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  • Why Catholics Like Einstein

    by George Sim Johnston

    This article originally appeared in the March 1996 edition of Crisis Magazine.

    Science is mankind’s great success story since the Renaissance. Only the most obdurate Luddite can regret the computer chip, the Hubble telescope, and the heart bypass. But these material triumphs have come at a philosophical cost. The scientific method has been so successful in its own sphere that many intelligent people think it the only valid expression of knowledge. From this perspective, Christian belief appears as a relic of the dark benighted ages, when men still hearkened to the powers and principalities of the air.

    G. K. Chesterton, as usual, diagnosed the psychological flaw of scientific triumphalism: People who don’t believe in God don’t believe in nothing: they will believe in anything. The dogmas of faith have been replaced by the dogmas of materialism. Modern belief-systems like Marxism and Darwinism boil down to a single unproved, and unprovable, proposition: that all phenomena, including Homo sapiens, can be explained entirely by natural science. This core dogma of post-Christianity allows the famous rhetorical question of physicist Stephen Hawking: What need, then, for a Creator?

    This sort of materialism is extremely old-fashioned. It ignores virtually everything we’ve learned about the universe since the nineteenth century. Why do so many scientists embrace it? The answer is simple: Scratch a physicist like Hawking who says that science has dispensed with a Creator, and you will find a person who won’t do science without first putting on philosophical blinders. You’ll also find a refusal to heed a simple ground rule: Science, being a description of nature, can have nothing to say about what, if anything, is outside of nature.

    Far from being intimidated by science, Christians ought to rejoice in the fact that modern science points strongly in the direction of a Creator. They also ought to be aware of a simple historical fact that is seldom broached in textbooks: without Christianity there would be no science in the first place. As Stanley Jaki, the physicist and Benedictine priest, has brilliantly shown in books like The Savior of Science, science was “still-born” in every culture – Greek, Hindu, Chinese – except the Christian West. Science is a precarious enterprise that cannot get off the ground unless first given permission by philosophers and theologians. And this permission has been granted but once in history: by the great Catholic thinkers of the Middle Ages.

    What is it about Christianity, and medieval scholasticism in particular, that paved the way for Newton and Einstein? First, the belief that the universe is rational. It was created, after all, through the Word, the divine Logos, which is rationality itself. When we read pagan accounts of the origin of the world, we find nothing but chaos. In the ancient Babylonian account, the universe, instead of being the deliberate act of an all-wise Creator, is the accidental byproduct of a drunken orgy. The Greek gods are somewhat more decorous, but even they decide things mainly by argument and deception – not by a single, definitive fiat.

    Second, the Catholic philosophers of the Middle Ages formulated a realist metaphysics, without which science is impossible. Catholics believe in the reality of matter; the physical world is not simply a veil of illusions, as the Eastern religions would have it, but an order of being that has its own dignity and built-in laws. Buddhist science for this reason is a nonstarter.

    Third, Christians believe that history is linear and not, as Eastern religions hold, cyclical. Only a universe with a beginning, middle, and end is hospitable to irreversible physical processes like the second law of thermodynamics. The work of Newton and Einstein would have been impossible without this simple assumption.

    Since Western science owes its existence to the realism of Catholic metaphysics, how did the situation arise where educated people assume that science and Catholic dogma are antagonistic? The answer is simple: Galileo. Galileo is one of those hot button words, like Inquisition, which are used to end any discussion about the compatibility of Catholicism and human progress. There are even educated Catholics who wish that the whole sorry episode surrounding that great scientist could be swept under a rug and forgotten.

    This is not, however, the attitude of Pope John Paul II, who has a keen interest in modern science. Shortly after becoming pope, he established a commission to look into the Galileo affair. The commission’s report affirmed that Church authorities in the seventeenth century had indeed gravely violated Galileo’s rights as a scientist; but it also interestingly supported the anti-Catholic Victorian biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who examined the Galileo case and reluctantly concluded that “the Church had the best of it.”

    The great irony of the Galileo affair is that until Galileo forced the issue into the realm of theology, the Church had been a willing ombudsman for the new astronomy that emerged in the sixteenth century. In 1543, Nicolai Copernicus, a Polish canon and devout Catholic, published his epochal book supporting the heliocentric (earth around the sun) model at the urging of two Catholic prelates, dedicating it to Pope Paul III, who received it cordially.

