Sorry USA Today, Evolution Isn’t “Settled” Science

It’s official, ladies and gentlemen! The Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection is no longer a “theory”; it’s confirmed science!

At least, that’s what USA Today would have us think anyway.  In a column entitled “Evolution is Not a Matter of Belief,” Tom Krattenmaker proclaims, “As settled science, evolution is not a matter of opinion or something one chooses to believe in or not, like a religious proposition.” Here, USA Today misleads an increasingly uneducated, uninformed public with shoddy journalism, while demonizing dissenters from elite opinion with backhanded jabs at conservatives: “[T]wo thirds of Democrats accept the validity of evolution, in contrast with the 43 percent of Republicans who accept it.” Allow me to elucidate matters for Mr. Krattenmaker and USA Today.

Let’s start with what science is (and isn’t). In order to be considered “science,” a phenomenon must be: 1) observable via the senses (albeit we must use tools to enhance our sensory limits frequently); 2) reasonable individuals should be able to posit a theory based upon these observations; and 3) reasonable people should be able to replicate conditions to reproduce the phenomenon in question to either confirm the theory or, more to the point, disprove it, via the scientific method. If these three criteria aren’t met, it isn’t science. Ergo, the Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection cannot be understood as science, but instead, a “leap of faith.”

Consider: We may be able to observe, for example, genetics, or “inherited characteristics,” change over time in present-day species, or even genetic similarities between, say, human beings and other primates, specifically chimpanzees and bonobos, which is obviously suggestive. However, we cannot observe inherited characteristics that possibly produced new species from existing ones in the past; i.e., we cannot observe humans “evolving” from apes, nor can we replicate the specifics that could have allowed such a thing to happen. In point of fact, there is very little fossil evidence, of any sort, that suggests such a transition even occurred. Eminent sociologist Rodney Stark has ruminated on this point, citing the late Stephen Jay Gould, who was an equally eminent paleontologist and evolutionary theorist:

While acknowledging that “the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record” is a major embarrassment for Darwinism, Stephen Jay Gould confided that this has been held as a ‘trade secret of paleontology’ and acknowledged that the evolutionary diagrams “that adorn our textbooks” are based on “inference … not the evidence of fossils.”

Contradicting evolutionary thought, the fossil record reveals species to be rather stable. Further, periods of the Earth’s history, such as the Cambrian, show, not the transitional forms concomitant for affirmation of Darwin’s theory, but sporadic outbursts of highly complex organisms. Not only is it then impossible to validate the assertions of evolutionary theory through the scientific method (as historian Glenn Sunshine has written in Why You Think the Way You Do, “Darwinism is not subject to the scientific method any more than anything in history is”), the data (fossil record) that is frequently cited is actually rather scant. This is important because even Darwin recognized this corroboration was needed. Stark continues,

It was well-known that selective breeding can create variations within species. But the boundaries between species are distinct and firm—one species does not simply trail off into another by degrees. As Darwin acknowledged, breeding experiments reveal clear limits to selective breeding beyond which no additional changes can be produced.** For example, dogs can be bred to be only so big and no bigger, let alone be selectively bred until they are cats. Hence, the question of where species come from was the real challenge and, despite the title of his famous book and more than a century of hoopla and celebration, Darwin essentially left it unanswered.

Darwin’s response was to retreat to natural selection and articulate one reason or another why the fossil record does not display the gradualism of transitional forms he himself knew should be there, all of which were hollow arguments and impossible to falsify scientifically. This is hardly the “scientifically valid” or “accurate account of what we observe” that Krattenmaker professes.

All this said, to demonstrate evolution is an act of faith does not mean the theory isn’t “valid.” As someone who obtained his degree in anthropology (along with history) I happen to believe evolution via natural selection is tenable and fits well enough (although not perfectly, as has been indicated) with the circumstantial evidence we currently have. And to be fair, Krattenmaker gets this much right at least in that “we are not faced with a stark choice between God and science. Unless we read the Bible as a collection of facts as we would a textbook (which, admittedly, some 30 percent of Americans do), people can place their trust in God the creator and accept the scientific validity of evolution.” Yet, it will always have to be considered a theory. Nothing more.

Many people who take religion and faith seriously would question my piety because of my belief in the theory of evolution. As a Catholic, however, I can state with confidence that evolution is not incompatible with Catholicism. Science and faith operate hand-in-hand, not in opposition. To paraphrase John Paul II, science teaches us how the heavens operate, while religion teaches us how to get to heaven. Catholicism acknowledges God to be a rational being who thus created a rational universe. As we are beings created in His image and likeness, that truth means, in part, we too are rational entities that can use this rationality to study the universe in order to better understand God himself, as well as His creation. Verily, this awareness of God and Man’s nature explains why science is unique to the West, by which is meant Europe. Who’s to say, therefore, God wouldn’t use a rational mechanism of his design, such as evolution, to fulfill His will? In turn, this presents many Christians, and to a lesser extent Jews, with a bit of a conundrum: where does the Book of Genesis fit in?

Unlike Protestants, Catholicism has Tradition (the Magisterium) to fall back on. Tradition informs us there are four senses of Scriptural comprehension that are used simultaneously: literal, spiritual (or anagogical), moral (or allegorical), and a meaning associated with human society (tropological). Thus, “Jerusalem,” when mentioned in the Bible, simultaneously is read to mean: a literal geographic city in the Middle East; heaven, since Jerusalem is the city of God (anagogic); an “upright” life (allegoric); and political rule, since Jerusalem was the capital of Israel (tropologic). Catholics, then, do not read Genesis literally, in the sense that the universe was created in six days or that Adam and Eve even existed. Instead, a Catholic reading of Genesis means that the universe (including time) was indeed created by God, but the Genesis recording of creation does not literally walk us through that process but is meant to be symbolic of it. Similarly, Adam and Eve are meant to symbolize humanity’s downfall, not that a “literal” Adam and Eve existed.

