Intelligent Design

What kind of evolution does the Pope believe in?

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Last Friday RealClearReligion.org, featured an article titled, The Pope Believes in Evolution (Aleteia, 13 June 2014) by M. Anthony Mills, a Ph.D. candidate in the history and philosophy of science at Notre Dame University. Mills’ article was written in response to an earlier article by George Dvorsky (io9.com, March 16, 2013), titled, Does the new Pope believe in evolution? In his article, Dvorsky argued that Catholicism and Darwinism don’t mix: you cannot accept both. Darwinian evolution, according to Dvorsky, is “a God killer,” “a stand alone system,” a “fully autonomous process that does not require any guiding ‘rationality’ ([Pope] Benedict’s term) to function.”

In his reply to Dvorsky, Anthony Mills makes several concessions that are quite remarkable, for a Catholic philosopher. First, Mills endorses the scientific rejection of teleology lock, stock and barrel: he tells his readers that final causes have now been banished completely from science (including biology). Mills appears to be unfamiliar with the work of Professor Karen Neander, a philosopher of science who contends that the teleological notion of a function is absolutely indispensable to biology. One example she cites is the statement that the function of the heart is to pump blood. There is simply no way to rephrase this statement in non-teleological language without robbing it of its meaning.

Mills’ second naive concession is his assertion that “Darwin proved” that “the complexity that appears to be the mark of a creator is in fact the end-result of random variations over a long period of time.” That would be news to geneticists like James Shapiro, whose recent best-seller, Evolution: A View from the 21st century trenchantly criticizes Darwinism for its inability to satisfactorily account for biological complexity. Shapiro proposes as an alternative his own theory of “natural genetic engineering,” but he openly acknowledges that much work needs to be done in testing his proposal.

Third, Mills blithely declares that “random genetic variations over time” are quite sufficient to answer the scientific question, “How and when did humans come onto the scene?” God, maintains Mills, was perfectly free to make us through a random process if He so wished; He creates things simply by keeping them in existence: “God gives rise to and sustains existence, suffusing it with meaning — whether or not man came from fish, ape, or stardust and whether or not the laws governing that evolution are probabilistic.” Hence, according to Mills, “Evolution doesn’t refute God any more than electromagnetism refutes moral conscience.” However, Mills’ analogy is a flawed one, for if the theory of electromagnetism could explain the workings of the neurons in the human brain in an entirely deterministic fashion, it would indeed render moral conscience redundant as an explanation of human actions. Likewise, the notion of God making us through a random process is an oxymoron: if the process in question is genuinely random, then whatever it generates cannot be the result of design. Of course, God might make us through a process that appears to be random, but that is entirely another matter.

Catholicism and Darwinism: What Dvorsky got right and what he didn’t

Before I explain why I, as a Catholic, reject Mills’ faulty reasoning regarding the role of God as Creator, I’d like to go back to the article by George Dvorsky, which Mills critiqued.

Dvorsky’s article correctly noted that “Catholics don’t believe in polygenism, the idea that humans are descended from a group of early humans” (for a discussion of the binding nature of this teaching, see here). That belief immediately puts them at odds with evolutionary biologists, who assert that the human population has never numbered less than 1,000 individuals (see also here). The recent attempt by the Catholic philosopher Kenneth Kemp to reconcile this scientific claim with Catholic teaching fails spectacularly: he supposes that Adam and Eve may have inter-bred with identical-looking hominids who had human bodies but lacked human souls. However, Professor Kemp’s proposal is at odds with the dogma proclaimed by the ecumenical council of Vienne in 1311, that the rational soul is essentially the form of the human body – making the notion of a being having a human body but lacking a human soul an oxymoron. Thus there is a real tension between Catholic teaching about human origins and the findings of science. Whereas scientific models of human populations in the past are naturalistic, in that they assume that the genes in the human population have never been manipulated by an Intelligent Agent, and that the size of the human population has never been influenced by any such agent, Catholicism is quite open to both forms of Divine intervention. Consequently Catholics are bound to reject conclusions regarding the size of the original human population which based entirely on population genetics.

Dvorsky was also correct when he pointed out that according to Catholic teaching, the human soul is “a creation of God and not the product of material forces. On this point, the Church will never waver.” Here, again, the tension between Catholic teaching and scientific findings is very real. Many psychologists have argued that recent experiments rule out the existence of free will, leaving no place for the human soul to influence our actions. (I should point out, however, that Benjamin Libet, who pioneered these experiments, took a different view, and that some neuroscientists continue to champion belief in free will.)

However, Dvorsky’s article also got a lot wrong – it claims, for instance, that the Catholic Church “openly rejects Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism saying that it ‘pretends to be science‘”, but the source it cited in support of this astonishing claim was not a Pope or bishop but a Jesuit priest, Fr. George Coyne, a former director of the Vatican Observatory who was, according to the Italian news agency ANSA, speaking informally at a conference in Florence when he made his off-the-cuff remark that intelligent design “isn’t science, even though it pretends to be.” I should note in passing that Fr. Coyne made the following assertion on the PBS “Faith and Reason” series in 2006: “The knowledge of God, the belief in God, is what I call an a-rational process. It’s not rational – it doesn’t proceed by scientific investigation – but it’s not irrational because it doesn’t contradict my reasoning process. It goes beyond it.” Fr. Coyne appears not to understand the teaching of his own Church, which has dogmatically declared that “God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason.” Although it does not describe this knowledge of God as scientific knowledge, the Church declares that “ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” In short: Fr. Coyne is hardly a credible source regarding the Catholic Church’s teaching on evolution.

Pope Benedict XVI wearing Cappello Romano during an open-air Mass in 2007. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

In his article, Dvorsky also cited the following statement by Pope Benedict XVI said about evolution at a meeting with the clergy of the dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso, at the Church of St Justin Martyr, Auronzo di Cadore, on Tuesday, 24 July 2007:

Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called “creationism” and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God. This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance. This is what I wanted to say in my lecture at Regensburg: that reason should be more open, that it should indeed perceive these facts but also realize that they are not enough to explain all of reality. They are insufficient. Our reason is broader and can also see that our reason is not basically something irrational, a product of irrationality, but that reason, creative reason, precedes everything and we are truly the reflection of creative reason. We were thought of and desired; thus, there is an idea that preceded me, a feeling that preceded me, that I must discover, that I must follow, because it will at last give meaning to my life. This seems to me to be the first point: to discover that my being is truly reasonable, it was thought of, it has meaning.

This is hardly a ringing endorsement of Darwinian evolution. Pope Benedict expressly declared that evolution could not explain the human capacity to reason: on this point, he is clearly siding with Alfred Russel Wallace, who famously invoked a higher power to explain the origin of human intelligence, and against Charles Darwin, who considered his theory of evolution to be an all-encompassing account of living things, including ourselves.

Human beings, according to Pope Benedict, were planned by God from the beginning – in his own words, “We were thought of and desired.” In a homily given in St. Peter’s square on 24 April 2005, the Pope went even further:

We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. 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.

On this point, Pope Benedict’s are completely at odds with the views articulated in the Nobel Laureates Initiative, a joint declaration of 38 Nobel Laureates (most of them scientists) in a petition sent to the Kansas Board of Education on September 9, 2005, and organized by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. The petition contained the following statement:

Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne agrees, although he qualifies his remarks by adding that the evolutionary process lacks any purpose, as far as we can tell. In an article titles, What’s the problem with unguided evolution?, he writes (italics Coyne’s):

[E]volution is, as far as we can tell, purposeless and unguided. There seems to be no direction, mutations are random, and we haven’t detected a teleological force or agent that pushes it in one direction. And it’s important to realize this: the great importance of Darwin’s theory of natural selection is that an unguided, purposeless process can nevertheless produce animals and plants that are exquisitely adapted to their environment. That’s why it’s called natural selection, not supernatural selection or simply selection.

Theistic evolution, then, is supernaturalism, and admitting its possibility denies everything we know about how evolution works. It waters down science with superstition. It should be no crime — in fact, it should be required — for teachers to tell student that natural selection is apparently a purposeless and unguided process (I use the word “apparently” because we’re not 100% sure, but really, do we need to tell physics students that the decay of an atom is “apparently” purposeless?).

Anthony Mills is unfazed by this reasoning: he contends that God can make use of “random genetic variations over time” as a secondary cause by which to accomplish His purposes. On this model, God is rather like the designer of a poker machine, who makes the wheels spin randomly, knowing that eventually, the winning combination will come up. Unlike the poker machine designer, however, God actively maintains the cosmos in being, although He does not guide it towards this or that result. On Mills’ model, one might say that God envisaged our eventual emergence as a species via the evolutionary process, although even this is questionable: did God intend, for instance, that Homo sapiens, rather than the New Caledonian crow or the bottlenose dolphin, would become the first intelligent species in the history of life on Earth?

The evolution envisaged by former Pope Benedict, on the other hand, was very much a God-guided evolution. And on this point, Pope Francis (who is a very good friend of former Pope Benedict’s) would undoubtedly agree.

I’d now like to turn to Anthony Mills’ outlandish claim that the Catholic Church’s greatest theologians, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, would have been quite comfortable with Darwin’s theory of evolution.

What did St. Augustine really think about evolution?

Saint Augustine in His Study by Sandro Botticelli, 1480, Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

In his article, Anthony Mills writes that “the Church acknowledges the existence of an evolutionary process — in fact Saint Augustine suggested as much in the 5th century A.D.” Scholarly attempts to cite Saint Augustine as a proponent of evolutionary theory date back to 1871, when St. George Mivart published his work, The Genesis of the Species. Critics responded immediately; but in 1926, a Catholic priest, Fr. Michael J. McKeough, wrote a volume entitled The Meaning of Rationes Seminales in Saint Augustine, in which he argued that although Augustine did not hold that one species of living thing could develop into another, Augustine’s notion of “the gradual appearance of living things upon the earth through the operation of natural laws and secondary causes constitutes a satisfactory philosophical basis for evolution, and merits for him the title of Father of Evolution” (pp. 109-110).

Was St. Augustine a proto-evolutionist?

In his work, De Genesi Ad Litteram, St. Augustine theorized that at the beginning of time, God created all living things in the form of germinal seeds, or rationes seminales (also known as “seminal reasons”). To modern ears, this may sound like a proto-evolutionary theory. Was it? Since St. Augustine’s theory of rationes seminales sounds rather bizarre from a modern perspective, I shall cite an explanation from an unimpeachable source – namely, that given by Fr. Frederick Copleston S.J. in his monumental work, A History of Philosophy. Volume 2: Augustine to Scotus (Burns and Oates, Tunbridge Wells, 1950; paperback edition 1999, p. 77):

The rationes seminales are germs of things or invisible powers or potentialities, created by God in the beginning in the humid element and developing into the objects of various species by their temporal unfolding… Each species then, with all its future developments and particular members, was created at the beginning in the appropriate seminal reason.

Since St. Augustine believed that each species of plant and animal was created separately by God with its own ratio seminalis, it should be quite clear that his theory was not an evolutionary one. The only “development” Augustine envisaged was that of individuals from invisible germ seeds. The idea that species may have arisen in this fashion was utterly contrary to what he wrote on the subject of origins.

In his City of God (Book V, chapter 11), St. Augustine also taught that God personally planned the design of each and every living creature, and that His providence had not left “even the entrails of the smallest and most contemptible animal, or the feather of a bird, or the little flower of a plant, or the leaf of a tree, without an harmony, and, as it were, a mutual peace among all its parts.” It would be difficult to find a more anti-Darwinian view of Nature than the one articulated here by St. Augustine. For the theological motivation underlying Darwin’s Origin of Species was to show that no such Providence existed: God, if He exists, planned only the general laws of Nature, and not the details of creation, which are largely due to accident rather than design.

St. Augustine’s Biblical literalism

St. Augustine also maintained that the world was 6,000 years old (City of God, Book XII, chapter 12); that creatures of all kinds were created instantly at the beginning of time; he expressly taught that living creatures were created separately according to their kinds (De Genesi ad Litteram 3.12.18-20, 5.4.11, 5.6.19, 5.23.46); that Adam and Eve were historical persons; that Paradise was a literal place (City of God, Book XIII, chapter 21); that the patriarch Methusaleh actually lived to the age of 969 (City of God, Book XV, chapter 11); that there was a literal ark, which accommodated male and female land animals of every kind (City of God, Book XV, chapter 27); and that the Flood covered the whole earth (City of God, Book XV, chapter 27).

What’s more, St. Augustine vigorously defended these doctrines against philosophical opponents, who maintained that the human race was very old; that Paradise was a purely spiritual state and not a place; that none of the Biblical patriarchs lived past the age of 100; that the Ark wouldn’t have been big enough to accommodate all of the animals; and that no flood could ever have covered the whole earth. These intellectual adversaries of Augustine’s included pagans who were skeptical of the Genesis account as well as unnamed Christians who sought to downplay the literal meaning of Genesis in favor of a purely allegorical interpretation. Although St. Augustine had a great fondness for allegorical interpretations of Scripture, he also felt that he was bound to remain faithful to the literal sense of Scripture.

In his De Genesi ad Litteram, St. Augustine scoffed at unnamed Christians who were willing to accept the doctrine of the virginal conception of Jesus Christ, but who balked at the Genesis account of the creation of Eve from Adam, preferring to adopt an allegorical interpretation:

But for all that, we have not the slightest doubt that the only creator both of human beings and of trees is God, and we faithfully believe that the woman was made from the man independently of any sexual intercourse, even if the man’s rib may have been served up from the creator’s work by angels: in the same way we faithfully believe that a man was made from a woman independently of any sexual intercourse, when the seed of Abraham was disposed by angels in the hand of the mediator (Gal. 3:19). Both things are incredible to unbelievers; but why should believers find what happened in the case of Christ quite credible when taken in the literal, historical sense, and what is written about Eve only acceptable in its figurative signification?

(On Genesis: The Works of Saint Augustine (#13). Edited by John E. Rotelle. Translated by Edmund Hill. New City Press, New York. 2003. Book IX, 16.30, pp. 393-394.)

Would St. Augustine have been an evolutionist if he were alive today?

It may be objected that St. Augustine would have embraced Darwin’s theory of evolution, were he alive today, since he also taught that when there is a conflict between a proven truth about Nature and a particular reading of Scripture, an alternative reading of Scripture must be sought. The problem with this objection is that it overlooks the more fundamental question: what would St. Augustine have regarded as a “proven truth”? Professor Ernan McMullin addresses this issue in his essay, “Galileo on Science and Scripture,” in The Cambridge Companion to Galileo, ed. Peter Machamer (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 271-347). He writes:

Augustine’s emphasis is on the certainty that is needed for the claim to natural knowledge to count as a challenge to a Scripture reading. He uses phrases in this context like “the facts of experience,” “knowledge acquired by unassailable arguments or proved by the evidence of experience,” and “proofs that cannot be denied” (above). (1998, p. 294.)

The problem with this view for evolutionists is that the case for the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is not demonstrative in the sense intended by St. Augustine. It does not rest on “proofs that cannot be denied,” “unassailable arguments” or “the facts of experience.” Experience tells us only that some species can evolve (e.g. sticklebacks and cichlid fish). However, there is no direct evidence from scientific observations that microbe-to-man evolution is possible, as a result of purely natural processes.

In his essay, Ernan McMullin ascribes an exegetical principle to St. Augustine that makes him sound strikingly modern: the Principle of Limitation:

Since the primary concern of Scripture is with human salvation, texts of Scripture should not be taken to have a bearing on technical issues of natural science.

However, it is highly doubtful that St. Augustine himself ever advocated this principle, as Dr. Gregory Dawes has pointed out in an article titled, Could there be another Galileo case? Galileo, Augustine and Vatican II. In his De Genesi ad litteram 2.16.33-34, St. Augustine cited Scripture (“Star differs from star in brightness” – 1 Corinthians 15:41) on the technical scientific question of whether the sun and the stars are actually of equal intrinsic brightness (as some of his Christian contemporaries were suggesting). On Dr. Dawes’ view, what St. Augustine really maintained was that biblical texts can have a bearing on technical issues of natural science, even if they were not written for that purpose. Although the Scriptures were meant to teach us how to get to Heaven, what they say must be taken with the utmost seriousness, on those rare occasions when the Scriptures make direct reference to events in the physical world.

What about St. Thomas Aquinas?

St. Thomas Aquinas. Painting from an altarpiece in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, by Carlo Crivelli (15th century). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

In his article, Anthony Mills also adduces the theological authority of St. Thomas Aquinas in support of his view that God may have fashioned us using a random process:

As Saint Thomas Aquinas emphasized long before the Scientific Revolution, natural science and theology are not competing bodies of knowledge; rather they are distinct and complementary forms of inquiry…

Darwin only showed that biology — as opposed, say, to metaphysics, theology, or ethics — should dispense with “final causes,” as physics did in Newton’s day…

The problem is not Darwin, but the modern notion that theology can only discuss what science fails to explain. Because at one time science failed to explain biological order, people began believing that biological order was safe from scientific advance. But if you profess your religion from within the gaps of scientific knowledge, you will inevitably get crushed as those gaps close.

Better to follow Aquinas, who made a distinction of kind between theological and natural-scientific questions.

It takes breath-taking chutzpah to write an article denying the need for final causes in science, and to then cite St. Thomas Aquinas (who stoutly affirmed their scientific reality, in his commentaries on Aristotle’s Physics) in support of one’s view!

St. Thomas Aquinas: miracles are the best possible evidence for the existence of God

There’s more. In his Summa Contra Gentiles Book III chapter 99 (paragraph 9) (That God Can Work Apart From The Order Implanted In Things, By Producing Effects Without Proximate Causes), Aquinas wrote:

…[D]ivine power can sometimes produce an effect, without prejudice to its providence, apart from the order implanted in natural things by God. In fact, He does this at times to manifest His power. For it can be manifested in no better way, that the whole of nature is subject to the divine will, than by the fact that sometimes He does something outside the order of nature. Indeed, this makes it evident that the order of things has proceeded from Him, not by natural necessity, but by free will.

For St. Thomas Aquinas, then, the production of an effect outside the order of Nature is the best possible proof of the existence of God. The question is: did Aquinas view the origin of new kinds of living things as an event that must have occurred outside the order of Nature?

Like his medieval contemporaries, St. Thomas believed in the popular theory of spontaneous generation, which stated that living things can sometimes arise from dead or decaying matter. However, St. Thomas was quite emphatic that spontaneous generation was impossible for the higher creatures, whom he referred to as perfect animals, on account of their complexity.

Aquinas’ Intelligent Design argument: the first complex animals could only have been created by God

For Aristotle, and for Aquinas, “perfect animals,” in the strict sense of that term, were distinguished by the following criteria:

(i) they require a male’s “seed” in order to reproduce. This means that they can only reproduce sexually, and that they always breed true to type – unlike the lower animals, which were then commonly believed to be generated spontaneously from dead matter, and which were incapable of breeding true to type, when reproducing sexually;

(ii) they give birth to live young, instead of laying eggs – in other words, they are viviparous;

(iii) they possess several different senses (unlike the lower animals, which possess only touch);

(iv) they have a greater range of mental capacities, including not only imagination, desire, pleasure and pain (which are found even in the lower animals), but also memory and a variety of passions with a strong cognitive component, including anger;

(v) they are capable of locomotion;

(vi) generally speaking, they live on the land;

(vii) they often hunt lower animals, which are less perfect than themselves; and

(viii) they have complex body parts, owing to their possession of multiple senses and their more active lifestyle (“perfect animals have the greatest diversity of organs” and “they have more distinct limbs”).

Aquinas mentions each of the eight conditions listed above at various places in his writings, notably in his Summa Contra Gentiles Book II chapter 72, paragraph 5, Summa Theologica I, q. 71 art. 1, and Summa Theologica I, q. 72 art. 1, Reply to Objection 1 (The Work of the Sixth Day).

It may come as a surprise to many readers (and to Mr. Mills) to learn that St. Thomas Aquinas actually put forward an Intelligent Design-style argument in his theological writings, based on the complexity of perfect animals. Because their bodies are more perfect, more conditions are required to produce them. According to Aquinas, the heavenly bodies (which were then believed to initiate all changes taking place on Earth) were capable of generating simple animals from properly disposed matter, but they were incapable of producing perfect animals, because too many conditions would need to be specified to produce such creatures by natural means. As Aquinas writes in his Summa Theologica I, q. 91 art. 2, Reply to Objection 2 (Whether The Human Body Was Immediately Produced By God?):

Reply to Objection 2. Perfect animals, produced from seed, cannot be made by the sole power of a heavenly body, as Avicenna imagined; although the power of a heavenly body may assist by co-operation in the work of natural generation, as the Philosopher says (Phys. ii, 26), “man and the sun beget man from matter.” For this reason, a place of moderate temperature is required for the production of man and other animals. But the power of heavenly bodies suffices for the production of some imperfect animals from properly disposed matter: for it is clear that more conditions are required to produce a perfect than an imperfect thing.

Why are more conditions required to produce perfect animals? As we have seen, Aquinas held that these animals have more complex body parts, partly due to their possession of several senses, but also because of the demands of their active lifestyle (they live on the land and often hunt other creatures). In other words, what Aquinas is doing here is sketching an Intelligent Design argument: the complexity of perfect animals’ body parts and the high degree of specificity required to produce them preclude them from having a non-biological origin. According to Aquinas, the only way they can be naturally generated is from “seed.” From this it follows that the first perfect animals must have been produced by God alone.

A Darwinist might object that the mere fact that an animal is generated only from “seed” does not mean that it couldn’t have evolved from some other kind of animal. What this objection overlooks is that according to Aquinas, the seed had to be seed of the right kind – i.e. from a parent of the same kind.

Aquinas explained the need for the right kind of “seed” when generating perfect animals, in his Summa Contra Gentiles Book III, chapter 102, paragraph 5 (That God Alone Can Work Miracles):

… [P]erfect animals are not generated by celestial power alone, but require a definite kind of semen; however, for the generation of certain imperfect animals, celestial power by itself is enough, without semen.

Additionally, in his Summa Theologica I, q. 72 a. 1, reply to obj. 3, Aquinas explicitly asserted that perfect animals were generated by a parent of the same kind:

Reply to Objection 3. In other animals, and in plants, mention is made of genus and species, to denote the generation of like from like.

Thus given St. Thomas Aquinas’ understanding of biology in his day, if it could be shown that “perfect animals” had not always existed on Earth, it would follow that only God could have generated these animals. They could not, in St. Thomas’ view, have arisen from other animals.

Aquinas clearly articulates this conclusion in his Summa Contra Gentiles Book II chapter 43, paragraph 6 (That The Distinction of Things Is Not Caused By Some Secondary Agent Introducing Diverse Forms Into Matter), where he argues that the action of the heavenly bodies – which were believed to cause changes occurring on Earth – would not have been sufficient to produce the forms of the first animals that are naturally “generated only from seed” (emphasis mine):

[6] … There are, however, many sensible forms which cannot be produced by the motion of the heaven except through the intermediate agency of certain determinate principles pre-supposed to their production; certain animals, for example, are generated only from seed. Therefore, the primary establishment of these forms, for producing which the motion of the heaven does not suffice without their pre-existence in the species, must of necessity proceed from the Creator alone.

Why, the reader might be wondering, did Aquinas not include this argument in his celebrated five proofs for the existence of God? The reason is that in his day, there was no scientific evidence that the universe, or even the Earth, had a beginning. Aristotle, for instance, maintained that man and the other animals had always existed. If that were the case, then there would have been no need for God to create the first “perfect animals.”

What would Aquinas make of the evidence for Intelligent Design today?

Today, the situation is completely different. Scientists now know that the Earth came into existence about 4.54 billion years ago, and that the universe itself has a finite age: 13.798 billion years. And despite strong circumstantial evidence for the common descent of living things, Professor James M. Tour, who is one of the ten most cited chemists in the world, has candidly declared that there’s no scientist alive today who understands macroevolution. Nobody has explained in detail how life, in all its complexity and diversity, could have arisen as a result of an unguided process.

