Friday, February 04, 2005

Catholics promote evolution

CNS STORY: Church needs better evolution education, says bishops' official:

“It is wise to encourage an understanding of Scripture consistent with what we know (or think we know) in the 21st century,” he said.

Byers, currently executive director of the bishops' Committee on the Home Missions, called evolution “one of the hottest battlegrounds between science and religion.”

Evolutionary theory by itself “does not necessarily support any philosophical or theological generalizations,” he said. “Arguments that evolution disproves God's existence or humanity's spiritual dimension are simply wrongheaded.”

We can only hope. The Catholic Ms. TfK and I were discussing this, and she felt like the story of Thomas presents the problem with non-naturalistic attempts at science.

Thomas says “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” His faith requires personal proof, not the simple faith. The resurrected Jesus appears to him, and allows him to touch the wounds. Thomas is sufficiently impressed, and Jesus says “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

For a simple form of the argument, turn to your The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and the way the Babelfish (which automatically translates any language) disproves God:

Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the NON-existence of God.

The argument goes like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

'But,' says Man, 'The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'

'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.

Or maybe I really like Douglas Adams.

Ms. TfK argues that since religious faith operates most truly when it does not demand proof, it is irreligious to demand that religious principles be subjected to the standards of science, as ID advocates would do.

I've been working on the same argument from Job, but I'll let that bubble away for a little while.