I want to address one particular point that Plantinga makes because it's relevant to the issues that come up in the accommodationist wars.
"Why," asks Ruse, "does Plantinga feel this way?" Because, he says, "In his view, Darwinism implies that there is and can be no direction in life's history." Still another missed distinction. As far as I can see, God certainly could have used Darwinian processes to create the living world and direct it as he wanted to go; hence evolution as such does not imply that there is no direction in the history of life. What does have that implication is not evolutionary theory itself, but unguided evolution, the idea that neither God nor any other person has taken a hand in guiding, directing or orchestrating the course of evolution. But the scientific theory of evolution, sensibly enough, says nothing one way or the other about divine guidance. It doesn't say that evolution is divinely guided; it also doesn't say that it isn't. Like almost any theist, I reject unguided evolution; but the contemporary scientific theory of evolution just as such—apart from philosophical or theological add-ons—doesn't say that evolution is unguided. Like science in general, it makes no pronouncements on the existence or activity of God.Plantinga is allying himself with Eugenie Scott and other accommodationists who fiercely defend the idea that science can't address issues such as purpose. In fact, Genie fought hard to remove references to "unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process" from a statement on evolution by the National Association of Biology Teachers back in 1995 [NCSE v National Association of Biology Teachers].
I disagree with Plantinga, and with the National Center for Science Education. The idea that evolution might be guided by God is a legitimate question for scientists to address. After all, if it's true then parts of evolutionary theory might have to be revised. I do not accept the claim that scientists must avoid this question because it comes from religion.
When you are thinking like a scientist there's only one possible conclusion. There is no scientific evidence to support the hypothesis that the history of life on Earth was guided by God. Everything we know about the history of life is consistent with an entirely natural process—one that's characterized by chance and contingency. It is perfectly reasonable as a scientist to state this position clearly. This is not stepping outside of the boundaries of science.
Let me explain my position by using an analogy. Imagine the claim that aliens visited the Earth 3.5 billion years ago and seeded our planet with cyanobacteria. After much investigation scientists find no support for such a claim. Is it legitimate for them to conclude that aliens are not responsible for life on Earth? Of course it is. All scientists know that you can't prove a negative but that doesn't mean you can't assign probabilities and behave accordingly.
Philosophers aren't likely to get upset if scientists make statements denying that aliens are responsible for life as we know it. That's because belief in alien visitors isn't one of those kooky ideas that demands special status. However, if scientists make the more general claim that life appears to have evolved by purely natural processes then this gets their dander up. All of a sudden science is threatening religion and this is not allowed. It's "philosophical naturalism" and not "methodological naturalism." It's not science according to Plantinga and many accommodationists, including Michael Ruse. Bollocks, I say.
Scientists call it as they see it. If that upsets the theists then they had better learn to deal with it instead of whining about the science being illegitimate.
Science says that evolution is not divinely guided, based on what we know today.