The Cardinal and the Neo-Darwinians: A Question of Analogy

John M. McDermott FAITH Magazine May – June 2011

Fr McDermott argues that paradoxes concerning the intelligibility of the universe, along with the incompleteness of neo-Darwinian philosophy, reveal the prevalence of the dynamic of analogy. This points to the need to ground human reason in the existence of a loving God. In our next issue we will publish our brief response to this and Fr McDermott's last word. He is a faculty member of the Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. Since 2003 he has served as a member of the International Theological Commission, and since 2008 as a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Doctrine. This is a developed version of a paper published in the Fall 2005 edition of The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly.

In the Thomistic tradition Jacques Maritain more than once remarked that intelligence, like being, is analogous.[1] Not only do God, angels and men think analogously but also men, sentient beings bound to knowledge by abstraction, approach various sciences in ways that are complementary rather than opposed. A while back Cardinal Schonborn's op-ed in The New York Times about evolution and design caused that newspaper's editors to raise the spectre of past debates between science and religion (7/7/05, p. A27 and 7/9/07, p. A1). Had they recognised the role of analogy in thought much fuss could have been avoided. But their intervention into questions beyond their ken provides a welcome opportunity, at some remove, for clarifications. Without doubt it is possible to combine aneo-Darwinian theory with Catholic faith, as many scientists do. The difficulty emerges when evolutionary theorists go beyond the evidence to deny a providential plan for all reality. This essay intends to indicate that evolutionary theory finds an intellectual justification only if God's providence rules.

Not Chaos But Mystery

Against the prevalent journalistic opinion that the Catholic faith is compatible with evolution, the cardinal made the qualification that while "evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true,... evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not." That should be fairly obvious to anyone believing in a creator God. Since God made everything from nothing, nothing can be outside His control. He is a good, omnipotent, omniscient God, who remains in control of His creation, over which He will pronounce ultimate judgment. Otherwise evil might win out as in the Germanic myths, Zoroastrianism, and ultimately all secular thinking. The biblical assurance that nothing is impossible to God (Gen. 18:14; Job 42:2; Lk. 1:37;Mk. 10:27) rests upon belief in a creator God. Because God can give life to the dead and make existent what does not exist, faith in God is always possible and nothing created can separate the believer from God's love (Rom. 4:17-25; 8:31-39). Believers in such a God cannot acknowledge that the world is "an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection" without contradicting their faith.

That basic article of faith does not, however, imply that human beings know God's plan in detail. Quite the contrary: "'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' says the Lord" (Is. 55:8). That hard truth Job learned to his humiliation after his vain insistence that God appear before the tribunal of his intelligence. Faced with the wonders of God's salvation, St. Paul cited Isaiah and Job in writing: "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable His ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor?' 'Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?' For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:33-36). Godremains a mystery that creates salvation.

That God's transcendent mystery is not utterly beyond man's ken is implied in the fact of revelation. Addressing man, God presupposes that man can somehow understand Him. The God of Sinai wrapped Himself in dense cloud, thunder and lightning, but He made known His will to Moses and His people. The 45th chapter of Isaiah expresses the vital tension between the hidden and the revealed God that pervades the Bible. After Israel's confession, "Truly, you are a God who hides yourself, O God of Israel, the Saviour," God responds, "I am the Lord and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, 'Seek me in chaos.' I, the Lord, speak the truth, I declare what is right" (45:15-19). The New Testament heightens the paradox, "No one hasever seen God; the only Son, who is in the Father's bosom, has made Him known" (Jn. 1:18).

Between Chance and Determinism

That the believer should be caught in the oscillation between knowledge and ignorance of God does not surprise the philosopher. Not only is God known analogously in relation to the world but also God's knowledge is analogous to man's knowledge. To non-believers analogy must appear to be a contradiction since it affirms both similarity and dissimilarity. The Enlightenment never understood this type of thought because it simplistically insisted on a science that would banish all mystery, just as Newtonian physics allegedly did. But for believers and true philosophers it is clear that God does not think as humans do. Whereas God knows directly the individuals that He creates, humans know by abstraction, seeking the universal in the multifarious variation of sensible experience. There isobviously a difference between God's exhaustive knowledge and man's a posteriori groping toward truth.[2] Although human abstraction aims at the essential and universal amidst sensible data, it often misses the mark. Erring seems almost congenital to scientists as well as to gamblers, stock market experts, and weather forecasters. Countless scientific theories have been shown inadequate and surpassed. Something was overlooked or a general theory was pushed beyond the evidence, which a later generation of scientists discover to the chagrin of their predecessors.[3] The Enlightenment's battle with religion wished to exclude God because the deterministic laws of Newtonian physics rendered Him superfluous; of course such determinism also abolished human freedom. Today neo-Darwinians postulatechance and randomness, not determinism, at the basis of their hypotheses. In their fundamental assumptions the positions of "scientists" now and then are radically opposed.

