ful un der stand ing. To day, it seems most prob a ble that an as ter oid or a comet or some such thing hit the earth. This was no unique phe nom e non, nor was the hit ting of the earth by the asteroid or comet such that the normal laws of na ture that is to say Ga li leo's laws of mo tion could not be ap plied. Then, it is be lieved that there was a huge dust cloud raised and the earth be came dark. Again, even if this was a unique phe nom e non and the dust cloud in the last cen tury af ter the ex plo sion of Krakatau makes one doubt this one can still ap ply laws. One has all sorts of ex pe ri ence of dusk caus ing dark ness; then of dark ness cut ting off pho to syn the sis of plants and of the dy ing of plants; and then of the con se quent star va tion of an i mals which are part of the eco log i cal food chain de - pend ing on plants. In other words, al though the di no saurs ex isted only once and will never re ap pear so their de mise was cer tainly some thing unique the var i ous com po - nents in volved in the ex tinc tion of the di no saurs are such that they can be brought be - neath reg u lar ity. In prin ci ple, we have noth ing dif fer ent from any fre quently re peat - able phe nom e non, like the death of an nual plants at the end of ev ery grow ing sea son. Hence, here, Plantinga does not offer us reason to give up on methodological naturalism. Nor does Plantinga's sec ond ob jec tion carry a great deal of weight. He ar gues that the whole no tion of sci en tific law is it self in some sense un ten a ble. He writes: Bas van Fraassen, for ex am ple, has given an ex tended and for mi da ble ar gu ment for the con clu sion that there are no nat u ral laws. There are regularities, of course, but a reg u - lar ity is not yet a law; a law is what is sup posed to explain and ground a regularity. Fur ther more, a law is sup posed to hold with some kind of necessity, typ i cally thought to be less strin gent than broadly log i cal ne ces sity, but ne ces sity none the less. Plan - tinga goes on to sug gest that maybe the whole no tion of law is just an un for tu nate leg - acy of the Enlightenment and that perhaps it can be given up.
5 48 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) Now, whilst I am the last per son to be lit tle the for mi da ble philo soph i cal pow ers of Bas van Fraassen as em i nent in the field of the phi los o phy of quan tum me chan ics as Plantinga is in the field of the phi los o phy of re li gion what is be ing ex trap o lated here is far stron ger than van Fraassen or any one else would want (should want) to claim. Cer tainly there are ques tions about how one might in ter pret the ne ces sity of laws: I my self have al lowed that al ready. But nei ther van Fraassen, nor any one else is go ing to deny that there are cer tain sorts of reg u lar i ties of some kind and that these are pre - sup posed in the ac tiv ity of sci ence. At least, if this de nial is at the heart of van Fraassen's think ing, then I can only say that the re sponse of the average scientist will be: News to me! Nor is it par tic u larly help ful to try to be lit tle the ap peal to law by con nect ing it with the En light en ment, or as Plantinga does spe cif i cally to En light en ment de ism. Per - haps the no tion of sci en tific law did in deed orig i nate in such de ism (a con clu sion which would have shocked deeply Chris tian phi los o phers and sci en tists of the past two hun dred years), but here surely the fal lacy of psychologism the con fu sion of the con text of dis cov ery with the con text of jus ti fi ca tion has some bite. The most ven er a ble of sci en tific con cepts for in stance, work, force, and cause have theo log i - cal back grounds. In deed, if the em i nent his to rian of phys ics Rich ard S. Westfall (1982) is cor rect, New to nian grav i ta tion has its roots in al chemic spec u la tions. But to - day, one can use these no tions with out in any sense hav ing to con fess that they are still theo log i cal or al chem i cal. In the same way, even if in deed it is the case that law does have its roots in En light en ment de ism, there is ab so lutely no rea son why we can not our selves to day use in an en tirely sec u lar way: the way of the methodological naturalist. Here again, Plantinga's ob jec tions fall to the ground. A third ob jec tion that Plantinga brings to my char ac ter isation of meth od olog i cal nat - u ral ism is that, at some level, it is un ac cept ably fuzzy or loose: to such a de gree that it re ally is unworkable. First, en ergy has been ex pended, for at least sev eral cen tu ries, on the de mar ca - tion prob lem : the prob lem of giv ing nec es sary and suf fi cient con di tions for dis tin guish ing sci ence from other hu man ac tiv i ties. This ef fort has ap par ently failed; but if in fact there were a def i ni tion of the sort Ruse is ap peal ing to, then pre sum able there would be avail able a set of nec es sary and suf fi cient con di - tions for some thing as be ing sci ence. Ruse does not ad dress the many and (I think) suc cess ful ar gu ments for the con clu sion that there is no such set of nec - es sary and suf fi cient con di tions, let alone such a def i ni tion of the term science ; he simply declares that by def i ni tion sci ence has the prop er ties he men tions. (145) Again, I fail to see that this is an ef fec tive coun ter. It is cer tainly the case that there are sub jects that are on the bor der line be tween sci ence and non-sci ence, judged from the per spec tive of meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism. In deed, I my self have spent the last ten years on a mas sive study of the his tory of evo lu tion ary the ory, through the two and a half cen tu ries of its life. A ma jor theme of my now-pub lished la bours, Monad to Man: The Con cept of Prog ress in Evo lu tion ary Bi ol ogy (1996), is that evolutionism grew up from be ing a pseudoscience, through be ing a pop u lar sci ence, to be ing what I term a ma ture or pro fes sional sci ence. At var i ous stages along this pro cess, one sees a trans for ma tion as evo lu tion does be come more sub ject to the strict dic tates of meth od - olog i cal nat u ral ism. But, of course, part of my the sis is that evolutionism it self has
