From Mr Christian Copus SIR – Quentin de la Bédoyère (Evolution is God’s work, February 6), makes a brave attempt to reconcile Darwin’s theory with Church teaching, but I am afraid that it is simply not possible to square this particular circle.
He states: “The outcome of evolution was known and intended in every detail from the beginning” – presumably in order to accommodate traditional Christian teaching on creation. However, this is quite incompatible with the Darwinian view that evolution is entirely purposeless, and that we are the wholly unintended and unforeseen consequence of natural selection acting on chance mutations.
The dichotomy, then, between Darwin’s theory and Intelligent Design is far from being a false one; rather, it is the difference between reducing humanity to the status of an accidental by-product of blind forces, and restoring us to our rightful position as creatures deliberately created in the image and likeness of God. Indeed, Intelligent Design theorists have already gone a long way towards achieving the latter by highlighting the considerable evidence for specified, complex design in nature.
There have been encouraging signs recently that the Church is beginning to recognise this (see recent articles by Cardinal Schönborn), and this year of Darwinian anniversaries provides us with the ideal opportunity to reinforce that message.
Yours faithfully, CHRISTIAN COPUS London, SW12 From Dr Stephen Milne SIR – The idea that “there should be no contradiction between Christianity and Darwinism” is untenable. Darwinism takes several contemporary forms, but they all share several important characteristics: for example, a prior commitment to philosophical naturalism, anti-supernaturalism and materialism.
Darwin’s account of evolution does not need God; it makes it possible, as Richard Dawkins once put it, “to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. There is – literally – nothing for God to do in the Darwinian account of evolution. Darwin’s Descent of Man, less well-known than his Origin of Species, put forward the consequences of his theory in terms no reader could mistake.
First, they include the idea that certain races, because of the struggle for survival, must claim superiority due to sheer strength. Second, the idea that within races, the strong will conquer, indeed must conquer to eliminate the weak. Third, the idea that what he termed “monogamy” had outgrown its usefulness in ensuring the survival of the fittest and would have to be surpassed, preferably by its elimination. Finally, moral norms could, and should, vary according to the circumstances of survival of different races or groups.
Darwin’s theory leads directly to moral relativism and is opposed to the idea that there is a natural law against which all moral standards must be measured. Most of these beliefs characterise contemporary man – elimination of the weak or unwanted through euthanasia or abortion, unlimited sexual freedom, the destruction of marriage, the extinction of moral conscience formed against transcendent standards, nihilism about life’s purpose and a rejection of the body as a visible sign of an invisible reality. Darwin is one of the architects of the culture of death. I fail to see how this can be “reconciled” to orthodox Catholicism.
Yours faithfully, STEPHEN MILNE By e-mail From Mr Chris Mason SIR – In response to your articles and correspondence on evolution (Letters January 30, February 6), I would like to show that evolution does not stand up to modern scientific scrutiny. Darwin’s theory of evolution claims that over time one animal can change into another animal by natural selection and by survival of the fittest – while the “unfit” die off. However, for this change to take place one animal has to gain or lose chromosomes. The gaining or losing of chromosomes produces genetic disorders. For instance, a human being with an extra chromosome (Chromosome 21) has Down’s Syndrome. Darwin’s theory would class such humans as unfit and worthy of being eliminated.
According to Darwin’s theory, someone with an extra chromosome has evolved, or is beginning to evolve, into another organism. So why do many evolutionists call for “newly evolving” people with Down’s Syndrome to be aborted?
In Quentin de la Bédoyère’s article he states: “In the process of reproduction many mutations occur. The great majority are harmful and so disappear. But a tiny number prove useful and give the species a small additional chance of survival... Those with this advantage are likely to breed more than those without, and so the advantage tends to accumulate.” It is, in fact, an assumption that “those with this advantage are likely to breed more”, and not science, because it ignores the need to gain or lose chromosomes for one species to become another species.
Evolutionary theory is clearly not based on God’s creative love, nor does it take account of the Fall and the fallen nature of the world, but assumes that original creation was always out for its own survival rather than being like the “lamb lying down with the lion”.
Yours faithfully, CHRIS MASON Cheltenham, Gloucestershire From Mr Ralph Moore SIR – While I applaud Quentin de la Bédoyère’s attempt to reconcile Christianity and Darwinism, I am dismayed that he should so discredit his argument by using the old “peppered moth” fallacy as a proof of minor adaptation.
I refer you to Jonathan Wells’s Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth, which summarises the evidence that “moths do not normally rest on tree trunks” and that the photographs used as proof of “industrial melanism” were staged in the daytime when the moths are torpid. Almost every biology textbook perpetuates the myth by reproducing those photographs, despite the widespread knowledge that they were staged. They do so on the dubious grounds that the photographs provide “symbolic, visual truth” which makes the “fact” accessible to a simpleminded audience (ie children). Meanwhile, the search for indisputable scientific evidence for natural selection goes on and on.
Yours faithfully, RALPH MOORE Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire