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Catholic critics of “theistic evolution” are hopelessly divided

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John Farrell’s article, It’s Time To Retire ‘Theistic Evolution’ (Forbes magazine, March 19, 2016), cites three prominent Catholic thinkers who reject the term “theistic evolution.” But what Farrell overlooks is that these Catholics hold wildly divergent views on the simple question of whether living things were designed by God. Edward Feser insists that they were, and Stacy Trasancos apparently agrees; Ken Miller says they were not – which puts him in the same camp as Jesuit astronomer George Coyne and Catholic theologian John Haught, two outspoken defenders of evolution who were not cited in Farrell’s article. However, the clear teaching of the Catholic Church is that humans and other living things were designed by God.

What I find astonishing is that these critics of “theistic evolution” fail to recognize the enormous theological divide that separates them: Dr. Trasancos, for instance, declared she was “blown away with gratitude” that John Farrell had picked up on her recent blog essay, Theistic Evolution is Redundant (March 10, 2016), but she was curiously silent about Miller’s theological views on design, which contradict her position. In fact, the only thing that these authors share in common is their rejection of the term, “theistic evolution.” However, the various grounds on which they reject this term are quite different from one another.

The orthodox Catholic view on design

John Farrell might be surprised to learn that Thomist philosopher Ed Feser isn’t even an evolutionist, in the usual sense of the term: in a 2010 blog article, he declares his sympathy for the view that the first living things must have been specially created by God: “[T]he confidence that naturalists have that purely natural processes can generate life rests, I would submit, on their commitment to metaphysical naturalism rather than on actual empirical evidence.” In a more recent post, he affirms his belief in an original couple, Adam and Eve, and in the special creation of the human soul. Farrell quotes him favorably in his Forbes article, It’s Time To Retire ‘Theistic Evolution’, but as far as I am aware, Feser has never expressed an opinion on the use of that term. Feser is also a staunch believer in God’s design of living things, whether through an evolutionary process or a supernatural one. He maintains that “natural objects are not artifacts,” but insists, “I hold that they are designed by God,” adding that “when God creates them He does so in light of archetypes which pre-exist in the divine intellect” (Nature versus art, April 30, 2011). It would be hard to be any clearer than that.

For her part, Dr. Stacy Trasancos, whose Ph.D. is in chemistry, sees God’s design everywhere in Nature, even down to the level of the atom. In an article titled, Theistic Science Words are Going Out of Style (March 19, 2016), she writes: “I do not know how anyone can escape the conclusion that atoms themselves are designed, not just single atoms but their formation, their subatomic structure, their relation to each other, their rules for bonding.” She goes on to say that God’s design extends to “any natural process.” If Dr. Trasancos believes that even the way in which atoms bond is Divinely designed, then a fortiori, the same must hold true for complex organisms, such as human beings. As she puts it: “Design is an all-or-none proposition.”

Feser and Trasancos are both critics of Intelligent Design, but that is not the topic of this post. On this subject of God’s design of creation, the thinking of these two writers is clearly in alignment with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which declares that creatures were designed by God – “Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness” – and that human beings were also designed. Speaking of man, the Catechism states: “He is ‘the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake'” (Gaudium et Spes 24 # 3).

In his recent encyclical Laudato si’, Pope Francis reaffirms this age-old teaching:

65. …The Creator can say to each one of us: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jer 1:5). We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason “each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary“.[39]

76. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance… God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things: “For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it” (Wis 11:24).

77. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6). This tells us that the world came about as the result of a decision, not from chaos or chance, and this exalts it all the more. The creating word expresses a free choice.

The Catholic Church’s foremost theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), taught very clearly that living things were designed in detail by God, their Creator. In his Summa Theologica I, q. 103 art. 5, Aquinas addresses the question: “Whether all things are subject to the Divine government?” First, he lists some common objections to the idea that everything is subject to God’s government. Next, he rebuts these objections by citing the words of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), who asserted that all of the fine details of Nature had been planned by God:

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei v, 11): “Not only heaven and earth, not only man and angel, even the bowels of the lowest animal, even the wing of the bird, the flower of the plant, the leaf of the tree, hath God endowed with every fitting detail of their nature.” Therefore all things are subject to his government.

