Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Creationism, Evolutionism and Freeing Darwin

Can I just say that I love Christoph Cardinal Schonborn? Because I do. I am a fan of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and this man was the general editor of that particular book. I appreciated that. However, when I got a chance to go see him a week or so ago, I came away very, very impressed. First of all, this man is smart. He is fluent in six different languages, which is (hmm, give me a minute to do the math... Got it!) five more languages than I am fluent in. He has a doctorate in theology and when you listen to him, you know that this is a man that has a brain and knows how to use it. And yet, he is also a very down to earth man with a very evident love of God and a shepherd's heart that longs to bring people to Christ. I wish you could have heard his homily, people. You would see what I mean.

I was even more excited when we got to the talk that he was giving afterwards and I learned that he was going to be touching on some of the themes from his book, Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith. Right up my biology studying, theology loving alley. Now, I guarantee that what I try to tell you here will in no way do justice to his talk. For one thing, I can't write with a German accent. I can't give you the timing of his words, and I can't convey his presence to you. But anyway, still some great points that I can pass on and can't wait to share.

The thing that I loved the most was how he talked about the need to bring faith and reason together. Faith is not the same as reason, but it is reasonable. There are elements of faith that are above reason, but they are not contrary to reason. Reason, for it's part, should not be dictated by faith. It's job is to be able to study things that can be observed or thought about. However, faith is what can give light to what is found by reason, in order to make sense of it all.

From the words of my papa, JPII, "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth- in a word, to know himself- so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to know the fulness of truth about themselves." (From the encyclical, Fides et Ratio.)

He spent time discussing that we have a God that created with a purpose. His creation was in some way a sign that points back to Him. If that is the case, faith and reason should not be separated, but should in fact complement one another beautifully. Then came my favorite part where he applied faith and reason to ideologies of creationism and evolutionism.

Of evolutionism, he reminded us that there has to be an order and a purpose to the universe for it even to be possible to study it. As he said, you can't study chaos. If all things were completely random, then how could you have any basis for scientific study. Therefore, to divorce reason and science from faith and from belief in the existence of a Creator is just stupid.

Then he told us that because he believes in the Creator, he is accused of being a creationist. To which he replied that there is plenty of scientific evidence that shows the world is greater than 6000 years old, and that to ignore that evidence is just stupid.

(Actually, on both of those points, he said, "it's stupid. Stupid." It gave me a little joy inside to hear him emphatically denounce both of those parts of the respective theories.)

He finished by pointing out that there is no such thing as "Einstein-ism", and that he would like to free Darwin from Darwinism. He wants us to simply be able to study what Darwin had to say based on it's own merits, and not as part of an ideology. I especially loved that he asked why he should be afraid of any discovery that science had to make. In what way would that affect his faith? It does not decrease it, but rather increases the wonder of his faith in the Creator that created such an amazing universe.

Fantastic talk. Now one of these days I think I'm going to have to get the book!


  1. Wow - sometimes I think my thoughts on this subject are just naive and that there is no way I can be right in my thinking that it's not an all or nothing creationism or evolution. Thank-you for this recap from an educated source to encourage me. What an experience to get to hear him speak first hand - thank-you for sharing it!

  2. Your post inspires me to attend a mission at the cathedral in town this coming week.

    I admire the way you thoughtfully reflect on your faith and make it personal. I think, through reading your posts, I feel challenged to do the same. :)

  3. That sounds very good. I have only read a little of Schonborn (and never heard him speak!) but he certainly seems like a gift to the Church.

  4. I fully agree with everything you wrote here - seeing people able to unfearfully approach both faith and reason is so refreshing!