Essential Resources

  • Fran O'Rourke, "Aristotle and the Metaphysics of Evolution", The Review of Metaphysics 58.1 (Sept 2004): 3-59.
  • Dennis Venema, Letters to the Duchess
  • Larry Moran, Understanding Michael Behe's edge of evolution, Sandwalk (August 20, 2016).

    read John Deely on: "Creationism" vs. "Evolutionism"

    Then read further below about the philosophical errors of the Intelligent Design movement.

    The Evolution and "Intelligent Design" controversy

    Please read pp.113–134 in Chapter 4 of How Science Enriches Theology.

    See also on "A Thomistic Response to the Intelligent Design Proposal".

    For another advanced philosophical treatment of evolution see also C.S. Peirce.

  • C.S. Morrissey, "God delights in using chance as part of His design", The B.C. Catholic (June 8, 2015), 7.
  • C.S. Morrissey, "Theology need not oppose science of evolution", The B.C. Catholic (May 25, 2015), 7-8.
  • C.S. Morrissey, "Creationists offer imprudent, improbable claims", The B.C. Catholic (Apr 13, 2015), 7.
  • C.S. Morrissey, "Dominicans reconcile evolution with Catholic faith", The B.C. Catholic (Feb 2, 2015), 7.
  • C.S. Morrissey, "Media misses memo: Church not fundamentalist", The B.C. Catholic (Jan 5, 2015), 7.

  • Edward Feser, “Causality, pantheism, and deism” (Dec 29, 2014): <>.
  • Edward Feser, “Knowing an ape from Adam” (Dec 20, 2014): <>.
  • Dennis Bonnette, “Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?” Crisis Magazine (Nov 24, 2014): <>.
  • Dennis Bonnette, Origin of the Human Species: Third Edition (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, 2014): <>. ISBN 978-1-9325-8968-9

  • Stephen M. Barr, "Man the Mystery", First Things (Jan 2013).
  • Stephen M. Barr, "Chance, By Design", First Things (Dec 2012).
  • Stephen M. Barr, "Evolution, Darwin, and Catholic Belief" (2011).
  • "Modern Physics, Ancient Faith: An Interview with Physicist Dr. Stephen Barr"

  • "Aquinas vs. Intelligent Design ", Michael W. Tkacz
  • "On Aristotle, Aquinas, and Paley: A Reply to Marie George", Edward Feser.
  • "An Aristotelian-Thomist Responds to Feser", Marie George.
  • "Teleology: A Shopper's Guide", Edward Feser, Philosophia Christi Vol. 12, No. 1 (2010).
  • "Where Intelligent Design and Dawkins meet", Marie George (3 March 2009).

  • "Reply to Torley and Cudworth", Edward Feser (May 4, 2011)
  • "Nature versus art", Edward Feser (Apr 30, 2011)
  • "Uncommonly careless", Edward Feser (Apr 19, 2011)
  • "A reprint is not a reply", Edward Feser (Apr 17, 2011)

  • "Heads ID wins, tails you lose", Edward Feser (Mar 24, 2011)
  • "Unhinged dissent", Edward Feser (Mar 18, 2011)
  • "Thomism versus the design argument", Edward Feser (Mar 15, 2011)

  • "ID versus A-T roundup", Edward Feser (May 12, 2010)
  • "Scotism and ID", Edward Feser (April 27, 2010)
  • "ID, A-T, and Duns Scotus: A further reply to Torley", Edward Feser (April 25, 2010)
  • "Dembski rolls snake eyes", Edward Feser (April 20, 2010)

  • "Cudworth and Fuller respond", Uncommon Descent (April 18, 2010)
  • "ID theory, Aquinas, and the origin of life: A reply to Torley", Edward Feser (April 16, 2010)
  • "A Response to Professor Feser", V.J. Torley (April 11, 2010)
  • ""Intelligent Design" theory and mechanism", Edward Feser (April 10, 2010)

  • ""Nothing But?"", Edward Feser (April 8, 2010)
  • "The trouble with William Paley", Edward Feser (Nov 4, 2009)