Today, we know that the age of the universe is finite, and who also know that the chances of a living thing – let alone a “perfect animal” – arising spontaneously on the primordial Earth are so low that the evolutionary biologist Dr. Eugene Koonin has calculated that we would need to postulate a vast number of universes – a staggering 101,018 – in which all possible scenarios are played out, in order to make life’s emergence in our universe reasonably likely. By the way, the calculation can be found in a peer-reviewed article, “The Cosmological Model of Eternal Inflation and the Transition from Chance to Biological Evolution in the History of Life” (Biology Direct 2 (2007): 15, doi:10.1186/1745-6150-2-15). Dr. Koonin takes refuge in the multiverse, but as Dr. Robin Collins has argued in an influential essay titled, The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe (in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 2009, Blackwell Publishing Ltd.), even a multiverse would still need to be exquisitely fine-tuned, in order to be able to churn out even one universe like ours. Thus invoking the multiverse merely shifts the fine-tuning problem up one level.

What do you think St. Thomas Aquinas would have to say to Christians who knew all these facts, but still tried to accommodate their faith to Darwinism? My guess is that he would be asking these Christians: “Why are you hiding your light under a bushel? Why aren’t you shouting this wonderful news from the house-tops? Have I not told you that miracles beyond the power of Nature to produce are the best possible proof of the existence of God?”

Aquinas: there are no bad designs in Nature

There is a final reason why Anthony Mills’ attempt to recruit Aquinas in support of Darwinism is doomed to failure. According to Aquinas, every kind of living thing God that produced in the natural world is perfectly designed for the biological ends that God intends it to realize.

“All of God’s works are perfect,” where the word “perfect” is defined in relation to each creature’s proper ends. “Perfect” does not mean “optimal,” but it does mean “free from flaws in its design.” For instance, the vertebrate eye, whose proper end is seeing, is perfect for that job, because God made it with unsurpassable wisdom and goodness. Hence according to Aquinas, there are no bad designs in nature.

In his Summa Theologica I, q. 91, a. 1, Aquinas addresses the question: Whether the Body of the First Man Was Made of the Slime of the Earth? His response begins as follows:

I answer that, As God is perfect in His works, He bestowed perfection on all of them according to their capacity: “God’s works are perfect” (Deut. 32:4).

In his Summa Theologica I, q. 91, art. 3, St. Thomas asks whether the body of (the first) man was given an apt disposition. After listing three objections to the design of the human body (which he would later refute), Aquinas responds as follows:

On the contrary, It is written (Ecclesiastes 7:30): “God made man right.”

I answer that, All natural things were produced by the Divine art, and so may be called God’s works of art. Now every artist intends to give to his work the best disposition; not absolutely the best, but the best as regards the proposed end; and even if this entails some defect, the artist cares not: thus, for instance, when man makes himself a saw for the purpose of cutting, he makes it of iron, which is suitable for the object in view; and he does not prefer to make it of glass, though this be a more beautiful material, because this very beauty would be an obstacle to the end he has in view. Therefore God gave to each natural being the best disposition; not absolutely so, but in the view of its proper end.

Aquinas cites the Biblical verse, “God’s works are perfect” (Deuteronomy 32:4) fifteen times in his Summa Theologica, and the Biblical verse, “God made man right” (Ecclesiastes 7:30) no less than four times.

The inadequacies of Mr. Mills’ grounds for theism

Anthony Mills writes that “if you profess your religion from within the gaps of scientific knowledge, you will inevitably get crushed as those gaps close.” But as we have just seen, the gaps are not shrinking, but growing: the impossibility of life’s spontaneous generation from inanimate matter would have been a complete surprise to Aquinas and Aristotle, as would the scientific evidence for the universe’s having had a beginning.

Mr. Mills is alarmed at the notion – which he mistakenly ascribes to Protestant fundamentalism – that the evidence for design in Nature could be falsified by science, and he rejects as utterly wrong-headed the view that scientific arguments for design can only succeed to the extent that scientific explanations fail. However, Intelligent Design theory does not claim that the high degree of specified complexity we find in living things constitutes the only evidence for design in Nature. Nor does Intelligent Design claim that an act of Divine intervention was required to produce the various life-forms we see on Earth today; indeed, there are ID proponents who propose that the initial conditions of the universe were fine-tuned by the Creator in order to generate life in all its diversity, without the need for any miracles – a view known as “front-loading.” In any case, it is surely true that scientific discoveries can strengthen the evidence for design in Nature. For instance, the evidence for cosmic fine-tuning was unknown 50 years ago. It would be difficult to deny that this discovery has boosted the argument that the cosmos was designed by an Intelligent Creator.

Mr. Mills prefers a different approach to theology, in which God sits outside the created order, and maintains it in being (emphasis mine):

Darwin only showed that biology — as opposed, say, to metaphysics, theology, or ethics — should dispense with “final causes,” as physics did in Newton’s day. This just frees biologists from the need to answer such purpose-questions, leaving the rest of us (non-scientists) free to wrestle with them, if we choose.

God gives rise to and sustains existence, suffusing it with meaning — whether or not man came from fish, ape, or stardust and whether or not the laws governing that evolution are probabilistic.

Now, I may be reading Mills uncharitably here, but he appears to be saying that whether or not we believe in God, in the end, comes down to how we choose to view the world – which is quite different from the traditional Catholic view that “God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason.” On Mills’ account, we can choose to view the world as “charged with the grandeur of God,” in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, or we may see it as nothing more than “Nature red in tooth and claw,” in the memorable phrase of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, a believer who continually wrestled with his own theological doubts.

If I am reading Mills aright, what he is saying is that in the end, the decision to see meaning in the world is an act of choice. We can see the world as suffused with meaning if we choose to. However, most contemporary scientists will proudly declare, with Laplace, “Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis.”

It is precisely in order to shake these scientists out of their complacency that the Intelligent Design movement exists. While it takes no official stand on the nature and identity of the Creator, the Intelligent Design movement will continue to fearlessly highlight the evidence for design in Nature, at both the cosmological and biological levels.

127 Replies to “What kind of evolution does the Pope believe in?

  1. 1
    rhampton7 says:

    From COMMUNION AND STEWARDSHIP: Human Persons Created in the Image of God*:

    69. The current scientific debate about the mechanisms at work in evolution requires theological comment insofar as it sometimes implies a misunderstanding of the nature of divine causality. Many neo-Darwinian scientists, as well as some of their critics, have concluded that, if evolution is a radically contingent materialistic process driven by natural selection and random genetic variation, then there can be no place in it for divine providential causality. A growing body of scientific critics of neo-Darwinism point to evidence of design (e.g., biological structures that exhibit specified complexity) that, in their view, cannot be explained in terms of a purely contingent process and that neo-Darwinians have ignored or misinterpreted. The nub of this currently lively disagreement involves scientific observation and generalization concerning whether the available data support inferences of design or chance, and cannot be settled by theology. But it is important to note that, according to the Catholic understanding of divine causality, true contingency in the created order is not incompatible with a purposeful divine providence. Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation. According to St. Thomas Aquinas: “The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency” (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1). In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process – one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence – simply cannot exist because “the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles….It necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence” (Summa theologiae I, 22, 2).

    * Preliminary Note

    The theme of “man created in the image of God” was submitted for study to the International Theological Commission. The preparation of this study was entrusted to a subcommission whose members included: Very Rev. J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Most Reverend Jean-Louis Bruguès, Msgr. Anton Strukelj, Rev. Tanios Bou Mansour, O.L.M., Rev. Adolpe Gesché, Most Reverend Willem Jacobus Eijk, Rev. Fadel Sidarouss, S.J., and Rev. Shun ichi Takayanagi, S.J.

    As the text developed, it was discussed at numerous meetings of the subcommission and several plenary sessions of the International Theological Commission held at Rome during the period 2000-2002. The present text was approved in forma specifica, by the written ballots of the International Theological Commission. It was then submitted to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the President of the Commission, who has give his permission for its publication.

  2. 2
    rhampton7 says:

    From The false opposition between Darwinism and the Church – A conversation with the deputy director of convention going on at the Pontifical Gregorian University:

    What was and what is today the Church’s position about Darwinism?

    I would say, quite simply, never convicted. This is one of the reasons that make me any unnecessary effort of recovery or rehabilitation of Darwin, because neither the Catholic Church nor its notable exponents, has never condemned either Darwinism or the theory of evolution. Indeed, there was always a lot of attention. Suffice it to recall that Cardinal John Henry Newman in England was a clear supporter since its beginnings, of Darwinism. I would say that from the famous stance of Pope John Paul II in 1996, we moved to a phase of reconnaissance.

    The idea of a providential design of God in the Creation of a “material structured in an intelligent way by the Spirit” – recently recalled by the Pope – is a “scientific theory” that may be in conflict with others?

    I am very sensitive to this definition. In 2004, in fact, invited the Gregorian Cardinal Georges Marie Martin Cottier to discuss a very interesting aspect. As a student of quantum mechanics, I have always believed that quantum systems should be understood ultimately as “information”. I’m not saying that the higher cognitive processes can be reduced to information. But, already a purely physical level, there are phenomena such as the exchange of information and the acquisition of information, suggesting that the matter in our universe is not just a bunch of random items, but a structure that could be called, if not “intelligent” at least “intelligible”. The purpose of the discussion with the theologian Cottier was to show that quantum mechanics suggests an objective intelligibility of the universe and matter, which was exactly what he claimed to the school of St. Thomas. Mind you that this is not a scientific theory. I would simply say that there are scientific theories, such as quantum mechanics, but also the theory of evolution, which suggests points of view very interesting if developed on the philosophical and theological. Another point I wish to emphasize, however, is that when it comes to the design of Providence in creation, must be very careful to avoid the question of ‘intelligent design, which is not a scientific theory, even if it is presented as such. This thesis, In addition, it has the serious defect of considering the theory of evolution as it was thirty or forty years ago. But if we assume that there is a finality, not a theological / religious, but a finality within evolution itself that it can be proved empirically, we run the risk of substances considered first, to use a language school, those substances that are second, that of transforming the biological species and genera in subjects ontological type of the individual organism, because to speak of an end to something, I must have something. I do not say, however, that evolution is something that proceeds blindly. Even if it has no intrinsic finality, the evolution goes, over time, in the sense of a greater scrutiny by the agencies on environmental information. If you look at the transition from bacteria to human beings, through the various stages, we are seeing a significant increase in channels and the forms in which these organisms access to environmental information, through sensory channels, conceptual and cognitive modalities increasingly sophisticated, exercising so a greater control over the environment. And this is a key point, because it means that intelligence is something that is promoted by evolution because it is an adaptive phenomenon. So if it is true that the human being is a contingent product of biological evolution, if we consider a sufficiently long time of evolution is reasonable to expect that an intelligent being will emerge, because intelligence is something that goes in the direction of ‘ evolution. For mechanisms intrinsic to evolution itself, it creates a phenomenon of promoting greater control of information, and thus promotion of intelligence, although not the same evolution, as far as I know from a scientific, addressed to a particular purpose . Obviously this is not a directly theological discourse, but only scientific / philosophical. But this shows that it would be unfair to carry the theological discourse on the providential design a strong finality. Instead, the philosophical / theological discourse is not in discordance with a guide indirect creation, recovering another instance medieval, namely the distinction between the First Cause (God) and secondary causes (the beings): God, in his mode of action, does not suppress the secondary causes.

  3. 3
    rhampton7 says:

    From MEETING OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI WITH THE CLERGY OF THE DIOCESES OF BELLUNO-FELTRE AND TREVISO
    :

    Benedict XVI: I think you have just given us a precise description of a life in which God does not figure. At first sight, it seems as if we do not need God or indeed, that without God we would be freer and the world would be grander. But after a certain time, we see in our young people what happens when God disappears. As Nietzsche said: “The great light has been extinguished, the sun has been put out”. Life is then a chance event. It becomes a thing that I must seek to do the best I can with and use life as though it were a thing that serves my own immediate, tangible and achievable happiness. But the big problem is that were God not to exist and were he not also the Creator of my life, life would actually be a mere cog in evolution, nothing more; it would have no meaning in itself. Instead, I must seek to give meaning to this component of being. Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called “creationism” and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God. This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance. This is what I wanted to say in my lecture at Regensburg: that reason should be more open, that it should indeed perceive these facts but also realize that they are not enough to explain all of reality. They are insufficient…

  4. 4
    rhampton7 says:

    The problem with this view is that in the end, for Mills, the decision to see meaning in the world is an act of choice.

    That’s not a bug, but a feature. It’s called Faith, and it is essential. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. “The righteous shall live by faith.” Living faith “work[s] through charity.”

  5. 5
    buffalo says:

    IDvolution agrees with St Augustine – God “breathed” the super language of DNA into the “kinds” in the creative act.

    This accounts for the diversity of life we see. The core makeup shared by all living things have the necessary complex information built in that facilitates rapid and responsive adaptation of features and variation while being able to preserve the “kind” that they began as. Life has been created with the creativity built in ready to respond to triggering events.
    Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on Earth have the same core, it is virtually certain that living organisms have been thought of AT ONCE by the One and the same Creator endowed with the super language we know as DNA that switched on the formation of the various kinds, the cattle, the swimming creatures, the flying creatures, etc.. in a pristine harmonious state and superb adaptability and responsiveness to their environment for the purpose of populating the earth that became subject to the ravages of corruption by the sin of one man (deleterious mutations).
    IDvolution considers the latest science and is consistent with the continuous teaching of the Church.

    ——–

    Pope Benedict XVI

    Monod nonetheless finds the possibility for evolution in the fact that in the very propagation of the project there can be mistakes in the act of transmission. Because nature is conservative, these mistakes, once having come into existence, are carried on. Such mistakes can add up, and from the adding up of mistakes something new can arise. Now an astonishing conclusion follows: It was in this way that the whole world of living creatures, and human beings themselves, came into existence. We are the product of “haphazard mistakes.” [5]

    What response shall we make to this view? It is the affair of the natural sciences to explain how the tree of life in particular continues to grow and how new branches shoot out from it. This is not a matter for faith. But we must have the audacity to say that the great projects of the living creation are not the products of chance and error. Nor are they the products of a selective process to which divine predicates can be attributed in illogical, unscientific, and even mythic fashion. The great projects of the living creation point to a creating Reason and show us a creating Intelligence, and they do so more luminously and radiantly today than ever before. Thus we can say today with a new certitude and joyousness that the human being is indeed a divine project, which only the creating Intelligence was strong and great and audacious enough to conceive of. Human beings are not a mistake but something willed; they are the fruit of love. They can disclose in themselves, in the bold project that they are, the language of the creating Intelligence that speaks to them and that moves them to say: Yes, Father, you have willed me.

    …The more we know of the universe the more profoundly we are struck by a Reason whose ways we can only contemplate with astonishment. In pursuing them we can see anew that creating Intelligence to whom we owe our own reason. Albert Einstein once said that in the laws of nature “there is revealed such a superior Reason that everything significant which has arisen out of human thought and arrangement is, in comparison with it, the merest empty reflection.” In what is most vast, in the world of heavenly bodies, we see revealed a powerful reason that holds the universe together. And we are penetrating ever deeper into what is smallest, into the cell and into the primordial units of life; here, too, we discover a reason that astounds us, such that we must say with Saint Bonaventure: “Whoever does not see here is blind. Whoever does not hear here is deaf. And whoever does not begin to adore here and to praise the creating Intelligence is dumb.”

    Jacques Monod, who rejects as unscientific every kind of faith in God and who thinks that the world originated out of an interplay of chance and necessity, tells in the very work in which he attempts summarily to portray and justify his view of the world that, after attending the lectures which afterward appeared in book form, François Mauriac is supposed to have said: “What this professor wants to afflict on us is far more unbelievable than what we poor Christians were ever expected to believe.”

    Monod does not dispute this. His thesis is that the entire ensemble of nature has arisen out of errors and dissonances. He cannot help but say himself that such a conception is in fact absurd. But, according to him, the scientific method demands that a question not be permitted to which the answer would have to be God. One can only say that a method of this sort is pathetic. God himself shines through the reasonableness of his creation. Physics and biology, and the natural sciences in general, have given us a new and unheard-of creation account with vast new images, which let us recognize the face of the Creator and which make us realize once again that at the very beginning and foundation of all being there is a creating Intelligence…” Pope Benedict XVI

    AUGUSTINE AND EVOLUTION – A STUDY IN THE SAINT’S DE GENESI AD LITTERAM AND DE TRINITATE BY HENRY WOODS, S. J. – https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B6fGBPFm16A2ZTI1MTQ4ZmQtZWE3Ny00OTQ1LTlmMjAtNDhkOWM2ZDRhMjhk&hl=en_US

  6. 6
    buffalo says:

    Why Human Evolution Can Never Become Part of the Deposit of Faith – http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pa.....anevo.html

  7. 7
    rhampton7 says:

    Buffalo,

    post 6 is opposed to the Catholic Church:

    for the most part it is now assumed that there are no theological or scientific objections to accepting human evolution as Catholic doctrine. There is also substantial acceptance of the belief that evolutionist text books contain scientific facts and arguments that must be taken into account in giving consideration to these questions. A consequence of all this is that theistic evolution is now generally accepted by the Roman Curia and taught by most teaching institutions of the Church in place of the Genesis doctrine. [6]

    There are many within the Church who say it does not matter whether we believe in a literal Genesis or evolution; either method could be God’s way of creating the first man and woman. This, it is submitted, is a very shortsighted view, because if Catholics concede that there is nothing wrong with theistic evolution or theistic naturalism, they are conceding that, apart from opposing chance, there is nothing wrong with atheistic naturalism per se.

    This is exactly what the Pope and the Catholic church argue against, because:

    Physics and biology, and the natural sciences in general, have given us a new and unheard-of creation account with vast new images, which let us recognize the face of the Creator and which make us realize once again that at the very beginning and foundation of all being there is a creating Intelligence.

    From Who put the salt in the cosmic soup? – The evolution of life on Earth:

    Darwin’s theory recognizes the innovations made in the selection and random genetic mechanism by which the environment has increased the complexity of life. It does not include any external intentionality. Natural selection is recognized as a leading role.

    This view, however, admits some purposive principle, albeit inherent in the nature. The relationship between structure and function, the genetic programs that form and regulate the development of the embryo respond to a teleological principle. Monod did not deny, but he preferred to talk about teleonomy. Ayala uses the term teleology of internal, connected with nature. Both exclude any external intentionality. The programs are formed, and no one has thought of them.

    On the other hand the random nature of the mutation per se does not imply that the organization of life take place without rules or not is dependent on well-defined properties that allow the necessary reports at the atomic, molecular, cellular.

    The Darwinian theory of evolution is strongly criticized by Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini in a recent essay (errors Darwin, 2010). Many scientists say that it does not appear to be sufficient and requires additions. The question must be regarded as open. The rationality with which the system of nature suggests a higher mind or Logos officer, said Benedict XVI.

    This deduction is not scientific, but it is a rational argument that obviously relates to the reality of a higher causality, identified with God, and to his intentions. The question of the meaning or purpose of creation is not scientific, but philosophical. But how can it be understood the causal relationship between God and the universe? And as random events can agree with this view?

    Divine causality and secondary causes can not get on the same plane, do not act the same way. The cause of God, or First Cause, acting through secondary causes (properties of matter, inanimate and living factors of nature). But his action should not be seen as an external agent that joins the natural ones and guide the genetic events or geological or integrate them into their outcome. The biological novelty are realized through secondary causes, without having to think about external intervention Steering type. It should be recognized autonomy to secondary causes, which operate for their properties or rules or mechanisms that do not yet fully know. It is not necessary to disturb the divine causality to supply or drive directly the changes of nature, as claimed by the theory of ‘Intelligent Design. In fact, you realize innovations that make sense and biological part of the plan of God.

    An example could see it in the formation of the African rift twenty million years ago, an event that was very important to foster an open environment suitable for the development of bipedalism and hominids. But you should not think that God, by His direct action has caused the uplift of the mountains of the rift and the subsequent changes in the environment in the eastern regions. There have been tectonic movements associated with continental drift.

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    rhampton 7, VJTorley has presented the correct view of the Catholic Church. You have, for the most part, cited the politically correct version embraced by many dissidents inside the Church. The Church’s official position has been expressed in an encyclical entitled Humanae Generis. Nothing has changed since that document was written and unofficial opinions do not count.

    Darwinian evolution is, by definition, materialistic and unguided; it cannot be reconciled with authentic Catholicism. The problem is that, these days, authentic Catholicism is hard to find. The Catholic Church is open to, though not tied to, guided evolution and opposed to unguided evolution. It is a simple as that.

  9. 9
    johnnyb says:

    rhampton7 –

    You misused your own quote on faith! Seeing meaning in the world is *not* the act of faith. That is the fact. What is the act of faith is, by your own quote, is freely committing your entire self to God. The meaning in the world is the evident fact; the committing your entire self to God is the act of faith.

  10. 10
    rhampton7 says:

    VJTorley, StephenB

    The Church decides what is the correct view, and VJTorley, sadly, misunderstands how the Church accepts Darwinian evolution as an explanation of the material processes while still submitting that God is the ultimate cause.

    It’s precisely for this reason that the Church has the Pontifical Academy of Science, to help the Vatican understand one half of Revelation (natural revelation, rejected by some Christians)

    To “evolve” literally means “to unroll a scroll”, that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author. It is a book whose history, whose evolution, whose “writing” and meaning, we “read” according to the different approaches of the sciences, while all the time presupposing the foundational presence of the author who has wished to reveal himself therein. This image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos. Notwithstanding elements of the irrational, chaotic and the destructive in the long processes of change in the cosmos, matter as such is “legible”. It has an inbuilt “mathematics”. The human mind therefore can engage not only in a “cosmography” studying measurable phenomena but also in a “cosmology” discerning the visible inner logic of the cosmos. We may not at first be able to see the harmony both of the whole and of the relations of the individual parts, or their relationship to the whole. Yet, there always remains a broad range of intelligible events, and the process is rational in that it reveals an order of evident correspondences and undeniable finalities: in the inorganic world, between microstructure and macrostructure; in the organic and animal world, between structure and function; and in the spiritual world, between knowledge of the truth and the aspiration to freedom. Experimental and philosophical inquiry gradually discovers these orders; it perceives them working to maintain themselves in being, defending themselves against imbalances, and overcoming obstacles. And thanks to the natural sciences we have greatly increased our understanding of the uniqueness of humanity’s place in the cosmos.

    The distinction between a simple living being and a spiritual being that is capax Dei, points to the existence of the intellective soul of a free transcendent subject. Thus the Magisterium of the Church has constantly affirmed that “every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not ‘produced’ by the parents – and also that it is immortal” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 366). This points to the distinctiveness of anthropology, and invites exploration of it by modern thought.

    Distinguished Academicians, I wish to conclude by recalling the words addressed to you by my predecessor Pope John Paul II in November 2003: “scientific truth, which is itself a participation in divine Truth, can help philosophy and theology to understand ever more fully the human person and God’s Revelation about man, a Revelation that is completed and perfected in Jesus Christ. For this important mutual enrichment in the search for the truth and the benefit of mankind, I am, with the whole Church, profoundly grateful”.

    Darwinian evolution is not an existential threat to Christianity, as viewed by the Church, but Nihilism is. They are not the same thing (see post 1).

    159 Faith and science: “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”

  11. 11
    rhampton7 says:

    johnnyb,

    You missed the point. Faith is a choice, and one that must be freely made. One has to choose to believe that reason we exist is God, and that there is a meaning and purpose behind all of what Science discovers. Only by Faith can we accept that what we experience to be God, beyond the reach of Science, as true. There is no truth other than the Word of God – by faith we believe.

    VJTorley laments that; “We can see the world as suffused with meaning if we choose to; but most scientists will proudly declare, with Laplace, “Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis.”, but that is the way it must be.

