Catholic Resources

UnApologetic Catholic Sites

  • Pat Mulcahey's Caritas Christi Urget Nos
    a Deacon discerns the priesthood and shares his journey with us. God bless him! May Christ's love impel us all to answer His Call.
  • Cafeteria Catholic
    Demostrating yet again that the Catholic Cafeteria is as spiritually filling as the othodox deli.
  • Bad Catholic
    A "Bad in Name Only" Catholic voices strong opinions
  • Dappled Things
    Priests are busy. Thankfully, some blog, unapologetically
  • Disputations
    Criticial thinking of the highest order from a Venn Master, demonstrating that reason is the most effective apologetics
  • Journey to Vatican III
    Rebecca Nappi, Theologian and Newpaper Columnist with rare insights
  • Flos Carmeli
    Discussions in a Carmelite Tradition
  • The Lesser of Two Weevils
    A zen Catholic studying Hebrew and finding God in quantum physics is sure to have interesting things to say!
  • Built on a Rock
    Commentary on ecumenical issues is unsurpassed.
  • Noli Irritare Leones
    Yet another thoughtful calm commentary on religion, Catholics, politics and the world written by a non-Catholic.
  • Catholic Sensibility
    A "peace"ful website by a sensible Catholic liturgist usually avoiding the Catholic blog fratricide
  • Real Live Preacher
    OK, OK, He's not even Catholic--But he's a model for the unapologetic Christian who evangelizes with the lure of a Cristian life well lived and observed, not the hammer of screaming apologetics hellfire and brimstone.
  • Open Book
    Most unapologetic site by a true apologetic Catholic in the best sense of the word
  • Catholicism, Spirituality and Holiness
    Thoughtful Catholic man combines family, career and faith.

Noteworthy Catholic and Religious Blogs

  • A Cautious Man
    Pointing out that we could all be a little more cautious in forming our instant internet opinions. Heed his advice.
  • Beanbag Central
    Capital "C" equals Catholic Chaos at aptly named site.
  • Catholic and Enjoying It!
    Intentionally apologetic, can be over the top outrageous, provocative, but freqently informative, thoughtful and spirtitual
  • Fath Based Politiics
    Politics informed by faith--backwards from the usual. Maybe two ii's are better after all.
  • Musings of An Ordinary Catholic
    Not so ordinary musings
  • Ragamuffin Ramblings
    Words of wisdom from the Windy City
  • Sancta Sanctis
    You cannot miss Chesterton Thursdays! Comprehensive list of Catholic websites and a beatiful site that lives up to its name.
  • St. Blog's Parish Hall
    Graciously maintained by a holy person, whose virtue must be patience, a lengthy list of Catholic blogs, both apologetic and unapologetic.
  • The Squire
    Running from the thought police, and he's got a long way to go.
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« Why apologetics is so wrong | Main | I couldn't agree more »

Comments

Steven Riddle

Dear Sir,

I sympathize with your viewpoint. But then, ID is no worse than a lot of supposed science running the ranks. Richard Dawkins "Selfish Gene" is no more science, but doesn't get blasted in this fashion. Stephen Jay Gould's Contingency theory and "Paradox of the Third Tier" are equally not science, and yet no yelling.

The point is that when philosophy intrudes in one way there seem to be no complaints, when it intrudes from the other side, everyone is up in arms.

As it happens, I think ID is right. However, I must mostly concur that it isn't science. It is a philosophical construct through which science is interpreted. As such it is no worse than Marxism or Materialism--both common constructs through which science is interpreted. We would just be wiser to keep our constructs out of our science. What cannot be proven or even really tested has no place in the realm of the sciences. That does not mean, however, that it has no place. And to attack some of the interesting points raised without examining them (for example "irreducible complexity" has been given the implausible explanations of exaption and the "Spandrels of San Marcos" syndrome) is no more science than the proposal that the only explanation for this phenomenon is intelligent design. First, is it a realm phenomenon--there are a great many who think so. How does one test this.

I guess I encourage not tossing the baby out with the bathwater. But I also agree with you we shouldn't confuse the baby with the bathwater.

shalom,

Steven

Unapologetic Catholic

That's a fair (OK, brilliant insight is more like it) comment and I agree with most of it.  Dawkins did get a lot of criticsm when The Selfish Gene was published.  Here's a good example. Unfortunately I don't think we remember so well when philosphical proposals that we don't espouse come under direct attack, and I agree that he could have fairly been more heavily criticized. It's always fair to criticize any philosphical or religious argument on philosophical or religious grounds and it's always fair to criticize actual science on scietific grounds. 

Often ID proponents don't like philosophical implications of good science and they then attack the science itself not the philosophical implications.

I also distinguish between that specific form of anti science Intelligent Design as advocated by Behe, Dembski, Johnson and the Discovery Institute[ Capital "I" intelligent Design]  from the religious belief that God created the whole world and everything in it--small "i" intelligent design.  I include myself as someone who believes in that "small i" form of intelligent design.  The Discovery Institute's approach is bad science, bad apologetics and bad theology in my opinion. Still, you're absolutely right, as a philosophical construct, we sort of have to assume God had some role in creation if we're going to be Catholics. In that sense I'm all for it.

Right now, though, I belive that "science" cannot detect "the hand of God" in creation. That may change in the future. And that's diffent than saying that God had no hand, it's just saying that human science is still pretty puny

jcecil3

UC,

I respect Steven and his criticism of the way atheistic philosophies intrude in science is correct, but don't back down on your critique of ID from a theological perspective. ID is not only bad science if taken as science, but I think it's bad theology.

In trying to probe the question of the existence of God, I think we are theologically always on the wrong track if we are building the case from nature, and I don't think this was the actual approach of Thomas Aquinas in his famous five "proofs" (Latin: probare - or probing).

