"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Church and intelligent design: Part Umpteen

Physicist Stephen Barr, author of the worthy book Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, has weighed in quite usefully on the interminable debate over Cardinal Schönborn's New York Times Op-Ed piece on evolution, which I have of course discussed before myself. Barr writes:
I personally am not at all sure that the neo-Darwinian framework is a sufficient one for biology. But if it turns out to be so, it would in no way invalidate what Pope Benedict has said: “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.” In his New York Times article, Cardinal Schönborn understandably wanted to counter those neo-Darwinian advocates who claim that the theory of evolution precludes a Creator’s providential guidance of creation. Regrettably, he ended up giving credibility to their claim and obscuring the clear teaching of the Church that no truth of science can contradict the truth of revelation.
That seems about right—not because the substance of His Eminence's position was incorrect, but because his language did not explicitly observe the necessary distinctions. In my anxiety to defend Schönborn, I didn't take due account of that and thus treated his approach too charitably. But his error is the sort of made by people who address philosophically quite subtle issues in journalistic fashion. Read Barr's article instead. I shall use it to address the larger topic again.

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