"Throughout this essay I have sought to make a clear distinction between creation and change: to argue, that is, that creation is a concept in metaphysics and theology, not in the natural sciences."
Evolution _is_ a theory of creation. There are aspects of it which are not, and those are agreed upon by creationists, evolutionists, and ID'ers.
In addition, all metaphysics and theology, if they are true, should have an impact on the material world. Only if they are false should their effects be undetectable.
"At the very least, we should recognize, as Richard Lewontin did in the passage quoted above, that to claim that only materialist explanations of reality are acceptable is a philosophical assumption not required by the "methods and institutions of science.""
So why, then, is he rejecting Intelligent Design? Intelligent Design is no more than the study of intelligent causation.
"Whatever exists is caused to be by God; this is a conclusion in metaphysics; whether human souls are among the things that exist is a question to be answered in natural philosophy; whether living things have evolved by natural selection is the subject of evolutionary biology."
The idea that these arguments are wholly separable is foolishness. It depends very highly on how and what and when creation occurred to be able to interpret history. Evolutionary biology is simply an extension of Lyellian assumptions -- that processes today are essentially the same as processes in the past. Only by this _assumption_ (which says something specifically about theology) does evolution have any traction at all. Likewise, the existence or non-existence of the human soul affects greatly whether or not materialist/reductionist science can fully describe the operation of the human mind. If the soul exists, then reductionism is only part of the picture, and we need to be examining intelligent causes as well, not just physical causes.
"We should remember, however, that evolutionary biology's commitment to common descent by natural selection is essentially an explanation of origin and development; it is a historical account."
Likewise, the Bible is a historic account. The difference being that the Bible was written by eyewitnesses, while evolutionary biologists are restricted to circumstantial evidence interpretted in a manner directly contradictory of reality (materialism). Only by assuming a non-theistic history does evolutionary biology provide a creation account. Without this assumption that materialism is a complete description of reality, evolutionary biology (as a historical endeavor, not in the experimental sense) does not make sense.
"However necessary evolutionary biology is for understanding nature, it is not a substitute for the complete study of what things are and how they behave."
Yes, exactly! Doesn't this undermine the entire rest of the author's thesis? If someone is doing a reconstruction based on circumstantial evidence, doesn't the a priori exclusion of causes known to be in effect preclude someone from getting the right answer? This author apparently doesn't think so.
Ultimately, it seems the author does not understand the controversy itself.
(1) ID'ers are pretty much simply studying intelligent causation. If intelligent causation is true, then why can't it be studied? If it is true, why should it be ruled out a priori when examining biology? Should not our knowledge of how intelligent causes operate help us understand biology if it has markings of intelligent causation?
(2) Creationists do not look to the Bible as science, but as history. Several things:
(a) There is no reason why God would repeat over and over that he created the world in six days when in fact he took long ages. The vocabulary at the time of writing (post-Egypt) had sufficient terminology for long ages, should that be what God had intended. Likewise, contrary to the claims of some, the language in Genesis 1-11 is not poetic. It does not employ any of the common Hebrew poetry devices.
(b) The Bible records a worldwide flood. There are several indications it was worldwide besides the specific languages saying it was so, including (1) the length of time the ark was on the water without finding land (1 year), (2) the size of the ark and the number of animals on board, and (3) the global fear of a worldwide flood since that point.
(c) The Bible records a change in lifespan. This indicates a dramatic difference in either the biology or the environment pre-flood and post-flood. This can account for many of the differences between, for example, Neanderthal, Erectus, and Sapien.
(d) If there was a flood and an environmental change of this magnitude, it must have been geologically recorded. Consistent with this is fact that the Paleozoic and Mesozoic have the markings of having been laid down quickly and catastrophically. If this was the case, then the entire basis of fossil succession has been replaced by a physical cause (the flood) rather than long spans of time.
The fact is that creation and evolution -- neither one of them can be separated from metaphysics. As Hawking said, "However we are not able to make cosmological models without some admixture of ideology." In fact, few people realize that, at least according to Hawking in The Large-Scale Structure of Space-Time, the big bang model is in fact a metaphysical/philosophical choice, and was not the only one mandated by the evidence.
Also: the Bible cannot authentically be understood as affirming as true what the natural sciences [authentically] teach us is false.
There is only one body of Truth, which is indivisible and contains no internal self-contradictions: therefore if it can be shown that a scientific premise is actually so, without possibility of error, then no part of Revelation can actually contradict that finding. Of course the science must be proven - not merely loudly asserted by Al Gore. But no part of Revelation can authentically contradict the earth going around the sun, or the proven findings of Relativity etc. If a contradiction is found then it is an apparent contradiction only - confirmation of the science and then a second look at Revelation is called for.
We will not find a scientific fact that actually, really disproves the existence of anything that is true. That would be a contradiction in terms, pace Aquinas. So we can leave The Trinity, the Virgin Birth, or (as per this article) the Creation fully open to scientific enquiry, supremely confident that real scientific truth will not end up contradicting reality. Go on Science, knock yerself out!
BTW Chesterton's biography of Aquinas is still the best one out there, and it's free online.
Bump for later reading.
