Kevin Phillips was a Republican Party activist and strategist about four decades ago. Then he moved left. By the early 1980s his views became good copy for liberal writers, since he could be presented as a “Republican strategist” who was saying negative things about the Republican Party.
When one realizes that his news appeal is mainly as a critic of one’s own side, the temptation is to let the inaccurate trope continue. And so Phillips did for decades, until eventually — after years of attacking the GOP and defending Democrats, as if he were doing so for the first time — the media gave up the moniker and stopped quoting him. Either Phillips finally pointed out the phony premise or reporters figured out that you can only keep a ruse going so long.
A very similar thing goes on with Dr. Francisco Ayala, a “former Dominican priest” who is an evolutionary biologist at UC Irvine. Over and over, he is cited in news stories, not as an authority on evolutionary theory, but on the Catholic Church’s views on same. In a story by Steve Lopez in the L.A. Times he once again deplores the idea of intelligent design. “‘If we believe in God as the omnipotent and benevolent creator,’ said Ayala, ‘and that God designed human beings, he would have a lot to answer for.'”
This is a subtle device for putting the Church in a bad light, of course, while criticizing intelligent design on the grounds of the well-trod theological “problem of evil.” Ayala knows this. Lopez, the reporter, surely must know it, too. Only the gullible reader doesn’t know it. So this use of Ayala as an implicit Catholic spokesman, when there is no evidence he is a believing Catholic anymore (he makes a point of not answering that question), looks like a cheap journalistic trick.
A proper editor for articles like Lopez’s might ask, Since Ayala is only a “former” priest, how about getting the Catholic view from a current priest — like, say, the head of the Church?
Last month, as part of a call to evangelize an increasingly materialistic culture, Pope Benedict XVI told his regular Wednesday audience that we should restore “to our contemporaries the ability to contemplate creation, its beauty, its structure. The world is not a shapeless mass, but the more we know, the more we discover the amazing mechanisms, the more we see a pattern, we see that there is a creative intelligence.”
Think about it: how could the Catholic Church deny that God in some way created the universe, the world and man? What would be left of the Church?
As for the problem of evil, the pope and many other theologians have covered it often. Ask yourself also: did difficulties with accepting Church doctrine possibly have something to do with Ayala becoming a “former” priest, rather than a practicing one? Might he not at some time own up to this and stop allowing himself (or encouraging himself) to be part of a fraudulent representation of Church doctrine?
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