Where Alvin Plantinga’s Conflict with Jay Richards Really Lies

by Max Andrews

Where the Conflict Really Lies.jpgReblogged from Alvin Plantinga at Evolution News and Views.

Jay Richards and I agree on a lot, so perhaps we should just agree to disagree on the remainder.But I’d like to offer a brief response to his last response to my response to his review (that’s close, anyway).

In Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, I used the term “Darwinism” to denote the view or contention that the most important force driving the process of descent with modification is natural selection working on random genetic mutation. And I looked for definitions of “random,” as used in biology, finding that in every official or semi-official definition of “random” I could find, the basic idea is that mutations are random with respect to adaptivity: most mutations are not adaptive, and mutations don’t arise in response to the organism’s adaptive needs in its environment. I said I thought Darwinism, taken this way, is compatible with theism. I believe Jay agrees with that thought. So where do we disagree?

Here’s what Jay proposes as the core of our disagreement:

Several times, Professor Plantinga notes that I’m not using “Darwinism” as he uses the term. That’s correct, and I think that’s the core of our disagreement. In my view, since there is no official definition that practitioners consistently follow, determining the content of Darwinian theory, and of words such as “Darwinism,” is very much a sociological and historical enterprise. Our use of these words should accommodate what Darwin said, how his work is understood, and how it is described and taught in textbooks and elsewhere. When we do that, I think it becomes clear that an essential property of Darwinism is either to deny real teleology in biology or at least to make it superfluous. To be precise, Darwinists typically see the combination of natural selection and random variations, rather than the random variations alone, as a design substitute.

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