The opposition is not just between then and now nor between physicists and evolutionary biologists. At the present time a conflict still rages in modern physics between Heisenberg and Einstein. In dealing with sub-atomic particles Heisenberg claimed that human science at best attains probabilities. Einstein rejected that theory: "God does not play dice." He recognised that some absolute is necessary as a standard of measurement for all probabilities. In simple terms, unless he knows what 100 per cent purity is, no Ivory soap salesman can claim that his product is 99.44 per cent pure. Similarly someone playing a game of craps knows the odds for a certain number at any single throw of the dice since each die is constructed with a limited number of faces. Consequently Einstein postulated thespeed of light as his absolute constant in terms of which everything else, including space and time, is measured. Neil Bohr's rejoinder to Einstein was just as simple, "Nor is it our business to prescribe to God how He should run the world."[4] Indeed, if the speed of light is postulated as an absolute, how can it be measured?
Since in Newtonian physics time and space were considered absolute objective schemas of reference, it was possible to measure speed in terms of so many miles per hour or feet per second. Newton postulated the existence of space and time in God's sensorium, but when later physicists like Laplace found God "an unnecessary hypothesis" they neglected to explain where or how spatial and temporal absolutes exist and how absolute continuums might be divisible, as seems necessary for the measurement of particular, or partial, motions.[5] Einstein avoided those conundrums. But once light's speed becomes the norm of measurement, in terms of what might speed itself be measured? Clearly a norm must have something in common with what is measured, yet at the same time it transcends what is measured.The same problem emerged from Augustine's considerations of time: God's eternity has to be postulated to explain the unity of past, present, and future -without some commonality they cannot be distinguished from and compared to each other - yet God's eternity cannot be measured by man's mind.[6] In all these "physical" problems, dealing with the stuff of this world, analogy is clearly involved. But analogy seems paradoxical since it affirms both similarity and dissimilarity.

Paradox and Analogy

These reflections recall the limitations of human knowledge, which constantly arrives at or produces paradoxes. Space and time have seemed both continuous and discontinuous from Zeno's paradoxes up to current debates about the reality of electrons and photons: are they (continuous) waves or (discrete) particles? Yet more is involved. On the one hand human thought presupposes universally valid laws; otherwise it could wind up with contradictions or basic incomprehensibility. On the other hand the human mind cannot establish itself in its finitude and contingency as the ultimate judge of reality. Hence, human knowing oscillates between determinism and contingency. Man's cognition thereby corresponds to the hylomorphic structure of reality [i.e. to the way in which physical objects aredefined by a combination of matter and form]. Lest human inquiry be frustrated in its root, knowing presupposes a correspondence between itself and reality in one way or another. Such is the classical definition of truth. Classical philosophy understands man and all sensible reality as a combination of form and matter. Form is an intelligible universal, what can be abstracted from the hylomorphic composite. But matter is the principle of individuality, which the abstracting human mind cannot grasp in itself. Since truth involves the conformity between mind and being, i.e. reality, and "matter" cannot be understood, matter must be "non-being." Paradoxically "non-being" exists because it contributes to the constitution of the sensible world around us.
Matter is the equivalent of chaos, that which is without intelligibility. But chaos cannot be recognised unless it is contrasted with order. If everything were chaotic, language and intelligence would not exist. Conversely, if everything in sensible creation were reduced to deterministic order, no one would recognise it. The very act of recognition withdraws the subject from the object being observed and analysed. On this basis existentialist philosophers revolted against the deterministic philosophical theories which dominated a great deal of thought at the end of the nineteenth century. By emphasising the "alienation" of the subject, the pour-soi, from the object, the en-soi, philosophers such as Sartre and Camus concluded that reality is absurd. For Sartre "existence"denotes the individual and is the equivalent of "non-being." His celebrated saying that existence precedes essence, once it is translated into classical terms, means only that non-being precedes the essences formally constructed by human thought. When nothingness is king, no laws hold and absurdity rules.[7]

Such existentialism in many ways resuscitates medieval nominalism. The late medievals, however, were more pious than their 20th-century heirs. They arrived at their nominalism precisely because an infinite creator God existed, whose mind could not be fathomed. Material individuals are real and they are known by the God who created them. But the human mind can grasp neither the reality of individuals nor the mind of God. At best by approaching individuals from without, the human mind can establish provisional categories permitting some pragmatic generalisations to guide action. But the nominalists trusted that a good God upheld the universe and for that reason their intellectual probings were not completely vain. Nonetheless their distrust of universals went a long way toward undercuttingthe analogy which instils confidence into human thought and supplies the presupposition for biblical revelation.

