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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Amazon review from Professor Richard Weikart

This review is from: Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Hardcover)
I have read many works on Christian apologetics, but this is one of the best. As the title suggests, it is comprehensive (676 pages worth). It is astute, but also accessible. Groothuis builds a powerful case, but avoids philosophical jargon that might lose the unitiated.

7 comments:

  1. I also found Douglas Groothuis’s “Christian Apologetics” to be an astute, but also accessible book until I got to Chapters 13 & 14 and was extremely disappointed to find out that Prof. Groothuis chose to trash "Darwinism" instead of engaging biological evolution, and to promote intelligent design as a scientific alternative to Darwinism. Why is it that supporters of YEC, OEC, Progressive Creationism and/or Intelligent Design almost always want to attack the easy target (Darwinism) and ignore the meaningful target (biological evolution)?

    It appears that Prof. Groothuis has for some reason chosen to totally ignore what is really going on in biological evolution, preferring to attack the strawman of Darwinism, which he mentions 29 times in Chapter 13 before even attempting to define it. Christian apologetics would be better served if Chapters 13 & 14 were used to discuss the progress being made by Christian scholars who are working to integrate the implications of biological evolution into our Christian faith.

    There are numerous references in the text and footnotes of Chapters 13 & 14 to authors who support Intelligent Design (e.g., Michael Behe, William Dembski, Michael Denton, Phillip Johnson, Stephen Meyer, and Jonathan Wells) abut, except for Francis Collins in one footnote, there are NO references to Christian BIOLOGICAL scientists who support biological evolution (e.g., Denis Alexander, Francisco Ayala, Darrel Falk, Karl Giberson, Denis Lamoureux, Kenneth Miller, Simon Conway Morris, Dennis Venema, etc.). Why is that? Why has Prof. Groothuis apparently ignored an entire area of relevant literature and not even acknowledged its existence, let alone commented on it? I am referring to books like the following, all by Christian authors:
    Denis Alexander’s “Creation or Evolution: Do we have to Choose?”, 2008
    Stephen C. Barton and David Wilkinson (Eds.), “Reading Genesis after Darwin,” 2009
    R. J. Berry and T. A. Noble (Eds.), “Darwin, Creation and the Fall: Theological Challenges”, 2009
    Simon Conway Morris’s “Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe,” 2003
    Peter Enns’s “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say About Human Origins,” 2012
    Darrel Falk’s “Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology,” 2004
    Karl Giberson‘s “Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution,” 2008
    Stephen J. Godfrey & Christopher R. Smith’s “Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology, and Biblical Interpretation,”
    Deborah B. & Loren D. Haarsma’s “Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, & Evolution,” 2007
    Denis Lamoureux’s “Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution”, 2008
    Keith Miller (Ed.), “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation”, 2003
    Kenneth R. Miller’s, “Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution,” 1999
    Michael S. Northcott and R. J. Berry (Eds.), “Theology after Darwin,” 2009.

    In addition, there’s the on-line material by Dennis Venema, Stephen Matheson and others, and any number of secular works.

    [Continued in next Comment]

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  2. Regarding his attack on ”Darwinism,” I have the following specific comments:

    p. 267: "Darwinism suffers from fatal flaws both logically and evidentially. It is far less well-supported than commonly thought." Darwinism may have many metaphysical naturalism flaws, but biological evolution has few methodological naturalism (a.k.a. scientific) flaws. To state that biological evolution is "far less well-supported than commonly thought" is nothing but wishful thinking.

    p. 269: "Theological liberals take much of the Bible to be mythical, scientifically ignorant (prescientific) and thus irrelevant." Prof. Groothuis doesn't bother to explain how the Bible is "thus irrelevant."

    p.271: "First, the scientific evidence does not support Darwinian macroevolution . . . " Where to begin (sigh): For starters, see Robert J. Schneider, ESSAY V: EVOLUTION FOR CHRISTIANS, http://community.berea.edu/scienceandfaith/essay05.asp. Then see a list of transitional fossils in the TalkOrigins Archive (CC200) were published between 1972 and 2006, the oldest being only forty years ago: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC200.html. Also note that five of the seven of National Geographic’s “Major ‘Missing Links’ Since Darwin” (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/photogalleries/darwin-birthday-evolution/index.html) were found between 1960 and 2008. The other two were found in the 1860s.