The novel theological views of Kenneth Miller, John Haught and George Coyne S.J.

By contrast, Catholic biochemist Kenneth Miller contends that “mankind’s appearance on this planet was not preordained” (Finding Darwin’s God, HarperCollins, 1999, p. 272), and that while God was able to guarantee the eventual emergence of intelligent life in the universe, the universe’s built-in randomness would have made it impossible for God to guarantee that these intelligent life-forms would be human beings. Miller expressed this point very candidly in a comment he made at the “Shifting Ground” conference, Bedford, New Hampshire, on March 24, 2007:

If you let the videotape of life run again, I think you’d get large streamlined predators that swam in the ocean. I think you’d get something that used photosynthesis not unlike plants but it might not be plants today. And eventually I think you would also get a large, intelligent, reflective, self-aware organism with a highly developed nervous system. Now it might be a big-brained dinosaur, or it might be a mollusk with exceptional mental capabilities.… my point is that I think eventually under the conditions that we have in this universe you would get an intelligent, self-aware and reflective organism, which is to say you’d get something like us. It might not come out of the primates, it might come from somewhere else.”

However, as Lita Cosner and Keaton Halley point out in their article, Did God create an ‘open’ universe? (Creation.com, June 2, 2015), “the Bible’s claim is not that God merely foreordained the existence of some undefined intelligent creature — it says He explicitly intended to make humans (c.f., Genesis 1:26; 2:18; Jeremiah 1:5), and to become incarnate as a human.”

Dr. Wayne Rossiter, who earned his Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Rutgers University in February of 2012 and is currently an assistant professor of biology at Waynesburg University, nails the error in Miller’s thinking in a recent blog article (March 22, 2016):

For Kenneth Miller, God didn’t create any biological structure directly or intentionally. And, if He did, then that’s not evolution.

In a similar vein, Catholic theologian John Haught affirms the autonomy and radical spontaneity of God’s creation, in an essay titled, “Darwin, Design and Divine Providence” (in Debating Design, ed. Michael Ruse and William Dembski, Cambridge University Press, 2004): “Since God is love and not domineering force, the world must be endowed with inner spontaneity and self-creativity that allows it ‘to become itself’ and thus participate in the adventure of its own creation. Any other kind of world, in fact, is theologically inconceivable” (p. 243). Once again, living things are not designed by God; they create themselves through an autonomous capacity which God bestowed on Nature.

Jesuit astronomer George Coyne goes even further than Miller and Haught: in a talk titled, “The Dance of the Fertile Universe”, he claims that the occurrence of “chance processes” in the cosmos means that not even God could know … with certainty” that “human life would come to be,” concluding that “[i]f we take the results of modern science seriously, it is difficult to believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient in the sense of the scholastic philosophers,” since “God cannot know what is not knowable” (p. 7).

Which two of these thinkers are different from the rest?

Of the five thinkers quoted above, only Feser and Trasancos hold views on human origins which are compatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church. As a staunch defender of classical theism, which declares that God is one, eternal, immaterial, necessary, omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good, Feser roundly rejects “open theism” (as well as any other view that belittles God’s attributes as Creator) as a theological aberration.

For her part, Dr. Trasancos is quite theologically conservative too: in an article titled, Five Questions From Catholics About Evolution (February 25, 2015), she declares her belief in a literal figure named Adam (the first man), who was created with the preternatural gift of immortality, and whose sin transmitted death to mankind. Her quotations from Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma also bear out her orthodoxy.

The differing grounds on which Dr. Trasancos and Professor Miller oppose “theistic evolution”

In her blog article, Theistic Evolution is Redundant (March 10, 2016), Dr. Stacy Trasancos explains her reasons for rejecting the term, “theistic evolution”:

The term “theistic evolution” is used in contrast to the atheistic idea of evolution. It means evolution set in motion by God or under the direction of God, and seems appropriate for a believer who admits some truth to evolutionary science.

But I do not like the phrase because it is a confusing redundancy. Think about it. If you are a believer, it is already implied that you see all biological and physical processes as created and held in existence by God. You do not need “theistic” in front of biological terms. Who speaks of theistic reproduction? Or theistic gestation, theistic meiosis, or theistic menstruation? Plus, to qualify a biological process as “theistic” implies that the opposite is possible, that God may not be involved in creating certain laws of nature.

