.- Adding his voice to the still sticky evolution / intelligent design conversation, Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl, argued in a recent column in the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper for the reasonableness of intelligent design, and the need for its rightful place in accepted theories for the origin of man.
For Bishop Wuerl, the crux of the problem is the either/or mentality which says that, “either everything as we know it was created as it is now by God in the beginning, or there was no creation or God of creation at all.”
Intelligent design, he says, is an appropriate middle ground. In this, he says, “we recognize both God’s free creation of all that is and the possibility, or even probability, that creation carried within it the plan of development which we can call evolution.”
Bishop Wuerl cites the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, and his work, Physics, where in “his study as a natural philosopher and scientist, not unlike Darwin’s Origins of the Species except in its conclusion, Aristotle develops at length a reasoned explanation for what we find in the universe.”
“His logical inferences”, the Bishop writes, “lead to the conclusion that there is in the cosmos a design that requires an explanation beyond our limited natural world…Aristotle discusses what he considers to be an intrinsic part of the cosmos – teleology. Translated into the idiom of today what he is talking about is ‘purpose’ or as some would define it, intelligent design.”
Likewise, philosopher Plato, he says, “discusses at considerable length the ordering principle of which the world is constituted. More than one scholar of Plato recognizes his ‘ideas’ or ‘forms’ as the ideas in the mind of God.”
Using ancient and more recent forms of philosophy and reasoning, Bishop Wuerl says that “One can easily conclude from reason alone that there is intelligent design in the universe. Most people, in fact, have. You do not have to invoke religious faith to arrive at such a reasonable conclusion. However, with faith you can bring unimpeachable support to that same conclusion.”
Noting Saint Augustine, who suggested centuries ago, that “the six ‘days’ of creation could hardly have been solar days as we now know, for according to the account in Genesis, the sun was not made until the fourth ‘day’,” the Bishop points to the fact that the “structure and literary form of the creation narrative are there to help us grasp what God is teaching us about creation.”
“Revelation”, he said, “tells us that only God existed forever and that God made all things out of nothing…In the marvel of that wondrous creation, there is a whole array of realities all of which reflect the glory of God. What God created is good.”
A reasoned response
“One can very comfortably”, the Bishop concludes, “believe that God is the Creator, and also hold the theory that creation had within it the seeds of an evolutionary development that would take place over eons.”
He says that while it is the job of science to ascertain many of the details of the advancement of life on earth, the “light of reason and the human intellect” can easily discern that there is a purpose and a design behind our existence.
He echoes Vienna Cardinal Christof Shoenborn, who wrote in a New York Times op/ed piece earlier in the summer that while “Evolution in the sense of common ancestry may be true…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.”
Continuing to make a case for intelligent design among other leading theories of the universe’s origin, the Bishop wrote that, “When we examine with the light of reason the origins of the cosmos and human life then we must be prepared to respond to all the reasonable, rational, intellectually sustainable theories.”
“Academia”, he said, “must never become arbitrarily exclusive of the conclusions of rational investigation.”