Saturday, August 13, 2005

Intelligent design

The August 5 Irish Times had an editorial (sub. required) on President Bush's views on intelligent design. The editorial linked Bush's views on what should be taught with regards to evolution and intelligent design to the Scopes trial.

The editorial featured the following:
in bowing to the religious right as he has also done on issues from stem-cell research to abortion and prayers in schools, the president has displayed a willingness to toy with Biblical fundamentalism. It is also reflected in his rhetoric of good and evil in dealing with terrorism.

Yet his views do reflect those of one third plus of the population which identifies with evangelical Christianity, the home of the electoral troops of the Republican Party.
What should or shouldn't be taught in American schools is rightfully a debate that should engage Americans. Why does the Irish Times feel the need to chime in? Only to further embed the idea that Bush is a simple-minded buffoon? Maybe, but maybe not.

In early July Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna recently wrote the following in a New York Times column:
In an unfortunate new twist on this old controversy, neo-Darwinists recently have sought to portray our new pope, Benedict XVI, as a satisfied evolutionist. They have quoted a sentence about common ancestry from a 2004 document of the International Theological Commission, pointed out that Benedict was at the time head of the commission, and concluded that the Catholic Church has no problem with the notion of "evolution" as used by mainstream biologists — that is, synonymous with neo-Darwinism.

The commission's document, however, reaffirms the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church about the reality of design in nature. Commenting on the widespread abuse of John Paul's 1996 letter on evolution, the commission cautions that "the letter cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe."

Furthermore, according to the commission, "An unguided evolutionary process — one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence — simply cannot exist."
This is the real focus for the Irish Times. The Irish Times knows full well that President Bush's views on education are nowhere near as influential in Ireland as the Catholic Church's views. The Irish Church is the real target of this piece. The Irish Times wants its readers to know that only buffoons like President Bush and "the electoral troops of the Republican Party" would believe in intelligent design.

To be honest, I don't know the details of the debate. My own view is that life on Earth evolved and is evolving, however I've always believed that this is part of God's plan. I'm not sure if my science or theology is "wrong", but it's how I've married the two. I doubt my thinking is that unusual among Catholics.