For some time now, I’ve been threatening to publish an expose of the pretentious claims of self-styled “Thomists” who have argued that Intelligent Design is completely at odds with St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy. Well, this is it. The Big One. Get ready, and hold on to your hats.
In today’s post, I’m going to comprehensively rebut a paper by a leading “Thomistic” critic of Intelligent Design, who contends that Thomists have nothing to fear from the scientific claims of Darwinism. I’m going to show that this ID critic actually contradicts what St. Thomas Aquinas wrote on the topic of origins, on no less than fifteen specific points (yes, fifteen!), which I shall call Aquinas’ “fifteen smoking guns.” I think my readers will agree with me that a “Thomist” who contradicts his master (St. Thomas Aquinas) on no less than fifteen substantive points can hardly be considered a true Thomist.
One of the smoking guns (number 10) will be of special interest to UD readers, as it reveals an Intelligent Design-style argument in the writings of Aquinas himself!
In this post, I’ve decided to take on Professor Michael Tkacz, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Gonzaga University. A few years ago, he gave a talk entitled, Thomas Aquinas vs. The Intelligent Designers: What is God’s Finger Doing in My Pre-Biotic Soup? to the Gonzaga Socratic Club, which has been made available as a paper on the Internet. In 2008, a slightly modified version of Professor Tkacz’s paper was published as an article entitled, Aquinas vs. Intelligent Design, in the journal This Rock. I’ll be commenting on both Professor Tkacz’s original talk and his article for “This Rock.”
I’ve divided my reply to Professor Tkacz into five major parts. Part One deals with Aquinas and Darwinism. My aim is to demonstrate conclusively that the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas are fundamentally incompatible with Darwinism. I’m going to list fifteen statements (or theses) which summarize what Aquinas taught on the creation of the cosmos and the origin of living things. I will also show that Professor Tkacz disagrees with every one of these statements, and I’ll explain why no card-carrying Darwinist could agree with these statements either.
In Part Two, I shall argue that there are four key features of Aquinas’ philosophy which are totally at odds with Darwinism. You can’t be a Thomist and a Darwinist, of any stripe.
In Part Three, I aim to show that Aquinas’ views on the interpretation of the Bible would have been enough to prevent him from becoming a Darwinist, even if he had had no objections to Darwinism in principle.
Part Four will specifically address the arguments put forward against Intelligent Design in Professor Tkacz’s paper. This part could be called my “reply proper” to Professor Tkacz. In this part, after making some general comments about the paper, I’ll demonstrate that it misrepresents Intelligent Design in four major ways. After that, I’ll identify what I see as five major flaws in Professor Tkacz’s paper.
In Part Five, I’ll argue that Intelligent Design fulfils a vital theological role: it elucidates what it means to say that God (the Necessary Being) is intelligent, and also how we can know that God is intelligent. Finally, I’ll conclude with a discussion of the real reason why some people don’t like Intelligent Design. The answer, I shall argue, is that they have a deficient concept of beauty.
Also, in my reply to Professor Tkacz, I’m going to open not one, but seven theological cans of worms.
Continue reading Part One