Just leave the unnecessary adjective out and treat evolutionary science as a biological and physical science. Refuse to treat it as anything else. Judge it on its scientific merits or lack thereof.

In other words, Dr. Trasancos rejects the term “theistic evolution,” precisely because she rejects the possibility of atheistic evolution.

Professor Kenneth Miller’s motivations for rejecting the term “theistic evolution” are quite different. As he declared to John Farrell in his article, It’s Time To Retire ‘Theistic Evolution’ (Forbes magazine, March 19, 2016), Miller rejects the view that the outcome of evolution was fore-ordained by God:

Brown University biologist and author Kenneth R. Miller states the term simply compromises the integrity of the science. When I reached him by email, he said, ‘To me, and in the minds of most people who use the term, it implies that a god had to pre-ordain the outcome of the evolutionary process or at the very least guide it along to produce the world of today, including human beings his chosen creatures. I don’t believe that at all. Evolution is a fully-independent natural process driven by chance and necessity.’

This has irked some of his non-religious colleagues in the field, who continue to suspect that, one way or another, religious biologists like himself are trying to ‘add’ something supernatural to the mix. Miller flatly denies this.

“People like Jerry Coyne routinely accuse me of holding to the view that God intervened in the evolutionary process,” said Miller, “and it seems like no matter how many times I post on his blog that I believe exactly the opposite, he persists. That’s one reason why I reject the label of theistic evolutionist at every opportunity I get.

Miller is upfront about his belief in the autonomy of Nature in his book, Finding Darwin’s God: A scientist’s search for common ground between God and evolution (Harper Perennial, New York, 1999, p. 238):

Evolution is not rigged, and religious belief does not require one to postulate a God who fixes the game, bribes the referees, or tricks natural selection. The reality of natural history, like the reality of human history, is more interesting and more exciting.

The freedom to act and choose enjoyed by each individual in the Western religious tradition requires that God allow the future of His creation to be left open. … If events in the material world were strictly determined, then evolution would indeed move towards the predictable outcomes that so many people seem to want; but if this is the case, how could the future truly be open?

(Quoted in Did God create an ‘open’ universe? by Lita Cosner and Keaton Halley. Creation.com, June 2, 2015.)

In a nutshell: Miller rejects the term “theistic evolution” because he doesn’t believe that the process of evolution is controlled by God. As we saw above, he believes that Nature possesses a degree of autonomy, which means that the creatures it produced cannot be said to have been designed by their Creator. While the eventual emergence of some sort of intelligent life was an inevitable consequence of God’s plan, the emergence of human beings was not.

Farrell’s great misunderstanding

Miller’s reason for rejecting “theistic evolution” is thus quite different from Trasancos’s – a point which completely escapes Forbes writer John Farrell, who then proceeds to enlist Thomist philosopher Ed Feser in support of his crusade against “theistic evolution,” even though Feser has never expressed an opinion on the subject:

Now, what’s interesting here is that Miller and Trasancos are both Catholics, and Catholic intellectual tradition has a longstanding interest in science and philosophy going back to Aristotle and the ancient Greeks… Long before Darwin, for example, medieval scholastics entertained the notion that God could be viewed, to use one analogy, more as a CEO than an engineer.

One scholar who’s been all over this is Pasadena College philosophy professor Edward Feser, who regularly tangles with intelligent design creationists —and deconstructs their arguments on purely philosophical grounds…

The main point is Christian scientists who accept evolution have a much broader understanding of God than — chief engineer. And ‘theistic evolution’, as its (sic) summarized for example at Wikipedia, simply misrepresents their position.

Farrell overlooks three vital points here. The first is that Feser himself has previously refuted the very argument on which Miller bases his rejection of “theistic evolution” – namely, that fore-ordained outcomes would be incompatible with freedom. In a blog article titled, Are you for real? (May 8, 2011), Feser uses the analogy between a writer and a storybook to illustrate his point, although he is very careful to point out that “the world is not literally a mere story and we are not literally fictional characters”:

The idea is that God’s causality is not like that of one character, object, or event in a story among others; it is more like that of the author of the story. Hence to say that God is the ultimate source of all causality is not like saying that He is comparable to a hypnotist in a story who brainwashes people to do his bidding, or a mad scientist who controls them via some electronic device implanted in their brains. He is more like the writer who decides that the characters will interact in such-and-such a way.

