Catholics have no theological problem in believing that many changes have been made, provided it is granted that God is the ultimate cause of them, and that God is the direct creator of the human soul. Catholics, of course, like all human beings, may also have their own scientific opinions on many of these matters.
However, many scientists and their followers have denied these two theological provisos. Some of these people say that these changes came about by chance. Charles Darwin, the most famous evolutionist, seems to have believed in God but to have thought that God fixed the laws of nature and then left them on their own; thus Darwin had to leave God out of the picture when discussing the origin of life, the change of one species of life into another, and the beginning of the human race. Some scientists also think that the universe came to be by chance, or that it has always been in existence in some less well-developed form.
There are scientists today who have shown that the universe is only a few billion years old, starting from a minute but extremely compressed matter and energy, and that we know of only one universe. Thus one cannot argue that, since the universe is eternal and there are billions of universes, anything could have happened by chance. It is also beyond belief that out of the matter of the universe could have come life, sensation, intelligence, free will, conscience, and morality, even if the matter of the universe were eternal.
A group of American scientists have shown, not through theology or philosophy, but through the science of statistics, that the conditions necessary for the beginning of life on earth are so complicated that the overwhelming scientific conclusion is that it was the work of an intelligent being. The same is true not only of the beginning of life but also of many of the changes made in living beings.
The basic problem is that some scientists claim that truth in these matters can be found only by their science; they deny that there are other ways of knowing, such as by God speaking to us, or philosophers deriving truths from thought passing beyond the "scientific dogma" that everything is material.
The most popular theory concerning the origin of the universe, the "Big Bang Theory" already mentioned, says that originally the universe was contained in a very small compressed state of matter and energy. I fail to see how anyone accepting this theory could believe anything except that this original state was created directly by God. And biology and paleontology so far have failed to show that any living species was derived from another species. And they are not able to explain how intelligence was produced from unintelligent material beings without an intelligence agent having been responsible, and an intelligent agent of a very high order indeed, with tremendous power, that is, a Creator.
If we posit a Creator, none of these so-called problems are problems. If we deny a Creator, they are not only problems but insoluble problems. Of course a great many scientists today, including biologists and paleontologists, do believe in God; so the theory that knowledge is possible only of terrestrial beings is not accepted by scientists in general.
It cannot be denied however that in the nineteenth century the writings of evolutionists such as Darwin and Huxley did a lot to weaken Christian faith. But today there's no need to fear evolutionists. The great danger today in biology is researchers producing human beings to experiment with them and then to destroy them. And many of these researchers say that they believe in God. What is at stake is not truth so much as obedience to the Fifth Commandment.
Fr. Kennedy is a teacher of philosophy; he resides in Toronto.
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|Author:||Kennedy, Leonard A.|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2003|
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