Freedom and Analogy

The unintelligibility of the world not only destroys the root of science, it also deprives man of any meaningful freedom. Sartre understood freedom as the arbitrary postulation of values which are created by their very choice. Not only does man suffer "anxiety" because he has no objective reason for any choice, but the values are mortal, perishing with their "creator".[8] Sartre was doubtless revolting against the determinism of scientists like Laplace and Freud. Pushing Newtonian determinism to the extreme, the former wrote, "We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future." Freud denied human freedom lest it introduce irrationality into the world. He insisted on a necessary causal link between every choice and its determiningprecedents; otherwise "science" would be overthrown and with it all hope for humanity. In practice, however, Freud presupposed that his patients would be able to change their lives once they became aware of the sources of the psychological mechanisms disrupting their behaviour.[9] As so often happens, theory and practice do not coincide. Abstractions do not completely cover real individuals.

Human freedom presupposes some intelligibility in the world; otherwise man would have no reason for his choice and would thus be reduced to the state of the brute beasts. Yet the intelligibility available to him cannot be exhaustive and determining. He must leave some room for indetermination or chance. Classical philosophy allowed for chance because, despite all its insistence on intelligible causes, it recognised that the coincidence of several causal series in the "here and now" cannot be totally foreseen.

One can amusingly expand upon Maritain's version of Aristotle's explanation by recounting the story of the Athenian travelling from Athens to Megara.[10] Upon his departure his friends presented him with a spicy sausage. Its consumption along the journey left him thirsty. Seeing some water dripping down the side of a rock, he climbed up to its source in a pool hollowed out by time. A band of robbers, however, had selected a nearby cave for a hideaway because of its proximity to water. Emerging from their hidden den to perpetrate another crime, they were seen by the Athenian traveller. To prevent their discovery being reported to the authorities the bandits killed the traveller. Were his friends then responsible for his death because they had given him the sausage? Certainly, without thedonated sausage the Athenian would not have died, but much more was involved than a sausage. One might assign causes, or reasons, for the dripping water, the position of the pool near the road, the choice of the cave, the emergence of the bandits, the presence of the Athenian, the decision to kill him, etc., but his death resulted from the coincidence of many causal series in the "here and now" or "there and then" of his murder. Since the "here and now" indicates a unique position in space and time, it is equivalents "matter." Thus the presence of matter does not explain, but allows for the chance or contingency of many events. Since free acts all occur in individual "heres and nows" matter prevents history from being reduced to a determined series of events and, without denyingcausality, leaves room for freedom. In this way classical philosophy effects the reconciliation in theory of freedom and intelligibility. While the individual instance is not equated to the universal law or abstraction, it does not destroy the relative intelligibility required for freedom but permits the application of reason to free choice.[11]

Analogy and God

In protesting against random natural selection as the universe's guiding principle Cardinal Schonborn was defending intelligibility and ultimately science itself against the neo-Darwinians who preach randomness. Pure randomness is chaotic and meaningless. But the cardinal was also defending the Catholic position that God can be known through created works (Rom. 1:20). Naturally all the rational proofs of God's existence have to employ analogy whether they appeal to man's interior experience of knowing and loving or to his understanding of the external world. St. Anselm best synthesised the first method, arguing that the mind's necessary grounding in truth must surpass all contingency to arrive at a Being whose existence is necessary. Since the truth grounding knowledge cannot be arbitraryor contingent, yet nothing finite can ground its own existence, there must be a Being, than which nothing greater can be thought, who supplies the final necessity for all thought.[12]

The argument is brilliant and powerful. Its difficulty, however, resides in this dilemma. If, on the one hand, the human mind really knows by necessity, it need not go outside itself for the grounding of its thought; but that would be to make the finite absolute, rendering it necessary. If, on the other hand, the human mind belongs to a rational animal, whose being is contingent, all its arguments are laced through and through with contingency; they cannot prove necessarily. Anselm was clearly seeking to uphold the balance of analogy between Infinite and finite because he did not want to refer all human meaning to nothingness. He realised that intelligence illuminates reality, but to be consistent with itself it has to point beyond itself; the mind must turn upward if its quest forgreater illumination is to be fulfilled, even if final fulfilment does not come in this life.

