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Catholicism, Evolution, and Intelligent Design: What is the Relationship? — 6 Comments

  1. Here’s my take on ID, in my book, God’s Mechanics:

    “Every logical proof must start with some assumed axioms or self-evident truths. Change your axioms, and you can prove whatever you want. In practice, it’s the “whatever you want” that comes first, and that determines the axioms you decide to adopt. In essence, it is not God that you find at the end of your logic; rather, your God is the unshakable axiom that you used when you started your chain of logic. Belief comes before the explanations.

    “For instance, look at the way that Newton’s laws of physics describe the universe. Everything, from the motions of the planets to the reactions of the chemicals in our brains, is governed (they say) by rigid, inflexible laws… So does this prove that everything in life is predetermined? No; that kind of determinism is just the assumption we started with when we adopted the Newtonian view of the universe.

    “Likewise, start with the assumption that everything is chance, the way that some formulations of quantum theory describe things (once we’d found the places where Newtonian physics failed), and you have no problem “proving” that life is random and meaningless. Again, all you’re doing is recovering the assumption you started with.

    “The eighteenth-century argument from design, recently repackaged as “intelligent design,” falls into the same trap. Only when you assume a designer God in the first place does the evidence of design “proving” His existence leap out at you.

    “Yes, the order in the universe can be seen as consistent with the assumption of an “intelligent designer”; it’s a fine consistency argument. But it proves nothing—atheists can also come up with their own self-consistent explanations with no place for a designer. (And relying on design as your demonstration of God’s existence carries with it the danger that you’ll stop looking any further for explanations of why things are the way they are. The argument from design, if held too rigidly, can become very limiting of both your view of nature and your view of God.)”

    • Great response Br. Guy! That helps clarify things a great deal. The “affirming of our initial presumptions” reflection is particularly striking to me. It reminds me of a reflection I heard once that, given the size of the Bible, one can create an argument for just about anything for or against the Church, given the vast amount of data one has to work with. In a similar way, if we go into a scientific investigation desiring to prove or disprove something, we can easily find a home for our presumptions. That was very helpful!

  2. I would suggest viewing this NOVA program: Judgement Day – Intelligent Design on Trial. It’s an excellent reenactment of the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial in 2005:

    I was blown away by the part where the expert stated that the discovery of DNA could have completely invalidated evolution, but instead the science of genetics confirmed Darwin’s theories – in great detail.

    From the decision:
    “After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science.

    They are:
    (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation;

    (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and

    (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. …It is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (page 64)”

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