Day By Day

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cardinal Schonborn on Design in Nature

Science and Scientism seems to be emerging as a theme today. Here's a terrific article by Christoph Cardinal Schonborn on the subject of "The Designs of Science" from First Things.

Schonborn argues cogently against the arrogance of some scientists who would make theological pronouncements on the basis of their understanding of science:

Darwinian scientists going on dozens of pages in which they make such “theological” assertions, in bold and completely unqualified ways, assertions that evolution by means of random variation and natural selection is an unguided, unplanned process.

Many of those assertions are in textbooks and scientific journals, not just in popular writings.

The problem, he asserts, is a positivistic, materalistic form of science that:
first excludes a priori final and formal causes, then investigates nature under the reductive mode of mechanism (efficient and material causes), and then turns around to claim both final and formal causes are obviously unreal, and also that its mode of knowing the corporeal world takes priority over all other forms of human knowledge. Being mechanistic, modern science is also historicist: It argues that a complete description of the efficient and material causal history of an entity is a complete explanation of the entity itself—in other words, that an understanding of how something came to be is the same as understanding what it is.
He calls, instead, for a "modest" form of Darwinism that admits that there are questions that cannot be answered by scientific methodology, but that can be addressed by other, intellectually respectable, modes of thought such as philosophy, theology, and religion.

It's a powerful argument, well made, and one that is deserving of our attention.

Read it here.

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