Analogously in their Aristotelian appeal to the sensate order of the external world St. Thomas's five ways rely on the insufficiency of the universe to explain itself. The human mind seeks causes, be they final, efficient, or formal. A formal cause responds to the question why a being is such as it is; a final cause explains why or for what purpose something acts or exists; an efficient cause seeks the why, or reason, for a perceived motion from without. Since regression in an infinite series of causes explains nothing - the human mind cannot comprehend the infinite, be its extension temporal, spatial, or spiritual - there must be, so goes the argument, a First Cause.[13] This First Cause must be similar to the other causes, since He is a First Cause; yet He is also dissimilarsince, as First Cause, He is uncaused. Analogy must be employed if the universe has an ultimate intelligibility, an answer to man's basic question "why?" The employment of analogous language is all the more indispensable if God is recognised as infinite; an infinite Cause is in His transcendence unlike all finite causes, which can be opposed to their effects. Agnostics and atheists refute such "proofs" by insisting on the dissimilarity between the First Cause and all other causes; they reject the leap from the series of relative causes to an absolute First Cause. By doing so, they ultimately preclude a final intelligibility of the universe, or at least one that can be affirmed by men.

Similar conundrums arise in modern physics. In Newtonian physics an infinitely extended space and time allow for infinite causal series. But series of efficient causes in space or time are unintelligible; one never arrives at a final answer explaining the origin and goal of motion. Similarly a spatial universe infinitely extended is inconceivable. Without any centre nothing can be objectively measured. Moreover, since an infinitely extended universe must contain an infinite number of bodies, each exerting a gravitational attraction upon the others, the infinite force exerted must result in the splintering of finite bodies subject to their attraction. But the Earth and other bodies maintain their solidity.[14] Einstein avoided such conundrums by postulating a curved space turned back uponitself.[15] There results a finite, self-contained universe apparently hanging on nothing in space. What limits it from without cannot be answered any more satisfactorily than the Hindu philosopher's postulation of an elephant standing upon a turtle standing upon a serpent, etc, to explain why the universe maintains its position in space.[16]

Analogously regarding time, the Big Bang theory hypothesises an original moment when a minute speck of reality exploded into the energy-mass continuum constituting our universe. How so much comes from next to nothing presents a problem.[17] The human mind cannot explain something from nothing nor imagine a beginning time without a previous time. For that reason most ancient pagan philosophers rejected the Christian Creator.[18] Perhaps a similar dissatisfaction with the apparent production of something from nothing leads to those exponents of string theory who try to go behind the Big Bang's initial moment. In either case the mind is faced with a conundrum: an endless regress without possibility of finding a First Efficient Cause, or ultimate reason, on the one hand, or an absolutebeginning without necessity, on the other. At all events the physicist and the philosopher have a choice: either the infinite supporting the finite structures of intelligibility is material and hence meaningless or there is a personal Infinite, whose intelligibility surpasses human intelligibility even while supporting its analogous understanding.

The Mystery of God's Love

Precisely because the Catholic Church believes in a good creator God on the basis of Jesus' resurrection, it affirms a supra-intelligibility and a supra-intelligence for the universe. Because it knows that God appeals to human freedom, human freedom can find intelligible signs indicating God's existence and will for men. Insofar as this finite world cannot explain itself in terms of itself, the reason for its being and intelligibility must lie beyond it. The finite human mind cannot comprehend God's infinite mystery, but it can have some awareness of God, reading the signs of His presence and activity in the world. The world is a parable of God for those who have the eyes to see. Just as God's infinity does not crush or exclude but creates and supports finitude, just as God's omnipotencedoes not destroy but empowers human freedom, so also God's knowledge does not render human knowledge void or superfluous but gives it its source, ground and goal. The finite is grounded in the Infinite in its being, knowing and acting.[19]

If the biblical God is a God of love - Christianity draws the ultimate conclusion about that in affirming a Trinity of self-giving divine persons - the human response to God should occur in freedom. Knowledge does not exist for its own sake but in order to point to the objective mystery surpassing it. Hence there must be reasons for obedience and love which cannot force the consent of faith but which help to motivate and support the choice of love in return for love.

