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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thinkquote of the day: Cardinal Schonborn on Darwnism

Regular readers of this space will know that I try to keep up with the Catholic Church’s growing awareness of Darwinism, as the creation story of materialism. Here are some brief excerpts from Christoph, Cardinal Schoenborn’s thoughts on the subject, as published in First Things. Schonborn is the Pope’s point man on the Catholic Church’s response to this problem:
... armed with a richer understanding of the nature and limits of modern science, we must reexamine the genuine science at work in Darwin’s theory and its developments, and begin to separate it from ideological and worldview-oriented elements are are foreign to science. Darwin must be disentangled from Darwiism; modern evolutionary theory must be freed from its ideological shackles.

To do this, people must be permitted to exercise criticism rooted in fact against the reductionist and ideological aspects of Darwinism. A truly liberal society would at least allow students to hear o fthe debate between anti-teleological theories and those scientists and philosophers who defend teleology in nature.

Hmmm. I’m not sure that Darwin himself can be freed from the shackles of Darwinism, but His Eminence is, of course, welcome to try. Anyway, I think the discussion that Cardinal Schonborn envisions could happen in a Catholic school in my city (Toronto) and would be valuable there. But I would give no good odds on it for a public high school here. given that no value system other than administrative correctness or a current edu-fad can really be given priority. And we can be reasonably certain that the great philosophers are not a current edu-fad.

Anyway, later, he says,
An oft-cited remark by [key Darwinist] George C. Simpson runs: “Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that does not have him in mind. He was not planned.” If Simpson had said merely that no plan according to which mankind came about may be discerned using the purely quantitative-mechanical methods of scientific inquiry, then this assertion could be correct. But this way of looking at things - this “self-limitation of reason,” in the words of Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address - is not “given by nature” but is a deliberate, methodological, and eminently goal-oriented choice.

Note that Schonborn says “could be correct”, not “would be correct.”

There is, of course, a critical distinction here. If science is applied materialism then, by definition, no evidence can ever be discovered that points to purpose or design because any other explanation, no matter how ridiculous, is - by definition - to be preferred, and ignoring contrary evidence and persecuting those who bring it forward or express doubt about a materialist consensus.

(Note: You have to buy a subscription to view Schoenborn’s First Things article just now (a good value, I may say); it doesn’t go into free archives for a couple of weeks.) For a good introduction to a Catholic understanding of evolution, go here.
If you want to understand why the intelligent design controversy cannot go away, read By Design or by Chance?.

My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

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.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

Animations of life inside the cell, indexed, for your convenience.

My review of sci-fi great Rob Sawyer’s novel, The Calculating God , which addresses the concept of intelligent design. My reviews of movies relevant to the intelligent deisgn controversy.

My recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

My review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God , my backgrounder about peer review issues, or the evolutionary biologist’s opinion that all students friendly to intelligent design should be flunked.

Lists of theoretical and applied scientists who doubt Darwin and of academic ID publications.

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy at the University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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