  • "The End of Intelligent Design?", Stephen M. Barr, First Things (Feb 9, 2010)
  • "Are Catholics Creationists?", George Sim Johnston, (Nov 9, 2009)
  • "Thomas Aquinas and Intelligent Design", Francis Beckwith, Return to Rome (Nov 8, 2009)
  • "Are We Beyond the Conflict of Science and Faith?", John O’Callaghan, (Nov 6, 2009)
  • PBS Nova, Becoming Human and PBS, What Darwin Never Knew

  • Andrew Parker, The Genesis Enigma
  • Pope Benedict XVI, "Scientific Insight into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life" (Oct 31, 2008)
  • "Brownback’s Faith and Reason", Robert T. Miller, First Things (June 5, 2007) [broken link]
  • "What I Think About Evolution", Sen. Sam Brownback, New York Times (May 31, 2007)

  • "In the beginning", The Economist (April 19, 2007)
  • "Pope Writes on Evolution, Limits of Scientific Reason", (April 11, 2007)
  • Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, "Reasonable Science, Reasonable Faith", First Things (April 2007)
  • Michael Shermer, "Darwin on the Right: Why Christians and conservatives should accept evolution", Scientific American (October 2006) [broken link]
  • "Publication planned after Pope's seminar on evolution", (Sep 6, 2006)
  • John L. Allen, Jr., "Benedict's thinking on creation and evolutionr", (Sep 1, 2006)
  • John L. Allen, Jr., "Interview with Peter Schuster", (Aug 18, 2006)
  • John L. Allen, Jr., " The pope's Schülerkreis takes on 'Creation and Evolution'", (Aug 11, 2006)
  • Sandro Magister, "Creation or Evolution? Here Is the View of the Church of Rome", www.chiesa (August 11, 2006)
  • John Derbyshire, "George Gilder, Metaphysic", NRO (July 13, 2006). [broken link]
  • Martin Hilbert, "Darwin's Divisions", Touchstone Magazine (June 2006).
  • Robert T. Miller responds to letters, "Design, Science, and Philosophy: An Exchange", First Things 164 (June/July 2006): 5-11.
  • Stephen M. Barr responds to letters, "Evolving Darwin?", First Things 163 (May 2006): 2-6.
  • Christoph Cardinal Schönborn responds to letters, "Darwin’s Designs", First Things 162 (April 2006): 2-6.
  • Michael Behe responds to letters, "Godly Science", First Things 161 (March 2006): 2-3.
  • Robert T. Miller, "Darwin in Dover, PA", First Things 162 (April 2006): 9-11.
  • Stephen M. Barr, "The Miracle of Evolution", First Things 160 (February 2006): 30-33.
  • Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, "The Designs of Science", First Things 159 (January 2006): 34-38.
  • Michael Behe, "Scientific Orthodoxies", First Things 158 (December 2005): 15-20.
  • Rafael Pascual, "Magisterium on Creation and Evolution", ZENIT (Dec 14, 2005 interview)
  • George Coyne, "Infinite wonder of the divine", The Tablet (10 December 2005)
  • Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, "Cardinal Schönborn on God and Creation", ZENIT (Nov 13, 2005 catechesis)
  • Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, "Cardinal Schönborn on Creation and Evolution", ZENIT (Oct 2, 2005 catechesis)
  • Stephen M. Barr, "The Design of Evolution", First Things 156 (October 2005): 9-12.
  • George Coyne, "God’s chance creation", The Tablet (6 August 2005)
  • Edward T. Oakes, "Evolution in the Eyes of the Church (Part 2)", ZENIT (July 28, 2005)
  • Edward T. Oakes, "Evolution in the Eyes of the Church (Part 1)", ZENIT (July 27, 2005)
  • Lawrence M. Krauss, "Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI" (July 12, 2005)
  • Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, "Finding Design in Nature", New York Times (July 7, 2005)
  • Lawrence M. Krauss, "School Boards Want to 'Teach the Controversy.' What Controversy?", New York Times (May 17, 2005)
  • Michael W. Tkacz, "A Designer Universe: Chance, Design, and Cosmic Order", Physics & the God of Abraham Conference (April 2004)
  • Michael Augros, "Reconciling Science with Natural Philosophy", The Thomist 68.1 (2004): 105-141.
  • Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's thoughts on evolution, "The truth of Christianity?", delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris (Nov 27, 1999), published in Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), pp.178-183.
  • John Rennie, "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense", Scientific American (June 18, 2002)
  • Larry Arnhart, "Conservatives, Darwin & Design: An Exchange", First Things 107 (November 2000): 23-31.
  • William E. Carroll, "Creation, Evolution, and Thomas Aquinas", Revue des Questions Scientifiques 171.4 (2000): 319-347 .
  • Benedict Ashley, "Causality and Evolution", The Thomist 36.2 (1972): 199-230.
  • John Deely, "The Philosophical Dimensions of The Origin of Species, Part 1", The Thomist 33.1 (1969): 75-149.
  • John Deely, "The Philosophical Dimensions of The Origin of Species, Part 2", The Thomist 33.2 (1969): 251-342.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I, q22, a4, ad1: "Whether providence imposes any necessity on things foreseen?" ("The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow; but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the plan of divine providence conceives to happen from contingency.")
  • NOTA BENE: neo-Darwinism is reasoned fact