Not only does Feser maintain that God’s authorship of creation is perfectly compatible with creaturely freedom, but he also argues (more controversially) that God’s authorship of our choices is fully compatible with libertarian human freedom, as well: “And so His being the ultimate source of all causality is no more incompatible with human freedom than the fact that an author decides that, as part of a mystery story, a character will freely choose to commit a murder, is incompatible with the claim that the character in question really committed the murder freely.”

The second point I’d like to make in reply to Farrell is that being a critic of Intelligent Design doesn’t automatically make you a critic of “theistic evolution.” Geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, author of The Language of God (Free Press, 2006) and a leading critic of Intelligent Design, strongly endorses theistic evolution, which he defines as the position that evolution is real, but that it was set in motion by God (“Building bridges“, Nature 442 (7099):110, 13 July 2006).

Finally, Farrell should also be aware that the term “theistic evolution” has evolved in meaning over the past few years – a fact which is documented by Discovery Institute Senior fellow John West in his 2009 article, According to theistic evolution, did God direct evolution and know its outcome?:

In the initial years after Darwin’s theory was proposed, most theistic evolutionists believed that God guided the evolutionary process to specific ends. However, as the Darwinian view of the undirected nature of evolution gradually solidified in the scientific community, defenders of theistic evolution increasingly disowned the idea of guided evolution. Consequently, many leading proponents of theistic evolution today insist that Darwinian evolution by definition is an undirected process and that not even God knows what the process will produce with certainty or specificity.

West then proceeds to quote passages from the writings of George Coyne and Kenneth Miller (who now disowns the label “theistic evolutionist”) to illustrate his point. He also quotes a remark in the same vein by Anglican theologian John Polkinghorne: “an evolutionary universe is theologically understood as a creation allowed to make itself.” (Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity, Crossroad Classic, 1995, p. 113.)

Concluding thoughts

It appears to me that certain Catholic thinkers are trying to stake out a position that rules out any Divine “nudging” of the process of evolution, whether visible or invisible, not on scientific grounds but on a priori theological grounds. God, we are told, would never make creatures by a process that needed nudging along. The theological grounds for this view are dubious, as it assumes that stochastic processes lacking long-term foresight are nonetheless capable of giving rise to the genetic programs we find in living creatures, but let that pass. In their new-found zeal to create a version of evolution which is immune to scientific falsification by Darwinists, some of these Catholics have been led to throw the baby away with the bath water: they have abandoned the age-old doctrine that God designed each and every species of living creature, and all its parts. That, I have to say, is a great pity. And it is an even greater pity that many Catholic thinkers whose views on design are more conservative are curiously blind to the deficiencies of the noisy minority who are leading the headlong charge away from the Church’s traditional teaching.

What do readers think?

