To the editor:
President George Bush and Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn have jumped into the national debate about Evolution and Intelligent Design. The two of them want Intelligent Design to be taught in the schools. They both seem to want a particular kind of fundamentalist Protestant theology to be taught in the public and Catholic schools. The first is a violation of our Constitution and the second is contrary to Catholic teaching, as I have understood it through 12 years of Catholic elementary and secondary education. Catholic teaching says that evolution is a valid way of describing God’s plan. It is also Catholic teaching that we can know God through reason, but that is different from science. The scientific understanding of evolution is neither theistic nor atheistic. As such, it is science, and not theology. Intelligent Design is one, and not the only, rational way to understand God, and as such, is not science. One can understand God as the Prime Mover or First Cause, which does not necessarily imply that God is a designer. Should First Causality be given equal time with Intelligent Design? Should the non-scientific cosmologies of other religions be given equal time? Both Schoenborn and Bush want to preclude other rational understandings of God. Is that rational?
The best way to teach science is to teach nothing but scientific facts and ideas in our schools. Then, if the school is a religious school, one can discuss the ways in which God’s Providence and Creative Power fits in with the findings of science.
I hope and pray that Catholicism will not become a watered-down, fundamentalist, irrational sect.