December 27, 2005

THE ASCENT OF SPECIOUS (via Robert Schwartz):

SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH EVOLUTION PHILOSOPHER DANIEL DENNETT: "Darwinism Completely Refutes Intelligent Design" (Der Spiegel, 12/27/05)

SPIEGEL: Your colleague Michael Ruse has accused you of stepping out of the field of science and into social science and religion with your theories. He's even said you are inadvertently aiding the Intelligent Design movement as a result.

Dennett: Michael is just trying to put the implications of Darwin's insights into soft focus and to reassure people that there is not as much conflict between the perspective of evolutionary biology and their traditional ways of thinking.

SPIEGEL: And what about the accusation that you are aiding Intelligent Design?

Dennett: There is probably an element of truth to it. I've just finished writing a book in which I look at religion from the perspective of evolutionary biology. I think you can, should, and even must take this route. Others say 'no, hands off! Just don't let evolution get anywhere near the social sciences.' I think that's terrible advice. The idea that we should protect the social sciences and humanity from evolutionary thinking is a recipe for disaster.


Dennett: I would give Darwin the gold medal for the best idea anybody ever had. It unifies the world of meaning and purpose and goals and freedom with the world of science, with the world of the physical sciences. I mean, we talk about the great gap between social science and natural science. What closes that gap? Darwin

Inadvertently? He's acknowledged believing in design. The funny thing here though is his admission that Darwinism is quite intentionally intended to close the philosophical gap with the social sciences--where evolutionary theory is a given and, thanks to Adam Smith and David Riccardo & company, was prevailing in the intellectual milieu in which Darwn operated. Indeed, what Darwinism claims is that just as the evolution model works where intelligent actors are involved it must work where they aren't.

Cardinal Schönborn on God and Creation: "It Is the Very Dignity of the Creature to Have Received Everything From Him": Here is a provisional translation of a catechetical lecture given by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, last month on creation and evolution. (ZENIT, 19 DEC. 2005)

A scientist wrote me in response to my article in the New York Times that he would like to believe in a creator but just cannot believe in an "old man with a long white beard." I answered him saying that no one expects him to believe this. On the contrary, such a childish conception of a creator has nothing to do with what the Bible says about the creator and with the article of the creed that says, "I believe in God, the father almighty, the creator of heaven and earth."

In my response I wrote him that it would be a good thing if his religious knowledge would not lag so far behind his scientific knowledge and if his vast knowledge as a scientist did not go hand in hand with what is after all childish religious conceptions. For an old man with a long white beard is certainly not what is meant by the creator. I recommended that he simply read what, for example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on this subject.

Now there is another misunderstanding that is constantly found in the ongoing discussion, and I have to deal with it right here at the beginning. I refer to what is called "creationism." Nowadays the belief in a creator is automatically run together with "creationism." But in fact to believe in a creator is not the same as trying to understand the six days of creation literally, as six chronological days, and as trying to prove scientifically, with whatever means available, that the earth is 6,000 years old.

These attempts of certain Christians at taking the Bible absolutely literally, as if it made chronological and scientific statements — I have met defenders of this position who honestly strive to find scientific arguments for it — is called "fundamentalism." Or more exactly, within American Protestantism this view of the Christian faith originally called itself fundamentalism. Starting from the belief that the Bible is inspired by God, so that every word in it is immediately inspired by him, the six days of creation are taken in a strict literal way.

It is understandable that in the United States many people, using not only kinds of polemics but lawsuits as well, vehemently resist the teaching of creationism in the schools. But it is an entirely different matter when certain people would like to see the schools deal with the critical questions that have been raised with regard to Darwinism; they have a reasonable and legitimate concern.

The Catholic position on this is clear. St. Thomas says that "one should not try to defend the Christian faith with arguments that are so patently opposed to reason that the faith is made to look ridiculous." It is simply nonsense to say that the world is only 6,000 years old. To try to prove this scientifically is what St. Thomas calls provoking the "irrisio infidelium," the scorn of the unbelievers. It is not right to use such false arguments and to expose the faith to the scorn of unbelievers. This should suffice on the subject of "creationism" and "fundamentalism" for the entire remainder of this catechesis; what we want to say about it should be so clear that we do not have to return to the subject.

And now to our main subject: What does the Christian faith say about "God the creator" and about creation? The classical Catholic teaching, as we find it explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or more compactly presented in the Compendium of the Catechism, contains four basic elements.

1. The doctrine of creation says that there is an absolute beginning — "in the beginning God created heaven and earth" — and that this absolute beginning is the free and sovereign act of establishing being out of nothing. This is the main theme of today's catechesis: the absolute beginning.

2. The doctrine of creation also says that there are various creatures. This is the distinction of creatures, "each according to its kind," of which we read in the first chapter of Genesis. This is the work of the first six days as related on the first page of the Bible. I will speak on this subject in the next catechesis, in which I will ask what it means to say that according to our faith in creation God has willed a multiplicity of creatures.

3. We come now to a point of fundamental importance for the Christian belief about creation. It is also a point about which we will be speaking later today. We believe not only in an absolute beginning of creation but in the preservation of creation; God holds in being all that he has created. We refer here to his continuing work of creation, which in theology is called the "creatio continua," the ongoing act of creation.

4. And finally, the doctrine of creation most definitely includes the belief that God directs his creation. He did not just set it in motion once at the beginning and then let it run its course. No, the divine guidance of creation, which we call divine providence, is a part of the doctrine of creation. God leads his work to its final end.

Thus, design and Darwinism can not be reconciled.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 27, 2005 8:48 PM

Is DNA itself an intelligent actor?

Posted by: creeper at December 28, 2005 10:12 AM

Is English?

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2005 10:14 AM

What does English have to do with the theory of evolution?

Posted by: creeper at December 28, 2005 1:38 PM

What is English and what purpose does it serve?

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2005 1:42 PM

the thing is, freud, marx, and darwin just sat down and wrote down some ideas they had. and that's it.
does that sound like science ? at best you could describe it as a kind of lazy man's philosophy (if that). and yet people who pray at the altar of science, treat their work in the same way one would treat newton or other genuine scientists. this stuff is just pulled out of the air.

Posted by: toe at December 28, 2005 1:52 PM

English is an Indo-European language; it serves the purpose of communication.

Posted by: creeper at December 28, 2005 3:56 PM


See, you didn't even need to ask the question--you knew the answer.

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2005 4:06 PM