Here’s something to make Fundamentalist heads explode

Here’s something to make Fundamentalist heads explode November 27, 2012

…whether they be atheist or Catholic.  The invaluable Mike Flynn writes:


The outward appearances of the bread and wine remain those of bread and wine, and so far as science runs that is all that science can say.  The bread and wine are not transformed.  They are transubstantiated.  The substance, the inner reality, is changed to the Body and Blood, not the forms.


The outward appearances of the biological human remain those of a biological human, and so far as science runs, that is all that evolution can say.  It really does remain a biological human.  It is not transformed into a metaphysical human until the Word imparts an immaterial soul that adds the power of intellect and will to the animal powers of the biological human to produce a metaphysical human (which is to be human per se.)

Properly understood, evolution can be considered a prefigure of the Eucharist.

From a Thomistic perspective, I’ve never seen much of a problem with the proposition that God–using secondary causes ranging from the manufacture of carbon atoms in the heart of exploding stars, to the development of the mouth-to-anus gut tract during the Cambrian Explosion, to the creation of live birth reproductive systems and the mammary gland, to the Cretaceous Extinction Event to my own father and mother–created me.  God *usually* uses secondary causes.  Evolution has always seemed to me to be a way of saying “Grace perfects nature” and “God made man from the dust of the earth reeeeeeeeeeeeeally slowly.”  And “grace perfect nature” is a statement that reaches it apotheosis in the proposition that God raises bread and wine to transubstantiation into the Body and Blood of Christ, just as he raises a race of hairy fanged primates to be children of God through God the Son, who became a risen and glorified hairy fanged primate for us and for our salvation.

When God doesn’t use secondary causes (as for instance when he created loaves and fish ex nihilo) we regard that as such a departure from his normal way of doing business that it is called a “miracle”.  When we start needlessly invoking miracles by literally shouting “Then a miracle occurs!” in order to prop up some completely needless demand for a pet theological theory the Church in no way demands, we are headed for trouble.

God of the gaps arguments, such as Intelligent Design, tend to want to look at such exceptions to rules as the *main* proof of the existence of God.  That’s fine (assuming, of course, that transitions in living forms is really an exception to the rules).  Jesus does, after all, say “If you don’t believe me, believe the miracles I’ve done.”  But it is notable that St. Thomas doesn’t point to exceptions to the rules.  He points to the rules and says, “Why is there anything?  Why is it intelligible?”  He, like Augustine, has no problem with the idea that God could invest matter with the power to self-organize and change and bring out new possibilities, likening it to a collection of wood that miraculously self-assembles into a ship.  God, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, can do whatever he likes.

The main problem with God of the gaps arguments like ID is that they say, “We don’t know how this apparent exception to the rules happened, so God.”  That work, till you find out how the exception to the rule happened.  Then people (falsely) conclude. “So no God.”  Result, you are left with with a) atheist fundamentalists concluding that nature seems to work fine, so there’s no God, or b) Christian fundamentalists making futile and increasingly strained attempts to say, for instance, “God made the universe to *appear* to be billions of years old–10,000 years ago.”  This is, for all intents and purposes to needlessly call God a liar. Appeals to the miracle of the loaves and fishes (“God instantly made fish that looked old, so he *must* have done the same in order to fit my pet theory of a 10,000  year old earth”) founder on the fact that you do not, in fact, know he must have done any such thing.  They also founder on the fact that the point of the sign simply was not at all related to your pet theory, particularly since Jesus refused rather pointedly to endorse the idea that he could be expect to keep creating stuff ex nihilo. It also proves too much since, by the exact same logic I could declare that God, for his own inscrutable purposes, made the universe 10 seconds ago, but made it *appear* to be be billions of years old (and made us complete with a set of false memories of our entire lives).  Sooner or later, common sense kicks in and you have to say, “Young earth creationists who maintain God made the universe to fool us into thinking it is 13.5 billion years old are positing a Liar God in order to prop up a theory that not one member of the Magisterium would regard as remotely necessary to the Catholic faith.  Instead of listening to pet theories cherished by people who are paying not attention to either the teaching of the Magisterium *or* the scientific data, why not actually think with the Magisterium and make us of the best science has to offer?”

The denial that God works through secondary causes–which undergirds a lot of anti-science rhetoric when it comes to evolution is, ironically, a hallmark of Islamic, not Christian, thought.  There’s a reason Science was stillborn everywhere but in Christian Europe.  It depends upon a specifically Catholic and Christian metaphysic to be born.  It remains to be seen whether it can survive once it severs that metaphysical root and tries to survive without it.  My money is on the death of the scientific enterprise in the long run since science is done by scientists and scientists have the unfortunate habit of being born into the species homo sapiens sapiens: a race afflicted by a spiritual condition known as “original sin” which darkenes the intellects, weakens the will, and disorders the appetites, even of men and women in lab coats.

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  • JD

    Fear can be a scary thing.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. And tautologies are exactly the same as tautologies. 🙂

      • Jmac
      • Noah D

        Mark, you’re breaking the first rule of Tautology Club!

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Why is there such a thing as Tautology Club?

          • Jmac

            Because there is such a thing as Tautology Club.

            • Mark Shea

              I like the Tautology Club Anthem (to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne”): “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here! We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here!”

              • Ack! My father used to sing that (but “home” instead of “here”) every time we came home from a car trip. Imagine it sung with a heavy Spanish accent, trilling all the Rs.

                So weird — I was just discussing this with my mom yesterday.

              • I was more familiar with the “Were here because there is beer!” version.

              • Sergio

                I don’t see how being-at-home, or things of relation deal with Being. Tautology is definitely not related to this song, lol.

                Sarcasm that is. Yes, this is a perfect anthem.

  • JD

    Very good sir! Your wit is one of the reasons I follow your site.

  • victor

    It’s also worth noting that evolution as a process wouldn’t really be all that slow from God’s perspective. If He chose to create Man very slowly, He did so for our benefit (in some way), not for His.

    • Yeah, seriously. Besides which, you can’t even say a process is “slow” except by comparison with something else, which demands a logical argument for the comparison. A 100 meter-dash is slow compared with the collapse of a soap bubble, but why would you compare those two things?

  • Jonathan Waldburger

    Would the spiritual nature of the soul have no bearing on the structure and formation of the human body? It seems to me that our bodies are clearly designed for souls that are rational, and that without the presence of a rational soul our bodies can hardly be the result of survival of the fittest.

    Also, monogenism is pretty much disregarded by mainstream evolutionary thought. Which means that the truth of evolution as an explanation for our origins entails that we only inherited original sin from some of our human ancestors who were for a time actually reproducing with humanoid animals. I’m yet to encounter a satisfying explanation of original sin from an evolutionary point of view without it being completely novel and revisionist.