Where the idea of evolution and natural selection becomes problematic with Catholicism, and Christianity more broadly, is when people use it to deny the existence of the soul—to somehow assert Man isn’t both a spiritual animal as much as he is a rational animal. But again, this is a misapplication of “science.” Just as science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, so too is science incapable of explaining, or denying, the existence of the soul (“evolution says nothing about the existence of God” as even Krattenmaker allows). As such, evolution probably demonstrates how our physical selves came to be, but it doesn’t reveal the particulars of the soul: when the soul enters into the corporal matter, what the soul means for ourselves and our interactions with others, and so forth.

While the Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection is perfectly compatible with Christianity and may be a reasonable inference based upon what little obtainable observable evidence we have, that’s all it is: an inference. It doesn’t meet the definition of science and is actually a question of belief, despite what USA Today erroneously pronounces. It’s worth quoting Professor Sunshine again:

[I]t is literally impossible to recognize evidence that would contradict Darwin because every explanation of the data begins by assuming evolution is true and proceeds from there. In other words, Darwinism interprets the evidence rather than the evidence testing Darwinism [this is known as performing “eisegesis”]. As a result, no matter how many failed predictions come from Darwinism, it can never be proven false. Simply put, naturalistic evolution is an article of faith.

If you are surprised or offended by this argument, then I would simply put a question to you: What evidence would falsify Darwinism? If you cannot think of, or imagine anything that would, it is an article of faith and not a scientific theory.


** Darwin attempted to breed pigeons into a new species, but failed.

Nicholas Satin


Nicholas Satin is a secondary level history teacher and currently works in a public middle school. He received his BA from Central Connecticut State University and his MA from the University of Connecticut. He is also a contributing writer and blogger for Rambling Spirit Magazine.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    “What evidence would falsify Darwinism?” J B S Haldane famously suggested “Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.”

    More seriously, any haphazard distribution of fossils in the strata would refute Darwinism.

    • Maria

      When Darwin deals with possible objections to his theory, he has a chapter on the geological record, in which he mentions examples similar to both the things you mention here. That is, he mentions the existence of fossils too varied or developed (I don’t remember which) in the earliest layer, and he mentioned the fact that in the fossil records species seem to appear abruptly, sometimes with blank periods between what he wants to call related species, and, generally, without presenting continuous development and variation. He argues, primarily on the basis of the way (he thinks) fossil-carrying layers are formed, that the geological record is so imperfect a presentation of history that none of these things are fatal to his theory.

      He does it in a rather long chapter, so there’s obviously more to it than I’m saying, but the point is that he (presumably) wouldn’t think the things you mention falsify his theory. If they did exist, and been known to exist at the time of his writing, he would have had to put in a few more lines about having to almost despair of the truth of his theory before realizing that the imperfection of the geological record diminishes the difficulty to the point of its hardly being a difficulty at all.

  • lifeknight

    What about the idea that if evolution is a “reasonable inference,” we would see some instances of the continuation of the process. In other words, some species would still be evolving?

    • Grammar Girl

      We see it all the time, the process being most rapid in bacteria but we are in the process of losing our little toe. Notice how some people don’t have a nail on that toe, or it’s just a callous? Examples abound. One problem of modern medicine is that we are stopping the course of evolution in some cases and making us less fit for an uncertain future.

      • Which in and of itself is an argument against abortion and contraception. We don’t know what mutations will turn out to be beneficial, and which won’t. We may have already aborted the next Einstein, the next Mozart, the next Martin Luther King Jr.

      • John H. Graney

        The loss of the little toe is progressive, though, not random. It is consonant with the idea that species change, probably even into other species. It is not consonant with the idea that they change *randomly.* It just happens that the first is entirely compatible with Catholic beliefs, and the second is problematic at best.

      • Adam__Baum

        “Notice how some people don’t have a nail on that toe, or it’s just a callous?”

        That is a phenotypical expression, not the emergence of a new species.

  • Dick Prudlo

    Regardless of what was said by JPII about science telling us how the heavens work, science tells us nothing that fits the Church’s view. Today you have the cosmologist’s being dragged to the party by astronomers who demand that they take a more serious look at how things really are. Bellermine and the Church, had it right, period. The science of evolution is even more problematic. The issue of evolution would not even had made an impact had not the clerics lost their faith in Tradition and devised the fools notion of theistic evolution.

  • Prof_Override

    Folks who mix religion and science don’t get it and need to get a grip. Science is about the known and the knowable, religion the unknowable and nary the twain shall meet – thank you, have a good day … amen.

    • Grammar Girl

      The above article makes the common error of misusing the word “theory.” It is not synonymous with “hypothesis.” If science and religion don’t mix then something is wrong as our lives can’t be compartmentalized in that way. I am a faithful Catholic who is also a scientist and I see no problem other than people very commonly using the straw man argument. Of course the internet encourages ad hominem attacks too. Most unhelpful.

      • hombre111

        Excellent. Thanks. I think Pope John Paul called evolution “more than a theory.”

        • Grammar Girl

          But evolution by natural selection is very much a theory. A theory is a rule which fits all the evidence. Theories can be changed as new evidence is found but it is not synonymous with “hypothesis” which is the sense in which the Pope used it by calling evolution “more than a theory.” Usually you hear it put as “more than just a theory.”

