Category Archives: In the News

In this category I cover breaking news in such topics as evolution, science, God, creation, creationism, and intelligent design,particularly as they relate to supporting or contradicting the themes in “Christianity in Evolution: Discovering the Harmony of Science and Faith.”

Paul Wallace: “Intelligent Design is Dead: A Christian Perspective.”

In the Huff Post Religion section dated 1/2/12, science and religion writer and teacher Paul Wallace makes a very telling set of points about Intelligent Design (ID).  He begins by reviewing a blog by Jason Rosenhouse, who, in a Science Blogs post in November 2011, argued that ID is merely recycling its scientifically weak arguments and is hence dead, while evolutionary science continues to advance.  But Wallace then goes further, and offers “another perspective from which the folly of ID is evident.”  It is his commentary on the Christian astronomer Johannes Kepler that struck me as highly original and worthy of repeating in this post.

Kepler lived in Prague, and in 1604 was working out the elliptical orbit of Mars.  But there suddenly appeared a new star a few degrees north of Scorpius.  He and the world knew nothing of supernovas in those days.  Kepler considered some possibilities, among them an act of God, “a direct and special tinkering by the divine  hand.”  But Kepler eventually discarded that option, writing that “before we come to (special) creation, which puts an end to all discussion, I think we should try everything else.”  In other words, Kepler perceived that to  fill the gap in his knowledge with a supernatural explanation would put an end to scientific inquiry.

Kepler was patient in the face of a huge explanatory gap, an event for which he had no rational explanation.  Apparently, Wallace feels, Kepler’s serenity derived from a faith that God had created a universe that was comprehensible and whose laws were discoverable.  Wallace contrasts Kepler’s attitude with that of Michael Behe’s opinion about the bacterial flagellum.  Behe could not imagine (another explanatory gap) how Life could have piecemeal constructed the flagellum, because, in Behe’s model, the flagellum would not work unless all component parts were present at the same time.  Hence, it must have been specially created.

For Kepler, then: “The universe  has been designed; therefore it must be comprehensible.”

For Behe: “The universe is incomprehensible; therefore it must have been designed.”

Wallace writes that Kepler exemplifies a spirit of humility and great faith, while ID “reduces God to a kind of holy tinkerer.  It locates the divine in places of ignorance and obscurity.  And this gives it a defensive and fearful spirit that is out of place in Christian faith and theology.”  For these reasons, Wallace concludes that ID cannot last.

I have written that tinkering is a major force in Life’s transformations to meet changing circumstances.  How it does so is a major explanatory gap.  Is God the tinkerer?  Is there random shuffling, with natural selection the sieve?  Or does living tissue have some capacity to modify itself?  It will be interesting to see what develops.

You can access Paul Wallace’s article at huffingtonpost.com/paul-wallace/intelligent-design-is-dea_b_1175049.html

 

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Creative Reason and the Breath of Life

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Easter Vigil homily, given April 23, 2011, asserts that “Creative Reason is the Fundamental Principle of the Universe,   and Man is No Mere Late Product of Random Evolution.”  Discussing the opening words of Genesis and the Gospel of John, the Pope states that the regularly recurring phrase “And God said,” and the Logos of John indicate a creative Reason that speaks and communicates itself.  He declares “It is not the case that in the expanding universe, at a late stage, in some tiny corner of the cosmos, there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation…If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature.  But no, Reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine Reason. And because it is Reason, it also created freedom, and because freedom can be abused, there also exist forces harmful to creation.”

In his new book titled “Christianity in Evolution: Discovering the Harmony of Science and Faith,” (Cathedral Center Press, Los Angeles, 2011),  author Ralph Armstrong presents a work that strongly parallels the Pope’s homily.  Armstrong, a psychiatrist and former Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Counseling at St. John’s Roman Catholic Seminary, Camarillo, California, describes, through very close readings of molecular and evolutionary biology, a creation made intelligent and agentive by the Breath of Life.  In other words, the findings of scientific research intimate that Creative Reason, intrinsic to the Breath of Life,resides in each living creature, making Life capable of modifying itself to meet the exigencies of existence. Creative Reason, the Breath of Life, lies at the heart of the intelligence of all living.

Life, made intelligent by the Breath, by Creative Reason, has in the last seconds of geologic time evolved a humankind capable of knowing and loving God and each other.  And Life is free, and this freedom allows for conflict that extends all the way back to the first virus that attacked the first bacteria, all the way across the spectrum of living things, and all the way down to the genes, where genes are capable of acting selfishly, against the broader interests of genomes. 

Armstrong melds this worldview with orthodox Christianity as he shows how the Fall of Adam and Eve in the domain of Heaven translates into an Earthly domain rife with conflict.  He then describes how God, not about to idly stand by as his creation wars with itself, intervenes in the manner described in the Old and New Testaments.  In the last three chapters of the book, Armstrong discusses prayer, offers a novel and unique theodicy, and closes with a discussion of some very new science about how we relate to each other, and how this affects the future of Christianity.

The complete article regarding the Pope’s homily can be found at http://www.larouchepac.com/print/18028

 

 

 

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