    That said, I share your critique of ID. The points above don’t mean I reject evolutionary theory out of hand, I just think that there’s a reason we are still waiting for a landmark synthesis of Church dogma and evolution. I also am very aware that in a secular age where God is rejected, we can expect scientific endeavours to over step things, and we should be just as wary of using ‘science’ to reinforce our theology as we are of using the gaps to prove God.

    • j. blum

      “Monogenisn” meaning “we all came from one breeding pair?” Isn’t there a broader definition? How is it discredited?

    • Sandy

      that’s incorrect. the scientific consensus is that mankind originated from one original pair; we did not spring up simultaneously or here and there all over the planet.

      • Jonathan Waldburger

        We didn’t spring up all over the planet, but neither did we come from an original pair, at least not according to evolutionary theory. Whole populations evolve.

    • James H, London

      There’s another good post by the O’Floinn here:
      which addresses the monogenism debate.

    • Ted Seeber

      “Also, monogenism is pretty much disregarded by mainstream evolutionary thought”


      Not quite monogenism (Adam and Eve don’t seem to be contemporaries) but then again, why should we think they were?

      • Jonathan Waldburger

        Sure, science might affirm that we all have a pair of common ancestors, but it doesn’t follow that we all came from two people. Read the O’Floinn link above.

  • I wonder if it might not be possible to go much further. Thomas Aquinas does grant that there is a kind of law to be found even in the fomes of sin ( The Law of the Fomes is inferior to proper divine law in that it leads its follower away from God’s purposes, but it still has enough of the properties of law that Thomas insists on classifying it as a variety of law. It represents a complex structure that is, up to a point, self-perpetuating; while the qualities that make it a species of law are derived from God’s Eternal Law, God did not ordain it directly. It grew up in the midst of sin, of isolation from God. In the Law of the Fomes, therefore, we see that complex, self-perpetuating structures can arise in ways that reflect God’s will only in part. It would seem that some such idea is inherent in every concept of sin. Even an Augustinian concept of sin that proposes ab ultimate metaphysical sense in which sin is nothingness would have to concede that in its more immediate forms sin is promoted and sustained by processes and structures that can be described in definite terms.

    So, if a self-perpetuating complex structure such as the Law of the Fomes can take shape without the direct participation of God, why can a self-perpetuating complex structure like a biological species not be differentiated, perpetuated, and distributed throughout the world in ways that would not have been possible in an unfallen world? Indeed, how can we know where the boundaries are that distinguish divinely ordained, fully rational law from lesser laws that developed in zones deprived of full participation in God’s will? Here one sympathizes with the fundamentalists; it may not be of any great relevance to the doctrines of the faith to know whether the first day of Creation fell on 3 October 4004 BC or sometime around 13,750,000,000 BC, but life would certainly be much simpler if we had a date certain on which the Fall occurred and could declare all structures that had appeared before that date to be manifestations of the divine economy.

  • Noah D

    The whole ‘God made the world to look as if it were really old, but it isn’t’ bit smacks of Gnosticism.

  • Independent Evangelical

    Sorry, Mark. The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is nothing but a demonic lie, and it’s very disappointing (though not entirely surprising) one that the Church of Rome has embraced.

    If Evolution is true, there could never have been a Fall. Period. It undermines the very foundations of the Gospel.

    • ivan_the_mad

      quid gratis asseritur gratis negatur

      • Independent Evangelical

        Quite simply, the Bible says that death came into the world through the sin of one man. Evolution says that death was around for billions and billions and billions of years, not just in nature but in man’s ancestors. Whats more it also says that we are not descended from two people (Adam and Even) but from many different ancestors, so no more Garden of Eden, no more fall. Death and sin were always around.

        • Mark Shea

          No. The Bible says that *human* death came into the world through the fall of man. It is not interested in oyster death.

          • Independent Evangelical

            So man’s ancestors died but not man? That sounds a little silly. And when is the line between “man” and his proto-ape ancestors defined?

            Still haven’t answered the problem of having multiple ancestors either. BTW did the Neanderthals count?

            See how this is a problem yet?

            • Jmac

              Not at all:

              Just because something requires some extra thought doesn’t make it false.

              • Mark Shea


            • Mark Shea

              Re: polygenism:

              Don’t know if neanderthals were capable of reason. Some things suggest so, such as the presence of flowers in Neanderthal graves that suggest they had a concept of the after life and were capable of abstraction. Of course, the problem you face is “Why are there Neanderthal bones?” Or do you think Satan created them and put them in the earth to test the faith of unbelievers? How about the rest of the fossil record? Why is it there?

            • Ye Olde Statistician

              Easy. Man’s ancestors – biological humans – had an animal soul while Man – metaphysical humans – have a rational souls. There is a paper on the subject from American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 85, No. 2

              The animal (aka ‘sensitive’) soul possesses the powers of sensation, perception, emotion, and motion running from stimulus to action. The rational soul possesses in addition the powers of conception and volition. The intellect reflects on perceptions of concrete particulars (this shiny red apple) and forms concepts of abstract universals (“apple” “redness” “shininess” thisness”). The volition is an appetite for the products of the intellect just as the e-motions are appetites for the products of perception. The volition then moves the e-motions which in turn leads to motion. This is diagrammed here:
              Now, the powers of the sensitive soul are grounded in physical organs, since their proper objects are physical. The eye perceives photons of sundry wavelengths; the ear compression waves of air molecules; etc. The inner senses, the emotions, and the motions are likewise oriented toward concrete physical objects, this red shiny apple. Yum.
              However, the objects of the intellect and volition are immaterial. Fido, Rover, and Spot are material things, but “dog” is a universal, an abstraction with no physical existence. Hence, the rational part of the soul does not require a material organ for its power; and hence it may survive the corruption of material organs. Including death of the body.
              With us so far?
              Now this clearly indicates that what makes us human is distinct from our material body; so there is no reason why the material body cannot have emerged like any other material body and that animals could, and must have existed which were biologically indistinguishable from humans but which yet lacked the rational soul. When God, being a pure spirit of intellect and will, said “Let’s create Man in Our Image,” it meant to infuse this immaterial soul into a being “formed of clay,” i.e., a purely material animal. This was the act of creation. Because the soul is not material it is not genetically determined and does not result from evolution. Evolution is a transformation, not a creation, and as St. Thomas pointed out, would result from “putrescence and the powers given to nature at creation.” It can handle anything dealing with the development of a material body, up to and including the animal imagination. (And since conceptions are virtually always accompanied by perceptions, at least the memories of perceptions, rational thought will almost always make “footprints” in the brain’s neural activitiy. But it would be a mistake to confuse the footprint with the journey.)
              + + +
              If you regard the Bible as a second-rate science text, “death came into the world” is indeed problematical, since the Late Modern worshiper of Science!™ is unable to imagine anything beyond straightforward narrative text. The fact that the earliest human writings tend to be poetry passes right through them. The Church (and this includes not only the Catholic Church that atheists and fundies love to bash, but also the Orthodox Church that those groups seem never to have heard of) recognize four ways of reading Scripture: narrative-literal, analogical, tropological, and anagogical. (Here is a discussion of the four senses set out by a priest of the Antiochene Orthodox Church: but it is in no wise different from the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic. (That’s because the practice predates the various breaks among them.))
              Now, in what sense other than the scientific can we say that “death came into the world” when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge? The “world” can mean Man’s cognitive world. Animals, possessing only perception, are aware of death only when it is there before them, e.g., during their death struggles. They know only what they can sense. They lack knowledge of good and evil, in particular of the evil of death. So after the Fall, when Adam became metaphysically human, death came into his cognitive universe.
              Among merely biological humans, not knowing of death, not able to reflect on their perceptions, taking each day as it came, just doing it, life must have been, well, edenic.

