Apr 13, 2008

Intelligent Design--A Discussion

A couple of posts back, one of our sons contributed viewpoints on the movie, Expelled. Another son has gone into more depth on the Catholic Church's position on science, evolution, and intelligent design, as shown below. I'm sure he would welcome comments.
The Catholic Church does not try to determine scientific questions, but being the guardians and defenders of the Truth, it obviously sets boundaries when scientific "answers" try to say that theories conflict with faith. As was noted on a recent Catholic Answers Live question I heard in the last week or so, those boundaries include the following:
  • God create the universe (First Cause), keeps it in existence, create the physical laws that govern it. Unlike what the Deists believe, he did not create it and leave; he keeps in existence.
  • Most critically, Pope Pius XII clearly stated in his encyclical in 1950 (Humanus Generis) that two human beings (male and female) are the parents of all human beings, and that God created them in his image and likeness -- creating them a soul whose creation cannot be explained by physical laws or cannot be passed off with a materialistic explanation.
  • Those two parents committed a sin that caused them to lose their preternatural gifts, saw a loss of innocence, a promise of a Redeemer, and a concupiscence to sin.
When evolution claims multiple first parents, for instance, it is not true. When science claims that the universe has always been in existence, again, it strays into untruth.

Beyond that, though, explaining the origin of species is left up to science to explain -- the Church does not try to. Whether evolution is bad science or not, I don't believe that I'm qualified to give an opinion. There have been many instances where evolutionary theory (Piltdown Man being a great example) goes off the deep end and is totally disproved as a fake and a hoax.

Yet, on the other hand, while offering proof that cellular structures could not evolve so quickly in the time frame envisioned by most scientists needs to be pointed out, an alternate theory needs to be provided other than "intelligent design." Throwing out intelligent design when asked to provide a theory of how something happened when discussing processes of science is unsatisfying and does not fit well into the Church's long stance of supporting the development of science. That to me has been my biggest concern of throwing out intelligent science as an alternative -- "they" who offer need to offer something intellectually satisfying.

For instance, a Big Bang event (which is now generally accepted science) certainly coincides with the thought of a universal beginning. In addition, cellular and mitochondrial examination has started to explain that we all come from a common mother. That is the kind of science that fits in with the Church's boundaries and, yet, provides scientific knowledge.

Ultimately, science is not going to be able to explain everything, but on the other hand, trying to shut down inquiry by saying "intelligent design" and not providing an alternate scientific theory is not an answer.

I will certainly look forward to seeing the movie. Am I opposed to a science teacher saying that the Church is wrong on insisting on his boundaries? Most definitely. That is not the realm of science, and if that happens, the perpetrators need to be called out. Good science, Faith, and Reason can coexist, and there is much been said and written by our current pontiff on this very topic -- Regensburg being one of the more famous examples.

My own humble opinion, [Your son]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am unclear on the meanings of some terms. What is the distinction between Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution? Does one imply the other? Are they compatible? Are they mutually exclusive?