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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Notre Dame academics trash/laud Cardinal Schonborn’s stand against Darwinism

In the continuing spin of Cardinal Schonborn’s denunciation of Darwinism, Gary Belovsky, an evolutionary biologist “who is Catholic” says

There will always be a place for God in peoples’ lives, because there are ultimate questions that science cannot answer, e.g., how did the “big-bang” creation of the universe get its start? However, to search for all answers to our existence using faith alone is an abdication of human intelligence. Prior to Cardinal Schönborn’s statement, the only religious caveat placed on Catholics in regard to evolution was that at some point God nfused our ancestors with an immortal soul, a metaphysical entity that science cannot measure and therefore, must be accepted on faith.

Does he mean that a Catholic can be a complete and thorough-going naturalist as long as he maintains, by faith alone, that one, single completely unobserved and unobservable notion about the human is true (an immortal soul)? Hmmmm. I can certainly see why Cardinal Schonborn is concerned ....

Meanwhile, Protestant scholar Alvin Plantinga argues that Schonborn is right.

Some think of evolution as the theory of common ancestry: Any two living things share ancestors, so that we and the poison ivy in our back yard, as well as other living creatures, are cousins. This is surprising, but compatible with Christian belief.

Problems arise, according to Plantinga, when "scientists and others take evolution to be a process that is wholly unguided and driven by chance, so that it is simply a matter of chance that rational creatures like us exist. This is not compatible with Christian belief, according to which God has intentionally created us human beings in His own image. He may have done so by using a process of evolution, but it isn’t by chance that we exist."

Plantinga ironically reverses the legacy media’s obsession with the dangers of questioning naturalism in the public schools, by observing that the idea that
human beings and other living creatures have come about by chance, rather than by God’s design, is also not a proper part of empirical science. How could science show that God has not intentionally designed and created human beings and other creatures? How could it show that they have arisen merely by chance. That’s not empirical science. That’s metaphysics, or maybe theology. It’s a theological add-on, not part of science itself. And, since it is a theological add-on, it shouldn’t, of course, be taught in public schools.

No, but it is. If Darwinism is taught without any critical thinking permitted, then that metaphysic is necessarily taught. Darwinism is the creation story of the public school system. That’s what the controversy is about.

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If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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