Intelligent Design

Will the Catholic Church try to avoid the ID-Darwinism conflict by resurrecting Teilhard de Chardin? But how can they?

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I’ve been meaning to catch up with the Catholic side of the controversy over Darwinian evolution, and now at last I have a moment: Recently, Pope Benedict XVI gave a talk in which he said explicitly:

“Man is not the fruit of chance or a bundle of convergences, determinisms or physical and chemical reactions,” he told a meeting of academics of different disciplines sponsored by the Paris Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

This sort of language explains why Catholic Darwinist Ken Miller got so upset with Christoph, Cardinal Schoenborn, a close B16 associate, over his famous 2005 op-ed in the New York Times.

Miller was upset because he knows as well as anyone that this and other instances of Cardinalspeak and Popespeak are a polite way of saying that the Catholic Church does not support materialist theories of evolution like Darwinism, a point made in 1996 by John Paul II, but widely misrepresented ever since. Clearly, Schoenborn did not believe Miller’s claim that Darwinism is not inherently atheistic. Indeed, he should not, when 87% of evolutionary biologists are atheists or agnostics (with 78% being pure naturalists).

But that’s well-trodden ground and I am not going there now.

The key question is what WILL the Church support, if not Darwinism – and a surprising answer has come up. A friend tells me that Cardinal Schoenborn’s own recent book, Chance or Purpose?, which I have ordered but not yet received or read, summarizes Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin in a favourable way, quoting, …

For more, go here.

Also, is a conflict shaping up between two Christian thinkmags over intelligent design vs., for example, Evolution Sunday?(Sit up and beg for Darwin, dog collar! There’s a good dog collar! Good boy!)

3 Replies to “Will the Catholic Church try to avoid the ID-Darwinism conflict by resurrecting Teilhard de Chardin? But how can they?

  1. 1
    ajl says:

    no need to buy the book. All of his lectures are here:

    http://www.cardinalschonborn.com/

    translated into English. They are pretty much word-for-word what is in his book. I think there is still one chapter that is in German, however.

  2. 2
    StephenB says:

    Denyse, for some reason I have not been able to click on to your other links. In any case, I don’t think the information there will change my notions about Ken Miller, Teilhard De Chardin, or the Catholic Church.

    Miller’s attempt to reconcile Darwinism with Catholicism is little more than a shameless attempt to subordinate God to Darwin. Like Stephen Barr, Miller tries to make it work by misrepresenting Aquinas’ teaching on contingent creation. While Aquinas did teach that God CAN create through contingency, meaning that he can allow randomness and chance to work things out, he certainly does not teach that God does so in the normal order of things. Quite the contrary, Aquinas understood and taught that God also creates through purpose and design. If God did not leave clues in design form, then those clues could not be detected. Aquinas understood this as well as anyone who ever lived. Indeed, Aquinas is Mr. Design. That is largely what his famous proofs for the existence of God are all about. So for Miller and Barr to call on Aquinas to help them argue against design and our ability to apprehend it is nothing short of outrageous.

    I don’t know the extent to which Cardinal Schoenborn has invested himself in Teilhardism, but it doesn’t really matter. The Universal Catholic Church cannot reconcile its teaching about God’s omnipotence and perfection with Teilhard’s teaching about a imperfect process God, who still s growing and developing. Teilhard’s God is less about a transcendent Christian God presiding over and above his creation and more about an immanent God who finds himself imbedded in it. To be sure, there are illogical Catholics who embrace Teilhard De Chardin, just as there are illogical Catholics who embrace Darwin. None of that will find its way into an encyclical or any official church teaching.

  3. 3
    StephenB says:

    Not that the links are open, I find that Ken Miller has done it again. He appeals to George Gaylord Simpson to negate the idea that evolution is a totally random process. According to Miller, Simpson uses the word “natural,” so we should conclude that natural means directed.

    Here are Simpson’s actual words:

    “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind. …”

    Does Miller have any conscience at all?

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