Creation, evolution, teleology, and the myths we live by

Charles Darwin

“No teleologist can be a Darwinian.” ~ Charles Hodge, What is Darwinism?

Dr. Hodge

tel·e·ol·o·gy noun \ˌte-lē-ˈä-lə-jē, ˌtē-\

Definition of TELEOLOGY

1 a : the study of evidences of design in nature

b : a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature

c : a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes

2: the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose

3: the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena

— tel·e·ol·o·gist noun

Origin of TELEOLOGYLatin: teleologia, from Greek: tele-, telos end, purpose + -logia -logy. Source:

“Teleological is the name of a kind of explanation, namely, one that works by mentioning a function— not, for instance, by mentioning a cause…All talk of function is therefore in any case teleological. It is about design. What relation this fact may have to the possible presence of a designer is a separate question.” ~ Mary Midgley, Science as Salvation (London: Routledge, 1993) p.11

“Atoms collide in every possible way until they form a wide variety of molecules, each selected for by the local concentration of atoms together with the laws of chemistry. Molecules, in turn, explore ever more complicated chemical reactions until they form a molecule capable of catalyzing its own production together with variation in its form: Such a form of proto-life is selected for merely by its ability to reproduce and adapt to different environmental conditions. Because of its ability to adapt to new surroundings, life explores a vast space of possible beings, until it arrives first at sexual reproduction and then at language.” ~ Seth Lloyd (in, Intelligent Thought, (2006) page 189)

“The theory of evolution is not just an inert piece of theoretical science. It is, and cannot help being, also a powerful folk-tale about human origins.” ~ Mary Midgley (Evolution as a Religion, (London: Routledge, 1985, 2002) p. 1)

Dr. Benjamin Wiker, author of 10 Books That Screwed Up The World, joined us to talk in detail about how we ended up in the condition we are today. From Marx to Nietzsche, Freud to Kinsey – Dr. Wiker argues that it’s no accident the modern world is crumbling – but why? (See also: Answering the New Atheism, part 2.)

AUDIO – Political Vindication Radio: The Benjamin Wiker Interview

BOOK – Benjamin Wiker Moral Darwinism: how we became hedonists

BOOK – Benjamin Wiker 10 Books conservatives must read

BOOK – Charles Darwin The Descent of Man (1871)

BOOK – C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man (1943)

From: The World Perceived: a theological and phenomenological approach to thinking, perceiving, and living in-the-world:

Mary Midgley

“Of special interest to us here is the science of cosmology. Scientific theories of cosmology, by necessity, go far beyond all known scientific data or facts, because cosmological theories demand some sort of unifying conceptualization in order to help us understand the world (Greek: cosmos; Latin: universus) as a unified whole. Theories of cosmology, because they attempt to deal with the world as a unified whole, must go beyond the physical sciences and into the realm of metaphysics (from the Greek: meta, meaning: beyond, beside, or after; and phusis, meaning: physical) which (traditionally) belongs to theology and philosophy. As philosopher and ethicist Mary Midgely explains:

“Without this unifying urge, science would be nothing but mindless, meaningless collecting [of facts]…this is why the sciences continually go beyond everybody’s direct experience, and does so in directions that quickly diverge from that of common sense. . . inevitably in the end they require metaphysics, the attempt to see the world as a whole, to harmonize [the facts]…these intellectual constructions present problems of belief which are often quite as difficult as those of religion, and which can call for equally strenuous efforts of faith. This happens at present over relativity, over the size and expansion of the universe, over quantum mechanics, over evolution and many other matters.” [6] (Mary Midgely, Evolution as a Religion, (London: Routledge, 1985, 2002) p. 120)

“This is why so many people have chosen to believe in science instead of religion: modern science presents what appears (to these people) to be a better explanation of the universe than does religion. The modern scientific explanation is seen as having been proven factually true, whereas the religious explanation has not. In fact, many people see modern science as having proven the religious explanation of the universe factually false.” (The World Perceived, page 92)

“Mary Midgely has given us an apt description of the modern scientific theory of evolution: “The theory of evolution is not just an inert piece of theoretical science. It is, and cannot help being, also a powerful folk-tale about human origins.” [64] From this perspective, the evolution versus creation controversy is a controversy over which story of human origins [Genesis or Evolution) makes more sense to us, not which account of origins is scientifically correct. But let's think about it. Does it make more sense for us to believe that quarks, given enough time, can eventually develop into the human body, mind, will, and emotions? Or does it make more sense for us to believe that: "When God created man he made them in the likeness of God" (Genesis. 5:1-2)? The question we seem to be faced with is: Which story will we choose as a conceptual scheme for making sense of the living world?” [64] (Mary Midgely, Evolution as a Religion, (London: Routledge, 1985, 2002) p. 1)”

A J MacDonald, Jr

“But to think that science can discover the causes behind all natural phenomena and to think that science can identify these causes as the workings of nature alone is the opposite of humility: it is hubris. Philosophical naturalism is an important component of the metaphysical belief-system known as atomism, which we examined above, and was this philosophy which led so many people to believe that our world was not unique, because there were many inhabited worlds. And it is this way of thinking which has led so many people to conclude (logically) that both our world and humankind are of little-to-no significance. Very simply, evolution is: atomistic philosophy applied to biology. Darwin’s success was due to the fact that, because of his naturalistic and materialistic theory for the development of life, the entire cosmos was now explicable by recourse to the atomistic philosophy. Benjamin Wicker explains the atomistic nature of Darwinian evolutionary theory:

“Matter is the only reality; and by its random motion and cohesion, it creates the appearance of form (i.e., species). The complex unity, then, is the accidental result of the random variations of simple material constituents. The origin of species, therefore, is the random mutation of matter on the atomic level.” [69] (Benjamin Wicker, Moral Darwinism, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2002) p. 217)

Lest anyone think this is not precisely what the Darwinists believe, and what they would have us to believe as well, consider the following statement, made by Seth Lloyd, published (recently) in a book purporting to defend the truths of Darwinian evolution against the errors of the (upstart) Intelligent Design Movement:

“Atoms collide in every possible way until they form a wide variety of molecules, each selected for by the local concentration of atoms together with the laws of chemistry. Molecules, in turn, explore ever more complicated chemical reactions until they form a molecule capable of catalyzing its own production together with variation in its form: Such a form of proto-life is selected for merely by its ability to reproduce and adapt to different environmental conditions. Because of its ability to adapt to new surroundings, life explores a vast space of possible beings, until it arrives first at sexual reproduction and then at language.” [70] (Seth Lloyd in, Intelligent Thought, (2006) page 189)

Seth Lloyd

“This is what the evolutionists would have us to believe: that atoms colliding randomly in the void — given chemical law and enough time — eventually become human beings, capable of communication through the use of language. If it weren’t for the fact that some people’s belief in evolution so seriously distorts their perception of the world, this sort of talk — of atoms developing into people — would be laughable. But it’s no laughing matter when people’s perceptions of the world become distorted by imaginative, abstract, intellectual-play theories about the world. People — both consciously and unconsciously — allow modern science to define reality abstractly, by dismissing and replacing the concrete reality of their lived-experience of the world with the imaginative, abstract, intellectual-play (scientific) theories about the world. It is, however, the consciously perceived experience of living our lives in-the-world that is reality to us in the truest sense of the word. Because the world we experience is the only world of which we can ever be consciously aware.” (See: A. J. MacDonald, Jr., The World Perceived (2009) pp. 97-98)

