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Lay Catholics questioning Darwinism?

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For some years, it has not been the practice of many Catholics to question Darwinism. Most got sucked years ago into some muddle according to which the great theologian Thomas Aquinas didn’t supposedly think there could be such a thing as observable design in nature because that would make God a “tinkerer.” Some tinker.

Anyway, it was interesting to see that, just recently, a California Catholic paper has started to smell the coffee at last and picked up on George Weigel’s article from First Things:

The empirical evidence suggests that the notions of a purposeful Creator and a purposeful creation cannot be dismissed as mere pre-modern mythology. That may help a few Nones out of the materialist bogs in which they’re stuck.

Memo to Nones: Darwin can’t explain Cambrian explosion” at California Catholic Daily

The comments reveal a variety of approaches, including one commenter who wants to just blame the Cambrian explosion on Snowball Earth. Right. That’ll solve everything.

Of course, the disgruntled can always blame it all on that Yale prof David Gelernter.

But lay Catholics actually waking up… wow.

See also: At First Things, they are also getting over Darwinism

8 Replies to “Lay Catholics questioning Darwinism?

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    Lay Catholics have been on their own for decades. There is basically nothing left of Catholic philosophy. The Socialist clergy drove off droves of mainstream laity back in the ’60s, and as near as I can tell, ALL that is left of “Catholicism” is: baptisms, communion, and Sunday mass (try not to fall asleep). Although my baby daughter is marrying a nice Irish Catholic boy, and they will have a traditional Catholic wedding mass with all the bells and whistles. The Catholic church has always been great on Ceremonies. It comes from inheriting the Roman social system when Rome went Catholic.
    The only really important issue for The Church is that American Catholics PAY for the operation of the Universal Church, and American Catholics are fed up with a clergy whose only real interests are: 1) spreading godless Socialist philosophy, 2) raping altar boys in the vesting chamber.
    But you have to understand that Catholics never used Scripture as a basis for Philosophy. They use Aristotle and Aquinas for that. And NONE of the Laity are gonna waste their time reading those guys.

  2. 2
    jstanley01 says:

    Re at linked:

    Gelernter is intrigued by “intelligent design” approaches to these evolutionary conundra but also suggests that, “as a theory,” intelligent design “would seem to have a long way to go.” But to dismiss intelligent design out of hand—to brand it piety masquerading as science—is, well, unscientific. The fossil record and molecular biology now suggest that Darwinian answers to the Big Questions constitute the real fundamentalism: a materialistic fideism that, however shaky in dealing with the facts, is nonetheless deeply entrenched in 21st-century imaginations. Thus, Gelernter asks whether today’s scientists will display Darwin’s own courage in risking cultural disdain by upsetting intellectual apple carts.

    George Weigel, “Getting Beyond Darwin” at First Things

    I would suggest the reason that ID upsets the modern cultural applecart so badly is rooted in human nature. Human beings want an overarching “theory of everything” to feel at home in the world. Darwinism as the chief cornerstone of modern scientism, like literalist Christianity and other traditional religions, provides exactly that. If the just-so stories happen to involve natural selection or Hindu turtles doesn’t matter as much to human yearning, just as long as the narrative covers everything.

    ID’s unforgiveable sin is that it robs the modern religion of scientism of its ability to run the gamut. ID says that the scientific method can only go so far — able to determine, for instance, that intelligence had to play a role in a cosmos so “fearfully and wonderfully made” as the one that we inhabit — but no farther. ID opens the door to the possibility that the scientific method may never be able to identify who the required agent(s) was/were or how he/she/it/they did it. (See Hebrews 11:3.)

    That is why, for those who sit at the top of what Berlinski calls the “reigning orthodoxy” of Darwinism, the primary consideration is not what the evidence shows. Not if the evidence fails to show “turtles all the way down.” In Churchillian terms, this is a state of affairs “up with which they will not put.”

    Because of human nature… “How religion drives science and why it matters.” –Cornelius Hunter

  3. 3
    EricMH says:

    @jstanley01 If that’s all ID does, then it’s no better than god of the gaps. And history shows god of the gaps is not a very good scientific paradigm, otherwise we’d still be sacrificing to the corn god to give us a good crop this year, instead of developing modern agriculture. I have industrialized farming to thank for my microwavable corndog, not thanks to the corn god.

  4. 4
    jstanley01 says:

    Hi Eric. I’m a long-time lurker but rare poster at UD, who has read and appreciated many of your posts. So it’s a pleasure to engage in a bit of back-and-forth with you, thank you for taking the time to respond.

    First, I’m not claiming that the unforgivable sin I pointed out is ID’s only sin; it engages in many and various. 🙂 But if I understand the God of the Gaps argument correctly, it seems to me that at this point in the history of science, it is an argument that has gone beyond the status of a stale anachronism to the brink of becoming a canard.

