by Patrick H. Young, Ph.D.
Neo-Darwinism is Incompatible with Christian Faith
Appearing in the New York Times on 7/7/2005 was an article written by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn titled Finding Design in Nature.1 Cardinal Shönborn’s purpose in writing this article(it appears), is to clarify the Catholic Church’s stance on the theory of evolution. He began his article by stating, "Ever since Pope John Paul II said in 1996 that evolution (a term he did not define) was ‘more than a hypothesis’, defenders of neo-Darwinian dogma have often invoked the supposed acceptance – or at least acquiescence – of the Roman Catholic Church when they defend their theory as somehow compatible with Christian faith."
Schönborn’s article has not surprisingly, provoked several responses. One specifically from the neo-Darwinian apologist and self proclaimed faithful "Catholic" Kenneth Miller. Miller's rebuttal article titled Darwin, Design, and the Catholic Faith as his own myopic attempt to plead, that unlike Cardinal Shönborn’s opinion, evolution (specifically neo-Darwinism) and Christianity are indeed compatible.2
Miller ends the first paragraph of his rebuttal by stating, "Knowing how the good Cardinal’s words will be misused by the enemies of science in our country, it is important to set the record straight (my emphasis)." So Miller begins his rebuttal by proclaiming that anyone who questions the perceived factual nature of evolution (macro-evolution to be specific) is an enemy of science. The strategy Miller is using has been described by intelligent design theorist William Dembski as an "attack relating to Pathos."3 A Pathos attack does not provide nor require any evidence to demonstrate that someone who questions evolution is an "enemy of science." It is a shameful deliberate maneuver designed to infuse irrational panic and fear upon those who have not made a final decision in this debate.
Realistically, it is completely scientific to question the perceived factual nature of evolution or any other theory for that matter. In fact, it has been creationists and advocates of intelligent design who have required the neo-Darwinists to admit that they do not have any scientific justification for the sweeping hyperbole they use when promoting their neo-Darwinian dogma.
Schönborn further writes in his article that neo-Darwinian theory is incompatible with Catholic teaching because it posits a world of "unguided, unplanned process(es) of random variation, and natural selection" without any divine intervention.
Miller disagrees with Shönborn’s assertion about neo-Darwinism and attempts to justify his position by literally misquoting the evolutionist, George Gaylord Simpson. Miller’s misquotation in his rebuttal article conveniently forgets the first sentence of Simpson’s statement. This portion of the quotation is critical because it informs us that adaptation is the process Simpson is speaking about, not evolution as Miller contends. Below is George Gaylord Simpson’s complete quote in context.
"Adaptation is real, and it is achieved by a progressive and directed process. The process is wholly natural in its operation. This natural process achieves the aspect of purpose without the intervention of a purposer, and it has produced a vast plan without the concurrent action of a planner. It may be that the initiation of the process and the physical laws under which it functions had a purpose and that this mechanistic way of achieving a plan it the instrument of Planner—of this still deeper problem the scientist, as scientist, cannot speak." 4
While adaptation is a part of micro-evolution it is NOT neo-Darwinism by the accepted definition and irresponsible of Miller to suggest otherwise.
Furthermore, George Gaylord Simpson (widely recognized as one of the principal architects of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, per Miller’s rebuttal) has stated elsewhere, "the meaning of evolution" is "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind."5 So the foundational principle of neo-Darwinism IS an unguided, unplanned, and meaningless process that provides the genetic variation required for evolution (as neo-Darwinists say) to occur. It is only when this genetic variation appears, that adaptation / natural selection may occur which could arguably masquerade as a process with a pseudo-purpose.
Like many other scientists who are Christian, I see a universe that was created with purpose by a Creator whose wonderful account and plan are spoken of in the Bible. I see the evidence of a Creator’s design on every creation in the universe. It was science which confirmed for me that all life began as a designed creation. It was also science which confirmed for me that man did not appear as the result of purposeless unguided processes, but through a designer with a plan who placed his thumbprint on every human being.
Patrick H. Young Ph.D.
|4.||Simpson, G.G. 1964. This View of Life: The World of an Evolutionist. Harcourt, Brace & World, New York. p. 212.|
|5.||Simpson, G.G. 1967. The Meaning of Evolution: A Study of the History of Life and its Significance for Man. Yale University Press. New Haven, Ct. p. 345.|
Patrick H. Young was formerly a resident of Central Ohio. He now lives in Virginia. He has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and has been employed in industry as a research chemist and materials scientist for over 17 years. He has a website at creationists.org/patrickyoung.html and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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