6 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) 49 evolved, and there are times when re ally it sits or rather sat on the fence be tween some thing which re ally would satisfy the criteria of good science, and something which would not. In other words, what I ar gue is that there were times when one re ally could not bring for ward ab so lutely tight con di tions show ing that evo lu tion was in or out of the cat e - gory of good sci ence or even gen u ine sci ence at all. But this does not mean that the no tion of good sci ence and evolutionism be ing in or out of this no tion it is thereby ren dered oti ose or im pos si ble to ap ply. The point is there were bor der line cases here, as else where in life: the fact that there is no clean de mar ca tion be tween sci ence and non-sci ence is no ar gu ment against the very idea of methodological naturalism. (There is much more that could be said on this par tic u lar is sue. Let me just sim ply say that Plantinga is sim ply mis taken when he says: Ruse does not ad dress the many and ( I think) suc cess ful ar gu ments for the con clu sion that there is no such set of nec - es sary and suf fi cient con di tions (145) for meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism. In fact, in the col lec tion I have al ready men tioned, But Is It Sci ence? The Philo soph i cal Ques tion in the Cre ation/evo lu tion Con tro versy, from which Plantinga is him self draw ing my dis - cus sion, I do of fer ar gu ments. I may not be suc cess ful in my coun ter-re ply, but I cer - tainly take them up and would refer the interested reader to these.) 2. Augustinian science Let us move on to the sec ond round of ob jec tions that Plantinga has to meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism. Plantinga ob jects to my very at tempt to char ac ter ize sci ence as some thing which is marked by the meth od olog i cal nat u ral is tic approach. He writes: Ruse sug gests that meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism is true by def i ni tion of the term sci ence one sup poses; Ruse ap par ently holds there is a cor rect def i ni tion of sci ence, such that from the def i ni tion it fol lows that sci ence deals only with what is nat u ral, re peat able, and gov erned by law. (Note that this claim does not bear on the sug ges tions that a Chris tian sci en tist can pro pose hy poth e ses in - volv ing such re li gious doc trines as, say, orig i nal sin, and can eval u ate the epistemic prob a bil ity of a sci en tific hy poth e sis rel a tive to back ground be lief that in cludes Chris tian be lief.) Ruse's claim ap par ently rules out hy poth e ses that in clude ref er ences to God: God is a su per nat u ral be ing, hy poth e ses re fer - ring to him there fore deal with some thing besides the natural; hence hypotheses cannot be part of science. (145) Then he faults me here, say ing that I sim ply have no right to in voke a mere def i ni tion to achieve my end. He writes: The... puz zling thing about Ruse's claim: it is hard to see how any thing like a rea son ably se ri ous dis pute about what is and is not sci ence could be set tled just by ap peal ing to a definition. One thinks this would work only if the orig i nal query were re ally a verbal ques tion a ques tion like, Is the Eng lish word sci - ence prop erly ap pli ca ble to a hy poth e sis that makes ref er ence to God? But that was not the ques tion: the ques tion is in stead, Could a hy poth e sis that makes ref er ence to God be part of sci ence? That ques tion can not be an swered just by cit ing a def i ni tion. (146) It is true that there is some thing puz zling here, but not nec es sar ily my ar gu ment. It would in deed be very odd were I sim ply try ing to char ac ter ise sci ence as some thing that, by def i ni tion, em ploys meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism: and then sim ply leav ing things
7 50 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) like that. My vic tory would be al to gether too easy to achieve. Apart from any thing else, I would sim ply be rul ing re li gion out of sci ence by fiat. But, this is not what I am do ing now or have done in the past. I am cer tainly not try ing to of fer an an a lytic def i - ni tion of what one means by sci ence, just as for in stance one might of fer an an a lytic def i ni tion of what one means by (to use the phi los o pher's old fa vour ite) grue mean - ing green be fore time t and blue af ter time t. This is a def i ni tion which is an a lytic or stipulative. What I am try ing to do is to of fer a lex i cal def i ni tion: that is to say, I am try ing to char ac ter ise the use of the term sci ence. And my sug ges tion is sim ply that what we mean by the word sci ence in gen eral us age is some thing that does not make reference to God and so forth, but that is marked by methodological naturalism. I am not say ing any thing at all about whether or not God ex ists, or has any role in the world or any thing like that. I am sim ply say ing that sci ence does not al low for this pos si bil ity, judged qua sci ence. I think I am on pretty strong grounds and I am com - forted to find that my opin ion is shared by Ernan McMullin, who is not only an em i - nent phi los o pher of sci ence, but a Ro man Cath o lic Priest also. One can not ac cuse him of be ing un sym pa thetic to re li gion! In the course of a dis cus sion (in ci den tally di rected against Plantinga), McMullin con curs com pletely with my un der stand ing of the mean - ing of sci ence. Of Plantinga's claim that one should not re strict sci ence sim ply to that which is gov erned by meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, and that one should al low a more ex tended sci ence which per haps tries to un der stand not only in terms of law, but also in terms of God's in ter ven tion what Plantinga at that point called the is tic sci ence McMullin writes as fol lows: I do not think... that the is tic sci ence should be de scribed as sci ence. It lacks the uni ver sal ity of sci ence, as that term has been un der stood in the later West ern tra di tion. It also lacks the sort of war rant that has grad u ally come to char ac ter - ize a prop erly sci en tific knowl edge of na ture, one that fa vours sys tem atic ob - ser va tion, gen er ali sa tion, and the test ing of ex plan a tory hy poth e ses. The is tic sci ence ap peals to a spe cif i cally Chris tian be lief, one that lays no claim to as - sent from a Hindu or an ag nos tic. It re quires faith, and faith (we are told) is a gift, a grace, from God. To use the term sci ence in this con text seems dan ger - ously mis lead ing; it en cour ages ex pec ta tions that can not be ful filled. (McMullin 1991, re printed in Hull and Ruse 1998) McMullin's point is pre cisely mine, namely that we should not use the word sci ence for ac tiv i ties that go be yond the bounds of meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, how ever wor - thy such ac tiv i ties and their products may be. But here now we come to what I think is the im por tant part of Plantinga's po si tion. He is cer tainly too good a phi los o pher to think that ev ery thing is just a mat ter of def i - ni tion. I sus pect that he does not re ally think that even I think it is all just a ques tion of def i ni tion. Rather, Plantinga be lieves that whether or not con ven tional sci ence (judged by ad her ence to meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism) is sat is fac tory, you should open up the in - quiry to some thing broader. We ought to open it up to an un der stand ing of the world that al lows, not only work ing through law, but also the in ter ven tion of God in var i ous ways: ways that, in con ven tional lan guage, we would characterise as mi rac u lous. This is Plantinga's the is tic sci ence ; al though now he pre fers the term Au gus tin ian sci ence, be cause he thinks that this is some thing that would be ac cept able to Saint Au gus tine. (I am not sure that he is right here, but one quibble about the use of terms per discussion is all I can handle.)
