The January issue of FIRST THINGS will include a reflection by Christoph Cardinal SchÃƒÂ¶nborn on the intelligent design/evolution controversy. His article is occasioned by physicist Stephen Barr’s argument in the October issue, “The Design of Evolution.” Barr, in turn, was responding to Cardinal SchÃƒÂ¶nborn’s earlier op-ed piece on these questions in the New York Times, which received a great deal of attention. In the issue following SchÃƒÂ¶nborn’s reflection, Barr will have a further evaluation of the state of the question.
So what is FIRST THINGS up to here? We are not distancing ourselves from the intelligent design movement. The champions of that movement have rendered a signal service in exposing the non-scientific philosophical dogmatism of many evolutionists. Nor are we sponsoring a fight between Cardinal SchÃƒÂ¶nborn and Dr. Barr. We have the greatest respect for both. Cardinal SchÃƒÂ¶nborn is, in addition to being the Archbishop of Vienna, the chief editor of The Catechism of the Catholic Church and a great friend of FIRST THINGS. Dr. Barr is a distinguished scientist and a member of our editorial board.
The intention of this continuing conversation is to clarify as precisely as possible, within the context of Catholic teaching, the lines between physics and metaphysics, between theology and science rightly understood. Unlike many Protestants, Catholics have no stake in “creationist” arguments aimed at defending an unpoetical reading of Genesis. Catholics and everyone else have an enormous stake in defending the unity of truth. That defense requires the greatest care and modesty on the part of claims advanced by both science and theology. It requires, in short, the virtues possessed in abundance by Christoph Cardinal SchÃƒÂ¶nborn and Stephen Barr.