Reason in the Balance: The Case against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education

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Overview

According to naturalism - what the author calls "the established religious philosophy of America" - God has no place in law, science or the schools. Naturalistic thinking believes nature is all there ever was, is and will be. And naturalistic thinking rules the intellectual world, including the public schools, the universities and the elite of the legal profession. But is naturalism itself beyond question? Few among the cultural elite have dared doubt it. Now comes Phillip Johnson, Berkeley law professor and former clerk to the U.S. Supreme Court, set to take on the "intellectual superstitions" of the day. Reason in the Balance is about God, sex education, evolution, abortion, the search for a grand unified theory in physics, what our public schools should teach, the basis of law, the meaning of reason and a few other things that matter. And that's just the long way of saying that after this book, the culture wars may never be the same again.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Johnson (Darwin on Trial) fires a major salvo in the culture wars with this sweeping critique of the reigning materialist philosophy. According to this UC Berkeley law professor, ``naturalism''-the belief that all of reality can ultimately be explained in purely physical terms and that God is merely a projection of human desires-dominates our universities, public schools, sciences and professions. Yet most Americans, he maintains, are-like him-theists, Christian or otherwise, and believe in a supernatural God who created humanity for a purpose. Not always convincingly, he links naturalist assumptions to the pro-choice position on abortion, to Marxism, to popular culture's self-indulgent hedonism, to the ethical relativism of philosopher Richard Rorty and to judicial decisions to ban from schools the teaching of religious viewpoints. Doing battle with evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and other scientists, Johnson calls for a scientifically informed theology to study the interaction of God and the supernatural with the whole of creation. $30,000 ad/promo; Conservative Book Club main selection; author tour. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Johnson (Darwin on Trial, LJ 4/1/91) takes on naturalism, the belief that the material universe is "all there is." Since this is the basic position of all sciences, it has largely become the accepted philosophy of our whole culture. Johnson asserts that naturalism is an unproved metaphysical assumption, presupposed rather than proved by science. As such, it is essentially a religious position. He feels, therefore, that theism should be allowed a respected place in the debate about the nature of reality, since the conclusion will have far-reaching social consequences. A meaningless naturalistic universe differs profoundly from a purposeful, created universe in its implications for law, education, and almost everything else. Johnson does not preach; he reasons effectively and writes clearly. His argument is well worth taking seriously. A well-written book on a difficult subject; recommended for academic and public libraries.-C. Robert Nixon, MLS, Lafayette, Ind.
Ray Olson
Legal scholar Johnson is a most congenial member of a reputedly dour, censorious band--the staunch Christian critics of Darwinian evolutionary theory. That theory in its contemporary version Johnson sees as utterly excluding any divine creative act, not only from consideration as a truth claim, but also from toleration by the scientific, legal, and educational establishments. Here he rehearses and updates the argument against neo-Darwinian theory that he made in "Darwin on Trial" (1991) and then critiques the methodological naturalism that characterizes modern science and its influence. He sees naturalism--the contention that random natural processes account for things as they are--as having overstepped its bounds, giving rise to relativism in morals and an absolutism in science, law, and academe and denying religiously informed thought a voice in intellectual discourse from the elementary school on up. There are plenty of critics of "Godless science," but few are more intelligent (or better writers) than Johnson, none more generous and gentlemanly in acknowledging their opponents' strengths.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830816101
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/1995
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Phillip E. Johnson taught law for more than thirty years at the University of California—Berkeley where he is professor emeritus. He is recognized as a leading spokesman for the intelligent design movement, and is the author of many books, including Darwin on Trial, Reason in the Balance and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 7
1 Is God Unconstitutional? 19
2 The Established Religious Philosophy of America 35
3 The Grand Metaphysical Story of Science 51
4 Is There a Blind Watchmaker? 71
5 Theistic Naturalism & Theistic Realism 89
6 Realism & Rationality 111
7 Natural Law 133
8 Education 155
9 The Subtext of Contempt 173
10 The Beginning of Reason 193
Appendix: Naturalism, Methodological & Otherwise 205
Research Notes 219
Index 241
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