By Phillip Johnson
"The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side Is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate"
By Del Ratzsch
248 pp.; $14.99, paper
Del Ratzsch, professor of philosophy of science at Calvin College, has written a flawed but thoughtful book that encourages me to hope that, despite some unfortunate resentments and misunderstandings, the Christian intellectual response to evolutionary naturalism may be converging on a common set of principles. I am afraid that many readers may miss Ratzsch's most significant points, however, because they are presented in a context that tends to conceal their importance.
It appears that Ratzsch started out to write a critical analysis of the conflict between neo-Darwinism and creation-science--as exemplified on the one hand by the British zoologist and fervent atheist Richard Dawkins, and on the other hand by the young-earth fundamentalist Henry Morris and his creation-science movement. Ratzsch's original aim seems to have been to show that some bad arguments have been made by both sides in this polarized conflict. That does not sound very new or exciting, but somewhere along the way Ratzsch seems to have recognized that the old creation-evolution debate is getting redefined, and he makes some constructive points to help that process along.
Ratzsch's subtitle says that "neither side is winning" the battle of beginnings. I cannot imagine what gives him that impression, since the Darwinian position dominates not only science, but government, the universities, the public schools, and the media. Most people I meet in the secular university world have gained what little information they have about creationism from the writings of its principal enemies, such as Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, and the late Isaac Asimov. They take for granted that evolutionary science has explained or soon will have explained the entire history of life on naturalistic principles.
Given this state of affairs, it is difficult to see what Ratzsch could expect to accomplish ...