Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Catholic Scientist Looks at Darwinism

Author: Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry - Lehigh University

In this article, Michael Behe discusses the options available to a Catholic on the theory of evolution. Although this article does mention religion consistently, it does not ever state that being a Catholic is a reason to disbelieve evolution. He rather states that being a Catholic puts one at odds with random, unguided, nonteleological evolution or any sort of Godless universe.

Behe, of course, mentions his own epic work, Darwin's Black Box, and briefly summarizes its content on irreducibly complex biochemical systems. He points out that the mechanism of evolution is the point of contention for a Catholic; not necessarily evolution itself.

He also discusses three divergent views on evolution, all from Catholic scientists. His own view is that God, as the Intelligent Designer, guides and designs life. The two other views are that 1.) God designed the universe with physical laws which naturally, without divine interference, guide evolution and 2.) God wove information into the fabric of space and time which gives a degree of self-organization to the material world and hence allows for evolution. He again points out that these three views can agree that God created the universe and life and still not agree on how that precisely occurred.

One of my favorite points in this article is his statement that faith actually provides a better platform for open scientific inquiry than materialistic scientism:
"Indeed, the range of possibilities that are available under a Catholic viewpoint is much wider than under a materialistic viewpoint. Materialism virtually requires something such as Darwinism to be true, and it is difficult (although not impossible) to reconcile with Haught's views or my own. Thus a Catholic is free to follow the evidence of nature wherever he or she thinks it leads, without the requirement to shoehorn all of biology into the narrow range of options permitted by naturalism."
He does temper this optimism with a section detailing both the dangers and evils of scientism, the notion that only the positive sciences can make any statements regarding objective truth.

I should state that although Behe may well be right that Catholics have no real qualms with evolution per se; I do. I not only reject Darwinian evolution; I reject evolution altogether. That being said, Behe's discussion of why irreducibly complex systems empirically establish the existence and work of a designer is great work.

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