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In his Feb. 16 article “Unintelligent designs on real evolution,” Edward Humes justly posits two theories of evolution — the scientific and the popular “straw-man image of evolution.” Sadly, he is less than just in positing only one contrasting theory, which he calls “an upstart movement” (“intelligent design”). In fact, as there are two theories of evolution, so there are two “ways” of intelligent design. One may be the upstart theory, which Humes castigates in his article, but there is another that has a more venerable pedigree than Darwin’s theory, going back by way of philosopher Immanuel Kant and scientist Sir Isaac Newton.

According to this other “way” of intelligent design, the various and manifest signs of order in the universe point to an intelligent design behind all the phenomena. St. Thomas Aquinas rationally concludes, “This is what we call God.” This is the way not of science, which professedly stops short at phenomena, nor of religion, which is based on faith, but of philosophy, which argues from the known to the unknown. It may look like religion in that its argument ends in recognition of God’s existence; but such a God is, as Pascal pointed out centuries ago, the God not of believers but of philosophers.

In all the controversy, therefore, people are being misled into seeing an old-fashioned conflict of science vs. religion. But it is not. As Humes remarks, “The truth is that many scientists accept evolution and believe in God.” Of course! There is no difficulty in accepting both evolution and Christianity.

Unfortunately, the U.S. judge in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, federal suit a year ago — who decided that teaching intelligent design in public schools breached the line between church and state — was presented only with the alternative between true evolution and false creationism.

peter milward

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