Saturday, August 06, 2005

More Dust-ups on Darwin

A Jesuit Astronomer with the Vatican Observatory takes Cardinal Schonborn to task. CNS has the story here. Among his observations:
Father Coyne said that science is "completely neutral" regarding the philosophical and theological implications of its findings, but this does not prevent believers from using the best scientific data available to improve their understanding of God.

Evolution is not only compatible with Catholicism but also "reveals a God who made a universe that has within it a certain dynamism and thus participates in the very creativity of God," said Father Coyne.

"God is working with the universe. The universe has a certain vitality of its own like a child does," he said.

God "is not constantly intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves," he said.

Based on the results of modern science and modern biblical scholarship, "religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator or designer God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly," he said.

"Perhaps God should be seen more as a parent or as one who speaks encouraging and sustaining words," he said.

This view is compatible with the Bible, which gives God human characteristics and presents divinity as "a God who gets angry, who disciplines, a God who nurtures the universe, who empties himself in Christ the incarnate word," he added.

Father Coyne criticized Cardinal Schonborn for saying that the scientific processes of "chance" and "necessity" cannot explain the presence of purpose and design in nature. He gave the example of two hydrogen atoms meeting in the universe.

"By necessity (the laws of chemical combination) they are destined to become a hydrogen molecule. But by chance the temperature and pressure conditions at that moment are not correct for them to combine," he added.

"And so they wander through the universe until they finally combine," he said.

"By the interaction of chance and necessity, many hydrogen molecules are formed and eventually many of them combine with oxygen to make water, and so on, until we have very complex molecules and eventually the most complicated organism that science knows: the human brain," he said.
The good Father plays down the Cardinal's concern, IMHO. The Cardinal saw a body of scientific theory--that honest scientist concede has not entirely been supported by empirical evidence--be used as an ideology that marginalizes God. He found such ideological use a scientific theory contradictory to the Faith. Why did he say this? Because for so long, many have said that evolution and Catholicism experience no such contradiction. From the scientific standpoint, that may be true. From the ideological standpoint, nothing could be further from the truth.

As for the good Father's concern about the Cardinal's addressing of the scientific nature of evolution, perhaps the Cardinal meant that the terms "chance" and "necessity", when looked at ideologically, dismiss the presence of God as inherent in the system of evolution. I'm certain that Father Coyne would not accept such a proposition. Likewise, Cardinal Schonborn demonstrated that there may be scientific evidence for Design in creation that Darwinian evolutionists discount. Considering the number of holes in evolution now, is such a theory beyond the pale? If so, then aren't today's scientists recreating the tragic times they had once created before, when the Church had endorsed the natural philosophers and nascent scientists' concensus that Ptolemy had Astronomy right? Since when are scientists afraid of another theory?

This tempest in a tea pot has gone on long enough. As a Catholic, I have no trouble at all accepting that God may indeed use principles evolutionist identify as "chance" and "necessity" to further the creation that began with his Word. I lose not a wink of sleep considering that the Mighty hand of God can fashion the Universe through the Big Bang and the birth of star systems and planets. My Faith can handle the possibility that God may have fashioned humanity through the evolution of related species? Why? Because how God created is his business. If science can offer insight into this by way of their disciplines, fine. I'll take it or leave it on the merits of the evidence.

However, if scientists believe that they can use their discipline to fashion a metaphysics for which their discipline is ill-equipped, then sorry. I respectfully decline their offer. They have no evidence to remove God from the equation. Otherwise, their is no integrity of Spirit and Material in this Universe, and then all the cosmological, ontological and moral quandaries of an existence without God come crashing down upon my consciousness. In other words, I have to invent way too much drama to blind myself to the radiant Reality that envelops me. I choose not to do that for the sake of scientists that mistake themselves for philosophers and theologians.

Christ, through the Church, said it. I believe it. That settles it. Let the scientists continue to answer "How?" I'll look to my Savior's Mystical Body for answers to "Who?", "What?" and "Why?"

Update: Vox from A Voice from Eden scooped me! (grrrr!)