See: What is Darwinism? (1874) by Charles Hodge

See: Darwin retried: an appeal to reason (1973) Norman MacBeth

See: Darwin on Trial (1991,1993, 2010) Philip Johnson

Andrew Dickson White

Extensive quote taken from: The Warfare Of Science With Theology (1894) by Andrew White, Chapter One: From Creation to Evolution

Charles Darwin

“In the following year, 1859, came the first instalment of his work in its fuller development–his book on The Origin of Species. In this book one at least of the main secrets at the heart of the evolutionary process, which had baffled the long line of investigators and philosophers from the days of Aristotle, was more broadly revealed. The effective mechanism of evolution was shown at work in three ascertained facts: in the struggle for existence among organized beings; in the survival of the fittest; and in heredity. These facts were presented with such minute research, wide observation, patient collation, transparent honesty, and judicial fairness, that they at once commanded the world’s attention. It was the outcome of thirty years’ work and thought by a worker and thinker of genius, but it was yet more than that–it was the outcome, also, of the work and thought of another man of genius fifty years before. The book of Malthus on the Principle of Population, mainly founded on the fact that animals increase in a geometrical ratio, and therefore, if unchecked, must encumber the earth, had been generally forgotten, and was only recalled with a sneer. But the genius of Darwin recognised in it a deeper meaning, and now the thought of Malthus was joined to the new current. Meditating upon it in connection with his own observations of the luxuriance of Nature, Darwin had arrived at his doctrine of natural selection and survival of the fittest…”

“DARWIN’S Origin of Species had come into the theological world like a plough into an ant-hill. Everywhere those thus rudely awakened from their old comfort and repose had swarmed forth angry and confused. Reviews, sermons, books light and heavy, came flying at the new thinker from all sides.

Bishop Wilberforce

“The keynote was struck at once in the Quarterly Review by Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. He declared that Darwin was guilty of “a tendency to limit God’s glory in creation”; that “the principle of natural selection is absolutely incompatible with the word of God”; that it “contradicts the revealed relations of creation to its Creator”; that it is “inconsistent with the fulness of his glory”; that it is “a dishonouring view of Nature”; and that there is “a simpler explanation of the presence of these strange forms among the works of God”: that explanation being–“the fall of Adam.” Nor did the bishop’s efforts end here; at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science he again disported himself in the tide of popular applause. Referring to the ideas of Darwin, who was absent on account of illness, he congratulated himself in a public speech that he was not descended from a monkey. The reply came from Huxley, who said in substance: “If I had to choose, I would prefer to be a descendant of a humble monkey rather than of a man who employs his knowledge and eloquence in misrepresenting those who are wearing out their lives in the search for truth.”

“This shot reverberated through England, and indeed through other countries.”

“The utterances of this the most brilliant prelate of the Anglican Church received a sort of antiphonal response from the leaders of the English Catholics. In an address before the “Academia,” which had been organized to combat “science falsely so called,” Cardinal Manning declared his abhorrence of the new view of Nature, and described it as “a brutal philosophy–to wit, there is no God, and the ape is our Adam.”

Thomas Huxley

“These attacks from such eminent sources set the clerical fashion for several years. One distinguished clerical reviewer, in spite of Darwin’s thirty years of quiet labour, and in spite of the powerful summing up of his book, prefaced a diatribe by saying that Darwin “might have been more modest had he given some slight reason for dissenting from the views generally entertained.” Another distinguished clergyman, vice-president of a Protestant institute to combat “dangerous” science, declared Darwinism “an attempt to dethrone God.” Another critic spoke of persons accepting the Darwinian views as “under the frenzied inspiration of the inhaler of mephitic gas,” and of Darwin’s argument as “a jungle of fanciful assumption.” Another spoke of Darwin’s views as suggesting that “God is dead,” and declared that Darwin’s work “does open violence to everything which the Creator himself has told us in the Scriptures of the methods and results of his work.” “Still another theological authority asserted: “If the Darwinian theory is true, Genesis is a lie, the whole framework of the book of life falls to pieces, and the revelation of God to man, as we Christians know it, is a delusion and a snare.” Another, who had shown excellent qualities as an observing naturalist, declared the Darwinian view “a huge imposture from the beginning.”

“Echoes came from America. One review, the organ of the most widespread of American religious sects, declared that Darwin was “attempting to befog and to pettifog the whole question”; another denounced Darwin’s views as “infidelity”; another, representing the American branch of the Anglican Church, poured contempt over Darwin as “sophistical and illogical,” and then plunged into an exceedingly dangerous line of argument in the following words: “If this hypothesis be true, then is the Bible an unbearable fiction;… then have Christians for nearly two thousand years been duped by a monstrous lie…. Darwin requires us to disbelieve the authoritative word of the Creator” A leading journal representing the same church took pains to show the evolution theory to be as contrary to the explicit declarations of the New Testament as to those of the Old, and said: “If we have all, men and monkeys, oysters and eagles, developed from an original germ, then is St. Paul’s grand deliverance–`All flesh is not the same flesh; there is one kind of flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds’–untrue.”

Dr. Perry

“Another echo came from Australia, where Dr. Perry, Lord Bishop of Melbourne, in a most bitter book on Science and the Bible, declared that the obvious object of Chambers, Darwin, and Huxley is “to produce in their readers a disbelief of the Bible.”

Nor was the older branch of the Church to be left behind in this chorus. Bayma, in the Catholic World, declared, “Mr. Darwin is, we have reason to believe, the mouthpiece or chief trumpeter of that infidel clique whose well-known object is to do away with all idea of a God.”

“Worthy of especial note as showing the determination of the theological side at that period was the foundation of sacro-scientific organizations to combat the new ideas. First to be noted is the “Academia,” planned by Cardinal Wiseman. In a circular letter the cardinal, usually so moderate and just, sounded an alarm and summed up by saying, “Now it is for the Church, which alone possesses divine certainty and divine discernment, to place itself at once in the front of a movement which threatens even the fragmentary remains of Christian belief in England.” The necessary permission was obtained from Rome, the Academia was founded, and the “divine discernment” of the Church was seen in the utterances which came from it, such as those of Cardinal Manning, which every thoughtful Catholic would now desire to recall, and in the diatribes of Dr. Laing, which only aroused laughter on all sides. A similar effort was seen in Protestant quarters; the “Victoria institute” was created, and perhaps the most noted utterance which ever came from it was the declaration of its vice-president, the Rev.

Walter Mitchell, that “Darwinism endeavours to dethrone God.” [73]

“In France the attack was even more violent. Fabre d’Envieu brought out the heavy artillery of theology, and in a long series of elaborate propositions demonstrated that any other doctrine than that of the fixity and persistence of species is absolutely contrary to Scripture. The Abbe Desorges, a former Professor of Theology, stigmatized Darwin as a “pedant,” and evolution as “gloomy”. Monseigneur Segur, referring to Darwin and his followers, went into hysterics and shrieked: “These infamous doctrines have for their only support the most abject passions. Their father is pride, their mother impurity, their offspring revolutions. They come from hell and return thither, taking with them the gross creatures who blush not to proclaim and accept them.”