In a paradisiacal world where God's goodness was readily experienced in created things, it would have been relatively easy to affirm God's existence with certitude. But in a fallen world, tainted by sin, where selfishness, suffering and death deface the primordial goodness of the world, further signs are needed for man's sake. That is why God initiated a history of salvific revelation aimed at liberating human freedom. The great deeds done for the fathers and the people of Israel bear witness to the concrete reality of God's protective love for His people. Christians see the supreme sign of love in Jesus' death and resurrection. There, as John Paul II frequently pointed out, they learn that love is stronger than sin and death.[20] Love is not a theory excogitated by a philosopher in aneasy chair. It is a reality realised on the altar of the cross, a reality rooted in the deepest depths of God. For in Jesus Love became incarnate and was lived in a human nature to the end, and that end was just the beginning for the rest of mankind. However vigorously the Catholic Church defends human reason, a necessary presupposition of freedom for love, even defining that reason can know with certitude God's existence, the reason envisaged cannot be a deterministic reason that would banish all ambiguity and freedom. For the Church simultaneously insists that faith's certitude surpasses the certitude of reason.[21] It has done so not just because de facto not many people would be willing to give their lives for the principle of contradiction while countless believers havesacrificed their lives for Jesus Christ. More profoundly, it recognises that by accepting Jesus Christ in faith and loving Him, that choice is grounded in God Himself. Because Jesus died freely for sinners, His initiative broke their hardened hearts and converted them to Himself. In that love the greatest unity is combined with the greatest diversity. The lover seeks the greatest union with the beloved but does not seek the beloved's absorption; he wants the beloved to remain different in unity. That is the deepest truth of the Trinity, and it is applied analogously to man for his salvation.
In the freedom of love unity and diversity, similarity and dissimilarity, are both preserved and elevated to a divine level. Thus the ultimate grounding of analogy is love. Man is the image of God, i.e. the analogy of God, for in loving each other men love God. Only God can ground the absolute commitment and fidelity inherent in love. No finite creature dare say to another, "You have to love me; you have to give your life for me." Love happens because one is pulled out of oneself to acknowledge the goodness of another. That is the attraction of God working originally in marriage, which John Paul II identified as the primordial sacrament.[22] Once that image of love was desecrated by sin, it had to be recast in the furnace of divine love. The Incarnation marks the moment when the image ofthe invisible God became man, renewing man's image in a new creation so that men might become in Him who they were forever intended to be in God's eyes, the image of the God who is love (Eph. 1:3-10). Jesus is then the living analogy of God, and it is not by chance that He expressed His message in parables and gave Himself in finite symbols.[23]
Biblical religion holds that man was made in love for love. Human reason cannot explain itself: it cannot make itself absolute. In the mystery of matter, or corporeal individuality, it strikes a limit to its knowing. It is then forced in freedom to choose either to postulate a fundamental nothingness or absurdity in existence, thus denying intelligibility and destroying itself, or to transcend itself toward the infinite God of love who has made Himself known through the finite, visible structures of this world. God's love is mediated, however imperfectly, to the newborn child in and through the frail vessel of matrimony. Because humans are so weak in their love, so easily distracted, so fearful of love's sacrifice, God Himself had to strengthen the weak vessel of flesh by taking fleshupon Himself and showing of what it is capable. He demonstrated the goodness that created flesh can bear in sacrificing itself for love. Thus Christian faith presupposes and deepens faith in a creator God, and Jesus Christ is truly, in the words of Stanley Jaki, "the saviour of science" as well as the redeemer of man.[24]

Back to the Neo-Darwinians

A developed notion of analogy easily resolves the difficulty invented by the editors of The New York Times. Neo-Darwinians start with sensible experience. They study individual relics of bygone eras remote from themselves in time. They apply great ingenuity in teasing out similarities or connections among their "finds." But there is no straightforward line of ascent or decline. Evolutionary theories have changed so much in the forty years since I first studied cultural anthropology that the assured "facts" which I learned have been superseded by new theories. There are many gaps in the record, and the relics, as befits the dead, tell no unambiguous tales.
Even as new discoveries close some of the physical gaps, the riddles are not necessarily more easily deciphered. Sometimes they become even more incomprehensible, almost mysteries. The eye either sees or serves no imaginable purpose. How then did its immense complexity evolve so quickly? Similarly the enormous skeletal changes between upright man and his buckled-over simian ancestor have to be explained. How could some intermediate "link" survive if it could neither swing away in the trees from proximate danger nor see a distant peril in time for flight? How did language ever develop without teachers when a child's window of linguistic receptivity is so very limited? Why does a quantitative augmentation of cranium capacity imply a qualitative increase in intelligence? Do we really knowwhat constitutes life? Efforts to reproduce it in laboratories have repeatedly failed, although not so long ago scientists confidently predicted the achievement of that milestone.[25]