8 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) 51 One's ini tial re sponse is that, if Plantinga wants to ex tend his un der stand ing of the no tion of sci ence be yond what we can call sci ence with out qual i fi ca tion to some kind of sci ence that in cludes ref er ence to mir a cles, that which he calls Au gus tin ian sci ence, then he is at per fect lib erty to do so. In deed who can or should quar rel with what he is do ing? One may not feel the ex ten sion is a par tic u larly use ful one, but that is an other mat ter en tirely. The point is that sci ence with out qual i fi ca tion is left un - touched. But, of course, there is more at is sue here: the sig nif i cant fact is that Plantinga wants to go on us ing the term sci ence, whether he puts in the qual i fi ca tion or not. He does not want to speak sim ply of Au gus tin ian knowl edge or some such thing, but of Au gus tin ian science. As McMullin points out, this is a sig nif i cant move, be cause clearly at some level Plantinga wants to give his ex tended sci ence the sta tus or au then tic ity of sci ence with - out qual i fi ca tion. He wants to sug gest that, in some way, his sci ence is as good (in fact he would want to say prob a bly much better) as sci ence with out qual i fi ca tion. His sci - ence there fore ought to be el i gi ble for such things as grants, and uni ver sity sup port, not to men tion be per mit ted to be put in class rooms dur ing sci ence courses. (Plantinga does not draw out all of these con se quences ex plic itly, al though he does make men tion of grants and so forth. The line of ar gu ment is there, nev er the less, and even if he were not to pick it up per son ally, one can see how it could be used as a tool for fighting on the evolution/creation front.) The ques tion now is whether this ex tended en ter prise what Plantinga calls Au - gus tin ian sci ence has any right to the name of sci ence, in some sense or an other. Here, Plantinga goes be yond def i ni tion and of fers an ar gu ment. He sug gests that the rea son why peo ple (in clud ing Chris tians) are un com fort able with ex tend ing the no tion of sci ence be yond that which is dis cov ered us ing meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, to that which may in volve God's di rect ac tion in His Cre ation, is be cause it seems like a move of des per a tion. In par tic u lar, it seems like an in vo ca tion of so-called God-of-thegaps the ol ogy. One sup poses that the laws of na ture go along as best they can, but that ev ery now and then the laws break down, and so (faute de mieux) one has to plug in God. Sup pos edly, this strat egy goes back to New ton, who thought that his laws of mo tion would not do ev ery thing that was needed to keep the plan ets run ning as they un doubt edly do, and so in voked God's help ev ery now and then to give things a bit of a shove or an ad just ment. Clearly, there is some thing rather des per ate about this tac tic: both sci en tif i cally and theo log i cally. God ap par ently could not do the job prop erly through laws, so has to keep tin ker ing with His Creation. This is no happy assumption for either scientist or theologian. As it hap pens, Plantinga agrees with those who would deny the ex ten sion of the name of sci ence on the grounds of a God-of-the-gaps type of ar gu ment. How ever, he ar gues that, as a Chris tian, one has no need for such an ar gu ment at all. I quote him again: God-of-the-gaps the ol ogy is worlds apart from se ri ous Chris tian the ism. This is ev i dent at (at least) the fol low ing points. First and most im por tant, ac cord ing to serious theism, God is constantly, immediately, intimately, and directly active in his cre ation: he con stantly up holds it in ex is tence and prov i den tially gov erns it. He is im me di ately and di rectly ac tive in ev ery thing from the Big Bang to the spar row's fall. Lit er ally noth ing hap pens with out his up hold ing hand. Sec ond, nat u ral laws are not in any way in de pend ent of God, and are per haps best thought of as reg u lar i ties in the ways in which he treats the stuff he has made,
9 52 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) or per haps as counterfactuals of di vine free dom. (Hence there is noth ing in the least un to ward in the thought that on some oc ca sions God might do some thing in a way dif fer ent from his usual way e.g., raise some one from the dead or change wa ter into wine.) In deed, the whole interventionist ter mi nol ogy speak - ing of God as intervening in na ture, or in trud ing into it, or interfering with it, or violating nat u ral law all this goes with God-of-the-gaps the ol ogy, not with se ri - ous the ism. Ac cord ing to the lat ter, God is al ready and al ways in ti mately act ing in na ture, which de pends from mo ment to mo ment for its ex is tence upon im me - di ate di vine ac tiv ity; there is not and could not be any such thing as his in ter - ven ing in na ture. (Plantinga 1997, 149) Plantinga's po si tion is that, prop erly un der stood theo log i cally, God's in ter ven tions and the run ning of law are a seam less whole of the same log i cal type. There fore, from a Chris tian the is tic point of view, there is ab so lutely no rea son to deny the pos si bil ity of mi rac u lous interventions. In deed, Plantinga's po si tion rather is that, as a Chris tian, one ought to ex pect God to be in ter ven ing: not out of a fail ure to do the job prop erly