              • Mark Shea

                I will *cough* also mention here a book called Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did by the man who is married to my wife. It does, I am told by readers, a decent job of reaquainting a modern reader with this way of reading Scripture

              • The Deuce

                Now this clearly indicates that what makes us human is distinct from our material body; so there is no reason why the material body cannot have emerged like any other material body and that animals could, and must have existed which were biologically indistinguishable from humans but which yet lacked the rational soul.

                While this is true, it’s still the case that the soul is the form of the body, even for possessors of a rational soul, and as such not just any old thing could be made to possess a rational soul. This implies that the purpose of evolution was to produce a creature capable of receiving a rational soul all along.

                Evolution is a transformation, not a creation, and as St. Thomas pointed out, would result from “putrescence and the powers given to nature at creation.” It can handle anything dealing with the development of a material body, up to and including the animal imagination.

                Here I think it’s necessary to point out that purely mechanistic, ateleological evolution, as evolution is conceived to be by nearly all people who consider themselves Darwinists (and most who don’t, for that matter), could not in fact produce imagination. What Thomists mean by “material” is different from what Moderns mean by “material.” The modernistic, mechanistic conception of matter lacks any qualitative properties (no final or formal causes), and so cannot account for sensation and imagination in principle (The belief in such a conception of matter is what forced Descartes to assign human imagination to an immaterial, Cartesian spirit while positing that animals are unconscious meat robots). And hence a mechanistic account which limits itself to mechanistic properties of matter while disallowing final causes cannot in principle give a coherent account of imagination.

                So after the Fall, when Adam became metaphysically human, death came into his cognitive universe.

                I can’t quite agree with this. Adam must have possessed a rational soul (and hence been metaphysically human) in order to have been capable of sin in the first place. I would think that death in the Scriptural sense has more to do with spiritual death – the loss of his perfect communion with God and the alienation it brought with it. Something to that effect seems to be implied by the way that Adam is told that he will die “on the day” that he sins, even though he doesn’t physically die that day (and Satan, in the story, deliberately trades on that double-meaning to deceive).

          • Christopher Sarsfield

            “For God created man incorruptible, and to the image of his own likeness he made him. [24] But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world:” Wisdom 2:23, 24

            No qualifier about human death. I would be interesting the see how the Saints commented on it.

            • Mark Shea
              • Jmac

                Well, maybe those animals didn’t die when they were violently eaten, but were instantly regenerated. WHAT NOW MARK?!?

                • Mark Shea

                  I am wriggling in the crushing grip of your logic, Jmac.

        • Are you referring to Romans and 1 Corinthians?

    • If Evolution is true, there could never have been a Fall. Period. It undermines the very foundations of the Gospel.

      Nice claim. Back it up with some serious theology and then argue with some serious theologians. Thomas Aquinas disagrees with you.

      Check out Reply to Objection #2 and report back to the class.

      • Sandy

        snide of you. look let’s get the facts on the table. The Catholic Church teaches that God created the first human man and woman. That man and woman (and no other) did something terrible which resulted in their fall from grace. We all inherit the consequences of that. end of story. that is it.

        The fossil record is actually very problematic for those dogmatic evolutionists out there who want to claim that everything evolved from an amoeba.

        • ivan_the_mad

          “The Catholic Church teaches that God created the first human man and woman.” Check your premise. Get a good Catholic commentary. Unsurprisingly, since it’s been this way since the early Church, the Church doesn’t teach a literalist reading of the Bible. In fact, they call that heresy, and the people who expound that Protestants.

          • Sandy

            Ivan, the premise is correct. If you reject it, you’re no longer catholic.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Thus spake Pope Sandy Numnuts. Clearly, I am rejecting God as creator wholesale, not admonishing you that Genesis is not to be read in literalist fashion.

              • Moreana

                That’s about as incomprehensible as all your prior posts.

                • ivan_the_mad

                  Considering what I’ve been responding to, I’ll take that as a compliment.

                  • Jmac

                    Sandy laid an anathema on you already. I think you’d better pack your things and head to more heretical corners of the web, you smelly apostate.

        • j. blum

          No one claims that “everything evolved from an amoeba.”. Amoebas and other artists-formerly-known-as protozoans are relatively late in arriving on the scene. Bacteria seem to have had the place to themselves for nearly two billion years. And plants and fungi, not to mention all those bacteria, and algae to boot, did not evolve from anything like an amoeba. I’m not even sure that amoebas were early examples of Protoctista.

    • A Philosopher

      Backward causation.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Such a concept is not in Genesis. Clearly, it cannot be.

        • A Philosopher

          Such a concept is not in Genesis. Clearly, it cannot be.

          Not yet. Give it time. Again, backward causation.

        • Jmac

          To borrow a favorite phrase of yours, QED, you ignoramus!

          • ivan_the_mad

            LOL! Yeah, I’m just waiting for the circular arguments regarding Biblical truth to crop up.

    • Ted Seeber

      If evolution is true- then wouldn’t the fall be the very evolution of the homo species to begin with?

      I posted above a link to the Wikipedia article on Y-Chromosome Adam. I note that the MRCA for ALL homo species is in fact pretty close to the Mitochondrial Eve.

  • ‘And “grace perfect nature” is a statement that reaches it apotheosis in the proposition that God raises bread and wine to transubstantiation into the Body and Blood of Christ…’

    No. The perfection of bread is not the Son.

