Who says it is? Unfortunately, that was Paley’s logic too; and life“forms that he, with an annoying self“assurance, so insouciantly assumed were irreducibly complex soon proved to be eminently explainable in other terms. The issue is this: the incapacity of random mutation and natural selection to account for the creation of new complex genetic information. Design is the founding axiom of Deist religion; and as Darwin’s own life attests, nothing more rapidly congeals into atheism (or agnosticism) than Deism (see James Turner’s Without God, Without Creed for an account of this declension). Of course there are ambiguous cases that require further investigation, as in the way crystals look chiseled and polished, but prove not to have been once their chemical structure is explained. Finally, Prof. Johnson praises me for my citation of Cardinal Newman’s deft description of secular intellectuals (“They persuade the world of what is false by urging upon it what is true”) and claims that his own work as a Christian apologist does battle against this very legerdemain. Just as the governor of a state is responsible for the smooth running of a state’s government without having to become personally involved in every decision”without, in other words, feeling that his office obligates him to serve as the traffic cop at every busy corner”so too the Cosmological Argument contains no implication whatever that God has become the traffic cop of cellular evolution. I don’t think what impressed St. Thomas was the fact that everything conspires together for a beneficent purpose; what impressed him was the fact that things conspire together at all. In some cases, for some people, it can suggest that the world may be more complex than they had been led to believe. Besides making it impossible for humans to come to terms with tragedies like birth defects, where the most minor genetic variation can later cause catastrophic effects in the phenotype, Prof. Johnson’s schema must raise in every believer’s mind the central dilemma that lurks in his strategy of concessum non datum : if God was supposed to have intervened so directly 3.5 billion years ago to construct a well“designed cell, and if He is needed to design new Baupläne at irregular intervals, why does He not intervene when a fire breaks out in the cockpit of an airplane flying over the Atlantic? He attended the 1892 Democratic National Convention held in Chicago as an elected delegate, seconding on behalf of his state the nomination of Grover Cleveland; and in 1896 he was appointed delegate-at-large from Tennessee to the Palmer-Buckner Gold Democratic Convention held at Indianapolis in that year. Darwinism cannot explain chemical complexity for the very good reason that natural selection requires a harsh environment brought about by overpopulation . After reading Edward T. Oakes’ patronizing review of Phillip E. Johnson’s The Wedge of Truth , I read the book and reread the review. David K. DeWolf Professor of Law Gonzaga Law School Spokane, Washington. It might come as some surprise to readers of this reply to learn that Thomas’ argument in the Fifth Way amounts to no more than five or six sentences in Latin (depending on the punctuation decisions of various editors). On the outbreak of World War I, Oakes attempted to enlist in the army, but was refused admittance due to his age. Try as I might, I can see no signs of manipulation in the cell. Oakes’ complaint seems to be, not with Phillip Johnson, but with St. Thomas, who committed the blunder (by Fr. Now it well might happen that, for reasons of inherent limitations (such as the fact that the earliest life forms leave no fossil record behind, or the impossibility of replicating in a laboratory the amount of time necessary to see chemicals work their way toward complexity), these laws will remain forever beyond human ken. Newman wrote: “I believe in design because I believe in God, not in a God because I see design.” So does Johnson. Anything that showed signs of design but did not come from a long line of replicators could not be explained by”in fact, would refute”the theory of natural selection: natural species that lacked reproductive organs, insects growing like crystals out of rocks, television sets on the moon, eyes spewing out of vents on the ocean floor, caves shaped like hotel rooms down to the details of hangers and ice buckets. Yes, of course Cardinal Newman was right that design teaches us only the power, skill, and goodness of the Creator, not His sanctity, mercy, or future judgment. Phillip E. Johnson Boalt Hall, School of Law University of California at Berkeley. Notable people with the given name Oakes include, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Oakes_(surname)&oldid=973636033, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 18 August 2020, at 09:59. In other words, irreducibility tends to be noncontroversial. This becomes especially evident when they give lectures to church groups or other congregations of the already convinced and trot out giant“sized Styrofoam mock“ups of mousetraps or other similar toys. Perhaps they are being philosophically unsophisticated, and will pay the price in lost prestige when the writings of Cardinal Newman become more widely known. Although there is no reference to a “Holy Arranger” or “Celestial Cell Constructor,” John 1:3 does say that “all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”. Father Oakes describes this as “a strange segue from information theory to theology.” In fact, it is not at all strange, given the analogy that Fr. Those initial qualifiers seem pretty significant and it has always been Johnson’s contention that they are false and have nothing to do with real science. That’s why Aquinas’ arguments all end with the rather odd phrase, “to which everyone gives the name ‘God,’” or “and this we call ‘God.’” He could have concluded, “and therefore the God of Christianity exists,” but he does not. Oakes uses the analogy to show the limitations of the argument from design as a theological starting point, but he then mistakenly assumes that it is for that reason that Johnson appeals to the Logos of John 1:1 as, so to speak, a deus ex machina.

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