in the first place, but be cause God is al ways sus tain ing His Cre ation. Else where, Plantinga has added to this ar gu - ment by point ing out that Chris tians be lieve mir a cles are on go ing all of the time. For instance, Catholics believe that in the mass there is the miraculous transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Sim i lar mir a cles oc cur when hu man souls are cre ated in di vid u ally, whether you be lieve this oc curs when a per son is con ceived or when a per son is born. So, since mir a cles are com mon phe nom ena, there is no real rea son to deny that they may be oc cur ring con tin u ously in other cases, for in stance with the orig i na tion of new spe cies. (See Plantinga 1991a, b, reprinted in Hull and Ruse 1998.) Let me make three points in con nec tion with Plantinga's ar gu ment. First, not all Chris tians be lieve that God's con stant sus tain ing of His cre ation means that one should ex pect God to be in ter ven ing with mir a cles on a reg u lar ba sis. McMullin points out that there is a whole tra di tion, go ing back at least to Au gus tine, that looks upon the world as de vel op ing from po ten tials set by God. Not that Au gus tine was a bi o log i cal evo lu tion ist, or any thing like that. But cer tainly his po si tion was that God pre fers to work through some sort of de vel op men tal, prob a bly law-bound pro cess, rather than through break ing off ev ery now and then from His sus tain ing laws and do ing things by hand as it were. Hence, ar gues McMullin, there is lit tle rea son to think that there is some sort of pre sump tion, from a Chris tian per spec tive, that God would com bine law with mir a cle. (Note how im por tant this claim is for Plantinga. If he can es tab lish the case that law and mir a cle are of the same log i cal type, then his hoped-for ex ten sion of sci ence goes through much more readily than oth er wise. Al ready in sci ence with out qual i fi ca tion, one has God's ac tion of one kind. Sim ply ex tend ing that to Au gus tin ian sci ence is not de mand ing ac tions of a log i cally different kind. One has less a qualitative shift, as it were, and more a quantitative shift.) Cast ing the dis cus sion spe cif i cally in terms of our think ing about the or i gin of new or gan isms, with re spect to the Gen e sis story, McMullin writes as follows: The is sue, be it noted, is not whether God could have in ter vened in the nat u ral or der; it is pre sum ably within the power of the Be ing who holds the uni verse at ev ery mo ment in ex is tence to shape that ex is tence freely. The is sue, is rather, whether it is an te ced ently likely that God would do so, and more spe cif i cally
10 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) 53 whether such in ter ven tion would have taken the form of spe cial cre ation of an - ces tral liv ing kinds. At tach ing a de gree of likelihood to this re quires a rea son; de spite the avowed in ten tion not to call on Gen e sis, there might ap pear to be some sort of re sid ual link age here. In the ab sence of the Gen e sis nar ra tive, would it ap pear likely that the God of the sal va tion story would also act in a spe cial way to bring the an ces tral liv ing kinds into ex is tence? It hardly seems to be the case. (McMullin 1991, in Hull and Ruse 1998, 712) McMullin's point is that Plantinga is only ar gu ing that mir a cles are, at some level, as likely as laws be cause he has in the first place made a fairly lit er al istic read ing of the Bi ble. But this now raises a sec ond ob jec tion: it is by no means ob vi ous to one work - ing from a Chris tian po si tion that one must agree that God works al most in dif fer ently through law and through mir a cle. First, it is only if one has al ready made a pri ori a fairly lit er al istic read ing of the Bi ble that one would think that God's mir a cles are go - ing to be as fre quent as Plantinga rather im plies. If one in ter prets, let us say the Abra - ham and Isaac story, not so much as a lit eral case of rather dif fi cult re la tions be tween fa ther and son, but of sym bolic in some sense of Is rael's faith to wards the law, then the whole ques tion of fre quent mir a cles by God be comes rather more prob lem atic. Sec - ond, one can (as McMullin and oth ers point out) make a dis tinc tion be tween the or der of na ture and the or der of grace. That is, be tween what is known as cos mic his tory and what is known as salvation history. To quote McMullin again: The train of events link ing Abra ham to Christ is not to be con sid ered an an a - logue for God's re la tion ship to cre ation gen er ally. The In car na tion and what led up to it were unique in their man i fes ta tion of God's cre ative power and a lov ing con cern for the cre ated uni verse. To over come the con se quences of hu man free dom, a dif fer ent sort of ac tion on God's part was re quired, a transformative ac tion cul mi nat ing in the prom ise of res ur rec tion of the chil dren of God, some - thing that (de spite the im mor tal ity claims of the Greek phi los o phers) lies altogether outside the bounds of nature. The story of sal va tion is a story about men and women, about the bur den and the prom ise of be ing hu man. It is about free be ings who sinned and who there fore needed God's in ter ven tion. Deal ing with the hu man pre dic a ment nat u rally, so to speak, would not have been suf fi cient on God's part. But no such ar gu ment can