  • Christopher Sarsfield

    Dear Mark,
    All those Saints that believed God created the world fully mature, saw no need to think God was lying. Especially, because He told them it was young in Scripture. Do you think they might think you make God a liar since the facts of Genesis are wrong?

    • Bill

      Read Scripture in the light of the Magisterium.

      • Christopher Sarsfield

        Could you please reference the magisterial text? Because I have tried to read the Saints, Doctors and Popes on this but maybe I missed something. Leo XIII on inerrancy of scripture:
        “But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain
        parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred. For the
        system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not
        hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals,
        and nothing beyond, because (as they wrongly think) in a question of the truth or
        falsehood of a passage, we should consider not so much what God has said as the
        reason and purpose which He had in mind in saying it-this system cannot be
        tolerated. For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical,
        are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy
        Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with
        inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but
        excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God
        Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true.” Providentissimus Deus
        Leo XIII

        • ivan_the_mad

          Inerrancy of scripture is not at all the same thing as literal truth of same. Jesus’ parables were not literally true, but neither were they in error.

    • Mark Shea

      Genesis is not doing science. It’s not about the age of rocks but the Rock of Ages.

      • Christopher Sarsfield

        Yes Mark it is not teaching Science, but did not get the facts it affirmed wrong either.

        • Mark Shea

          Precisely at issue is the question of what facts are being affirmed. The mistake of the Fundamentalist is always to assume that what he takes Scripture to be affirming is neither more nore less than what it is affirming. You take Scripture to be affirming a 10,000 year old Earth and the commencment of the death of all creatures with the fall of man. That is your fundamentalist reading. It is not the reading of the Church and, in the case of the death of creatures, it is not St. Thomas’ reading. The simple fact is, you are welcome to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

          • Christopher Sarsfield


            I understand that there can be difference of opinion on the time table. However, I think 14 billion years is stretching it. However, even the saints that questioned the time, never questioned the fall, the preternatural gifts, the perfection of creation, the curse upon the earth, etc.

            Finally, I have bent over backwards to not accuse any of heresy or of not being Catholic. The Church allows both positions. I have only tried to raise some of the problems with your position. And more importantly explain why I believe what I do. I do not believe I have mocked anyone, or acted in an ungentlemanly manner.

            BTW, I accept Thomas’ position on death, but I also believe that Thomas would not hold that opinion as a proof that the creation of God was not perfect before the fall, or that after the fall the world was cursed.

            • Mark Shea


              Thank you for your courtesy in not calling anybody a heretic. I apreciate it. Please know that I am not saying your position is heretical either. I’m simply saying it’s borrowing completely unnecessary trouble since the Church does not, in the slightest, commit you to it and you would, in fact, be extremely hard pressed to find a single solitary magisterial teacher in the world who believes the Catholic faith to commit us to the proposition the universe is 10,000 years old. Not. One. Single. Bishop. Anywhere. So I think clinging to this position is a huge waste of time. Coupled with the fact that it provides abundant scandal to those who are familiar with the relevant sciences and I think it does positive harm to the Church’s witness, just as things like geocentrism do. So I argue against it, not for the sake of salvation, but for the sake of the Church’s witness.

              • Christopher Sarsfield

                Then I suppose you don’t want to hear about my pious belief that God maintains the earth as the center of the universe because that is where the central event of the universe happened, ie incarnation? 🙂

                • Mark Shea

                  You’re welcome to it. In a relativistic universe, anywhere and nowhere is the center.

                  • keddaw

                    Unfortunately not, at least not without breaking some fundamental laws of physics.

                    If you posit the earth as the centre of the universe then the motion of the galaxies (and stars in the Milky Way) mean some stars are moving at speed way in excess of the speed of light in order to traverse round the galaxy each year (to make it appear as if the earth is circling the sun, which is circling the Milky Way).

  • Adolfo

    Those Saints were also not privvy to the same scientific knowledge that we have today. I am not going to hold them accountable for misunderstanding somthing they had no other way of understanding.

  • Evolution is the best scientific theory out there. That is it does the best job of predicting experimental results. If you want to get rid if it don’t just declare it to be false. Find a better theory. Something that predicts experimental results better. Then go collect your Nobel prize.

  • Sandy

    We also ought to find a colossal number of transitional organisms in the fossil record — for example, a squirrel on its way to becoming a bat, or a bear becoming a whale. (Those are actual Darwinian claims.)

    But that’s not what the fossil record shows. We don’t have fossils for any intermediate creatures in the process of evolving into something better. This is why the late Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard referred to the absence of transitional fossils as the “trade secret” of paleontology. (Lots of real scientific theories have “secrets.”)

    If you get your news from the American news media, it will come as a surprise to learn that when Darwin first published “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, his most virulent opponents were not fundamentalist Christians, but paleontologists.

    Unlike high school biology teachers lying to your children about evolution, Darwin was at least aware of what the fossil record ought to show if his theory were correct. He said there should be “interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps.”

    But far from showing gradual change with a species slowly developing novel characteristics and eventually becoming another species, as Darwin hypothesized, the fossil record showed vast numbers of new species suddenly appearing out of nowhere, remaining largely unchanged for millions of years, and then disappearing.

    • Jmac

      There are plenty of transitional forms out there. Stephen Gould obviously accepted evolution (given how many books he wrote on it), and was using the available data to push forward his own theory of punctuated equilibrium.

      • ivan_the_mad

        I believe Futurama did an excellent job of handling this:

        • Jmac

          Oh man, I loved that episode. Especially for the novelty of having Farnsworth (correctly) arguing for both evolution and intelligent design (of robots) in the same episode.

      • Sandy

        Ok, let’s just ignore Gould’s own reservations when it suits us. Go macro evolution! All bow before it!

        • Jmac

          I’m not ignoring anything, since as I said, Gould’s reservations aren’t actually reservations. His own punctuated equilibrium model has been mostly rejected in light of further evidence, and the quote of his, like so many other “proof texts” of the conspiracy of science, is a poorly quote-mined bit of useless noise that’s been given almost dogmatic standing among evolution deniers. If you read any of his books about evolution, you’ll find a much different picture of what he actually thought. Granted they are huge, and they are about science, so most people avoid them 🙂

          And I accept what you call “macroevolution” (which is a horrendously under-defined term) as the best explanation of the available evidence. Certainly better than anything creationism has to offer.

    • j. blum

      Bats predate squirrels in the fossil record. Whales share an ancestry with hippos. If you want to see transitional whales, come to Ann Arbor to the University of Michigan’s Natural History Museum.

