Thursday, November 17, 2005

Evolution/Creation Debate Flames Anew

Vatican Official Refutes Intelligent Design

The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."

His comments were in line with his previous statements on "intelligent design" _ whose supporters hold that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Proponents of intelligent design are seeking to get public schools in the United States to teach it as part of the science curriculum. Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism _ a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation _ camouflaged in scientific language, and they say it does not belong in science curriculum.

In a June article in the British Catholic magazine The Tablet, Coyne reaffirmed God's role in creation, but said science explains the history of the universe...
{read full story here}

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Well, there they go again. This time AP (Associated Press) screwed it up. Once again, the mainstream media fails to clarify the Church's position, and presents the theory of origins as an "either-or" scenario. The Vatican has never refuted "intelligent design" in and of itself. In fact, the Church specifically teaches that "intelligent design" is the ONLY way in which the universe could have been created. Having said that, I must point out that many Church teachers reject the teaching of "intelligent design" as a scientific theory. That is because such attempts to make it a scientific theory frequently try to use the first chapter of the Bible as a science textbook, a purpose for which the Bible was not designed.

I'm afraid the whole evolutionary/intelligent-design debate has been framed by history in such a way as to make it look like an "either-or" proposition. At least, that's how it looks on the surface anyway. For that you can thank Karl Marx -- the founder of socialism and communism.

You see Karl Marx was a great admirer of Charles Darwin, and he saw his evolutionary theory (on the origin of species) as a great tool for undermining religious thought in modern culture. Later, the communists of Russia would use Darwin’s theory for just that purpose. The Soviet Union spent years teaching school children evolutionary theory before they were ever taught socialist economics and communist philosophy. That’s because the Theory of Evolution was thought of as a sort of “foundation” upon which all of godless communism was built. By the time the theory of evolution hit the classrooms of America, this communist practice was already underway. Thus, evolutionary theory became inseparably “married” to godless atheism in the minds of almost everyone throughout the world.

Right on cue, atheists within America embraced evolutionary theory for much the same reason communists did. The press picked up on this of course, and highlighted it during the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Therein, the newspapers reported that God himself was on trial before the scientific evidence of evolutionary theory. When it was ruled that evolution could be taught in the classrooms as a “scientific theory,” the press carried the story as if science had just beat God in the courtroom. It was at this point that Protestant Fundamentalism became the sworn enemy of evolution forevermore.

In truth, evolution (as we currently understand it) is probably NOT how things really happened. It is also true that evolutionary concepts, in and of themselves, are not necessarily anti-God. It is altogether probable that God uses evolution as a tool to affect the changes he wants. Recent innovations in evolutionary theory have proposed that the process of evolution actually happens very rapidly as a survival mechanism, in confined areas, and then remains dormant for eons at a time, until it is needed again. This is a radical departure from previous thought, which proposed that evolution happened very slowly, with random changes (or “mutations”) over time. This new way of thinking actually creates a lot of room for changes to happen much more quickly -- almost instantaneously -- in the overall march of time.

For the Christian, only one thing matters. God created.

That’s it. There doesn’t need to be an elaborate explanation as to how. Science is free to explore this topic at will, but in the process of doing that, Christians must never loose sight of the revealed truth that God is the God of nature, and all of natures laws. The concept of man evolving from lower species is not entirely foreign to Christian thought. Even the Genesis creation story tells us that "God formed man out of the slime of the earth" (Genesis 2:7). What the Scriptures don't tell us is how. For the human body is clearly modeled after the primate design. No reasonable person can deny this. That being the case, it is not unreasonable to suggest that God may have actually used some primate DNA to come up with the human genetic code. Evolution may very will explain how we human beings acquired our physical bodies, but it does not in any way explain why we are spiritual beings. Unlike our biological cousins (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangoutangs, etc.), human beings tend to have a spiritual dimension that cannot be fully explained by science. This is where written revelation comes in, because the Scriptures tell us that God breath his own Spirit into us at the dawn of the human race (Genesis 2:7), and it is for this reason the Scriptures tell us that mankind (unlike the rest of the animals) was made in God’s own image (Genesis 1:26-27).

If evolution is true, (and indeed it would appear that some aspects of it are), then we need not worry about it diminishing the dignity of mankind. For whatever primates came before us (so-called “missing links”), they were not human. The first man was created at the moment God gave him an immortal soul, and this could not have possibly happened until AFTER the human genome was completed.

As for the Biblical six-days of creation, no Christian need worry about that either. The Bible gives two creation accounts -- not one. The first is in Genesis chapter 1, and the second is in Genesis chapter 2, starting at verse 4. Both contradict each other. Genesis 1 tells us that God created the world in six days. Genesis 2 tells us that God created the world in one day. Genesis 1 tells us that God created the animals BEFORE mankind. Genesis 2 tells us he created animals AFTER mankind. Clearly, the contradiction of these two creation stories is telling us not to take them literally. Rather, it would seem the Scriptures are asking us to look into the spiritual truths they are trying to convey.

Yes, the Scriptures are true -- always. It's just that we human beings don't always interpret them truthfully. We often impose our own preconceived notions upon them. For thousands of years, men interpreted the Genesis chapter 1 account as literal, while simultaneously ignoring the obvious contradictions in Genesis chapter 2. Could it be that we were missing the whole point all along?