‘Intelligent' Design?

Relax, God is Stranger Still


There has been some debate, even at local school-board levels, about the theory of evolution vs. creationism and the more recently offered idea of “intelligent design.” Now Cardinal Cristoph Schönborn has weighed in with an op-ed piece in the New York Times (July 7), claiming that Christians cannot believe that life’s origins can be found in natural selection’s chancy, random stabs at development. Some kind of intelligent design must lie behind it, and reason can lead to a rational belief in an intelligent designer. This has been seized on as a retreat from John Paul II’s endorsement of the theory of evolution as real science, a sign that the new papacy will retreat from serious science into the intelligent design camp. (It may only show that Cardinal Schönborn is not as sophisticated in his understanding of contemporary philosophy and science as John Paul II was.) Apart from the fact that a cardinal’s somewhat casual comments hardly constitute a major shift in church policy, it isn’t as if Catholics had accepted the theory of evolution only during the last pontificate. I went to Catholic schools from grade school through college, beginning years before Vatican II, and my graduate school was an Orthodox seminary. In this sense my education has been thoroughly nonsecular. Never from kindergarten on did I hear evolution questioned; it was what we were taught. There are extreme believers in...

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About the Author

John Garvey is an Orthodox priest and columnist for Commonweal. His most recent book is Seeds of the Word: Orthodox Thinking on Other Religions.