Thursday, August 23, 2012

God and Evolution

Avery Cardinal Dulles wrote an excellent essay on Catholicism and evolution in First Things in October 2007 issue. See link below to read the article.

The first part of the article narrates the history of the interaction between evolution and Catholic teaching. Pope John Paul II said the Galileo case led the church "to a more mature attitude and a more accurate grasp of the authority proper to her enabling her better to distinguish between essentials of the faith and the scientific systems of a given age." In addition, he discusses how the pope's comments were misinterpreted to mean that he "accepted the Neo-Darwinian view that evolution is sufficiently explained by random mutations and natural selection without any kind of governing purpose or finality." Of course, this wasn't the pope's position. He also addresses the controversy of some of the comments of Cardinal Schonborn concerning evolution. Schonborn disagrees with the position of "excluding formal and final causes."

Dulles describes the positions of three different groups of evolutionists: Classical Darwinism, Theistic evolutionism, and a third group represented by such philosophers like Michael Polanyi "who agree that biological organisms cannot be understood by the laws of mechanics alone." Dulles situates himself in this third group.

Dulles makes some good points about the limits of science. For example, Dulles asserts, "science and technology are totally inadequate in the field of morality." Science might be able to tell us what we can do, but not what we should do. There is a difference between science and scientism. For example, Dulles tells us "science performs a disservice when it claims to be the only valid form of knowledge." There are limits to what science can tell us. The scientific method is not the only avenue to truth.

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