Devolution of Metaphysics and Metaphysics of Evolution

Damian P. Fedoryka

The Lord's enigmatic statement that some "have ears so that they will not hear" would pose an objective conundrum for the evolutionist that would hear His words. For what is the survival advantage, in the biblical context, of ears that do not hear? The biblical answer is clear: they shall perish. But, if the Lord were also Creator, would He have created ears for no purpose? Or would He have created an intellect so that the intellect would not know its Creator? The omnipotent and all knowing Creator stands accused of impotence if not stupidity. Therefore He cannot exit, much less create. Blind chance is given credit for stupefying, nay, for an incredible success. Still, we are asked to believe blindly, and this on the authority of science.

This authority of science with regard to evolution was apparently reaffirmed in a recent open letter of July 13, addressed to Pope Benedict XVI by three U.S. scientists. The scientists expressed their concern that an article by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, published in the New York Times on July 7, 2005 could contribute to "a new divide, long ago eradicated, between scientific method and religious belief." They ask the Pope to make clear "that Cardinal Schönborn's remarks do not reflect the views of the Holy See." Their confidence is based on several quotes from a statement by the International Theological Commission headed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger. One passage deals with God causing, through the activity of natural causes, "those conditions required for the emergence and support of living organisms." The other quotes from the Commission's conclusion that "even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God's providential plan for creation." George Coyne, S.J. argued in a similar vein in an August 5, 2005 article, "God's chance creation," in the London Tablet. Significantly, he makes explicit what is only implicit in the open letter of the Three Scientists. Arguing from the "fertility" and the "vitality" of the universe, Coyne asserts:

"...if we confront what we know of our origins scientifically with religious faith in God the Creator – if, that is, we take the results of modern science seriously – it is difficult to believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient in the sense of many of the scholastic philosophers. For the believer, science tells us of a God who must be very different from God as seen by them."

Such pious considerations about God's nature and His providential plan for what these scientists call a "contingent natural process," which seems to leave room for what the Holy See would call "creation," did not keep the Three Scientists from asserting that the "guiding [sic!] principle for understanding the development of the diversity of life on earth" is the mechanism of natural selection. If mechanism, then not creation. For their part, the scientists exclude creation as an explanation for the diversity of life on earth. Yet, they find no problem in presenting John Paul II as having "rightly recognized that the spiritual significance that one draws from the scientific observations and theory lie outside of the scientific theories themselves." They are certainly correct if they mean that creation, as a "spiritual significance," lies outside of scientific theories, particularly mechanistic ones. What is amazing, nay, stupefying is their notion that a "spiritual significance" can be drawn from "scientific observation and theory!" Such a "drawing" apparently establishes the compatibility between "scientific rationality and the church's spiritual commitment to divine purpose and meaning in the universe."1 Their supposition that John Paul II affirmed such a compatibility is apparently the reason they call his letter to the Pontifical Academy of Science a "magnificent letter."

Coyne, on the other hand avoids the absurdity of the spiritual significance of a mechanism. The fertility and vitality of the universe allows him to reject the very pointed citation by Cardinal Shönborn of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance." Coyne, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, apparently failed to observe this passage and blandly asserts three elements of evolution: chance, necessity and the fertility of the universe. He writes,

"The classical question as to whether the human being came about by chance, and so has no need of God, or by necessity, and so through the action of a designer God, is no longer valid. And so any attempt to answer it is doomed to failure. The fertility of the universe, now well established by science, is an essential ingredient, and the meaning of chance and necessity must be seen in light of that fertility."