    If the issue had remained purely scientific, Church authorities would have shrugged it off. Galileo’s mistake was to push the debate onto theological grounds. Galileo told the Church: Either support the heliocentric model as a fact (even though not proven) or condemn it. He refused the reasonable middle ground offered by Cardinal Bellarmine: You are welcome to hold the Copernican model as a hypothesis; you may even assert that it is superior to the old Ptolemaic model; but don’t tell us to reinterpret Scripture until you have proof.

    Galileo’s response was his theory of the tides, which purported to show that the tides are caused by the earth’s rotation. Even some of Galileo’s supporters could see that this was nonsense. Also, ignoring the work of Kepler, he insisted that the planets go around the earth in perfect circles, which the Jesuit astronomers could plainly see was untenable. In fact, the Copernican system was not strictly “proved” until 1838, when Friedrich Bessel succeeded in determining the parallax of star 61 Cygni.

    The real issue in the Galileo affair was the literal interpretation of Scripture. In 1616, the year of Galileo’s first trial, there was precious little elasticity in Catholic biblical theology. But this was also the case with the Protestants: Luther and Melanchthon had vehemently opposed the heliocentric model on scriptural grounds. Another irony of the affair, pointed out by John Paul II, is that Galileo’s argument that Scripture makes use of figurative language and is meant to teach “how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go” was eventually taught by two great papal encyclicals, Leo XIII’s Providentissumus Deus (1893) and Pius XII’s Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943).

    There are fundamentalists out there, Protestant and Catholic, who do not understand this simple point: Scripture does not teach science. The Book of Genesis was written in the archaic, prescientific idiom of the ancient Palestinians. The author of Genesis could not have told us that the universe is twelve billion years old, because the ancient Hebrews did not have a word for one billion, and even if they had the fact is hardly necessary for our salvation.

    If the universe were roughly 6,000 years old, as a literal reading of Genesis would suggest, then we would not be able to see the Milky Way. The light would not have reached the earth yet.

    As Catholics, we must believe that every word of Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, a claim the Church won’t make even for ex cathedra pronouncements. But we must not think of the sacred writers as going into a trance and taking automatic dictation in a pure language untouched by historical contingency. Rather, God made full use of the writers’ habits of mind and expression. It’s the old mystery of grace and human freedom.

    Once we understand how to read Scripture, the vexed subject of evolution should not present a problem. That evolution per se is not an issue for Catholics was made clear by John Paul II during a brilliant series of catechetical talks on creation at his Wednesday audiences in 1986:

    The theory of natural evolution, understood in a sense that does not exclude divine causality, is not in principle opposed to the truth about the creation of the visible world as presented in the Book of Genesis. . . . It must, however, be added that this hypothesis proposes only a probability, not a scientific certainty. . . . it is possible that the human body has evolved from antecedent living beings.

    The pope got it exactly right. Not only is Darwinism not proved, almost every aspect of it is currently subject to a heated debate among geneticists and paleontologists. Darwin’s model of gradual evolution does not square with the fossils, which show species appearing fully formed, staying around for a million years or whatever, and then suddenly disappearing (99 out of 100 known species are extinct). There are no transitional forms between any of the major animal groups, and even in “thought experiments,” smooth intermediates between, say, reptiles and birds are almost impossible to construct.

    Darwinism also does not square with breeding experiments; dogs remain dogs, fruit flies remain fruit flies. While DNA allows a certain elasticity in a species for ecological adjustment, it programs living things to remain stubbornly what they are. The essence of Darwinism is the unwarranted extrapolation of the small changes that happen all the time within species into the really big jumps (reptile to bird); as any statistician will tell you, extrapolation is a dangerous business, and in the case of Darwin it goes flat against the evidence.

    The earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old. Bacteria appeared 3 billion years ago, followed by blue-green algae and a few oddities. Then, 530 million years ago, came biology’s Big Bang: the Cambrian explosion. There was a sudden profusion of complex life-forms – mollusks, jellyfish, trilobites, chordates – for which there are no discernible ancestors in the rocks. A man from Mars looking at the subsequent fossil record would say that species are replaced by other species, rather than evolve into them. Primates as a class appear out of nowhere; Homo sapiens also makes an abrupt arrival, fully equipped with a will, intellect, and language – capabilities simply not found in apes.

