Letter to the Editor


Origins Discussions...

From: PSCF 46 (June 1994): 146

Recent contributions to Perspectives concerning the inclusion of intelligent causation as an alternative mechanism for the origin and modification of living organisms have been very interesting. I discern two basic positions. Raymond E. Grizzle's article (45:4, 222-228, December 1993) is one of several contributions arguing for the exclusion of God from scientific descriptions. I generally agree. The other position implies that Christian (and other) scientists should not ignore the option of an intelligent designer, such as God, as an alternative to modern scientific description. Should one favor a "God hypothesis" when it appears more probable, from a Christian perspective, than any available "scientific" hypotheses? Everyone fears the old "God-of-the-Gaps" thinking, but do modern scientists have an unwarranted phobia about it? Perhaps, but I'm not convinced.

I understand the frustration eloquently expressed by Phillip E. Johnson (45:1, 46-48, March 1993) and John L. Wiester (45:3, 182-186, September 1993) concerning the various meanings of the word "evolution." Indeed, that word must be carefully defined by the user because an anti-Christian world view is being wrongly purveyed as an inescapable implication of "evolution." Yes, we should insist that the unanswered questions concerning macroevolution, which are many in number and major in importance, be emphasized. Alvin Plantinga (44:4, 258-263, December 1992) is certainly free to judge as weak the evidence that all contemporary living things are genetically related, and as an individual he can reject the theory of common ancestry without offering a naturalistic alternative. Maybe Charles B. Thaxton (42:4, 248-249, December 1990) is right to suspect that a strictly scientific case for intelligent design could be built.

However, most Christian biologists will continue to pursue the theory of common ancestry, just as they pursue, for example, the description of embryonic development based on genes and cellular structures. We still don't need to identify gaps in our scientific explanations in order to make room for God. The gaps are there, to be sure, and they are very big. In fact, I think the main problem with God-of-the-Gaps is not that some gaps get closed by science, but rather that we underestimate the enormity of the gaps. Our scientific (and philosophical, and theological, etc.) descriptions will always fall short.

Charles F. Austerberry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Creighton University, Omaha, NE 68178-0103