          • hombre111

            Charles Peirce, who was a scientist, talked about abduction, deduction, and induction, all of them in the world of inference. For him, an abduction claims to explain all the evidence at hand, uniting complexity into a coherent theory, or rule. Next comes deduction. On the basis of the rule established by abduction, one makes a prediction about an individual case. Induction then looks at individual cases to prove or disprove the prediction. If the prediction seems to fail, or becomes amazingly complex, the abduction is in question.
            I think Behe presents an interesting challenge to natural selection, where he argues from the perspective of induction, asking the abductive theory to show, for example, how human vision, with its amazing complexity, could have developed on the incremental basis assumed by Darwin. I listened while he argued with his peers from two universities about this issue, and seemed to come out on top. They were the ones who became hysterical. A female biology prof even accused him of being “un-American!”

        • Grammar Girl

          Having read the Johnson article, it is very problematic, as the bishops have pointed out. Another example of what I have posted elsewhere here (unless they are deleted).

          • hombre111

            The bishops were after Johnson because of a different issue. In this article, Johnson simply summarizes–for the majority of us who have an opinion but have never read the book– the three parts of Darwin’s argument, and fails to find grist for the atheist mill. Instead, she enthuses about the divine beauty behind Darwin’s explanation. This strikes me as a very “sacramental” approach, and I fail to see how it imperils Catholic faith,

      • Peter Freeman

        I want to give this comment a gold star.

    • redfish

      The dichotomy you’re using sounds “truthy”, but doesn’t really fit into actual religious tradition. Both science and religion (to a believer) are meant both to be about some type of knowledge. Science, knowledge discovered from observation, and religion, knowledge discovered from revelation. The more apt question is “what type of knowledge?” and how it can be applied to the world.

    • thebigdog

      “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

      Albert Einstein

    • Mrs. Baker

      Wrong. Read Faith and Reason (Fides et Ratio) for more insight into this. Or Peter Kreeft’s “Angels (and Demons)” if you want to read an excellent treatise on science and faith and what is knowable and unknowable. It’s also funny.

  • hombre111

    In his “Darwin’s Black Box,” Andrew Behe presents an interesting challenge to natural selection. When I was campus minister, he gave an fascinating presentation, with a line of hysterical biologists from two universities lined up to argue with him. Because his scientific credentials were equal to theirs, it was a great debate. Philosopher Alvin Platinga treats Behe and natural selection in his “Where the Conflict Really Lies.”

    • Grammar Girl

      I do not give Behe much credence for many reasons. His arguments tend to the fallacious. In fact, William Dembski, (who proposes Intelligent Design), has been quoted as saying, “In principle, an evolutionary process can exhibit such ‘marks of intelligence’ as much as any act of special creation.”

      The bottom line is that some of us (like me) are attempting to make judgments without sufficient knowledge. I would not make a judgment about anything in the received dogma of Holy Mother Church any more than a theologian would about statistical mechanics.

      • redfish

        I agree with Behe with the argument that evolutionary development can’t be explained by pure randomness, but otherwise I think his arguments have problems, because you can’t draw an explicit link between something being non-random and there being a “designer”; that’s an inference. All you can say is there’s an implicit order in nature.

        • Grammar Girl

          Yes, you are certainly right about that! Part of our problem is people are assuming they are going to disagree about every fine point. It’s sort of like the internet problem of bringing out the worst in people.

          • redfish

            I wasn’t assuming you disagreed about that 🙂 You seem to be a deliberate, thoughtful person.

            But you’re right, I find its sometimes hard, especially on the Internet, to talk about the details of these issues because people always try see every comment as part of a political flight. Like I said, I don’t agree with Behe’s overall thesis, but if I defend some points of what he said, I’ll always get emotional people attacking me, thinking I not only agree with Behe but also disagree with evolutionary theory, which even Behe doesn’t do.

            • Grammar Girl

              And you also are a deliberate thoughtful person. And nice too, realizing the “internet dilemma.” I once proposed starting a blog on Christian charity and waiting for the backstabbing and hatefulness to start, which would take about a nanosecond.

          • hombre111

            I am not sure if this is a disagreement about a very fine point. It is about whether or not there is a basic wisdom in the universe. The whole thing becomes more grand and more mysterious when we try to figure out what quantum physics is about, and when we look beyond our galaxy with a telescope and begin to discover other galaxies millions of light years away. The whole mystery of the thing brings me to my knees, and makes my belief in Jesus the Word of God the most astonishing thing I can imagine.

        • hombre111

          But that’s like saying there are sedimentary layers in the mountains of Glacier National Park. It is not unreasonable to then ask for a why. The very word “order” implies either some kind of intentionality, or pure chance. Both are inferences. I could take the coward’s way out and be agnostic about the issue and come to no conclusion at all. Or I could make a choice. I find pure chance much less convincing than intentionality. That is why I read Alvin Platinga, with his exacting sense of modern logic, and his observation that the whole mental exercise becomes nonsense if all we have is some kind of unexplained natural selection.

          • redfish

            If it turned out that the world could exist out of pure randomness, would that be enough get rid of belief in God? To me, the more amazing thing is that anything exists at all. To wake up and realize you’re alive and what a strange thing that is; you don’t have to ponder the mountains of Glacier National Park.

            To me, the argument that the world couldn’t exist ex nihilo was always a stronger argument than the clockmaker argument. For the fact that the world has order in it, all you have to believe is that systems, where they exist, are naturally ordered. Nature is ordered like human economy is ordered. The more apt question is, to me, again, why does this system exist in the first place?

      • hombre111

        And yet, there is a kind of dualism here, like two trains passing on two tracks. A dualism is a logical dead end. If the two views can’t inform and enrich each other, then what is the use? I subscribe to a sacramental view of reality, which sees in bread the presence of Christ and in creation the hand of the creator. As redfish says below, it is an “inference,” but my conclusion that God exists is also an inference. Redfish seems to imply that an inference is not valid. But by the logic of philosophers like Charles S. Peirce and theologians like Don Gelpi, S.J., we have to make inferences as the initial part of a logical process.