“In Germany the attack, if less declamatory, was no less severe. Catholic theologians vied with Protestants in bitterness. Prof. Michelis declared Darwin’s theory “a caricature of creation.” Dr. Hagermann asserted that it “turned the Creator out of doors.” Dr. Schund insisted that “every idea of the Holy Scriptures, from the first to the last page, stands in diametrical opposition to the Darwinian theory”; and, “if Darwin be right in his view of the development of man out of a brutal condition, then the Bible teaching in regard to man is utterly annihilated.” Rougemont in Switzerland called for a crusade against the obnoxious doctrine. Luthardt, Professor of Theology at Leipsic, declared: “The idea of creation belongs to religion and not to natural science; the whole superstructure of personal religion is built upon the doctrine of creation”; and he showed the evolution theory to be in direct contradiction to Holy Writ.”

Sir Charles Lyell

“But in 1863 came an event which brought serious confusion to the theological camp: Sir Charles Lyell, the most eminent of living geologists, a man of deeply Christian feeling and of exceedingly cautious temper, who had opposed the evolution theory of Lamarck and declared his adherence to the idea of successive creations, then published his work on the Antiquity of Man, and in this and other utterances showed himself a complete though unwilling convert to the fundamental ideas of Darwin. The blow was serious in many ways, and especially so in two–first, as withdrawing all foundation in fact from the scriptural chronology, and secondly, as discrediting the creation theory. The blow was not unexpected; in various review articles against the Darwinian theory there had been appeals to Lyell, at times almost piteous, “not to flinch from the truths he had formerly proclaimed.” But Lyell, like the honest man he was, yielded unreservedly to the mass of new proofs arrayed on the side of evolution against that of creation.”

“At the same time came Huxley’s Man’s Place in Nature, giving new and most cogent arguments in favour of evolution by natural selection.”

“In 1871 was published Darwin’s Descent of Man. Its doctrine had been anticipated by critics of his previous books, but it made, none the less, a great stir; again the opposing army trooped forth, though evidently with much less heart than before. A few were very violent. The Dublin University Magazine, after the traditional Hibernian fashion, charged Mr. Darwin with seeking “to displace God by the unerring action of vagary,” and with being “resolved to hunt God out of the world.” But most notable from the side of the older Church was the elaborate answer to Darwin’s book by the eminent French Catholic physician, Dr. Constantin James. In his work, On Darwinism, or the Man-Ape, published at Paris in 1877, Dr. James not only refuted Darwin scientifically but poured contempt on his book, calling it “a fairy tale,” and insisted that a work “so fantastic and so burlesque” was, doubtless, only a huge joke, like Erasmus’s Praise of Folly, or Montesquieu’s Persian Letters. The princes of the Church were delighted.”

Pius IX

Pius IX

“The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris assured the author that the book had become his “spiritual reading,” and begged him to send a copy to the Pope himself. His Holiness, Pope Pius IX, acknowledged the gift in a remarkable letter. He thanked his dear son, the writer, for the book in which he “refutes so well the aberrations of Darwinism.” “A system,” His Holiness adds, “which is repugnant at once to history, to the tradition of all peoples, to exact science, to observed facts, and even to Reason herself, would seem to need no refutation, did not alienation from God and the leaning toward materialism, due to depravity, eagerly seek a support in all this tissue of fables…. And, in fact, pride, after rejecting the Creator of all things and proclaiming man independent, wishing him to be his own king, his own priest, and his own God–pride goes so far as to degrade man himself to the level of the unreasoning brutes, perhaps even of lifeless matter, thus unconsciously confirming the Divine declaration, When pride cometh, then cometh shame. But the corruption of this age, the machinations of the perverse, the danger of the simple, demand that such fancies, altogether absurd though they are, should–since they borrow the mask of science–be refuted by true science.” Wherefore the Pope thanked Dr. James for his book, “so opportune and so perfectly appropriate to the exigencies of our time,” and bestowed on him the apostolic benediction. Nor was this brief all. With it there came a second, creating the author an officer of the Papal Order of St. Sylvester. The cardinal archbishop assured the delighted physician that such a double honour of brief and brevet was perhaps unprecedented, and suggested only that in a new edition of his book he should “insist a little more on the relation existing between the narratives of Genesis and the discoveries of modern science, in such fashion as to convince the most incredulous of their perfect agreement.” The prelate urged also a more dignified title. The proofs of this new edition were accordingly all submitted to His Eminence, and in 1882 it appeared as Moses and Darwin: the Man of Genesis compared with the Man-Ape, or Religious Education opposed to Atheistic. No wonder the cardinal embraced the author, thanking him in the name of science and religion. “We have at last,” he declared, “a handbook which we can safely put into the hands of youth.”


“Scarcely less vigorous were the champions of English Protestant orthodoxy. In an address at Liverpool, Mr. Gladstone remarked: “Upon the grounds of what is termed evolution God is relieved of the labour of creation; in the name of unchangeable laws he is discharged from governing the world”; and, when Herbert Spencer called his attention to the fact that Newton with the doctrine of gravitation and with the science of physical astronomy is open to the same charge, Mr. Gladstone retreated in the Contemporary Review under one of his characteristic clouds of words. The Rev. Dr. Coles, in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, declared that the God of evolution is not the Christian’s God. Burgon, Dean of Chichester, in a sermon preached before the University of Oxford, pathetically warned the students that “those who refuse to accept the history of the creation of our first parents according to its obvious literal intention, and are for substituting the modern dream of evolution in its place, cause the entire scheme of man’s salvation to collapse.” Dr. Pusey also came into the fray with most earnest appeals against the new doctrine, and the Rev. Gavin Carlyle was perfervid on the same side. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge published a book by the Rev. Mr. Birks, in which the evolution doctrine was declared to be “flatly opposed to the fundamental doctrine of creation.” Even the London Times admitted a review stigmatizing Darwin’s Descent of Man as an “utterly unsupported hypothesis,” full of “unsubstantiated premises, cursory investigations, and disintegrating speculations,” and Darwin himself as “reckless and unscientific.” [77]

“But it was noted that this second series of attacks, on the Descent of Man, differed in one remarkable respect–so far as England was concerned–from those which had been made over ten years before on the Origin of Species. While everything was done to discredit Darwin, to pour contempt upon him, and even, of all things in the world, to make him–the gentlest of mankind, only occupied with the scientific side of the problem–“a persecutor of Christianity,” while his followers were represented more and more as charlatans or dupes, there began to be in the most influential quarters careful avoidance of the old argument that evolution–even by natural selection–contradicts Scripture. It began to be felt that this was dangerous ground. The defection of Lyell had, perhaps, more than anything else, started the question among theologians who had preserved some equanimity, “What if, after all, the Darwinian theory should prove to be true?” Recollections of the position in which the Roman Church found itself after the establishment of the doctrines of Copernicus and Galileo naturally came into the minds of the more thoughtful. In Germany this consideration does not seem to have occurred at quite so early a day. One eminent Lutheran clergyman at Magdeburg called on his hearers to choose between Darwin and religion; Delitszch, in his new commentary on Genesis, attempted to bring science back to recognise human sin as an important factor in creation; Prof. Heinrich Ewald, while carefully avoiding any sharp conflict between the scriptural doctrine and evolution, comforted himself by covering Darwin and his followers with contempt; Christlieb, in his address before the Evangelical Alliance at New York in 1873, simply took the view that the tendencies of the Darwinian theory were “toward infidelity,” but declined to make any serious battle on biblical grounds; the Jesuit, Father Pesch, in Holland, drew up in Latin, after the old scholastic manner, a sort of general indictment of evolution, of which one may say that it was interesting–as interesting as the display of a troop in chain armour and with cross-bows on a nineteenth-century battlefield.”

