Catholic Free Press
Probably like many others, I would like to stay informed about evolutionary science because it seems relevant. The problem is, the theory of evolution is almost always presented as something to be praised for its ability to tell us more about ourselves, to be accepted without question, even if a premise does not make sense.
For instance, I read a Live Science article titled “What We Learned About Humanity in 2012” expecting riveting insight into the year’s latest scientific discoveries about the human body. Instead, the article was a summary of the year’s human ancestry fossil discoveries and how learning to control fires and cook meat “may have influenced human brain evolution” and our ability to think, as if everyone already knows that there is nothing more to our thought process than atoms obeying the algorithmic laws of nature in our brains.
The article concludes with a suggestion from a Stanford University researcher that “humans are getting dumber over time” because we have “lost the evolutionary pressure to be smart,” conceding that perhaps it is just that “people have diversified” into “different types of smarts today.” What?
While the Church teaching authority does not forbid research and discussion about the theory of evolution, it also recognizes that evolutionary theory is limited to questions about how the human body evolved from pre-existing matter. And that is a perfectly reasonable, but very often misrepresented and misunderstood, distinction.
Science, from the Latin scientiam, means knowledge. A branch of science is a branch of knowledge, and any science is only science if it seeks truth, not opinion or partisan ideology. If the research does not seek truth, it is not science; it is falsehood or even deception. Evolutionary science is a biological science, its objects are the bodies of living things down to their DNA, proteins, and molecules. Evolutionary science is, fundamentally, a branch of the physical sciences, and as such, cannot comment on spiritual questions.
It would be an absurdity to expect physical, natural science to comment on the metaphysical, supernatural realm, and those who assume otherwise must either 1) deny the spiritual realm, angels and God, the human soul and mind, or 2) transgress the bounds of evolutionary science. Until evolutionary science presents its data within these legitimate boundaries, it cannot remotely address what “we” humans have “learned” about “humanity” in the 2012th year of Our Lord. I was left scratching my Homo sapiens neurocranium wondering what, exactly, they are trying to prove.
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