In the popular mind, the sole alternative to the theory, or – if we taken into account John Paul II's own words in his "magnificent letter" – the theories of evolution is "creation science." In the letter of the three scientists – we are forced to call it a muddled letter, – creation and science are separated, even as creation is a spiritual significance drawn from scientific observations while science, for its part, remains uncontaminated by the "spiritual commitment to divine purpose and meaning in the universe." The defense of the honor, that is, the role, of divinity in the emergence and development of life on earth could not even be a rational requirement grounded in "scientific observation and theories." Yet the Three Scientists take umbrage at the insult to science by Cardinal Shönborn's position that neo-Darwinist evolution is not true because it excludes God as the cause of life. "In this sense," they write, "claiming that evolution definitely implies a lack of divinity and/or divine purpose in nature is as much an affront to science as it is to the church."2

Instead of trying to prove that creation science is scientific – which is as contradictory a claim as the claim of evolution – I will consider briefly the nature of "science" as it is understood today and presupposed by many defenders of evolution. This consideration will necessarily touch on metaphysics, a way of knowing that has apparently suffered the same fate as the innumerable extinct species. Still, in this case a reflection on the fossil of metaphysics might allow the realization of a dream fed by the technology of cloning, namely, the revivification of an extinct species.

I will start with a claim that goes counter to the claim of evolution about creation: the theory of evolution is non-scientific. There is no scientific method that either justifies the formulation of the hypothesis of evolution or confirms it.3 To bring this to evidence we need to take several distinct steps.

1

The theory of evolution, even to be plausible, necessarily presupposes that there is no difference in kind between beings.4 Evolution is necessarily restricted to speak of stages of evolution. The very term "kind" loses its original and objective meaning, in particular when it comes to the organic sphere. We can take two analogies to explain what is meant here. First, the different elements of the traditional periodic table are not arranged according to different kinds of matter but rather according to their "weight," namely, the number and structure of their subatomic particles. Although there is no genuine evolution in terms of a "descent," the periodic table represents the best shot of the evolutionists at making sense. We find evolutionist cosmologists speaking of the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the predominant presence of hydrogen and helium and on to the formation of the heavier elements. The scenario is entirely plausible since there is no essential difference in kind between hydrogen and helium on the one hand and hydrogen and the trans-uranics on the other hand. They are basically different quantities and arrangement of the more "elementary" particles. The formation of each element on the table of elements occurs through external forces or energies that bring together the subatomic particles each of which, again, is external to the other. Though arranged in differing levels of complexity, the elements do not constitute "kinds" pr "species."

A second analogy is that of the tool and its sophisticated "relative," the machine. There is no difference in kind between the most primitive of instruments and the most sophisticated machine. When metaphysics was alive, one would have spoken of the finality of each. This means that the tool and the machine each have an end or purpose. And in their cases, the end is external to each. We can articulate this by saying something less. The tool and the machine produce an effect, each outside of itself. With the rejection and thus the death of metaphysics, the notion of finality is systematically replaced with the notion of effect. Both analogies illustrate my claim that there is no difference in kind between, let us say, hydrogen and helium at one end of the spectrum and the most sophisticated machine on the other end. There is only a difference in degree of complexity. At each level of complexity there is the cause-effect process. Whatever the refinement in the distinction between chemical, physical or mechanical processes, all can be reduced to different arrangements of energy and mass in motion through space and time.

While the difference between "natural" and "artificial" holds with respect to the author of the cause-effect structures, from the point of view of their "essence," they are of the same kind. A forest fire caused by lightning might roast an animal to a crisp. That's a natural event. A camper using fire to roast his meat has caused an artificial event. To assume an essential difference in kind would imply that in the world of nature there is no finality, which belongs to the "artificial," something that is introduced by human reason alone. On this account "nature" has no author.

Ostensibly, the hypothesis of evolution was proposed as an account of the origin of species, namely, of the different kinds of living beings.5 The inner logic of an explanation that explains the origin of a "kind" not by its creation by God but rather by descent from a lower species necessarily leads to the abolition of the concept of "species" as well as of the notion of "higher" and "lower." The same logic of evolution necessarily requires the abolition of the difference between the organic and the material, non-organic.6