    For me, faith was born of an encounter with Jesus. It was a personal encounter that touched my heart and gave new direction and meaning to my life. At the same time, it was an encounter made possible by the community of faith in which I lived and thanks to which I gained access to understanding Sacred Scripture, to new life in Christ through the Sacraments, to fraternity with all and service to the poor, who are the true image of the Lord. Without the Church – believe me – I would not have been able to encounter Jesus, even with the awareness that the immense gift of faith is kept in the fragile clay jars of our humanity…

    Secondly, you ask me whether it is erroneous or a sin to follow the line of thought which holds that there is no absolute, and therefore no absolute truth, but only a series of relative and subjective truths. To begin with, I would not speak about “absolute” truths, even for believers, in the sense that absolute is that which is disconnected and bereft of all relationship. Truth, according to the Christian faith, is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship. As such each one of us receives the truth and expresses it from within, that is to say, according to one’s own circumstances, culture and situation in life, etc. This does not mean that truth is variable and subjective, quite the contrary. But it does signify that it comes to us always and only as a way and a life. Did not Jesus himself say: “I am the way, the truth, and the life?” In other words, truth, being completely one with love, demands humility and an openness to be sought, received and expressed. Therefore, we must have a correct understanding of the terms and, perhaps, in order to overcome being bogged down by conflicting absolute positions, we need to redefine the issues in depth. I believe this is absolutely necessary in order to initiate that peaceful and constructive dialogue which I proposed at the beginning of my letter.

    From the Church’s perspective, ID will never succeed as a means to discover Faith because it’s not subject to empirical proofs. The meaning of the world must be discovered in the love of God.

  12. 12
    rhampton7 says:

    Forgot to give credit to Pope Francis for the quote above.

  13. 13
    StephenB says:

    rhrampton7.

    I think you misunderstand the argument. No one here disagrees with the proposition that faith and science are compatible, nor does anyone here disagree with the proposition that “evolution,” understood properly, can be reconciled with Catholic teaching. Rather than speak to the real issue, the citations you provide tell us what we already know: the truths of science cannot contradict the truths of faith. The decisive point is that Catholic Doctrine cannot be reconciled with unguided, Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolution, according to which all design is an illusion is, by definition, unguided. Only evolution that is guided, programmed, or designed is consistent with the Church’s teachings.

    From Humani Generis.

    36. “For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter — for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faithful[11] Some however rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from preexisting and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question.”

    This is the Church’s only official teaching on evolution. All other opinions are just that–opinions.

  14. 14
    vjtorley says:

    Hi rhampton7,

    Thank you for your comments. I dashed off my article in a hurry yesterday, so I’ve added a few clarifying remarks in the body of the article, which you might want to look over. I’ll address your points briefly, in turn:

    (1) You cite a declaration of the International Theological Commission, which then-Cardinal Ratzinger authorized for publication, as saying that “even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation.” True, but so what? The point at issue is whether the outcome of a truly random process can be said to be designed by God. And the answer to that question is obviously negative. Of course, a process may appear to be random to scientists on Earth, and yet be intelligently designed by God to yield a specific result at a given point in time – but I would have no problem with that kind of design.

    (2) You cite “a conversation” with “the deputy director of [a] convention going on at the Pontifical Gregorian University,” who asserted that intelligent design “is not a scientific theory, even if it is presented as such.” Well, the man’s entitled to his views, but I’m entitled to disagree with him. It’s true that the Catholic Church has never condemned Darwinism as such, but it has endorsed God-guided evolution.

    (3) You then cite a pro-evolution passage by Pope Benedict XVI. I’m not sure what your point is here, as I cited the same passage in my original article.

    (4) You cite a passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches that by faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” True, but the Catholic Church also teaches that “God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason.” Anthony Mills appears to be saying – I hope I’m not misreading him – that reason can’t establish God’s existence: in the end, we just have to make a fundamental choice to see the world as the work of God.

    (5) You quote an author in Osservatore Romano as writing that “It is not necessary to disturb the divine causality to supply or drive directly the changes of nature, as claimed by the theory of ‘Intelligent Design.'” The author is factually wring about what ID teaches: quite a few Intelligent Design proponents are front-loaders, like Professor Mike Behe. The point, however, as Professor William Dembski argues in “Conservation of Information Made Simple” at http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....63671.html is that “without intelligent input, conservation of information implies that as we regress biological information back in time, the amount of information to be accounted for never diminishes and may actually increase.” At some point in time, there must have been an input of information into the universe, guiding it towards the result intended by its Designer. To say otherwise is to engage in magical thinking.

    Got to go now. Back in about 16 hours.

  15. 15
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    Glad to see that Vincent has been able to catch your attention. I obviously was unable to so with my response at:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-giberson/

    Regarding your answer in 4, Thomas Aquinas teaches that man can know of God’s existence from reason alone. Of course, one cannot know specifically Christian truths from reason alone. Faith is necessary. If you check the Catechism statement in context (rather than just quote-mining it), I think you will find that it is in line with the position of Aquinas, and of other Catholics here (equally as faithful as yourself) such as Vincent, StephenB, Denyse, etc.

    Regarding your massive presentation of lengthy quotations, I note that most of them are not official statements of the Church, but tentative judgments of various church officials and members; such statements cannot be called “the Catholic position.” Only official statements warrant that description. Certainly Facchini’s statement does not warrant it. Do you really think that we are so asleep that you can pass off the private opinions of Catholic officials and lay people (and bear in mind that some of the scientists on the Vatican’s science advisory panel are not themselves Catholics!) as the Catholic position?

    Are you unaware of the distinction between the private opinion of a Catholic (however highly placed) and the Catholic position? If you are aware of this distinction, are you not being intellectually dishonest in trying to pass off private opinions as Catholic teaching? And if you are not aware of this distinction, are you even competent to discuss Catholic thought in this area?

    By the way, what are your qualifications to speak for the Catholic Church in this area? Are you by training anything other than a Catholic layman with an interest in the subject-matter? I would like to know whether you are claiming to speak with teaching authority, or only as a layman with private opinions.

    I would highly recommend that you read the essays of a very intelligent and articulate Catholic, Dr. Jay Richards, in the collection *God and Evolution*.

  16. 16
    rhampton7 says:

    unguided, Darwinian evolution

    Exactly. But then, you made the same mistake that my posts explicitly correct. “Unguided” is a metaphysical statement, outside the bounds of Science, rejected by the Church. “Darwinian evolution” is a physical statement, withinin the bounds of Science and accepted by the Church.

    Meaning random mutations, among many other physical processes, can be both scientifically and theologically true, contrary to the opinions of many here at UD. The Church only objects when Darwinian evolution is used to infer that there is no God, meaning, or purpose.

    Here again VJT misunderstands:

    The point at issue is whether the outcome of a truly random process can be said to be designed by God. And the answer to that question is obviously negative.

    It’s not as if Darwinian evolution introduced the Church to the problems of randomness. That theological obstacle was overcome long before Darwin’s birth.

    Randomness as described by Science “really” exists in be it radioactive decay or the chance meeting of sperm and egg. God, however, is not handcuffed nor blinded by randomness (or gravity, quantum indeterminacy, or any other foundational aspect of his Creation). It would be beyond pointless for Science to mention this every time randomness or gravity or quantum theory is taught, because it is outside the scope of empirical discovery.

    It is the nature of secondary causes, even those that are Scientifically best described as random, that they are known to, and accounted for, by divine providence. Further God need not intervene every time an atom decays, a gene mutates, a sperm and egg join to guarantee that his will is done.

    Lastly, Faith can be known with the certainty that God is the truth, but that is not a “fact” that can proven. It is taken to be self-evidently true, and that requires the free-will to accept the love of God. Further, it can’t be won through the agnostic Deism of Intelligent Design, but through Christ. Hence the rejection of ID theory on theological grounds and the necessity of Church’s existence.

  17. 17
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    You are quite ignorant of what ID claims. You have in your head a mixed-up mess of notions, many of them spread by foes of ID. If you took the time to actually read ID literature, you would not say such uninformed things.

    Regarding your last paragraph in 16 above, ID has never said or implied that Christian truth can be proven, or that faith in the Christian sense can be generated by ID arguments. Therefore the “theological grounds” to which you refer do not justify rejecting ID.

    ID has never claimed that God must “intervene every time an atom decays, a gene mutates, a sperm and egg join.” The language of “intervention” is not ID language. That language is imposed upon ID in a willful attempt to misrepresent it, so that it can more easily be shot down than if it were honestly and accurately represented.

    Would you specify the texts in which the “theological obstacle” connected with “randomness” was “overcome long before Darwin’s birth”?

  18. 18
    rhampton7 says:

    FYI: Stephen M. Barr presented much the same argument as I, though more succinctly and eloquently, in The Design of Evolution.

    Also a quick comment on “Anthony Mills appears to be saying – I hope I’m not misreading him – that reason can’t establish God’s existence“. Reason can only get you as far as Aristotle’s explanation of God as the First Cause, but this is a philosophical, not scientific, proof. Reason alone is insufficient to know God or Truth. Left alone, Reason will not lead to Faith (else the Greeks would have reasoned their way to Christ.)

    Timaeus, you won’t find Evolution, Intelligent design or quantum theorym, et. al. in the Catechism. For that you need to look to other sources from the Church – hence the Pontifical Academy of Science. Pope John II explained:

    One of the purposes of your Academy is to provide the Holy See and the Church with a picture, as complete and up to-date as possible, of the latest findings in the various fields of scientific investigation. In this way you contribute to increased understanding between science and faith. Sometimes in the past mutual incomprehension dominated this relationship. Happily, the Church and the scientific community can today look upon each other as partners in the common quest for an ever more perfect understanding of the universe, the theatre of man’s passage through time towards his transcendent destiny. A fruitful dialogue is taking place between these two realms: the knowledge which depends on the natural power of reason and the knowledge which follows upon the self revealing intervention of God in human history. The Eternal Father speaks to us in his Word and through the Holy Spirit whom he pours into our hearts (cf. Jn. 1:14; Rom. 5:5). The same God speaks to us in nature, and here too he speaks a language that we can decipher. Both realms of knowledge are marvellous gifts of the Creator…

    Men and women of science such as yourselves ponder the vast and pulsating universe, and as you unravel its secrets you realize that at certain points science seems to be reaching a. mysterious frontier where new questions are arising which overlap into the spheres of metaphysics and theology. As a result, the need for dialogue and co-operation between science and faith has become ever more urgent and promising. It is as if science itself were offering a practical vindication of the openness and confidence shown by the Second Vatican Council when it stated that “investigation carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms never truly conflicts with faith” (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 38).

  19. 19
    rhampton7 says:

    Timaeus,

    It is not ID theory itself, but VJT who wields ID as a tool to win the hearts of scientists, a la Laplace. Catholic theology rejects any other method that is not Christ-centric. It is good that scientists are open to Natural Revelation, but at best that leads one to an unknown, impersonal creator. You can’t reason your way to Divine Revelation.

  20. 20
    buffalo says:

    rhampton7

    In a nutshell.

    1. Did God know what Adam would look like?

    2. Did Adam look as God had planned?

  21. 21
    buffalo says:

    Pope Benedict’s Easter Homily – Creative Reason

    “The creation account tells us, then,that the world is a product of creative Reason.” – perhaps the pope would like IDvolution. Pope Benedict: Easter brings us to the side of reason, freedom and love “It is not the case that in the expanding universe, at a late stage, in some tiny corner of the cosmos, there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it. If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature. But no, Reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine Reason.”

    http://idvolution.blogspot.com.....ative.html

  22. 22
    rhampton7 says:

    buffalo,

    Yes God knew Adam and planned for him. Here’s a much better theological problem:

    Did Judas freely choose to betray Jesus and did Pontius Pilate freely choose to crucify Jesus? If so, then God “gambled” on the Salvation of mankind for neither man was a slave to fate.

    Free Will and Randomness are two sides of the same coin. If you reconcile one with divine providence, then you have reconciled the other.

  23. 23
    buffalo says:

    rhampton7

    No, He knew the choices they would make, but did not force them.

  24. 24
    rhampton7 says:

    buffalo,

    In post 21, you rightly place concern on “randomness” but neglect nature. Even if there were no random events, the Church would still reject man as a product of nature alone. It’s not randomness or nature per se that is the problem, but that claim made by some that randomness and nature originate and/or operate without God. The universe can only exist because God manifested it with traits such as randomness, acting in accordance to their given natures as secondary causes.

    No, He knew the choices they would make, but did not force them.

    Exactly! You’ve solved the riddle (to some) of randomness within Creation. God does not need to force events to know their histories.

  25. 25
    buffalo says:

    rhampton7

    So we can see that if God knew what Adam would look like and looked as God planned, then man is not left to blind unguided chance.

  26. 26
    rhampton7 says:

    buffalo,

    It is we (and everything else within the Universe) who are blind to chance. Not God. Even so, chance is “real” to the Universe and all within.

  27. 27
    buffalo says:

    Chance has a threshold, beyond which moves into design.

  28. 28
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7 @ 18:

    The Pontifical Academy of Science is an advisory body. It has no authority to establish or pronounce Catholic doctrine. Neither the opinion of any scientist in the Academy (many of whom I believe are not Catholic) nor the consensus of the Academy as a whole has any binding power over the beliefs of Catholics unless the Church converts its advice into doctrinal statements.

    By quoting the opinions of individual members of the Academy, and by quoting reflections and ruminations (not encyclicals or other official statements) of Popes etc., as if such things represent the view of “the Church,” you are seriously misleading your readers. This would appear to be due either to a degree of intellectual dishonesty on your part, or to ignorance on your part about how Church teaching is made authoritative.

    In the future, when you say that “the Church” teaches something, or holds something, make sure you can produce the appropriate official statements. Otherwise, the Catholics here will expose your falsehoods again and again.

    You are just a lay Catholic with science background who is interested in creation/evolution issues. You have neither the theological training nor the teaching authority to speak for Rome on these questions. It might help if you more frequently made use of qualifiers such as “in my opinion” or “it seems to me” or “though I’m not a theologian, my understanding of Aquinas on this point is.” Your habit of writing as an authority on what Rome teaches, when you are just another guy at the beer counter joining in on the argument, grows tiresome.

  29. 29
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7 @ 19:

    I agree that one cannot reason one’s way to divine revelation. I do not know of a single ID proponent who has argued that one can. I have never seen Vincent Torley argue that, either. You seem to be swinging your fist against a position that no ID proponent holds.

  30. 30
    Timaeus says:

    Vincent:

    As always, I enjoy your focus on primary texts. It is amazing how many Catholic TEs do not seem to know the primary texts. Even those who loudly invoke the name of Aquinas rarely seem to be willing to meet you on specific passages and offer a counter-exegesis.

    Rhampton7 here responds to your discussion of Augustine and Aquinas with quotations from modern Catholic scientists who have bought into TE. He should be responding to your detailed discussion of the great theologians. But this is nothing new; Beckwith and Tkacz largely refused to engage you on the primary texts; only Feser made some sort of effort. One gets the impression that Thomas Aquinas has become a largely unread symbol of “Catholic belief in secondary causes vs. Protestant fundamentalist insistence on miracles” rather than an author that TEs actually study in depth.

    It is sad, really. Always the Catholic Church in its wisdom held back from a full embrace of modernity, playing a healthy critical role. But now I see much of the intelligentsia of the Catholic Church rushing headlong to catch up with the liberal Protestants regarding Darwin and other matters.

    But there is still hope. Most of these opinions among the Catholic intelligentsia have not yet become Catholic doctrine. As long as they have not, there is still the possibility that the original Catholic teaching will prevail over trendy novelty. I’m glad that good Catholics like yourself, Denyse, Jay Richards, etc. are in there fighting. It is too bad that First Things has gone soft on this issue, ever since the death of Father Neuhaus.

  31. 31
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Timaeus,

    Thank you for your kind words, and for your posts on this thread, which were very much to the point. I believe it is important for the Catholic Church to remain in touch with its roots, especially in the 21st century. That’s one reason why I like to go back to the writings of the doctors of the Church, to see what they actually said.

    For my part, I am quietly confident that the Catholic Church will never commit itself to “a full embrace of modernity,” as you put it. I do not see any way that it could do so, as it can only make dogmatic rulings on matters of faith and morals, and not on science or history. So somehow, Catholic skeptics of modern-day theistic evolution will always be among us.

    Unfortunately, the proponents of this new and radical model of God’s relationship with the world seem to wield an influence over the media which is out of all proportion to their numeric strength. Part of what I write here in my posts on UD is an attempt to counteract that. Cheers.

  32. 32
    vjtorley says:

    Hi rhampton7,

    I’m back again. I was particularly interested in these statements of yours:

    Randomness as described by Science “really” exists in be it radioactive decay or the chance meeting of sperm and egg…

    It is the nature of secondary causes, even those that are Scientifically best described as random, that they are known to, and accounted for, by divine providence…

    Free Will and Randomness are two sides of the same coin. If you reconcile one with divine providence, then you have reconciled the other…

    The universe can only exist because God manifested it with traits such as randomness, acting in accordance to their given natures as secondary causes…

    God does not need to force events to know their histories…

    Even so, chance is “real” to the Universe and all within.

    I’d like to ask you some straight questions.

    1. Are you saying that events such as radioactive decay are genuinely random, in the sense that nothing and no-one – not even God – determines their outcome?

    2. Are you saying that God’s knowledge of the outcome of these random events is (timelessly) determined by those events themselves, in much the same way that Boethius is supposed to have held that God, like a watcher in a high tower, is timelessly made aware of human choices – past, present and future?

    3. If your answers to 1 and 2 are “yes” (as I think they are) then will you concede that on your account, God’s knowledge of the outcome of the evolutionary process (culminating in human beings) is logically (but not temporally) posterior to the events that took place in the history of life on Earth, and that therefore they cannot be said to have been planned by God, but at the very most, merely anticipated as one possibility, among others?

    4. Do you see your position as in any way different from that of Simon Conway Morris, who argues that God designed the universe in such a way that it would be very likely to produce intelligent life, but without determining what form it would take, or which animal would cross the intelligence threshold first?

    By the way, I think Timaeus’ comments regarding faith are spot-on. I have never claimed that one can reason one’s way to divine revelation; all I claim is that one can reason one’s way to the existence of God, without the need for the theological virtue of faith. Putting it another way, no special graces are required for a person to reject atheism and become a believer in the God of classical theism.

    You write:

    Reason can only get you as far as Aristotle’s explanation of God as the First Cause, but this is a philosophical, not scientific, proof. Reason alone is insufficient to know God or Truth.

    The second sentence seems to contradict the first, unless by “God” you mean the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as opposed to the God of classical theism.

    As for philosophical proofs of the existence of God: I’m all for them, but they are seldom sufficient to persuade ordinary people. Why? Because people don’t trust metaphysical arguments: they strike most people as too abstruse and theoretical, and the premises strike them as too uncertain to prove anything about God, one way or the other. People are much more likely to be swayed by videos like the Youtube video, “The Workhorse of the Cell: Kinesin,” which manifest the design found in Nature:

    Enjoy!

  33. 33
    StephenB says:

    rhampton 7

    “Unguided” is a metaphysical statement, outside the bounds of Science, rejected by the Church. “Darwinian evolution” is a physical statement, withinin the bounds of Science and accepted by the Church.

    Yes, “unguided” is, indeed, a metaphysical statement, which means that neo- Darwinists intrude metaphysics into their pseudo-scientific program. Just read almost any biological textbook that they write and you will find language to that effect.

    Meaning random mutations, among many other physical processes, can be both scientifically and theologically true, contrary to the opinions of many here at UD. The Church only objects when Darwinian evolution is used to infer that there is no God, meaning, or purpose.

    Darwinian evolution means no God, no meaning, and no purpose. Its results are understood to be indeterminate and unplanned, not just from our perspective, but from the vantage point of reality.

    Randomness as described by Science “really” exists in be it radioactive decay or the chance meeting of sperm and egg. God, however, is not handcuffed nor blinded by randomness (or gravity, quantum indeterminacy, or any other foundational aspect of his Creation). It would be beyond pointless for Science to mention this every time randomness or gravity or quantum theory is taught, because it is outside the scope of empirical discovery.

    We are speaking only about evolution, not embryology or quantum physics. If the argument is that God designed nature to produce an intended outcome (guided evolution), such a process can be reconciled with Catholicism. If the argument is that nature, without God’s direction, produced an accidental outcome (Darwinian evolution), such a process cannot reconciled with Catholicism.

    It is the nature of secondary causes, even those that are Scientifically best described as random, that they are known to, and accounted for, by divine providence. Further God need not intervene every time an atom decays, a gene mutates, a sperm and egg join to guarantee that his will is done.

    There ere is a big difference between saying that something seems random from our vantage point and saying that something is random, in fact. According to the “science” of neo-Darwinism, evolution “is” random, which means that outcome of the process was not planned by God. This position cannot be reconciled with Catholicism.

    Lastly, Faith can be known with the certainty that God is the truth, but that is not a “fact” that can proven.

    Christian theology, insofar as it surpasses man’s capacity to apprehend, must be accepted by faith, but the basic fact of God’s existence can be proven through reason alone. In this sense, and in many others, faith and reason are mutual partners in the acquisition of God’s truth, a fact that you earlier alluded to and now seem to forget.

    It is taken to be self-evidently true, and that requires the free-will to accept the love of God.

    Faith is never self-evidently true. If it was self-evidently true, it would not be faith.

    Further, it can’t be won through the agnostic Deism of Intelligent Design, but through Christ. Hence the rejection of ID theory on theological grounds and the necessity of Church’s existence.

    Deism is, in no way, synonymous with the ID’s scientific inference to design. Reason can play a role in, but cannot complete, an act of faith. Catholic truth is based, in part, on the observation (not the belief) that God reveals himself in nature. Romans 1:20 and Psalm 19 confirm the point. They are very design friendly passages.

  34. 34
    ppolish says:

    Randomness is a recent Human idea. Not one of the better ones lol.

    Bio Randomness is downright silly, c’mon.
     
    “Nothing in Nature is random. A thing appears random only through the
    incompleteness of our knowledge” (Spinoza).

  35. 35
    rhampton7 says:

    1. Are you saying that events such as radioactive decay are genuinely random, in the sense that nothing and no-one – not even God – determines their outcome?

    Truly random in that their outcomes can not be predicted because either a classical cause-effect relationship does not exist (as proposed for quantum indeterminancy) OR it is so convoluted that it can not be known (like a universe that can only “calculate” each moment by a universal waveform collapse or that there are more influences than can be accounted for).

    Broadly, God does not directly cause the outcomes of events and nor does he determine our choices. He does not need to when the Universe he chose had the history of events and choices he intended.

    This goes back to the free will of Judas. God choose to manifest the universe where Judas betrayed Jesus, so in one sense God “determined” Judas’s fate. But within the universe, Judas exercised his free will and made a choice. That God knew of Judas’s choice does not mean he is the author of it. Aquinas explains this in regards to things that are known to God include the things that could be but are not chosen/determined, as well as how God is responsible for all of Creation yet not for evil.

    Likewise, God “determined” a history where evolution leads to humanity. But that does not mean God had to push continents apart, start ice ages, mutate genes, or finagle quantum states to make that history happen. Aquinas explains this in regards to the nature of things and how they are given a freedom to act via secondary causes.

    Of course the Church didn’t stop its theological development with Aquinas, and so the scientific discoveries that have happened since further shaped the Church. You might find this essay on “Creation, Evolution, and Thomas Aquinas” by William E. Carroll helpful.

    FYI I’m going to try – really try – to limit the time I spend responding today. Need to get things done.

  36. 36
    rhampton7 says:

    There ere is a big difference between saying that something seems random from our vantage point and saying that something is random, in fact. According to the “science” of neo-Darwinism, evolution “is” random, which means that outcome of the process was not planned by God. This position cannot be reconciled with Catholicism.

    This makes as much sense as if you had said this:

    There ere is a big difference between saying that someone seems to have free will from our vantage point and saying that someone has free will, in fact. According to the Catholic theology, choice “is” free, which means that outcome of choice was not planned by God. This position cannot be reconciled with Catholicism.