  • Sandy Harrison

    There are plenty of excellent and very smart, even Catholic scientists that do not worship the golden calf of blind evolution. Michael Behe for one. His reasoning for rejection is based in science not theology. Evolution is not natural selection. There is a huge difference in a live animal population responding to ecological pressures with the encoded elasticity inherent in its genetic code, and mathematically random mutations. If you get into the statistics of the random mutations, and the time necessary to create life, there is not enough time for all this to happen given the accepted age of the universe from big bang forward. Science is going to have to do better…I reject Richard Dawkins style evolution as a Physicist and a mathematician.

    • Jmac


      Michael Behe still accepts common descent, the notion that current species all descended from an original population of very simplistic organisms. He only questions the mechanism with his “irreducible complexity” argument, which scientists have found incoherent and untestable.

      • Arnold

        I would add that from what I can tell, ID is not a proponent of the “God of the gaps” theory. It proposes that if something shows every sign of being designed then that should be the best explanation until and unless science proves that evolution is the only explanation. The enormous complexity of the human cell (unknown to Darwin and others of his time) beggars the question of how natural selection could have created something of that complexity (or “irreducible complexity”) and within the time period allowed (four billion years or whatever). I am just a layman fascinated by the issue who feels that ID proponents deserve more respect than many are willing to give them, including Michael Flynn.

        • Jmac

          Hi Arnold.

          The issue is that there is no “clear sign” that something is designed, considering that many structures previously thought to have been designed can in fact be shown to have evolved. Michel Behe’s irreducible complexity argument is poorly defined, and has several faulty assumptions:

          Moreover, we have recent evidence of an “irreducibly complex” system evolving, in the case of nylon-eating bacteria. Bacteria were discovered in Japan in 1975 that were able to break down some byproducts of nylon, which only existed 50 years before the bacteria were discovered. Their digestive abilities are not anything like any bacteria related to them, and fits Behe’s criteria for irreducible complexity.

          I agree it’s a fascinating topic, but really, there’s nothing in ID that’s worthwhile to science. If they could offer an experiment or a testable prediction, that would be one thing, but I see nothing forthcoming from the ID movement but pretty talk.

          • ivan_the_mad

            “but I see nothing forthcoming from the ID movement but pretty talk”

            Yeah, unfortunately, I think ID is a reaction to silly atheists trying to draw silly non-scientific conclusions from evolution. Like many such reactionary ideas, I think that in the long run it will harm more than help the thing it wants to defend.

  • JD

    After reading paragraphs 35, 36, and 37 of Humani Generis (which I have not quoted to save space), I have three questions (which are based on the assumption that I understand what these selections mean) I would like help with:

    1. Has the science in regard to whether all humans share a single set of ancestral parents (biologically) moved from hypothesis to certainty?

    2. If not, what are we to make of Pius XII’s contrast between the liberty the children of the Church enjoy as to “conjectural” discussions regarding “evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter” (para. 36) and “another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism” (para. 37)?

    3. If the contrast is no longer pertinent because of the results of more recent science, is it possible for the Church to modify Pius XII’s statement that original sin “proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam” or that it is passed “through generation … to all?”

  • JD

    Thanks for the Feser links–good stuff.

  • Ed

    It is simply wrong to say that Intelligent Design depends on the “god of the gaps.” The phrase, if it means anything, means that you use God as the explanation for anything you don’t understand, and Intelligent Design doesn’t do so.

    Intelligent Design’s argument is that something that is the result of blind chance looks like A, while a living creature looks like anything but A; therefore, living creatures are not the result of blind chance. If something is not the result of blind chance, then it is designed.

    Darwinism, on the other hand, is guilty of most of the sins that it accuses others of. It pretends to be science while living as the atheist creation myth, and its god of the gaps is chance, which explains everything. It has never fit the evidence from biology and paleontology, but demands that the believers look the other way, or else face the penalties.

    Unfortunately, your article comes across as an attempt to prove your respectability by shoving somebody on to the right of you into the shark tank.

    • Jmac

      Blind chance is not the mechanism of evolution. Mutations are random, but the natural selection that acts on novel mutations is anything but random.

      “Intelligent Design’s argument is that something that is the result of blind chance looks like A, while a living creature looks like anything but A; therefore, living creatures are not the result of blind chance. If something is not the result of blind chance, then it is designed.”

      This might be an argument if the ID crowd could point to anything in nature that supports this, and make a testable prediction based on their theory. They have yet to do so in a rigidly defined way.

      And evolution really does fit all the available evidence, and does so better than any other competing “theory”. I see the “no evidence, no transitional forms!” line brought out a lot, but it’s just straight-up false.

  • Sandy

    Macro evolution has no support in the fossil record. None. And this makes sense, since none of us ever witness and transitional species arising. Are any of us growing wings? I don’t feel any wings emerging from my back – – though it would be a great help to me to have wings to avoid predators. Bears too. Why aren’t they sprouting wings? Pigs too.

    • Jmac

      … Yeah, I’m really not sure if you’re kidding now, but I’ll play along anyhoo. Re: no transitional forms, scientists would disagree with you:

      And if your comment is any indication, you really have no idea what the mechanism of evolution is. Helpful hint: individual organisms don’t evolve, species as a whole do. And I’m not aware of any evolutionary pressure towards flight on humans, bears, or pigs. Give things another million years and I guess we’ll find out though 🙂

      Finally, the difference between micro- and macroevolution is entirely arbitrary. It’s set up to allow creationists to move the goalposts really easily.

      • sandy

        Ok Jmac, keep ignoring the fossil record and Gould’s own doubts.

        • Jmac


          Okay, now I know that you’re joking.

          • Sandy

            Breaking news! Paleontologists working in the mountains have just discovered the skeletal remains of Whale-Bear, with claws but also a blow hole. Evolution is now proven true!

            • Mark Shea

              I’m sort of curious. What *do* you make of all those fossils they keep digging up? Where did they come from? Why are they there? Do you think they all came into existence at once? Do you think they were laid down in rock layers over millions of years? Cards on the table. We know what you don’t think. What *do* you think? And why?

              • Sandy

                I think the fossil record argues against macro evolution, strongly. There is a sudden burst of a wide variety of vastly disparate creatures which undermines the now dogmatic claim that everything came down from an amoeba (and there is no reason to think that amoeba spontaneously came to life from inanimate matter either) 60 billion years ago. I believe this is one reason why paleontologists were so against Darwin’s theory. I do believe we descend from a single original pair of humans beings.