      • hombre111

        I would have to see you point out the fallacies in his arguments. He seems to be saying that some biological realities cannot be explained by the usual natural selection theory of step by step change. Now it is up to the natural selection people to show how such irreducible complexities happened. To merely scoff at Behe is no proof. Nor is the faith-filled prediction that “science is bound to figure this out, one day.”

  • Lagos1

    I’ve mixed views on this article.

    Firstly, I am surprised it doesn’t mention Karl Popper who usually figures heavily in any discussion of falsifiability and science. He is also famous for having denied that natural selection was really science before recanting and accepting it. he also accepted the idea of historical sciences within a definition of science based on falsifiability.

    Secondly, whilst Catholics are free to hold the genesis story as not being entirely literal, they can only do so within limits. They are still required to believe in a literal Adam as a common ancestor to all human beings.

  • Al

    “Similarly, Adam and Eve are meant to symbolize humanity’s downfall, not that a “literal” Adam and Eve existed.”
    I’m not a trained theologian. However, I believe the above assertion in this otherwise excellent article may be in error. It is my understanding a Catholic reading of Genesis DOES require a belief in a ‘literal’ Adam and Eve. Pope Pius XII, in “Humani Generis”(1950) condemned, as contrary to the faith, so-called ‘polygenism’ -the belief that man is descended from multiple sets of parents and argued the faithful should hold to ‘monogenism,’ -the belief we all share the same first parents. Certainly, while the Catechism does not explicitly address the issue, reading its account of the Fall (beginning in paragraph 390), it seems apparent it offers the position Adam and Eve were real people confronted by a real test from God.
    Frankly, to believe otherwise plays all sorts of havoc with both Scripture and Tradition, with the doctrines of original sin, salvation, the universal brotherhood of man, etc. No longer would the sin overcome by ‘One Man’ (Jesus) have entered the world by the act of one man (Adam.) Not to make light of the point, but I have always found it a bit absurd to think there could have been multiple first parents (say seven or eight sets) who all simultaneously made the same disasterous decision since my experience in human settings seems to be some (maybe even small) minority will always choose an opposite course from others -just to be contrary. -)
    Thus, while I believe a faithful Catholic can hold to ‘theistic evolution’ (since indications are Popes JPII, Benedict, and Francis all held or hold to some variant of the same) I believe faithful Catholics are called to believe in the more limited notion of ‘monogenism.’

    • joeclark77

      If you believe that we were created from earlier species (either by natural selection or by intelligent modification), one way to square this circle I think is to speculate that Adam and Eve came from an existing animal population, but they were the first couple given rational souls and moral free will. (i.e. Gen 2:7: “The Lord God… blew into [Adam’s] nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.”) This would mean that they are the first human ancestors of all of us today, while still allowing for us to be descended from nonhuman hominids.

  • jcsmitty

    The author writes: “Catholics, then, do not read Genesis literally, in the sense that the universe was created in six days or that Adam and Eve even existed. Instead, a Catholic reading of Genesis means that the universe (including time) was indeed created by God, but the Genesis recording of creation does not literally walk us through that process but is meant to be symbolic of it. Similarly, Adam and Eve are meant to symbolize humanity’s downfall, not that a “literal” Adam and Eve existed.”

    I have read that the entire human race can be traced through DNA back to one common mother and one common father, and that there is scientific evidence for the existence of “Adam” and “Eve.” I don’t believe the Adam and Eve of Genesis are symbolic of humanity’s downfall. but were our first parents. I might suspect that the “fruit” they ate in disobedience to God might be symbolic of something else, but I don’t doubt for a minute that they themselves existed and propagated the human race.

    Many mystics, from St. Anne Catherine Emmerich to Venerable Mary of Agreda, etc. write about what happened in the Garden of Eden and elaborate on the story of Adam and Eve. If we don’t believe in the Original Sin of our first parents, then why would we need a savior?

    • Grammar Girl

      It is not true that our “DNA can be traced back to one common mother and one common father. There has been postulated (using that word correctly) a single “Eve” on the basis of mitochondrial DNA only, which is passed through the ovum to both sexes of children.

      The idea of original sin does not require that the saga of Adam and Eve be literally true though we treat it as such. This issue is much to complex for a commbox.

      • John

        I think there have been reports of the “single male” too, but he was more consistent with Noah than Adam, since the convergence of male ancestry is significantly more recent than “mitochondrial Eve.” But that too is tantalizingly suggestive.

        The doctrine of original sin is personal and does require our first parents, but so does the logic of evolution, so the “complexity” is not very forbidding.

        • SDG

          You are misinterpreting the significance of the “mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosomal Adam” evidence. The evidence points to a single COMMON ancestor — not a single progenitor.

          For example, if I get together with all my first and second cousins, we can say all have a common descent from a single couple, i.e., a set of great-grandparents. But that doesn’t mean that our great-grandparents alone are responsible for our family tree. Each of us has three other sets of great-grandparents to be considered — and these will differ from one person to another.

          Likewise, mitochondrial Eve had many contemporaries whose genetic contributions also survive today, even though they may not be as universally dispersed as Eve’s.

      • Adam__Baum

        And yet you discuss these things in commboxes.

  • Edward J Baker

    All the current authentic scientific evidence contradicts evolution. But it is more important for Catholics always to apply their Catholicism to understanding the potential evil motivations of false belief. The sin of pride affects everything human beings do, including science. Does anyone quick to appease those particular scientists who are religion haters, consider what evil they accomodate when they support theories regarding random or accidentally ordered physical forces that have the effect of legitimizing an interpretation of life in utilitarian and functional terms? Isn’t one Nazi Germany enough? Oh, I forgot, we still live in a world of mass murder for the vulnerable.