    Hence my analogy to Judas, above.

    A common problem I have seen expressed at UD is this notion that a truly random process (within this universe) must be beyond God knowledge or ability to plan. Suffice it to say that Catholic theology reconciles both without denying the power or fredom of either, and many Protestant (especially of American origin) theologies do not.

    My goal is not to convince you to convert to Catholicism, but to recognize that Catholic theology does not see Darwinian evolution (in the strictly scientific sense) as a problem. Please do not falsely portray the Church’s resistance to nihilism and atheism as resistance to the science of Darwinian evolution.

  37. 37
    vjtorley says:

    Hi rhampton7,

    Thanks very much for your first response.

    You appear to endorse a Molinist account of free will. According to Molinists, God creates this world by selecting from a vast array of possible worlds, populated by possible people (including you and me). God knows what each of us would freely choose to do in each possible world, in any given situation. God then selects one of these possible worlds, and decides to create it. In the actual world, our decisions are free, but God foreknows them, because He has chosen the actual world (and all its outcomes) from all the possible worlds He could have made.

    However, it seems to me that if Molinism is true, people are no freer than under Universal Predestination. For if (as Molinism maintains) it is true that for any choice that I actually make in a given situation, that was the choice I would have made in that situation, then there is no meaningful sense in which I could have chosen otherwise in that situation. The Molinist may reply that God does not cause my choice; but I would argue that in fact, by knowingly choosing to create a world, whose built-in specifications include the fact that I will make that choice, then He does in fact cause my choice. And if God, in choosing which possible world He should actualize, selects one in which He knows certain individuals will be damned because of decisions that they would make, then God has already ensured the damnation of those individuals, simply by deciding to create that world. Consequently, if people are damned for their bad choices in this world, they are no more responsible for their own damnation than they would be if Universal Predestination were true.

    You stated that “God chose to manifest the universe where Judas betrayed Jesus, so in one sense God ‘determined’ Judas’s fate.” If Judas did not repent in his final moments, then you are saying that God determined his damnation – which is a shocking thing to say.

    That’s why I tend to favor the Boethian solution to the problem of God’s foreknowledge of human choices. God knows our future choices simply because it is His nature to be able to (timelessly) see the past, present and future.

    However, I do not see God’s knowledge of the outcome of the evolutionary process as being at all parallel to God’s knowledge of our free choices. The design of the universe was planned and positively willed by God. Our bad choices are not positively willed by God, but merely permitted.

    You propose that God knows events that unfold in our universe because He chose a Universe that had the history of events and choices that He intended, and thus He did not need to intervene in order to cause the outcomes of events. That still sounds like you believe God determines those events, by virtue of His initial choice. And yet at the same time, you write that a classical cause-effect relationship does not exist for quantum indeterminacy. If that’s the case, then how could God select this universe on the basis of its having the history He intended, if its history was not determined by its initial conditions?

    By the way, I’ve read William E. Carroll’s essay previously. The Principle of Autonomy which he ascribes to Aquinas is based on faulty scholarship, as I explain in my five-part reply to Professor Michael Tkacz (who holds similar views) at http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....omas1.html . I might add that William E. Carroll seems to doubt that each and every human soul is specially created by God, judging from the two paragraphs of his essay immediately prior to his Conclusion, although he’s very careful not to explicitly deny this teaching. He even writes: “A rejection of Aquinas’ specific claims about the human soul would not in any way challenge the truth of his analysis of creation.” Hmmm.

  38. 38
    Jon Garvey says:

    rhampton7

    I’m not sure there’s a significant difference between “God from all possible universes chooses the one in which Judas is evil,” and the more classic concurrentist formulation (as in Aquinas) of “God chooses to create a Judas who is evil.”

    A non-existent possible Judas who chooses to be good has less choice than the real one who chooses to be evil.

    This post was selected from a world of possible posts including a shopping list and the full text of War and Peace. That it is as it is is because this is what I wrote – it’s called choice, and the other possible posts are nothing.

    Similarly, if God chooses to create the one world in which every random quantum event he creates pans out to fulfil his purposes because he foresees them, then they are not random but determined. The general formulation is “I foresee that I will freely create quantum event X with efrfects Y rather than another” – it’s called design, purpose, intention, determination or divine will.

  39. 39
    jerry says:

    Neither Judas and Pilate are essential. They just happened to be the ones that played out in the historical event most of us know. But suppose that Judas did not betray Christ, this still would have not negated the underlying challenge set in motion by Christ to the current form of Judaism.

    And neither is Pilate necessary. Christ could have been murdered some other way and we would be celebrating that instead of a crucifixion. Granted that the whole drama of the betrayal, trial, various punishments, mocking etc. is quite spectacular, none of it is necessary except the death.

  40. 40
    ppolish says:

    It is interesting to imagine how God thinks, or what the Pope thinks, or what Jesus was thinking as His death approached. An excruciating painful death. He knew it was coming, He knew Judas & Pilate were part of the message. Message with a capital M.

    Thank you Jesus.

  41. 41
    rhampton7 says:

    VJT,

    Although interesting, I don’t see how a discussion of Compatabilist theories advances the argument I presented on behalf of my primary concern (the Church’s openness to the science of Darwinian evolution). I will say that I agree with Linda Zagzebski that “the apparent incompatibility of infallible divine foreknowledge and human free will” is really a special case of a much broader problem with temporal necessity. Hence my comment about randomness and free will being two sides of the same coin.

  42. 42
    StephenB says:

    Rhampton 7

    Hence my analogy to Judas, above.

    You cannot logically compare human free will to the unfolding of an end-directed, evolutionary process. This is one of the big errors that Theistic Darwinists make. God designed nature’s processes, the outcome of which reflected his Divine will and intent. God did NOT design human acts or the outcome produced by human choices, which often militate against His Divine will and intent. Do you understand the difference?

    A common problem I have seen expressed at UD is this notion that a truly random process (within this universe) must be beyond God knowledge or ability to plan.

    I do not believe that you have observed any such view expressed here and I would be willing to gamble that you cannot cite an example. Indeed, it should be obvious that God, as understood by the Catholic Church, is omniscient, which means that he knows everything that nature has ever done or ever will do. It also means that He has this same knowledge of humans. This does not mean, however, that He causes human behavior in the same way that he causes nature’s behavior.

    Suffice it to say that Catholic theology reconciles both without denying the power or fredom of either, and many Protestant (especially of American origin) theologies do not.

    There is nothing to reconcile. God knows everything, but God does not cause everything. God knows if the stock market is going to crash. That doesn’t mean that he caused it.

    My goal is not to convince you to convert to Catholicism, but to recognize that Catholic theology does not see Darwinian evolution (in the strictly scientific sense) as a problem.

    It is not necessary to convert me to Catholicism since I am already a Catholic. However, I do hope that you can be converted to authentic Catholicism. In keeping with that point, what is it about the fact that Catholicism cannot reconciled with unguided evolution that you do not understand?

    Please do not falsely portray the Church’s resistance to nihilism and atheism as resistance to the science of Darwinian evolution.

    I am trying to explain, as diplomatically and compassionately as I can, that you have been badly misinformed by dissident Catholics who do not accept the teachings of their own church. Invariably, these same CINOs (Catholics in name only) also accept polygenism, which the Church has condemned without qualification. They also tend to accept errors in Catholic moral teaching as well. Do you, as someone who claims to be a faithful catholic, reject polygenism and accept all the Church’s moral teachings. Or, are you a “cafeteria catholic” who, like the theistic Darwinists that you follow, picks and choose which Magisterial teachings you will accept and which ones you will reject.

  43. 43
    rhampton7 says:

    You cannot logically compare human free will to the unfolding of an end-directed, evolutionary process

    Yes you can, it just depends on your view of temporal necessity, that is, if the past (choice, randomness, etc.) is counterfactually open or closed. William Lane Craig (a non-Catholic) is one proponent of openness.

  44. 44
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    Why aren’t you responding directly to Vincent’s detailed analysis of texts of Augustine and Aquinas, instead of offering us your own private speculations about these matters as if your opinions were Catholic teaching?

  45. 45
    Graham2 says:

    timaeus: I note that most of them are not official statements of the Church

    And where/who do these ‘official statements’ come from ?

    And why should we be impressed ?

  46. 46
    StephenB says:

    Rhampton 7

    Yes you can, it just depends on your view of temporal necessity, that is, if the past (choice, randomness, etc.) is counterfactually open or closed. William Lane Craig (a non-Catholic) is one proponent of openness.

    What in the name of sense does that have to do with the fact that nature does not have free will and cannot, as is the case with humans, act against God’s will?

    Speaking of making sense, where are all your responses to my refutations of your arguments? Ignoring them does not make them go away.

  47. 47
    rhampton7 says:

    Timaeus,

    To you, it may seem like my personal opinion, but I assure you I can not take credit for it. As I mentioned before, the development of Catholic theology did not end with Aquinas: Molinism, for example, arose as a Catholic response to Calvinism. Today the Church is open on the questions raised by the Molinist (Molina/Jesuit) vs Thomist (Banez/Dominican) debates in the late 16th century (like Middle Knowledge). On the essential points they agree: God’s providence and Free Will are not incompatible.

  48. 48
    rhampton7 says:

    StephenB,

    The choices we make with Free Will are but a subset of all counterfactuals. You may wish to google it.

  49. 49
    StephenB says:

    rhampton 7

    The choices we make with Free Will are but a subset of all counterfactuals. You may wish to google it.

    I will make one more attempt to engage you in a rational discussion. Accordingly, I am reduced to repeating my question yet again: What does your claim have to do with the fact that nature does not have free will and cannot, as is the case with humans, act against God’s will?

  50. 50
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton @47:

    I am not discussing Molinism, or free will. I am discussing your dialogical habits. They include:

    1. refusing to deal with texts that are placed before you.

    Has Vincent misrepresented the teachings of Augustine and Aquinas, or not? If he has misrepresented their teachings, show us how he has misrepresented them.

    2. referring to the teaching of “the Church” or of “Catholicism” when reporting the private opinion of particular Catholics that you happen to agree with.

    Do you actually not understand the difference between official Catholic teaching and the private opinion of particular Catholics? Do you actually not understand that even the words of the Pope, when not set forth as formal teaching but offered only as part of an intellectual dialogue (e.g., at a conference of Catholic scientists over evolution and creation), are not, as such, Catholic teaching? Or do you know all this, but choose to try to put something over on people by representing private opinions as Catholic teaching?

    3. reverencing the ipsissima verba of Aquinas as if he speaks for the church and speaks without error, but then, when his words tell against your position (as they do on evolution and creation, as Vincent has shown above), changing your tune and saying “the development of Catholic theology did not end with Aquinas.”

    I certainly agree that Catholic theology did not end with Aquinas, but one wouldn’t know that from your worshipful and indeed fawning attitude to Aquinas expressed on previous occasions. In any case, Aquinas and Augustine retain significant prominence within Catholic thought and their views should continue to be taken seriously by Catholic thinkers, more seriously than the view of some rancorous, theology-challenged Italian neo-Darwinian biologist such as the philosophical incompetent that you cited earlier.

  51. 51
    Timaeus says:

    graham2:

    I take it that you know little of the workings of the Catholic Church or its means of developing and promulgating doctrine. I would guess that you are not a Catholic. If so, I would not expect you to be “impressed” by Catholic teaching. But rhampton7 claims to be a faithful Catholic. He is therefore required to be “impressed” by Catholic teaching, even if you aren’t. And he should not be making public statements about Catholic teaching that are false.

  52. 52
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    Another complaint about your dialogical methods:

    4. failing to concede points.

    For example, you could admit that you had no evidence for your claim that Vincent and other ID people try to arrive at the truths of divine revelation by means of natural reason, and could acknowledge that you stand corrected, and could apologize for imputing a view to ID people without first carefully reading what ID people had written to see if the view you were imputing was in fact their view.

  53. 53
    Graham2 says:

    Timaeus: Im certainly not a Catholic, but Im still curious.

  54. 54
    Timaeus says:

    Graham2:

    The only thing you need to understand, you can understand by analogy from things you are more familiar with. For example, are you familiar with the processes by which state or federal laws come into being? (Adjust the terminology if you are not American.)

    Suppose that a President of the United States muses aloud about how good it would be if there were a national highway speed limit of 45 mph. Do Americans have to drive slower at that point? NO. Now suppose the President appoints a panel of experts to investigate the benefits of a lower speed limit, and the panel recommends a 45 mph speed limit. Do Americans, upon hearing the recommendation of the panel, have to drive slower at that point? NO. But suppose that a bill is introduced into Congress to lower the speed limit to 45 mph, and both the House and the Senate, swayed by the report of the panel of experts, pass it, and the President, also agreeing with the experts, signs it. Do Americans now have to reduce their speed? YES.

    “The American position” on highway speed limits cannot be declared until such a process is executed. Prior to that, no view on highway speed limits, even the view of the President, is “the American position” but only the opinion of particular Americans.

    It is the same with the Catholic Church. It has rules or procedures for the generation of new doctrine or the modification of old doctrine. It has its study panels, its recommendations, its reviews by the Cardinals and the Pope of recommendations, etc. At all those stages, the new or modified doctrines are only proposed, not accepted. But once the processes are finished, the Pope then makes a ruling. He may decide to go with the majority of his advisors, be they biologists or Cardinals. He may decide to go with the minority. When he does make a decision, it will be proclaimed officially in a document of one kind or another, and at that point it becomes part of Catholic faith to accept that doctrine.

    What rhampton7 is doing is declaring as “Catholic teaching” or “Church teaching” views that are at present only the opinions of some members of the Church, e.g., scientists advising the Church on evolution, or the Pope speaking in his private capacity as a thinker on science and theology, and not in his official capacity as teacher of Christian doctrine. This is why what rhampton7 is doing here is illegitimate. If he said “I agree with those Catholics who think …” that would be fine, just as if he said “I agree with those Americans who think the speed limit should be reduced to 45 mph.” But he isn’t doing that. He is saying that “the Church believes” or “the Catholic position on evolution is” when the Church has not stated a firm position on the specific opinions he is defending. That would be like saying “America believes that the speed limit should be 45 mph” when no law has been passed on the matter. If no law has been passed, all that can be said is that some Americans, or some Catholics, believe or urge such-and-such.

    If rhampton7 would limit his claims to “this is my opinion as an individual Catholic” I would not have a problem. I might disagree with his opinion, but I would not take umbrage. What makes me take umbrage is his presumptuousness that he speaks for the Church on matters on which the Church has not yet decided. He is projecting his theoretical preferences as Catholic doctrine. He has no authority to do so.

  55. 55
    StephenB says:

    Timaeus, in your analogy @54, you do an admirable job of explaining the difference between two kinds of public statements that Catholics can make: First, we can point to the official Magisterial teachings, which are authoritative and binding for all Catholics; and second, we can point to the personal opinions of various catholic groups or individuals, which have no authority or binding power at all. Thank you for making the point so clearly.

    It is, indeed, odd that you, a non-Catholic who has made no pledge to fidelity, must explain this to Rhampton 7, a professed Catholic who does make that claim even though he has yet to offer his support for the Church’s doctrinal statement on polygenism.

  56. 56
    Graham2 says:

    Timaeus: I appreciate your long reply. The tone is a bit patronising (Im not a child), but you made the effort.

    Im always curious about the infallible thing. Why cant the Pope just declare it and settle the issue ?

    Also, once a point becomes ‘doctrine’, can it be questioned ?

  57. 57
    Timaeus says:

    Graham2:

    Sorry if you thought my tone was inappropriate. To tell you the truth, I thought I detected a bit of a gauntlet-throwing tone in your original question in 45, and maybe that influenced how I wrote; or maybe we are both reading into the other person’s writing style.

    As for your more technical question about infallibility (which has been invoked very rarely), and about what freedom Catholics have to question doctrines, you would do better to ask StephenB, or consult something like The Catholic Encyclopedia.

  58. 58
    jerry says:

    Timaeus,

    While it is possible to get your attention, I have a question/issue to discuss. There is another thread up now that no one is paying attention to. It is here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....in-action/

    It is at the heart of this discussion, namely, why do the theists blindly believe in Darwinian processes when there is no evidence supporting them. The answer is they think it overcomes the theodicy issue.

    I have been paying attention to the theodicy issue for over 20 years and believe there is a major flaw in the argument. At some time, maybe not here, but somewhere on this site, there should be a discussion of it. Especially since it is at the root of the theist belief system.

    I am heading off for the weekend for a family affair and not be able to respond much but will be back on Sunday night.

  59. 59
    rhampton7 says:

    Timaeus,
    I find that you do not have a well grounded understanding of the Magisterium, which exists for matters of faith and morals, and only on these matters is it binding. For that reason I have ignored most of what you have written. In Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul the II explains why the Church has no issue with Science or scientists, including Darwinian evolution and its theorists, provided it does not stray into metaphysical proclamations. Regardless of your opinion of my knowledge of Catholicism, there can be no denying this simple fact. And that is the point I wish to make

    What does concern the Magisterium? fideism, radical traditionalism, rationalism, ontologism, Marxism, scientism (This is the philosophical notion which refuses to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive sciences; and it relegates religious, theological, ethical and aesthetic knowledge to the realm of mere fantasy) — metaphysics, not science.

  60. 60
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    I never said that the Church had an issue with science or scientists per se. But the contents of particular theories potentially clash with propositions of “faith or morals.” Certain statements made by Darwin and certain statements made by the neo-Darwinians are in this category, even though “evolution” by itself (which I’ve never spoken against) need not imply any bad metaphysics. For some important comments on the relationship between Darwin’s thinking and the word “evolution” I would recommend that you read Etienne Gilson’s *From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again.*

    I of course understand perfectly well that the Church opposes a number of metaphysical errors such as you have given. I also understand perfectly well that the clear-cut division between “science” and “metaphysics” that is employed by you and others (especially Christian scientists) in these arguments is facile. Neither Aristotle nor Aquinas understood that distinction in the way that moderns do. Aristotle’s understanding of the four causes, for example, is both scientific and metaphysical at once, and the typical modern compromise (which TEs employ so they can have their cake and eat it, too, regarding teleology) in which “science” deals only with efficient causes and final and formal causes belong strictly to “metaphysics” is unhistorical, a convenient fiction called into being at first by Descartes and Bacon, and later reduced to even cruder philosophical Philistinism by Protestant and Catholic TEs. (You aren’t going to get profound philosophy, or accurate history of Greek and Medieval thought, from population geneticists with 200 published papers on technical minutiae.)

    I am still waiting for your retraction regarding your claim that Vincent, and ID people generally, try to get to truths of revelation from natural reason. But of course retraction of error has never been your way, has it?

    You still have not dealt with the primary source passages. I doubt you ever will.

  61. 61
    rhampton7 says:

    Again Timaeus, I don’t find it worth my time to comment on much of what you have written.

    Certain statements made by Darwin and certain statements made by the neo-Darwinians are in this category, even though “evolution” by itself (which I’ve never spoken against) need not imply any bad metaphysics.

    Good, we agree on this point. That’s enough for me.

  62. 62
    StephenB says:

    Rhampton 7

    Pope John Paul the II explains why the Church has no issue with Science or scientists, including [Darwinian evolution]and its theorists, provided it does not stray into metaphysical proclamations. Regardless of your opinion of my knowledge of Catholicism, there can be no denying this simple fact. And that is the point I wish to make.

    The “point you wish to make” is a false claim. JPII did not say that the Church has no issue with “Darwinian evolution.” You are simply making that up. Why would you say such a thing?

    JPII pointed out that there are several theories of evolution and that the mechanism proposed is the critical element. He believed that guided macro-evolution is well-established; he did not believe that unguided Darwinian evolution was well established or even true. Even after having been corrected on this matter several times, you continue to conflate the two ideas. What is it with you?

    You must stop misrepresenting the facts, especially since JPII’s comments, while worthy of respect, do not, unlike those of Pius XII, constitute official Church teaching. Even at that, JPII rejected polytheism, since the existence of a real Adam and Eve is something that Catholics must accept as a Scriptural truth.

    Rhampton 7 [writing to Timaeus] I find that you do not have a well grounded understanding of the Magisterium, which exists for matters of faith and morals, and only on these matters is it binding.

    I find that you do not have a well-grounded understanding of faith and morals. The existence of a historical Adam and Eve as our singular first parents is a matter of faith and Catholics are bound to accept it. Since you continually evade the issue, and since polytheism is a part of the Christian-Darwinist heresy that you subscribe to, I have every reason to believe that you accept polygenism as part of that package, which would put you at odds with Catholic teaching.

    ————————————————————

    37. “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.”

    What is it about these words concerning Catholic faith that you do not understand?

  63. 63
    Mung says:

    rhampton7:

    Did Judas freely choose to betray Jesus and did Pontius Pilate freely choose to crucify Jesus? If so, then God “gambled” on the Salvation of mankind for neither man was a slave to fate.

    If Judas had not betrayed Jesus, and if Pilate had not permitted/authorized his execution, then there would never have been salvation for mankind.

    That is just faulty logic.

  64. 64
    Mung says:

    vjt:

    ..people don’t trust metaphysical arguments: they strike most people as too abstruse and theoretical, and the premises strike them as too uncertain to prove anything about God, one way or the other…

    I disagree. People rely on and trust metaphysical arguments all the time. Perhaps they just lack awareness of the metaphysical nature of of those arguments.

  65. 65
    rhampton7 says:

    StephenB,

    See post 1.

    Randomness is no more or less guided than Free Will. “Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation.” This is equivalent to “Thus, even the outcome of truly free will can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation.”

    The question answered here is not if randomness is “truly” random (that is debatable), but that should it be, it is known to God. To reframe the answer in the form it was actually considered; should radioactive decay be “truly” random and quantum states “truly” creatures of probabilities, God would still have perfect knowledge of them. The randomness of evolution, by comparison, is a trivial problem.

    BTW: It was quantum theory, not Darwinian evolution, that caused the most concern for Thomists in the 20th century. At the same time they fretted over the implications of general relativity and indeterminacy, the Pontifical Academy of Science accepted Max Plank and Erwin Schroedinger as members to advise the Church. Since Vatican II, Thomists have come to terms with these challenges whilst Science has been granted an autonomy of sorts from Thomism.

    You may not agree with the “how” provided by Molinism, but the net result is that the Church does not view “true” randomness as an obstacle because the outcomes are planned for (but not forced).

  66. 66
    Mung says:

    Graham2:

    Timaeus: I appreciate your long reply. The tone is a bit patronising (Im not a child), but you made the effort.

    When did you decide you were not a child?

  67. 67
    Mung says:

    For that reason I have ignored most of what you have written.

    lol. Reminds me so much of RDFish. You disagree with me and offer salient points in rebuttal. I ignore you.

  68. 68
    rhampton7 says:

    Mung,

    There may still have been Salvation, but not the scenario envisioned by God. Some Protestants resolved this problem by arguing that we do not have free will. That is, the only way for God to guarantee that Judas betrayed Jesus as he planned, was to dictate Judas’s response. Obviously the Church disagrees with Incompatibilism. (incompatibilists don’t necessarily see it quite that way, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle o’ fish).

  69. 69
    Timaeus says:

    StephenB @ 62:

    I appreciate your frustration. But rhampton7 has always been one of these people who says: “My mind is made up; don’t try to confuse me with the facts.” Polygenism is part of his sworn commitment to the Darwinian party, and if Church doctrine has to change to accommodate that, he will try to change Church doctrine. And if he can’t get Church doctrine to change, he will either misrepresent what the Church teaches on the subject, or refuse to engage with it. For all his blustering about the Magisterium, he’s essentially a cafeteria Catholic. I fear that the rise in cafeteria Catholicism, which is especially prevalent in the USA, will one day destroy Catholicism. Cafeteria Catholicism, after all, is just Protestantism with nicer church artwork.