The C- paradox is the ultimate proof that DNA has nothing to do with morphogenesis , those who deny this ultimate fact are required to prove in detail how mere DNA / proteins can generate forms ...... Just show that this equation is true : Input biochemistry >>>>> output morphogenesis This is a category unbridgeable chasm . mody
Further to my list of Catholic Saints who wrote books received in some mystical state, all which contained material relating to Genesis; there are two Catholics, not declared saints, who have received messages opposing the Decalogue containing the Genesis Sabbath Commandment, a divine law inextricably linked back to Genesis and forward looking in relation to the Transfiguration, were it was documented by reliable witnesses that Jesus/God spoke to Moses. Meaning, in terms of the belief in the Holy Trinity, Jesus was present at Sinai, as One God, who gave the Ten Commandments. The mystical evolutionist Fr. Teilhard de Chardin still remains a major influence in the Catholic Church, despite a warning from the Church on his works. He describes a mystical experience in the third person: “[T]he Thing swooped down. . . Then, suddenly, a breath of scorching air passed his forehead, broke the barrier of his closed eyelids, and penetrated his soul. The man felt he was ceasing to be merely himself; an irresistible rapture took possession of him as though all the sap of all living things, flowing at one and the same moment into the too narrow confines of his heart, was mightily refashioning the enfeebled fibres of his being . . . And at the same time the anguish of some superhuman peril oppressed him, a confused feeling that the force which had swept up him was equivocal, turbid, the combined essence of evil and goodness . . . “You called me here: here I am [said the “Thing”]. ‘Grown weary of abstractions, of attentions, of the wordiness of social life, you wanted to pit yourself against Reality entire and untamed . . . I was waiting for you in order to be made holy. And now I am established on you for life, or for death . . . He who has once seen me can never forget me: he must either damn himself with me or save me with himself.’” (Quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose, Genesis Creation and Early Man (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2000), p. 580 in Genesis through the Eyes of the Saints by Hugh Owen (2015?), chap. iv. (n. p.) from www.kolbecentre.org, Hugh Owen, Genesis through the Eyes of the Saints, chap., vii, quoting de Chardin in The Future of Mankind, p. 149.) That Teilhard de Chardin is mentioned at all in the Pope’s Encyclical, Laudato Si', is a concern, when de Chardin wrote: “The two extremes confronting us at the moment, the Marxist and the Christian, each a convinced believer in his own particular doctrine . . . [must be] we must suppose, fundamentally inspired with an equal faith in Man . . . Is it not incontestable that despite all ideological differences they will eventually, in some manner, come together on the same summit? . . . for in the nature of things everything that is faith must rise, and everything that rises must converge.” (Ibid.) What has converged in the Catholic Church (indeed the Christian movement in general) is consensus evolution science and disbelief in the stone written testimony of God/Yahweh, robbing Yahweh of plain speech. Another Catholic mystical evolutionist is Mrs Agnes Holloway was reading an article favourable to evolution, in response she thought just “how much is mind and how much is matter.” Immediately a voice in her head said, “That which controls.” The voice continued, “A thing cannot be its own cause and its own control. It must come into contact with that which it controls, but cannot be caused by it, this is a universal law.” She added, her “soul was filled with wonder and by the Holy Presence of God. . . ” (Ibid., chap., v, quoting Agnes Holloway, God’s Master Key, p. 92) What is abundantly clear, there is direct spiritual warfare centred round true origins, against a divine law, that God wrote and said He created in six days verbatim to Moses, which Jesus upheld (Matt 5:17-19). Undermine one law, and the whole movement is weak and in danger of collapse, with all Judaeo-Christian divine laws suspect to fallibility. No wonder, it seems, that the personification of perfect evil, would want a hand in the matter. mw
Thanks vjt # 18 for some pros and cons. From experience, I have found, after reading every one of her volumous books, (bar her autobiography, as yet) and the additional books to the Poem, such as the End Times; all containing no corrections mind you: the work, which I have personally found to be a scriptural marvel, and endorsed by some scientific findings; including the Shroud of Turin, are better read from your own perspective. Who do you say I am! mw
I believe that all talks of evolution are nonsense untill the following criteria is attained : Since evolution is utterly based on the assumption that DNA creates forms and since DNA does NOT generate forms , then evolution as a generation of new forms by mutating DNA is false ..... The blabla going on will not end untill it is proved that DNA really does not and cannot generate forms ..period . Biochemistry unable to generate morphology , prove me wrong by relating biochemistry to the form of the atlas / axis configuration for example if you can and you cannot ,, prove me wrong . THIS IS A CHALLENGE TO ALL EVILUTIONISTS mody