be used with re gard to the or i gins of the first liv ing cells or of plants and an i mals. The bib li cal ac - count of God's deal ings with hu man kind pro vides no war rant what ever for sup pos ing that God would have brought the an ces tors of the var i ous kinds of plants and an i mals to be out side the ordinary order of nature. (725-6) One has no ex pec ta tions from God's use of mir a cle in a cer tain spe cial set of events that God will be us ing mir a cles as fre quently or in dif fer ently as Plantinga rather implies. Third, surely there is an in tel lec tual slight of hand in Plantinga's high light ing of the mir a cles that sup pos edly are oc cur ring fre quently to day. Plantinga knows as well as any body else, that tran sub stan ti a tion is not sup posed at all to be a mir a cle that in any way vi o lates, or goes as an al ter na tive, to the or di nary course of na ture. If one cuts up the bread and wine af ter the mass, one is not go ing to see bleed ing flesh ooz ing blood. The change is in the es sence of the sub stance, rather than in the ac ci den tal prop er ties. The same is true of the soul, whether or not one be lieves this to be an en tirely co her ent no tion or in deed just a throw back to prechristian Pla tonic ideas. One is not go ing to
11 54 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) find souls as ma te rial phe nom ena. Cer tainly, the on go ing cre ation or in ser tion of souls, if in deed this be true, is not some thing which goes as an al ter na tive to law in the sense of ei ther one or the other but not both. Hence, here again, one has no rea son for accepting Plantinga's ex ten sion of the notion of science. All in all, there fore, one can say that Plantinga has not made his case about the like - li hood of mir a cles oc cur ring as of ten as laws for the Chris tian the ist. 3. Science stopping A third and fi nal ar gu ment of fered by Plantinga strikes at what I sus pect many de fend - ers of meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism would take to be its stron gest point: the prag matic ar - gu ment that noth ing suc ceeds like suc cess. Let us grant that meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism (so says its sup porter) is an ap proach or an at ti tude, rather than some thing which is necessarily true a pri ori. Why then should one en dorse it? Why in par tic u lar should one in sist al ways on go ing with meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, even when (as is surely the case) there are un solved prob lems? Why, to take a par tic u larly dif fi cult prob lem, should one as sume that there must be a nat u ral is tic ac count for life's or i gins? Ev ery - thing we know about life is in cred i bly com plex. How ever it started, there must have been a num ber of in tri cate moves of a kind which one would not nor mally ex pect to find hap pen ing nat u rally. Why then per sist in be liev ing in the nat u ral or i gins of life, sim ply be cause this is de manded from the meth od olog i cally nat u ral is tic po si tion, when prima fa cie such a nat u ral or i gin seems so very non-ob vi ous? Why in par tic u lar should one re fuse to rule out mir a cles and an in ter ven tion by God? That is to say, why should we as sume that meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism is so very suc cess ful, so very im por - tant that we must go with it, even in the face of chal lenge? The an swer that the meth od olog i cal nat u ral ist gives here is that, in the past, the meth od olog i cally nat u ral is tic ap proach yielded fan tas tic div i dends. As Thomas Kuhn (1962) says about par a digms, be cause sci en tists have per sisted in tak ing a meth od - olog i cally nat u ral is tic ap proach, prob lems which hith erto seemed in sol u ble have even - tu ally given away to so lu tions. Take an ex am ple from bi ol ogy. For many years, in deed ever since Dar win, there was much de bate about how in sect sociality could have evolved. How is it that the worker ants, for in stance, de vote their whole lives to the nest, de spite the fact that they do not re pro duce them selves? Peo ple had no an swer but did not give up. They per sisted, and fi nally in the early 1960s the then grad u ate stu - dent, Wil liam Ham il ton (1964a, b), pro vided an ex pla na tion (in vok ing what came to be known as kin se lec tion ) show ing how one can ex plain in sect sociality in terms of in di vid ual genetic selfishness. (Briefly, the answer is that in the hymenoptera the bees, the ants, and the wasps fe males are more closely re lated to sis ters than they are to daugh ters. Thus, they im prove their ge netic suc cess by rais ing fer tile sis ters, rather than by rais ing fer tile daugh ters.) The meth od olog i cal nat u ral ist says that this is a moral for us all: al though there are in deed many un solved prob lems, no ta bly the or i gin of life, past ex pe ri ence sug gests that these prob lems will be solved even tu ally by a meth od olog i cally nat u ral is tic ap proach. There fore, one should per sist, no mat ter how im prob a ble the finding of a solution seems today. Plantinga chal lenges this. Whilst he agrees that giv ing up on meth od olog i cal nat u - ral ism is in some sense what he calls a sci ence stop per some thing which brings meth od olog i cally nat u ral is tic sci ence to an end as Chris tians, we have no rea son to think that such sci ence stop ping events do not happen.