  • Edward J Baker

    I do not understand the intention of those who talk down to us to explain there is no conflict between science and religion, unless condescension is the purpose. Who among the religious ever said there was a conflict with honest science? Should the misuse of science by ideologically motivated scientists doing bad science, sometimes to the point of crimes against humanity, be ignored? Why shouldn’t we consider that there might be sensible reasons why many Catholics object to the frequent exploitation of science?
    It is not correct to assume that the Church has ever endorsed Darwinian theory, which has never been supported by verifiable scientific evidence and was largely conceived with the explicit purpose to undermine religion by the anti-religious Charles Darwin. Misapplications of science and blind faith in the purity of its practitioners was condemned repeatedly by Pope John Paul who revived the traditional term, scientism, to describe those elevating science to a secular religion. Given the problem of
    pride found in human nature, a tragedy for which the Church does claim
    expertise, it will likely take decades before most of us (including many scientists)
    are willing to look at the scientific facts that contradict the assumptions of

    The complexity and functionality of biochemical structures at the cellular level, a knowledge greatly advanced in recent decades with electron micrographs, clearly
    illustrate the impossibility of random mutational evolution, a prerequisite to
    natural selection. Molecular biologist Michael Behe has long advanced the
    common sense example of the mechanism of the bacterial flagellum as one of many
    irreducibly complex systems, a kind of intelligently engineered machine, much
    like an outboard motor. Of the flagellum’s more than forty different protein
    parts, all are necessary for functionality. Without a single one, it can not
    work, and it could not have accidentally come into existence and then be
    favored by natural selection. It is impossible for it to come together
    gradually. By Darwin’s own stated criterion of validation, “if it could be
    demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been
    formed by numerous, successive slight modification, my theory would absolutely
    break down.”

    We can consider at length dozens of other objections, such as the counter evidentiary implications from thousands of excavation sites around the world, where no transitory fossils preceding the Cambrian explosion of complex life have ever been found.

    But it is more important that some Catholics, whose self-image seems to depend on not being embarrassed by their Catholicism, while hastily appeasing the anti-Catholic and anti-religious world, might want to examine what they are endorsing. If they acknowledge God is involved in the process of creation, which many not very bright scientists mindlessly reject, why not intelligent, continuous, and purposely discreet creative events over time?

    • Grammar Girl

      Complexity in itself does not “clearly illustrate the impossibility of random mutational evolution.” That is a fallacy. What is at issue here is clearly “how random is randomness?”

      • Ed Baker

        I didn’t say complexity in itself. I said irreducible complexity precludes random mutational evolution. There is a day and night difference. And how is irreducible complexity making random mutational evolution impossible a fallacy?

    • Paul Boillot

      Behe, and ‘irreducible complexity,’ have long been exploded.

      It’s a shame that thoughtful persons like yourself are relegated to clamoring about an issue that’s already past it expiration date.

      • Edward J Baker

        There is no such thing as a valid idea that ever loses validity. Truth never changes and has no experation date. Truth is eternal, and so is a good faith valid idea, factually true or not.
        There is no good faith objection to his factually true idea that it is impossible for a irreducibly complex biological system to come into existence through natural selection. A cell can not think of something it might need and then create it for itself using means it does not have.Neither can higher organisms;

  • Robert – NASA (Retired)

    Darwinian evolution has a major problem with science: the second law of therrmodynamics (statistical version) as well as observational evidence. Moreover, science is never “settled”. Darwin is in the same boast at former VP Al Gore with the latter’s claims that the science of climate change is settled. Similar claims are made for Keynesian economics which is also nonsense.

    • Grammar Girl

      The thermodynamic argument neglects sunlight unfortunately.

      • Ed Baker

        Why do you have this need to pretend to be knowledgeable about science? How does the second law of thermodynamics neglect sunlight? Implicit in the second law of thermodynamics are all souces of heat energy.

        • Grammar Girl

          No, no! I said the ARGUMENT from thermodynamics neglects sunlight.

        • Grammar Girl

          And by the way, I have a terminal degree in physical chemistry and actually work in that field. No need to be snippy. There are female chemists, you know.

          • Edward J Baker

            I’m not impressed with presumptuousness. I never denied anything about female careers. No need to be snippy.
            My degrees are in physics, and your reference to any energy system, or biological system dependent on energy, which is to say all of them, and any theory of an energy system “ignoring” sunlight makes no sense at all. If you’re referring to photosensitive processes within a system their resultant energy is still a part of the same equations that would define such a system.

    • Adam__Baum

      “Keynesian economics which is also nonsense.”


    • Paul Boillot

      The 2nd “law of therrmomdynamics [sic]” poses exactly no problems for the theory of evolution.

      That systems tend, over time, to greater entropy is not a “law” written anywhere, it’s an observation. Furthermore, the brief arrival of life on one tiny planet doesn’t change the overall trend of the universe, over time, towards greater randomness.

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  • joeclark77

    The first question to ask is, what’s the proposition we’re asked to believe? People mean a number of different things when they say they adhere to the theory of natural selection. Does it mean:
    1. Natural selection COULD happen (i.e. the theory is not self-contradictory, it’s a parsimonious and plausible theory).
    2. Natural selection DID happen on Earth.
    3. Natural selection IS THE ONLY THING that happened on Earth. It explains all of the evolution of species.
    4. Same as #3 but ALSO this somehow proves that God doesn’t exist.
    I can happily agree with #1 and am pretty open to proposition #2, as I think are most open-minded people. It’s the leap to #3 that’s implausible, unscientific, and ideological. And yet when someone asks you if you “believe in evolution”, they’re typically thinking of #3 and #4.

    • Paul Boillot

      You’ve got #3 wrong.

