Intelligent design and science

Intelligent design and science

The Vatican newspaper, like Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn before it, has said that while Intelligent Design has some things to say about the origin of man that extreme materialist evolution advocates deny, ID is not a hard science and should not be taught in schools alongside or instead of evolution. This is the maddening thing about this debate. ID and evolution are not diametric opposites. You can believe that the universe shows evidence of Intelligent Design while also believing that mutations can occur in species over time, making them evolve into newer forms.

The problem is that extremists on both sides have so polarized the debate that they have distorted both ID and evolution into absolute categories.

I’m a little uncomfortable with how the original article, written in Italian, is summarized by CNS, but that may be due to the translation and summary and not a defect in the original. It makes it sound like there if we posit God is behind the creation of a species that this must be a matter of religious faith, not science. That’s not true. Neither is it right to say that ID is not science, per se. It sounds like the author, Fiorenzo Facchini, an evolutionary biologist, is making the same mistake of putting a wall of separation between faith and science. If God created the universe—as Catholics must believe—then science and faith must intertwine. This is not a mistake made by Cardinal Schoenborn in his writings on this subject.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
5 comments
  • “Neither is it right to say that ID is not science, per se.”

    It seems to me that ID is not science because it cannot be subjected to scientific inquiry. Thus, ID falls outside the purview of science.  ID might well be taught in a philosophy or theology course, but not in the science classroom. I think the distinction made in the report cited is a helpful one.

  • “It seems to me that ID is not science because it cannot be subjected to scientific inquiry. Thus, ID falls outside the purview of science.  ID might well be taught in a philosophy or theology course, but not in the science classroom.”

    True. But on the other hand we should not ignore the fact that there is a philosophy of science being taught implicitly if not explicitly in most schools. Many science books and teachers are not neutral on philosophy at all but teach science with a materialist philosophy that denies compatibility of science and religion.

    I think most ID advocates go too far, but I can see a real need to counteract the smuggling in of philosophy under the guise of science that is already going on.

  • Skip the double negatives:  There’s a movement of skepticism of Darwinian evolution based on scientific evidence that random mutation and natural selection do not give a complete explanation of the origin of species.  It’s the unbiased examination of nature and not blind faith that’s the intellectual engine of ID.

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