Adding his voice to the volatile national debate over the teaching of Intelligent Design in the science classroom, Kansas City, Kansas’ Archbishop Joseph Naumann called for educational consistency across the board, saying either Intelligent Design philosophies should be allowed in, or secular ones taken out.
The theory of Intelligent Design suggests that the shape and scope of life in the universe is too complex to be the result of mere chance and coincidence. Proponents say that some intelligent force must lie at the beginning, but don’t make a claim as to who or what that force is.
Nevertheless, opponents of the theory say it has no place in public science classrooms and that it is a thinly veiled attempt to bring theology into the schools.
In his latest column, published in The Leaven newspaper, Archbishop Naumann asserted that “Faith has nothing to fear from the authentic pursuit of the truth,” but that “what we should fear is a half-hearted pursuit of truth.”
He called it intriguing that “some proponents of evolution have been upset by what they perceive as injecting philosophy and theology into the science classroom, while they have appeared oblivious to the entwining of the philosophy of materialism with evolutionary theory for the past 150 years.”
“In fact,” he added, “the authors of Intelligent Design accept natural selection — the key principle of evolution — but they maintain it can only explain a relatively small range of change in the natural world. They assert that the data supporting natural selection tells us nothing about the origin of the world, the origin of life and the development of such varied and complex life forms.”
He explained that “In the place of natural selection for the answer to these bigger realities, the Intelligent Design theorists hold that the empirical data supports the principle of ‘irreducible complexity.’”
The Archbishop pointed out that “opponents of Intelligent Design argue to keep all philosophical assumptions or theories out of science class discussions,” saying that he “would support such an approach, if this meant that in science classes the limited areas, where there is hard scientific evidence for natural selection, would no longer be used as a springboard to teach the grand assumptions and theories of materialism.”
He called on scientists and teachers to “Let the scientific facts speak for themselves with no philosophical explanations offered.”
But he said however, “if materialism is going to continue to be expounded in science classes, then why not allow a hearing of the competing theory of Intelligent Design?”
The prelate cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which reveals a confidence that a fair reading of all of scientific inquiry “will lead us to the true source of the world and of life.”
He said that the Catechism “also acknowledges the irresistible urge to go beyond just the articulation of the scientific data to the deeper questions about its meaning. The answers to these philosophical questions profoundly affect how we understand our world and ourselves.”
Archbishop Naumann concluded by saying that he would be “comfortable if our public schools taught both the philosophical theories of materialism with its view of a world that evolved by chance and Intelligent Design with its vision of a world whose order and beauty reveal an intelligent architect.”
This confidence, he said, comes from his belief of “where an objective reading of the evidence will lead most students.”