The students of evolution have to postulate a progression towards mankind since all but the most obtuse recognise a qualitative difference between man and the beasts. But they do not understand the inherent intelligibility of that movement. God stands outside the parameters of their science since He cannot be exhumed or measured. Like many other post-Enlightenment scientists, they are wary of final causes. Like Hume, since they are limited by sensible experience, they cannot uncover a necessity connecting the various data of their discoveries. They have become more humble or at least more hypothetical in propounding their theories. That advance is to be applauded. But when any scientist "explains" any event or series of events by appeal to randomness or chance, he is not doing science.Randomness has no inherent intelligibility. At most the scientist may employ that word to indicate the limitations of his knowledge, but to make a universal statement about the development of the human race in terms of randomness far transcends the evidence. All science deals with hypotheses since no "fact" can be recognised without a wider horizon of meaning, and that meaning does not let itself be deduced from any higher fact or proposition. All the more hypothetical must be a science whose field of experimentation consists of partial tokens of remote events.[26]

For all that, neo-Darwinian evolutionists can look upon their science as the study of a random progression. They are close to material remains and, as noted above, there is no final human intelligibility in material individuals. Individual instances apparently happen at random. It is the role of intelligence to make sense out of those instances. Analogies among them are discovered in the elaboration of hypotheses, and a greater intelligence can discover wider and deeper analogies, more comprehensive theories. In that sense the study of evolution is grounded in randomness. But to insist that evolution itself is random transgresses the limits inherent to any science restricted to material instances.

Were evolution ultimately random, there would be no intelligibility in the universe and all study of it would be doomed to the frustration of post-modern hypothesising. If evolutionists wish to preserve their science as "knowledge," they might describe their method as concerned with the collection, comparison, and ordering of apparently random mutations and events, but they can never give chaos as the final explanation of the reality studied. Ultimate explanations rest with God, whose ways surpass our ways. His mysterious judgments - the mysteries of His love - have to be accepted if there is to be any hope at all for human intelligence. In his defence of design Cardinal Schonborn did evolutionists a favour. He was defending their science, encouraging them to look for intelligible signsin the universe. Admittedly the best attempts to read the signs of design in creation remain human hypotheses, subject to criticism and revision, but without divine design there would be neither analogous intelligence nor analogous science.

Finally, without God there would be no resurrection, the divine sign illuminating the ambiguity of fallen existence. If that illumination empowers believers to find signs of design in creation, who can affirm that their insight is less scientific than the neo-Darwinian hypotheses? Of course, the mere complexity of creation or the inability of a theory to explain certain "gaps" does not allow anyone to conclude immediately that God exists. Complexity depends upon human analysis, which implies intelligibility, while the lack of intelligibility allows no conclusion whatever. Some "intelligent design" proponents are overhasty in joining the intelligibility of the one to the unintelligibility of the other in order to find God in creation.[27] The material evidence itself is ambivalent becauseit is offered to human freedom, but only those who find design in creation, a providential design surpassing all human reconstructions, can uphold the final meaningfulness of human reason.
Next issue: A discussion on this piece.

