There are several reasons that some theists remain reluctant to dispute the Darwinian account of life’s origins — and man’s origins. For one, they imagine that the scientific case for neo-Darwinism is stronger than it is. And they are afraid that religion will get another black eye if a “scientific consensus” is challenged. Fortunately, recent scientific developments suggest that these obstacles are crumbling.
However, another obstacle, especially one for Catholics who prize the voice of the Magisterium, has been fear of countering what they imagine is St. Thomas Aquinas’ acceptance of evolution through secondary causes.
In an earlier book, Catholicism and Evolution: Catholicism and Evolution: A History from Darwin to Pope Francis (Angelico Press), Father Michael Chaberek, O.P., demonstrated that the Church long opposed Darwinian thinking and only in recent decades has sounded an uncertain trumpet on the subject. Father James Schall, S.J., Georgetown University (Emeritus), says this of Father Chaberek’s influential message:
…[T]his book proposes that the “intrinsic design” evidence that comes out of research in biology and genetics in particular no longer allows, on scientific — not religious — grounds, an easy relation between those forms of evolution based on chance and random selectivity with what really happened with the appearance of the world and man in reality….Uncritical Catholic acceptance of forms of evolutionism has often prevented us from seeing the real “logos” that we find in things and in their origins.
Now, Father Chaberek is back with Aquinas and Evolution (Chartwell Press), a direct reply to those modern Thomists who want to make peace with “evolution” (by which they mean neo-Darwinism), showing that the Angelic Doctor cannot be squared with what has become known as “theistic evolution,” but that his teaching is compatible with “intelligent design.”
The subject makes a lot of difference to a world that is almost overcome by reductionism and materialism.
Image: St. Thomas Aquinas, fresco, Cappellone degli Spagnoli, by Andrea di Bonaiuto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.