  70. 70
    Timaeus says:

    Jerry:

    Got your note. The places to comment are under the UD column, and under the Hunter column which is linked. Also, keep your eye on BioLogos and Hump of the Camel, where such theological issues are frequently discussed.

    The TEs are very wrong to make theodicy the deciding factor in Christian theology overall. Other things, such as God’s absolute sovereignty over nature, are equally important considerations.

  71. 71
    StephenB says:

    Timaeus @69

    Among those with whom we would interact, there are well-educated people, uneducated people, and badly educated people. The members in the third group do the most violence to the Church and society because their ideas are so disordered and their passion for change is so intense. As someone once said,” it ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Rhampton 7 seems to fit this profile.

    Sadly, there are many like him in my church, the Catholic Church, who would bend truth in the direction of their desires rather than bend their desires in the direction of truth. This proclivity to make the world over in one’s own disordered image is the main problem in the Catholic Church today. It has led to a loss of faith and to every kind of moral scandal imaginable. Someone once described it as a “pressure mechanism” inside the Church and it threatens to destroy the institution from the inside out. It goes by the name of “modernism,” and it affects every spiritual and intellectual aspect of the Church’s existence.
    Popes Pius IX and X saw it coming and wrote encyclicals to address it. Perhaps the most informative of them all; was the “Syllabus of Errors,” which described modernism as the “synthesis of all heresies.” This is the fourth time that the Catholic Church has been down for the count of eight (it happens every five hundred years) and, yes, this crisis is the most serious of them all. Apostacy is everywhere and the homosexual mafia rules the roost in many places. The major Catholic institutions in the United States are no longer Catholic (smaller schools are the place to go) and most seminaries are hotbeds of heresy (but the few that remained faithful are like heaven on earth). Religious education has become little more than an attempt to feminize men and prepare them to blend in with the crowd rather than to stand up and fight for principle. Is it any wonder there are so many Christian Darwinists in the mix?

    Nevertheless, I still believe that the best place for anyone to be is inside the Church receiving the sacraments from those few faithful clerics who have stayed the course. The power of grace is still alive and well and available: heaven has not stopped providing it simply because there are so many unfaithful servants. —“Narrow is the path and few there be who find it.” Indeed, the Church will never be completely destroyed and it still provides the graces necessary for salvation. The difference between now and earlier times is that that truth in advertising has become a major problem—one must now search diligently for the right catholic parish, the right catholic school, and the right catholic educators. They are still around- “On this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

    Rhampton 7 thinks he knows something about the Catholic Church and its teachings, but it is evident that all his information comes from agenda-driven modernists who want to transform the Church’s true mission, which is to get people into God’s kingdom, into a politically correct lap dog for liberal politicians and government bureaucrats. Sadly, Rhampton 7 did not find the right catholic educators.

  72. 72
    vjtorley says:

    rhampton7,

    Thanks for your post in #41 above, and my sincere apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I’ve been busy on a number of threads lately. You write:

    Although interesting, I don’t see how a discussion of Compatabilist theories advances the argument I presented on behalf of my primary concern (the Church’s openness to the science of Darwinian evolution). I will say that I agree with Linda Zagzebski that “the apparent incompatibility of infallible divine foreknowledge and human free will” is really a special case of a much broader problem with temporal necessity. Hence my comment about randomness and free will being two sides of the same coin.

    Actually, I’ve read some of Linda Zagzebski’s articles on free will previously. She’s a very good philosopher, and her writings is extremely lucid. However, I don’t think the article you cite will help your case much. I agree with you that infallible divine foreknowledge and human free will are perfectly compatible, and that a proper understanding of temporal necessity can help resolve the problem of their apparent incompatibility.

    What I would maintain, however, is that infallible divine planning for some event X to happen requires God to determine that event. God can know events (including free choices and “random” natural occurrences) without determining them, but He cannot infallibly plan these events to happen without determining them. Hence if God infallibly planned the emergence of human beings, then He must have determined it to happen – in other words, He cannot have brought us into existence through processes that are inherently random and non-deterministic.

    In #65, you write:

    The question answered here is not if randomness is “truly” random (that is debatable), but that should it be, it is known to God. To reframe the answer in the form it was actually considered; should radioactive decay be “truly” random and quantum states “truly” creatures of probabilities, God would still have perfect knowledge of them. The randomness of evolution, by comparison, is a trivial problem.

    Having perfect knowledge of a probabilistic occurrence is not enough, if one is planning to use one specific possible outcome of that occurrence, in order to bring about another event – e.g. using a random mutation in order to bring about the eventual emergence of human beings. The problem here is that in order for one’s plan to work infallibly, one’s knowledge of the outcome must be logically prior to the occurrence in question. And that can only be the case if one somehow determines the occurrence. Hence you must say that God determined the result of each “random” mutation that led to us.

    You may say, if you like, that God determined these mutations by selecting one possible world from a vast array of alternative possibilities. But in that case, from a God’s-eye perspective, the mutations in question are no longer random. That was the point I was trying to make earlier.

    By the way, I was rather shocked by your statement that Protestants believe that “the only way for God to guarantee that Judas betrayed Jesus as he planned, was to dictate Judas’s response” (italics mine). You obviously don’t believe God dictated Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, but you seem to be saying that God planned it nonetheless. Or have I misunderstood you? When you say “he,” are you referring to God or Judas? Surely you’re not seriously claiming that God planned for Judas to betray Jesus, are you?

  73. 73
    rhampton7 says:

    By the way, I was rather shocked by your statement that Protestants believe that “the only way for God to guarantee that Judas betrayed Jesus as he planned, was to dictate Judas’s response” (italics mine).

    “Some Protestants” is what I wrote.

    You obviously don’t believe God dictated Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, but you seem to be saying that God planned it nonetheless. Or have I misunderstood you?

    You understood me correctly.

    When you say “he,” are you referring to God or Judas?

    God.

    Surely you’re not seriously claiming that God planned for Judas to betray Jesus, are you?

    Yes, but do not confuse the permission God grants us to exercise Free Will as his dictation of our actions. If that were true, then God would be responsible for our sins. So even with free will there is nothing that any man (or randomness) can possibly do that would surprise God, for he is omniscient. And God’s plan necessarily included the knowledge, and outcome, of every choice made (as well as those not chosen), as well as all randomness.

    Frankly, I’m surprise that you are surprised by this. This is standard Catholicism – even the staunch Thomist Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange believed this to be true despite his rejection of Molinism.

  74. 74
    StephenB says:

    VJTorley:

    Having perfect knowledge of a probabilistic occurrence is not enough, if one is planning to use one specific possible outcome of that occurrence, in order to bring about another event – e.g. using a random mutation in order to bring about the eventual emergence of human beings. The problem here is that in order for one’s plan to work infallibly, one’s knowledge of the outcome must be logically prior to the occurrence in question. And that can only be the case if one somehow determines the occurrence. Hence you must say that God determined the result of each “random” mutation that led to us.

    VJ, thank you for an excellent response. Yes, with respect to the evolutionary process and its outcome, the issue is less about God’s ability to know what will happen and more about his decision to make it happen.

  75. 75
    StephenB says:

    rhampton 7

    You may not agree with the “how” provided by Molinism, but the net result is that the Church does not view “true” randomness as an obstacle because the outcomes are planned for (but not forced).

    Again, you are conflating human actions with nature’s processes. Yes, human actions are “planned for” (not planned) insofar as allowances are made for them and they are not forced. Humans do have free will and God knows what they will do with it even before they do it.

    In that sense, God caused the existence of the human faculties by which those actions are taken, but He did not cause the actions themselves, though he knew about them in advance. There is no conflict between God’s knowledge (sometimes referred to as “foreknowledge”) and our capacity to make free choices. God’s creatures are, themselves, causal agents even those they and their faculties were caused to exist.

    None of this has anything to do with an evolutionary process that may or may not be responsible for the form of man’s physical existence, which was planned by God down to the very last detail. In that context, I notice that you still make no distinction between guided evolution and unguided evolution.

    Evolution, insofar as it can be reconciled with Church doctrine, does not have “free will” of any kind, either molinistic or Thomistic. Free will occurred after the arrival of man, not before. A physical maturation process does not, as is the case with humans, have any power to choose or control its final outcome. If evolution occurred, the outcome was, from a Catholic perspective, “forced” because only one outcome can reflect God’s apriori intent.

  76. 76
    vjtorley says:

    rhampton7,

    I’m genuinely puzzled by your response in #73 above. You say that I have understood you correctly, as holding that although God did not dictate Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, He planned it nonetheless. But then you go on to say: “do not confuse the permission God grants us to exercise Free Will as his dictation of our actions,” adding that if He dictated our actions, “God would be responsible for our sins.” You then write:

    So even with free will there is nothing that any man (or randomness) can possibly do that would surprise God, for he is omniscient. And God’s plan necessarily included the knowledge, and outcome, of every choice made (as well as those not chosen), as well as all randomness.

    I think you misunderstand the proper usage of the word “plan.” When you plan something to happen, you obviously intend it to happen. If God planned Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, then He intended it to happen, which means that He intends a sinful act to happen. Do you really want to say that?

    You seem to confirm this interpretation when you add that “God’s plan necessarily included the knowledge, and outcome, of every choice made (as well as those not chosen), as well as all randomness,” which suggests that you believe God’s knowledge of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is logically prior to His plan to redeem fallen humanity, and that the sinful act of Judas is the means God intends to use to accomplish this end.

    As I have written, I believe that God in no way intends sinful acts. If God planned to redeem humanity, then He must have had a plan to redeem it which did not involve anyone sinning. He may have also had various “back-up plans” (or contingency plans) for accomplishing His goal if His original plan was thwarted, but He could not have intended from the outset to proceed via these paths. His plan to redeem humanity via Judas’ betrayal must therefore have been logically (not temporally) subsequent to His knowledge of Judas’ treacherous act, which in turn was logically (not temporally) subsequent to the act of betrayal itself.

    Finally, you write:

    Frankly, I’m surprise that you are surprised by this. This is standard Catholicism – even the staunch Thomist Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange believed this to be true despite his rejection of Molinism.

    I read Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange back in the early eighties. I can still remember his line: “God determining or determined: there is no alternative.” I take the latter horn, of course, as I adopt a Boethian view of God’s foreknowledge. Garrigou-Lagrange was a Bannezian: he believed God predestines everything that happens, including Satan’s fall – a view held by only a handful of Dominicans within the Catholic Church, and very hard to square with the decrees of the Council of Trent, as the Catholic Encyclopedia correctly notes at the end of its article on Predestination.

    Regarding evolution, StephenB formulates the issue well: “with respect to the evolutionary process and its outcome, the issue is less about God’s ability to know what will happen and more about his decision to make it happen.”

  77. 77
    rhampton7 says:

    with respect to the evolutionary process and its outcome, the issue is less about God’s ability to know what will happen and more about his decision to make it happen.”

    Yes, hence my repeated reference to God knowledge of contingency (which includes randomness).

    Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so.

    Which is developed from Aquinas:

    Nothing hinders certain things happening by luck or by chance, if compared to their proximate causes: but not if compared to Divine Providence, whereby “nothing happens at random in the world,” as Augustine says.

    So randomness, as measured within this universe, is true. We can only study proximate causation, thus we can only prove, by science, that randomness exists. None the less, by faith we know that God made randomness on purpose, and thus randomness and all its outcomes are know to, and planned for by God. God’s will in maintaining randomness, like the rest of the universe, is continuous and active, so it can never be properly understood as God relinquishing his power or authority. That nature has a kind of freedom does not require God to force outcomes.

    you believe God’s knowledge of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is logically prior to His plan to redeem fallen humanity, and that the sinful act of Judas is the means God intends to use to accomplish this end

    .

    Not just I, but the Church believes this. As I said, this is standard Catholicism.

    In classifying the objects of Divine omniscience the most obvious and fundamental distinction is between things that actually exist at any time, and those that are merely possible. And it is in reference to these two classes of objects that the distinction is made between knowledge “of vision” and “of simple intelligence”; the former referring to things actual, and the latter to the merely possible. This distinction might appear at first sight to be absolutely comprehensive and adequate to the purpose for which we introduce distinctions at all, but some difficulty is felt once the question is raised of God’s knowledge of the acts of creatures endowed with free will. That God knows infallibly and from eternity what, for example, a certain man, in the exercise of free will, will do or actually does in any given circumstances, and what he might or would actually have done in different circumstances is beyond doubt — being a corollary from the eternal actuality of Divine knowledge. So to speak, God has not to wait on the contingent and temporal event of the man’s free choice to know what the latter’s action will be; He knows it from eternity. But the difficulty is: how, from our finite point of view, to interpret and explain the mysterious manner of God’s knowledge of such events without at the same time sacrificing the free will of the creature.

    The “How” being a debate between the Dominicans/Thomists and the Jesuits/Molinists. Regardless of your opinion, however:

    Whichever way we turn we are bound ultimately to encounter a mystery, and, when there is a question of choosing between a theory which refers the mystery to God Himself and one which only saves the truth of human freedom by making free-will itself a mystery, most theologians naturally prefer the former alternative.

  78. 78
    rhampton7 says:

    Free will is not just the freedom to choose, but the freedom to sin. Randomness, indeed any contingency of Nature, is merely the freedom to move from one possibility to another. So I agree that nature does not have free will, for it can not sin.

  79. 79
    StephenB says:

    rhampton 7

    Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so.

    You are, of course, quoting from “Communion and Stewardship.” Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that the authors of this document are putting words in Aquinas’ mouth. The Angelic Doctor did not say anything like that.

    Here is the correct quote from the ST:

    “The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency”

    You will notice that there is nothing in these passages about a contingent process or a contingent evolutionary mechanism. Aquinas is, in this context, likely referring to the contingent activity of humans, that is, human activity that appears to be (though not necessarily is) brought about luck or chance. In other words, some things happen by necessity (guided evolution) and some things happen by contingency (apparent human accidents).

    It is also important to understand that chance can be claimed to exist in two ways, ontologically and epistemologically. Ontological chance suggests that chance and luck really exist and can explain some events, while epistemological chance rejects such notions, saying that what seems like chance is really ignorance of other true causes. Thus, it is important to know exactly what someone means when they use word like, chance, randomness, or contingency. This is true for ID as well.

    In any case, when these authors attribute to Aquinas the idea that guided evolution can also be a radically contingent, Darwinian process, which by definition, is an unguided process, they are simply not telling truth. Equally important, they are not promoting Catholic Doctrine. On the contrary, they are militating against it.

    SB: “with respect to the evolutionary process and its outcome, the issue is less about God’s ability to know what will happen and more about his decision to make it happen.”

    Yes, hence my repeated reference to God knowledge of contingency (which includes randomness).

    God’s knowledge of contingency has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of evolution, which is solely a product of God’s actions.

    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    With respect to Judas and free will, I would say this: It was not part of God’s original plan that Judas would sin, but he did plan around Judas’ sin. God’s original plan and intent was that no man would sin.

    On the other hand, because God is omniscient, He knew that Judas (and Adam and me and one third of the angels) would sin, which means that His original plan was thwarted, and He knew that it would be thwarted. His plan of salvation was His supernaturally noble reaction in advance of the fact (this seems to put God in time, but it helps make the point).

    This also means that God knew about the cross of salvation even before (again, speaking symbolically, not literally, as if time was in play) He made His first creature. So, he planned around these tragedies. He created me knowing that I would cause Him to be crucified. Remarkable!

  80. 80
    rhampton7 says:

    StephenB,

    In any case, when these authors attribute to Aquinas the idea that guided evolution can also be a radically contingent, Darwinian process, which by definition, is an unguided process

    Darwinian processes are guided but not forced. “Radical” contingency is known to God, for it was God who granted the Universe with such a nature. You insist on making this mistake and then attributing it to the Church, but I believe yours is an honest mistake. You seem to believe that Thomism IS Catholicism, rather than it being an important development WITHIN Catholicism.

    Contingent processes, as Science and the Church have learned, includes quantum indeterminacy and general relativity, which Aquinas was not privileged to know. Regardless, God granted nature a freedom to act via secondary causes – meaning God does not need to force or intervene in those outcomes.

    Passing now to the theory of evolution as a philosophical speculation, the history of the plant and animal kingdoms upon our globe is but a small part of the history of the entire earth. Similarly, the geological development of our earth constitutes but a small part of the history of the solar system and of the universe. The theory of evolution as a philosophical conception considers the entire history of the cosmos as an harmonious development, brought about by natural laws. This conception is in agreement with the Christian view of the universe. God is the Creator of heaven and earth. If God produced the universe by a single creative act of His will, then its natural development by laws implanted in it by the Creator is to the greater glory of His Divine power and wisdom. St. Thomas says: “The potency of a cause is the greater, the more remote the effects to which it extends.” (Summa c. Gent., III, c. lxxvi); and Francisco Suárez: “God does not interfere directly with the natural order, where secondary causes suffice to produce the intended effect” (De opere sex dierum, II, c. x, n. 13). In the light of this principle of the Christian interpretation of nature, the history of the animal and vegetable kingdoms on our planet is, as it were, a versicle in a volume of a million pages in which the natural development of the cosmos is described, and upon whose title-page is written: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.”

    Nothing can thwart God, not even our free will. God is perfect, immutable, so too his plan. So Yes, Judas’s betrayal was part of God’s plan. Again, that’s standard Catholicism.

    Pope Benedict XVI The people of Jerusalem and their leaders did not acknowledge Christ, yet, by condemning him to death, they fulfilled the words of the prophets (cf. Acts 13:27). Human evil and ignorance simply cannot thwart the divine plan of salvation and redemption. Evil is simply incapable of that.

  81. 81
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7 @ 80:

    The first quotation in 80 is not attributed to anyone. The author should be explicitly stated. It is bad scholarship not to name the source.

    I notice that the words of Suarez are in boldface type. Are they so in the original quotation? You seem to be offering the statement of Suarez as a certainty, a given, a “principle of the Christian interpretation of nature”; but who made Suarez’s PERSONAL OPINION into a Christian principle? Where has *the Church*, as opposed to any individual theologian, declared it doctrine that “God does not interfere directly with the natural order, where secondary causes suffice to produce the intended effect”?

    This “principle” is straight Enlightenment philosophy, nothing at all to do with Christian faith. This is betrayed by the language of God’s “interfering” with the natural order, as if the natural order has some rights of its own, such that the direct involvement of God would be a violation of a treaty agreement, or at least a rude impertinence. This conception of “interfering” with nature is not at all Biblical; it comes to us from people like Hume. In the Biblical view, God’s direct involvement with nature is not thought of as “interference” at all.

    Finally, what does “Darwinian processes are guided but not forced” mean? What do you mean by “guided”? “Guided” in the normal use of the word suggests personal involvement, what people would call “interference” or (with a more neutral connotation) “intervention,” yet your subsequent discussion is strongly against intervention when it comes to origins. So is your use of “guided” here merely unclear, or deliberately ambiguous?

    Finally, as I tire of your dancing around the question of Aquinas (your quoting him as unimpeachable authority one moment, yet telling us that he is not identical with Catholic teaching the next) I ask you directly: did Aquinas make an *error* when he said that God created man and the higher animals directly, and not through secondary causes? Never mind what he might have said had he lived today. Are his statements, as they stand, factual *errors* about origins? Are you saying he was *wrong* about those things, and that both modern natural science and Catholic theology *should override his teaching* at that point?

  82. 82
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7, footnote to 81 above:

    In your post 7 above, you quote (with apparent endorsement) a Catholic scientist as rejecting the notion that God directs events through “Steering type” interventions. But then you say in 80 that Darwinian processes are “guided.” In everyday English, there is no clear difference between “steering” and “guiding”; one can “steer” a boat into dock, or “guide” a boat into dock, and the same thing is meant. So unless you are using some refined, special set of distinct meanings for “steer” and “guide” your remarks are inconsistent with each other.

    I am also astounded that you, and many of your sources, including some theologians who should know better, seem to slop together divine foreknowledge and divine decision or determination. The clash between alleged “truly random” events and Christian theology does not spring from God’s foreknowledge; events could be as “truly random” as you like, and God — if he has foreknowledge — would still know them. The clash comes from the assertion that there are events that are “truly random” and the assertion of God’s sovereignty over all events.

    Much detail is needed to sort out the latter conflict, but the key thing to note is that foreknowledge is not, and has never been, the problem in discussion about Darwin and Darwinism.

    You continue to cherry-pick, selecting certain statements from JP II and certain unofficial statements of Benedict, while ignoring other official statements of Benedict, such as have been pointed out here. You also ignore the history of Roman suspicions of evolution, which go back to 1870 at least. You paint a rosy picture in which the Catholic Church has always been quite happy with evolution as long as evolution is separated from atheism and materialism, when in fact part of the intellectual agony over evolution is uncertainty about how far *certain* accounts of evolution can be separated from atheism and materialism. You don’t see Catholic theologians agonizing over whether Newton’s laws can be compatible with Christian faith; but they have agonized over whether or not the specifically Darwinian way of thinking about evolution is compatible with Christian faith. This historical fact is completely glossed over in your rosy picture of the Darwin/Church question. You would like to believe that there is not now and never was any tension felt by Popes and leading theologians of the Church between Darwin and Christian theology, and you let what you would like to believe guide your historiography (if a loose-joined volley of quotations from all over the map can be called a genuine historiography).

  83. 83
    rhampton7 says:

    Timaeus,

    You do not understand the Catholic idea of God sustaining the universe and everything within as a continuous act of Will, motivated by Love. That’s how things are ‘guided’ (dependent would be a better term) without being dictated — continually existing and acting given their natures (such as randomness or free will). Further, sovereignty is not a master-slave relationship, or a clockwork affair. Love drives the necessity of freedom within this universe, be it randomness or free will.

    Fate
    though God knows from all eternity everything that is going to happen, He does not will everything. Sin He does not will in any sense; He only permits it. Certain things He wills absolutely and others conditionally, and His general supervision, whereby these decrees are carried out, is called Divine Providence. As God is a free agent, the order of nature is not necessary in the sense that it could not have been otherwise than it is. It is only necessary in so far as it works according to definite uniform laws and is predetermined by a decree which, though absolute, was nevertheless free…

    It follows from what has been said that, in the Catholic view, the idea of fate–St. Thomas dislikes the word–must lack the note of absolute necessity, since God’s decrees are free, while it preserves the character of relative necessity inasmuch as such decrees, when once passed, cannot be gainsaid. Moreover, God knows what is going to happen because it is going to happen, and not vice versa. Hence the futurity of an event is a logical, but not a physical, consequence of God’s foreknowledge.

    Aquinas made more than one error, of course. He was human and lived prior to many important scientific discoveries. He was wrong about spontaneous generation, and he was wrong that God created the higher animals directly. As for Man, the Church holds that our souls are created directly and immediately by God, not by any act of reproduction. Further, that Adam and Eve were real historical people, but that does not lead to a single conclusion about human origins. As Father Longenecker explains:

    you don’t have to believe all that about Adam and Eve [only two people in the world who lived in a garden somewhere around Iraq about six thousand years ago] to be a good Catholic. All you have to believe is that there was, somewhere at some point in time a man and a woman who were our first parents and that they made a monumental choice to disobey God.

    My own theory is that there were other human-type creatures on earth, but that Adam and Eve were the first specially created humans with souls, with free will and perhaps the first with language. They were the first to have a relationship with God, and therefore the first parents of all who believe. Did they live in a garden? Were they naked? Did they talk to a snake? Did they eat an apple? Was there a tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

    I’m not saying there wasn’t, but it is possible to believe that most of these elements of the story are symbolic, but that the essential story is that a specially created man and woman lived on the earth in a state of child-like innocence and bliss-that they had a unique relationship with God which they spoiled by disobedience. The rest of the details can remain open ended. You may believe it all literally, but you needn’t.

  84. 84
    rhampton7 says:

    You also ignore the history of Roman suspicions of evolution

    .

