The Myth of an Anti-Science Church
Galileo, Darwin, Teilhard, Hawking, Dawkins
(Angelico Press, December 2018)
Galileo, Darwin, Teilhard, Hawking, and Dawkins—what do these scientists have in common? General perception has it that something went wrong between them and the Roman Catholic Church. Is that true, or are we dealing with a fabrication? If it is true, what exactly went wrong between them? This book analyzes these five “cases” in their confrontation with the Catholic Church.
Usually the Church ends up being the villain. But what about these scientists themselves? One could make the case that all five of them have something like a double personality: the personality of the scientist and the personality of the ideologist hiding behind the scientist. To the untrained eye, it is hard to discern the ideologue behind the scientist, for the ideologue is often disguised as a scientist. Some scientists have a gift to mask their unscientific ideology with a scientific facade. We will find out in this book that the Catholic Church has no problem with the scientist in these five personalities, but she does have a problem with their ideology.
Apparently, there are two sides to the story, which gives us a completely different and more complicated picture of what really happened between each one of these five scientists and the Catholic Church. The older picture of an anti-science position of the Church is very one-sided and can no longer be justified.
Yet the old picture is still very much alive in the minds of many. Ask any group of people how the Catholic Church deals with science, and you can almost be sure that some of them will bring up the Galileo case to prove the anti-science position of the Church. It is, in the words of John Henry Cardinal Newman, the “one stock argument” that is constantly trotted out against the Church to prove that science and Catholicism are each other’s enemies. But it is the wrong argument, as we will see. It puts the blame entirely on the Church but keeps the scientists themselves off the hook. And in so doing, it creates myths—myths that tend to grow overtime.
So Galileo, Darwin, Teilhard, Hawking, and Dawkins need further scrutiny. They fail to remember they are just specialists like any other specialists; they are specialists in doing scientific research regarding the material aspects of this world—physical, biological, or whatever—leaving everything else for other “specialists” to deal with. They have us believe their scientific expertise makes them experts in everything else as well. Therefore, the Catholic Church has certainly the right to question their expertise in matters outside the domain of science. Let us find out in this book how the Church has done so.
Table of Contents
FOREWORD by Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
1. THE ANTI-SCIENCE MYTH
a. Science as a Respectable Enterprise
The Religious Roots of Science
The Church as the Cradle of Science
Some Catholic Pioneers
b. Ideologies Disguised as Science
What Is Wrong with Scientism?
When Things Are No More What They Appear to Be
The Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture
2. THE ANTI-GALILEO MYTH
Does the Earth Move?
The Church’s Response
Problems at the Horizon
An Ideologue in Trouble
The Die Had Been Cast
Galileo Tried Again
3. THE ANTI-DARWIN MYTH
Darwin’s Contribution to Evolutionary Theory
Was Darwin’s Theory Controversial?
The Problem of Intelligent Design Theory
Where Evolutionism Goes Wrong
Darwin’s Materialism Undermines His Own Theory
More Trouble to Come
The Church Positioned Herself
Evolution and Creation
4. THE ANTI-TEILHARD MYTH
Teilhard’s Career in Paleontology
Teilhard’s Scientific Achievements
Paleontology Has Some Limitations
The Problems of Human Origin in Paleontology
Teilhard’s Underlying Ideology
Teilhard Collides with the Church
Teilhard’s Concoction of Science and Religion
Teilhard’s Opaque Terminology
The Impact of Modernism
Doctrinal Troubles for Teilhard
The Conflict Is Coming to a Head
Is Teilhard’s Case another Galileo’s Case?
5. THE ANTI-HAWKING MYTH
The Big Bang Theory
The Beginning of Time?
The Pure Magic of “Spontaneous Creation”
Prior to the Big Bang?
Thomas Aquinas Creates Much Needed Clarity
The Beginning of Time Revisited
Design or Randomness?
6. THE ANTI-DAWKINS MYTH
The Role of Mutations in Evolution
Evolution at the Level of Genes
The Evolution of Altruistic Behavior
The Extremism of Reductionism
Dawkins’ Reductionism of the Gene-Pool Model
Dawkins’ Reductionism of Selfish Genes
Dawkins’ Reductionism of Altruism
Dawkins’ Reductionism of Morality
Dawkins’ Reductionism of Randomness
Dawkins’ Reductionism of Purpose in Evolution
Dawkins’ Reductionism of Design in Nature
Dawkins’ Rejection of a Design-Designer
Dawkins’ Rejection of a Primary Cause
7. A FINAL WORD ON SCIENCE AND RELIGION
a. Their Different Limitations
b. Their Distinctive Authorities
c. Their Distinctive Territories
d. Their Distinctive Members
e. Their Mutual Interactions
f. Their Distinctive Questions
g. Their Distinctive Facts
h. Their Conflicts
“Does the Catholic Church have a problem with the ideas of scientists? Sometimes; but as Gerard Verschuuren shows, not all the ideas of scientists are scientific ideas.
In this informative and highly readable book, he carefully dissects the ideas of five well-known scientists, separating the scientific wheat from the ideological chaff.
He makes his points with telling quotes, frequent flashes of wit, and rhetorical force."
— Stephen M. Barr
Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
Director of the Bartol Research Institute
Researcher in theoretical particle physics, University of Delaware
Author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith
"In this outstanding work, geneticist and philosopher of science Dr. Gerard Verschuuren has very thoughtfully responded to the popular myth that the Catholic Church is anti-science. This book is an invaluable resource not only for those who are confused by the cultural myth of an 'anti-science Church,' but also for every high school and university student seeking the truth about science, philosophy, and faith."
— Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J.
President of the Magis Center for Reason and Faith
Former President Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA
Author of New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy.
“This book provides an enjoyable and engaging journey through five major apparent conflicts between science and the Catholic Church, and clearly and convincingly explains why the commonly accepted clashes are the stuff of myth. Two bonuses of the book are its clear discussions of complex scientific and philosophical ideas and a closing chapter that presents a positive vision of how science and religion should interact with each other.”
— Michael Dennin
Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of California at Irvine
Author of Divine Science: Finding Reason at the Heart of Faith.