2

The differentiation between kinds of beings, higher and lower, between organic and non-organic, bears upon being and its essential structures. Fossil evidence of an extinct metaphysics would indicate that this difference between kinds of being is not a datum, namely, it is something not given to the method of the empirical sciences. Being and its essential structures stand above the material realm, that is, above the physical. Understandably enough, the realm above the physical has been denominated meta-physics. The physical data become accessible to the intellect through the senses, one of which is the capacity to see with the physical eye and its contemporary extensions, the sophisticated instrument that uses atomic and subatomic particles to measure what is measured. By contrast, being and its essential structures are accessible only to the intellect, which is denominated after the intelligible content of being and its essential structures. These "make sense" in modern parlance. They can be understood. But this dimension of being in its intelligibility is accessible only to the non-physical "intellect," or, to use a meaningful analogy, the "mind's eye." The metaphysical dimension of being is accessible only to the "way of seeing" that is called metaphysical.7 This way of seeing is a method that is essentially different from the method of the empirical sciences. Indeed, the former is presupposed as a condition that makes the empirical sciences possible. One has first to "see" the difference in kind between matter and life, for example, if one is correctly to interpret the data of science.

The evolutionist can meaningfully hold his hypothesis only if he ignores the metaphysical dimension of being and its essential structures. This means that, if he is to be consistent and make plausible sense, he must not only ignore but actively reject the possibility that there be any kind of being other than physical being. If this is the case, then everything that is explained must be explained in one way, namely, the way [or method] of the physical or empirical sciences.

The contemporary, generally accepted understanding of science, presupposed by evolution, posits a methodological monism. This means that the world of nature is to be explained only by the empirical sciences. Any attempt to explain the same objects in any other way is by definition unscientific.8 This is a tautology, namely, true by verbal definition. But when the evolutionist says that creation is unscientific he means more than the claim that the method used to affirm creation is different from the method used to explain created but physical objects. He means that the only valid way explaining physical things is the empirical scientific way.9 In other words, he posits a methodological monism. He does so because he claims that there is no other dimension of being than the physical one. Consequently there is no other way of knowing, no other method for explaining physical things and events. This is strictly equivalent to closing my eyes and saying that there are no colors because I can't hear them.

The fossil of metaphysics reveals the missing, or rather, the ignored link. In the language of metaphysics a distinction was made between the material object and the formal object. Here, the word "material" did not signify what today we call the physical thing. Rather, it signified the real being in its essential structure. Thus, the human being would be an example of the "material object" of investigation and knowledge. The essential structure of the human being reveals that he is "composed" of different elements. Some of these are the merely physical elements that can be studied by chemistry and physics. Others are biological structures that can be studied by biology. And still others are spiritual and must be studied by a method distinct from chemistry, physics and biology. Each of these distinct kinds of elements would demand a different way of knowing, or a different method. Each of these different kinds of elements was designated in the extinct tradition as formal object of investigation and knowledge. This understanding gave rise to the formulation of the principle that it is the object that determines the method or the way of knowing it. And if there are different kinds of objects, there will be different ways of grasping them. It follows that if a real being is composed into a whole [material object] from different kinds of elements, each of these different kinds of elements [formal object] will require a different kind of method. For example, the real human being as a whole [material object] under investigation may require different methods of investigation if we are to know it as a whole and not leave out any of its constitutive elements [formal objects].

Chemistry, for example, with its own scientific methodology can study both human beings and water. The human is one kind of "material object" and physical things are another kind of "material object." But imagine that a chemist does the same thing with a human being that he does with water, namely, he analyzes each by "breaking it down" into its constitutive elements. In the case of water he gets two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen. In the case of a human being he gets he gets a broken down and lifeless aggregate. But imagine more. Imagine that the chemist feels fully justified in breaking down a living human being because, he claims, knowledge and the future cure of cancer demand the use of the scientific method. This no longer needs to be imagined, since fetal production and research is justified precisely by such arguments. On the evolutionary hypothesis they are quite consistent.

In our example, a chemist may use his specific methodology to study his formal object. He may do so with great expertise and success. Bu he may also do so without understanding the difference between human beings and water. Namely, he may use a method without knowing the metaphysical difference between the beings he analyzes. This means that he does not know the metaphysical kind of being that is the human being. But he also does not know the metaphysical kind of being that populates the physical world. Ignorant though our chemist is, he nevertheless makes a tacit metaphysical assumption and acts on it. He knows not what he does though he does it well.

