Catholic Church and Intelligent Design

The Catholic Church has not been in the forefront of religous groups who have opposed evolution, but recent comments have been to say the least ambigous. Today there was a report in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that endorsed the ruling in the Dover, PA intelligent design case. The Church is uncomfortable with the attempts of some scientists to use evolution to justify atheism, but seems to accept that science is a respectable and valuable activity.

Schoenborn later made it clear the Church accepted evolution as solid science but objected to the way some Darwinists concluded that it proved God did not exist and could “explain everything from the Big Bang to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.”

Science keeps pushing into areas of knowledge where the church once claimed authority, and it is a losing battle to dispute areas where science has converged on an answer, but I do not believe that science can prove or disprove the existence of God. 

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3 Responses to “Catholic Church and Intelligent Design”

  1. If you are interested in more information on Cardinal Schonborn, as well as his views and ongoing contributions to this debate, you might be interested in visited the site/blog I direct:



  2. The Catholic Church does have a mixed record on science historically–they fostered astronomy so that they could calculate when Easter should fall, but then they excommunicated Galileo. Then there’s the thing about having to accept that 3 = 1 (the divine trinity is one entity), which goes against basic logic–the acceptance of this does not foster critical thinking. But then the Jesuits are responsible for so many fine institutions of learning. And though I didn’t attend Jesuit schools, I did have nine years of Catholic schooling that prepared me well to study physics at university and graduate school. And trying to understand the contradictions helped me to develop a healthy sense of humor.

  3. Sam Osborne Says:

    The importance of the concept of evolution to science developed over many decades. It was only when its efficacy became important to a wide array of scientific pursuits (from genetics, to paleontology, to agronomy, etc.) that there was an understanding that it needed to be presented to young people who might contribute to an advancing scientific and technological society.

    If over time intelligent design were to demonstrate a similar utility, it too would become common fare in education. However it would somehow have to first shed its non-scientific point of departure.

    It suffers from an a-priori over posteriori outlook. It pulls from an apples-for-oranges bag of assertions a contention that places the “effect” before the “cause” (a priori in place of a posteriori) and presented it as self-evident. Like all a-priori concepts, intelligent design fails the test of utility.

    Intelligent design neither offers a foundation from which to conduct basic scientific research, nor suggests a technical application to the solution of some practical problem. “Intelligent design” is one of those circular contentions that pretend to say something by repeating the same thing in slightly different form.

    In demonstration of the tautological nature of this specious concept, one might be privy to a conversation about a child’s intelligence, Johnny’s: “Johnny is intelligent.” “Oh, how do you know?” “He did well on his intelligence test.” “Oh, why did he do well on his intelligence test?” “Because he is very intelligent.” “Oh, how do you know?” “Because….”

    In the field of psychological testing, the effort to measure intelligence as some kind of innate global capacity has largely given way to a more utilitarian effort to predict future behavior from a test sample of current behavior, à la aptitude tests such as the ACT and SAT. This trend might encourage proponents of intelligent design to settle on God just having a great aptitude for creating universes.

    However, the words “aptitude” and “intelligent design” will not be found in the Bible. Thus, to use either of them in explanation of the Creative Ways of God one has to interpret Scripture in light of information obtained from non-Biblical sources.

    If this is theologically acceptable to see a root for intelligent design in Scripture, it should be Biblically sound (inerrant) to also find that evolution is outlined in Scripture. To this purpose one might cite Genesis 1:20-24: on the fourth day God filled the waters of earth with abundant life and then on the fifth day He had this life “creepeth” upon the land. After all, some evolutionary biologists suggest that terrestrial creatures got their start in water.

    But to me, to pass science off as religion or religion off as science is wrongheaded. In addition, some of us religious folks may take offense at having our deeply held faith. But even more important it is a threat to our freedom of conscience.

    Within his first encyclical since being elevated to the Chair of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI uses some words that echo the United States Constitution’s 1st and 14th Amendment guarantee of freedom from State sponsored religion. In this moving epistle on the faithful leading lives within God’s gift of love, Deus Caritas Est, the supreme pontiff writes, “The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between followers of different religions.”

    Counter to this, some religious zealots are currently bent on pressuring local public school boards into requiring teachers to insert into their lesson plans a new certitude of these true believers, intelligent-design creationism. They are free to believe what they will. However, this attempt to use government to promote their religious ideology should be troubling to all people who prize freedom of conscience.

    State-sponsored proselytization is a greater threat to our religious freedom than it is a mistaken sally into the domain of science. Science has and will continue to weather all sorts of misdirected and dead-ended efforts, however our freedom of conscience may not fare so well. The override of this liberty would mark the entry of our nation into an intolerant period in which all sorts of intellectual and spiritual pursuits were subject to suppression.

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