Since it’s Halloween, we may as well examine the spooks, hobgoblins, and bogeymen which taunt and haunt the minds of our public undead, which is to say, our intellectuals.
Now no one of these creatures is frightening by himself. But when you gather them together and concentrate their power—say, in universities—they are like zombies. The slow kind, I mean. They move inexorably forward, infecting or killing every good idea in their path. Being undead, they are difficult to take down.
A common zombified idea (yes, zombified) is that evolution implies atheism, which is why you see such hysterical defenses of the subject whenever anybody challenges even the smallest part of the theory. The implication is false, always has been false, and is easily seen as false. Evolution is perfectly consistent with, for instance, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, among others.
Which is why Pope Francis, addressing a meeting of the Pontificial Academy of Sciences, said the other day that “Evolution in nature is not in contrast with the notion of (divine) creation because evolution requires the creation of the beings that evolve”.
This is almost a tautology. If you had no creatures, there would be no creatures that could evolve, n’est-ce pas? But where did the stuff that makes creatures come from? And, once these creatures got here, from where did the rules of evolution arise? Good questions, those. Here’s another: how did any of the rules, i.e. “scientific laws”, arise? Another: why is there something rather than nothing?
Pope: “The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to something else, but it derives directly from a supreme principle that creates out of love…The ‘Big Bang’ [first posited by a Catholic priest, incidentally], that today is considered to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the creative intervention of God, on the contrary it requires it.”
The ever-angry Jerry Coyne was repulsed by the Pope’s commonsensical statement. He said there is “no evidence for the religious alternative of divine creation”. On the contrary, there is scads of it. There is more than a plethora. That Coyne does not know of this evidence, and not only publicly admits it, but boasts of his ignorance, is scary. Boo!
Coyne says, without supporting argument, that “the Vatican’s official stance on evolution is explicitly unscientific: a combination of modern evolutionary theory and Biblical special creationism.” If he means by “special creationism” that the rules of evolution and science and the universe itself (which is here defined as all there is) were designed and created by God, then he’s right. Modern evolutionary theory is, as Coyne suggest on this interpretation, not in the least inconsistent with Catholicism.
But I think instead that Coyne is just hyperventilating as biologists unthinkingly do whenever they hear the word “creation.”
The recent history of Catholicism and evolution is spotty. Pope Pius XII…insisted that humans…had been bestowed by God with souls, a feature present in no other species…Adam and Eve were seen as the historical and literal ancestors of all humanity.
Both of these features fly in the face of science. We have no evidence for souls, as biologists see our species as simply the product of naturalistic evolution from earlier species…Further, evolutionary genetics has conclusively demonstrated that we never had only two ancestors…
Coyne, of course, holds the zombified idea of soul, and has never bothered to teach himself what the soul really is. To Coyne, a “soul” is an aetheric, ectoplasm-like substance which hides from all known scientific probes. A chilling definition. Boo!
The mundane truth is that the soul is the form of man. Animals have souls, too, because they have forms. So do plants have souls. The nature of the human soul is different, because we are rational creatures, whereas animals and plants are not. Hey, Jerry, here’s some homework for you.
Could there have been a literal Adam and Eve? Our friend Mike Flynn provides the necessary reading here: “Darwin tells us..an ape that was not quite a man gave birth to a man that was no longer quite an ape…[who] had the capacity for rational thought; that is, to reflect on sensory perceptions and abstract universal concepts.”
Later Coyne says evolution “is not a process involving chance alone, but a combination of random mutations and deterministic natural selection” and he quotes Pope Benedict who said the “universe is not the result of chance”. Now this is scary. Coyne, whose self-labeled orientation is biologist, does not understand his own subject. Boo!
Evolution cannot be a product of “random” or “chance” mutations; neither did the universe come into creation by “chance.” It is unscientific in the extreme to think that “randomness” or “chance” cause anything to happen. Is Coyne saying evolution happens by magic? Randomness and chance are measures of (our) ignorance and nothing more. Because we don’t know how the various causes of evolution came about does not mean these causes don’t exist—and neither can we conclude therefore the system which designed how these causes would work does not exist. To claim otherwise is to embrace mysticism. How irrational. Boo!
Ready for some bone-chilling spookiness?
Let’s start with the Big Bang, which, said Francis, requires the intervention of God. I’m pretty sure physicists haven’t put that factor into their equations yet, nor have I read any physicists arguing that God was an essential factor in the beginning of the universe. We know now that the universe could have originated from “nothing” through purely physical processes, if you see “nothing” as the “quantum vacuum” of empty space.
Scare quotes around nothing! Boo! Somehow—more magic!—nothing is defined as a “quantum vacuum” and this “nothing” causes things to happen—never mind how!
Now we scientists would call the something that is a quantum vacuum something, not nothing. From whence did that vacuum, or whatever it is that is the most basic level of existence, arise? Obviously from God, because why? Because God is existence itself. There is no creation, no movement, no change, no nothing (i.e. something) without God.
Jerry Coyne “is in a tough spot, straddling an equipoise between modern science and antiscientific medieval” woo-wooiness (yes, woo-wooiness). He wants there not to be a God so badly that he is willing to abandon rationality and embrace magical thinking. Which is fine, except he wants you to do the same. Boo!