Fear not evolution

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This is a thoughtful text, given by Dr. Stacy Trasancos and inspired by the thoughts of Stanley L. Jaki:

“Fear not evolution. In fact, go further. Catholics should not frown when people say humans evolved from atoms and primates. We should add that we evolved from the beginning. Atoms constitute the matter that makes us up, and every atom in our bodies came from the Earth, whose particles seem to have come from supernovas, whose matter and energy probably came from the earliest moments after the Big Bang. Did you ever wonder what path the ever-fluctuating particles of your body traversed in the last 4.5 billion years on Earth and the 13.8 billion years in the universe? Did you ever wonder how many other bodies all the uncountable particles in your body have occupied? (Never mind. That can be gross.)
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But evolutionary science cannot identify a first man, first woman, or original sin committed in a moment, because evolution deals with populations over thousands and millions of years. Expecting evolution to find our first parents is like expecting a bulldozer to find the first two grains of sand on a beach. Not only is it the wrong tool, it is the wrong scientific concept. We do not think of beaches forming one grain of sand at a time. So if Adam and Eve began to live, literally, as a fully grown man and woman through a miraculous act of God, or if they came to exist some other way, science can only shrug and keep on digging. A Catholic can both explore what evolutionary science has to reveal and, simultaneously, believe in the reality of Adam and Eve. What a Catholic, or anyone else, cannot do is expect evolutionary science to find them any more than chemistry or physics can find the exact location of two electrons on your nose.”

Stacy Trasancos, A 10-point primer on Faith and Science, 2016

Evolution is Accidental to Us, not to God

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“As to the Divine Design, is it not an instance of incomprehensibly and infinitely marvelous Wisdom and Design to have given certain laws to matter millions of ages ago, which have surely and precisely worked out, in the long course of those ages, those effects which He from the first proposed. Mr. Darwin’s theory need not then to be atheistical, be it true or not; it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine Prescience and Skill. Perhaps your friend has got a surer clue to guide him than I have, who have never studied the question, and I do not [see] that ‘the accidental evolution of organic beings’ is inconsistent with divine design—It is accidental to us, not to God.”

—John Henry Newman, Letter to J. Walker of Scarborough, May 22, 1868

No, evolution is not “just a theory”

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In his 2008 paper, the biologist TR Gregory explains this as follows:

The common and scientific definitions of “theory,” […] are drastically different. In daily conversation, “theory” often implicitly indicates a lack of supporting data. Indeed, introducing a statement with “My theory is…” is usually akin to saying “I guess that…”, “I would speculate that…”, or “I believe but have not attempted to demonstrate that…”. By contrast, a theory in science, again following the definition given by the [National Academy of Sciences] (NAS), is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” Science not only generates facts but seeks to explain them, and the interlocking and well-supported explanations for those facts are known as theories. Theories allow aspects of the natural world not only to be described, but to be understood. (1)

(1) Gregory TR “Evolution as Fact, Theory and Path” Evo Edu Outreach (2008) 1:46-52

Rowan Williams on God’s action in Creation

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“If God is truly the source, the ground and context of every limited, finite state of affairs, if God is the action or agency that makes everything else active, then God cannot be spoken of as one item in a list of forces active in the world. God’s action cannot be added to the action of some other agent in order to make a more effective force. And this also means that God’s action is never in competition with any particular activity inside the universe.”

Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury,
“Christ in the Heart of Creation”(2018), p.xii

Source: John ZuHone, Moon Mission, Orbiter Mag, 09 July 2019

Karl Popper: Science, Ethical Principles and Truth

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karl popperKarl Popper (28 July 1902 Vienna – 17 September 1994 London)  was an Austrian-British philosopher.

 

Searching for truth is a most relevant human value, central to the scientific enterprise. Speaking against scientism, Popper says:

“The fact that science cannot make any pronouncement about ethical principles has been misinterpreted as indicating that there are no such principles; while in fact the search for truth presupposes ethics.” [1]

This is very important. Empirical science is meaningful above all as a search for truth, and this is a central ethical value in human life. The term “truth” is one of the most frequently used in the encyclical Fides et ratio ; in the English text it appears 365 times (without counting terms derived from truth). Pope John Paul II, in a few words full of philosophical meaning, writes: “One may define the human being, therefore, as the one who seeks the truth.” (Fides et ratio, no.28)

taken from: Mariano Artigas, The Mind of the Universe – Understanding Science and Religion, 2002

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Reference:

[1] Sir Karl Popper, Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind. In: “Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge.” (eds: Radnitzky, G. et Bartley III, W.W.; La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing, 1987), p. 141.

John Calvin on Creation and Scriptures

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The whole point of scripture is to bring us to a knowledge of Christ – and having come to know him (and all that this implies), we should come to a halt and not expect to learn more. Scripture provides us with spectacles through which we may view the world as God’s creation and self-expression; it does not, and was never intended, to provide us with an infallible repository of astronomical and medical information.

John Calvin, Reformed Theologian, 1509-1564

John Henry Newman on the theory of evolution

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On 22 May 1868, John Henry Newman wrote a letter to the canon J. Walker, an acquaintance, in which he mentioned that the theory of biological evolution was not opposed to Christian faith in a Creator. He wrote: “I do not fear the theory… It does not seem to me to follow that creation is denied because the Creator, millions of years ago, gave laws to matter. He first created matter and then he created laws for it — laws which should construct it into its present wonderful beauty, and accurate adjustment and harmony of parts gradually. We do not deny or circumscribe the Creator, because we hold he has created the self acting originating human mind, which has almost a creative gift; much less then do we deny or circumscribe His power, if we hold that He gave matter such laws as by their blind instrumentality molded and constructed through innumerable ages the world as we see it.”

Read the letter here:  

Karl Barth on the compatibility of Genesis and Evolution

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Karl Barth (10 May 1886 – 10 December 1968) was  one of the principal Reformed Protestant theologians of the 20th century and the chief exponent of dialectical theology. He had a determining influence on how the relationship between faith and reason is conceived. Barth reinforced the Lutheran view of reason’s total incapacity to reach a natural understanding of God, rejecting every analogia entis (analogy of being) in discussing God, as well as the inadequacy of every religious experience to contribute to faith in Christ. However, he had the great merit of emphasizing a radical theological Christocentrism, bridging the gap with the theology of the Fathers of Church.

In 1965, his niece asked him on the compatibility of creation and evolution, and he wrote to her:

“The creation story deals only with the becoming of all things, and therefore with the revelation of God, which is inaccessible to science as such. The theory of evolution deals with what has become, as it appears to human observation and research and as it invites human interpretation. Thus one’s attitude to the creation story and the theory of evolution can take the form of an either/or only if one shuts oneself off completely from faith in God’s revelation or from the mind (or opportunity) for scientific understanding.”

Karl Barth on creation and evolution

Sources:

Inters.org
Wyatt Houtz, Karl Barth says Yes to Creation and Evolution