If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema. — Vatican Council I, can. 2 § I
The way we know God "from the things that have been made" is that it is obvious those things were designed. Even Richard Dawkins admits that life looks designed. He just doesn't admit that that is because it was designed. Catholics who are orthodox believe that the Universe and the life within it make it apparent that they were designed by God to all who are capable of objectivity and rationality. harry
Hi mw, Thank you for your posts. I hadn't heard about Maria Valtorta and her Poem of the Man-God before, so that was new to me. I've found a few interesting links online, both pro and con, so without endorsing any of them, I'll let readers peruse them and make up their own minds: http://www.mariavaltorta.com/ https://archive.org/details/Volume1OfThePoemOfTheManGod http://www.valtorta.org/the_poem__freeonlinereadingoffer.asp http://www.advancedchristianity.com/Pages/MPC/Docs/VanZandt.htm http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/what-can-you-tell-me-about-the-poem-of-the-man-god http://www.ewtn.com/library/scriptur/valtorta.txt http://www.maria-valtorta.net/mitch_response1.html http://www.sspxarchbishopmarcellefebvre.com/maria-valtorta-and-the-poem-of-the-man-god/ vjtorley
@vjtorley - Which puts Miller in direct conflict with constant Church teaching. buffalo
Hi buffalo, Thank you for your post. My answers would of course be Yes and Yes. I believe Miller's answers would be No and No. vjtorley
Hi mung, Thank you for your post. You're right about Miller saying that God can act at the quantum level. I don't currently possess a copy of Finding Darwin's God on hand, but it seems to me that the real question, for practical purposes, is how often God does so. And Miller's answer is: practically never. One might think, for example, that by nudging the odd quantum here or there, God could create new proteins (in defiance of the astronomical odds against their arising by undirected processes), or new genes, or whatever. But that would be simply an invisible version of Intelligent Design, and Miller doesn't fall into that camp. What's more, it would go against his belief in the autonomy of Nature: that God gives the world its own freedom to evolve. If God is controlling everything at the quantum level, then the world isn't free, after all. I would guess that Miller, as a Christian, believes in a few miracles that occurred during the course of history, so he would reserve God's quantum interventions for those special occasions. vjtorley
I think....I will ask my usual two questions. 1. Did God know what Adam would look like? 2. Did Adam look as God Planned? buffalo
Hi sbrown, In answer to your query, here are some articles by Dr. Stacy Trasancos on Intelligent Design: http://blog.onefaithonline.com/blog/article/does-science-prove-god-exists My reply here: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/philosophy/feet-to-the-fire-a-response-to-dr-stacy-trasancos/ Dr. Trasancos's response: http://stacytrasancos.com/fire-in-the-light-of-faith-a-response-to-dr-vincent-torley/ My reply here: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/philosophy/dr-stacy-trasancos-responds/ I've invited Dr. Trasancos to have the last word in this exchange, but it seems she is currently very busy. vjtorley
Vjt # 10: “In a nutshell: Miller rejects the term ‘theistic evolution' because he doesn’t believe that the process of evolution is controlled by God.” Wait a minute, it is God who does not believe that the process of theoretical common descent Darwinian evolution is controlled by the Judaeo-Christian God, as He wrote it plain enough in stone at Sinai. As for any type of theistic common descent belief, Yahweh c 700 B.C., said: "As a thief is shamed when caught . . . [they] shall be shamed . . . who say to a tree, ‘You are my father’, and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their backs to me, and not their faces. But in the time of their trouble they say, Come and save us!" (Jer. 2:27) Today, Darwin has created us in the image of a knuckle dragger simian; our recent ancestral ‘father.’ Darwin gained the world in huge praise! But still little or no praise for creating in six days, as a divine law! Few believe in such an intelligent creator, and that miracles affect data. How would we create if God? If one divine law is rubbish; flawed in the slightest, it follows, so must be Jesus; and more alarming, so our salvation; and so much for God/Jesus keeping that Divine law for our sakes! In Lent, Jesus battled with the perfection of evil, His weapon, scripture, saying: we live by every word from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4). That teaching against the personification of evil, should speak volumes mw