      Evolution by natural selection is the best theory we have; it explains all of the evolution of all species to-date.

      That doesn’t mean it was the only thing, just that it’s the only thing we need to understand to know why we have the diversity we have now.

      • joeclark77

        I didn’t say the proposition was true. I just said it was one of the ones people might mean when they say they “believe in” evolution. Proposition #3, which you seem to support, is of course an unverifiable historical claim, not a scientific claim. Only propositions #1 and #2 could even have a possibility of being supported by scientific work.

        • Paul Boillot

          I didn’t say that you said it was true.

          Reading-comprehension: fail.

          I said that you wrote down the wrong idea. When you encounter people who say they agree with evolution, they’re not saying that they *know* it was the “only” thing that occurred.

          They’re saying that all the biological diversity we can observe is adequately accounted for by the theory.

          “Unverifiable historical claim.”

          The claim is that biological diversity is adequately described by the theory. That’s not unverifiable: all you have to do is show one case where the theory can’t account for a given biological specimen and you’ve got a counter-factual.

          You’ve been trying for years, I know…maybe some day.

          • joeclark77

            Ah, I did take your precise meaning, but didn’t think that’s what you were actually trying to say. In other words, you’re saying that natural selection is a “just so story” that may never have occurred, but you’re fine with that because it’s a good one. I disagree with your claim that other people who utter proposition #3 mean the same thing. I think that many people do indeed believe that natural selection actually occurred and is the sole process that led to the evolution of humans. A belief about history, not about science. Honestly, you are really only in proposition #1-2 territory, claiming plausibility but not historical factuality.

            • Paul Boillot

              “Ah, I did take your precise meaning…”

              No, you didn’t.

              “Natural selection IS THE ONLY THING that happened on Earth.”

              Is not the same truth claim as
              “[Natural selection] explains all of the evolution of species.”

              Natural selection *does* explain all species. That doesn’t mean that we know that it was the only thing that occurred, eg pan-spermia.

              • joeclark77

                Yes, I get it. And I assure you, some people actually do believe that natural selection occurred on earth and was the sole evolutionary process, not merely (your proposition) that it is a model which adequately fits the data.

  • Howard

    Since you are a middle school history teacher, maybe this would be a better question for you: “Is the existence of Martin Luther King, Jr., settled history?”

    As soon as I’m done learning science from USA TODAY and CRISIS, maybe I’ll see what Garfield has to say about investment planning, or what ESPN has to say about the Pope’s appointments to the college of cardinals.

  • Perry

    I am deeply dismayed that so many conservative and/or otherwise orthodox Catholics reject the scientific fact of evolution (as opposed to anti-theist philosophies claiming to be based on the same). It does more harm to the intellectual integrity of the Christian faith than people realize. I am so disheartened.

    • Grammar girl

      I believe it to be cross contamination from the pentecostal Protestants, whose religion is solely based on emotion. Not much intellectual tradition there.

    • Derek Schramm

      It is not a fact, it cannot be proven. There is scientific based skepticism.

  • Derek Schramm

    Evolution and skepticism of evolutionary theories should be taught in schools, like irreducible complexity. Evolution is fitting but hasn’t been proven and it cannot be tested outside microscopic life forms. Whenever a so called missing link is found we are shown a cartoon or artists’ rendition of what the creature may have looked like. When the fossilized bones are compared we find out that the transitional species is separated by thousands of years or thousands of miles (like continents). Evolutionist Jay Gould then suggested rapid evolution, so evolutionary theory gets it both ways – both long term and short, like man made global warming causing both global warming and the new vortex freezes this winter (something we’ve lived with for the last 100 years but called them “arctic air fronts”). An old book “The Evolution Hoax Exposed”, A.N. Field cites an article quoting a first half of the 20th century scientist revealing that the theory of evolution must vigilantly be taught as fact despite the lack of evidence. Wish I had it in front of me to be more specific.

  • Mike Smith

    One does not “believe” in a scientific theory, one “agrees” with it. Believe automatically implies faith, which is why I always snicker when Darwinists ask people if they believe in evolutionary theory.

    Like the author, I think there are intelligent inferences made by a lot of evolutionary theory, but there are still roadblocks. I have yet to see an adequate theory on the advent of sexual reproduction in organisms.

  • Rick DeLano

    “Catholics, then, do not read Genesis literally, in the sense that the universe was created in six days or that Adam and Eve even existed. ” – False. “Adam and Eve are meant to symbolize humanity’s downfall, not that a “literal” Adam and Eve existed.”- False. Here is what the Catholic Church actually teaches:”416 By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human beings.”

  • Margaret Costello

    Sorry, you can’t be a Catholic and stand behind Evolution…it goes against Scripture AND Tradition that held to the fact that God created man not over “eons” but in one day. Please take the time and research the scam that is radiometric dating that it utterly invalid due to the numerous assumptions it uses that it can never prove i.e. stability of the EM field and the presence of daughter material in rocks. Our Lord Himself referred back to Genesis in Scripture…”But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). You are right…science and faith cannot contradict…but sadly we live in an age of pseudo-science where scientists have lied and presented those lies as truth. Evolution also goes against other proven scientific facts such as the Laws of Thermodynamics and heredity. Evolution also goes against fundamental laws of Philosophy i.e. something bigger cannot come from something smaller. Evolution will be the joke that it is in a decade or so as actual science i.e. technology shows us the truth. Also please research the underlying false assumptions in Geology that have led us down the false path of evolution. We trusted scientists to be honest and we placed our trusts in the wrong hands. Seek truth…it’s been there all along in Scripture. God bless~

    • Paul Boillot

      Thank god; the more of you that opt yourselves out of intelligent discussion, the better.