    Yes, that is true to a degree. But what was once suspicious is now accepted. The Church is not stagnant, so to hold onto a view of the Church from 1870 or 1940 is wrong. Revelation is ongoing, especially natural revelation:

    The Second Vatican Council expressed a very different conviction. The Constitution Gaudium et Spes affirms: “If methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith. For earthly matters and the concerns of the faith derive from the same God. Indeed whoever labors to penetrate the secrets of reality with a humble and steady mind, even though he is unaware of the fact, is nevertheless being led by the hand of God, who holds all things in existence, and gives them their identity” (GS 36).

    More on sovereignty. To think of nature as only chance or necessity, either working exclusively or together, demeans the plan and presence of God.

    The first is the way in which research itself, be it great or small, carried out with extreme rigor, always leaves an opening for further questions in an endless process which reveals in reality an immensity, a harmony, and a finality which cannot be explained in terms of causality or through scientific resources alone

    God’s love is a disinterested love. It aims solely at this: that the good comes into existence, endures and develops according to its own dynamism. God the Creator is he “who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11). The whole work of creation belongs to the plan of salvation, “the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” (Eph 3:9). Through the act of the creation of the world, and especially of man, the plan of salvation begins to be realized. Creation is the work of a loving Wisdom, as Sacred Scripture mentions on several occasions (cf. e.g., Prov 8:22-36).

    It is clear that the truth of faith about creation is radically opposed to the theories of materialistic philosophy. These view the cosmos as the result of an evolution of matter reducible to pure chance and necessity.

    By God’s transcendence he has sovereignty over the contingent and the free. Chance and necessity are not pure, distinct, separate, uncontrollable forces. They exist and are dynamic only because God wills it.

  85. 85
    StephenB says:

    Rhampton 7 to Timaeus

    You do not understand the Catholic idea of God sustaining the universe and everything within as a continuous act of Will, motivated by Love. That’s how things are ‘guided’ (dependent would be a better term) without being dictated — continually existing and acting given their natures (such as randomness or free will).

    You do not understand the Catholic idea of God’s sustaining activity. God’s creative act explains the coming into being of a process; God’s sustaining act (or actions) explain(s) its continuing existence. Neither kind of act explains the nature of the process or its output, both of which are products of design.

    Aquinas [was wrong that God created the higher animals directly.

    I am glad that you finally understand that Aquinas (unlike Darwin) did not teach that life was solely a product of secondary causality and did not, as you seem to think, define Divine causality exclusively as secondary causality. Now, perhaps you will stop trying to misrepresent Thomism and Divine causality as something that can be reconciled with Darwinism.

    But what was once suspicious is now accepted. The Church is not stagnant, so to hold onto a view of the Church from 1870 or 1940 is wrong. Revelation is ongoing, especially natural revelation.

    The Church does not change its teachings on matters that relate to Scriptural truths. According to Darwinism, design is an illusion and cannot, therefore, be perceived; according to Catholic doctrine, design is real and perceptible. Which is your position?

    The Second Vatican Council expressed a very different conviction. The Constitution Gaudium et Spes affirms: “If methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith. For earthly matters and the concerns of the faith derive from the same God. Indeed whoever labors to penetrate the secrets of reality with a humble and steady mind, even though he is unaware of the fact, is nevertheless being led by the hand of God, who holds all things in existence, and gives them their identity” (GS 36).

    Finally, you cite an authoritative source. Thank you. Yes, science, properly understood, cannot be in conflict with faith, properly understood. However, we all already knew that. We didn’t need to be told.

    To think of nature as only chance or necessity, either working exclusively or together, demeans the plan and presence of God.

    OK, good. So what other factor could be in play? How about design?

    It is clear that the truth of faith about creation is radically opposed to the theories of materialistic philosophy. These view the cosmos as the result of an evolution of matter reducible to pure chance and necessity.

    Agreed. So why hold with a Darwinist scheme that is based on materialistic philosophy and the proposition that everything can be reduced to chance and necessity?

  86. 86
    rhampton7 says:

    According to Darwinism, design is an illusion and cannot, therefore, be perceived; according to Catholic doctrine, design is real and perceptible. Which is your position?

    You have conflated the issue in a way that I don’t believe VJT or Timeaus have. The metaphysical position you attribute to Darwinism is not a scientific statement that can be derived from the Darwinian evolutionary theory. Likewise, ID theory does not take a metaphysical position on the nature of the designer(s), though many proponents do. Catholic doctrine acknowledges that such a question is beyond science and appeals to higher ways of knowing.

    So why hold with a Darwinist scheme that is based on materialistic philosophy and the proposition that everything can be reduced to chance and necessity?

    You could just as easily make the charge that science reduces everything to the four fundamental forces: electromagnetism, strong interaction, weak interaction, and gravitation. From a Catholic perspective, that’s obviously not true. However, that does not make the existence of the four forces false. Likewise not everything is chance and necessity, yet that does not deny the reality of chance and necessity.

    For Aquinas, God is at work in every operation of nature, but the autonomy of nature is not an indication of some reduction in God’s power or activity; rather, it is an indication of His goodness. To ascribe to God (as first cause) all causal agency “eliminates the order of the universe, which is woven together through the order and connection of causes. For the first cause lends from the eminence of its goodness not only to other things that they are, but also that they are causes.”

  87. 87
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    Thanks for conceding that “guided” was not a good choice of words, and for admitting outright (though it took much prodding) that you think Aquinas was simply wrong about some matters.

    When you get to the next epistemological level, you might become capable of seeing that Aquinas’s “mistake” regarding the generation of higher animals was not derived from some mere empirical error, some lack of knowledge of the facts due to his 13th-century era. In fact, he argues *from first principles* on the matter, and his argument employs the same terminology and the same sort of reasoning he uses all throughout his work. So your critique of Aquinas could not be merely on the level of empirical science; it would have to be a critique of faulty metaphysics and epistemology on Aquinas’s part — at least in the passages in question.

    Your notion of Catholic doctrine over time is amusing. It seems to me to resemble the teaching of Big Brother: the falsehood of yesterday is the truth of today. For you, good Catholics will prefer today’s theology to yesterday’s theology, on the assumption that all change in doctrine is guaranteed by some invisible hand to be change for the better. But in fact, not all changes in ideas, in theology or any other field, mark progress. Sometimes change is just error or intellectual confusion. Sometimes it is due to caving in to worldly pressures.

    You’re getting pretty desperate when you rest your case on the views of “Father Longenecker” — a real household word in Catholic theology, to be sure.

    Your quotation about “Fate” is not relevant to my argument, as I have not upheld the things it seems to be attacking. In fact, I agree with some of the things that it says. It understands divine foreknowledge quite well. But it has nothing to do with the issue Vincent and I and others are raising, which is not about how foreknowledge works, but about God’s control over his creation. You have forgotten that Boethius’s account of foreknowledge does justice only to the “Greek” side of God; you fail utterly to deal with the “Hebraic” side — as do many of your allegedly “Thomist” allies. God is not just a foreknower but a creator. He creates the world whose outcomes he foreknows. It is not your doctrine of foreknowledge, but of creation, which is faulty. But I despair of correcting it. You won’t undertake the formal theological training required to learn how to argue these things with accuracy and care. You are determined to play the autodidact who teaches himself theology off the internet.

  88. 88
    rhampton7 says:

    I concede that you do not accept the Catholic view of “guided” as truly guided, hence my use of another term. That’s on you, though.

    In fact, he argues *from first principles *

    Yes, by way of Aristotle who also made mistakes. The conclusions of philosophy must rectify with science where they intersect. Had Aquinas access to modern scientific knowledge, I sincerely doubt he would have made the same claims. In any event, Thomism is not Catholicism and the Church has continued to develop its theology. That Aquinas made certain erroneous claims does not beholden the Church to accept or reject Thomism in the absolute.

    The use of Father Longenecker’s quote is to show that the Church is not resolved to one specific scientific explanation of human origins. Do you deny Father Longenecker point? I rather doubt it.

    Lastly, why not supply evidence that the Church, as it exists today (or at least since Vatican II) teaches that randomness is beyond God’s sovereignty or that nature has no dynamic freedom, or that true contingency does not exist. To put it another way, show me that the Church teaches a material determinism (but not spiritual) like that of Laplace’s demon.

    Chance is not something which escapes God’s control, nor something which opposes Him or contains within itself its final explanation: “If chance cannot be explained, the life of individuals would be submerged in disorder. On the other hand, if one admits that there can be a universal Cause of the world, this Cause must be responsible for everything that exists, including chance. ‘And thus it turns out that everything that happens, if referred to the First Divine Cause, is ordered and does not exist accidentally, even if some can be called per accidens in their relation to other causes’ (Thomas Aquinas, In VI Metaph., lect. 3)” (Sanguineti, 1986, p. 239). We may observe, finally, that the same idea is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, expressed in a more theological language: “God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ cooperation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of cooperating in the accomplishment of his plan” (CCC 306).

  89. 89
    rhampton7 says:

    Perhaps the most vocal critic of Scientism and Darwinism within the Vatican today, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn admits that randomness can be real in the scientific sense, but that Faith can see the outcome and understand it was all intended:

    An oft-cited remark by George C. Simpson runs: “Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that does not have him in mind. He was not planned.” If Simpson had said merely that no plan according to which mankind came about may be discerned using the purely quantitative-mechanical methods of scientific inquiry, then this assertion could be correct.

    Of course Simpson is wrong because Science is limited and can not measure truths we know to be certain through faith and what Schönborn calls the “science of common experience.”

    The conscious limitation of its point of view to the countable and the measurable, to material conditions and interconnections, has permitted formidable advances of the natural sciences, allowing modern man to dominate and control nature for his own needs to an amazing extent. But it would be highly problematic if one wished to declare as simply nonexistent everything that is here being methodologically suppressed, starting with the faculties of reason and free will that permit this methodological choice to begin with.

    Randomness can only exist because God made it so. Thus we can be certain that within God’s sovereignty, random events could not help but fulfill God’s plan:

    We consider the world-picture drawn by modern science and ask why we have this laborious, complicated path of cosmic evolution. Why its countless trials and blind alleys, its billions of years of time and expansion of the universe? Why the gigantic explosions of supernovae, the cooking of the elements in the nuclear fusion of the stars, the excruciating grind of biological evolution with its endless start-ups and extinctions, its catastrophes and barbarities, right up to the unfathomable brutalities of life and survival to the present day? Does it not make more sense here to see the whole as the blind play of coincidences in an unplanned nature? Is this not more honest than the attempts at a theodicy of a Leibniz? Is it not more plausible simply to say, “Yes, the world is just that cruel”?

    One thing should be clear, and it requires a frankly theological explication: Let us not be excessively hasty in wanting to demonstrate “intelligent design” everywhere as a matter of apologetics. Like Job, we do not know the answer to suffering and chaos. We have been given only one answer”but that from God himself: The Logos, through whom and in whom everything was created, has assumed flesh; the cross is the key to God’s plan and decisions. As important and indispensable as renewed effort in matters of natural philosophy may be, the Word from the cross is God’s final Wisdom. For through his holy cross, he has reconciled the entire world. And the cross is the gate to the Resurrection.

    If the Resurrection of Christ is, as Pope Benedict said in his 2006 Easter Homily, the “explosion of love” that has dissolved the indissoluble network of “death and becoming,” then we may also say that this is the goal of evolution. We know its meaning from its end, its fulfillment. Even if it sometimes seems without goal or direction in its individual steps, the lengthy path has had a purpose toward Easter and from Easter onward. We gladly affirm the Christian understanding, derived from Greek and Jewish culture before, that unaided reason can attain basic knowledge of the purposes built into nature and the intelligence behind it. But it is only through God’s self-revelation in Christ, and our response of faith, that we can begin to glimpse the ultimate purpose of the cosmos and to trust in God’s provident care of all cosmic details. It is not that “the path is the goal.” Rather, the Resurrection and the Second Coming of the Lord are the purpose of the path.

  90. 90
    Mung says:

    Timaeus, you may have already figured this out, or it may have already been stated by rhampton7, the source appears to be the Catholic Encyclopedia.

    Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > E > Catholics and Evolution

  91. 91
    Mung says:

    But maybe he got there from here, lol:

    X-Catholics: Saint Darwin?

  92. 92
    StephenB says:

    SB: According to Darwinism, design is an illusion and cannot, therefore, be perceived; according to Catholic doctrine, design is real and perceptible. Which is your position?

    rhampton 7

    You have conflated the issue in a way that I don’t believe VJT or Timeaus have.

    Both Timaeus and VTJ understand that Darwinists and Christian Darwinists reject the Biblical teaching that design, cosmological and biological, is real and perceptible. So, there is no division among us on that score.

    The metaphysical position you attribute to Darwinism is not a scientific statement that can be derived from the Darwinian evolutionary theory.

    According to the Bible and the Catholic Church, design in nature can be apprehended because God chose to reveal himself through his handiwork. That means that in any evolutionary scenario the order of events is critical: For Catholics, biological design must precedes the process. For Darwinists or Christian Darwinists, the process must precede the design (or, more precisely, the appearance of design).

    Either the design in nature is an illusion, in which case it comes late, or else it is real, in which case it comes early. In order to be a faithful Catholic, you must take the latter position.

    Likewise, ID theory does not take a metaphysical position on the nature of the designer(s), though many proponents do.

    No ID proponent believes that the scientific design inference reveals the nature of the designer. On the other hand, many ID proponents believe, independently of that inference, that the designer so indicated is God.

    Catholic doctrine acknowledges that such a question is beyond science and appeals to higher ways of knowing.

    Catholic Doctrine makes no such stipulation and would never be so presumptuous. You must learn to male the distinction between what the Catholic Church teaches and what some Catholic philosophers happen to think.

    For Aquinas, God is at work in every operation of nature, but the autonomy of nature is not an indication of some reduction in God’s power or activity; rather, it is an indication of His goodness.

    So now were back to Aquinas and the “autonomy of nature.” Don’t you realize that you have contradicted yourself yet again. You just acknowledged that Aquinas does not believe that nature is always autonomous, given his belief that God created man directly and not through secondary causes.

    To ascribe to God (as first cause) all causal agency “eliminates the order of the universe, which is woven together through the order and connection of causes. For the first cause lends from the eminence of its goodness not only to other things that they are, but also that they are causes.

    Who in the name of sense is ascribing to God all causal agency? Where are you getting all this nonsense? Believe me when I tell you that you are reading the wrong people. If you want to understand Catholicism, stay far away from them.

  93. 93
    Mung says:

    rhampton7:

    Randomness can only exist because God made it so.

    You may as well assert that evil can only exist because God made it so.

  94. 94
    rhampton7 says:

    Mung,

    it’s important to note that the Catholic Encylopedia was published in 1911, before Humani Generis, Fides et Ratio, Communion & Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God, before Vatican II and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences conference on “Scientific Insights into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life” and “The Emergence of the Human Being“:

    Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the science academy’s chancellor, told the group that scientific truths are part of divine truth and “can help philosophy and theology understand ever more fully the status and future of the human person.”

    …Bishop Sanchez said the evolutionary laws of heredity and genetic mutation pose no conflict to the Catholic faith and offer a biological explanation for the development of species on earth.

    However, he said, the beginning of the universe, “the transition from nothing to being,” is not a mutation; God is the first cause of creation and being.

    “In this first transcendent origin of the human being we should in fact admit the direct participation of God,” which also occurs with each conception of human life, he said.

    Human beings are not just biological creatures, but spiritual, too, whose “incorruptible soul,” he said, “requires a creative act of God.”

  95. 95
    rhampton7 says:

    StephenB,

    Are your decisions designed by God or by you? How can you exercise true free will and still be under God’s sovereignty? Catholicism doesn’t see one as contradicting the other. God does not need to guide you – that is, remove your freedom – for his design to succeed. If God’s sovereignty can handle the excesses of free will without jeopardizing his plan, it can certainly handle the much more modest contingency of nature.

    I don’t know what else can be said. Perhaps you would be more persuasive if you took up the question I asked of Timaeus.

    why not supply evidence that the Church, as it exists today (or at least since Vatican II) teaches that randomness is beyond God’s sovereignty or that nature has no dynamic freedom, or that true contingency does not exist. To put it another way, show me that the Church teaches a material determinism (but not spiritual) like that of Laplace’s demon.

  96. 96
    rhampton7 says:

    You may as well assert that evil can only exist because God made it so.

    That’s certainly true in this sense; Evil only exists because God desired to create human beings with free will. The acts of evil were part of God’s plan. This does not mean, however, that God is the author of evil or guides us to evil even though that is what God’s design decreed and all of Creation is guided. Calvinists can’t square that circle, Catholics can

    But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection…

    In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: “It was not you”, said Joseph to his brothers, “who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” From the greatest moral evil ever committed – the rejection and murder of God’s only Son, caused by the sins of all men – God, by his grace that “abounded all the more”, brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good.

    We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”, will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth.

  97. 97
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    Many long arguments are caused by lack of common terminology. I have been pleading with you adopt a common meaning of the term “the Church.” When I speak of the term “the Church” in the context of doctrine, when I speak of “the teaching of the Church” “what the Church says” etc. I mean *official positions on doctrine taken by individuals or bodies within the church who have the authority to pronounce upon doctrine*.

    You, on the other hand, jump all over the place, taking quotations and paraphrases from everything from official documents to the opinions of European Catholic scientists with poor training in theology, to the opinion of American parish priests with no academic expertise in science/theology studies, to the opinions of various lay people, and using any or all of them as examples of what “the Church” teaches. Example:

    “The use of Father Longenecker’s quote is to show that the Church is not resolved to one specific scientific explanation of human origins. Do you deny Father Longenecker point? I rather doubt it.”

    Father Longenecker may properly grant that there is more than one opinion on this or that. I may well agree with him. What I object to is not Fr. Longenecker per se, but that you use him to show what “the Church” is resolved or not resolved about. Fr. Longenecker does not speak for “the Church.” Fr. Longenecker speaks for Fr. Longenecker. “The Church” does not mean “some blogging Catholic priest somewhere.”

    In connection with this, you often give long quotations without attribution, which has the effect of concealing which statements are official statements of the Catholic Church, and which statements are merely the private opinion (however learned) of individuals who happen to be Catholics.

    If you would get in the habit of always providing a source for a quotation, and always distinguishing the kind of statement you are offering, e.g., the private rumination of a Pope speaking as a man or scholar versus the official proclamation of a Pope speaking as head of the Church, the private opinion of an American astronomer-priest who works for the Vatican, etc., your words would go down here a lot easier. As it is, it often looks as if you are passing off the opinions of Catholics who agree with you as THE teaching of THE CHURCH, rather than the opinions of individual Catholics, which after all may be largely or entirely wrong or even heretical.

    I’ve made this point several times. You’ve not adequately responded to it. This is the last time I will make it as such length and with such explicitness. And until you do respond to it, and agree to clean up your terminology and quoting practice, there is little to be gained by conversing with you on the subject “what the Church teaches.”

  98. 98
    StephenB says:

    Are your decisions designed by God or by you?

    By me.

    How can you exercise true free will and still be under God’s sovereignty?

    Because it was God’s sovereign will that I should have a will.

    Catholicism doesn’t see one as contradicting the other.>

    I know that. Why are you telling me something I already know. The paradox of God’s sovereignty and our free will has absolutely nothing to do with the conflict between Catholic doctrine and Darwinian evolution—–nothing.

    —rhampton 7: “I don’t know what else can be said. Perhaps you would be more persuasive if you took up the question I asked of Timaeus.

    why not supply evidence that the Church, as it xists today (or at least since Vatican II) teaches that randomness is beyond God’s sovereignty or that nature has no dynamic freedom, or that true contingency does not exist. To put it another way, show me that the Church teaches a material determinism (but not spiritual) like that of Laplace’s demon.

    Perhaps you would be more persuasive if you didn’t ignore all my questions while asking me to address your questions.
    In any case, I said that the official teaching of the Bible and the Catholic Church is that God created man in his image, which means that the output of whatever process He used, direct or indirect, was exactly what God wanted, both physically and mentally. That position is very easy to defend Biblically.

    Meanwhile, you will have to define what you mean when you ask me if nature has “dynamic freedom,” since I have no idea what that term means.

    Does it mean that evolution is supposed to have the freedom to produce an outcome different from the one God intended? So, nature says to God, “You may want me to produce homo sapiens, but that is just, just so yesterday. I would prefer to give you a cyclops with a tail. I gotta be free! I gotta be me!” Is that what you mean by dynamic freedom?

    Does it mean that nature has the freedom to do exactly what God tells it to do and provide exactly the outcome He desires? In what way would nature be dynamically free in that context.

    Does it mean that thunderstorms are not always governed by physical laws or that their behavior could be spontaneous in some way? Does it mean that the leaves on my front lawn could have formed many different ways even under the same exact environmental circumstances? Does it mean that the moon could have formed in one of a thousand different ways and God let nature make the final call?

    Does it mean that, after man arrived, nature suddenly, and for the first time, had the freedom to be molded by man’s free will and is no longer subject solely to physical laws?

    What does it mean, especially in the context of evolution, for nature to have dynamic freedom?

  99. 99
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    Re your discussion of Aristotle and Aquinas:

    1. I agree with you that Thomism is not Catholicism. Some blogging neo-Thomists, however, come very close (in practice, and in political and culture-war rhetoric, if not in formal statements) to identifying Thomism (a particular theological school) with Catholic doctrine itself. They tend to translate *every* discussion of doctrine into Thomist language, while showing no strong tendency to translate every discussion of doctrine into, say, Christian Platonist language, or Biblical language. One gets the impression that they think that if you are a Catholic theologian, you ought to be a neo-Thomist — or else you will be an unclear and wrong-headed thinker who does not understand basic Catholic ideas.

    2. It is interesting that you speak of Aristotle as being “wrong” about some things. The places where Aquinas disagrees with Aristotle, thinks Aristotle wrong, are important, and obvious enough, e.g., regarding the eternity of the world. But the subject I’m speaking about is the places where Aquinas thinks Aristotle is right, and is (according to you) misled because on those points Aristotle is wrong. Can you give us a short list of some teachings, principles, methods, etc. that Aquinas takes from Aristotle, which are wrong, faulty, etc.? Or if you would prefer, can you show us, in a line-by-line exegesis of Aquinas’s argument for direct creation of higher animals, exactly where it is that Aristotle’s metaphysics or epistemology or physics or logic etc. misleads Aquinas?

    In this request I am looking for *exposition by rhampton, not strings of quotations from or references to other authors*. I don’t want to see any links. And I’m willing to read several long paragraphs, as long as they are *entirely your own words and reasoning*.

    3. You write: “The conclusions of philosophy must rectify with science where they intersect.” I find both the syntax and the meaning of “rectify with science” to be ambiguous. Perhaps you can clarify. And does what applies to philosophy apply to theology? Is it also the case that the conclusions of *theology* must “rectify with” the conclusions of science where they intersect?

    Be aware, as you answer the second question, that all of us here have Protestant evangelical TEs in the back of our minds, who constantly “rectify” theology, not science, whenever the two appear to overlap and differ. The de facto understanding of Protestant TEs if that if modern science teaches A, and traditional theology says not-A, it is theology’s duty to change its conclusions and endorse A. Is this your position, that when theology and science appear to clash, theology should change rather than science?

    Or is your position the NOMA position, i.e., that theology and science can never clash, because they are about two entirely different things?

    Finally, I never denied that “true contingency” exists, or that the Catholic church allows that true contingency exists. But “contingency” is a synonym *neither for “randomness” nor “chance”*. And Aquinas certainly did not mean by “chance” what we today mean when we speak of quantum indeterminacy. It is grossly anachronistic to read passages of Aquinas about chance in such a way as to endorse particular views advocated by modern Christian theologians concerning quantum theory.

    As for contingency, it refers to the dependence of one event upon another. In the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum indeterminacy, the dependency of one event upon another is precisely what is denied. The timing of a radioactive emission, for example, is (allegedly) completely unpredictable with even an exhaustive knowledge of the state of the nucleus before the emission, or even with an exhaustive knowledge of the state of every particle in the universe before the emission. For this to be true, there can be no causal relationship between the previous state and the timing of the emission.

