by Denyse O'Leary
As noted in the Introduction, Hunter argues that the preference for naturalism is both theologically motivated and theologically justified. Ken Miller, Francisco Ayala, Howard Van Till, Ian Barbour, and Keith Thomson all use essentially theological arguments, as Hunter notes, along the lines of "God wouldn't ..."
Recognizing the pattern he identifies solved one big mystery for me. It explains why the Darwinist argues in good faith that bad design means no design. Now that point is so obviously not true in general (think Edsel) that some thought process that requires unpacking must underlie it. And here is that thought process: The universe is imperfect. God would have created a perfect universe. God's honour is at stake. God must therefore be protected from being seen as the author of the universe in any hands-on way.
Therefore, it follows, we must believe in Darwin. When we confront evidence from nature that doesn't support the idea that natural selection or some similar process acted on random mutation to produce every aspect of life, we must strive to overcome our temptation to doubt. It is best, of course, to rid ourselves of any tendency to even see such evidence.
I suppose I have never been religious enough to see nature the way Francis Collins and Francisco Ayala do. I have always been able to live with the idea that God might not do things the way we expect. But, according to Hunter, that is probably because I am an empiricist, not a rationalist.
Next: Part Two: Rationalism vs. empiricism: What must be true vs. what the evidence shows
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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