      Good grief “Evolution also goes against other proven scientific facts such as….” you need a good dictionary, a philosophy of science book, and a time-machine.

      • Margaret Costello

        And yet you provide no evidence to refute my claims. The Second Law of Thermodynamics goes against the fake theory of evolution, please read here: Does a PhD Physical Chemist admit to your intelligentsia level? Astrophysicists are now dumping the Big Bang Theory (per Scientific American) and of course there is proof that we are in a highly significant place in the universe (see the documentary The Principle) which may throw out Copernicus and Galileo. It sounds like the fake science gods of our day are being revealed and truth/justice making an appearance. God bless~

        • Paul Boillot

          “The Principle” was made by anti-semetic, hysterical, whack-jobs who understand enough science-y words to sound imporant to their just-barely-more-ignorant faithful peanut galleries.

          Their combined lack of scientific credentials wouldn’t fill a match-box.

          The questions surrounding the big-bang and our current understanding of cosmology have been hotly debated since the hubble data came out.

          Lastly, let’s just say that your understanding of scientific terminology is woefully lacking. The 2nd “law” of thermodynamics isn’t a “law.” It’s a theory. We just call it a law because it’s old and well-tested. It’s still up for observational falsification.

          Second, increasing entropy of a whole system does not preclude parts of that system from temporarily increased order.

          If I own a 50-room mansion, and I clean one room of it every day for 20 years, the cleanliness of that one room will not invalidate the observation that “over time the mansion gets dustier.”

          • Margaret Costello

            So personal ad hominem attack on a documentary that interviews the top cosmologists? It’s not the producers of the film questioning how we see the universe, it’s the atheistic scientists…the producers are just reporting the story and it’s obvious implications. And where is the anti-semitism? Still not cutting it. Hmm…so Thermodynamics is on par with Evolution? Both “theories” yet Evolution has never been able to be actually “tested” since there has been not one single speck of empirical evidence of change of kind? Whereas Thermodynamics passes both validity and reliability testing? And where is the empirical evidence that any “room” in the Thermodynamic house has been cleaned? That is the problem with pseudo-science today, they forget that in order to even attempt the scientific method, there must be empirical evidence and not just made up ideas of “dark matter” or “change of kind” when things don’t fit their preconceived schema. God bless~

            • Paul Boillot

              First of all, “ad hominem attack” is redundant. You could’ve said “personal attack to discredit the argument” or “ad hominem,” but mixing the twain is overkill, much like Arby’s “Au Jus Sauce.”

              Secondly, “ad hominem” refers to a fallacious mode of argumentation, where criticisms of a person are used to counter the argument.

              I’m not saying The Principle is wrong because it was made by anti-semite crackpots: if it’s wrong it’ll be wrong because it’s wrong, not because DeLano and Sungenis hate jews. (Here’s the anti-Semitism:

              The fact that they’ve got some of the top cosmologists on-tape is fine with me, I’ll be interested in how the clips are editted together to fit with the producers’ a priori assumptions.

              I do not doubt that our current picture of the universe is flawed, but I’ve talked to both of the gentlemen who are behind this movie, and I know that they are not trustworthy.

              I also know that at least one of the top cosmologists whom you just cited for authority has learned how the producers plan to use his interview, and has publicly denounced them.

              As to evolution, you’re just wrong. There’s gobs of evidence. I’m not going to waste more of my time educating you, look it up!

              My mansion analogy is just that, an analogy. You claimed that increased complexity is impossible given the 2nd “LAW” of TD. A) The “LAW” is just an observational finding, like any other and B) The universe as a whole can tend towards disorder while pockets of increasing order arise without making the whole system tend towards order.

              I know none of that made sense to you, because you don’t understand what we’re talking about, and that’s ok.

              The fact that you’ve put “dark matter” on par with evolution shows your complete lack of desire to understand what you’re talking about. I’m not arguing with someone who has details wrong, but their heart in the right place: you just like being ignorant. So be it.

            • Andre Boillot

              By your understanding of entropy, you broke thermodynamics if you balanced your check-book.

        • jjswin

          All well debunked myths. Just google the reasons why all of what you’ve said is complete rubbish. Second law of thermodynamics?! You’ve no idea what you’re talking about.

    • fredx2

      “… you can’t be a Catholic and stand behind Evolution”

      John Paul II. He’s Catholic, right?. He said:

      “4. Taking into account the scientific research of the era, and also the
      proper requirements of theology, the encyclical Humani Generis treated the
      doctrine of “evolutionism” as a serious hypothesis, worthy of investigation and
      serious study, alongside the opposite hypothesis. Pius XII added two
      methodological conditions for this study: one could not adopt this opinion as if
      it were a certain and demonstrable doctrine, and one could not totally set aside
      the teaching Revelation on the relevant questions. He also set out the
      conditions on which this opinion would be compatible with the Christian faith—a
      point to which I shall return.

      Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of
      that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution
      as more than an hypothesis.* In fact it is remarkable that
      this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of
      researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly
      disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which
      was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in
      favor of the theory.

