Daily Archives: March 3, 2009

"We know McCain’s pro-life because Brownback endorsed him"

But Brownback has now endorsed his governor, Kathleen Sebelius, as secretary of Health and Human Services.


Is Aristotle’s Metaphysics a work of intelligent design?

The other night, while reading the “latest” article on Gregorian University’s Darwin Conference, I came across this website called www.intelligentdesign.net. It is a very anti-ID site that, while accusing ID supporters of various misrepresentations, lies and manipulations, itself engages in the same tactics. I e-mailed the webmaster with the following critique. The e-mail bounced back, so here it is:

The problem is that both Darwinists and Creationists engage indeception and misrepresentation to make their cases. For example, youcall your website, “intelligentdesign.net,” which misleads people whothink they are finding a site *in favor of* intelligent design, andanyone with a modicum of college education should know that the bestway to learn about a belief system is to read what the proponentsreally say.
You start off with this statement:”Since this supernatural force is presumably outside the limits ofhuman comprehension, it cannot be a proper subject of science. “Yes and no. First of all, science, strictly speaking, is about directobservation of material phenomena.
You are using the wrong criterion for the limitations of science. Thelimitation of science is what we can know empirically based uponobservation. The more accurate way to phrase it would be, “Bydefinition, a supernatural force would not be the proper subject ofscience, in that science can only deal with what is natural.” Theerror of Darwinists (I am distinguishing between Darwinism as aphilosophy and evolution as a scientific theory) is that Darwinistspractice philosophy under the guise of science. They say, “Sciencehas discovered X. This disproves God, because Y.” If you tell methat a toucan evolved from a bluebird, that doesn’t tell me–on thesurface–anything about God. It tells me about toucans and bluebirds.
The limitation of science is empiricism. The limitation of theologyis revelation. Philosophy is the discipline of applying human reasonto evidence to see what we can discern from that evidence beyond itsface value.
Now, the second problem with the above statement is that you say the”supernatural force is . . . outside the limits of humancomprehension.” That carries with it several flaws.
God as such is outside the limits of human comprehension. Whether Godexists is certainly not. DNA is outside the limits of mycomprehension. I know DNA exists. I know what it does. But I cannotfathom the complexity of the human genome.
There may be some scientific savant who is capable of not onlymemorizing the human genome but visualizing it and considering it inits entirety. There are especially gifted mystics who come fartherthan most people think possible in probing the Divine.
But, for most of us, both things are “incomprehensible” in scope.That does not mean we cannot know them.
However, again, I agree with your assessment that God is outside therealm of science, just disagree with your reasoning.
As a Catholic, I have long looked at this debate only superficially.I see the creationism/Darwinsim debate as the limited field of a bunchof extremists on both sides, both of whom are ignorant of philosophy.The more I’ve learned about ID, though, I’ve become intrigued.Recently, because of the film _Expelled_ and the Vatican conference onevolution, I’ve been trying to find out more about ID.
I came to your website seeking an answer to a question about what,exactly, constitutes ID. Atheists claim that ID is “repackagedcreationism,” yet, when I heard ID people talk, it sounds like they’remerely practicing metaphysics.
Your website confirms my pre-existing conception: the term”Intelligent Design” is used as a catch-all for any system which triesto argue, from scientific evidence, in favor of a Creator.
On one end of the spectrum, ID is “repackaged creationism” becauseboth sets of extremists–the Fundamentalists and the Darwinists–haveallowed the arguments of “scientific creationism”. Here, you insistthat ID is “not a theory but the negation of a theory.” You claimthat ID consists in nothing more than denying evidence in favor of anold earth , evolution, etc.
However, later on, you contradict yourself:”In the abstract, the idea of intelligent design neither contradictsevolution nor supports Biblical creationism. Michael Behe, aChristian biology professor whose book Darwin’s Black Box has put himat the forefront of the intelligent design movement, does not disputeevolution, an old earth, or the common descent of man and otherprimates.”My understanding was that _Darwin’s Black Box_ is the definitive bookon “intelligent design.”
“As a synonym for ‘couldn’t have evolved,’ irreducible complexitydemonstrates nothing more than incomplete knowledge and lack ofimagination. “That’s funny. I think that atheism demonstrates nothing more thanincomplete knowledge and lack of imagination.
You even admit that “irreducible complexity” pre-dates Darwin. It isthe foundation of Christian philosophy, and, indeed, the foundation ofpre-Christian philosophy.There are always new questions to be asked. You are saying, inessence, that we are not allowed to ask those questions, that *asking*those questions is somehow anti-intellectual.
This leads me to the question in my subject header: is Aristotle’s_Metaphysics_ a work of “intelligent design”?
Until Darwin, people had the curiosity to keep asking “Why?”
Yes, historically, religious “fundamentalists” have often impeded thequestion “Why?” By saying, “Look to the Bible” or whatever. Afterall, the Greeks had their own religion, and the early philosopherswere challenged for asking “Why?”
But science as we know it, inquiry as we know it, grew up in theCatholic Church. It takes the Catholic view of the world for scienceto flourish. How many great discoveries have been made by people offaith? (mainly Catholics?) How many great discoveries have been madeby atheists?
The ready answer would be that the Church ruled Europe for about 1500years and/or that most people in universities were priests. However,those priests could have easily stuck to the model practiced by mostother religions–and by European schools in the so-called “DarkAges”–and stuck to theology.
But they didn’t. They wanted to know about science.
They said that the Universe has a Creator, and we can and should knowHim through it. That it is a sin to reject what science can teach us.They said that Jesus is the Truth, and that all truth is a way to knowJesus better.
What both fundamentalists and atheists lack is Wonder. They do notwant to ask the deeper questions. They both want easy answers.
Continuing on through the website shows more of the same. You do agood job of “debunking” some of the strategies implied byCreationists, but you engage in the same kind of strategy by equatinganyone who sees God’s hand in science with those who deny scienceoutright.
You claim that Christians “demonize” Darwinists by saying that mostpeople who push evolution are atheists. Yet you seem to use the term”Christian” and “fundamentalist Christian” interchangeably. You saythat ID supporters never do anything but refute. Your website doesnothing but refute. You give no presentation of what your worldviewis nor of what your own agenda might be.
There are several other points I might specifically argue, but I’vealready provided more than enough material for your response. My corequestion/challenge is this: what do you believe are the proper rolesand relationships of science, philosophy and theology?

