Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education
by Philip E. Johnson

The author of Darwin on Trial goes to the heart of the incompatibility between theism and science. The very first axiom of modern science, naturalism, rules out the possibility of a creator or anything supernatural. Creationism is not a scientific possibility and any defense of it is automatically unscientific. All leading evolutionary scientists have identified science with atheism. Johnson simply wants them to admit that atheism is their starting assumption rather than a scientific conclusion and to stop forcing their unscientific beliefs on everyone in the fields of science, education, and the political arena. He blames moral relativism on the scientific attitude. He also chastised his fellow Christians for going along with the new religion of science. He is good on attacking the enemy but weak at presenting a credible alternative. He tends to create a false dichotomy: science versus Christianity. Thus by discrediting science, Christianity must be true because it is the only alternative.
“It may be rational to argue about whether God is real or unreal, but it is clearly irrational to assume that a God who is real can safely be ignored.” (49)
The problem is bigger than this. We need to know about all the real gods and all their requirements. It could be unsafe to ignore any of them, not just the Christian God.

“It is in the nature of explanation that one thing is explained in terms of something else that is assumed valid, and to explain the latter as nothing more than a product of the former is to create a logical circle. Yet naturalistic metaphysics is so seductive that eminent scientists and philosophers frequently do employ their own minds to attempt to prove that the mind is “nothing but” a product of physical forces and chemical reactions.” (63)

“If God is real, then naturalistic science that insists on explaining everything is out of touch with reality; if God is imaginary, then theologians have no subject matter. If theologians are willing to allow the reality of God to be decided by scientific naturalists according to the rules of methodological atheism, they do not deserve even the modest positions in academic life which they presently occupy.” (103)

“Universities are centers of unreason in the much more profound sense that they are based on a metaphysical position that will not support a concept of rationality in the value realm, and hence ultimately will not support it anywhere.” (130)

“Scientific naturalism is a story that reduces reality to physical particles and impersonal laws, portrays life as a meaningless competition among organisms that exist only to survive and reproduce, and sees the mind as no more than an emergent property of biochemical reactions. In consequence, a merely scientific concept of rationality prepares the way for the irrational and tribalist reaction that is so visible all around us.” (197)

“A religion that no longer believes it is founded on objective truth is thus condemned to a lingering death, and the death sentence is just.” (203)
Methodological naturalism limits science not reality.

“Methodological naturalism is a bias in the sense that it constricts the mind, by limiting the possibilities open to serious consideration. Theistic realism opens the mind to additional possibilities, without preventing the acceptance of anything that really is convincingly demonstrated by empirical evidence.” (218)

Year Read: 2002

Back to Libertarian Essays by Roy Halliday
Back to Nonfiction Book Notes
Back to Fiction Book Notes
Back to Book Notes by Author

This page was last updated on October 9, 2011.
This site is maintained by Roy Halliday. If you have any comments or suggestions, please send them to