    (neo-Darwinism = "evolution as due to the interaction of several types of inter-related factors")

    "this theory views evolution as due to the interaction of several types of inter-related factors. It is not the individual that evolves but the species, and the species evolves not from some inner teleology but through interaction with the environment (natural selection). This environment is an ecosystem composed not only of geography and climate but also of other living things in mutual competition and symbiosis. ...

    (1) epigenetic factors: the tendency of interbreeding population to reproduce itself in a stable manner and increase in numbers ("formal causality," i. e., the maintenance of type).

    (2) genetic factor: the tendency to variation resulting from constant small random mutations in the genetic code ("material causality," i. e., a variety of differing individuals within a species capable of transmitting their differences).

    (3) selective factor: natural selection by the environment which eliminates those variants which are less effective in reproducing their kind ("efficient causality," i. e., the agent determining in which direction species-change will take place).

    (4) exploitative factor: the flexibility of living things by which they are able to occupy new niches in the changing environment ("final causality," i. e., a feed-back mechanism which guides the selective process toward a new type which can exploit new environmental possibilities).

    It is the directive bias of the selective and exploitative factors which biologists now believe is responsible for the progressive, apparently teleological, character of evolution. In spite of the many dead ends, the interaction of all these factors results not only in the increasing adaptation of each species to its environment but also in the direction of organisms which are more and more complex, highly integrated, and relatively independent of their environment. Higher organisms have an "internalized environment."

    -- Benedict Ashley 1972: 211-212 (summarizing the causal analysis of John Deely of evolution as "a return to the conception of science as reasoned facts, distinct from and superordinate to mathematized facts": Deely 1969a: 132)


    By Benedict M. Ashley, O.P.

    The evolutionists, creationists, and intelligent designers are battling in the public media in a very confusing way. Catholics need to understand the true issues clearly and promote a way out of the dilemma. To do this, we must face the following questions:

    1). What are the intelligent designers claiming? They argue not one but two distinct theses. The first is that Neo-Darwinism is an inadequate explanation of what we know about the historical succession of species; the second is that a better theory of evolution would include an Intelligent Designer who guides evolutionary forces to produce something as complex as organic life and above all the humanity of the scientist himself.

    The leading theorist in this movement, Michael J. Behe, associate professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, believes that evolution of species has taken place and that the causes on which Neo-Darwinism relies, namely, chance mutation of genes and survival of organisms better adapted to different environments, may play a role in evolution. He is also open to an alternative theory of evolution that grounds it in some law inherent in matter. But he argues that Neo-Darwinism as the total explanation of evolution has recently been made utterly improbable by our discovery of the extreme chemical complexity of life. 

    2). Leaving aside for the moment the issue of the need for an Intelligent Designer, is it or is not true that Neo-Darwinism is a satisfactory scientific explanation of the paleontological succession of life forms?  Neo-Darwinism greatly strengthened Darwin's theory of natural selection by adding to it the Catholic priest Gregor Mendel's discovery that the genes transmit heredity and the subsequent discovery that genes can change by chance mutations.