                • Mark Shea

                  Yes. I know what you *don’t* think. But what *do* you think? Why does the fossil record consistently show more ancient life forms to be simpler and the steady appearance of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, etc. at different geological time periods. Try to answer without turning your answet into another negation. How *do* you explain the fossil record, not how *don’t* you explain it?

            • Jmac

              I’ll second that. I’ve already sent you links about transitional forms and other fossil evidences for evolution. I’ve told you why Stephen J. Gould’s “reservations” aren’t reservations at all. I’m not sure what you think you’re going to accomplish by simply repeating yourself.

              And yeah, I’m really curious to know what you actually think about all we know about the natural world. No jabs, no swipes, just let me know how you think humanity got here, how other species got here, etc. Throw some cosmology in if you can, too.

              • Sandy

                Jmac, you just ignored my prior post on this, its substance. I have no doubt you can cut and paste links to articles which you think support the “fact” of macro evolution. I can link you to just as many that are against it. What’s the point?

                • Jmac

                  How about the fact that they reference actual scientific study and real data? That seems like a sufficient reason to me. I mean, they aren’t articles so much as a categorization of the available evidence. You’ve stated that you disagree that the fossil record supports “macroevolution”, but that’s all you said on the subject. I disagreed, and pointed you towards evidence that I, and more importantly every relevant biologist, believes supports the notion of common descent. If you can’t provide any more evidence for your position than merely saying “evolution is wrong”, what do you hope to accomplish here?

                  Could you at least give a rigid definition of what you mean by macroevolution? That’s been a very squishy term among the literature of the evolution-denying crowd I’ve researched.

                  Also, you may notice I posted my question about 2 minutes before your post. I can’t really ignore something in the future 🙂

                  • Sandy

                    I meant my original post from yesterday.

                    Here is Darwin in his own words:

                    “Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.”

                    There should be a massive amount of clear transitional fossils, and yet there are only a handful of what are claimed to be transitional fossils. This makes me quite suspicious. What most sets my radar off about evolutionists, however, is the almost giddy joy they take in ridiculing religious belief. There’s always a swipe at the “rubes” who don’t accept the theory in its totality. That’s not good, dispassionate science and it’s obnoxious to boot. Do we remember the Shroud testers who put an exclamation mark after the supposed date of the Shroud back in the 80s? That reveals an agenda, almost an anger toward religion.

                    • Jmac

                      But Darwin isn’t a very useful reference for today, when we have been able to adequately survey the world, and fill in several gaps in the phylogenetic trees. In fact, given how rare fossils in general are, we have an astounding amount of transitional forms, as the studies I linked indicate.

                      Regarding the conspiracy of science about such things, I’m confident you’re blowing things far out of proportion. For every Richard Dawkins in the world, there’s a Kenneth Miller or Francis Collins or Fr. Spitzer out there who not only accepts everything discovered in the light of evolutionary theory, but does so while denying that it and religious belief could possibly be in conflict. As Ivan stated earlier, ID and other forms of creationism are an overreaction to dumb atheists extracting theological implications from science. While there are some out there that do so, there’s nothing in evolutionary theory itself that conflicts with religion, properly understood. Lumping “evolutionists” together as a homogeneous body of like-minded yes men is very misleading.

                    • Jmac

                      And can I get a definition of macroevolution?

                    • Sandy

                      But that’s the point, far from all the “gaps” have been filled in. There should be a clear fossil record showing our alleged gradual evolution from apes. But there really isn’t.

                      By macro evolution I mean trans-species jumps. The bear becoming a whale, for example. I know the rejoinder is that it happened on a micro basis over time but I’m not convinced. May be true but I’m not convinced. Do you accept that God intervened in time to create the first man and woman?

                    • Mark Shea

                      I can’t help but notice, Sandy, that you are avoiding my question. Why might that be?

                    • Jmac

                      There are about 15, well-defined links between Homo Sapiens Sapiens and Australopithecus Afarensis. Consider what geological processes it takes to actually get fossils to form, and that’s quite a staggering bit of evidence. Far from “none” at the very least.

                      Why would you a assume bear->whale would be an evolutionary transition? Certainly there are land Mammalia that were common ancestors of both, but “bear” and “whale” are just very specialized deviations from that ancestor.

                      Do I accept that God created the first man and woman? Certainly. Was it an act of special creation, namely the creation ex nihilo of simultaneously the first physical and metaphysical human pair? Nope. Physical humans predate metaphysical humans, as the Feser and Flynn articles argue.

  • To answer the question:

    How to read the account of the fall

    390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.264 Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.265

  • Jmac

    Next person to make an unsourced claim or false dichotomy wins the internet!

    • Mark Shea

      That’s exactly what Adolf Hitler said once. And if you don’t believe me then we might as well all abandon the Faith as a total hoax.

  • This was great! And you know, this all highlights the significance of the Teilhard de Chardin.

    Flannery O’Connor (the Catholic novelist) wrote, “It is doubtful if any Christian of this century can be fully aware of his religion until he has seen it in the cosmic light which Teilhard has cast upon it.”

    Evolution, for Catholics in the 20th century, hasn’t seemed to be a huge problem. If anything there is quite a lot of room in the Catholic theological imagination for it.

    • sandy

      Come again?

      “You can’t get any benefit or enlightenment from thinking about Teilhard. The ravages that he has wrought that I have witnessed are horrifying. I do everything I can to avoid having to talk about him. People are not content with just teaching him, they preach him. They use him like a siege engine to undermine the Church from within (I am not kidding) and I, for one, want no part of this destructive scheme.” — Etienne Gilson

      • Mark Shea

        I always like Peter Kreeft’s assessment of Teilhard: “a great poet who thought he was a philosopher”. No wonder Flannery liked him and Gilson couldn’t stand him.

        • Sandy

          Yes. Teilhard and Original Sin are like oil and water.

          Great post Mark it has generated a lot of thoughtful commentary.

  • I would have been careful about bringing in the word form. Since the change in substance I believe is done by a succession of the form of the Body and Blood of Christ replacing the form of the bread and wine. Not annihiliated but succeeded. As someone cited above see STh III, 75.

  • sandy

    Jmac, we’ve run out of space up there. Physical humans v. metaphysical humans is interesting and I don’t doubt that it’s possible. But it’s not proven and never really can be this side of the grave. Soul-less human beings walking the earth for some time, that’s kind of creepy. On the subject of science’s hostility to religion, I remember I had a professor once who insisted that every human being who has ever lived has died and their body decomposed. This was at Catholic college no less. When I inquired how that interacted with the Assumption and Christ’s resurrection and Ascension, he looked like he was about to explode.