    Thus far, there is no coherent scientific explanation of how all this happened. But you have to go outside the Anglo-Saxon countries, where Darwin is dogma, to find honest admissions of this. The late Pierre P. Grasse, the most eminent French biologist of his generation, called himself an “evolutionist” on the basis that all life-forms share certain genetic material, but he was frankly agnostic about how the higher life-forms came about. He dismissed Darwinism as a “pseudo-science” and ended his book on evolution with the admission that on the question of origins, “Science, impotent, yields the floor to metaphysics.”

    Whatever their differences, Darwin’s staunchest defenders – John Maynard Smith, Richard Dawkins, E. O. Wilson, Stephen Jay Gould – are all hostile to religion. Dawkins’s remark that Darwin made atheism intellectually respectable is typical. If you cut through all the verbal camouflage, the basic argument of the Darwinist camp is, “There is no God, therefore it had to be this way.” But this is ideology, not science. Darwinism – like Marxism and Freudianism – has too many philosophical additives to be fully trusted as a science.

    Evolutionary materialism has a serious flaw that is never acknowledged by its proponents. If man is no more than an accidental collation of atoms, a product of blind material forces that did not have him in mind, then humans do not possess a free will. If this is so, we cannot trust any products of the human intellect, including books by Darwinists. This is the Achilles’ Heel of all materialist philosophies; their truth claims are self-canceling because they downgrade human consciousness to an epiphenomenon of matter. Walker Percy’s remark that Darwin’s Origin of Species explains everything except Darwin writing Origin of Species neatly summarizes the problem.

    Darwin’s real motive, as revealed by notebooks not published until the 1970s, was to get rid of a Creator, a motive he shares with modern cosmologists like Hawking and Steven Weinberg. And creation is an unsettling idea. The notion that the universe had a beginning ex nihilo is one of the most radical concepts introduced by Christianity into the mind of the West. The Fourth Lateran Council defined it as dogma in 1215. It’s an idea that would have scandalized an ancient Greek, who thought matter eternal, as much as a nineteenth century positivist. Today, the fact that the universe had a beginning with, and not in, time is a commonplace of astrophysics.

    When Einstein formulated the General Theory of Relativity, which deals with gravity and the curvature of space, he was perturbed that his equations showed an expanding universe, which points to its beginning. So he introduced a fudge factor, the “cosmological constant,” to keep the cosmos static. He later called this “the biggest mistake of my life.” When Edwin Hubble, the American astronomer, published data in 1931 showing that the universe was indeed expanding, Einstein finally accepted “the need for a beginning.” When in 1964 two scientists from Bell Labs accidentally discovered the three-degree background radiation throughout the entire universe, which can only be explained as a remnant of a super-heated Big Bang, modern cosmology came of age – and found Catholic metaphysics and theology waiting there all along.

    The universe began with an “initial singularity”: all matter was packed into an infinitely dense space. The Big Bang, which may have occurred twelve billion years ago, must not be pictured as the expansion of matter within already existing space; space, time, and matter came into existence simultaneously, a fact that would not have surprised St. Augustine. What Stanley Jaki calls the “specificity” of the formation of the universe is breathtaking. If the cosmic expansion had been a fraction less intense, it would have imploded billions of years ago; a fraction more intense, and the galaxies would not have formed. Picture a wall with thousands of dials; each must be at exactly the right setting – within a toleration of millionths – in order for carbon-based life to eventually emerge in a suburb of the Milky Way. You cannot help but think of a Creator.

    Einstein’s universe, which is finite and highly specific, presents an enormous opportunity for the rearticulation of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. Although the universe points strongly to its dependence on a Creator, Catholics have to be careful not to fall into the trap of “creation science.” Creation is a strictly philosophical concept; it has nothing to do with empirical science, which deals only with quantitative nature. It’s difficult to say who turns themselves into the biggest pretzel: creationists trying to fit science into a biblical template, or agnostic scientists trying to avoid the existence of a personal God.

    Putting God in the gaps unexplained by science has always been a mistake, because science eventually fills those gaps with material explanations. An enlightened Catholic view of science must be anchored in the proposition that God delights to work through secondary causes. God concedes an enormous degree of causality to his creation, and we ought to be in awe as science explains more and more of it. At the same time, we ought to remind those who will listen to us that the universe will never finally explain itself. Modern cosmology will reach its final maturity only when it makes that admission.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • digdigby

      In January 1933, the Belgian mathematician and Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre traveled with Albert Einstein to California for a series of seminars. After the Belgian detailed his Big Bang theory, Einstein stood up applauded, and said, “This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened.”