[1] J. Maritain, Sept lecons sur I'etre (Paris: Tequi, 1934), pp. 23-34; —, Science etsagesse (Paris: Labergerie, 1935), 42-55, 63-65; —, The Range of Reason (New York: Scribner's, 1952), 6-18.
[2] Thomas; Summa Theologiae I, q. 16 indicates the analogous meanings of truth.
[3] Cf T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. (Chicago: U. of Chicago, 1970), esp 92-110.
[4] W. Heisenberg, "Fresh Fields (1926-1927)," in Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, tr. A. Pomerans (New York: Harper &Row, 1971), 79-81.
[5] Cf E. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, 2nd ed. (1932; rpt. Garden City: Doubleday, 1954), 244-264, 284-297. Cf A. Jammer, Concepts of Space: The History of Theories of Space in Physics (Cambridge: Harvard, 1957), 112f, for Clarke's defense of Newton. The unanswered question remains how an infinite absolute can subsist alongside God. Cf. J. Hagen, "Laplace, Pierre-Simon," in The Catholic Encyclopaedia, ed. C. Herbermann et al, VIII, (New York: Appleton, 1910), 797, and D. Brouwer, "Laplace, Pierre Simon de," in New Catholic Encyclopaedia, ed. W. McDonald et al (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967), VIII, 383. On Einstein's awareness of Newtonian problems with absolute time and space cf. his 1933 Spencer lecture "On the Method ofTheoretical Physics," cited in A. Pais, 'Subtle is the Lord...': The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), 133f; —, "Einstein, Newton, and Success," Einstein: A Centenary Volume, ed. A. French (Cambridge: Harvard, 1979), 35; and Einstein's Relativity: The Special and General Theory, 15th ed., tr. R. Lawson (1952; rpt. New York: Crown, 1961), 9-24,105-107.
[6] Cf Augustine, Confessiones, XI, 15-31 (18-41).
[7] A. Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, tr. J. O'Brien (New York: Random House, 1955), 12-16; J. Sartre, Existentialism, tr. B. Frechtman (New York: Philosophical Library, 1947), 15-28, 56-61; —, Being and Nothingness, tr. H. Barnes (1953; rpt New York: Washington Square, 1966), 9-85, 784-798.
[8] Sartre, Existentialism, 21-28, 46f
[9] The Laplace quote is from Oeuvres Completes (Paris: Gautier Villars, 1878-1912), VIII, p. 144, as cited in T Williams, The Idea of the Miraculous: The Challenge to Science and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1990), p. 141. On Laplace's "demon" or "superhuman intelligence" to which "nothing would be uncertain and the future, as the past, would be present to its eyes," cf. R. Harre, "Laplace, Simon Pierre de," The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, ed. P. Edwards, VI (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 392. On Freud cf. H. Ruppelt, "Das Freiheitsverstandnis in Psychologie und Ethik," Zeitschriftfur Katholische Theologie 99 (1977), 25-46.
[10] Maritain, Sept lecons, 153-55; cp. Aristotle, Metaphysics VI, 3,1027b 1-5.
[11] For the pragmatic complementarity of law and freedom (spontaneity) cf. C. Peirce, ;'The Doctrine of Necessity Examined," in Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, ed. C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1934-1935), VI, 28-45 (par. 35-64), and V Potter, S.J., Charles S. Peirce on Norms and Ideals (Worcester: U. of Massachusetts, 1967), esp. 133-47;.
[12] Anselm, Proslogion, 1,1 -5. [13]Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3.
[14] S. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (Toronto: Bantam, 1988), 5, cites Newton's letter for a universe infinitely extended; the universe would not crunch together because infinity has no centre. But Einstein, 105f, sees that the infinite lines of force on any body would result in a field of infinite intensity, which is impossible; hence he argues that Newton had to postulate for his universe "a kind of centre in which the density of the stars is a maximum, and that as we proceed outwards from this centre the group-density of the stars would diminish, until finally, at great distances, it is succeeded by an infinite region of emptiness." This postulation, however, he also found insufficient.
 [15] Einstein, 105-114. Cf. also Hawking, 40,151.
[16] Although upholders of general relativity theory maintain the unintelligibility of such questions, the questions are unintelligible only within their system Riemannian space depends for basic concepts upon Euclidean geometry, which is then transcended. But the origin of transcendence, be it Euclidean geometry or ordinary experience, can never be obliterated by later speculative constructions. Precisely because Euclid employed abstractions — a dimensionless point does not exist in the real world — his geometry falls short of reality. All other geometries likewise fall short of reality. They employ abstractions. Hence one can ask in what space or on what a finite universe stands. Cf. W. Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (1958; rpt New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 56,175-176,200-2002, recognised the validity of Euclidean geometry in its sphere and noted that the concepts of ordinary language are more stable than scientific concepts because the former are closer to reality whereas the latter are “idealisations." Abstractions break down at the edges, the infinitely small and the enormously large, and the language developed to explain the edges must refer to the primary concepts to which they are complementary. Ibid., 125: "Every word or concept, clear as it may seem to be, has only a limited range of applicability." Man's self-conscious, reflective unity-in-duality, means that metaphysics complements physics, metalanguage complements language, statistical analyses and classical laws complement each other, and various physical theories complement Newton's. Cf.J. McDermott, S.J., "Maritain: Natural Science, Philosophy and Theology," in Teologia e science nelmondo contemporaneo, ed. D Mongillo (Milan: Massimo, 1989), 227-244.
[17] Hawking, 46, notes that at the Big Bang moment "the density of the universe and the curvature of space-time would have been infinite," yet "because mathematics cannot really handle infinite numbers, ... the general theory of relativity ... itself breaks down."
[18] Cf Augustine, De civitate Dei, XI, 4; R. Wallis, Neoplatonism, 2nd ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1995), 102f For Aristotle cf. Phy. VIII, If 250bll-253a21; 6-8 258bl0-265al2; De caelo III, 2 302al-9; Metaphy. Ill, 4 999b4-l 6; VII, 7; 1032b30f; XII, 6 1071b6-ll; for Plotinus cf. Enneads II, 4, 5; 111,2, 1; V, 8,14; 18, 9. Most ancient interpreters understood the Timaeus' arche to regard a metaphysical, not a temporal, principle: Wallis, 20, 65, 68, 77,102f
[19] For the metaphysical grounding of these statements cf. J. McDermott, S.J., "Faith, Reason, and Freedom," Irish Theological Quarterly 67 (2002), 307-332.
[20] Cf Redemptor Hominis 9; Dives in Misericordia 8; Evangetium Vitae 51, 81, 86.
[21] In claiming that "nothing is more certain nor more secure than our faith" Pius IX referred to external signs of credibility (DS 2780), Yet previous tradition referred faith to God's freely given grace (DS 375, 378, 396-400, 1525,1553,2813) with which man must cooperate for salvation (DS 1525, 1554f). Faithful to it, Vatican I recognised that faith involves a free act which cannot "be produced necessarily by arguments of human reason" (DS 3035, 3010); hence the Council added to those external signs the "internal helps of the Holy Spirit" so that the former might be "most certain signs of divine revelation adapted to every intelligence" (DS 3009f, 3033f); as a result faith relies on "a most firm foundation" and "none can ever have a just reason for changing or doubting that same faith"(DS 3014, 3036; 2119-2121). Cf. also Pius XII (DS 3876).
[22] Mulieris Dignitatem 29; The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan (Boston: Pauline, 1997), 76, 333-336, 341-354.
[23] "Parable" properly understood finds its deepest grounding in "sacrament": cf. J. McDermott, S.J., "Jesus: Parable or Sacrament of God?" Gregorianum 78 (1997), 477-499; 79 (1998), 543-564.
[24] S. Jaki, O.S.B., The Savior of Science (Washington: Regnery Gateway, 1988).
[25] In his discourse to the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences, August 22,1996, John Paul II spoke of "an ontological jump" that occurs when man is considered. But he found the discontinuity to depend upon a different point of view from "the sciences of observation" dealing with the "experimental level" since man's spiritual moral conscience and freedom are not caught by them (Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XIX/2-1996 (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1998), 574f. The "gaps" to which our text refers, however, are problems to sciences of observation. Modern studies in DNA may reveal how an apparently small change in regulatory genes can effect momentous changes in morphological and physiological aspects of the organisms involved. But why the changes should occur at alland at the time that they do and why they should advantageously adapt the organisms to their environment and not produce monstrosities so different from their environmentally adapted parents, monstrosities which would normally be condemned to a quick extinction, that is a mystery. Appeals to randomness mean that science has hit an obstacle..
[26] K. Miller, Finding Darwin's God: A. Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution (New York: HarperColliins, 1999), 53f, distinguishes the "fact" of evolution, grounded on so much evidence, from various theories of evolution. But evolution is more than change, and every theory accepts as evidence only what fits the theory. Nineteenth century physicists considered gravitation a fact, but Einstein altered their understanding of gravitation, just as Newton altered Aristotle's. New questions may provide new parameters and change biologists' understanding of evidence. Cf. following note.