    This improved theory has been accepted by the great majority of modern scientists who therefore are no longer interested in views like those of Teilhard de Chardin, popular for awhile among Catholic theologians. Teilhard thought that there is a natural "law of evolution" inherent in matter, such as the natural laws of gravitation and electromagnetism, that would necessarily or at least with high probability predict that matter would evolve to produce life and ultimately Darwin! This type of evolutionary theory was proposed by St. Augustine who spoke of rationes seminales (seed principles) implanted by God in chaotic matter that would cause it to evolve to its present condition. Behe and other Intelligent Designers consider that a possibility.

    Many people, even those who have studied some science, confusedly suppose that this is what modern evolutionists hold. In fact, for Neo-Darwinism what holds as the only law of evolution is what the popular advocate of that view, Richard Dawkins, calls "the selfish gene".  When some gene or genes of an organism mutate by chance (but not by any necessary law) it may be able to reproduce and survive environmental changes better than its generators. Gradually these new variations become new species. But, as Behe argued, this leaves the question of whether in fact life would ever exist in our universe, or produce something as complicated as the human brain, completely in the dark. Thus another great advocate of evolution, the late Stephen Jay Gould, always said it was just as likely that the universe remain lifeless, or that nothing but bugs should have evolved, as that it should have produced life or man. All Behe adds to this is to conclude, as Gould did not, that since Neo-Darwinism is so inadequate, we ought to conclude that evolution is ultimately due to an Intelligent Designer.

    3). What did St. Thomas Aquinas think? St. Thomas accepted the Genesis account of the six days of creation as literally true, but left room for St. Augustine's view. Aquinas (a) knew none of the scientific facts that today support evolution and (b) did not know the parallel texts of ancient pagan accounts of creation that to modern scholars show that Augustine was right in reading the Genesis account as metaphorical. Thus St. Thomas' famous Five Ways to prove God's existence in no way depend on the facts that support Neo-Darwinism or Intelligent Design, but are much more fundamental.

    Intelligent Design, as Behe presents it, is a mathematical theory of probabilities, and as such itself is only probable and dialectical. Aquinas' arguments, however, and especially the First Argument from motion that he called the "most evident" of the five, follow logically from the simple fact that the world we live in is changing and that every change is the effect of some cause or series of causes that cannot be infinitely long but must end in an uncaused cause.

    Since all scientific reasoning must be logically consistent, and be based on the principle of causality and the fact of change, Aquinas' proof holds for every possible scientific theory. The only important attempt to refute his argument was given by Immanuel Kant, but only at the expense of ending in idealism, which no scientist can seriously accept. The Aristotelian-Thomistic proof, however, does not directly prove the existence of a personal, intelligent God, but this becomes evident when we realize that since we, like the universe, are products of the First Cause, then It must be super-intelligent. Thus Christians need not rely on current Intelligent Design arguments, since belief in God is logically presupposed to the possibility of scientists or their science.

    4). What then should our Public Schools teach about evolution in their science classes?

    The truth.

    What the teacher and the textbooks should make clear is something like this:

    The great majority of scientists today hold that, on the basis of fossil evidence, an evolution of species, including the human species, has taken place. The best explanation they have yet found is that it was caused by the chance mutation of genes and the natural selection of organisms having particular genes in a changing environment. This explanation, however, like most scientific theories today, remains only probable, until we know the facts better.

    Moreover, it can be reconciled with a belief in a Creator, although some Christians interpret the Bible to deny that species have evolved, and even give some scientific evidence for this, but not enough to satisfy most scientists. Other Christians (who do not interpret the Bible in this way), Jews, Muslims and the Eastern religions, may also accept evolution, yet hold that this is the way in which God has chosen to create the world, by using some parts of his creation to cause others to develop. Some, who accept the fact of evolution, use what is called the argument from Intelligent Design to argue mathematically that Neo-Darwinism is a theory that has too small a probability to be successful, unless there is an Intelligent Designer; but more fundamental arguments for the existence of God have much wider acceptance.

    The fact that Neo-Darwinism is open to criticism does not, however, deny its scientific importance, since all science progresses by improving existing theories. It is the business of this science class to explain that theory. In other classes here, and in your churches or synagogues or mosques, you will learn about other views and be able to compare their arguments. That is what living in a democratic, multicultural society requires.

    Posted 8/28/2005