    • Sarto

      The problem with Catholic medieval philosophy was that it debated soley about the four cause: Material, efficient, formal, and final. That was its only way of looking at reality, and everything got stuffed into one of those four categories, one way or another. Among other things, such an approach led to a sadly poverty-stricken way of understanding sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which was reduced to bread and wine and the moment of Consecration.

      Medieval scholars showed no curiosity about the external world. That would wait for Francis Bacon and the people who followed him, who suddenly put aside the four causes and began to examine nature and all the world around them.

      This created problems for the Church from which it has never recovered. Before Bacon, the strongest arguments were from authority. But with the scientific method: Observation, hypethesis, experimental verification, an argument from authority became very weak. I think it was Bacon who said that the succeeding generation is always wiser than the one behind it.

      The Church still tries to settle things with its arguments from authority. Humanae Vitae would be a good example. Pope Paul VI rejected the opportunity to check his theories by listenint to real living married people of profound Christian faith, but he was more concerned about maintaining the authority of the papacy. And this authority question remains the bugaboo to this day.

      • jpaYMCA

        Sarto, you are truly incredible, according to the etymology of that word: have you actually read any of the scientific treatises written before Bacon’s time? By “scientific”, I mean in the biological, chemical, physical, or medical sciences. I enjoy Latin and science, felicitously, so I’ve found much to wonder and admire in the early and late medieval scientists, most of whom did not have as much time as they desired, for they were “bound to obedience”.

        Further, you’ve completely misunderstood the use of the four causes (read a “De Sacramentis” of Bonaventure or Aquinas lately?) and the use of authority … according to ANY medieval AUTHORITY! Authority was used as the strongest argument only in Theology, and if quotations from “authoritative sources” were used in other disciplines, it was to lead one to an understanding of the author’s position, at least ideally.

        Ba’, what you say about Humanae Vitae is the same lies that have been circulating from “the beginning”. Read, perhaps, the document to see whence comes the authority and upon what arguments/evidence from nature and supernature it is based.

        • Sarto

          I have read, thought about, and prayed about Humanae Vitae many, many times over many many years. I wore out my first copy, filling its margins with thoughts and questions, and I am going through my present copy for about the third time and running out of room. I still do not find it convincing.

          In its neo-scholastic way, it bases its conclusions on a need to maintain papal authority on the subject and appeals to formal and final cause. It’s understanding of the formal cause of marriage is entirely too biological, with little sense of the wider spiritual and emotional reality that makes up marriage. As for final cause, a pope pretends to know the mind and will of God for people who are completely outside his lived experience.

          I will never understand how celibate males never involved in the promises of marriage and the intimate company of a woman are in a better position to understand the will of God for those who live that sacrament. I would also get a little cranky if some married person tried to explain to me exactly what celibacy means.

          • Sam Schmitt

            The teaching of Humane Vitae does not depend on the particular arguments to be found in it, as if we are free to reject it if we do not find those arguments convincing. This would place our own understanding in judgment above the authoritative teaching of the Church. Granted, the teaching should be presented in a reasonable manner, but its authority does not depend on whether or not I am personally convinced of it reasonableness.

            Your last point assumes that teaching authority in the Church derives from ones personal experience. Since it doesn’t, I’m not sure what your point is. Even if it did, there are many, many Catholic couples whose “lived experience” is a powerful witness to the evil of contraception. We then have two contradictory indications, both based on the experience of sincere individuals. On your first premise how can this be?

          • Rick DeLano

            “a pope pretends to know the mind and will of God”.

            Thanks, Sarto.

            You are an excellent Protestant, you sound like Luther.

            Bye.

    • MMC

      “The Church still tries to settle things with its arguments from authority. Humanae Vitae would be a good example. Pope Paul VI rejected the opportunity to check his theories by listenint to real living married people of profound Christian faith, but he was more concerned about maintaining the authority of the papacy. And this authority question remains the bugaboo to this .”

