Evolution and Intelligent Design

Nova’s presentation  “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” was on last night at PBS.

The program, about teaching evolution in the public schools, reenacts the 2005 trial that pitted the school board of Dover, PA, against plaintiffs who objected to the theory of Intelligent Design being presented along with the theory of evolution in their local school district.  The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

It’s interesting that Nova chose Dr. Kenneth Miller, a biologist from Brown University and a Roman Catholic to make the case for evolution and argue against the theory of Intelligent Design on its website:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/defense-ev.html

Miller is articulate and thorough explaining both sides. In the television presentation he makes the point that truth is one; religion and science don’t contradict each other, but they approach reality in different ways and are complementary.

I liked his answer to people who object to being descended from monkeys.

“Well, they’re right, they’re not descended from monkeys. They’re not descended from chimps or monkeys or gorillas or any other living organism.
The essential idea of common ancestry is that ultimately all living things on this planet share common ancestors if we go far enough back into the past. So, for example, to take the case that people talk about all the time, we share a common ancestor with all primate species. This means that we’re related, by having a single ancestor somewhere in the past, to monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, and so forth.

But the idea of common ancestry goes way deeper than simply saying we’re related to monkeys. We’re in fact related to all mammals. You go farther back, we are related to all vertebrates. And, ultimately, we are related, if you go far enough back, to every living thing on this planet. The almost universal nature of the genetic code, the fact that all life depends upon DNA, all of these things are evidence of this commonality of ancestry, if we go far enough back in time.”

In today’s readings, St. Ambrose offers what faith says. A great promise has been made to us by God. Called to be heirs with Christ, we share in his resurrection. But not only human beings receive this promise.  According to St. Paul writes, “creation also looks forward to this revealing of the sons of God.”  It too is a “son of God as it were,” groaning in bondage, till it shares in this glory. (Ambrose)

Together with the children of the church, and “all who are worthy of seeing the face of God,” creation waits in hope to rise in incorruption.
Our 4th Eucharistic Prayer expresses this same hope:

Then, in your kingdom,

Freed from the corruption of sin and death,

We shall sing your glory

With every creature, through Christ, our Lord, from whom all good things come.

We need more information on evolution from the Catholic Church, so it’s good to see a big conference on evolution in Rome sponsored by the Gregorian University, Notre Dame University and the Pontifical Council of Cuture for early March. More details  http://www.evolution-rome2009.net/

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