Our evolutionist falls into the same category as the chemist in the example. He begins with the problem of explaining the origin of different kinds of beings. He ends by denying that there are different kinds. Everything is physical matter in different stages of complexity! But even as he reduces everything to physical matter he gives evidence of not knowing the metaphysical kind of being that matter is. Witness the frequency of appeal to "random mutations" and "chance" in establishing the "laws [sic!] of evolution" and more recently the reference to "sudden appearances" in a punctuated equilibrium.

3

As implied above, the differentiation between different kinds of being is an activity using the metaphysical method. It is an act of an intelligent being using a way of knowing that is different from that of chemistry, physics, biology, etc., each of which is determined by the respectively different kinds of being under investigation.10 The real difference in kinds of being is a presupposition for each discipline or method.

And, I repeat, the evolutionist makes a tacit metaphysical assumption. He assumes that everything is physical matter. Yet, he fails to understand the metaphysical characteristics of physical matter, which cannot be given through the empirical method and which distinguish it from the metaphysical kind of being that is the organic or living being. He doesn't understand his own assumptions. And therefore he works on the basis of mere assumption. The chemist in our previous example may not have understood the formal object presupposed for his method, but he was still capable using the method of chemistry whether in breaking down water or in breaking down human beings.

But our evolutionist doesn't even have a real science to practice. He has made an assumption that in fact denies the existence of the difference of real objects whose origin he originally proposed to explain. This means that there is no object that determines the method of his "science." The whole enterprise depends not simply on a methodological monism which postulates only physical matter but on an explicit rejection of the possibility of creation. In other words, the evolutionist may deny God either explicitly or implicitly, but he denies a metaphysical property of physical matter that would make the evolutionist hypothesis a contra-factual fiction. This is the property of contingency.11 The existence of physical matter is contingent. It depends on something outside of itself that is not in turn physical. But more importantly, physical matter is created.12 Ironically, the rejection of this property deprives the evolutionary "scientist" of an object and therefore of a science.

The extra-biblical and the pre-Christian mind had an extraordinary difficulty of understanding the contingency of the world. There was no shortage of the myths of origins. Only the explicit notion of God can throw into relief the metaphysical property of contingency and the created status of the contingent.

4

The deeper significance and the wider implications of the extinction of metaphysics cannot be pursued in the present context. I restrict myself to noting that the rejection of metaphysics makes a discipline impossible as a discipline. The practice of a discipline may persist for some time, but eventually it will destroy itself and its object.

Physics and chemistry, as sciences, are based on metaphysical properties of matter, one of which may be identified as its "extension." Connected with this are properties of divisibility, the reality and the relations of whole to part and part to part. In short, one may speak of the structure of material being as a metaphysical property. The structure of material things, their proportions and relations in motion through space and time, as noted above, can be expressed with the help of numbers and geometry. The formulas that find their way into textbooks in physics and chemistry all give evidence of another metaphysical property of material beings: they are intelligible. This profound intuition that all being is necessarily intelligible led the Greek s to the intuition that it was Mind that ordered the cosmos.13 Implicit in this intuition is another one: chaos or disorder could not produce order or intelligibility. This prepared for the intelligibility of the truth that God is creator of the material order. He is one who does not simply impose order from outside on preexisting chaos, but one who can create ordered material being "from" nothing.

Our evolutionist operates upon an implicit metaphysical assumption that chaos can produce order and the "lower" can produce the "higher." Thus the importance of "chance" and "random variations" or "random mutations."14 But the metaphysical assumption is false. The evolutionist, with the help of "modern" physics, gets around it by another fallacy. Order and intelligibility are imposed by the mind, this time, by the human mind, itself a product of evolution!15

The "Copernican revolution" allows the evolutionist to solve, with the assistance of modern "physics," the problem of identifying the cause that brings about the effect of a "new" structure. Not only is the reality of species extinguished by the claim that reality possesses no inherent intelligibility, form or essence of its own, the very notion of a cause-effect relation is replaced by the concepts of correlation and statistical probabilities. The "ontological" version of the Heisenberg principle tells us not simply that we cannot determine, i.e. know the determinations of a [quantum]thing, but the thing itself has no determinations. This also holds true for the relationship between "things." One "thing" no longer "causes" another thing. There are no "things," simply events and processes and the probabilities of their correlation. This naturally obviates the necessity of pinpointing the "mechanism" of evolution, namely the identification of the causes that produce the evolutionary effects. The missing link, sought on the assumption that cause and effect were still operative in the real world, is no longer necessary. As Engels, the materialist, put it, once the conditions for life were present, life "appeared."

In the sphere of physical matter, once the necessary conditions for an event are present they are also sufficient. But this "law" is no longer true once we have to do with life. Here we can point to another metaphysical property of physical matter. Material structures in their proper intelligibility can become the bearers and elements of higher order structures, which they cannot themselves "produce." Plato clearly indicated the foolishness of those who could not distinguish between necessary and sufficient conditions when discussing the relationship between body and soul in the Phaedo. He has Socrates note that the body is a condition for Socrates being able to sit, but it is the living soul, not the body, that causes him to sit. Of course, this presupposes that what is called the "soul" is metaphysically a different kind of being from the physical body.

5

The evolutionist has not yet quite evolved to the point where his mind's eye can see the metaphysical nature of life as distinct from the physical elements that are organized and incorporated into a whole. Analogous to the biological eye in evolutionary theory, his "mind's eye" is at a point where it has neither function nor survival value. Very simply, his intellect shows no evidence of grasping the metaphysical reality of life.

The reality of "life," or soul, as Aristotle calls it, is immaterial. But more importantly, in contrast to numbers and geometrical shapes or intelligible laws, which are also immaterial, life is a living. It acts. In other words, it is in each case being. Neither numbers, nor geometrical shapes nor intelligible laws act in the proper sense of the word. As such, life stands above the dimension of the physical.

Our evolutionist is blind to the reality of life and is content with a description – not an explanation – of what is available to the bodily eye, taking description for an explanation. Assuming that there is no metaphysical difference between life and matter, he dissects and analyzes the organism and assumes that since he finds its elements "together" they must have simply "come together" in the same way.16

The fatal flaw of evolution as an empirical science lies in the fact that the reality called "life" is not accessible to any of the techniques of biology and chemistry used in collecting and observing data. The interpretation of the raw data rests on one of two possible premises. On the one hand, one brings to the data some intuition of a metaphysical reality which is given to the investigator through the data.

On the other hand, one brings to the data a construct fashioned from the data themselves. In other words, one operates with an "empirical tautology" which is supposedly confirmed by the data. In the case of evolution, one defines "life" and eventually the individual species as that which results from the composition of its material elements. These, then, are the causes or even the stages of "life." The new discoveries of heretofore unknown elements apparently pushes back the origin of life and "confirms" the hypothesis or theory of the organism as a "result" of prior empirical causes.

A methodological monism of empirical science assumes that everything is essentially matter. Structures or wholes are the result of a "composition" of more elemental structures. This perspective makes plausible the "evolution" of things in the real world by composition, according to physical laws, from more primitive, less complex structures. At the same time, the same perspective is functionally indistinguishable from the assumption that the laws of composition are not objectively in reality but simply laws of the mind according to which we structure what in itself is a chaos with no intrinsic intelligibility.17 In other words, the objects of research and investigation are not beings in reality, having their own nature or essence, they are in fact constructs of the human mind.

Evolutionary theory, to the extent that it intends to explain the origin of species by tracing them to their preceding "stages," enjoys an operational plausibility because it begins with what in fact are real species. However, its understanding of species is in fact a construct shaped according to its hypothetical place in a hypothetical line of descent. The "outline" or "shape" specifying the type is not determined from within the type but rather from without, namely, by its resemblance to its closest "relative."18 The actual observation of the gradual shift of the type would, on this account, give a clear impression of the continuity of the so called species. It is only the gaps, the "missing links," that creates the impression that there are discrete species.