12 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) 55 The claim that God has di rectly cre ated life, for ex am ple may be a sci ence stop - per; it does not fol low that God did not di rectly cre ate life. Ob vi ously we have no guar an tee that God has done ev ery thing by way of em ploy ing sec ond ary causes, or in such a way as to en cour age fur ther sci en tific in quiry, or for our con ve nience as sci en tists, or for the ben e fit of the Na tional Sci ence Foun da tion. Clearly we can not sen si bly in sist in ad vance that what ever we are con fronted with is to be ex plained in terms of some thing else God did; he must have done some things di rectly. It would be worth know ing, if pos si ble, which things he did do di rectly; to know this would be an im por tant part of a se ri ous and pro - found knowl edge of the uni verse. The fact that such claims are sci ence stop pers means that as a gen eral rule they will not be help ful; it does not mean that they are never true, and it does not mean that they can never be part of a proper sci - en tific the ory. (And of course it does not even bear on the other ways in which Chris tian ity or Chris tian the ism can be rel e vant to sci ence.) It is a gi ant and un - war ranted step from the rec og ni tion that claims of di rect di vine ac tiv ity are sci - ence stop pers to the in sis tence that sci ence must pre tend that the cre ated uni - verse is just there, re fus ing to rec og nize that it is in deed created (Plantinga 1997, ). Let me make two points in re sponse to this ar gu ment. First, Plantinga is mak ing his case from an al ready-es tab lished the is tic po si tion. Al ready, he ac cepts that there are go ing to be ex cep tions to laws, or at least that there have been such ex cep tions. Hence, it is at least pos si ble that there will be such ex cep tions in the fu ture. If he did not make this as sump tion, at best one would have ig no rance. In which case, the meth od olog i cal nat u ral ist will say that one sim ply does not know whether meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism will work all the way. It is just that as a mat ter of gen eral pol icy one has no choice but to go with it in the light of the fact that, in the past, em ploy ing meth od olog i cal nat u - ral ism has been a very suc cess ful strat egy. To ar gue oth er wise, to ar gue as does Plantinga, is to as sume the very theism whose necessity is at issue in the first place. Sec ond, Plantinga al to gether un der es ti mates the power and suc cess of meth od olog i - cal nat u ral ism. He can be so slight ing of its po ten tial only be cause he does not take mod ern sci ence se ri ously. This is a strong claim to make and I am sure that Plantinga would chal lenge it vig or ously. It is true, nev er the less. In his writ ings over the past de - cade, Plantinga has fre quently made ref er ence to evo lu tion ary the ory and to its sup - posed in ad e qua cies. The ways in which he has done this show un am big u ously that Plantinga's mind has been made up be fore he starts. Cer tainly the kinds of ar gu ments he brings against sci ence, par tic u larly against the sci ence of an i mal and plant or i gins, are the kinds that, were sim i lar ones brought in a philo soph i cal con text, he him self would agree that the pro po nent should not be taken se ri ously. Or at least that the per - son putt ing for ward these arguments has already made a prior commitment to their falsity. To make this point, let me re fer you to an ex tended dis cus sion of evo lu tion ary the - ory of fered by Plantinga at the be gin ning of the pre vi ous de cade. About some parts of the evo lu tion ist's the sis, broadly con strued, Plantinga is so far from of fer ing ar gu ment that he is just con temp tu ously dis miss ive. For in stance, about the claim that life may have orig i nated from non-life, Plantinga has only the fol low ing to say: Fi nally, there is the... the Nat u ral is tic Or i gins The sis, the claim that life arose by nat u ral is tic means. This seems to me to be for the most part mere ar ro gant
13 56 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) blus ter; given our pres ent state of knowl edge, I be lieve it is vastly less prob a - ble, on our pres ent ev i dence, than is its de nial. Dar win thought this claim very chancy; discoveries since Darwin, and in particular recent discoveries in molec - u lar bi ol ogy, make it much less likely than it was in Dar win's day. I can t sum - ma rize the ev i dence and the dif fi cul ties here. (Plantinga 1991, in Hull and Ruse 1998:685) I sim ply do not see that this is an ar gu ment at all. Sup pose I re cast it in philo soph i cal terms. Sup pose, fol low ing Plantinga, I said: Fi nally there is the on to log i cal ar gu ment, the claim that the def i ni tion of God yields his ex is tence. This seems to me to be for the most part mere ar ro gant blus ter. Given our pres ent state of knowl edge I be lieve it is vastly less prob a - ble, on our pres ent ev i dence, than is its de nial. Aqui nas thought this claim very chancy, dis cov er ies since Aqui nas, and in par tic u lar re cent dis cov er ies in modal logic, make it much less likely than it was in Aqui nas's day. I can not sum ma - rize the evidence and the difficulties here. I ex pect Plantinga would at least smile, even a scorn ful smile, at this ar gu ment. A blush would be more ap pro pri ate. He is of fer ing no more him self. Plantinga is not much better when he looks at the bulk of evo lu tion ary the oris ing. As he him self seems to be aware, the real claim for the fact of evo lu tion (as op posed to the mech a nisms of evo lu tion) is the consilience that Dar win of fers: the ar gu ment that many dif fer ent areas of bi ol ogy: em bry ol ogy, an i mal in stinct, biogeography, pa le on - tol ogy, sys tem at ics all point to the fact of evo lu tion, and con versely are given mean ing through this fact. But, aware or not of this consilience, Plantinga makes ab so lutely noth ing of it what so ever. The ar gu ments from ves ti gial or gans, geo graph ical dis tri bu tion, and em bry ol - ogy are sug ges tive, but of course no where near con clu sive. As for the sim i lar ity in bio chem is try of all life, this is rea son ably prob a ble on the hy poth e sis of spe - cial cre ation, hence not much by way of ev i dence against it, hence not much by way of evidence for evolution. (689) Again, I con vert this into its philo soph i cal equiv a lent. The ar gu ments from mir a cles, causes, and on tol ogy are sug ges tive, but of course no where near con clu sive. As for the sim i lar ity in bio chem is try of all life, this is rea son ably prob a ble on the hy poth e sis of evo lu tion, hence not much by way of ev i dence against it, hence not much by way of evidence for God. Once again, one as sumes that Plantinga would shud der at this kind of ar gu men ta tion. Why there fore should one not feel the same way about his treat ment of the case for evo lu tion? I could con tinue. For in stance, there is Plantinga's na ive and some what ar ro gant at ti - tude to wards the fos sil re cord. De lib er ately, he turns his back on some of the stron gest pieces of ev i dence, as given through the fos sil re cord, in fa vour of evo lu tion. One thinks of the de tailed con nec tions now dis cov ered link ing the ma rine mam mals to land pre cur sors. Or the evo lu tion of hu man kind. A hun dred years ago, no one had very much knowl edge of hu man evo lu tion: in par tic u lar, as to whether brains got big be fore hu mans got up on their hind legs, or con versely. Now, how ever, thanks to fab u lous finds in East Af rica most par tic u larly, Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) we know that hu man be ings started walk ing be fore their brains grew up in size. And from