      I’m sorry, what did you say? If anything Pope Paul VI utilized his relationship with the Holy Spirit to obtain supernatural knowledge as to the subsequent evils that would follow in the wake of contraception. He was prophetic in identifying the carnage that would ensue when we separated the sexual act from it’s natural end: procreation. Abortion (500 million unborn children murdered in their own mother’s wombs), a 50% divorce rate, sex trafficking, STD’s, AIDS, so called “same-sex marriage”, fatherless homes, test tube babies and the list goes on.

      We didn’t know that the Pill was an abortifacient when HV came out…only to find out later that it was. Now we have NaPro Technology that provides natural contraception without pills, condoms, IUD’s, abortions etc. educating women about their bodies and making reproduction a shared responsibility between the spouses.

      I am so grateful that Pope Paul VI had the moral courage to follow the Holy Spirit. Trusting that God had a better way and that contraception was the evil we all knew it was. He did not abuse his papal authority one iota. In truth, he modeled fortitude and fear of the Lord we should all try to emulate.

      There is a good chance those “real living married people of profound faith” would be divorced, sterilized and culpable of their own child’s murder by now if PP IV didn’t do the right thing. God bless him!

      • Sarto

        The pope listens to the Holy Spirit. Granted. But lay people trying to live out all the dimensions of their sacrament are also given the gift of the Spirit. I will always remember the way Paul VI invited some of the holiest, most committed lay people in his church to discuss the question of contraception. He then stacked the committee with conservative bishops.

        It is interesting that the bishops who attended the deliberations of that committee softened their opposition to artificial birth control and helped write the statement the Pope then ignored. It is also interesting that the Pope never attended the meetings, and neither did two other bishops assigned to that committee: Ottaviani, and the one day Pope John Paul II. And neither did Jesuit moral theologian John (?) Ford, credited with great influence over Pope Paul VI on his final conclusions about this issue.

        I agree, the Pope was prophetic, forecasting the moral catastrophe we are witnessing. But I know many, many good Catholic people who are also living prophetic lives, practicing contraception while managing to avoid all those moral pitfalls the Pope predicted.

        It was not an either/or situation. The vast majority of Catholics you know are probably practicing artificial birth control. They also pray, try to live their faith, and try to take care of their responsibilities to society, including the poor. Also listening to the Holy Spirit as they live their sacrament, they respectfully refuse to follow Humanae Vitae. And there are lots of prayerful, holy “contracepting” Protestants who also avoid those moral pitfalls.

        • Sam Schmitt

          Contrary to the popular myth, Pope Paul did not convene the so-called “Birth Control Commission” to help him decide if birth control was OK or not. He already knew what the Church taught. (And if it was stacked with “conservatives” why did a majority vote to allow contraception?)

          The fact that many contracepting couples do not suffer the consequences predicted by Pope Paul in Humane Vitae does not mean that their practice of contraception is OK. Their marriages are still compromised. I do not judge any fellow Catholics, but “respectfully” refusing to follow the teaching of the Church on such a serious matter is a “moral pitfall” all by itself.

          Whether they realize it or not, living a lie is never “prophetic.” You cannot pit the Holy Spirit against himself. He will never tell anyone to do what contradicts what he has already told the pope for the sake of the entire Church. And what of those “holiest, most committed lay people in [the] Church” who are convinced the Holy Spirit is telling them to refrain from contraception because this is what the Church is teaching them? Are they dupes?

          You yourself gave the example of William Simon, a prayerful, sincere Catholic who you say egregiously violated the norms of justice in his business practices. It is very possible, even common, for people to be misled, even seriously so, by the culture, friends, pastors, books and articles, to the extent that they will tolerate and even promote that which is gravely detrimental to their own moral well-being and that of others, particularly if the opposite course means a radical way of life involving serious personal sacrifice and ridicule. As I said, I do not judge any contracepting Catholic, but they have been sold a bill of goods that is seriously undermining their spiritual health and well-being.

    • Michael PS

      Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968, in which the Church declined to discipline dissenters from Humanae Vitae ” and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

      In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

      In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In The Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

      The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

      Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

      • MMC

        I think it about time the Church dealt with the systemic disobedience within it’s own ranks in regards to many sexual teachings within the Church.

        I do not understand why the church fails to follow the dictates of the Lord Himself i.e. Matthew 18. The Lord loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend so we must trust that removing the willful sinner from the church after several attempts is in the best interest of all…most especially the one who is lost.