Such an evolutionary perspective, one that could well be illustrated by a morphing software that would allow us to establish an unbroken continuity between any two possible shapes, manifests what is in fact a devolution of metaphysics. I mean by this that the perspective in question rejects the reality of beings so structured that their unity can not be produced from without. Thus, the evolutionary perspective, anything can become anything else because everything is everything else, just like the policeman from the future in Terminator II.

To the extent that the evolutionary thesis is built on a tacit metaphysical monism, it cannot be salvaged by the theist who would have God guide it. Such an maneuver morphs God Himself into the evolutionary scenario where the world itself is but the evolution of God. For the meta-physical presupposition of the evolutionary hypothesis is precisely the claim that species are not created. A sober reading of Darwin and his correspondence with Wallace indicates that his was an attempt to keep God out of the picture. The attempt to bring God back into the picture would demand the recognition that creation brings beings into existence from within. Evolution is plausible only on the thesis that beings are produced from without. It has no place for Genesis and generation only for a mechanics – one which it nevertheless has so far failed to produce. In the meantime it naively pursues the origins of life, innocent of the fact that its own activity is to be but another fossil in a culture that produces death.

 

NOTES

1 - Interestingly enough, there is no mention of their own spiritual commitment to divine purpose and meaning in the universe. back

2 - The logic of this passage is so utterly mystifying that it must be either nonsense or mysticism. What is the whole sense of "scientific" evolution if not to maintain precisely an absence of the "divine" as explanation of the origin of the species? If the "presence" of the divine is such an affront to science how are we to understand the efforts devoted to keeping creation out of the class in science? How, furthermore, is the presence of the divinity and/or divine purpose evidenced by the method of scientists, which the scientists maintain precludes creation as an explanatory hypothesis of the origin of life and the species? All this is perhaps excusable by the gallantry of the Three Scientists in defending the honor of the Church. back

3 - Coyne refers to what he calls an "epoch-making declaration" in 1996 by John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, in which, as Coyne puts it, "evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis." The sense of the original French of the Pope's statement is that evolution is no longer just one theory but a number of them: "...à vrai dire, plus que de la théorie de l'évolution, I convient de parler des theories de l'évolution. Cette pluralité tient, d'une part, à la diversité des explications qui ont été proposes du méchanisme de l'évolution, et d'autre part, aux diverses philosophies auxquelles on se réfàre." In this sense one can hardly speak of a theory as something proven. back

4 - That this is an operative premise in Coyne is seen from his explicit assertion that "There may be no clear origin, no clear threshold, as seen by science, between the living and non-living." Consistent with his general metaphysical vitalism, Coyne speaks of God not longer as a creator of the universe, but rather as a parent. It is clear that "continuous evolution" does not cross a threshold between God and the universe, but crosses it, making the universe something that is "begotten, not made." Only the premise of a pantheistic monism can sustain such a "continuous evolution." back

5 - The Three Scientists hold that "scientific investigations have repeatedly confirmed evolution by natural selection as a guiding principle for understanding the development of the diversity of life on earth..." If there were no different kinds or species the whole endeavor would be meaningless. The term "diversity" no longer means different species. Evolution simply explains the "diverse" or different stages in the degree of complexity in structure. And "life" itself is not different in kind form matter but itself just another structure more complex than matter. back

6 - We see this logic at work in the appeal of the three scientists to the mechanism of natural selection as a guiding principle in explaining the origin of life and its "diversity" [not different species!] on earth. It is in a purely material and mechanistic sense that they quote out of context a passage from the International Theological Commission headed by Cardinal Ratzinger. The cited passage deals with God as cause of causes and reads as follows: "though the activity of natural causes, God causes to arise those conditions required for the emergence and support of living organisms and, furthermore, for their reproduction and differentiation."[Emphasis added, DF] The passage, as it stands, lends itself to the materialistic reading the three scientists give it. In the material physical order, the necessary conditions for a physical phenomenon are also sufficient. If the living being is of an essentially different kind than the simply material, the necessary conditions for sustaining life are not sufficient for its "emergence." For Coyne they do become sufficient because the "origin" of life in matter is itself a "continuous evolutions," that is, it originates in matter that is already marked by "fertility" and "vitality." back

