Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Darwin’s materialism

“Christians cannot, of course, be expected to display superhuman insight at every new turn taken by intellectual fashion. Nor can they be held accountable for Darwin’s motivation, which was not so much scientific as countermetaphysical. The inept philosophizing of Darwin and Darwinians is not of Christian provenance. Christians are certainly not the source of the stereotyped descriptions of Darwin as the genius who staked everything on natural selection. Compared to another issue, natural selection was relatively unimportant for Darwin. That other issue was special creation. Darwin left no doubt as to the lesser importance he attributed to natural selection. His statements are, however, misleading if taken at face value, namely, that his overriding concern was the overthrow of the special creation of each and every species. It is safer to say that Darwin wanted to discredit the notion of creation as such. He realized that creation and evolution are not mutually exclusive, but materialism and creation certainly exclude one another.”

~Stanley L. Jaki: Angels, Apes, & Men, Chap. II—Glorified Ape.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The faith of Darwinists

“RESPECTABILITY of Darwinist philosophy has a lively resource in the contemporary slighting of man’s intellectuality, which is also discredited through self-styled rationalistic trends in philosophy, be they variations on phenomenalism, logical positivism, or empiricism. Those who truly value the intellect have been intimidated, in such an atmosphere, from using it as a prime proof that, for all his animality, man is very much more than an animal. Yet admirers of man’s mind stand on vastly firmer ground than do their opponents. On what ground could a mere animal resort to what Huxley [T. H. Huxley] called “an act of philosophical faith,” to secure credibility to a pivotal point of Darwinism, the emergence of life out of non-living matter? How could a mere animal resort to what is called “analogical reasoning” and use it as a substitute for factual evidence?  Clearly, man’s mental powers demanded a better account than the epiphenomenalism proposed by Huxley. He has little right to paddle in such shallow waters after he declared that “belief, in the scientific sense of the word, is a serious matter, and needs strong foundations.” The ease with which he proposed epiphenomenalism as the explanation of the brain-mind relationship, and the ease with which it was received in his camp hardly suggests profundity of thought. Sophisticated shallowness (especially evident in the so-called identity theory of the mind-body relationship) characterizes most efforts to avoid dualism. To make matters worse, dualism is often equated with its Cartesian form which is surely unworthy of serious consideration.” 

~S.L. Jaki: Angels, Apes & Men, Chap. Two—Glorified Ape.

Available at Real View Books

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Creation, Christianity, and Islam

"The customary designation of the dogma of creation as a Judeo-Christian tenet raises therefore more questions than it settles. In view of the foregoing it will not perhaps appear a rank exaggeration to call the dogma of creation out of nothing, the only creation worth considering, a Christian dogma. To call that dogma Christian just because it became universally known and widely shared through the spread of Christianity, is a failure to see beneath the surface. Christianity was able to carry that dogma far and wide only through the strength provided by faith in the Incarnation. Not surprisingly, it is again the dogma of the Incarnation which helped Christians to unfold the full meaning of the dogma of creation by vindicating the true nature and dignity of created minds in the cosmos, a point, as will be seen, of crucial importance for the fate and fortunes of science. While belief in the immortality of the soul is a minor and peripheral phenomenon within Judaism, it is the very core of Christianity and precisely because of belief in the Incarnation. Without such immortality no meaning can be given to the reality of Christ between his death and resurrection, nor to the meaning of many of his words, such as for instance, ‘Today you shall be with me in Paradise,’ words spoken to the good thief facing with Jesus an imminent physical end. No wonder that from reason’s probing into the mystery of the Incarnation there also derived a view of man as a person with inalienable dignity.

"Creator, God Incarnate, creation out of nothing, immortal soul, and human dignity are notions that form a closely knit unit, a fact well attested by the story of the dogma of creation. A milestone in that story is the Fourth Lateran Council (1214) which made the expression ex nihilo an official part of Christian dogma. The move may appear ‘a most serious mistake’ to anyone suspicious of philosophy in the articulation of faith. The expression ex nihilo is indeed very philosophical in comparison with the purely biblical phrase ‘Maker of heaven and earth’. These efforts follow Christianity as a perennial shadow which bears witness to the grim resolve of human nature to oppose both Creation and Cross. In the decades preceding the Council the resolve saw a violent resurgence with Cathars, Bogomils and their kindred on the rampage. For them matter was either unreal or was evil, and in the latter case a principle on equal footing with God, the Creator. The resounding voice of the Council was clearly in order.

"Another, anything but crude trend at its peak at that time represented perhaps an even greater threat to Christianity and rationality alike. Its source was the wholesale surrender of Islamic intelligentsia to the Greek world-view steeped in the dogma of the world’s eternity. The chief spokesmen of that intelligentsia, Avicenna and Averroes, settled problems of the relation between revelation (faith) and philosophy (science) with recourse to the principle of triple truth. One truth, given in the plain words of the Koran, was for simple folk; another for theologians interested in distinctions; a third, or highest form of truth, for philosophers who had already found it in Aristotle. That the chief opponents of this trend were mystics—Al-Ghazzali and Al-Ashari, who rejected all philosophical approaches to points of faith, above all its chief point, Creation—shows that monotheism in its Islamic form was incapable as it was in its Judaic version from becoming a vehicle of the dogma of creation in a way consistent with revelation, with reason and with that notion of an orderly world which is demanded by science. It was no accident that Al-Ashari was forced to propound an atomistic notion of creation, according to which the world is created anew by Allah at every moment and that there was no causal connection between any two momentary worlds. Such worlds could in no way constitute the cosmos needed by science."

~S.L. Jaki: Cosmos and Creator, Chap. 3—The Dogma of Creation.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

From the Vatican...

“SCIENCE encourages legitimate human curiosity to know the universe and to admire and contemplate its beauty and goodness. In this way we enter into communion with God himself, who looked upon what he had created and saw that it was very good.”

~Pope John Paul II, Discourse to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Sept. 26, 1986.

“MAN learns from two books: the universe, for the human study of the things created by God; and the Bible, for the study of God’s superior will and truth. One belongs to reason, the other to faith. Between them there is no clash.”

~Pope Pius XII: Address to the Pontifical Academy of Science, Dec. 3, 1939.