    Note that, I am taking the basic premise of the God of the Gaps argument to be that the progressive march materialistic science is destined to explain every observable phenomenon. And that on the road to proving out this premise empirically, science has shown, by an unbroken record of success at gap-filling, that trying to insert a god, or gods, or any other non-materialistic factor into any of the small and narrowing gaps along the storm front of naturalistic explanations represents an exercise in futility.

    The problem is, that’s not even close to what’s been happening, at least from my vantage point as a confirmed layman.

    What I see are things like: Dark matter and dark energy make up 95% of the universe, yet no one knows what either of them are and prospects don’t look good for finding out. And the Big Bang seems more and more to be explicable in materialistic terms only by postulating a multiverse, about which any experimental knowledge seems impossible to envisage. Meanwhile, the origin of life from inorganic precursors is a puzzle no one is close to putting together. And what the solution to “the hard problem of consciousness” may be, scientists have no clue. No need to get into where the information written into DNA came from, or why the entire cosmos seems fine-tuned for life (or even mention the Axis of Evil).

    God of the Gaps, to me, is looking more and more like the God of the Unbridgeable Chasms.

    Phillip E. Johnson wrote some time ago, in Darwin on Trial, that scientists would and should work to prove his objections wrong. Fair enough. But there may be — somewhere out there in the etherial wide-blue yonder — limitations on what the scientific method can account for among observed phenomena. Indeed, from a historic perspective, the fact that ID is bubbling up from the religious and philosophical realms in a manner that is causing scientists to dither long-windedly, may be a signal that those limits are being reached.

    We’ll see. Meanwhile, whatever the case may be — as I eat my corndog whilst ignoring rants about the unforgivable sin represented by the ketchup on it — I look forward to watching the parade go by.

  5. 5
    EricMH says:

    @jstanley01, wow very gracious words of yours!

    Right now my hobby horse is that we should not settle with ID’s inference to design and stop there. While there is certainly value to showing there are unbridgeable chasms that cannot be crossed by methodological naturalism, that doesn’t really do anything to supplant the paradigm of MN. While there are many things that MN cannot explain, what it can explain it explains very well and has led to the majority of modern scientific and technological progress.

    You make a great point that MN is really crippled right now. So many ‘dark’ fudge factors to explain away the gaps in the MN explanations.

    But, for ID to make progress, it is insufficient to point at MN’s incomplete puzzle and say “look, most of the pieces are missing.”

    ID needs to go further, and describe the shape of the missing pieces and what those pieces might be, and then go out and make new discoveries and advances that MN is incapable of doing. That is the nature of a science. When microbiology was discovered, it was not a matter of ‘miniscule organisms cause disease’, i.e. the miniscule organisms of the gaps, and research stopped there. We were able to use the science of microbiology to fill in this missing piece in our world view, and then from there go on to cure diseases and prolong human life. ID needs to do something like that if it wants to claim the right to be a scientific field, and not merely a philosophical argument from scientific data.

    Unfortunately, what I mostly see is ID proponents shut down Darwinists and then pat themselves on the back as having completed the job, when instead the failing of MN is a prime opportunity for ID to make its case as a new scientific paradigm with positive advances.

    No one gets excited about negative causes. What really motivates people is a new positive thing.

  6. 6
    buffalo says:

    This lay Catholic has been promoting IDvolution for many years now.

  7. 7
    buffalo says:

    @Vmahuna post 1

    An offensive post.

    If one falls asleep at Mass they have no clue what is going on.

    FYI – the abuse crisis was one of homopredation. Most were close family members or friends and not even altar boys. The majority are pederasty. 98% of priests were not accused.

    I do agree that there are many unbelieving priests who think the church is a non-governmental social justice agency and disregard its primary mission of saving souls.

  8. 8
    jstanley01 says:

    Hi Eric, thanks again for the engagement. Much appreciated.

    My first post, delivered from atop my particular horse, represents an attempt to articulate my best answer to a question that I have and others share. Which is, why are the MNs so upset about ID’s design inference? Since it’s not about the evidence, what’s the problem? I mean really?

    There is no gainsaying the progress that MN has enabled human beings to make. Against which, I think what the MNs who worship at the altar of scientism fear the most, should their project fail as a “theory of everything,” is a return to Sagan’s “demon haunted world.” So for whatever comfort it may lend, I would recommend that they recall that the original iconoclasts in opposition to the corn gods weren’t methodological naturalists, they were Hebrews.

    Discussing how ID ought to progress as an alternative scientific paradigm to MN, I am no doubt out of my depth. So take my musings with as many grains of salt as may be needed.

    Maybe ID isn’t viable as an alternative scientific paradigm. Maybe what the design inference, where applicable, represents is a full-stop beyond which the scientific method simply can’t go. IOW, maybe what ID does is define boundaries.

    Since the design inference has been made rigorous, it looks to me like the evidence buttressing it has been accumulating via the natural progress of science. No special “ID research” needed. What a surprise if the ID/NM divide turns out to be temporary. (There’s a gap fill for ya! 🙂 ) Maybe what’s really happening is that scientists are becoming aware of their method’s boundaries, and what IDists represent are early adopters.

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