This means that Intelligent Designer is seemingly a demotion for the Creator, putting Him on the same level as the intelligent saboteur Satan.
Faith and Science Ping.
First, assuming that evolution is true and that creatures are in a continual, never-ending process of transformation (note: change in form), how would we be able to say with certainty that we are of the same species as Jesus, that His human nature was the same as ours?
It's my understanding that in circumscribing permissible belief regarding human origins, evolutionary theory may be permitted, but we must assert that evolutionary processes stopped with Adam and Eve, for the reason given above.
Secondly, it seems to me to be plainly absurd to speak of the continual transformation (change in form) of species when the notion of the transformation of species assumes the existence of stable forms (species) that are universally apprehensible, in contradiction to the assertion that species are continuously transforming. For example, if we assert that pigeons arose from Archaeopteryx, how can I know that what I understand as "pigeon" and "archaeopteryx" is what you understand to be "pigeon" and "archaeopteryx," or what was understood as "pigeon" and "archaeopteryx" 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, or 100,000 years ago, if all things exist in continuous transformation?
I don't see any solution to this epistemological problem.
One comment though. I believe there is only one "reality". The treatment where science and theology are comingled and compared with each other bothers me a bit. The two are so different that I find any direct comparison a bit off-key.
IMHO, Aquinas summed up the entire Creationist vs Materialist mud fight we are having today to be nothing but two sets of zealots, both wildly overstating their cases.
Defenders of "special creation" and of "irreducible complexities" in nature think that divine agency will show up in such gaps of nature. But "gaps" of nature are the provenance of the specialized empirical sciences.
How does the author know this with any degree of certainty? Are miraculous phenomena like miraculous medical cures "gaps of nature"?
In fact, both currents of thought have been represented by the great Church Doctors, perhaps reflecting the two accounts of Creation in Genesis. Augustine saw in the creation of the earth, for example, the potential to bring forth various kinds of life, whereas Aquinas saw the "days" of creation more in terms of defined periods of divine activity (I'm generalizing here).
Providentially, I have been reading through Aquinas' account of Creation recently, and he mentions the various opinions of the Church Fathers throughout his arguments. See The Six Days (Matter).
Divine agency, rather, ought to be seen in the fundamental teleology of all natural things, in the need for a First Mover, and in the complete dependence of all things on God as the source of their existence.
Why must divine agency be reduced to this? I see no obvious reason why, since God regularly performs miracles and creates new souls every day. The author seems to have a pre-disposition towards semi-deism.
I think the author is overstating Aquinas' position here. Certainly, Aquinas' commentaries on the biblical six "days" of creation is not a literal one. Nevertheless, Aquinas does explain the six "days" as six distinct periods of creation, as far as I can tell. In the Summa, Aquinas calls attention to the fact that Augustine's interpretation of the six "days" places a heavier emphasis on the creation of "potencies" in each "day."
Consider, for an example, Aquinas' commentary on the "second day."
Whether the firmament was made on the second day?
On the contrary, It is written (Genesis 1:6): "God said: let there be a firmament," and further on (verse 8); "And the evening and morning were the second day."
I answer that, In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to observed, as Augustine teaches (Gen. ad lit. i, 18). The first is, to hold the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation, only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.
We say, therefore, that the words which speak of the firmament as made on the second day can be understood in two senses. They may be understood, first, of the starry firmament, on which point it is necessary to set forth the different opinions of philosophers. Some of these believed it to be composed of the elements; and this was the opinion of Empedocles, who, however, held further that the body of the firmament was not susceptible of dissolution, because its parts are, so to say, not in disunion, but in harmony. Others held the firmament to be of the nature of the four elements, not, indeed, compounded of them, but being as it were a simple element. Such was the opinion of Plato, who held that element to be fire. Others, again, have held that the heaven is not of the nature of the four elements, but is itself a fifth body, existing over and above these. This is the opinion of Aristotle (De Coel. i, text. 6,32).
According to the first opinion, it may, strictly speaking, be granted that the firmament was made, even as to substance, on the second day. For it is part of the work of creation to produce the substance of the elements, while it belongs to the work of distinction and adornment to give forms to the elements that pre-exist.
But the belief that the firmament was made, as to its substance, on the second day is incompatible with the opinion of Plato, according to whom the making of the firmament implies the production of the element of fire. This production, however, belongs to the work of creation, at least, according to those who hold that formlessness of matter preceded in time its formation, since the first form received by matter is the elemental.
Still less compatible with the belief that the substance of the firmament was produced on the second day is the opinion of Aristotle, seeing that the mention of days denotes succession of time, whereas the firmament, being naturally incorruptible, is of a matter not susceptible of change of form; wherefore it could not be made out of matter existing antecedently in time.
Hence to produce the substance of the firmament belongs to the work of creation. But its formation, in some degree, belongs to the second day, according to both opinions: for as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv), the light of the sun was without form during the first three days, and afterwards, on the fourth day, received its form.
If, however, we take these days to denote merely sequence in the natural order, as Augustine holds (Gen. ad lit. iv, 22,24), and not succession in time, there is then nothing to prevent our saying, whilst holding any one of the opinions given above, that the substantial formation of the firmament belongs to the second day.