    • Mark Shea

      Not “soul-less”. Merely “not rational”. All living things have souls. As to “science’s” hostility to religion, I think what you meant to say was, “the hostility of some scientists” to religion. Gregor Mendel, George Lemaitre and Louis Pasteur seem to have been rather devout. Really, if you are going to fight the “war” between science and religion, you should learn more about the religion part.

    • Jmac

      I’m really not sure how the decomposition of all human bodies is exactly in conflict with the Assumption or Resurrection. It’s not like the individual particles in my body are important. All the protons and electrons in my body are completely interchangeable. It’s their configuration that defines my body.

  • tz

    I’ve in other fora suggested some amoral but intelligent force (assume the nebulae hubble sees are intelligent, but only utter a syllable every 1000 years much as we would appear to the cpu in our computers) might be the cause.

    My annoyance is no one cares what is true, either eviloution (pun intended, see eugenics), or the epistemology. We can calculate mutation rates, whether they are harmful or beneficial, and calculate the number and kind to turn a light-sensitive simple dot into a complex eye, and a few billion years just doesn’t cut it given current science. Why can’t both sides admit a simple “I don’t know”?

    I can put some age to the earth – vastly more than 6k, but 4g is a guess at best. Radioisotopes will date with several orders of magnitude difference from the same rock. Fossils will contradict (the layers are shuffled like a deck of cards somehow).

    God can use proxies. That is clear. Man is the faulty, bug-ridden prototype. Powerful but tends to blow up or break down. Woman got that milk thing working, but had to thrift things, but lasts longer. Who knew angels were engineers?

    In summary, each claim – age of earth, what is presented as “history”, paleobiology, needs to be judged on their individual merits, and not accepted because a priest of GAIA in his white lab-coat pronounces it as truth.

  • Sandy

    Zombie nation. Not sure about that one and the theory starts to get ridiculous. Pre-metaphysical physical humans with non-human souls. That’s quite a mouthful.

    Do you want me to give you a list of contemporary scientists hostile to religion? Really?

    • Mark Shea

      Not sure about what? That all living things have souls? Then you don’t know anything about St. Thomas. All living things have souls. A biological human would have a soul, but not a *rational* soul. It’s not really all that complicated. And again, I don’t deny there are scientists hostile to religion. That doesn’t mean that science is hostile to religion. It merely means that some scientists are bad philosophers.

      And, yet again, I note that you are avoiding answering my question about what you *do* think the fossil record indicates. Why are you avoiding answering?

    • Jmac

      “Not sure about that one and the theory starts to get ridiculous. Pre-metaphysical physical humans with non-human souls. That’s quite a mouthful.”

      You’re discrediting the approach favored by quite a few Catholic philosophers because it’s too wordy? I really wouldn’t recommend you read anything by Michael Flynn, then. 😀

  • Sandy

    I answered Mark and not sure where your hostility is coming from. maybe revisit my earlier posts on the fossil record. It indicates a sudden explosion of many different species which contradicts the theory of a slow development from an alleged original amoeba. I don’t know exactly what God did, however. None of us do.

    Not sure about the “biological human with non-human souls” theory. It’s a poor choice of words also since a human being is by definition a body and soul, not merely one or the other. (You can confirm that with Aquinas by the way)(. Never said living things don’t have souls, though spirit is probably the more precise term.

    • Jmac

      That would be the definition of a metaphysical human, Sandy. That’s where the “rational” animal comes in. Merely physical humans are at the animal level.

      And saying “scientists are hostile to religion” is to invoke the genetic fallacy, and lump a good deal of devout scientists in with those “evil atheists”. As for the sudden explosion of life, I can only assume that you’re talking about the “Cambrian explosion”. Which, by the way, is perfectly explicable within evolutionary theory, as a few minutes on Wikipedia will show.

      • Sandy

        There is hostility, i’m well aware it is not shared by all scientists. And there’s no such thing as a “merely physical human,” that’s an animal dressed up with clever wording.

        In any case, an interesting statement is made by evolutionist Peter Savolainen in the journal Science and sounds almost like he is referring to a pair of dogs trotting off the Ark and contradicts the furious effort to dogmatize evolution: “we can say now there was probably one geographic origin [of dogs].” Evolutionist E. H. Colbert suggests this geographic area as eastern Turkey. Funny.

        • Jmac

          “And there’s no such thing as a “merely physical human,” that’s an animal dressed up with clever wording.”

          That was almost exactly my point. A physical human IS an animal, with an animal soul. A metaphysical human is a rational animal, with a rational soul.

          “In any case, an interesting statement is made by evolutionist Peter Savolainen in the journal Science and sounds almost like he is referring to a pair of dogs trotting off the Ark and contradicts the furious effort to dogmatize evolution: “we can say now there was probably one geographic origin [of dogs].” Evolutionist E. H. Colbert suggests this geographic area as eastern Turkey. Funny.”

          One geographic origin isn’t exactly damning evidence considering that it’s commonly seen with a lot of species. I don’t have a good handle on dog evolution, but they do have a recent common ancestor with wolves, which have been around for considerably longer. All in all, this sounds like another case of creationist quote mining.

    • Mark Shea

      No. You did not answer. You told me what you *don’t* think the fossil record means. You have yet to tell me what it does mean.

  • Sandy

    Also Jmac, where are the transitional species today? Has evolution stopped? I don’t see that global warming or climate change is producing any punctuations in the “equilibrium.”

    • Jmac

      Of course evolution hasn’t stopped. We have recent evidence of an “irreducibly complex” system evolving. Look up nylon-eating bacteria. Somewhere between the invention of nylon in the ’30s and 1975, bacteria evolved that could break down nylon byproducts, using a digestive system that is vastly different from all bacteria related to it.

      If you’re looking for rapid phylogenetic change, you’re not going to see it on the scale of a few tens of lifetimes. Species are being acted upon by natural selection the same as they always have, becoming more specialized, and increasing speciation. What were you expecting? A dog to suddenly sprout tentacles? Then its offspring turn into something resembling Cthulhu? That’s not remotely how evolution works.

      You see, Sandy, the jabs you keep trying to throw at evolution reflect, in my opinion, that you have skimmed a lot of creationist materials, but have spent precious little time trying to understand from actual evolution scientists precisely what exactly the theory of evolution states. Having read a lot of creationist materials myself, I see you making a lot of similar points. I really don’t find any of these arguments convincing at all, and think they reflect a deep scientific illiteracy. If you want to take down the scientific atheist conspiracy, it’s a lot more convincing to them if you’re arguing against something they actually believe.

      • Sandy

        Ah, yes, Jmac, you are the superior intellect.

        • Jmac

          Ah gawrsh, I’m blushing.

