New Critique of Theistic Evolution: Interview with Author J.P. Moreland

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 keep up with or teaching people how to interact with science. The sad thing is that Christian scholars are, in fact, doing just this, and the quality of Christian literature is getting better and better when it comes to showing that the Bible gets it right and 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.

MCDOWELL: How would you assess the current debate over theistic evolution, creation, and intelligent design?

MORELAND: As William Dembski told me recently, Intelligent Design theory has won the argument against Theistic and Naturalistic Evolution, but they have not won the war. Why? Because, sadly, people form their opinions about things based on whether those ideas are supported by respected universities. And ID theorists have not been able to get any science department in any major university to have an ID research center to formulate and test ID ideas. What are they afraid of? This reaction is a result of irrational, group-think and academic embarrassment. But as far as the arguments go, ID is an explanatorily powerful and highly verified group of theories. At the same time, more and more secular scientists are admitting that Darwinism is taking on more and more water.

MCDOWELL: In one of your chapter titles, you say that theistic evolution “robs Christians of confidence that the Bible is a source of knowledge.” What do you mean by this and what support do you offer for this claim?

Theistic Evolution is a revisionist treatment of the Bible based on the idea that if the Bible is going to be even partly credible, it must be constantly revised to keep up with what contemporary science says. Thus, Theistic Evolution supports scientism, the view that he hard sciences are the only or vastly superior way of knowing reality. This leads believers to wonder what will be revised next? The soul being replaced by the brain? Same-sex actions being determined by genes and brain chemistry and, thus, not immoral? By supporting scientism and revising the early chapters of Genesis, TE contributes to scientism and scientism creates a cultural climate in which biblical and theological claims cannot be taken seriously; they must be accepted by blind faith.

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 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.

MCDOWELL: I can imagine critics saying that this book positions Christians as being against science. Is this true? How would you respond to such a critique?

It would be foolish to say our book is against science since 40% of the book is cutting edge science written by well-established and well-published scientists! Christians aren’t against science; they’re against scientism. Moreover, our book alerts Christians and non-Christians that the case for ID theory is powerful and persuasive and the case against Theistic Evolution is very strong, indeed. If our readers know a friend or relative who can’t become a Christian because of evolution, or a Christian who has accepted Theistic Evolution, please get them a copy of our book and ask them to read it with an open mind.

Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. Sean is an associate professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. He is the Resident Scholar for Summit California. Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps him have exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors and parents alike. In 2008, he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot School of Theology with a master’s degree in theology and another in philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies in 2014 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times. Sean is the author, co-author or editor of over 18 books including The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015); A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016); The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour, 2016); Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014); Is God Just a Human Invention? with Jonathan Morrow; and Understanding Intelligent Design, with William A. Dembski. Sean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter and an update for Evidence that Demands a Verdict (2017). Sean is the general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org. In April 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano. Sean played college basketball at Biola and was captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.

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