Mung, "If I remember correctly, in Finding Darwin’s God Miller allows God to act at the quantum level." The theory that God acts (only) at the quantum level rings sensible to me. That said, as all issues of true chance are fundamentally determined at the quantum level, that's a whole lot of only. If God is arranging for this mutation to happen, rather than that one, he has plenty of power to do anything that I see needs doing from first life onwards -- and most probably for first life as well. I am content to believe that God acts only, or at least primarily, at the quantum level. I am content to believe that God is a master designer diligently implementing his purpose. bFast
VJT: In a nutshell: Miller rejects the term “theistic evolution” because he doesn’t believe that the process of evolution is controlled by God. As we saw above, he believes that Nature possesses a degree of autonomy, which means that the creatures it produced cannot be said to have been designed by their Creator. If God is Creator of nature and knows the outcome of any process autonomous or not, then I fail to see how the result of natural processes are not designed by God. If He wanted another outcome, what evidence do you have that omnipotence would not suffice to accomplish any outcome? While the eventual emergence of some sort of intelligent life was an inevitable consequence of God’s plan, the emergence of human beings was not. So? Is the physical form of man the source of his uniqueness? velikovskys
Mung: If I remember correctly, in Finding Darwin’s God Miller allows God to act at the quantum level. So after ushering God out the front door he allows God to sneak back in through the back door. Since ID does not propose any actual mechanism it is hard to see what the "front door" is. velikovskys
Very nice post VJT. Thank you. If I remember correctly, in Finding Darwin's God Miller allows God to act at the quantum level. So after ushering God out the front door he allows God to sneak back in through the back door. Mung
One modern Catholic mystic well worth noting is Maria Valtorta. She also was given revelations of six day creation; it is believed. What a battle ensued to get rid of such brilliant writings, or to bury her with ecclesiastical honours. Now I know, that other denominations will not readily consider such non canonical revelations; nevertheless, believe me, her writings are equal to Shakespeare’s alone. Even a skimming is worth a look, in my opinion, and 20% is free; http://valtorta.org/the_poem__freeonlinereadingoffer.asp Maria Valtorta, a 47 year old spinal injured bedridden woman; born Italy, Good Friday, April 23, 1943, started to receive dictations and visions. By 1947 she completed 11000 notebook pages devoid of any corrections. Fr. Jorge Fuentes, “The Incredibly Random Composition of The Poem: A Challenge to Authors,” (no date). http://www.bardstown.com/~brchrys/ The major work, eventually entitled as The Poem of the Man-God until 2012, and then retitled The Gospel As Was Given to Me. Her other works of 5000 pages she competed by 1953, written also without corrections. (ibid) Pope Pius XII in 1948, after ten months having had a copy of the Poem, give permission to publish the works verbatim. Rev. Corrado Berti, “A Testimony On Maria Valtorta’s Poem of the Man-God,” sub-heading 3, His Holiness Pope Pius XII. http://www.bardstown.com/~brchrys/Corberti.htm However, as to be expected, controversy and rejection has also accompanied her works. Maria Valtorta died in 1961. By permission of ecclesiastical and civil authorities, in 1973 she was considered worthy enough for her mortal remains to be transferred to the Capitular Chapel in the Grand Cloister of the Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation in Florence. The Church permitted the inscription upon her tomb: “DIVINARUM RERUM SCPRIPTRIX” (Writer of Divine Things). It remains the prerogative of the Catholic Church to determine the authenticity of Maria Valtorta. Officially, the works may now be read. However, Saint Gabriele Allegra, biblical scholar, missionary, translator of the Bible into Chinese, and the only scriptural biblical scholar beatified from the last century was outspoken in support of the works of Maria Valtorta. Three saints have considered the Poem supernatural. Saint Padre Pio, his book also originally placed on the Index of Forbidden Books, advocated the messages of Maria Valtorta to be read, he allegedly said: “I don’t advise you to—I order you to!” (David J. Webster, “Voiding The Voices Of Heaven,” 2002, p. 59, note no. 22, cites Emilio Pisani, ed., Padre Pio and Maria Valtorta (1999), p. 68. The book “recounts several verified and documented mystical experiences Maria Valtorta had with Padre Pio while they were both alive.” http://www.saveourchurch.org/voidheaven.pdf) Saint Mother Teresa had a picture commissioned of the Holy Mother from the works of Maria Valtorta by artist Susan Conroy. The Saint carried only three books with her; The Poem Of The Man-God was one of them. (Ibid) Other sections of the Church work in mysterious ways. The official Vatican website has promoted The Poem in Chinese (ibid). Among others, approved for reading was The Poem Of The Man-God by Archbishop Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum for the Indian translation, and who granted a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, complete with Vatican seal. Additional references “A Summa and Encyclopedia to Maria Valtorta’s Extraordinary Work” by Stephen Austin, contains over 1000 pages of extensive research. http://www.valtorta.org.au/Defence/Maria%20Valtorta%20Summa%20%26%20Encyclopedia.pdf David J. Webster, “Voiding The Voices Of Heaven.” http://www.mariavaltortawebring.com/ mw