Aquinas was not introducing a God of the gaps proof of God's existence. He was introducing a philosophical aid to the contemplative experience. If it is helpful to think of it this way, his "proofs" or "probings" should be thought of more like a Bhuddist meditation on the ground of being.

Aquinas takes the revelation in Exodus of the name of God as "I AM Who AM" and presents five ways of emptying the mind of all contingent reality to gain a glimpse at pure unbounded BE-ing ,...., existence as pure act.

The five ways of probing God could be re-warded and summarized as follows:

1. Argument from motion: This is not spekaing of motion int he way we mean it. In his analogies on motion, he speaks of things as hot or cold, which did not refer to movement from point A to point B (Aquinas knew nothing of molecular motion). What Aquinas is asking us to do is consider the continengency of all of nature, and then consider that something holds this contingency together in existence. As wood became fire, what was the observable constant? The constant was that something existed in front of your eyes, even though that something changed. It is the act of existing that remained constant, even though the wood changed to fire.

2. Argument from causality: Again, Aquinas doesn't mean cause and effect the way we mean it today. He is not referring to the fact that a ball is in motion caused by a bat which was caused to move by a man, etc....going back in time. He is not speaking of another God of the gaps. Rather, he is speaking of something a little difficult for us to understand. He is referring to cause in the sense that a blank piece of paper causes whiteness to appear to the observer right here and right now. Then he is asking, what is behind the witeness causing the color white to appear? The answer would be the ontology of paper. But what is behind the ontology of paper? Today, we might answer molecules, where Aquinas might have answered one of or a combination of the four elements believed to make up all things. What causes that - not a long time ago, but in the here and now? Aquinas says we can't go on ad infinitum. We eventually come face to face with BE-ing as a being, right here and right now: the act of existence considered as an ontology to itself causing the contingent reality we are observing in the here and now.

3. Argument from necessity: the simplest way to sum this one up is "Why is there is something rather than nothing? " Again, we aren't talking about a big bang millions of years ago. Aquinas is asking us to consider why the entire universe doesn't simply cease to exist in the twinkling of an eye. What holds it in existence in the here and now? The answer is that "I AM" is holding all things in existence.

4. Gradation: Here Aquinas is asking us to consider how we judge things to be good, and he is arguing that good considered in itself - the very concept of goodness in its pure form rather than a good thing - leads to a glimpse at the nature of absolute being.

5. Governance: To the modern ear, this argument sounds exactly like intelligent design. But there is a very subtle difference. Aquinas saw law as having a final purpose, which is called "the end" of the law. Law functions as an ideal towards which we strive, and this is the role of governance. In his "natural law" theory, the law is written in the human heart. Aquinas asks us to look at the end towards which all things aim - not the beginning or the current state. What he is saying is that things act with purpose impanted in their very nature. In the world-view of Aquinas, what goes up must come down not because gravity pulled it down, but because the object wanted to come down. This argument is very difficult for the modern mind, because we simply do not think this way about anything but maybe human choices. But in the middle ages, all things acted with a sort of intentionality. Aquinas is asking what is the intention behind all things? In today's language, we might say, "God is the meaning behind it all". What makes this different than intelligent design is that it accepts the possibility of chaos in the world as an observable phenomenon. Aquinas is NOT saying one can observe order in the universe. He IS saying that everything acts with a purpose even when it doesn't appear so right now. This is a bit anthropomorphic by our standards, and is perhaps his weakest argument by our standards. Yet, it is important that we not think he is offering an intelligent design theory. Instead, Aquinas is asking us to consider what it all means and where everything is headed. Perhaps it is helpful to go back to the other four "probings". Aquinas is speaking of a purpose which is "to be" rather than to "not be". Even a rock has its "end" to exist. This is the sense in which governance operates.

So what if Aquinas wasn't offering any sort of intelligent design arguemnt? Does that make it wrong? What's wrong with intelligent design?

The problem from a theological point of view is that it leads to deism and a sort of fatalistic determinism. It is a God who acts like a watchmaker, winding up the universe and leaving it alone to run by its own rules in a predetermined course.

This is a very different God than the God of Aquinas, who is a God hidden in and through all things just beyond our vision or comprehension. Aquinas is saying that through his five "probings", we get a glimmer of this God's face - a glimmer right NOW. In contemplating pure being as being, we "see" God if only in a fragmentary way. The probings become a "proof" of God not in the sense of of asking one to believe in God because there is not other explaination for a physical phenomenon. Rather, they are "proofs" in that when we consider BE-ing in and of itself, we actually encounter God at that moment. We lead through his "probings" into a contemplative experience!

It is a "proof" of God in a much stronger sense than saying there is not other explanaition for something. This is where you are correct to point out the apologetic failure of intelligent design. Aquinas' method is much stronger.

Aquinas is really saying, "Think with me, and through the process, you will catch a glimmer of God if only for a second. Once you see him (with the mind's eye), you cannot deny his reality."

Peace!

Unapologetic Catholic

Thanks for the thoughtful posts. The "baby with the bathwater" comment is well taken for Catholics. Clearly, if you're Catholic, you sort of ahave to believe that God created the Universe, so, in that sense we all believe in an intelligent designer, and we can't throw that baby out with the bathwater.

But I also agree that arguments from design in naure are always unconvincing. In that sense I don't think God "designed" anything in nature--although He created it all. A resort to specific items in nature that must be God-designed seems to me to unavoidably lead to a tinkerer God glueing flagella to the backs of germs while ignoring the tidal waves washing over vast numbers of His human creatures. I don't see God as tthis kind of micromanager of His creation.

Thnakf for two thoughtful comments. I'll re-read them some more.

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