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Philosopher J.P. Moreland on Theistic Evolution

J.P. Moreland

Over at The Stream, Sean McDowell interviews philosopher J.P. Moreland, a Center for Science & Culture Fellow who contributed as an editor to the new critique of Theistic Evolution, for which, at 1,007 pages in length, I’m momentarily unable to think of appropriate synonyms for “massive.”

J.P. Moreland is one of the top 50 most influential living philosophers. He is a distinguished professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, and is one of my all-time favorite teachers. Today he is a colleague and a good friend.

I recently had the opportunity to interview him about his soon-to-be-released book, Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique. If you follow current discussions about the intersection of science and faith, then this is a book you need to get, study and discuss with others. In the meantime, enjoy this brief interview with Professor Moreland.

SEAN MCDOWELL: At this stage in your career, what motivated you to co-edit such a massive book (over 1,000 pages) critiquing theistic evolution?

J.P. MORELAND: At my age, I realize daily that I have less time than I used to and I want to make my time count. And as a Barna research study showed, one of the six top reasons people — especially young people — are leaving the church is that the church is not keeping up with or teaching people how to interact with science.

The sad thing is that Christian scholars are, in fact, doing just this. The quality of Christian literature is getting better and better when it comes to showing that the Bible gets it right. Both theistic and naturalistic evolution are rationally inferior to Intelligent Design theory theologically, philosophically and scientifically. But people don’t know this, so a group of us decided to do the book Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical and Theological Critique.

It is sad that scholars aren’t “keeping up” with science, thus letting down members of their faith communities. But Christians can take some comfort that they aren’t completely AWOL, obviously. Jewish scholars, on the other hand, are a concern to me. I was discussing with a Facebook friend our own community’s reticence about challenging naturalistic orthodoxies. My friend pointed to writings from Darwin’s own time, and more recently, but none by anyone currently living. That’s a problem. (He could have noted our Evolution News contributor, physicist Lee Spetner, interviewed in Jerusalem recently on ID the Future, here, here, and here.)

Not all that needs to be said at any time has already been said. Maimonides wrote the Guide of the Perplexed in the 12th century to address the science and philosophy of the day, because his contemporaries were troubled about certain points (including intelligent design) that required analysis in their own generation. Perhaps there is never a final word on the “nature of nature” but only the most up-to-date at any given historical moment.

What does the new book by Moreland et al. have to offer the perplexed today that previous works don’t?

MCDOWELL: What makes the new book Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique different from previous books of this sort?

Many on both sides of the Atlantic are already calling our book “magisterial,” “the best book ever written against theistic and naturalistic evolution,” “the most authoritative critique of theistic evolution available.” The book contains chapters written by around 12 world-class scholars in European universities and about the same number of North American scholars. Each one is writing in his/her area of expertise.

No one with an open mind can look at the credentials of those who contribute to our volume and say that ID theory is foolish or irrational. They may still not buy ID theory, but from now on, it would be intellectually dishonest to claim ID theory is anti-intellectual or an expression of blind faith.

All we ask is that people read the arguments in the book with an open mind. If that happens, we authors believe many people will change their thinking.

Professor Moreland and his colleagues have produced, for our time, a massive (there, I’ll say it again) response to theistic evolutionary claims. We’re delighted that Discovery Institute scientists and scholars are prominent among the book’s editors and authors, with starring roles in the section dealing with science and philosophy — including Jonathan Wells, Günter Bechly, Stephen Meyer, Douglas Axe, John West, Paul Nelson, and Ann Gauger. Meet the contributors to Theistic Evolution here. It is definitely not of interest exclusively to Christians.

It will be interesting to see how critics of ID answer it. Read the rest of Dr. McDowell’s interview here.

Photo: J.P. Moreland, at a launch event today for the book in Providence, R.I., by Doug Axe.