Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor

A Comment on Barclay's Strategy

Gordon C. Mills, ASA Fellow

Leeward Manor, Rm. 582
One Fleet Landing Blvd.
Atlantic Beach, FL 32233

From: PSCF 50 (December 1998): 304.

In the short paper by Oliver Barclay ("A Strategy for the Evolution Debate," PSCF 50, no. 3, [1998]: 161ñ3), there is much counsel with which I would agree. However, in his suggested proper strategy, he states in item 2 that we should "º move from the largely negative and defensive approach (`You cannot explain this!') to a much more aggressive attack on the philosophy of naturalism." I find the first portion of this statement by Barclay to contrast with a statement by Richard Swinburne (Ibid., 220):

Scientists, historians, and detectives observe data and proceed thence to some theory about what best explains the occurrence of these data. We can analyze the criteria which they use in reaching a conclusion that a certain theory is better supported by the data than a different theoryóthat is, is more likely, on the basis of those data, to be true. Using those same criteria, we find that the view that there is a God explains everything we observe, not just some narrow range of data.

I find myself agreeing with Swinburne, that our job as scientists is to critically examine the data which support or fail to support a theory. I consider this to be a positive rather than a negative approach. If this means that we have to say: "Your theory cannot explain this!" then we should point this out. In doing so, however, I think we should be careful to stay within our own area of expertise. I continue to believe some type of design theory of theistic evolution explains much that a theory based totally on chance events can never explain.