La Virgen de Guadalupe Madre de las Américas

“From America there came new echoes. Among the myriad attacks on the Darwinian theory by Protestants and Catholics two should be especially mentioned. The first of these was by Dr. Noah Porter, President of Yale College, an excellent scholar, an interesting writer, a noble man, broadly tolerant, combining in his thinking a curious mixture of radicalism and conservatism. While giving great latitude to the evolutionary teaching in the university under his care, he felt it his duty upon one occasion to avow his disbelief in it; but he was too wise a man to suggest any necessary antagonism between it and the Scriptures. He confined himself mainly to pointing out the tendency of the evolution doctrine in this form toward agnosticism and pantheism. To those who knew and loved him, and had noted the genial way in which by wise neglect he had allowed scientific studies to flourish at Yale, there was an amusing side to all this. Within a stone’s throw of his college rooms was the Museum of Paleontology, in which Prof. Marsh had laid side by side, among other evidences of the new truth, that wonderful series of specimens showing the evolution of the horse from the earliest form of the animal, “not larger than a fox, with five toes,” through the whole series up to his present form and size–that series which Huxley declared an absolute proof of the existence of natural selection as an agent in evolution. In spite of the veneration and love which all Yale men felt for President Porter, it was hardly to be expected that these particular arguments of his would have much permanent effect upon them when there was constantly before their eyes so convincing a refutation.”

Dr Hodge

“But a far more determined opponent was the Rev. Dr. Hodge, of Princeton (see: Hodge  What is Darwinism? (1874); his anger toward the evolution doctrine was bitter: he denounced it as thoroughly “atheistic”; he insisted that Christians “have a right to protest against the arraying of probabilities against the clear evidence of the Scriptures”; he even censured so orthodox a writer as the Duke of Argyll, and declared that the Darwinian theory of natural selection is “utterly inconsistent with the Scriptures,” and that “an absent God, who does nothing, is to us no God”; that “to ignore design as manifested in God’s creation is to dethrone God”; that “a denial of design in Nature is virtually a denial of God”; and that “no teleologist can be a Darwinian.” Even more uncompromising was another of the leading authorities at the same university–the Rev. Dr. Duffield. He declared war not only against Darwin but even against men like Asa Gray, Le Conte, and others, who had attempted to reconcile the new theory with the Bible: he insisted that “evolutionism and the scriptural account of the origin of man are irreconcilable”–that the Darwinian theory is “in direct conflict with the teaching of the apostle, `All scripture is given by inspiration of God’”; he pointed out, in his opposition to Darwin’s Descent of Man and Lyell’s Antiquity of Man, that in the Bible “the genealogical links which connect the Israelites in Egypt with Adam and Eve in Eden are explicitly given.” These utterances of Prof. Duffield culminated in a declaration which deserves to be cited as showing that a Presbyterian minister can “deal damnation round the land” ex cathedra in a fashion quite equal to that of popes and bishops. It is as follows: “If the development theory of the origin of man,” wrote Dr. Duffield in the Princeton Review, “shall in a little while take its place–as doubtless it will–with other exploded scientific speculations, then they who accept it with its proper logical consequences will in the life to come have their portion with those who in this life `know not God and obey not the gospel of his Son.”

“Fortunately, at about the time when Darwin’s Descent of Man was published, there had come into Princeton University “deus ex machina” in the person of Dr. James McCosh. Called to the presidency, he at once took his stand against teachings so dangerous to Christianity as those of Drs. Hodge, Duffield, and their associates. In one of his personal confidences he has let us into the secret of this matter. With that hard Scotch sense which Thackeray had applauded in his well-known verses, he saw that the most dangerous thing which could be done to Christianity at Princeton was to reiterate in the university pulpit, week after week, solemn declarations that if evolution by natural selection, or indeed evolution at all, be true, the Scriptures are false. He tells us that he saw that this was the certain way to make the students unbelievers; he therefore not only checked this dangerous preaching but preached an opposite doctrine. With him began the inevitable compromise, and, in spite of mutterings against him as a

Darwinian, he carried the day. Whatever may be thought of his general system of philosophy, no one can deny his great service in neutralizing the teachings of his predecessors and colleagues–so dangerous to all that is essential in Christianity.”

“Other divines of strong sense in other parts of the country began to take similar ground–namely, that men could be Christians and at the same time Darwinians. There appeared, indeed, here and there, curious discrepancies: thus in 1873 the Monthly Religious Magazine of Boston congratulated its readers that the Rev. Mr. Burr had “demolished the evolution theory, knocking the breath of life out of it and throwing it to the dogs.” This amazing performance by the Rev. Mr. Burr was repeated in a very striking way by Bishop Keener before the OEcumenical Council of Methodism at Washington in 1891. In what the newspapers described as an “admirable speech,” he refuted evolution doctrines by saying that evolutionists had “only to make a journey of twelve hours from the place where he was then standing to find together the bones of the muskrat, the opossum, the coprolite, and the ichthyosaurus.” He asserted that Agassiz–whom the good bishop, like so many others, seemed to think an evolutionist–when he visited these beds near Charleston, declared: “These old beds have set me crazy; they have destroyed the work of a lifetime.” And the Methodist prelate ended by saying: “Now, gentlemen, brethren, take these facts home with you; get down and look at them. This is the watch that was under the steam hammer–the doctrine of evolution; and this steam hammer is the wonderful deposit of the Ashley beds.” Exhibitions like these availed little. While the good bishop amid vociferous applause thus made comically evident his belief that Agassiz was a Darwinian and a coprolite an animal, scientific men were recording in all parts of the world facts confirming the dreaded theory of an evolution by natural selection. While the Rev. Mr. Burr was so loudly praised for “throwing Darwinism to the dogs,” Marsh was completing his series leading from the five-toed ungulates to the horse. While Dr. Tayler Lewis at Union, and Drs. Hodge and Duffield at Princeton, were showing that if evolution be true the biblical accounts must be false, the indefatigable Yale professor was showing his cretaceous birds, and among them Hesperornis and Ichthyornis with teeth. While in Germany Luthardt, Schund, and their compeers were demonstrating that Scripture requires a belief in special and separate creations, the Archaepteryx, showing a most remarkable connection between birds and reptiles, was discovered. While in France Monseigneur Segur and others were indulging in diatribes against “a certain Darwin,” Gaudry and Filhol were discovering a striking series of “missing links” among the carnivora.

In view of the proofs accumulating in favour of the new evolutionary hypothesis, the change in the tone of controlling theologians was now rapid. From all sides came evidences of desire to compromise with the theory. Strict adherents of the biblical text pointed significantly to the verses in Genesis in which the earth and sea were made to bring forth birds and fishes, and man was created out of the dust of the ground. Men of larger mind like Kingsley and Farrar, with English and American broad churchmen generally, took ground directly in Darwin’s favour. Even Whewell took pains to show that there might be such a thing as a Darwinian argument for design in Nature; and the Rev. Samuel Houghton, of the Royal Society, gave interesting suggestions of a divine design in evolution.”

