Vårt Land skriver i dag at “Det europeiske råd (som møtes fire ganger årlig, og dets oppgave er å fastsette kursen for Den europeiske union) advarte parlamentarikerne som sitter i Europarådet, mot konsekvensene av å ikke skille tydeligere mellom religion og vitenskap i skolen, og ba EUs 47 medlemsnasjoner om å: 1) Å bestemt motsette seg undervisning i kreasjonisme som en vitenskapelig disiplin på lik linje med evolusjonsteorien. og 2) Å forhindre at kreasjonismeideer presenteres i andre fag enn religion. Men tidligere i år hadde Europarådets komite for kultur, vitenskap og utdanning avvist en rapport som sa at kreasjonisme var en trussel mot menneskets frihet, og derfor måtte slås ned på.”
Diskusjoner om skapelse eller evolusjon blir ofte ganske intense (og usaklige), derfor kan det vært nyttig å lese en artikkel av kardinal Avery Dulles i First Things, der han ser på saken på en svært balansert måte, og ut fra et katolsk perspektiv.
… In a widely noticed message on evolution to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, sent on October 22, 1996, John Paul II noted that, while there are several theories of evolution, the fact of the evolution of the human body from lower forms of life is “more than a hypothesis.” But human life, he insisted, was separated from all that is less than human by an “ontological difference.” The spiritual soul, said the pope, does not simply emerge from the forces of living matter nor is it a mere epiphenomenon of matter. Faith enables us to affirm that the human soul is immediately created by God.
The pope was interpreted in some circles as having accepted the neo-Darwinian view that evolution is sufficiently explained by random mutations and natural selection (or “survival of the fittest”) without any kind of governing purpose or finality. Seeking to offset this misreading, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, published on July 7, 2005, an op-ed in the New York Times, in which he quoted a series of pronouncements of John Paul II to the contrary. For example, the pope declared at a General Audience of July 19, 1985: “The evolution of human beings, of which science seeks to determine the stages and discern the mechanism, presents an internal finality which arouses admiration. This finality, which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible, obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator.” In this connection, the pope said that to ascribe human evolution to sheer chance would be an abdication of human intelligence.
Cardinal Schönborn was also able to cite Pope Benedict XVI, who stated in his inauguration Mass as pope on April 24, 2005: “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”
Cardinal Schönborn’s article was interpreted by many readers as a rejection of evolution. Some letters to the editor accused him of favoring a retrograde form of creationism and of contradicting John Paul II. They seemed unable to grasp the fact that he was speaking the language of classical philosophy and was not opting for any particular scientific position. His critique was directed against those neo-Darwinists who pronounced on philosophical and theological questions by the methods of natural science.
Several authorities on these questions, such as Kenneth R. Miller and Stephen M. Barr, in their replies to Schönborn, insisted that one could be a neo-Darwinist in science and an orthodox Christian believer. Distinguishing different levels of knowledge, they contended that what is random from a scientific point of view is included in God’s eternal plan. God, so to speak, rolls the dice but is able by his comprehensive knowledge to foresee the result from all eternity.
This combination of Darwinism in science and theism in theology may be sustainable, but it is not the position Schönborn intended to attack. As he made clear in a subsequent article in FIRST THINGS (January 2006), he was taking exception only to those neo-Darwinists—and they are many—who maintain that no valid investigation of nature could be conducted except in the reductive mode of mechanism, which seeks to explain everything in terms of quantity, matter, and motion, excluding specific differences and purpose in nature. He quoted one such neo-Darwinist as stating: “Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with deterministic principles or chance. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces rationally detectable.”
Cardinal Schönborn shrewdly observes that positivistic scientists begin by methodically excluding formal and final causes. Having then described natural processes in terms of merely efficient and material causality, they turn around and reject every other kind of explanation. They simply disallow the questions about why anything (including human life) exists, how we differ in nature from irrational animals, and how we ought to conduct our lives.