    Aquinas would not have accepted any such acausal account of any part of nature; nor would Aristotle. This is why I find modernizing Thomist approaches to science/theology discussions so often fraudulent. Aquinas’s view of nature is not the view of nature held by modern theoretical physics; and since the idea of “nature” for Thomas has to do not simply with “natural science” but permeates the length and depth of his philosophy and theology, this is a very serious problem.

    I find that your remarks, and the remarks of many other supposed experts on Thomas who blog, are very inadequate to this situation. You all seem far too eager to show either that Aquinas is completely onside with modern ideas, or that if he had lived longer and learned some modern science he would have embraced modern ideas. This sort of revisionism, which runs roughshod over key philosophical notions in the thought of Thomas, is unscholarly, and creates theological muddles and errors. A properly textual approach ascertains first what Thomas believed and taught; the question of how far Thomas’s thought is compatible with modern developments should be reserved until complete mastery of Thomas’s thought has been achieved. I don’t think that the majority of the scientists advising the Vatican on science/theology issues have done anywhere near enough study of Thomas to speak with any authority about the reconcilability of Thomas with their precious scientific assumptions about the nature of nature.

  100. 100
    jerry says:

    rhampton7,

    I tried to introduce what I consider an essential part of this discussion that is being mostly ignored. It popped up in a couple recent posts, namely the concept of “evil.” I believe it is at the heart of the convoluted thinking that some use to justify Darwinian evolution.

    In my post above I referenced a thread by Cornelius Hunter. On his blog he explains more carefully just what the Divine Action Project is. It is mainly an attempt to absolve God of responsibility for physical or natural evil. That is, bad things occurring from such things as natural disasters and disease. Here is the opening from Cornelius’s blog on this:

    Twenty five years ago the Vatican Observatory and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley jointly sponsored a long-running series of conferences and publications on theology and science. Theologian Wesley Wildman calls it the Divine Action Project as so much of the work relates to the question of how God interacts with the world. And while the various participants hold to different nuanced views of divine action, they all generally agree that special divine action—the idea of God acting in miraculous or non law-like ways—is a problem.

    And why is it a problem?

    there was wide agreement among DAP participants that any postulate of SDA [special divine action] exacerbates the theodicy problem, so a lot of energy was expended in trying to deal with this.

    In other words, divine action that is intentional and particular exacerbates the thorny problem of evil. If God is all-good, all-powerful and all-knowing, then there would be no evil in the world. Since there is evil, then God must not be all-good, or all-powerful or all-knowing.

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....other.html

    So, rhampton7, does this play any part in your thinking?

    Personally, I have no problem with the concept that Darwinian processes or natural events accounted for life and life’s changes except that it is impossible based on current science for it to have happened this way. Or else God is covering up all evidence for how it happened and that introduces another thorny issue.

    Sidebar: I first came across this argument in the book on evolution by Ayala. He went to great lengths to describe the change in theology that took place as a result of the Lisbon earthquake. The tremendous natural evil that occurred that day shook up most of the Catholic theologians on the planet and they changed a lot of their thinking as a result.

    I believe we are seeing the results of it here on this thread.

  101. 101
    rhampton7 says:

    StephenB, Timeaus,

    I do hope you sincerely try to establish that the Church teaches a material determinism, because I know that you will fail. Please consider what that means. Nature is not a clockwork mechanism, there is true contingency. To repeat;

    But it is important to note that, according to the Catholic understanding of divine causality, true contingency in the created order is not incompatible with a purposeful divine providence. Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation.

    I have nothing more to add.

  102. 102
    jerry says:

    The above is from

    NTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION

    COMMUNION AND STEWARDSHIP:

    Human Persons Created in the Image of God*

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_cu.....ip_en.html

    69. The current scientific debate about the mechanisms at work in evolution requires theological comment insofar as it sometimes implies a misunderstanding of the nature of divine causality. Many neo-Darwinian scientists, as well as some of their critics, have concluded that, if evolution is a radically contingent materialistic process driven by natural selection and random genetic variation, then there can be no place in it for divine providential causality. A growing body of scientific critics of neo-Darwinism point to evidence of design (e.g., biological structures that exhibit specified complexity) that, in their view, cannot be explained in terms of a purely contingent process and that neo-Darwinians have ignored or misinterpreted. The nub of this currently lively disagreement involves scientific observation and generalization concerning whether the available data support inferences of design or chance, and cannot be settled by theology. But it is important to note that, according to the Catholic understanding of divine causality, true contingency in the created order is not incompatible with a purposeful divine providence. Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation. According to St. Thomas Aquinas: “The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency” (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1). In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process – one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence – simply cannot exist because “the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles….It necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence” (Summa theologiae I, 22, 2).

    Maybe we try to unpack all this in layman’s language.

  103. 103
    jerry says:

    From a comment made by rhampton7 three years ago.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-387260

    ID is part of God’s general revelation. Consequently, it can be understood apart from the Bible. That’s why, for instance, the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies invited me to lecture on intelligent design and warmly embraced my message (this happened in October 2003). Just about anyone who is not wedded to a pure materialism agrees that some sort of design or purpose underlies nature. Intelligent design not only gives a voice to these people, but also gives them the tools to dismantle materialism.

    http://www.designinference.com.....Morris.htm

  104. 104
    Timaeus says:

    rhampton7:

    It’s too bad that you have nothing more to add; it means that you exit with your last statement in error.

    In neither of my last two replies (97 and 99) did I argue or imply that I thought that the Church “teaches a material determinism” or endorses a “clockwork mechanism” of nature. Only someone with reading comprehension difficulties could think that I did. Nor have I argued or implied anything of the sort anywhere on this site.

    In fact, I explicitly stated that I accepted true contingency, but pointed out that “contingent” does not mean “random” or “by chance.” My use of “contingent” comes out of the Thomist tradition, whereas your apparent conflation of “contingent” with “acting out of quantum randomness” is of course alien to that tradition.

    The unsourced quotation you here provide (you would flunk out of any academic program for regularly failing to give sources accurately) does not once mention “chance” or “randomness.” As the statement stands, I don’t disagree with it, so why you proffer it, I have no idea.

    It has been a pleasure challenging your autodidactic arrogance yet again, rhampton. Come back again whenever you are in the need of a good thumping — er, ah, good instruction — from people who actually know what Thomas and the Church teach. And do get around to reading Jay Richards’s book, *God and Evolution*, sometime. There are several essays by Catholics in the book.

  105. 105
    vjtorley says:

    Hi rhampton7,

    Thank you for your response to my post. Before I address the question of whether God can use random processes to accomplish His ends, however, I’d like to point out that you’ve already made a number of concessions in this thread which place your version of evolution far beyond the pale of neo-Darwinian evolution. You do not merely disagree with its metaphysics; you disagree with its scientific conclusions as well.

    Your Pickwickian version of evolution

    You approvingly quote Fr. Longenecker, who writes:

    All you have to believe is that there was, somewhere at some point in time a man and a woman who were our first parents and that they made a monumental choice to disobey God.

    My own theory is that there were other human-type creatures on earth, but that Adam and Eve were the first specially created humans with souls, with free will and perhaps the first with language. They were the first to have a relationship with God, and therefore the first parents of all who believe.

    Fr. Longenecker clearly states that the teaching that there were exactly two original parents is something that you have to believe, if you are a Catholic. But as I explained in my article above, the unanimous consensus of modern evolutionary biologists is that there were never less than 1,000 individuals in the lineage leading to human beings. The only way you can reconcile the two statements is to suppose that God deliberately manipulated the genes of the first human beings, presumably in order to increase our genetic diversity. But that’s a deus ex machina solution from a neo-Darwinian perspective, and it’s an absolute no-no if you want to go on claiming (as you do) that you have no problem with neo-Darwinism as a scientific theory.

    Neo-Darwinism also teaches that the entire range of human capacities – including our capacities to reason, understand and make free choices – are grounded in our biology: they are physical capacities. In his Notebook C: Transmutation of species (2-7.1838), Darwin espoused a mechanistic account of the human mind (emphasis mine):

    Why is thought, being a secretion of brain, more wonderful than gravity a property of matter? – It is our arrogance, it our admiration of ourselves. (Paragraph 166)

    You, on the other hand, hold that these capacities are inexplicable in material terms, and that they are non-bodily capacities, which we possess by virtue of the fact that we have spiritual souls, created by God. In your own words: “As for Man, the Church holds that our souls are created directly and immediately by God, not by any act of reproduction.” That’s an utterly anti-Darwinian account of human nature: like Alfred Russel Wallace, you are declaring that our higher capacities cannot be explained as the product of matter, no matter how complex the configuration of that matter may be. I agree with you, of course, but I wonder why you continue to defend Darwinian evolution as a biological process, when you openly deny its sufficiency to account for fundamental features of human nature.

    Ten years after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, Wallace published an essay titled, “Sir Charles Lyell on Geological Climates and the Origin of Species” (S146: 1869) in the Quarterly Review (April 1869, pp. 359-394), in which he maintained that the appearance of human mental faculties could not be explained in terms of blind, mechanical processes, but required the intervention of a Higher Intelligence. When he finally read Wallace’s essay, which argued that natural selection, left to itself, would only have given human beings a brain “a little superior to that of an ape,” Darwin was so appalled that he scribbled “NO!!!!” in the margin and even underlined the word “NO” three times. Darwin went on to criticize Wallace’s view in his later work, The Descent of Man (1871).

    You evidently regard Intelligent design as unscientific. However, the Church-friendly version of evolution which you espouse would be immediately thrown out of the school curriculum by the NCSE, on the grounds that it was “unscientific.” Face it: you’re in the same boat as we are, rhampton7. Our theory is banned from high school science classrooms, and so is yours.

    Randomness or pseudo-randomness?

    Now I’d like to address the issue of randomness. Consider the following well-known binary sequence:

    0100011011000001010011100101110111…

    Statistically it appears random, but in reality, it’s anything but random. If you examine it carefully, you can see it’s just a list of the binary numbers: 0, 1, 00, 01, 10, 11, 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111, …

    My point is that what looks random to scientists may not be random in reality. It’s quite possible that the randomness we see in the quantum world is not genuine randomness, but merely pseudo-randomness, generated by some algorithm known only to God. In that case, the fact that God knows the outcome of quantum events is no mystery: in reality, He determines them. These events only appear to be undetermined.

    Now, if all you’re saying is that events in Nature are pseudo-random, then I have no quarrel with you. In that case, we could say that God chose a particular set of laws and initial conditions that He infallibly foreknew would ultimately give rise to life in all its diversity. But that scenario is compatible with Intelligent Design: it’s called front-loading. On this view, God made a universe with a very high degree of specified complexity from the get-go, and the level of complexity in the primordial cosmos was sufficient to generate the entire range of life-forms we see on Earth today.

    Behe’s model of design without interference

    This kind of evolution was envisaged by Professor Michael Behe in his book, The Edge of Evolution (Free Press, 2007, pp. 231-232), when he imagines how an “uber-physicist” might make a designed cosmos, without interfering with it in any way (emphases mine):

    Here’s a cartoon example to help illustrate the point. Suppose the laboratory of Pope Mary’s physicist is next to a huge warehouse in which is stored a colossal number of little shiny spheres. Each sphere encloses the complete history of a separate, self-contained, possible universe, waiting to be activated. (In other words, the warehouse can be considered a vast multiverse of possible universes, but none of them have yet been made real.) One enormous section of the warehouse contains all the universes that, if activated, would fail to produce life. They would develop into universes consisting of just one big black hole, universes without stars, universes without atoms, or other abysmal failures. In a small wing of the huge warehouse are stored possible universes that have the right general laws and constants of nature for life. Almost all of them, however, fall into the category of “close, but no cigar.” For example, in one possible universe the Mars-sized body would hit the nascent earth at the wrong angle and life would never commence In one small room of the small wing are those universes that would develop life. Almost all of them, however, would not develop intelligent life. In one small closet of the small room of the small wing are placed possible universes that would actually develop intelligent life.

    One afternoon the uberphysicist walks from his lab to the warehouse, passes by the huge collection of possible dead universes, strolls into the small wing, over to the small room, opens the small closet, and selects on the extremely rare universes that is set up to lead to intelligent life. Then he “adds water” to activate it. In that case the now-active universe is fine-tuned to the very great degree of detail required, yet it is activated in a “single creative act.” All that’s required for the example to work is that some possible universe could follow the intended path without further prodding, and that the uberphysicist select it. After the first decisive moment the carefully chosen universe undergoes “natural development by laws implanted in it.” In that universe, life evolves by common descent and a long series of mutations, but many aren’t random. There are myriad Powerball-winning events, but they aren’t due to chance. They were foreseen, and chosen from all the possible universes.

    Certainly that implies impressive power in the uberphysicist. But a being who can fine-tune the laws and constants of nature is immensely powerful. If the universe is purposely set up to produce intelligent life, I see no principled distinction between fine-tuning only its physics or, if necessary, fine-tuning whatever else is required. In either case the designer took all necessary steps to ensure life.

    Those who worry about “interference” should relax. The purposeful design of life to any degree is easily compatible with the idea that, after its initiation, the universe unfolded exclusively by the intended playing out of natural laws.

    The problem with pure randomness in Nature

    Now, if that were your model of how God knows events in Nature (which are, in reality, not random but pseudo-random), then I would have no problem with your account, as and as it would possess the requisite degree of fine-tuning, and the outcomes would have been planned from the beginning.

    But you seem to be saying more than that, if I read you aright. You write that “randomness can be real in the scientific sense” (I’m not too sure what sense that is), that “sovereignty is not a master-slave relationship, or a clockwork affair,” and that “nature has a kind of freedom.” You also write: “‘Radical’ contingency is known to God, for it was God who granted the Universe with such a nature.” You thus appear to be attributing to Nature something like a will, which you describe as “the freedom to choose” and “the freedom to move from one possibility to another,” although you qualify this by adding that because Nature’s freedom does not include the freedom to sin, it cannot be described as free will. You also quote Cardinal Schönborn, who declares: “Even if it sometimes seems without goal or direction in its individual steps, the lengthy path has had a purpose toward Easter and from Easter onward.” This passage appears to suggest that while man is the ultimate goal of evolution, the length of time taken for man to evolve from the first cell was decided by spontaneous random natural processes.

    You thus appear to hold that at some ultimate level, Nature is genuinely random and unpredictable.

    You also appear to hold that Nature didn’t have to be highly specified at the beginning. Presumably, you think that even if a possible universe were very simple in its laws and in the specification of its initial conditions, God might still somehow “just know” that if this universe were actualized, it would generate life in all its diversity, as we see it on Earth today. In other words, you don’t seem to believe in the necessity of fine-tuning: you think God could make us using an arbitrarily simple universe. To see why this won’t work, you should have a look at Professor Dembski’s highly readable online essay, “Conservation of Information Made Simple.” In short: the need for specified information does not go away, as you go further back in time. If life is highly specific now, then the initial conditions leading to life must have been equally specific.

    Further, you maintain that God plans the outcomes of genuinely random natural processes. Again I put it to you: to infallibly plan something to happen means to intend for it to happen. Even if one were to grant for argument’s sake that God can know events (including “random” natural occurrences) without determining them, He cannot infallibly plan these events to happen without determining them. Hence if God infallibly planned the emergence of human beings, then He must have determined it to happen – in other words, He cannot have brought us into existence through processes that are inherently random and non-deterministic.

    Or as StephenB put it more succinctly above (#92):

    According to the Bible and the Catholic Church, design in nature can be apprehended because God chose to reveal himself through his handiwork. That means that in any evolutionary scenario the order of events is critical: For Catholics, biological design must precede the process. For Darwinists or Christian Darwinists, the process must precede the design (or, more precisely, the appearance of design).

    Either the design in nature is an illusion, in which case it comes late, or else it is real, in which case it comes early. In order to be a faithful Catholic, you must take the latter position.

    Why genuine randomness makes it impossible for God to know what happens in the world, without feedback

    So how, on your account, does God know the outcome of genuinely random quantum events? What you seem to believe is that God can have a knowledge of contingent events which is non-causal – God knows states of affairs without either determining them or being determined by them. But this invites the obvious question: since knowledge is justified true belief, what would justify such knowledge, and thereby distinguish it from a “lucky guess,” which just happened to turn out correct?

    During the last 50 years, most philosophers have come to accept that an individual’s knowledge of a proposition describing a contingent state of affairs depends on that individual being in the right causal relationship with the state of affairs in question. (The notorious Gettier problem is one of the main reasons why philosophers have come to think this way.) You argue that God’s causal relationship with respect to creation is a permissive one: He sustains it in being, but without determining it or being determined by it. I would argue that your permissive Deity is incapable of knowing anything about the world.

    You defend a neo-Molinist account, according to which God contemplates a vast number of possible worlds (each of which is characterized by genuine randomness) before deciding which one He shall actualize, and in which God “just knows” what would happen at every stage in each of these possible worlds, even though there’s nothing in any of these worlds which makes those outcomes happen, or which explains why they happen in the way that they do. In other words, God’s knowledge is based on groundless counterfactuals – a doctrine which most philosophers (rightly, in my view) reject as utterly unintelligible.

    You respond:

    You may not agree with the “how” provided by Molinism, but the net result is that the Church does not view “true” randomness as an obstacle because the outcomes are planned for (but not forced).

    Now, it is quite true that the Catholic Church has never condemned Molinism (why should it?), but it would be absurd to conclude from that fact alone that the Church views the “true randomness” of an event as compatible with its having planned by God to happen. All that follows is that some theologians might see things that way.

    Problems with the Molinist account of Divine foreknowledge of our free choices

    Finally, I’d like to address the question of God’s foreknowledge of our free choices. Unfortunately, the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia, which you cite, frames the debate as one in which there are only two schools of thought, making it, in your words, “a debate between the Dominicans/Thomists and the Jesuits/Molinists.” I say: a plague on both their houses. On the Thomist account, God determines human choices – including sinful ones – and thereby knows them. On the Molinist account, God, by knowingly choosing to create a certain possible world, whose built-in specifications include the fact that I will choose X at time t, thereby determines my choice. Neither of these theological schools represents the faith of the common folk, down the ages, which is that God is like the watcher in the high tower, to cite a medieval metaphor, and that He knows my future choices through what is known as “knowledge of vision.” Theologians down the ages have tended to thumb their noses at this common view, which is sometimes known as the Boethian view, arguing that it renders God unduly passive, but no Pope or Council has ever condemned this view. And today, some notable Catholic philosophers have finally sprung to its defense, including Linda Zagzebski, whom you approvingly cited earlier in this thread. Here is what she writes in The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 58-59:

    But on this view doesn’t God’s foreknowledge of my specific choice depend not only on his knowledge of his own will, but also on me? The answer is yes, but that hardly seems to be an unseemly kind of passivity. Giving human beings free will presumably involves giving them certain active powers with respect to which God is voluntarily passive. I do not see that this is inappropriate for a divine being or a sign of weakness. Furthermore, this model is compatible with most of the things we ordinarily say when referring to God’s providential activity. Need an adherent of the vision model deny that God has the power to interfere with our free choices and render them inefficacious? Need he deny that God can turn any human free act into the means to some providential good? Need he deny that God, by using his foreknowledge, can intervene before the choice is made in any manner he chooses? In each case the answer is no.

    You criticize the Boethian view, quoting a passage from the Catholic Encyclopedia‘s article on the Divine Attributes, where it declares:

    That God knows infallibly and from eternity what, for example, a certain man, in the exercise of free will, will do or actually does in any given circumstances, and what he might or would actually have done in different circumstances is beyond doubt — being a corollary from the eternal actuality of Divine knowledge.

    But the popular Boethian account of God’s foreknowledge which I am defending here is quite compatible with God’s knowledge of our actual and possible choices. As for whether God has knowledge of our hypothetical choices – e.g. what I would have chosen as a career had I been born blind – this is pure speculation, not defined doctrine: not until the sixteenth century did Luis de Molina insist that for every possible situation in which I might find myself, there is some particular choice (known to God) that I would have made. For my part, I would maintain that there is no “fact of the matter” for God to know about, as I wasn’t born blind, and hence was never confronted with that choice. To talk about what I would have done in such a case is simply meaningless.

    (Of course, there are some cases in which we might feel inclined to grant a truth value to hypotheticals about human behavior. But in these cases, it is precisely because the behavior is not under our free control that we can assign a truth value to these hypotheticals. For example, we might say of a person who is still recovering from drug addiction that if they were to go back to their old friends, they would suffer a relapse and use drugs again. We say this precisely because the person isn’t yet able to control their addiction.)

    Judas, again

    In an earlier post, I expressed my incredulity at your contention that God’s knowledge of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is logically prior to His plan to redeem fallen humanity, but that the sinful act of Judas is the specific means God intends to use to accomplish this end. You replied that this is just standard Catholicism. I think you are putting a full stop (or period) where the Church leaves a comma. The Catholic Church has never declared that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was the one and only means by which God planned to redeem a fallen humanity. Nor has it ever declared that God’s knowledge of Judas’ betrayal is logically prior to His plan to redeem fallen humanity.

    I reiterate my earlier point: God does not plan for people to sin; rather, He plans His way around human sins.

    Suárez on God and the natural order

    You quote Francisco Suárez’s work, De opere sex dierum (Lyon: 1621) as saying that “God does not interfere directly with the natural order, where secondary causes suffice to produce the intended effect” (II, c. x, n. 13). Are you aware of what he says in book 2, chapter 7, about the work of creation? “It is clear that corporeal causes could not have concurred effectively in this work by natural power, because it took place suddenly and throughout the whole earth.” In the same work (1. 3. c.1, n.4 and 6), he adds that he regards the immediate formation of Adam’s and Eve’s bodies by God as “Catholic doctrine.” Other theologians would disagree, of course, but my point is that Suárez is hardly your friend, and quoting him will not help your case.

    In any case, the point at issue between us is precisely whether “secondary causes suffice to produce the intended effect.” I would maintain that they do not: in particular, they do not suffice to explain the origin of life and of complex animals, as Dr. Stephen Meyer has convincingly argued in his books, Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt. You seem to believe that secondary causes are sufficient, primarily because you can conceive of a possible world in which God might have made life (and complex animals) in that way, and because you think that this way of making things would be more appropriate to the dignity of God. But that’s armchair theology. Even if it would be easier for God to make things that way, the real question we need to answer is: is there any evidence that secondary causes in this world, i.e. the real world, are capable of giving rise to life in all its diversity? I would say that the evidence indicates otherwise. That might strike you as ugly and messy, but consider the positive side: it means that the appearance of life, and of complex animals, now constitutes evidence for Divine manipulation of Nature – which, according to Aquinas, is the best possible proof of God’s existence:

    …[D]ivine power can sometimes produce an effect, without prejudice to its providence, apart from the order implanted in natural things by God. In fact, He does this at times to manifest His power. For it can be manifested in no better way, that the whole of nature is subject to the divine will, than by the fact that sometimes He does something outside the order of nature. Indeed, this makes it evident that the order of things has proceeded from Him, not by natural necessity, but by free will. (Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, chapter 99, paragraph 9.)

    A natural order which needs to be manipulated by God in order to produce life is thus ideal for sending a message to intelligent creatures that God is actively involved in the world. Of course, God is also active in maintaining the world in existence, but special “acts of God” bespeak God’s reality and power much more clearly than regular ones.

    William E. Carroll and the autonomy of Nature

    You quote a passage from Professor William E. Carroll’s essay, “Creation, Evolution, and Thomas Aquinas.”

    For Aquinas, God is at work in every operation of nature, but the autonomy of nature is not an indication of some reduction in God’s power or activity; rather, it is an indication of His goodness. To ascribe to God (as first cause) all causal agency “eliminates the order of the universe, which is woven together through the order and connection of causes. For the first cause lends from the eminence of its goodness not only to other things that they are, but also that they are causes.”