Pax et bonum,
John C. Hathaway

Keeping the Sabbath

A question for “Fr. Z.” at “What does the Prayer Really Say” regarding how much of Mass is necessary to attend when caring for a young toddler got me thinking about Sundays.

Around here, Sunday Mass often seems like a rare privilege. There was a Sunday recently where we actually made it on time, and I could barely remember what to do.

But since a) parents of young children and b) those who are seriously ill are exempt from Sunday obligation, I always figure that whatever we can get in, counts.

Anyway, because of this, and becuase of our desire to live the Gospel as fully as we can, we usually try to make Sunday holy in other ways, to both make up for our struggles with Mass and go beyond the Minimum Daily Requirements of following the Commandments.

Here are the usual guidelines for our Sundays:
1. No shopping or dining out. The latter is the most frequently violated, but usually only if we *have* attended evening Mass, and there’s no time or energy left to cook. The other exception is Sundays when something happeens like someone’s glasses break.
2. No secular TV before the evening. _Veggietales_ or _Superbook_ is fine. EWTN better. Usually, I put together a playlist of religious (ranging from Gregorian chant to Bach to classic hymns to contemporary Christian), and/or instrumental music.
3. I put up Savior.org or the St. Martin of Tours webcam (sometimes both) on the living room HDTV/computer screen.
4. We try to read the readings at home :definitely the Sunday readings of the week (lately, we’ve been listening to the NAB podcast). But, as frequent readers of this blog know, I like to explore the Byzantine and Tridentine lectinoaries, as well as the alternate years of the 3-year cycle.
5. We always say lauds and vespers on Sundays, even if we’re bad other days.
6. Of course, any other devotions we can fit in around the kids.
7. Since it is the only day that “nothing else is going on,” we usually try to watch some family TV later on Sunday evening, before the kids go to bed. This can be secular.

Any other suggestions/family traditions for keeping Sundays?

Spiritual Exercises, Day 2

Can he send him to the US?

Sadly, Pope Benedict XVI has withdrawn the episcopal appointment of Fr. Gerhard Maria Wagner. I guess we shouldn’t be expecting any promotions of Fr. Groeschel or Fr. Corapi (not that either one’s health would permit it).

Actually, what’s interesting is that the New York Times article indicates that Fr. Wagner himself requested it, pointing to the humility of this priest who has already proven himself to have prophetic zeal.

There was a time when it was considered OK for a bishop to be a prophet. We all know St. Martin of Tours for the famous story of giving a pauper half his official cloak when he was a Roman soldier. I was always under the impression he was a martyr. Actually, he was a priest and bishop for quite some time after leaving the Legions, and one of his claims to fame as a bishop was burning down pagan temples.

That wouldn’t go over well today. Today, you merely suggest that hurricanes are punishments from God, and you’re roundly mocked as a kook.

Denied the opportunity to get experimental umbilical stem cell treatment by the FDA, family will go to China

Montana’s Personhood Amendment passes state senate.