7 - Our Three Scientists implicitly recognize this when they comment on John Paul II's letter to the Pontifical Academy with the remark, "At the same time, he rightly recognized that the spiritual significance that one draws from the scientific observations and theory lie outside the scientific theories themselves." They fail to recognize the fuller significance of their own statement. It is this: all intelligibility in physical structures and relations is grasped by the intellect and the intellect alone; it is not observed by the empirical method, much less drawn from the observations accessible to it. Precisely this point precisely is made in the same "letter" the Three Scientists invoke. The Pope writes, "Une théorie est une élaboration métascientifique, distincte des résultates de l'observation mais quis leur est homogène." [AAS. Vol. 89, #3, 1997] Their premise, which leads them to interpret and explain data in terms of evolution, is itself a philosophical premise: it assumes a monism of being. This, too, is implied in the Pope's words, "En outre, l'élaboration d"une théorie comme celle d'évolution ... emprunte certaines notions de la philosophie de la nature." back

8 - In this sense the Three Scientists can quote the International Pontifical Commission's statement that God is the cause of causes. As such, of course, he lies outside of scientific observation and theory. They are more interested in what they consider the scientific explanation of origins: "...through the activity of natural causes [there} arise those conditions required for the emergence and support of living organisms ... their reproduction and differentiation." The theologian may attribute creation to God as cause of causes. But this God would operate through the laws of matter identical with those discovered by science. That is, the believer may bring God into the picture, But this God would operate exactly as the scientists says evolution operates: through the mechanism chance mutations and of natural selection. The metaphysical implication of this position is that God does not create but "produces" life from outside by manipulating chance [sic!] and necessity. In the case of Coyne, such a metaphysical absurdity is avoided by "inserting" God into the very processes of matter and masked by an appeal to a divine paternal love that desires to give as much independence as possible to his artifacts. back

9 - Thus Coyne rejects, as indicated in the previously cited passage, the validity of God as answer to the question of human origins. The "scientific" answer is alone in sufficient in giving an intelligible explanation of the origin of the universe. The "convergence" that both the Three Scientists and Coyne refer to is possible to the extent that the Church accepts the scientific explanation of the "completely contingent" evolution or the "truly contingent" evolutionary process. Here again the metaphysical implication that God is not a creator of the universe, is ignored. back

10 - It would take a separate essay to stress the importance of the fact that is an individual human person that performs the act of knowing and theorizing, not a "science." This importance is shown in a negative fashion in the "arguments" of the evolutionists who appeal to what "science tells or teaches us." This hypostatization of the method allows one to ignore the individual. It is analogous to says that eyes see and ears hear. In fact, it is the human person that sees and hears someone who is addressing him. The affirmation of what is given through the eyes does not justify the exclusion of what is given through the ears. The subject uses both methods to grasp the reality of one object. In the case of science as a method, it has as its object a created reality, even though the scientific method cannot "see" the creaturely status of that object any more than eyes can see the spoken word. It is the intellect of the subject that sees the creaturely status of its object even as it observes the empirical nature of that same object.

Our Three Scientists prescind from their own individual capacity as intelligent subjects when they write that "scientific observations have repeatedly confirmed evolution..." What thy mean is that they and other scientists have refused, as intelligent subject, to think about the objective to the extent it does not fit in with the empirical method. Thus, the observations have not so much confirmed evolution as they have been interpreted in terms of a premise that allows only natural selection as an explanation of the empirically observed date. They have denied what they hear because they have not seen the word.

