EDITORS: Jon Buell and Virginia Hearn

Proceedings of a symposium entitled: "DARWINISM: SCIENTIFIC INFERENCE OR PHILOSOPHICAL PREFERENCE?" Held on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, Texas, March 26-28, 1992. Sponsored by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Dallas Christian Leadership, and the C.S. Lewis Fellowship.


Introduction by Phillip E. Johnson

I Keynote Presentations

1. Phillip E. Johnson, Darwinism's Rules of Reasoning

2. Michael Ruse, Philosophical Preference, Scientific Inference, and Good Research Strategy

3. Stephen C. Meyer, Response to Michael Ruse: Laws, Causes, and Facts

II Johnson/Ruse Debate

4. Phillip E. Johnson, Darwinism and Theism

5. Michael Ruse, Theism and Darwinism: Can You Serve Two Masters at the Same Time?

III General Discussion, Responses, and Replies

6. Michael J. Behe, Experimental Support for Regarding Functional Classes of Proteins to Be Highly Isolated From Each Other

6a. Leslie K. Johnson, Response to Michael J. Behe

6b. Michael J. Behe, Reply to Leslie K Johnson

7. William A. Dembski, The Incompleteness of Scientific Naturalism

7a. K. John Morrow, Jr., Response to William A. Dembski

8. Frederick Grinnell, Radical Intersubjectivity: Why Naturalism Is an Assumption Necessary for Doing Science

8a. Peter van Inwagen, Response to Frederick Grinnell

9. Leslie K. Johnson, How Incomplete Is the Fossil Record?

9a. David L. Wilcox, Response to Leslie K Johnson: Evolution as History and the History of Evolution

10. K. John Morrow, Jr., Teleological Principles in Biology: The Lesson of Immunology

10a. Michael J. Behe, Response to K John Morrow, Jr.

10b. K. John Morrow, Jr., Reply to Michael J. Behe

11. Arthur M. Shapiro, X Does Not Entail Y: The Rhetorical Uses of Conflating Levels of Logic

1la. William A. Dembski, Response to Arthur M. Shapiro: X Does Implicate Y: Implication and Entailment in the Creation/Evolution Debate

11b. Arthur M. Shapiro, Reply to William A. Dembski: X and Y and Bob and AI and Ted and Carol and Alice

12. Peter van Inwagen, Doubts About Darwinism

12a. Frederick Grinnell, Response to Peter van Inwagen: The Problem of Language

13. David L. Wilcox, A Blindfolded Watchmaker: The Arrival of the Fittest

13a. Arthur M. Shapiro, Response to David L Wilcox: Darwin Twisting in the Wind

13b. David L. Wilcox, Reply to Arthur M. Shapiro: Tamed Tornadoes


Phillip E. Johnson J.D., University of Chicago, Jefferson E. Peyser Professor of Law, Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley. Author of Darwin on Trial (Second Edition, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993) and Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism (Dallas: Haughton Publishing, 1991).

Peter Van Inwagen Ph.D. in Philosophy, Professor of Philosophy, Syracuse University. Author of Material Beings (New York: Cornell University Press, 1992).

Michael E. Ruse Ph.D. in Zoology, Professor of Zoology and Philosophy of Science, University of Guelph. Author of Darwinism Defended (Reading, Mass: AddisonWesley, 1982), chief expert witness in McLean v. Arkansas (the "Arkansas Creation Trial").

Arthur M. Shapiro Ph.D. in Zoology, Professor of Zoology and Entomology, University of California, Davis. Acting Book Review Editor of the journal Evolution, author of over 200 published works.

Michael J. Behe Ph.D. in Chemistry, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Division of Biochemical Sciences, Lehigh University. Author of numerous professional articles.

David L. Wilcox Ph.D. in Population Genetics, Professor of Biology, Eastern College, St. David's, PA. Author of The Creation of Species by Means of Supernatural Selection, (submitted to Baker Book House) and numerous professional articles.

William A. Dembski Ph.D. in Mathematics, M.A., Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy. Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy of Science, Nothwestern University, 199293. Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Princeton.

Leslie K. Johnson Ph.D. in Zoology, Lecturer of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University. Author of numerous professional articles.

K. John Morrow, Jr. Ph.D. in Genetics, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Author of numerous professional articles.

Frederick Grinnell Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Author of The Scientific Attitude (New York: Guilford Press, 1992), and over 100 professional articles.

Stephen C. Meyer Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Whitworth College. Author of several articles on science and public policy. vii


Phillip E. Johnson

THERE ARE SOME THINGS that we expect all rational, educated persons to believe, regardless of their philosophical or religious standpoint. That the earth is roughly spherical, and revolves around the sun, is one of those things. We do not call persons who still believe in a geocentric universe "dissenters"; we call them cranks.

The literature of evolutionary biology is full of statements to the effect that something called the "fact of evolution" is as certain as that the earth goes around the sun. And so it is-if by "evolution" we mean only that selective breeding produces new varieties, or that island species have differentiated from mainland species, or that living things have certain common features (e.g., the genetic code) that suggest some process of development from some common source.

