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Science and the Church: What it means to question Darwinism

Herbert London

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Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, the Catholic archbishop of Vienna, recently caused a firestorm in intellectual circles when he made the rather obvious argument that Darwinism has many unexplained characteristics. The New York Times responded reflexively by suggesting that the Church was turning away from "modern science."

This is a discussion surrounded by a conundrum: much of the science of Darwinism is surmise. Even something as seemingly simple as what people mean when we use the word evolution is fraught with controversy.

Cardinal Schonborn brought this out when he wrote, "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinism sense--an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection--is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science."

In today's discussions, words such as "evolution," "random," and "design" are fraught with contested meaning. What the cardinal appears to have been trying to say is that various forms of natural phenomena suggest, even if they do not offer proof in themselves, that intelligent design or providential will, cannot be dismissed out of hand on an a priori basis.

Read the entire article on the Crux Magazine website (new window will open).

Posted: 28-Jan-06



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