      • Margaret Costello

        John Paul II sat atop a papacy that utterly destroyed the Church…from dethroning Christ the King (Assisi and promoting the errors of V2), to allowing rampant heresy, apostasy, homosexuals, and pedophiles in the clergy, to worldwide liturgical abuse to embracing the demonic world and stripping Catholics of their culture and heritage to not lifting a finger while generations had no Catechism let alone Catechesis. He promoted the “Church of Man/Nice”, created a “Cult of Personality” for the papacy, gutted the Canon Law of healthy discipline, and eliminated the Devil’s Advocate portion of the canonization process…thus paving the way for his own elevation and the continuation of the insanity and errors from Vatican II. So no…I do not believe a word that comes out of his mouth…not when he stripped me of my Catholic heritage, culture, and the truth and replaced it with emotionalism, worship of man/world and modernism. I prefer to trust and read the Church Fathers…the true Tradition and authentic Magisterium of 2000 years…not a novel, heretical and one man based pontificate. Please, please…discover the true Catholic religion found before the V2 council…it is wondrously beautiful, sane and strong. Here is what Scripture, the pre-V2 magisterium said and the Church Fathers when it comes to a) reading Scripture “all other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal” b) that we are made “out of nothing” not as a secondary process i.e. evolution c) the seven days of Creation: Come back to Traditional Catholicism…all of you! God bless~

  • Margaret Costello

    PS There are theological consequences to standing behind the lie of evolution…a) that Scripture lied b) that Our Lord lied c) that we just “happened” to come along one day and are thus of no significance whatsoever d) that we come from apes and not the direct hand of God who made us in His image and likeness. The whole “there are lots of ways to read Scripture” argument falls flat when the fact that literal reading of Genesis was always taken as literal. Scripture is only taken in other forms when it is highly apparent to anyone that it is happening. Stop trying to fit the lies of modern pseudo-science into the truth of Scripture and Tradition. God bless~

    • fredx2

      I think you are mistaken. Perhaps you need to read John Paul II’s explanation of the whole thing.
      The Pontifical Biblical commission laid out the Catholic stance on literalism:

      “Fundamentalist interpretation starts from the principle that the Bible, being
      the word of God, inspired and free from error, should be read and interpreted
      literally in all its details. But by “literal interpretation” it understands a
      naively literalist interpretation, one, that is to say, which excludes every
      effort at understanding the Bible that takes account of its historical origins
      and development. It is opposed, therefore, to the use of the historical-critical
      method, as indeed to the use of any other scientific method for the
      interpretation of Scripture.

      The fundamentalist interpretation had its origin at the time of the
      Reformation, arising out of a concern for fidelity to the literal meaning of
      Scripture. After the century of the Enlightenment it emerged in Protestantism as
      a bulwark against liberal exegesis”.

      Also helpful would be Benedicts “Verbum Domini


    This was almost a good article, until Mr Satin says he is an evolutionist. Even though he acknowledges there is no evidence to support evolutionary theory, he still thinks species evolved…when he acknowledges there is no mechanism for evolution, the theory that one kind of life can change into another kind of life is scientifically proven to be impossible. Even mutations are acknowledge scientifically as always being detrimental, sterile and or temporary, always returning to the original species. All of the scientific evidence supports a life bloom, its scientifically conclusive…complete kinds of creature spontaneously erupting/ created onto the scene never to evolve into anything other than what they were or are. Genetics and microbiology have disproved evolution as a viable scientific theory. And,anyone who cares to look can see that.

  • Sorry. The fossil, biological, and genetic proof of evolution is simply beyond dispute. Evolution is a fact.

    The Bible (like most other religions’ holy books) provides us with a moral and ethical framework within which we might better conduct ourselves with decency and humility. But the Bible is NOT a science textbook.

    Is it THAT much of a problem to let scientists puzzle out the HOWS of creation, and let philosophers and theologians debate the WHYS?

  • Peter Freeman

    “For me, somebody who is a ‘show me the data’ kind of scientist, but
    also a believer [in God], I don’t see a discordance there. In fact it
    enriches my experience, each basically harmonized with the other. It
    gives you a view of life that is actually quite satisfying, and not in
    any way in conflict…But you know, if you are a believer in God, it’s hard to imagine that
    God would somehow put this incontrovertible evidence in front of us
    about our relationship to other living organisms and expect us to
    disbelieve it. I mean, that doesn’t make sense at all. So as soon as you
    kind of get over the anxiety about the whole thing, it actually adds to
    your sense of awe about this amazing universe that we live in, it
    doesn’t subtract from it at all.”
    — Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (and note the use of the word “incontrovertible”).

  • PeterHunterVogel

    That’s a wonderful definition of “science” — unfortunately, it’s neither accurate or true.

    You are, of course, like Humpty Dumpty, free to make up any definition of the word you want but it will make it difficult for you to talk intelligently to other people who are using the word with the more common definition. The definition used in Wikipedia is pretty good (note the references to other sources so that you can check that Wikipedia hasn’t misrepresented the definition–something missing from your definition, of course):

    Science (from Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”[1]) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.[2][3][4] In an older and closely related meaning, “science” also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. A practitioner of science is known as a scientist.

    But, also of course, you’re only interested in a definition that allows you to disparage evolution and promote creationism. To do that you’ve made up a definition that suits those purposes. That’s self-serving at best and duplicitous at worst. You owe your readers better.

    And, by the way, evolution does make testable explanation and predictions and then follows up on them. Sometimes (often) the tests turn out to be true (what to expect in the fossil record, for example; what to expect in terms of genetic change), sometimes they fail. When the tests fail, scientists go back and revise their explanations in light of what they’ve learned. The key thing: Learning happens, knowledge is expanded, and we continue on the search for the right answer.

    This is, of course, different from “creation science” where the right answer is known in advance and arguing about it is deemed heresy. As a result, it’s difficult to find any piece of knowledge or learning that has come from “creation science”: Instead “creation science” is constantly reacting to the new knowledge that comes from actual scientists and adjusting “creation theory” to say “Well, I know we said x in the past but, in light of the information recently found by practicing scientists we’re revising what we said to be y.” It would be impossible to come up with a prediction from “creation science” (like what could be expected to be found in the fossil record) that could then be tested, for example.

  • @Nicholas Satin On what basis do you say, ‘While the Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection is perfectly compatible with Christianity?’

  • ray

    PRATTs FTW. I guess there are plenty of uneducated people for whom this article sounds like the author knows what he is talking about…