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Evolution: A Word We Can All Love

According to Neo-Darwinism, once the first lusty cell leapt onto the stage of the world, purely impersonal, material processes reigned — a blind watchmaker and less than blind. It was a mindless mechanism. This is quite different from the teleological evolution that some, including the Catholic Church, have considered a possibility. Darwininian evolution possesses no distant goal nor is man the twinkle in the eye of any god.

This distinction between directed and undirected evolution is commonly blurred by Darwinists and the MSM who love them. Consider the following comment in the Wisconsin State Journal by molecular biologist Sean Carroll:

The problem with the debate, Carroll said, is that little notice is given in the media to the many, including clergy and even the late Pope John Paul II, who believe evolution and belief in a higher power are not contradictory.

“I was taught evolution by Catholic priests,” Carroll said. “And I never realized there was a problem.”

“Little notice?” As a molecular biologist, Carroll is kept extraordinarily busy plumbing the intricate riches of the cellular world, so it’s not surprising he hasn’t heard the MSM’s drumbeat of propaganda reassuring Americans that “evolution” and Christian theism go hand in hand.

However, he is trained in evolutionary theory, so he knows better than most the enormous gulf between the idea of directed evolution and Neo-Darwinism’s story of life evolving strictly by undirected causes like natural selection.

An essential component to a clear and civil debate is the use of precise terms central to the debate. Journalists should be the first to insist on such clarity, dispensing with vacuous definitions like this one that recently appeared in The Kansas City Star:

Evolution … says species change in response to environmental and genetic factors over the course of many generations.

The Greeks of Homer’s day, I’m told, were about our height. Those of the Middle Ages were much shorter. Now they’re taller again. If that’s the modern theory of evolution, we can all pack our bags and go home. But Neo-Darwinism is much more ambitious than that, more ambitious even than Rudyard Kipling’s fanciful Just So Stories about how the leopard got his spots, or the whale his throat. It tells how the amoeba became a man, one little undirected step at a time. It’s an extraordinarily imaginative story, and one every child should learn in full — the whole big fish.

Update: Mark Ryland provided an excellent summary of the Catholic Church’s view of teleological evolution: “IF, as most scientists claim, evolution/universal common descent happened, THEN it was guided, because design is (self-)evident in Nature, including biology.” Notice in that summary both the IF, and the fact that the Catholic Church is here considering directed rather than undirected evolution.

Jonathan Witt

Executive Editor, Discovery Institute Press and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Jonathan Witt, PhD, is Executive Editor of Discovery Institute Press and a senior fellow and senior project manager with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. His latest book is Heretic: One Scientist’s Journey from Darwin to Design (DI Press, 2018) written with Finnish bioengineer Matti Leisola. Witt has also authored co-authored Intelligent Design Uncensored, A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature, and The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot. Witt is the lead writer and associate producer for Poverty, Inc., winner of the $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award and recipient of over 50 international film festival honors.