          Seriously, though, I’m only suggesting that you actually study the science before you attack it with poor arguments.

      • Sandy

        and yes, speciation should be visible when it begins. even if it’s minute. and it isn’t. your claim is that a common ancestor morphed into a bear and a whale over time. that had to happen gradually. all i see evidence of are occasional birth defects and genetic abnormalities. why aren’t labradors developing gills slowly? they love to swim.

        the bacteria example doesn’t do much for me. is that all there is?

        • Jmac

          Yeah, Sandy, if your comments are any indication, you really don’t know all that much about evolution. The evolution of a system to metabolize nylon is quite rapid, if you have an appreciation for the biochemical machinery required to make that happen.

          I’ve made no comments on bears turning into whales, and I can’t figure why you’re so fixated on this, besides the fact that a bhale (whare?) would look freakin’ cool. Merely that they had a common ancestor that was neither whale nor bear. I don’t think you have an appreciation for how long “gradually” takes, and you certainly won’t see rapid phylogenetic change in a lifetime, for large organisms. Nor will you see specialized species like dogs become largely water-based animals unless there is selective pressure for them to do so. This would take hundreds of thousands of years, and would involve many more intermediate steps.

          Please, please, read some science. Stephen J. Gould is a great source.

          • Sandy

            And yet he himself had reservations (I know, I know, you’ve told me that his reservations weren’t actually reservations).

            You are asking people to uncritically accept and believe a great many things that haven’t been seen and can’t be seen. This is one reason why evolution is similar to faith in a way.

            • Jmac

              Nope, I’m asking you to do some research before you say that there’s no evidence 🙂

            • Jmac

              Nothing in science is based on uncritically accepting or believing anything (beyond that the universe is comprehensible and knowable). Having collected plenty of evidence (which I’ve tried to share with you), scientists formulated the theory of evolution to explain the facts visible in the fossil record. Every discovery to date has reinforced this. Merely ignoring the evidences I’ve linked to you and repeatedly saying “there’s no evidence” is really not convincing in the slightest as far as counterarguments go.

              Since you’ve yet to provide a source to your Gould quote, allow me to provide it for you, with an explanation of why your understanding of the quote is flawed:

              Let me add more, by Niles Eldridge: “No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seems to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change — over millions of years, at a rate too slow to account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history.”

              With a little out-of-context quote mining magic and the dogmatizing of dated models of origins, I could literally show that any scientist has “reservations” about evolution. That’s why I encourage you to actually READ their works, and see if they stack up the way you expect. Otherwise, providing quotes with no context seems very disingenuous.

  • Sandy

    I think it suggests divine intervention; that God was involved in the development and origin of species. Suggests, doesn’t prove.

    Diving intervention happens. Rare, but it happens. Kind of like God becoming man.

    • Jmac

      Well, you’ll forgive me if that sounds exactly like a god-of-the-gaps argument to me.

      • Jmac

        Which is especially sad when there aren’t even any real “gaps” to shove God into.

  • Sandy

    Oh please, now you’re just being an evolution cheerleader. There are gaps all over the place. No dispassionate scientist denies this. Consider also:

    • The suggestion that Darwin’s theory of evolution is like theories in the serious sciences — quantum electrodynamics, say — is grotesque. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to 13 unyielding decimal places. Darwin’s theory makes no tight quantitative predictions at all.

    • Field studies attempting to measure natural selection inevitably report weak-to-nonexistent selection effects.

    • Darwin’s theory is open at one end, because there is no plausible account for the origins of life. (Hint: this was most likely God).

    • The astonishing and irreducible complexity of various cellular structures has not yet successfully been described, let alone explained. (no one can explain how the eye “evolved”)

    • A great many species enter the fossil record trailing no obvious ancestors, and depart leaving no obvious descendants.

    • Where attempts to replicate Darwinian evolution on the computer have been successful, they have not used classical Darwinian principles, and where they have used such principles, they have not been successful.

    • Tens of thousands of fruit flies have come and gone in laboratory experiments, and every last one of them has remained a fruit fly to the end, all efforts to see the miracle of speciation unavailing.

    • The remarkable similarity in the genome of a great many organisms suggests that there is at bottom only one living system; but how then to account for the astonishing differences between human beings and their near relatives — differences that remain obvious to anyone who has visited a zoo?

    • Jmac

      Would you kindly care to source any of these claims? Especially the three of these that aren’t god-of-the-gaps?

      • Darwin’s theory is open at one end, because there is no plausible account for the origins of life. (Hint: this was most likely God).
      -Abiogenesis. God-of-the-gaps anyway.

      • The astonishing and irreducible complexity of various cellular structures has not yet successfully been described, let alone explained. (no one can explain how the eye “evolved”)
      -That’s just false. Also god-of-the-gaps. Irreducible complexity is an incoherent and untestable conjecture that has yet to produce a single experiment or prediction.

      • A great many species enter the fossil record trailing no obvious ancestors, and depart leaving no obvious descendants.
      -God-of-the-gaps. Do you have ANY idea how rare fossils are? Why would you expect clear family lineages to stand still for years while they fossilize?

      • The remarkable similarity in the genome of a great many organisms suggests that there is at bottom only one living system; but how then to account for the astonishing differences between human beings and their near relatives — differences that remain obvious to anyone who has visited a zoo?
      – Still god-of-the-gaps. And evolution does purport to explain just why there are “astonishing” differences between humans and other creatures with whom we share a recent common ancestor.

      Sandy, I can’t say it enough, but the strawmen of evolution you’re building are getting really old, and quite frankly, I have better things to do. I don’t particularly care whether or not you personally believe in any sort of cosmology, but I strongly believe that the Church’s witness suffers injury when believers adopt a Calvinist theology of origins, and make all manner of unscientific claims.

      If these are the best arguments that creationism has to offer, I have no idea why it still exists in any form. Please, take the time to dispassionately study the science. I think you’ll be surprised just how elegant and well-supported evolution is. That’s all.

      • Jmac

        I will add that I believe that God created all life on earth, but I have seen nothing to indicate that he did so through special creation.

        • Sandy

          Jmac, since you raised the issue, I must say that this position of yours really puts you out of communion with Catholic thought and the Church’s witness. As Cardinal Schonborn said, “Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian 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.” It’s ideology, it isn’t science.

  • Sandy

    God of the gaps. That makes me chuckle. That’s your best reply to these compelling criticisms? I am not saying that God fills these gaps, what I am saying is that they are massive holes in the theory of evolution. You fill them with Evolution and you do it on faith.

  • Sandy

    Oh and “abiogenesis.” Talk about “god of the gaps.”