Intelligent Design

"There seems to be in both extremes [of creationism and unguided evolution] an ‘either/or’ mentality: either everything as we know it was created as it is now by God in the beginning, or there was no creation or God of creation at all."


"One can very comfortably believe that God is the Creator, and also hold the theory that creation had within it the seeds of an evolutionary development that would take place over eons."

Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Bishop of Pittsburgh

Creationism is a belief founded in faith and has no place in a secular scientific classroom. The logical consequences of creationism’s claims (such as earth being only thousands of years old), however, can be tested like any other scientific hypotheses and be proven or disproven (I suspect the latter). On the other hand, evolutionary theory goes too far when stating that the underlying processes are entirely random. At best one can state that they appear to be random. A great number of phenomena appear to be random, but are actually quite deterministic in nature. Actually, to honest, there is a great deal of ambiguity in the term "random". A process can be random and still be highly predictable. Scientists take advantage of this whenever they state that a process has such-and-such distribution. IOW, one can predict, with varying degrees of precision, future values of variables. Also, some processes may appear random but only really be pseudorandom, such as "random" numbers generated by computers.

What am I getting at? I’m saying that both sides, at least as presented by the media, are wrong. Creationism doesn’t belong in schools and evolutionary theory cannot prove that perceived randomness is truly random rather than only pseudorandom. Thus, introducing "intelligent design" into science classrooms is unnecessary. Teachers need only make room for guided evolution by not assuming more or less causality than the data indicate. If fundamentalists want to go farther than guided evolution, they should either not send their kids to public school. Either that or be willing to have their kids taught a broad variety of mythological creation stories from religions representative of America’s cultural and religious diversity.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

9 thoughts on “Intelligent Design

  1. gbm3

    Here here!

    I’m tired of the argument that it’s either creationism or Darwin’s evolution, esp when it’s a reason for disbelief.

    They’re not mutually exclusive.

    Further, either could be true/false to an extent.

    In evolution, we can test for general trends, but this assumes that the same conditions were present long ago. If something(s) happen(s) all of a sudden, the assumptions break apart.

    In creationism, what if something didn’t happen all of a sudden? Evolution didn’t pop up suddenly today nor is it going to cease tomorrow.

  2. Tom Smith

    gbm3, you hit on the main reason that I don’t much like the idea of biology hanging its hat entirely on evolution. “In evolution, we can test for general trends, but this assumes that the same conditions were present long ago. If something(s) happen(s) all of a sudden, the assumptions break apart.” That the past was like the present is believed inductively, rather than through deduction, which is the proper method of science. I’m taking a class this semester on the philosophy of science, and the very first thing I noticed when we studied Hume and Popper was that their arguments, which attack induction, serve to undercut rather devastatingly the scienticity of evolutionary theory, which is unfortunate.

    I agree with Bishop Wuerl’s sentiment that one can, indeed, believe in God as Creator as well as evolution, though there does seem to be one thorn. It seems to me that Darwin’s evolution implies polygenism, which causes problems when one talks about the Fall. How could many humans fall simultaneously? Would one person’s fall count for everybody? isn’t that unfair?

  3. The Waffling Anglican

    “Random” is just the worod we use to describe how matter and energy behave in space and time. Randomness drives thermodynamics, and thermodynamics (eventually) drives evolution. Randomness doesn’t invalidate determiism; it usually just means there are so many deterministic factors operating that the system can respond to virtually indetectable inputs.

    I would expect that any universe that allows for free will would have to have a great deal of randomness built into it. And once you have that randomness, i.e. transmissable mutations, coupled with competition for resources, evolution is inevitable.

    The Lord, of course, existing external to both space and time, should be able to see the whole thing as a unit. No _real_ randomness there! If the universe doesn’t look quite right from beginning to end, then just tweak it until it’s good.

    We _really do_ have free will, but our free will can’t overcome His purpose, since the purpose is built into the system. That’s my non-theologian $0.02, anyway.

  4. gbm3

    “I agree with Bishop Wuerl’s sentiment that one can, indeed, believe in God as Creator as well as evolution, though there does seem to be one thorn. It seems to me that Darwin’s evolution implies polygenism, which causes problems when one talks about the Fall. How could many humans fall simultaneously? Would one person’s fall count for everybody? isn’t that unfair?”

    Unfortunately, the fall cannot be proven. Written/oral history goes only so far.

    It’s been said that there had to be the fall in history for Jesus to redeem the world. However, Jesus only mentioned the beginning (of humans?) once (as I recall).

    He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’
    and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
    So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate. (Mt 19:4-6)

    He doesn’t say anything about Adam (or Eve). Only Paul mentions it (a few places?):

    For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being.
    For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
    but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
    then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.
    For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
    The last enemy to be destroyed is death,
    for “he subjected everything under his feet.” But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him.
    When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will (also) be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corr 15: 21-28 )

    Does this mean that Genesis should be taken literally? Did one man, Adam, cause our fall? Wasn’t it Eve anyway that ate first?

    The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Gen 3: 6)

    Did they eat as community? Maybe humanity fell as community represented by Adam as the head?

    In any event, I think more than anything, Genesis should be taken as allegory with a sprinkling of history (in terms of the fall): humanity fell from communion with God through sin.

  5. gbm3

    “Adam and Eve: Real People

    It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

    In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

    The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390). “

    What does this mean? I read it a couple of times but still don’t know the answer to your question.

  6. Funky Dung

    My next question would be whether than papal statement was infallible. If you regard it as a matter of faith, perhaps it is. If you take it as a matter of science, it’s not. Popes cannot infallibly teach science.

  7. gbm3

    I think I get it: polygenism is not possible within the Catholic teaching. Right?

    “Popes cannot infallibly teach science.”


    But what of an event that science cannot explain or definitely predict?

    Ex*: transfiguration event, raising of Lazarus, Jesus raising from the dead…

    Take it as a matter of faith? Science can’t prove it.

    I believe the Ex* took place. As far as the old testament story? Don’t know.

  8. Tom Smith

    No, Popes cannot teach science with infallibility. But Humani Generis does not pretend to do that. It merely states that polygenism is incompatible with the Fall. Anyway, it’s not as though science is about to answer definitively the question of human origin any time soon.

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