“Both the great English universities received the new teaching as a leaven: at Oxford, in the very front of the High Church party at Keble College, was elaborated a statement that the evolution doctrine is “an advance in our theological thinking.” And Temple, Bishop of London, perhaps the most influential thinker then in the Anglican episcopate, accepted the new revelation in the following words: “It seems something more majestic, more befitting him to whom a thousand years are as one day, thus to impress his will once for all on his creation, and provide for all the countless varieties by this one original impress, than by special acts of creation to be perpetually modifying what he had previously made.”

“In Scotland the Duke of Argyll, head and front of the orthodox party, dissenting in many respects from Darwin’s full conclusions, made concessions which badly shook the old position.”

Genesis – Eden

“Curiously enough, from the Roman Catholic Church, bitter as some of its writers had been, now came argument to prove that the Catholic faith does not prevent any one from holding the Darwinian theory, and especially a declaration from an authority eminent among American Catholics–a declaration which has a very curious sound, but which it would be ungracious to find fault with–that “the doctrine of evolution is no more in opposition to the doctrine of the Catholic Church than is the Copernican theory or that of Galileo.”

“Here and there, indeed, men of science like Dawson, Mivart, and Wigand, in view of theological considerations, sought to make conditions; but the current was too strong, and eminent theologians in every country accepted natural selection as at least a very important part in the mechanism of evolution.”

“At the death of Darwin it was felt that there was but one place in England where his body should be laid, and that this place was next the grave of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey. The noble address of Canon Farrar at his funeral was echoed from many pulpits in Europe and America, and theological opposition as such was ended.“

“Occasionally appeared, it is true, a survival of the old feeling: the Rev. Dr. Laing referred to the burial of Darwin in Westminster Abbey as “a proof that England is no longer a Christian country,” and added that this burial was a desecration–that this honour was given him because he had been “the chief promoter of the mock doctrine of evolution of the species and the ape descent of man.”

Thomas Carlyle

“Still another of these belated prophets was, of all men, Thomas Carlyle. Soured and embittered, in the same spirit which led him to find more heroism in a marauding Viking or in one of Frederick the Great’s generals than in Washington, or Lincoln, or Grant, and which caused him to see in the American civil war only the burning out of a foul chimney, he, with the petulance natural to a dyspeptic eunuch, railed at Darwin as an “apostle of dirt worship.”

“The last echoes of these utterances reverberated between Scotland and America. In the former country, in 1885, the Rev. Dr. Lee issued a volume declaring that, if the Darwinian view be true, “there is no place for God”; that “by no method of interpretation can the language of Holy Scripture be made wide enough to re-echo the orang-outang theory of man’s natural history”; that “Darwinism reverses the revelation of God” and “implies utter blasphemy against the divine and human character of our Incarnate Lord”; and he was pleased to call Darwin and his followers “gospellers of the gutter.” In one of the intellectual centres of America the editor of a periodical called _The Christian_ urged frantically that “the battle be set in array, and that men find out who is on the Lord’s side and who is on the side of the devil and the monkeys.”

“To the honour of the Church of England it should be recorded that a considerable number of her truest men opposed such utterances as these, and that one of them–Farrar, Archdeacon of Westminster–made a protest worthy to be held in perpetual remembrance. While confessing his own inability to accept fully the new scientific belief, he said: “We should consider it disgraceful and humiliating to try to shake it by an ad captandum argument, or by a clap-trap platform appeal to the unfathomable ignorance and unlimited arrogance of a prejudiced assembly. We should blush to meet it with an anathema or a sneer.”

“All opposition had availed nothing; Darwin’s work and fame were secure. As men looked back over his beautiful life–simple, honest, tolerant, kindly–and thought upon his great labours in the search for truth, all the attacks faded into nothingness.”

“There were indeed some dark spots, which as time goes on appear darker. At Trinity College, Cambridge, Whewell, the “omniscient,” author of the History of the Inductive Sciences, refused to allow a copy of the Origin of Species to be placed in the library.”

“At multitudes of institutions under theological control–Protestant as well as Catholic–attempts were made to stamp out or to stifle evolutionary teaching. Especially was this true for a time in America, and the case of the American College at Beyrout, where nearly all the younger professors were dismissed for adhering to Darwin’s views, is worthy of remembrance. The treatment of Dr. Winchell at the Vanderbilt University in Tennessee showed the same spirit; one of the truest of men, devoted to science but of deeply Christian feeling, he was driven forth for views which centred in the Darwinian theory.”

“Still more striking was the case of Dr. Woodrow. He had, about 1857, been appointed to a professorship of Natural Science as connected with Revealed Religion, in the Presbyterian Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina. He was a devoted Christian man, and his training had led him to accept the Presbyterian standards of faith. With great gifts for scientific study he visited Europe, made a most conscientious examination of the main questions under discussion, and adopted the chief points in the doctrine of evolution by natural selection. A struggle soon began. A movement hostile to him grew more and more determined, and at last, in spite of the efforts made in his behalf by the directors of the seminary and by a large and broad-minded minority in the representative bodies controlling it, an orthodox storm, raised by the delegates from various Presbyterian bodies, drove him from his post. Fortunately, he was received into a professorship at the University of South Carolina, where he has since taught with more power than ever before.””

“This testimony to the faith by American provincial Protestantism was very properly echoed from Spanish provincial Catholicism. In the year 1878 a Spanish colonial man of science, Dr. Chil y Marango, published a work on the Canary Islands. But Dr. Chil had the imprudence to sketch, in his introduction, the modern hypothesis of evolution, and to exhibit some proofs, found in the Canary Islands, of the barbarism of primitive man. The ecclesiastical authorities, under the lead of Bishop Urquinaona y Bidot, at once grappled with this new idea. By a solemn act they declared it “falsa, impia, scandalosa”; all persons possessing copies of the work were ordered to surrender them at once to the proper ecclesiastics, and the author was placed under the major excommunication.”

“But all this opposition may be reckoned among the last expiring convulsions of the old theologic theory. Even from the new Catholic University at Washington has come an utterance in favour of the new doctrine, and in other universities in the Old World and in the New the doctrine of evolution by natural selection has asserted its right to full and honest consideration. More than this, it is clearly evident that the stronger men in the Church have, in these latter days, not only relinquished the struggle against science in this field, but have determined frankly and manfully to make an alliance with it. In two very remarkable lectures given in 1892 at the parish church of Rochdale, Wilson, Archdeacon of Manchester, not only accepted Darwinism as true, but wrought it with great argumentative power into a higher view of Christianity; and what is of great significance, these sermons were published by the same Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge which only a few years before had published the most bitter attacks against the Darwinian theory. So, too, during the year 1893, Prof. Henry Drummond, whose praise is in all the dissenting churches, developed a similar view most brilliantly in a series of lectures delivered before the American Chautauqua schools, and published in one of the most widespread of English orthodox newspapers.

