Friday, December 10, 2010

The Roman Catholic Church and Evolution: “An unguided evolutionary process cannot exist.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17:  His Holiness Pop...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.
Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.
In an unfortunate new twist on this old controversy, neo-Darwinists recently have sought to portray our new pope, Benedict XVI, as a satisfied evolutionist. They have quoted a sentence about common ancestry from a 2004 document of the International Theological Commission, pointed out that Benedict was at the time head of the commission, and concluded that the Catholic Church has no problem with the notion of “evolution” as used by mainstream biologists - that is, synonymous with neo-Darwinism.
The commission’s document, however, reaffirms the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church about the reality of design in nature. Commenting on the widespread abuse of John Paul’s 1996 letter on evolution, the commission cautions that “the letter cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe.”
Furthermore, according to the commission, “An unguided evolutionary process - one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence - simply cannot exist.” -- quoted by Albert Mohler, here.
A good point. God may have created entirely via natural processes he authored, or via natural processes supplemented with active intervention, to produce designs which bring him glory and which are, via intelligent design theory, scientifically detectable. And this is what the leading intelligent design theorists such as Michael Behe and William Dembski (rabid blog-defenders of ID notwithstanding), actually teach.

The irreducible minimum issue is not whether God actively intervened in natural processes, but whether nature is nothing more than uncreated blind, purposeless, reductionist "mechanisms" that are nevertheless a sufficient cause to create biological complexity, consciousness, moral sense, sublime human aspirations, authentic love, etc. Common sense ridicules this notion, and ID offers scientific evidence which would disprove it.

ID is merely the scientific nail in the darwinian coffin which reasonable people rightly and reasonably reject by common sense alone.

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Joe said...

Well I guess I have another reason to be certain of my not being Roman Catholic.

The DNA record may be interpreted as being one creature 'evolving' into another as one would expect in a Darwinist model or it could be interpreted as all creatures have a Common Designer. To put it in engineering terms, "Why reinvent the wheel". Modify it a bit here and a bit there and it still functions but the result is different.

I attended an advanced mathematics/physics lecture where the theorist was saying that the common understanding of the universe is that space is not empty at all. It is full of energy. The lecturer went on to say that the universe is like a kettle of water heated to the verge of boiling. One drop of water remains liquid and the one beside it becomes steam. One bit of 'universal' energy remains energy the other becomes matter. While the lecturer didn't say so I thought to myself and I know the One who determines which is energy and which is matter.

RkBall said...

"The DNA record may be interpreted as being one creature 'evolving' into another as one would expect in a Darwinist model"

Except all the actual empirical evidence we have from labs -- actual data and not ideology -- indicates that the darwinian mechanism of random variation, i.e., purposeless copying "errors" is a very feeble mechanism when it comes to producing novel features. I would say impotent, even.

Evolution needs a push, a guiding hand.

RkBall said...

"While the lecturer didn't say so I thought to myself and I know the One who determines which is energy and which is matter."

"He's got the whole world in his hands".

Thanks for your comment, Joe.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"