        It is my opinion (and I could be wrong) that a part of the failure of the church today is due to not taking disciplinary actions upon those who seek to destroy her from within. May the Lord give us the courage to return to Matthew 18 in our own lives and parishes.

      • cowalker

        It has been fascinating to watch this play out over the years. I remember reading thirty years ago in the Catholic Telegraph that Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was blaming pastors in the U.S. for the almost universal practice of contraception by Catholic couples. He didn’t seem to understand that the pastors had begun by upholding Humanae Vitae, but Catholics just didn’t care. They had made up their own minds, and no longer considered it a sin that had to be confessed. If a confessor specifically questioned them about it, they either found a different confessor, or stopped going to confession. If the Church had a hundred more years to let the question slide, they might have been alright. Who remembers now that it was once forbidden to lend money for interest? However the American Church has now been pushed into the absurd position of pretending to be outraged at Catholic institutions being required to provide health insurance that covers contraception and sterilization when at least 90% of lay Catholics use these medical services already. The American bishops claim to speak for all Catholics when they try to frame this as a matter of “religious freedom” when they actually speak for a very small minority. The bishops won’t even do the obvious thing and excommunicate the Catholic Sebelius who has produced this mandate, and I think I know why. They are smarter than Ratzinger, and have thought through to the problem they will face if nobody cares.

    • cowalker

      This is a self-contradictory essay.

      The author begins with “Science, being a description of nature, can have nothing to say about what, if anything, is outside of nature,” but then claims that “. . . modern science points strongly in the direction of a Creator.” No, you were right the first time. Science by definition has nothing to say about the supernatural.

      The author observes that “Thus far, there is no coherent scientific explanation of how all this [evolution] happened,” and claims that this suggests that there is a creator. The author also says “Modern belief-systems like Marxism and Darwinism boil down to a single unproved, and unprovable, proposition: that all phenomena, including Homo sapiens, can be explained entirely by natural science.” Then the author winds up with “Putting God in the gaps unexplained by science has always been a mistake, because science eventually fills those gaps with material explanations.” How do you reconcile those statements? At some point are scientists supposed to give up looking for a scientific explanation, as Pierre P. Grasse apparently did? It is true that the proposition that all phenomena can be explained by science cannot be proven, but neither can it be disproven, anymore than the existence or non-existence of a creator can be proven.

      The author says “Picture a wall with thousands of dials; each must be at exactly the right setting – within a toleration of millionths – in order for carbon-based life to eventually emerge in a suburb of the Milky Way. You cannot help but think of a Creator.” This perspective only makes you think of a creator if you assume that carbon-based life in the Milky Way was the goal of creation, which means the prior assumption that a conscious being had a purpose in creating the universe. No, it’s not accidental that humans can survive in their environment any more than it’s an accident that water in a puddle takes the shape of the depression it fills. Earth’s environment shaped the evolution of the human body. If the earth environment had been different, its creatures would have been different or perhaps absent. What would be truly miraculous would be a situation where humans lived and thrived on a planet with no water or oxygen with bodies that required water and oxygen. Now THAT would be hard to explain scientifically.

      This is just confused:
      “Evolutionary materialism has a serious flaw that is never acknowledged by its proponents. If man is no more than an accidental collation of atoms, a product of blind material forces that did not have him in mind, then humans do not possess a free will. If this is so, we cannot trust any products of the human intellect, including books by Darwinists. This is the Achilles’ Heel of all materialist philosophies; their truth claims are self-canceling because they downgrade human consciousness to an epiphenomenon of matter.”

      Has someone proven that thinking is impossible if you don’t have a free will? There is software that allows computers to analyze data and reach conclusions about it, with varying degrees of success. Even closer to home, we can see that animals demonstrate a limited ability to think. For example a family dog will wake up its owner if it detects fire or hears a burglar trying to get in. Should you ignore your normally well-behaved dog if he wakes you up with a whine in the middle of the night and tries to lead you to another room because he doesn’t have free will? One thing we do know for sure is that damage to the brain from injury or disease can definitely interfere with intellectual efforts, and can even change the personality and morality of the affected individual, with lobotomy as an obvious example. What would really require an explanation would be a situation where a person’s soul produced a book like “Origin of the Species” after their conscious brain functions had ceased due to strokes.