Whatever additional factors may be added to natural selection–and Darwin himself fully admitted that there might be others–the theory of an evolution process in the formation of the universe and of animated nature is established, and the old theory of direct creation is gone forever. In place of it science has given us conceptions far more noble, and opened the way to an argument for design infinitely more beautiful than any ever developed by theology. [86] (See also: Popular Science Monthly 1894 Volume XLV May – October)”

See: The Warfare Of Science With Theology by, Andrew White – Chapter One: From Creation to Evolution


“[consider] … the view now held by most physicists, namely that the sun with all the planets will in time grow too cold for life, unless indeed some great body dashes into the sun and thus gives it fresh life–believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all the other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress.” ~ Charles Darwin considering the heat death (1876)

Bertrand Russell

“That man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” ~ Bertrand Russell’s acceptance of the heat death (1903)

Saint Paul to the Church at Rome:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” ~ Saint Paul (Romans 8:18-30).

Romans 8 USCCB – Destiny of Glory: “Consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance” (see: here).

“This is the meaning of suffering, which is truly supernatural and at the same time human. It is supernatural because it is rooted in the divine mystery of the Redemption of the world, and it is likewise deeply human, because in it the person discovers himself, his own humanity, his own dignity, his own mission.” ~ John Paul II (Salvifici Doloris)

Catholic EncyclopediaEschatology: The Consummation of All Things

“There is mention also of the physical universe sharing in the general consummation (2 Peter 3:13; Romans 8:19 sqq.; Revelation 21:1 sqq.). The present heaven and earth will be destroyed, and a new heaven and earth take their place. But what, precisely, this process will involve, or what purpose the renovated world will serve is not revealed. It may possibly be part of the glorious Kingdom of Christ of which “there shall be no end”. Christ’s militant reign is to cease with the accomplishment of His office as Judge (1 Corinthians 15:24 sqq.), but as King of the elect whom He has saved He will reign with them in glory forever.”

See: The Future Glory (παλινγενεσίᾳ) – “A Clear-Thinking Oasis of Reason and Science?” Or “A Muddled-Headed Slough of Emotion and Science Denial”?

See: Answering the New Atheism, part 2.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and Science – An Clear-Thinking Oasis

Pope: Humanity isn’t random product of evolution – Comments (2011) (See here.)

Comment 1 by sbooder

“If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature,” he said. “But no, reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason.”

And the evidence for this “creative, divine reason”? Oh yes, none what so ever!

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 8:50 AM | #619179

Comment 2 by HardNosedSkeptic

Someone needs to explain how evolution works to this chap. Who says it’s random chance?

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 8:54 AM | #619180

Comment 3 by liq

Everytime I hear someone say “It cant have happend by chance” I hear Prof. Dawkins voice in my head saying “WELL OF COURSE IT CANT”

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:04 AM | #619182

Comment 4 by Chrisss212

How many times do people like Richard have to spell out “IT’S NOT RANDOM CHANCE!”

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:04 AM | #619183

Comment 5 by bujin

The pope isn’t merely a “random product of evolution”. I think he dropped out of a camel’s arse.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:05 AM | #619184

Comment 6 by plasma-engineer

I wonder whether anyone has any evidence to suggest that we should expect anything more rational from Ratzinger. I don’t think I have seen any yet!

I would like to issue a challenge to photographers too. Has anyone ever seen a photo of him were he does not look like the embodiment of all evil?

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:06 AM | #619185

Comment 7 by Stafford Gordon

The headline should read “Old Man in a Frock and Funny Hat Makes a Declaration on a Subject About Which he is Totally Ignorant.”

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:06 AM | #619186

Comment 8 by Pete.K

Oh come on now, he has to spout this clap trap in order to keep himself in the luxury to which he has become accustomed, if he couldn’t sell the god idea he would have to work for a living like the rest of us mere mortals.

Attack being the best form of defence we are now seeing an increase in attacks on the secular movement, they just don’t want to let go of the privileged position they hold in some governments, unelected positions I might add. I don’t ever recall voting for any one of the 26 bishops in the House of Lords. (But neither did I vote for the other tossers!).

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:09 AM | #619187

Comment 9 by Monkey Man

Someone needs to photoshop a picture of The Pope vs. The Wicker Man

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:14 AM | #619188

Comment 10 by Jos Gibbons

First the original article:

Humanity isn’t random product of evolution

Indeed, it’s an unintentional but non-random product of evolution, like all species. (Do not conflate intention with non-randomness.)

Benedict emphasized the Biblical account of creation

The Vatican has already conceded at least bits and pieces of evolution are right, and certainly enough of them to mean there never was a Garden of Eden or an Adam, Eve or talking snake. Do not emphasize a wrong Biblical account.

If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature … reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason.

I’ve already dispensed with the random thing. Our ability to reason and our seeking teleological explanations are both well-understood in terms of adaptation; they are no more relevant to the Pope’s defence of theism than any other biological adaptation of any species. If by “reason” he instead means the world obeying rules which make sense, I suggest the Pope Iook up Noether’s theorem, which kinda forces that to happen with a for-once-pleasant catch 22.

God, not random chance, is the origin of the world.

The origins of the universe, Earth, its life & any one species (e.g. us) are separate processes with different explanations and occurred respectively 13.7 Gya, 4.5 Gya, 3.8

Gya & 6 Mya (all approximate). In each case the correct explanation is neither a deity nor random chance, though some statistics is needed to understand much of it.

Secondly, Coyne’s:

There’s so much fail in the above that it’s not worth dissecting

Oops. Sorry.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:27 AM | #619191

Comment 11 by epeeist

Note this set of Catholic teachings on evolution and various other cosmological questions. In particular note the paragraph that ends

While the Church permits belief in either special creation or developmental creation on certain questions, it in no circumstances permits belief in atheistic evolution.

Personally I am extremely pleased that they can definitively say

Concerning cosmological evolution, the Church has infallibly defined that the universe was specially created out of nothing.

it means I can dump all my books on cosmology.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:27 AM | #619193

Comment 12 by nancynancy

Poor Ratso, I almost feel sorry for him. He’s in the twilight of his years; in charge of a morally bankrupt, increasingly irrelevant and dying institution. Certainly, he realizes that according to the standards of the “Good Book,” he like the pedophile priests he sheltered over the decades, will roast in hell for all eternity.

What an idea for an opera — Ratso’s Inferno.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:28 AM | #619194

Comment 13 by AtheistEgbert

I think it is time for a collaboration project between the main new atheist bloggers (Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, Eric Macdonald, and so on) and of course

Professor Dawkins, to set up a website that provides information about new atheism, what it is about, what are its intentions, politically and socially. Why we’ve moved on from the old rational debates against apologists, why we’re defenders of things like secularism, freedom, equality and open debate.

Such a website can provide leading articles about the movement, so that everyone is on message. Also provide articles about why only accommodationism is not the way forward.

I think that message is sometimes failing to reach those new to atheism, or those who are unaware of the efforts being made against atheists or the efforts to close the minds of children in education.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:38 AM | #619198

Comment 14 by Flapjack

Well I’m glad he finally cleared that one up and I for one certainly don’t feel the need to back that statement up with any data or empirical evidence. If the Pope said it it’s good enough for me.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:39 AM | #619199

Comment 15 by Steve Zara

Such a website can provide leading articles about the movement, so that everyone is on message.

