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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Catholic Church: And two and one half understandings of ID

I will blog on the Catholic Church’s position on intelligent design in more detail later, when I get a chance to get all my links together, but for now:

There are currently two and one half understandings of ID:

1. The specific ideas of biochemist Michael Behe and mathematician Bill Dembski (irreducible complexity and specified complexity) may provide evidence of a level of information in life forms that cannot be explained by the chance interactions of physical laws.

Behe’s or Dembski’s thesis may be correct. Or may not. Even if both are incorrect, correct theses may arise from another quarter.

Surely, the Catholic Church was never going to throw its institutional weight behind either of these theses, as I have pointed out in at least one earlier post. Why should it? Such theses stand or fall in their own arenas in their own good time. The Church has learned at least that much in the age of science.

2. The universe and life forms show evidence of intelligent design in principle? That is not something the Catholic Church can oppose. The entire Bible depends on that idea. Jews and Muslims agree with it, and so did key Greek philosophers, as indeed have most philosophers throughout history. (They disagreed about what, who, how, where, when, and why, but few disagreed about the fact of design until fairly recently.)

For a while, Darwinism looked like it might provide a creation story for post-Enlightenment atheism, ... but maybe not.

½. Oh yes, the half idea. The Western media, desperately co-dependent with materialism, have in mind some monster that is a hybrid between the two ideas above. Thus, if the Catholic Church says that Darwin’s theory of evolution does not account for the key elements of the human story, that means that the Catholic Church thinks that Behe or Dembski are, specifically, right - or that evolution doesn’t happen. Or that the earth was created in 144 hours. Or that Jerry Falwell and Jim Dobson should rule. Or something.

Hey, the sky ain’t falling, folks. All that is happening is that the Catholic Church is reasserting the traditional Christian position that the universe and life forms show detectible evidence of intelligent design, as in “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord”. Why would anyone expect it to do anything else?
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
Blog policy note:Comments are permitted on this blog, but they are moderated. Fully anonymous posts and URLs posted without comment are rarely accepted. To Mr. Anonymous: I'm not psychic, so if you won't tell me who you are, I can't guess and don't care. To Mr. Nude World (URL): If you can't be bothered telling site visitors why they should go on to your fave site next, why should I post your comment? They're all busy people, like you. To Mr. Rudeby International and Mr. Pottymouth: I also have a tendency to delete comments that are merely offensive. Go be offensive to someone who can smack you a good one upside the head. That may provide you with a needed incentive to stop and think about what you are trying to accomplish. To Mr. Righteous but Wrong: I don't publish comments that contain known or probable factual errors. There's already enough widely repeated misinformation out there, and if you don't have the time to do your homework, I don't either. To those who write to announce that at death I will either 1) disintegrate into nothingness or 2) go to Hell by a fast post, please pester someone else. I am a Catholic in communion with the Church and haven't the time for either village atheism or aimless Jesus-hollering.

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