Evolution is a word of many meanings, some of which are controversial and some of which are not. One meaning of evolution that is highly controversial is Darwinian evolution (or the neo Darwinian synthesis), when it is offered as a general description of how life progressed from very simple beginnings to its present complexity and diversity. As I describe in my opening address, "Darwin's Rules of Reasoning," the philosophically important doctrine of evolution is what I call the "blind watchmaker thesis," after the famous book by Richard Dawkins. This thesis argues not simply that life evolved to its present state of complexity and diversity, but that it evolved by the purposeless material mechanisms of random genetic change and natural selection. The implication is that humanity is a cosmic accident produced by a mindless cosmos.

That naturalistic explanation of how life came to its present state of complexity and diversity is a major prop for naturalism in philosophy and for agnosticism in religion. The question discussed at this symposium is whether the theory of evolution also receives essential support from that same philosophy, in which case there is a certain circularity of reasoning. The call to the meeting put the point at issue in this way: "Darwinism and neoDarwinism as generally held in our society carry with them an a priori commitment to metaphysical naturalism, which is essential to make a convincing case on their behalf."

I put the same question differently in my exchange with Michael Ruse: "Is there any reason that a person who believes in a real, personal God should believe Darwinist claims that biological creation occurred through a fully naturalistic evolutionary process?"

I do not think the issue was ever really confronted on this question, because the Darwinists tended to shift the focus to a different question. What the antiDarwinists called metaphysical naturalism the Darwinists called "science," and they insisted that for science to cease being naturalistic would be for it to cease being science. To put the matter in the simplest possible terms, the Darwinist response to the question presented was not "No, that is wrong, because the case for Darwinism can be made without assuming a naturalist perspective." Instead, they answered "So what? All that you are really saying is that Darwinism is science."

To put this response in the words of the participants, Michael Ruse defined "scientific methodology" as including "a commitment to the idea of the world being lawbound-that is, subject to unbroken regularity- and to the belief that there are no powers, seen or unseen, that interfere with or otherwise make inexplicable the normal workings of material objects." Replying to Ruse for the anti Darwinists, Stephen Meyer observed that "Either brute matter has the capability to arrange itself into higher levels of complexity or it does not, and if it does not, then either some external agency has assisted the arrangement of matter or matter has always possessed its present arrangement." Michael Ruse argued that science is limited by its nature to the first of these possibilities. Stephen Meyer argued that a rational historical biology must not arbitrarily limit the possibilities for consideration at the outset. The argument was repeated throughout the sessions, and no agreement was reached.

If that were all there were to say, the symposium might have seemed an exercise in futility. But that is not all there is to say. Academic conferences do not usually end with all philosophical disputes resolved in agreement, and they are not judged as failures if the participants go away with their basic commitments unchanged. What a successful conference does is to enable the participants and spectators to understand the issues better, and especially to give the participants a better understanding of each other as people. Judged by that standard, the symposium at Southern Methodist University was a tremendous success, perhaps even an historic event.

To understand why, it is necessary only to reflect on the state of the debate over evolution and creation. Historically, it has taken the form of a debate over the authority of Genesis (a subject this symposium did not touch upon), and it has been carried on in the bitterest terms. Scientists, including those who participated on both sides of the issue at SMU, have come to regard creation/evolution debates as circuses at best, and occasions for deception or manipulation at worst. The organizers of this symposium-Jon Buell, Stephen Sternberg, and Thomas Woodward- had to work hard at overcoming those suspicions for the symposium to occur at all. Understandably, things began on a wary note.

By the end of the symposium all that was in the past. What had been demonstrated is that it is possible for basic metaphysical differences to be debated with good will and humor; disagreement over even this issue does not have to lead to war. By the end of the second day the participants were socializing and conversing with gusto. I recall that every single participant at one time or another expressed the hope that other similar conferences would be held in the future. The healthy atmosphere penetrated the host institution to the extent that faculty members who kept away from the conference out of wariness have invited me back a year later for a faculty colloquium.

The SMU symposium was never meant to resolve the great debate over evolution and creation. It was meant to set the conditions so such a debate could begin. It was meant to set an agenda for debates in the future with papers of the highest professional quality dealing with the scientific and philosophical issues in dispute. Given the doubts we all had at the beginning, the fact that the symposium accomplished so much seems almost a miracle-if I may use that term without offending the metaphysical naturalists who helped make the miracle possible.

That sets the general picture, but even scientific materialists are apt to remind us that "God is in the details." Those philosophical and scientific details are in the papers that follow, and in the vigorous responses to each paper from the opposing side. Individually, they illuminate specific areas of dispute. Taken together, they prepare the reader for a great debate that will occupy the attention of many minds during the coming decade.

Phillip E. Johnson
Berkeley, California
January 1993


EDITORS: Jon Buell and Virginia Hearn
Foundation for Thought and Ethics
Richardson, Texas

Copyright 1994

ISBN 0964210401
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 9494523