    p. 287: "Further, as paleontologist David Raup comments, even though our knowledge of the fossil record has expanded considerably, ironically, 'we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time,' since 'classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in America, have had to be discarded or modified.' " The paper that this quote was lifted out of was about Darwin's mechanism of natural selection and whether this mechanism is reflected in pattern of the fossil record, not whether there is a lack of evidence for common descent. [see http://commondescent.net/articles/Raup_quote.htm]

    p. 289: "The difficulty worsens, however, because genetics provides no proof that species derive their origins from other earlier species." See Sean B. Carroll’s “The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution” for 284 pages of proof. Sean Carroll is a professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin.

    p. 289: "There is no known case where a genetic mutation has resulted in an increase in information for an organism." This statement is totally false. See, for example:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB102.html or http://biologos.org/blog/evolution-and-the-origin-of-biological-information-part-6

    p. 296: "While we need not necessarily defend a 'young earth' or six literal days of creation, the Bible does commit us to claims about God's hand in the creation of the major groupings (kinds) of life." Prof. Groothuis does not explain how draws that distinction. If the Bible does not commit us to defending six literal days of creation, how does Prof. Groothuis rationalize that the same passage in the same Bible does commit us to claims about God's hand in the creation of the major groupings of life? Why are some of the "days" of creation to be taken literally while other "days" of creation don't need to be?

    I am disappointed that Prof. Groothuis has chosen to participate so forcefully in the attack on biological evolution. It is a giant step in the wrong direction.

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  3. I give an accurate explanation of Darwinism and do not trash it; I criticize it. The chapter was also vetted by biologist Jonathan Wells.

    Some Christians endorse theistic evolution, but I do not for the scientific and theological reasons given in the chapter.

    I suggest that interested readers read my detailed account and compare it against my critics attacks.

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  4. The fact that the chapter was vetted by biologist (and well known Intelligent Design advocate) Jonathan Wells is the problem. Of course he is going to approve of a pro-ID, anti-Darwinism chapter (13) in which he is mentioned or referred to sixteen times.

    I would like to suggest that you would get a different outcome if Chapters 13 & 14 were to be vetted by Christian biologists Denis Alexander, Francisco Ayala, Francis Collins, Darrel Falk, Karl Giberson, Ernest Lucas or Kenneth Miller.

    There are many scientific and theological reasons TO endorse theistic evolution (a.k.a. evolutionary creation). See the book list in my first Comment. You need to get out more.

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  5. I have read the those who try to baptize Darwin and am unimpressed with both their science and theology; so, of course, they would not vet my perspective since I disagree with them. I do interact with Miller and other secular critics of ID throughout the two chapters, providing over 200 footnotes.

    Wells's reading of my chapter kept me, I believe, from the kind of basic factual errors you are claiming. I have asked him to respond here, but I cannot count on that.

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  6. Once again, the Christian alternative to Intelligent Design is not Darwin/Darwinism. It is biological evolution. I am not suggesting that Christians need to baptize Darwin.

    It appears that the extent of your interaction with Kenneth Miller consists of references to him in Phillip Johnson’s “The Wedge of Truth” and in an article by Stephen C. Meyer, both of whom are identified with the Intelligent Design Movement. A large portion of those 231 footnotes refer to Intelligent Design Sources.

    Regarding “baptizing Darwin” (a.k.a. accepting biological evolution as not inconsistent with Christian faith), have you read Peter Enns’s new book “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins,” either of Denis O. Lamoureux’s books, “Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution,” or “I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution” (the Reader’s Digest version), or Keith B. Miller (Ed.) “Perspectives on a Evolving Creation”? They might give you a better perspective on the possibility of integrating biological evolution with Christian faith.

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  7. I am very familiar with all the theistic evolution arguments and their attacks on ID. I find none of them compelling; and I do find the ID arguments compelling for the reasons I give in these two chapters. One must make up one's own mind on this.

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