One of the silliest things that children do is, when you make a statement about one thing, they then use that statement in another situation that is quite different. My two sons, who learned English as a second language, we well adept at manipulating words to completely different meanings to confuse and manipulate their exhausted mother. Usually an angry threat would lead to them laughing and running to their rooms, gleefully thinking that they had won the argument with their mother, but of course what they had done is play word games that ignored the heart of the matter.

We see similar word games being played when people argue about evolution.

In today’s magazine “The Scientist” , Professor Jack Woodall argues that a blue butterfly destroys the idea of “intelligent design”, because the ecology needed to sustain the butterfly’s existance is so fragile that only an idiot would design it. Ergo, no “intelligence” behind evolution, ergo no God.

But if you take a look at his argument, it is actually against Darwinian evolution, that insists on the survival of the fittest. The butterfly who precarious existance is cited shouldn’t exist, since it is unfit.

The argument about science versus God too often reminds me of my sons’ word games.

For example, too often “intelligent design” is merely a micromanaged version of “God made the animals one by one”, or the famous cartoon with two scientists standing in front of a blackboard with a long mathematical equation, which at the end says: And here God did a miracle. That is why scientists rightly says that this is not science, and does not belong in Biology class.

However, Darwin’s theories are also implicitly “religious” in the way they are taught, because the metaphysical meanings (i.e. religious ideas) behind the Darwinian version being promoted is ignored. These ideas include the idea that only science can find truth, ergo if it’s not scientific, it’s not true; the idea that no God was needed for man to evolve, therefore there is no God; the idea that only the fittest survive, and that this is a good thing.

Indeed, this last metaphysical idea, that the strong will survive, was quickly reinterpreted by the Eugnics movement of the twentieth century to the next step: that therefore ONLY the strongest SHOULD survive, and that it is a “law of nature” for the weak to perish, and therefore the death of the weak is somehow a good since it will speed evolution into supermen. This bad metaphysical idea is called social Darwinism and was the idea that fueled Hitler’s eugenic murders.

The use of Darwin to “scientifically” prove the non existance of God is another false argument.

Bluntly speaking, there is either a “god” or no god. There is a meaning for life, or there is no meaning for life. We can argue about it, but our arguments don’t make things true. Science is a tool, a means to truth, not truth itself, and the existance of God doesn’t depend on our arguments. After all, I can argue for years about the existance of life on Mars, but the presence of life on Mars is either there or not there. It’s existance doesn’t depend on my opinions.

That’s why educated Catholics hold back from the fight between the Darwinists, who infuse the science of evolution with metaphysical ideas that deny God’s existance and can easily evolve in the social Darwinism of Eugenics, and “intelligent design”, which is a sophisticated version of “God made the animals two by two”.

You see, Catholics have allowed the scientific idea of evolution since the days of St. Augustine.

What Catholics don’t allow is the metaphysics hiding behind the “Darwinists”: the idea that evolution is “blind” and that the ones who survive are the fittest, and that there is no ultimate meaning of life. And we find it silly that scientists untrained in philosophy ignore the metaphysics behind their arguments in order to feel superior to half trained scientists who ignore the science behind the theory of evolution.

A better metaphysics of scientific evolution is the ancient idea of the great designer, or the great composer who designed the symphony of evolution, and then directs it as it is played. It is only when the players get it wrong that he “tweaks” the program or intervenes in directing the symphony to put things right.

And so the metaphysical or “religious” answer answer to Professor Woodall’s religious argument would be that a the beauty of the blue butterfly shows a creator with a sense of beauty, and that the fact it exists at all shows a loving creator that cares for it, and the fact that it will die off will show that life is precarious, but that in the long run “everything works for the good”, and in a million years, the end result will be another creature that is perhaps more beautiful that will fill the same niche in life.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines with her husband, eight dogs, three cats, and a large extended family. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she sometimes posts about medical ethics to Boinkies’ blog

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