    Again, I ask: show me a single passage in the Summa Theologica where St. Thomas Aquinas supports Professor Carroll’s belief in the autonomy of Nature. As we have seen, St. Thomas very much believed in an interventionist God, who creates various species of animals, as well as the first human beings, so it is utterly absurd and anachronistic to ascribe such a view to him.

    Finally, I don’t for one minute wish to deny creatures their causality. But I also don’t wish to ascribe to them a kind of causality that they could not possibly possess. If it is beyond the power of Nature to generate the digital codes and programs that must have characterized the first living cell, then I think we should give credit to the One to Whom it is due: God Almighty.

  106. 106
    StephenB says:

    Jerry @ 102, The document “Communion and Stewardship” does not really settle anything for several reasons:

    First, it does not represent official Catholic teaching. Not every institution that uses that name has the authority to speak for the Church.

    Second, it misrepresents the views of St. Thomas Aquinas, making it appear as if, for him, Divine causality is synonymous with and limited to secondary causality.

    Third, it equivocates terribly on the meaning of words. As Timeaus points out, “contingency” does not mean the same thing as chance or randomness, though there can be overlapping similarities. What on earth does “radical contingency mean.” For Stephen J. Gould, it meant, the power of “accidents and happenstanc” to shape the course of evolution. Are these authors trying to say that if the tape of life were to be played again, we would get a different result? How is that a Catholic or Christian concept?

    Fourth, and in keeping with the previous point, it avoids the main question: If God used an evolutionary process to create homo-sapiens, was the outcome of that process precisely what He intended or did nature, as the Christian Darwinists tell us, have the “freedom to create itself” and produce something that God did not intend?

    Fifth, the authors of that document seem to be speaking for a large group of Catholic dissidents who reject two important Catholic/Biblical teachings: evidence of God’s handiwork in nature and monogenism.

    Sixth, the document itself avoids a vitally important philosophical/theological consideration. When discussing randomness in God’s created order, are we talking about ontological randomness or epistemological randomness.

    Seventh, it does not recognize the true meaning of “Darwinian evolution,” which, by definition, includes the metaphysical add on of unguidedness. This leaves the mistaken impression that Catholicism (or Christianity, for that matter) is compatible with Darwinism.

    I would love to discuss these issues with any Catholic Darwinst but none of them will make themselves available, except to refer me to documents such as the above.

  107. 107
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Quoting further from the text mentioned in 109 above (emphasis is mine):

    Pope John Paul II stated some years ago that “new knowledge leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge”(“Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Evolution”1996). In continuity with previous twentieth century papal teaching on evolution (especially Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis ), the Holy Father’s message acknowledges that there are “several theories of evolution” that are “materialist, reductionist and spiritualist” and thus incompatible with the Catholic faith. It follows that the message of Pope John Paul II cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe. Mainly concerned with evolution as it “involves the question of man,” however, Pope John Paul’s message is specifically critical of materialistic theories of human origins and insists on the relevance of philosophy and theology for an adequate understanding of the “ontological leap” to the human which cannot be explained in purely scientific terms. The Church’s interest in evolution thus focuses particularly on “the conception of man” who, as created in the image of God, “cannot be subordinated as a pure means or instrument either to the species or to society.” As a person created in the image of God, he is capable of forming relationships of communion with other persons and with the triune God, as well as of exercising sovereignty and stewardship in the created universe. The implication of these remarks is that theories of evolution and of the origin of the universe possess particular theological interest when they touch on the doctrines of the creation ex nihilo and the creation of man in the image of God.

    I think the word “explicity” is a problem in the above – maybe it’s a translation issue. It should be “implicitly” as I read it.

    In any case, there’s a strong anti-Darwinian statement in the above and Catholic evolutionists don’t comment on that passage often.

    I lament also that Dr. Torley is a somewhat rare voice in the Catholic community — but Michael Behe has been that for a long time and thankfully, the situation is changing for the better (although slowly).

  108. 108
    jerry says:

    The excerpt that I published above is from a Vatican publication. Here is what is at the end of the document”

    The theme of “man created in the image of God” was submitted for study to the International Theological Commission. The preparation of this study was entrusted to a subcommission whose members included: Very Rev. J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Most Reverend Jean-Louis Bruguès, Msgr. Anton Strukelj, Rev. Tanios Bou Mansour, O.L.M., Rev. Adolpe Gesché, Most Reverend Willem Jacobus Eijk, Rev. Fadel Sidarouss, S.J., and Rev. Shun ichi Takayanagi, S.J.

    As the text developed, it was discussed at numerous meetings of the subcommission and several plenary sessions of the International Theological Commission held at Rome during the period 2000-2002. The present text was approved in forma specifica, by the written ballots of the International Theological Commission. It was then submitted to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the President of the Commission, who has give his permission for its publication.

    I am not sure exactly what it says in detail. But is seems to be saying that it has no problems with intelligent design and that Neo-Darwinian evolution is not supported by the facts. There is nothing in it that contradicts or negates ID.

    Also if one presses the arrow at the top of the page, one gets the Vatican website with Pope Francis on it. This would mean it has some level of Church approval.

  109. 109
    rhampton7 says:

    In any case, the point at issue between us is precisely whether “secondary causes suffice to produce the intended effect.”

    I must step in for one last comment. The above should read; “In any case, the point at issue is whether the Church accepts that “secondary causes suffice to produce the intended effect.”

    To which the Church states secondary causes only exist because of God’s will, but that does not diminish the freedom God grants to secondary causes to act without intervention.

    And on quick question, if you will. You seem believe that only pseudo-randomness can fit within divine providence. If so, why not pseudo-free will?

  110. 110
    jerry says:

    Here is a theoretical but possible scenario by an all powerful God.

    The universe was created with specific boundary conditions. We know this to be true because of the fine tuning but we do not know all the parameters or the reason for the value of each one. They make life possible in certain places but we do not know why each is exactly as it is.

    These boundary conditions could guide to some extent any random events such that some random events will succeed in producing meaningful outcomes while other outcomes are impossible given the boundary conditions. It is also possible that the boundary conditions of the universe could lead inexorably to life and eventually to humans. Under this scenario, certain naturalistic processes would not be unguided but would look like they are.

    The problem is that we have not been able to see what these boundary conditions might be because they theoretically should still be operating and affecting natural processes. There is no evidence that any boundary condition exists or did exist that could guide inanimate matter into life or lead life into the information necessary for the incredible complexity that we see.

    What seems more reasonable from the evidence is that this may be actually impossible or that there is an ultimate reason for the frequent intervention of a designer. Christianity in particular requires a constant change in life’s course due to interventions by God. That is what prayer is all about. But there may be many other things besides response to prayer that has led the world down just one of many possible paths. People like to play with counterfactual conditions all the time.

    Maybe only a meaningful universe is one that is determined not only by God but by his creations too and both are operating under free will. I am not sure how this fits in with any theology but it does not seem to violate Christianity.

  111. 111
    vjtorley says:

    Hi rhampton7,

    Thank you for your post. You asked:

    You seem believe that only pseudo-randomness can fit within divine providence. If so, why not pseudo-free will?

    In reply: you might want to have a look at what Linda Zagzebski says about the Boethian model of Divine foreknowledge, which I defended above, in her book, The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 58-59:

    Furthermore, this model is compatible with most of the things we ordinarily say when referring to God’s providential activity. Need an adherent of the vision model deny that God has the power to interfere with our free choices and render them inefficacious? Need he deny that God can turn any human free act into the means to some providential good? Need he deny that God, by using his foreknowledge, can intervene before the choice is made in any manner he chooses? In each case the answer is no.

    And here’s an extract from a short essay on Divine foreknowledge which I wrote a few years ago, available online at http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....mniscience :

    Another objection to the Boethian account is that it seems to be at odds with with a long-standing Christian tradition that at least some special individuals (the “elect”) are infallibly predestined by God. Many Christians believe that the Virgin Mary and the Biblical prophets and saints, were chosen by God, as part of His plan for humanity, and that their salvation was therefore guaranteed. However, this presents no problems for the Boethian account, as there is nothing to prevent God from deciding to “elect” a few individuals for His own special reasons (relating to the salvation of the human race), while giving the rest of us the options of either choosing to accept His grace or choosing to reject it. Thus, in most cases, God’s knowledge of our choices is retrospective, but God also decides to “mark” a few individuals for Himself by guaranteeing their salvation.

    But how can the Boethian account explain away prophecies like that of Jesus Christ, who said to Simon Peter, “Before the cock crows twice, you will have denied me three times”? If God’s knew about Peter’s choice only by “seeing” Peter make it, then how could Jesus then tell Peter what he was going to do? What was there to stop Peter from turning around and making a different choice?

    A defender of the Boethian account might answer that this kind of prophecy would indeed be a problem if it were commonplace – e.g. if God always announced what we were going to do before we did it – because in many cases, we could simply choose to do otherwise and thereby make God’s predictions wrong, which is absurd. However, the fact that I am free does not mean that I am capable of any act of virtue, no matter how heroic it may be. (There are many kinds of heroic acts, which I know I am quite incapable of.) Jesus, looking into Peter’s heart on the night of the Last Supper, would have seen that he was not courageous enough to acknowledge his Christian faith publicly when it meant putting his life at risk, and He may have then arranged to test Peter three times, by making a few people ask Peter if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. (This would have been a one-off limitation of those people’s freedom, but it raises no theological problems, as the people did nothing wrong in asking Peter if he was one of Jesus’ followers.) That explains the prophecy.

    I hope that answers your questions, rhampton 7.

  112. 112
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    Thanks very much for the quote in #107 above. It was very helpful. Thanks again.

  113. 113
    rhampton7 says:

    VJT,

    The Church does not teach the Boethian view of free will, rather it acknowledges that there is an unsettled debate between the Thomist and Molinist views. What makes free will is truly free is that it is not the product of secondary causation. You can not calculate the decision based on a complete account of all that has gone before, a la Laplace. Because God foreknows, then God’s plan accounts, and so God has sovereignty.

    So turn now to quantum Indeterminacy. Should science find some way to prove its nature, and it is revealed that it is “truly random”, then by your reckoning science would have disproven God as Catholics understand Him. Of course the Church has considered the possibility, that’s why they have the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and it’s why they have repeatedly claimed that nothing Science can discover that would ever contradict Faith. Ergo, if quantum Indeterminacy is real, then by definition God must have sovereignty over it.

    What do you think Catholic theologians, schools and University teach in regards to quantum Indeterminacy?

  114. 114
    rhampton7 says:

    OK, I really mean it this time. If I can’t present my case in a thread with 100+ posts, another 100 isn’t going to help. I have nothing more to add (written as I bite my tongue.)

  115. 115
    StephenB says:

    Jerry @110. You present an interesting scenario. Here is my difficulty:

    I suppose a boundary event in the absence of any further Divine intervention could guide true randomness (not apparent randomness) toward a “meaningful outcome,” but I don’t understand how it could guide true randomness toward a specified outcome. If the process produces exactly, and with no variation whatsoever, the one and only outcome pre-ordained by the Creator, how can such a process also be random and allow for many possible outcomes?

    You say that it is possible that the boundary conditions could lead “inexorably” to life and eventually to humans. In other words, they would lead to one and only one final outcome (homo-sapiens) and no other outcome. Again, I don’t understand how a process that leads inexorably to one outcome can also be a truly random process, which, by definition, could lead to many possible outcomes.

    I can understand how there might be temporary elements of randomness along the way (randomness being constrained?) in the same way that a pilot experiences random changes in direction as he makes adjustment to stay on course for his destination. Even at that, though, these changes are not truly random in an ontological sense. The laws of nature and the pilot’s actions can explain everything that happens. As far as I can tell, there are no true chance events in the mix in the sense that chance could actually cause something to happen.

    However you slice it, the outcome of the result of a guided process and would be pre-determined. If San Francisco is his intended target, that will be his destination. A truly random process would allow the airplane to end up wherever the elements of nature and the pilot’s whims might take it, just as a truly random evolutionary process would allow many possible outcomes, any one of which might be “meaningful,” but none of which would have been pre-ordained.

  116. 116
    StephenB says:

    the outcome “is” the result

  117. 117
    rhampton7 says:

    Please read the Chapter 16, “Quantum Theory, Philsophy, and Theology: Is there a distinct Roman Catholic perspective?” from The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science

  118. 118
    vjtorley says:

    Hi rhampton7,

    You write that “nothing Science can discover that would ever contradict Faith.” Really? So if science were to discover that the universe were eternal and had no beginning, that wouldn’t refute Christianity? And if science were to discover that my choices were determined by my genes and/or my environment, that wouldn’t disprove free will and hence Christianity?

    By the way, how could science ever establish that quantum indeterminacy was truly random, in the sense you envisage? And how would you distinguish a pseudo-random sequence from a truly random one?

    Lastly, I certainly don’t claim that the Boethian model is Catholic doctrine. I’m just saying I think it preserves human freedom better than the Bannezian/Thomist and Molinist/Jesuit models, both of which strike me as bizarre.

  119. 119
    rhampton7 says:

    Lastly, I certainly don’t claim that the Boethian model is Catholic doctrine. I’m just saying I think it preserves human freedom better than the Bannezian/Thomist and Molinist/Jesuit models, both of which strike me as bizarre.

    I don’t have a problem that you think the Church’s position on human freedom is bizarre, or that you offer an alternative. What I objected to was the suggestion that the Church teaches that free will or randomness (like quantum indeterminacy) is beyond God’s Providence and sovereignty.

  120. 120
    StephenB says:

    There is one important point on which rhampton 7, VJTorely, Timaeus, and ne will likely agree. The “unity of truth,” is a common teaching of Church and also a vital component of reason. On another thread, rhampton 7 approvingly and rightly quotes John Paul II:

    This truth, which God reveals to us in Jesus Christ, is not opposed to the truths which philosophy perceives. On the contrary, the two modes of knowledge lead to truth in all its fullness. The unity of truth is a fundamental premise of human reasoning, as the principle of non-contradiction makes clear. Revelation renders this unity certain, showing that the God of creation is also the God of salvation history. It is the one and the same God who establishes and guarantees the intelligibility and reasonableness of the natural order of things upon which scientists confidently depend,(29) and who reveals himself as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This unity of truth, natural and revealed, is embodied in a living and personal way in Christ, as the Apostle reminds us: “Truth is in Jesus” (cf. Eph 4:21; Col 1:15-20). He is the eternal Word in whom all things were created, and he is the incarnate Word who in his entire person (30) reveals the Father (cf. Jn 1:14, 18). What human reason seeks “without knowing it” (cf. Acts 17:23) can be found only through Christ: what is revealed in him is “the full truth” (cf. Jn 1:14-16) of everything which was created in him and through him and which therefore in him finds its fulfilment (cf. Col 1:17).

    I think that another way of expressing this point, perhaps in corollary form, is that God’s revelation in Scripture will never contradict God’s natural revelation. So, how does science play into this? Could science, in principle, contradict a teaching of the Church?

    Well, the answer to that question will, I think, depend on our premise and the context of the specific arguments that are being addressed.

    If we start our search from the ground up and consider the logical possibility that the Church could err on important matters of faith, such as ex nihilo Creation, then, yes, science could, as it were, “falsify” that teaching in a provisional way by providing evidence for an eternal universe. In this sense, science would be our empirical check and balance system against the errors of unrestrained rationalism or untested faith. This, I think, is VJ’s point.

    If, however, we accept, as an article of Catholic faith, the principle that truth is unified, then theology, philosophy, and science, properly understood, will each provide different elements of that same indivisible truth and cannot, for that reason, come into conflict. There are, after all, not many truths, but one truth with many aspects. If, therefore, the Catholic religion is true, if follows that the Catholic principle of unity is also true, meaning no one aspect of truth found in one discipline, properly understood and applied, will ever contradict another aspect of truth found in a different discipline, properly understood and applied. This, I think, is rhampton 7’s point.

  121. 121
    StephenB says:

    rhampton 7

    What I objected to was the suggestion that the Church teaches that free will or randomness (like quantum indeterminacy) is beyond God’s Providence and sovereignty.

    Inasmuch as no one here has ever suggested that quantum indeterminancy or free will is beyond God’s providence and sovereignty, I can’t imagine what you are talking about. I remember specifically saying the very opposite and I also remember that you ignored the point.

  122. 122
    jerry says:

    StephenB,

    I am speculating. There will be lots of outcomes, not one. But each outcome is limited/predetermined by the boundary conditions.

    Suppose there is a valley with several exits and only one input. Some of the exits are higher than others. These are physical boundary conditions.

    Then suppose water flows into the valley from the entrance and the amount is variable each year. The lowest exits get the most water and each exit leads to another valley, a series of valleys or a plain. The higher exits only get water occasionally. All exits lead to different valleys or maybe some lead to the same valley.

    The outcome is a finite number of valleys that get different amounts of water. Suppose, each valley has different rock and soil conditions which lead to different erosion patterns. So after a finite amount of time there will be a finite number of geological formations all determined by the boundary conditions. Not every possible formation is possible, only what the particular valleys allows.

    Over the ages, the erosion patterns, dependent on the water input and the geological makeup will lead to widely different formations in the valley and on the plains. But the possibilities are not endless and what can exist is sort of determined by a variety of initial and boundary conditions.

    Maybe such a cascade was how life evolved, limited by the boundary conditions that were determined by the initial conditions at the Big Bang.

    As I said speculation at best and based on what we know now, probably not possible. Why, because it would have left forensic trail which is not there and the physical laws that created everything would still be around and known to us. But it does say that naturalistic evolution does not have to be random and that random forces can be shaped in a certain direction. It can be random within each of the valleys but the valleys will limit what is possible and what can leave the valley.

  123. 123
    StephenB says:

    Jerry @122,

    Wow, the process that you have conceived is, indeed, subtle. Your powers of description are impressive. Obviously, you have given this matter a great deal of thought.

    Several causal factors seem to be in play with your model and there is an element of survival/non survival that shapes the output. I gather that the many different life forms and taxonomic levels that make up what we refer to as biodiversity are captured by the differing conditions of the valleys and that homo-sapiens is one of them. It also appears, by my reading least, that there are wide variety of boundary conditions, which are, in turn, shaped by the initial boundary conditions.

    For all that, I am not sure that your model would have to be random. I think all those twists and turns could be made to happen with mathematical precision in such a way that the tape of life would produce the same result every time, which would be the very opposite of randomness.

    In this and other contexts, we may be using words in a different way. When I speak of evolution’s final outcome, I am referring only to man as the crown jewel of life forms and the final result of that one line of development. Perhaps his bodily existence is a product of the kinds of twists and turns you describe, I don’t know.

    In any case, that outcome (homo-sapiens) either meets God’s specifications perfectly, comes close, is quite different, or bears no resemblance at all. According to the Bible, man is made in the image of God, which would seem to mean that there is no room for error or deviation in the process that produced him.

    Since a truly random process would allow for many possible outcomes (again, I am referring to linear outcomes, not parallel outcomes), it could not guarantee a result that conforms perfectly to God’s apriori intent.

    Obviously, none of this means that the universe is deterministic or materialistic or that man does not have free will. It simply means that any process of evolution that can produce exactly what God wants cannot be truly random. It must be purposefully and wonderfully designed in order to produce a fearfully and wonderfully made human.

  124. 124
    jerry says:

    StephenB,

    We have had this discussion six years ago. Except I then described a valley that has only one exit (human evolution) and did not use the concept of water and erosion. I used the concept of a large number of paths in the valley but all paths are constrained and eventually lead to the one exit.

    My point then as it is now is to say that random events can be constrained to lead to a specific objective and humans do it all the time. It is great design. The TE might say that the initial and boundary conditions were put in place at the Big Bang and all the random events were then channeled to a specific exit of the valley. The Darwinist would say there are a zillion exits to the valley and no initial conditions were designed to lead to any particular exit and that random processes by chance found human intelligence.

    That is a big difference in position though on the surface they look identical. Of course the TE’s have a lot of variations on this.

    I could accept this except the evidence doesn’t support it. In one of my previous posts, I said the TE’s avoid the discussion of gradualism like the plague (not exactly this expression but the same sentiment)and hence are intellectually bankrupt. They have no science to support their position. Though I ran across a series at BioLogos yesterday on the process of information generation. I haven’t read it yet but will when I get time.

    My position is that we cannot fathom the Mind of God but must accept what He has provided us. We have a constantly interfering God in our lives and God designed the universe with that parameter. This is not the incredibly brilliant God who just sets the whole plan in motion. It is necessary for reasons we do not entirely know, for Him to intervene. To say otherwise is just human hubris saying this is the God I want. That is what the TE’s do.

    I will accept the God that has revealed Himself to us in history as well as nature. My guess is He is actually smarter than the TE God and Leibniz was right, this is the best of all possible worlds. We just have no idea of what “best” actually is.

  125. 125
    StephenB says:

    Jerry,

    I believe that what you are describing is not truly a random process if it can be counted on to get the job done, that is, if it will infallibly and without error, produce homo-sapiens as intended. It is a random process only if it leaves the final outcome to chance–only if it allows for many possible outcomes–only if there is a possibility that the job will not get done. If the process aims toward a goal, it is, by definition, not random.

    If I understand you correctly, your process, however subtle its twists and turns may be, was designed to infallibly produce homo sapiens. By definition, a random process cannot be counted on to do that. That is the difference between a designed evolutionary process, which is consistent with ID, and a Darwinian process, which is not.

    Random:

    Synonyms

    unsystematic, unmethodical, arbitrary, unplanned, undirected, casual, indiscriminate, nonspecific, haphazard, stray, erratic; More
    chance, accidental

    antonyms:

    systematatic

    To “constrain” elements in the process is to make it not random. The question arises, why are you constraining? The answer: You are constraining those elements so that the result will not be left to chance. In that case, the point is to direct and guide the process toward maturity, toward its specified end.

    A random process, by definition, is not a maturation process because the end is indeterminate–in doubt– unspecified–without a goal. That is how Darwinian evolution is understood and it is that same understanding that Christian Darwinists seek to integrate with Christianity.

  126. 126
    jerry says:

    StephenB,

    This essentially says what I say is a possibility. This could have been the way that God did it. Three things:

    First, There are lots of examples in this world where we design things to handle random events. For example, flood control. The result is water being carried away from normal run off often for uses by humans for drinking water, irrigation and power.

    I once used an example of a pin ball game here where much of the motion seems to be random but definitely controlled.

    I believe the cell duplication process is an example of a elegant design process controlling some very determined events which often have random components.

    Second, I don’t think this is the way life and evolution was done. The evidence points somewhere else. Also, for us to tell God that he is doing it wrong and how He should do it is more than just hubris. But both sides are guilty of this.

    Third, I believe that many of the TE’s don’t accept this use of random events constrained by boundary conditions because of the theodicy issue. If the results are not totally random, they somehow think that this means God is responsible for natural evil. So to get God off the hook for natural evil, the totally random version becomes a preference.

    I tried several times including on this thread to inject this idea as the basis for their beliefs and there is lots of evidence that this is important to them. As you know, I believe the theodicy issue is bogus which sets me up against just about everyone else in the world.

  127. 127
    StephenB says:

    Jerry,

    Good discussion. It appears that we don’t really have any serious disagreements.

    I am not sure if the events that contribute to the normal water flow are truly random, but that is not nearly as important as our agreement that the flood control process is designed and is not random. Good.

    Your analysis of the cell-duplication process seems reasonable to me.

    Agreed, there is no place in empirical science for any assumption about how God should have created or designed anything.

    Agreed, the theodicy issue does, in large measure, inform and shape the TE’s irrational world view. My take on it, though, is a little be different. I think the TEs’ loss of faith in Biblical truths contributes to their theodicy objection. If they accepted the clear Biblical teaching about original sin and the fall of man, they would attribute the cause of suffering to man and not to God.

    In many respects, their loss of faith fuels the theodicy objection and the theodicy objection fuels their loss of faith. They claim to believe that “there is no conflict between their faith and their science,” but their actions tell a different story. In fact, they really do believe that such a conflict exists, which is why they make so many faith compromises in order to smooth over the real disconnect between Darwinism (not science) and Christianity.

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