Yep, it’s the old “evolution implies chance and a lack of meaning” trick. Second time we’ve fallen for that this week. Would you believe…?
For reasons that I can’t quite put my finger on, this seems very Controlish. The pope is worried about KAOS. They had a Cone of Silence conversation, which pretty well everyone in the world overheard, and while I’m very pleased that the Catholic Church isn’t about to go ID on our asses, we might perhaps think a little bit about this.
In a homily in Regensburg, Benedict gave his position against “random chance evolution”.
We believe in God. This is a fundamental decision on our part. But is such a thing still possible today? Is it reasonable? From the Enlightenment on, science, at least in part, has applied itself to seeking an explanation of the world in which God would be unnecessary. And if this were so, he would also become unnecessary in our lives. But whenever the attempt seemed to be nearing success – inevitably it would become clear: something is missing from the equation! When God is subtracted, something doesn’t add up for man, the world, the whole vast universe. So we end up with two alternatives. What came first? Creative Reason, the Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, yet somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason. The latter, however, would then be nothing more than a chance result of evolution and thus, in the end, equally meaningless. As Christians, we say: I believe in God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth – I believe in the Creator Spirit. We believe that at the beginning of everything is the eternal Word, with Reason and not Unreason. With this faith we have no reason to hide, no fear of ending up in a dead end. We rejoice that we can know God! And we try to let others see the reasonableness of our faith, as Saint Peter bids us do in his First Letter (cf. 3:15)!
I can’t quite see the reasonableness of a faith that has no trouble dealing with, say, gravity as a non-divine process but has trouble with evolution. I can’t quite see the reasonableness of a religion that think that if God isn’t involved in every step of evolution, somehow we have no meaning. And for what it’s worth, I can’t see as reasonable erecting a strawman view of evolution so that the only solution is… you guessed!… your own faith. There’s a strong whiff of snakeoil here.
Evolution is emphatically NOT about random chance. It is about the working out of the laws of nature according to determinate principles – and yes, that involves a certain amount of randomness, but if you have problems about that in evolution, you have to have problems about it in physics, chemistry, and gambling. Hey, maybe God really does win football games for those who pray, so they can win their bets…
The meaning of chance in evolution is twofold – variation falls about a mean, and contingent events have an effect on outcomes. You can put God behind such chance, but you can’t put God in front of them, or you undercut all of our knowledge of the world.
This is a philosophical argument, and it should stay there, or in theology (which is a subset of philosophy anyway), but honestly, at least attack the actual science, not some made up theological cardboard cutout.