Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Catholic View of Evolution and Darwinism; Part II - How it All Relates

Assuming you read Part I, welcome back!  If you have not yet done so, i highly recommend you do. 

      Evolution and darwinism are not the same thing, nor are creationism and intelligent design.  Evolution is a completely legitimate scientific theory.  Darwinism is an absurdest philosophy masquerading as natural science.  Evolutionists and creationists are opposed to one another but they are both attempting to answer the same question; how did we get here?  They want to provide the efficient cause of humanity, earth and the universe.  Darwinism and intelligent design are similarly diametrically opposed, but they too are trying to answer a singular question; why are we here.  They want to explain the final cause.
      I consider myself a theistic evolutionist.  That is, i believe in an intelligent design to the universe but i accept evolution as God's modus operandi in creation.  It does not matter to me if you believe in evolution or creationism.  The theological truths about God and the universe are largely unaffected by what position you take there.  I would much rather spend my time blasting darwinism and upholding intelligent design.  However, i feel i should give a brief explanation for my position and i'll do that near the end.
      Evolution seems to fit well with naturalism as it doesn't expressly call for a supernatural outside force.  As i said last week, there is nothing inherently wrong with naturalism so long as it is merely methodological.  The problem arises when one corrupts it into metaphysical naturalism.
      Metaphysics is the study of being, it is the purest form of philosophy, seeking to understand the formal and final causes; what we are and why we are here.  Naturalism is the assumption of purely natural causality.  When it is applied to metaphysics we are left with a philosophy of being which rejects anything beyond the seen, beyond the natural.  This is, of course, incomparable with creationism and so it strives to find footing in evolution.  The resulting monstrosity is known as darwinism.
      Although this may at first seem a match made in heaven (forgive the pun), we quickly come upon two major problems.  The first problem is the law of entropy.  This argument has been used ad nauseum against evolution, and that is not my intention here, especially considering that it doesn't work.  However, the argument does have some weight against darwinism.  Entropy is sameness or disorder.  The law of entropy states that in a closed system the amount of entropy can only increase.  That is, assuming no outside force, things only ever get more similar and less complex.  Consider a camp fire reducing the wooden logs to their base components.  The diversity and complexity of the wood are gone.  Only ash remains.
      Evolution calls for a growing of complexity and diversity over time, seemingly in direct contradiction to the law of entropy.  The only explanation is that this isn't a closed system.  The darwinist would argue the decrees in entropy in evolution is attributable to increased entropy elsewhere, namely the sun and to a much lesser extent the earth.  However, just think about that.  What is really more impressive?  A universe simply snapped into existence with all the complexities already in place or a universe which gradually unfolds in time with the capacity to grow in complexity despite a tendency towards ciaos?  The second one calls out for God with far greater subtlety, but it calls out for a God far more worthy of being called out to.
      The second problem is easier to express and harder to refute.  Evolution is a process.  By definition it has to start somewhere.  You can't have infinite regression.  This is an old argument, but it still works just as well.  There must be a first mover, an uncaused cause, to set the entire process in motion.  Darwinism can't account for this.  In Catholic theology this is the very definition of God, the first mover, the uncaused cause.  Evolution can't tell me if God really is personal or loving or even sentient, but it tells me God exists.
      Creationism and evolution both call out for God, they just do it in different ways.  Creationism is more blatant, evolution is more subtle.  Creationism is in a hurry, evolution is more patient.  While creationism screams for God's existence, evolution suffices with a whisper.
      Intelligent design can be taken on multiple levels, but at it's core it simply says there is a reason for existence beyond random chance, that there is a God who is sentient and who designed the laws by which our universe functions.  It allows for meaning and purpose in existence.  It says there is more than just what we see.  Although it is usually paired with creationism, there is no reason to reject evolution as the means for this intelligent design. 

      I won't say creationism is a legitimate scientific theory, but there are many very intelligent people who embrace it.  I think creationists are wrong, but they do have some good arguments, and they keep evolutionists honest.  They even expose serious flaws in the theory of evolution which might otherwise go undressed.  However, when all is said and done, i thing the hard scientific evidence supports evolution.  In addition, when you contemplate how God has worked through history, evolution seems to fit better.  God didn't just just snap Israel into existence; he started with one guy and grew it into a family and then a tribe and then a nation and a kingdom.  Out of Israel He brought the Church, starting with the twelve disciples and growing it like a mustard seed into the billion strong liturgical empire we have today.  God created a temporal universe in order to lay foundations and build on them over time.  If He follows this pattern in recorded history, why not in prerecorded history?
      When all is said and done, i think creationists make the same mistake as darwinists.  They confuse natural science with theology.  Creationists and darwinists fail to realize that these things have different ends.  Natural science wants to understand how we got here and evolution provides an answer.  Theology tries to explain why we are here and evolution cannot answer this question, only God can.  The fatal flaw of darwinism is looking to natural science when the answers can't be found in nature.  The fatal flaw of creationism is the exact opposite.  The Bible has history in it, but it is not by its natural a historical textbook.  The purpose of the Bible is to answer theological questions, the questions of why.
      Evolution can tell us how we got here, but it cannot tell us why we are here.  The Bible doesn't say how God made us, only that God made us.  The Bible tells us we are made in the image of God, to manifest His authority on earth.  The Bible tells us we are here to glorify Him by loving one another.  It tells us how to find the meaning of existence, the purpose of our being, true happiness and fulfillment.

      I guess, for creationists, that's just not enough. 

<< - To Part I

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