Naturalistic evolution rules out all but a Deist god (Talk.Origins)
"Naturalistic evolution is consistent with the existence of 'God' only if by that term we mean no more than a first cause which retires from further activity after establishing the laws of nature and setting the natural mechanism in motion."
Source: Johnson, Phillip E. 1990. Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism. First Things (Oct.), 15-22.
(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)
1. This claim logically applies not only to evolution but to everything that naturalism applies to, including electricity, ecology, gravity, weather, optics, and very nearly everything else. Johnson effectively sets up a false dichotomy of rejecting all of nature or all of God.
The claim has been rejected by serious Christians (and devout members of other religions) since evolution was first proposed. They believe that God and nature are not incompatible, that God can work in ways consistent with evolution. For example, some people believe that God provides strength and inspiration on a personal level.
It is agreed that this claim is inaccurate since it is possible to envision God actively guiding evolution, a notion inconsistent with deism. However, Talk Origins neglected to include that it is possible to believe that God hypothetically could have made in a way consistent with evolution without believing that he did so.
However while it is possible to envision evolution guided by God, it is not logically consistent since inserting God into General Evolution theory is adding an extra factor that the theory deliberately ignores.
2. Johnson's view of God effectively rejects God. He says that supernaturalism is an essential aspect of God: Since nothing supernatural is happening around me, God is not part of my life. If I were to adopt Johnson's view of God, I would call myself an atheist.
The logic here is faulty on several points.
- Even if “supernaturalism is an essential aspect of God”, it does not obligate him to always work by overt supernatural means. He could subtly but supernaturally adjust natural factors to produce a given result.
- He assumes that because he does not see anything supernatural happening around him that nothing supernatural is happening around him at all.
- A supernatural event need not be obviously such. For example what may often be attributed to luck, due to a low probability could be a subtle supernatural event.
- An overt supernatural event may occur but not be recognized as such, particularly if the person is presupposed to dismiss the possibility of a supernatural event.
3. A god that is active supernaturally brings the problem of evil to the forefront. It means that God created suffering and could eliminate it if he wanted to. Through his inaction, God becomes responsible for evil.
This is an over simplification. It ignores the free will of the individual. Creating us with a free will required giving us the ability to choose evil. To always prevent evil from occurring would require interfering with that free will.
God did not create evil, but only free will that allows us to choose evil. We are responsible for how we use our free will, so if we choose evil, we; not God; are responsible for it.