Responding to “Thomist” Critics of Intelligent Design

Preliminary Matters I’m currently editing a volume called God and Evolution that deals with the general subject of theistic evolution (to be released by Discovery Institute this fall), and I am contributing a couple of chapters to the volume on Catholicism and ID. I’m also working on a book-length treatment of the same subject. As a result, over the last six months, I’ve been studying the relationship between Catholic theology and contemporary arguments for intelligent design. Various “Catholic” assessments of ID have been appearing on for years, and no doubt will continue to do so. (See this 2007 article from the New Oxford Review, for instance.) But recently, a certain “meme” has begun to emerge that ID is somehow un-Catholic, Read More ›

Right for the Wrong Reasons: Michael Zimmerman Ignores the Science that Challenges Evolution (Updated)

Michael Zimmerman, the biologist who founded the pro-theistic evolution “Clergy Letter Project,” has an op-ed at the Huffington Post, “Redefining The Creation/Evolution Controversy,” which poses the following question: What do the following have in common? A. Sarah Palin’s claim that health care reform will lead to “death panels.” B. The birthers’ claim that President Obama was born in Kenya. C. The constant refrain that the evolution/creation controversy is a battle between religion and science. The simple answer is that there is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that each statement is false while proponents of each hope that the frequency and volume of repetition substitutes for truth. Of course Zimmerman is right to highlight the inaccuracy of saying “the evolution/creation controversy is a Read More ›

At University of Arizona, a “Face Off”on Intelligent Design?

We were delighted to discover that students at the University of Arizona are getting a well-rounded education. “Evolution, Intelligent Design Face Off at Humanities Panel,” reports the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Hey great, finally a serious academic institution is taking the time to make sure kids hear both sides of the evolution debate! Reading down the article we noticed only a couple of things they might have been done differently and better. The panel at UA included an evolutionary biologist and two religious studies profs, but no one actually representing the ID side. Only ID critics were allowed to participate. Well, that is disappointing. It’s like staging a “debate” between the Democratic and Republican contenders for a particular public office but Read More ›

The View From Planet Ayala

Francisco J. Ayala, a biologist at U.C. Irvine who has won the 2010 Templeton Prize, is known for his attacks on intelligent design. He even tars it as a kind of “blasphemy” because ID would allow the attribution of intent and purpose to a designer guiding the development of life. What an odd thing to say. That would make most mainstream theology in Christianity and Judaism “blasphemous” too. You would expect that before using such a hyper-charged word, a distinguished guy like Dr. Ayala would take the time to think a little more carefully. With Ayala, that expectation is often doomed to be disappointed. Thus as readers may recall, when he accepted an invitation to critique Stephen Meyer’s recent book, Read More ›

“Smooth Words” from Francisco Ayala

Francisco J. Ayala, biologist and former Dominican priest, has won this year’s Templeton Prize. Valued at $1.53 million, the prize has sought to reward serious thought, writing and research pointing the way to a reconciliation of science and faith. In Ayala’s case, for “science” read “Darwinism.” So a word or two is in order about the faith of Dr. Ayala. Advocates of a supposedly religion-friendly Darwinism have seized on the idea of God’s acting through secondary causes. In his book Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion, Ayala argues that since God acts through intermediate causation to create geological features (mountains, rivers), why may the same analysis not be applied to the evolution of life? In the latter context, he insists Read More ›