My goodness no. The last thing we want is to try and encourage everyone to be ‘on message’. We don’t want New Atheism to become like New Labour, with urgent text messages going out from HQ as soon as anyone steps out of line.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:41 AM | #619200

Comment 16 by epeeist

Comment 12 by nancynancy :

Poor Ratso, I almost feel sorry for him. He’s in the twilight of his years; in charge of a morally bankrupt, increasingly irrelevant and dying institution.

It isn’t quite dying, simply moving to the third world. Note where the bigger numbers are in this article.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:42 AM | #619201

Comment 17 by debonnesnouvelles

If I had said something like that in my biology school exams, I would have had zero points. Fail. Where did this pope get his school education? Oh dear, my home country… what a disgrace.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:42 AM | #619202

Comment 18 by AlexP

“If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature,” he said. “But no, reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason.”

So there has to be a creator, because if there weren’t… life would make no sense.

I am at a loss how this argument is supposed to convince anyone. It is so obviously upside-down, it could be funny if it weren’t for the solemn nods from the pope’s hypnotized audience.

Despite, or rather because of its simplicity, this argument shows more than any other that religion boils down to nothing more than wishfull thinking. People want their lifes to make sense. Not a “mundane”, limited sense you could find in work, joy, family, friends, art, science etc. No, a grand sense, an eternal, divine sense.

They want it, wish it, to be so. And if the only way to fulfill that wish is to imagine a creator and invent elaborate stories about him, than that is the “obvious” path to choose.

That our life would lack sense otherwise is not a reason why a creator must exist.

But that we crave for sense is the reason why the idea of a creator exists.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:43 AM | #619203

Comment 19 by robaylesbury

I see he’s used his free tickets to the Creation Museum then.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:49 AM | #619205

Comment 20 by aquilacane


Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:54 AM | #619210

Comment 21 by robaylesbury

Perhaps Cardinal Comfort has his ear, so to speak. Why do I have images of The Two Towers in my mind.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9:56 AM | #619211

Comment 22 by Doonhamer

Wonder what Ken Miller will make of these comments!

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:13 AM | #619219

Comment 23 by Zelig

As the BBC never tired of telling us, this Pope may lack the “charisma” of his predecessor, but he is a scholar, an intellectual!

We can’t allow the truth to emerge, for this would mean people like me and my organisation had little or no power. From this calculation everything else pretty much follows . . .

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:18 AM | #619222

Comment 24 by strangebrew

This is not news…

For the last couple of years every time I had the audacity to mention on blogs and fora, that the Catholic church hated evolution and never wanted to support the premise apart from a slight wobble in the 80′s, and that even the thought of it gave then colly wobbles then folks have derided my ‘obvious bias ‘and point out rather pompously that ‘ for my information JP2 accepted Evolutionary theory as far back as the 80′s.’

I point out time and again that that was not exactly the case…if they read JP2′s wobble on the subject they see this random selection meme was the Catholic Church attempting to draw a shaky line in the sand…this far no further quoth they to the encroachment of Science! That was a caveat….one of several JP2 inserted into the ‘The RCC now believe in Evolution’ meme.

It was wiggle room….nothing else…the RCC are pragmatic to say the least, but they had to appear contemporary, this was a smoke and mirrors gambit which paid off for a little while. Until Benny got top doggy spot…

Seems Benny flirted with ID…got papal fingers burnt and has now turned righteous indignation back on the ‘ole enemy’ Evolution! He is wiggling his geriatric torso as much as he can manage…he never liked it from the beginning anyway cos the middle ages weren’t like that and the ‘katoliks back then managed just fine without it!

Further evidence that spots never change and dogs don’t do tricks in old age…

This year, students of the Legion of Christ, the conservative order undergoing a major Vatican-mandated overhaul, provided the liturgical service at the vigil. The Vatican took over the Legion last May 1 after confirming its founder was a pedophile.

A major Vatican-mandated overhaul ensures that the guilty bunch of kiddy fiddler enablers in that order get to lick Bennies nether regions, That is not an overhaul that is acceptance that they are holy enough to be in the Popes face…or other.. A kiddy fiddlers own private gang no less!…well! well! wel!l how shocking!

Further support for the claim that the RCC hierarchy have no intentions of dealing with kiddy fiddlers…just making sure that less folks know about it is all.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:20 AM | #619223

Comment 25 by scattering-like-light

Comment 6 by plasma-engineer :

I would like to issue a challenge to photographers too. Has anyone ever seen a photo of him were he does not look like the embodiment of all evil?

No. It makes me laugh all the time to see him in dark emperor / evil overlord style photos. It’s only the silly hat that makes him look more ridiculous than outright evil.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:22 AM | #619224

Comment 26 by ajs261

What justification does he give for his argument?

I wonder whether he is deluded or ignorant to the extent he comes across here or if he is just pandering to his deluded or ignorant followers.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:27 AM | #619227

Comment 27 by Richard Dawkins

We are told, over and over again, that evolution and Christianity are fully compatible, that sophisticated theologians understand this perfectly well and it is only fundamentalist wingnuts who have a problem with evolution. Well, here is the Pope, presumably a sophisticated theologian if ever there was one, demonstrating that he doesn’t understand the first thing about evolution, even going so far as to think it is random.

Well, the next time anybody dares to tell you sophisticated theologians have no problem with evolution, thrust Benedict XVI in their face.


Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:33 AM | #619230

Comment 28 by Tyler Durden

Comment 27 by Richard Dawkins :

Well, the next time anybody dares to tell you sophisticated theologians have no problem with evolution, thrust Benedict XVI in their face.

Richard, please, I’m trying to eat lunch :)

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:40 AM | #619233

Comment 29 by archdeacon pluto

Divine reason? = square peg in a round hole . The Godsquad just don’t get it .

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:49 AM | #619238

Comment 30 by paulmcuk

saying it was wrong to think at some point “in some tiny corner of the cosmos there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it.”

But perfectly ok to think at some point there evolved randomly a being capable of creating a species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it.

Sounds to me like PB16 is worried the RCs have been left behind in the relevance stakes by the fundementalists since the Vatican started vaguely suggesting that there me be something to the whole evolution malarkey. He’s trying to cash in on the popularity of creationism among the deluded by aligning himself with it.

Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:57 AM | #619241

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“When you actually measure the electron (as in the double slit experiment) it picks a slit and ceases to be random. That’s really freakin’ weird, why/how is there an interference pattern in the absence of measurement is beyond me and I don’t know if anyone has explained that yet. Randomness occurs is physics models only in the absence of measurement, even if that means the act of measuring collapses the wave into a discreet particle or precludes superposition.

That’s the whole point of your namesake. To say the cat is both alive and dead is nonsense.

To say randomness exists in the natural world is a bold metaphysical statement with horrendous implications, but physics doesn’t make metaphysical assertions… at all. As I make this point, I don’t wish to insult but for all I know (dear internet stranger) you, like most people, do not understand what metaphysics is and why it is so important to not reduce physics to metaphysics. example:

Physics: In the absence of measurement, an electron’s position is random. Metaphysical assumption: Nature has an element of randomness.

That is an error. The same is true for using Newton to establish Determinism and deny randomness. Physics does neither, and that is a huge part of physics’ beauty and power.” See comment at: (March 2012).

