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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CA603:

"Naturalistic evolution is consistent with the existence of 'God' only if by that term we mean no more than a first cause which retires from further activity after establishing the laws of nature and setting the natural mechanism in motion."


Johnson, Phillip E. 1990. Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism. First Things (Oct.), 15-22.


  1. This claim logically applies not only to evolution but to everything that naturalism applies to, including electricity, ecology, gravity, weather, optics, and very nearly everything else. Johnson effectively sets up a false dichotomy of rejecting all of nature or all of God.

    The claim has been rejected by serious Christians (and devout members of other religions) since evolution was first proposed. They believe that God and nature are not incompatible, that God can work in ways consistent with evolution. For example, some people believe that God provides strength and inspiration on a personal level.

  2. Johnson's view of God effectively rejects God. He says that supernaturalism is an essential aspect of God: Since nothing supernatural is happening around me, God is not part of my life. If I were to adopt Johnson's view of God, I would call myself an atheist.

  3. A god that is active supernaturally brings the problem of evil to the forefront. It means that God created suffering and could eliminate it if he wanted to. Through his inaction, God becomes responsible for evil.

Further Reading:

Pennock, Robert T. 1996. Naturalism, evidence, and creationism: The case of Phillip Johnson. In: Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, ed. R. T. Pennock, MIT Press, 2002. Orig. pub. in Biology and Philosphy 11(4): 543-549.

Ruse, Michael. 2001. Can a Darwinian be a Christian? Cambridge University Press.
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created 2003-7-11, modified 2004-2-16