Monday, January 30, 2006

Why Intelligent Design isn't

Jesuit Father George V. Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, has been an outspoken opponent of the Intelligent Design camp, going so far as to publicly criticize Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schonborn for an article the archbishop wrote in the New York Times that called Catholic support for the theory of evolution into question.

Coyne is both clear and inspiring. My favorite paragraph:

If we take the results of modern science seriously, then what science tells us of God must be very different from God as seen by the medieval philosophers and theologians. For the religious believer modern science reveals a God who made a universe that has within it a certain dynamism and thus participates in the very creativity of God. Such a view of creation can be found in early Christian writings, especially in those of St. Augustine in his comments on Genesis. If they respect the results of modern science, religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly. Perhaps God should be seen more as a parent or as one who speaks encouraging and sustaining words. Scripture is very rich in these thoughts. It presents, indeed anthropomorphically, a God who gets angry, who disciplines, a God who nurtures the universe. God is working with the universe. The universe has a certain vitality of its own like a child does. It has the ability to respond to words of endearment and encouragement. You discipline a child but you try to preserve and enrich the individual character of the child and its own passion for life. A parent must allow the child to grow into adulthood, to come to make its own choices, to go on its own way in life. Words which give life are richer than mere commands or information. In such wise does God deal with the universe. It is for reasons of this description that I claim that Intelligent Design diminishes God, makes her/him an engineer who designs systems rather than a lover.

Read the whole talk if you've got 15 minutes to kill.


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