Coyne exhibits the same methodological bias when he affirms that "science tells us of a God who must be very different from God as seen by [many scholastic philosophers].
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11 - When the Three Scientists and Coyne speak of evolution as "contingent" they have in mind one of the meaning of the term, while excluding the other. First, when we say that something is contingent we mean that it is not metaphysically necessary, namely, that it could be otherwise. A table doesn't have to be square; it can be rectangular or round. But then we also mean that a contingent thing is in fact the way it is because it depends on something other than itself. Thus, what explains the squareness of the table is not the nature of the table but the carpenter or designer. And third, to say that something is contingent on another is to say that it is contingent on a sufficient explanation. In this sense a being that is contingent depends for its existence on a sufficient explanation, which cannot be another being of the same kind as itself.

In the empirical sciences every formal object is contingent in the first sense, namely is not metaphysically necessary. That is why no theories explaining them cannot be "dogmatic." The Three scientists and Coyne specifically consider the evolution of any living being as contingent in the second sense: what any living being is, its "species character" is dependent on something outside of it, the environment, chance mutation, etc. The one way it is not contingent is in the third sense, namely, God is not the direct cause of any species. But with the rejection of God as the Creator of any species that is "contingent" on Him, their statement that evolution is contingent on causes other than God they make a metaphysical assertion, namely, it is metaphysically necessary that God is not the Creator of species. In this respect, the thesis of evolution is not a scientific thesis but a metaphysical or dogmatic one, independent of any empirical facts or observations, which always deal with things that can be otherwise. The one thing that cannot be otherwise is their theory of evolution.
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12 - The design argument can only prove that the contingent structure cannot be explained in terms of itself but only in terms of another. This other must be a sufficient cause of the contingent, it need not be the absolute. The notion of "created' is not synonymous with and more than the notion of "contingency." The latter means only a sufficient cause; the former a divine cause. An evolution that is guided does not require God as a creator. This is why our evolutionist can feel compatible if not comfortable with the notion of a God that guides evolution. back

13 - Strictly speaking, this is not yet the discovery of God as creator. back

14 - It suffices to note the implications for science of Coyne's appeal to "chance" as an explanation of evolution. To say that something happens "by chance" has the verbal and grammatical structure of an explanation. In fact, such an explanation explains nothing. Properly speaking, it indicates one's ignorance of the specific cause of a given phenomenon. Because it does not "explain" it is totally unscientific. One of the features of any genuine science is that it recognizes the metaphysical intelligibility of beings and events and seeks the reason "why" of things. To cite chance as part of a scientific explanation of things is to commit a contradiction in terms. We can only use Coyne's own words about fertility of the universe as the interaction between chance and necessity: "Thus far science.". back

15 - Coyne tells us: "... by the interaction of chance and necessity ... we have the very complex molecules and eventually the most complicated organism that science knows: the human brain." Apart from the fact that the human brain is not an organism but an organ, Coyne's own "fertile" statement must itself be a product of the interaction of chance and necessity and therefore cannot be true. It is not different from a sneeze or the rantings of a feverish, albeit fertile brain. back

16 - Coyne looks at life in "continuous evolutions" in terms of chemical complexification. "How does this come about?" he asks. His answer is delightful reading, an analogy for the saga of boy meets girl: "Take one simple example: two hydrogen atoms meet in the early universe. Bt necessity (the laws of chemical combination) they are destined to become a hydrogen molecule. But by chance the temperature and pressure conditions at that moment are not correct for them to combine. And so they wander through the universe until they finally combine. And there are trillions and billions of atoms doing the same thing. Of course, by the interaction of chance and necessity. back

17 - Coyne presents us with a somewhat incoherent explanation of "continuous evolution" in terms of "a certain intrinsic natural directionality" which does not necessarily need "a person directing the process." But, he notes, this does not mean "that the process is necessarily 'an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection' as Cardinal Schönborn describes it." But then he offers us this explanation: "It is precisely the interaction of chance and necessity in the universe which are responsible for that directionality." In other words, it is precisely as Cardinal Schönborn described it, chance and necessity, or random variation and natural selection in the words of our Three Scientists. back

18 - We have here an echo of nominalism: the so-called essences or species are names (nomina) for things that have no common essence of kind but are called by a common name because of they resemble each other more closely than they do other, dissimilar things. No genuine science is possible in a context where there are no genuine essences, types, or kinds. back