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Darwinism, Intelligent Design, and the Catholic Church

Darwinists ask us to trust them in their role as historical scientists. All the while many of them appear incapable of accurately interpreting even very recent historical events. I’m thinking of their understanding of recent Vatican statements about Darwinism and design. We’re frequently reassured by Darwinists and their trusting messengers in the mainstream media that the Catholic church is absolutely on board the Darwinian juggernaut, and that the new pope hasn’t bought into anything as gauche as Darwin doubting, much less anything as Medieval as thinking there is clear evidence of intelligent design in nature.

But then the pope hauls off and appoints an outspoken proponent of intelligent design as archbishop of the Catholic diocese of Washington DC, one of the “red hat” dioceses of the US.

The action merely confirms what the Vatican has been stating explicitly for years, feverish media spin to the contrary notwithstanding. In this month’s Touchstone, Martin Hilbert (who holds a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science) sorts out Catholic views on Darwinian evolution:

The church does not pretend to give scientific answers to biological questions. But it does point out that some Darwinist claims are mere materialist metaphysics pretending to be science, because it knows that were it to remain silent on a truth–the nature of man–that has been entrusted to it by God, that truth would soon disappear, only to be replaced by the ever-changing dogmas of a materialist science.

Even so, the Catholic church has been surprisingly sparing in its pronouncements on the subject, given that Darwin’s theory has been used to underpin some fairly disastrous worldviews, such as Nazism and communism …. But it has made some exceptions.

He then analyzes statements by Pope Pius XII, Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Cardinal Schonborn, showing that whereas the Catholic church has no problem with the evidence for dramatic change in life forms over the course of geologic time (“evolution” more broadly understood), its leaders, including John Paul II, have rejected the full Darwinian story, particularly as it relates to humans.

Hilbert also discusses the response from Darwinist George Coyne, the head of the Vatican Observatory, and discusses the way Coyne and the media have misrepresented the Catholic position generally, and John Paul II particularly.
More on Darwinism and the Catholic church here and here.

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.