“Without this unifying urge [i.e., metaphysics], science would be nothing but mindless, meaningless collecting [of facts]…this is why the sciences continually go beyond everybody’s direct experience, and does so in directions that quickly diverge from that of common sense. . . inevitably in the end they require metaphysics, the attempt to see the world as a whole, to harmonize [the facts]…these intellectual constructions present problems of belief which are often quite as difficult as those of religion, and which can call for equally strenuous efforts of faith. This happens at present over relativity, over the size and expansion of the universe, over quantum mechanics, over evolution and many other matters.” ~ Mary Midgely, Evolution as a Religion, (London: Routledge, 1985, 2002) p. 120)

Teleological Notions in Biology

Teleological terms such as “function” and “design” appear frequently in the biological sciences. Examples of teleological claims include:

A (biological) function of stotting by antelopes is to communicate to predators that they have been detected.

Eagles’ wings are (naturally) designed for soaring.

Teleological notions were commonly associated with the pre-Darwinian view that the biological realm provides evidence of conscious design by a supernatural creator. Even after creationist viewpoints were rejected by most biologists there remained various grounds for concern about the role of teleology in biology, including whether such terms are:

vitalistic (positing some special “life-force”);

Requiring backwards causation (because future outcomes explain present traits);

Incompatible with mechanistic explanation (because of 1 and 2);

Mentalistic (attributing the action of mind where there is none);

Empirically untestable (for all the above reasons).

Opinions divide over whether Darwin’s theory of evolution provides a means of eliminating teleology from biology, or whether it provides a naturalistic account of the role of teleological notions in the science. Many contemporary biologists and philosophers of biology believe that teleological notions are a distinctive and ineliminable feature of biological explanations but that it is possible to provide a naturalistic account of their role that avoids the concerns above. Terminological issues sometimes serve to obscure some widely-accepted distinctions.


3.3 Selection, Adaptation and Teleology

“Early in the introduction to On the Origin of Species, Darwin observes that the conclusion that each species had descended from others “even if well founded, would be unsatisfactory, until it could be shown how the innumerable species inhabiting this world have been modified so as to acquire that perfection of structure and co-adaptation which most justly excites our admiration” (Darwin 1859, 3). One might say this was the central promise of Darwinism—to account for both phylogenic continuity and adaptive differentiation by means of the same principles; or as Darwin puts it, to integrate in one theory the supposed opposition between Unity of Type and Conditions of Existence.”

“But it is here that even the most sympathetic of Darwin’s theistic supporters were force to qualify their support for the theory of descent with modification by means of natural selection. In Darwin’s day the reactions of Asa Gray and John Herschel are perhaps the most interesting in this respect. Both men saw in Darwin’s theory a way to account for ‘that mystery of mysteries’ the regular appearance of new species by means of natural, or as they might say, ‘intermediate’ causes. However both instinctively recoiled from the irreducible and central role of ‘chance’ in the theory. They did not, but easily could have, said ‘God does not play dice with the universe.’ But as Darwin stated repeatedly, if gently, to Gray—if God ordained that variations should be along beneficial lines, natural selection would be redundant. Moreover, the evidence from the study of variation in domestic and natural populations put the lie to any claim that God directs all or most variation along beneficial lines. Darwinian selection theory is a two-step process—the production of variation unrelated to the adaptive requirements of the organism, and differential perpetuation of those variations that serve adaptive needs. Again, a theory of evolution that could not be so described would not be a Darwinian theory.”

“The nature of selection explanations’ is a topic to which much philosophical attention has been devoted in recent years. Here I want to focus on only one important question—to what extent is the teleological appearance of such explanations simply that, an appearance masking a causal process in which goals play no role?”

“The appearance of teleology is certainly present in Darwinian explanations, and has been since Darwin spoke of natural selection working solely for the good of each being. The appearance of teleology stems from the ease with which both evolutionary biology and common sense take it for granted that animals and plants have the adaptations they do because of some benefit or advantage to the organism provided by those adaptations.”

“This is a hotly contested question, and I will here simply sketch a case that selective explanations of adaptations are robustly teleological. The interested reader may want to refer to the literature on this question referred to in the discussion and listed in the list of readings provided at the end of this entry. A question I think not worth discussing is whether the word ‘teleology’ should be replaced by ‘teleonomy’. Etymologically, they come to the same thing; and the philosophical arguments given in favor of the change all rest on an historically doubtful assumption—that philosophical defenses of teleology have always been either theistic or vitalistic. The serious philosophical issue can be put simply and directly: in selection explanations of adaptations, are the functions served by adaptations a central and irreducible feature of those explanations? If the answer is yes, the explanations are teleological.[14]”


“Teleological is the name of a kind of explanation, namely, one that works by mentioning a function— not, for instance, by mentioning a cause…All talk of function is therefore in any case teleological. It is about design. What relation this fact may have to the possible presence of a designer is a separate question.” ~ Mary Midgley, Science as Salvation (London: Routledge, 1993) p.11

tel·e·ol·o·gy noun \ˌte-lē-ˈä-lə-jē, ˌtē-\

Definition of TELEOLOGY

1 a : the study of evidences of design in nature

b : a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature

c : a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes

2: the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose

3: the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena

— tel·e·ol·o·gist noun

Origin of TELEOLOGY – Latin: teleologia, from Greek: tele-, telos end, purpose + -logia -logy. Source:

“No teleologist can be a Darwinian.” ~ Charles Hodge, What is Darwinism? (1874)

VIDEO – The Darwin Myth (1 of 2)

VIDEO- The Darwin Myth (2 of 2)

Darwinism excludes Teleology.

“It is however neither evolution nor natural selection, which give Darwinism its peculiar character and importance. It is that Darwin rejects all teleology, or the doctrine of final causes. He denies design in any of the organisms in the vegetable or animal world. He teaches that the eye was formed without any purpose of producing an organ of vision.

Although evidence on this point has already been adduced, yet as it is often overlooked, at least in this country, so that many men speak favorably of Mr. Darwin’s theory, who are no more Darwinians than they are Mussulmans; and as it is this feature of his system which brings it into conflict not only with Christianity, but with the fundamental principles of natural religion, it should be clearly established. The sources of proof on this point are,—1st. Mr. Darwin’s own writings. 2d. The expositions of his theory given by its advocates. 3d. The character of the objections urged by its opponents.

The point to be proved is that it is the distinctive doctrine of Mr. Darwin, that species owe their origin, not to the original intention [Pg 53] of the divine mind; not to special acts of creation calling new forms into existence at certain epochs; not to the constant and everywhere operative efficiency of God, guiding physical causes in the production of intended effects; but to the gradual accumulation of unintended variations of structure and instinct, securing some advantage to their subjects.” ~ Charles Hodge (here)

The Scientific Method

About ajmacdonaldjr

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5 Responses to Creation, evolution, teleology, and the myths we live by

  1. Pingback: Atheist “Darwin fish” symbol is scientifically inaccurate and foolish « A. J. MacDonald, Jr.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The chance that the presense of the scientists themselves may alter the very experimentation itself. Who is to know otherwise?

  3. Nom says:

    The Scientific Method looks horrifyingly similar to that of a cookbook: a hypothetical recipe turned theoretical once a great many people like it. It is now no longer science, but chefs squabbling over recipes.

  4. Pingback: Foolishness = the Death of Science | A. J. MacDonald, Jr.

  5. Since surgical steel consists of chromium, it is resistant to rust.

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