Religious discussions about the theory of Evolution crop up every once in a while. Now it’s the turn of The Economist to dedicate one Briefing to “Evolution and religion”.
In that article it is reported the well known fact that in certain Christian and Muslim circles there is now support for so-called “Intelligent Design” (ID), “the idea that some features of the natural world can be explained only by the direct intervention of a ingenious creator“.
Frankly, as a Christian and Monotheist myself, I do find ID insulting to the very concept of an Omnipotent God and therefore bordering onto the blasphemous.
Let’s assume some computations mentioned by ID proponents are correct (“it would require about 300 times the age of the universe to by chance form just one protein molecule“). The alternative is to have an Intelligent Being making something as complex as a protein, or as an eye appear.
This God or Gods would continuously interfere with the Universe, adding bits here and there, making eyeballs and noses and whatever else.
Such a notion should be rejected at once. It directly implies that the Being was/is not Intelligent enough to create a universe where proteins, eyes and everything else would indeed come out of a natural mechanism such as Evolution.
It all becomes clearer once we stop separating “natural” from “God-made”. Such a step should be quite easy for a religious type.
Therefore: since God is designing the whole of nature, including all “natural mechanisms”, what prevents Him from making evolution a natural process, using a rather more elegant solution than having to clumsily get any or all parts, big and small, made on purpose?
And think again of the eye: ID proponents say it is “too complex to have evolved on its own“. It’s them putting some kind of limitation to what God could and could not do.
That’s blasphemy: the implication that God would not be able to devise something called “evolution”, and had/has to intervene “personally” in the making up of new species.
Au contraire: the Theory of Evolution is so much more compatible than ID with the whole idea of an Omnipotent God.
The Intelligent Being, if any exists, has created us with a clear instant-by-instant perception of time flowing in a particular direction. This applies presumably to all creatures on Earth. Why not use that constraint then in designing and implementing them all?
Catholic circles especially in Rome are unwisely toying with the idea of discounting the Theory of Evolution anyway, as it would confine God “to just lighting the blue touch paper for the Big Bang“. Furthermore, if natural selection works with random steps, there it goes the “unique, God-given role in the animal kingdom” for the human species, especially favoured by Pope Benedict XVI.
These arguments should be aired after extremely careful consideration. First of all, as reported by The Economist, there is no point in devaluing the Church by letting it proclaim things that are manifestly false (a warning first made by St. Augustine).
As for the “blue touch paper“: the question is ill-posed. Even if the Universe has been created to follow Natural Laws such as Evolution, there is enough built-in uncertainty, such as in Quantum Physics, to allow any Creator to tinker at His pleasure.
Finally, regarding man’s unique role, I would rather promote more humility.
It makes little sense to try to defend one’s standing when the counterpart is… God!