14 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) 57 Australopithecus afarensis, some 3 or 4 mil lion years ago, we have a very de tailed re - cord: from Homo habilis to Homo erec tus, and from Homo erec tus to our own spe cies, Homo sa pi ens (Johanson and Edey 1981; Ruse 1982). To say that the fos sil re cord is not adequate to support evolution is to show ignorance or more. There are times when I do think more than ig no rance is in volved. Con sider Plan - tinga on the ques tion of the Cam brian ex plo sion; that huge in crease in life just over half a bil lion years ago. There is the Cam brian ex plo sion. The fos sil re cord dis plays uni cel lu lar life go - ing all the way back, so they tell us, to 3 or 3.5 bil lion years ago only a bil lion years or so af ter the for ma tion of the Earth it self, and much less than a bil lion years af ter the Earth cooled suf fi ciently to per mit life. There is no fos sil re cord of skel e tal an i mals un til about 530 mil lion years ago, 2.5 or 3 bil lion years af ter the ap pear ance of uni-cel lu lar life. Then there is a ver i ta ble ex plo sion of in ver - te brate life, a riot of shapes and an a tom i cal de signs, with an ces tors of the ma jor con tem po rary forms and all the ma rine in ver te brate phyla rep re sented, to gether with a lot of forms wholly alien in the con tem po rary con text. None of this was known in Dar win's day, and would surely have given him pause. And now in a recent issue of Science we learn that the time dur ing which this ex plo sion took place was much shorter than pre vi ously thought; it all hap pened dur ing a pe riod of no more than 5 or 10 mil lion years..., a pe riod that seems much too short to accommodate such furious evolutionary creativity, at least with respect to any known mech a nisms. On bal ance, it is likely that if Dar win knew what we now know about the com plex ity of such or gans as the mam ma lian eye and the hu - man brain, the enor mous in tri cacy re vealed by bio chem is try and mo lec u lar bi - ol ogy (in clud ing the as ton ish ing com plex ity of the sim plest forms of life), the Cam brian ex plo sion, the lack of clo sure in the fossil record, and so on, he would have been neither a Darwinian nor a devotee of [The Common Ancestry Thesis]. (753) In fact Dar win did know about the Cam brian ex plo sion and he did as a mat ter of fact worry about it. (It was known in his day as the bot tom of the Si lu rian sys tem.) To day how ever, we have a much more de tailed knowl edge of the ex plo sion and pos si ble sug - ges tions have been put for ward to ac count for it. Most no ta bly the Amer i can pa le on - tol o gist, J. John Sepkoski Jr., has shown through com puter sim u la tion that the Cam - brian ex plo sion is just the kind of ex po nen tial growth that we would ex pect given the rates of speciation that are known to have been oc cur ring at that time. Sepkoski has been able to map ex actly the ex plo sion it self against his com puter mod els and has re - duced the whole prob lem to one of readily un der stand able and ac cept able math e mat - ics. It may of course be the case that Sepkoski is wrong, or that his po si tion will need mod i fy ing, but this is as it may be. The point is that he and other pa le on tol o gists have been putt ing for ward an swers to ex plain the ex plo sion. The answers which are highly plau si ble, given mod ern pa le on tol ogy and modern mathematics. (See Sepkoski 1978, 1979, 1984; Ruse 1999.) Plantinga has no knowl edge what so ever of this and ploughs on re gard less. Once again, us ing the philo soph i cal anal ogy, how would he feel if one were sim ply to say that the on to log i cal ar gu ment is as wor ri some as it was back at the time of Aqui nas, be cause ev ery body knows that ex is tence is not a pred i cate. And if this claim were made in to tal ig no rance of the kinds of ar gu ments that, for the past three de cades,
15 58 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) Plantinga and other so phis ti cated phi los o phers of re li gion have been putt ing for ward in fa vour of the on to log i cal and re lated ar gu ments. It is not a ques tion of whether or not Plantinga and oth ers are right in their think ing about the on to log i cal ar gu ment and its fel lows. It is rather that com pe tent schol ar ship re quires that one take note of this, and this holds even if one is work ing out side one's own field. One must not sim ply dis miss care fully thought-out positions, with a sneer, from a position of ignorance. I am sorry if I sound in dig nant about all of this, but if one is go ing to ar gue about im por tant is sues and Plantinga and I are cer tainly united in think ing that these are im por tant is sues then one ought to take the op po si tion se ri ously. This Plantinga does not do, and it is why I am not con vinced by his third ar gu ment against meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism. It may be in deed that meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism does not suc ceed in do ing ev ery thing that it sets out to do. It may be that it never will. But to as sume that there are go ing to be sci ence stop pers, and that this should lead one to pull back from a com mit ment of meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, is to re veal that one has an other agenda. We know that Plantinga's agenda is Chris tian ity. That is fair enough. But it is an agenda backed by a de lib er ate ig no rance of work which is go ing on to day in sci ence. Plantinga is able to talk so con fi dently about sci ence stop pers, only be cause he has not and ap par ently will not look at what sci en tists are say ing and achiev ing. These peo ple may not be right, but they do deserve more of a hearing than Plantinga gives them. 4. Conclusion These then are the ar gu ments that Plantinga brings against meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism and my re sponses to him. I would ar gue that he has given us no rea sons to give up on meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism, or in as much as he has it has been only be cause of his prior com mit ment to his own ver sion of Chris tian the ism. So I see no rea son why one should not con tinue to draw the dis tinc tion be tween meth od olog i cal and meta phys i cal nat u ral ism; to ar gue that the two can be sep a rated; and to ar gue that, what ever may be the philo soph i cal and theo log i cal ba sis un der ly ing meta phys i cal nat u ral ism, it is not the case that the meth od olog i cal nat u ral ist has to adopt the same po si tion. This all be - ing so then, al though I am happy to ac cept that meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism leads to day to a be lief in evo lu tion, I am not pre pared to ac cept that meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism is a phi los o phy op posed to the ism. I see no rea son at all to deny the Chris tian ac cess to methodological naturalism, saying that it is untenable for the Christian to insist that in our un der stand ing of the nat u ral world one em ploy only the methodologically nat u ral - is tic approach. Evo lu tion and Christianity should not be separated in this way. Bibliography Box, J.F R.A. Fisher: The Life of a Sci en tist. New York: Wiley. Dawkins, R A River out of Eden. New York: Ba sic Books Climb ing Mount Im prob a ble. New York: Norton. Dennett, D.C Dar win's Dan ger ous Idea.. New York: Si mon and Schuster. Dobzhansky, T The Biology of Ultimate Concern. New York: The New Amer i - can Li brary, Inc. Fisher, R.A Cre ative As pects of Nat u ral Law. The Ed ding ton Me mo rial Lec - ture. Cambridge: University Press.