To me, the main thing is that Trasancos and Feser should not want to be misrepresented by Farrell just for the sake of being "heard." Whatever that means in the context. News
Another Catholic weighing in... ...if only to say that I see far too many of my Catholic sisters and brothers not only prefer to remain Politically and Scientismally Correct about these issues, but reject even beginning to think honestly and critically about them. It is a mess. Andrew asauber
See, Five Answers for Stacy Trasancos about Evolution. http://kolbecenter.org/five-answers-stacy-trasancos-evolution/ mw
What an excellent post, vjt. At least four venerated women in the Catholic Church have provided mystical writing confirming a literal six day creation conforming to the Genesis Sabbath Commandment. Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), made Doctor of the Church 2012, in Scivias and Book of Divine Works was given understanding of Genesis and John 1:1. Venerable Mary of Agreda (1602-1665) in The Mystical City of God, and stigmatic Blessed Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) in The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations, mystically understood Genesis; the former through the Holy Mother. St. Bridget (1303-1323), Patron Saint of Europe, wife and mother of eight children, was the only women ever to found a religious Order, Ordo Sanctissimi Salvatoris. She may also be called the patron saint of failures. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Bridget in a general audience on 27 October 2010, saying that the value of St. Bridget’s Revelations, sometimes the object of doubt, was specified by the Blessed John Paul II in the letter Spes Aedificandi: “Yet there is no doubt that the Church, ‘wrote my beloved predecessor,’ which recognized Bridget’s holiness without ever pronouncing on her individual revelations, has accepted the overall authenticity of her interior experience.” http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lie3wTer2GAJ:www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20101027_en.html+%22which+recognized+Bridget's+holiness+without+ever+pronouncing+on+her+individual+revelations,+has+accepted+the+overall+authenticity+of+her+interior+experience%22&hl=en The writings of Bridget are a masterpiece. http://www.catholic-saints.net/saints/st-bridget/st-bridget-of-sweden.php For Jesus to be “the truth” (Jn. 14:6), the Genesis Sabbath Commandment must be true, and unalterably true, in letter and spirit; as for one thing, Jesus stamped his teaching authority on it (Matt. 5:17–20); saying it is hypocrisy to circumvent beyond original clear unequivocal meaning (Matt. 15:1–9). Equally, Jesus stamped his authority in what he said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” (Matt. 28:18) If we take the Judaeo-Christian God at His word, Yahweh/Jesus in terms of the Holy Trinity are One super intelligent creationist. For a better understanding of origins, it is better to start at Sinai with the Decalogue, which points back to Genesis confirming the condensed key truths of our state of existence and our divine origins from perfection. It must be remembered that the Ten Commandments are the only scripture written by God. Thus they must be of extreme importance to aid our understanding. As a catholic, I can only say the Church is in a mess. It stains at divorce and swallows a divine commandment - six days actually means 13.7 billion years. No wonder, in England, it is predicted by 2067, from the Spectator 2015, Christianity will have effectively disappeared at this rate of theistic biblical interpretations. mw
"many Catholic thinkers whose views on design are more conservative are curiously blind to the deficiencies of the noisy minority who are leading the headlong charge away from the Church’s traditional teaching" Curioysly blind or willfully blind? They should have the good sense to see that they have much more in common with the ID theorists than they do with the "noisy minority." And at this point, it is not a good reflection on their insight or character if they don't. Theistic naturalists (Phillip Johnson's term) depend on these more conservative folk to keep the noise machine going. They confuse the issues so that lay people can't see clearly enough to ask the hard, necessary questions. For example, if God "made everything" how is that different from God "made nothing." Knowledge consists in specifics. If God can't foresee or preplan, how is that different from the nihilist universe of new atheism? How do any of Miller's or Coyne's claims relate to God as portrayed in the Jewish and Christian tradition? What is the significance of the fact that they don't? If Feser and Trasancos don't want science to be the publicly funded voice of naturalist atheism, they should stop enabling it. They should stop being people John Farrell would want to interview. We'll see if that ever happens. PS: Come on in. The water's fine. News
Just a note as a newbie, this was a fascinating post. I wonder why Dr. Trasancos would be against ID? Any links? sbrown

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