16 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) 59 Greene, J.C. and M Ruse On the na ture of the evo lu tion ary pro cess: the cor re - spon dence be tween Theodosius Dobzhansky and John C. Greene. Bi ol ogy and Phi los o phy 11: Ham il ton, W.D. 1964a. The genetical evo lu tion of so cial be hav iour I. Jour nal of The - oretical Biology 7: Ham il ton, W D. 1964b. The genetical evo lu tion of so cial be hav iour II. Jour nal of The - oretical Biology 7: Hull, D.L., and M. Ruse, ed i tors Read ings in the Phi los o phy of Bi ol ogy: Ox ford Read ings in Phi los o phy. Ox ford: Ox ford Uni ver sity Press. Johanson, D. and M. Edey Lucy: The Be gin nings of Hu man kind. New York: Si - mon and Schuster. John son, P.E Dar win on Trial. Wash ing ton, D.C.: Regnery Gate way Rea son in the Bal ance: The Case Against Nat u ral ism in Sci ence, Law and Ed - u ca tion. Down ers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press. Kuhn, T The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chi cago: Uni ver sity of Chi - cago Press. McMullin, E Plantinga's de fense of spe cial cre ation. Chris tian Scholar's Re view 21, no. 1: Num bers, R The Creationists. New York: A.A. Knopf. Plantinga, A. 1991a. An evo lu tion ary ar gu ment against nat u ral ism. Lo gos 12: b. Evo lu tion, neu tral ity, and an te ced ent prob a bil ity: a re ply to Van Till and McMullin. Chris tian Scholar's Re view 21, no. 1: b. When faith and rea son clash: evo lu tion and the Bi ble. Chris tian Scholar's Review 21, no. 1: War rant and Proper Func tion. New York: Ox ford Uni ver sity Press Nat u ral ism de feated. Un pub lished Manu script Meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism. Fac ets of Faith and Sci ence. ed i tor Van der Meer. Lanham, Md.: Uni ver sity Press of Amer ica Meth od olog i cal nat u ral ism. Per spec tives on Sci ence and Chris tian Faith 49, no. 3: Provine, W Evo lu tion and the foun da tion of eth ics. Sci ence, Tech nol ogy, and So cial Prog ress. Beth le hem, Pa.: Lehigh Uni ver sity Press. Ruse, M. 1975c. The re la tion ship be tween sci ence and re li gion in Brit ain, Church His tory 44: The Dar win ian Rev o lu tion: Sci ence Red in Tooth and Claw. Chi cago: Uni ver - sity of Chi cago Press Dar win ism De fended: A Guide to Evo lu tion ary Con tro ver sies. Read ing, Mass.: Benjamin/Cummings Pub. Co A phi los o pher's day in court. Sci ence and Creationism. Ed i tor A Montagu, New York: Ox ford Uni ver sity Press. 1986a. Tak ing Dar win Se ri ously: A Nat u ral is tic Ap proach to Phi los o phy. Ox ford: Blackwell Evo lu tion ary Nat u ral ism: Se lected Es says. Lon don: Routledge.
17 60 S. Afr. J, Philos. 2005, 24(1) Monad to Man: The Con cept of Prog ress in Evo lu tion ary Bi ol ogy. Cam - bridge, Mass.: Har vard Uni ver sity Press Mys tery of Mys ter ies: Is Evo lu tion a So cial Con struc tion? Cam bridge, Mass.: Har vard Uni ver sity Press. Ruse, M Can a Dar win ian be a Chris tian? One Per son's An swer. Cam bridge: Cam bridge Uni ver sity Press. Sepkoski, J.J A ki netic model of Phanerozoic tax o nomic di ver sity I. Anal y sis of ma rine or ders. Paleobiology 4: A ki netic model of Phanerozoic tax o nomic di ver sity II. Early Pa leo zoic fam i - lies and multiple equilibria. Paleobiology 5: A ki netic model of Phanerozoic tax o nomic di ver sity III. Post-Pa leo zoic fam i - lies and mass ex tinc tions. Paleobiology 10: Van Fraassen, B Laws and Sym me try. Ox ford : Ox ford Uni ver sity Press. Westfall, R. S Never at Rest. Cam bridge: Cam bridge Uni ver sity Press.
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