John M. McDermott FAITH Magazine May – June 2011

Fr McDermott argues that paradoxes concerning the intelligibility of the universe, along with the incompleteness of neo-Darwinian philosophy, reveal the prevalence of the dynamic of analogy. This points to the need to ground human reason in the existence of a loving God. In our next issue we will publish our brief response to this and Fr McDermott's last word. He is a faculty member of the Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. Since 2003 he has served as a member of the International Theological Commission, and since 2008 as a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Doctrine. This is a developed version of a paper published in the Fall 2005 edition of The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly.

In the Thomistic tradition Jacques Maritain more than once remarked that intelligence, like being, is analogous.[1] Not only do God, angels and men think analogously but also men, sentient beings bound to knowledge by abstraction, approach various sciences in ways that are complementary rather than opposed. A while back Cardinal Schonborn's op-ed in The New York Times about evolution and design caused that newspaper's editors to raise the spectre of past debates between science and religion (7/7/05, p. A27 and 7/9/07, p. A1). Had they recognised the role of analogy in thought much fuss could have been avoided. But their intervention into questions beyond their ken provides a welcome opportunity, at some remove, for clarifications.Without doubt it is possible to combine a neo-Darwinian theory with Catholic faith, as many scientists do. The difficulty emerges when evolutionary theorists go beyond the evidence to deny a providential plan for all reality. This essay intends to indicate that evolutionary theory finds an intellectual justification only if God's providence rules.

Not Chaos But Mystery

Against the prevalent journalistic opinion that the Catholic faith is compatible with evolution, the cardinal made the qualification that while "evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true,... evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not." That should be fairly obvious to anyone believing in a creator God. Since God made everything from nothing, nothing can be outside His control. He is a good, omnipotent, omniscient God, who remains in control of His creation, over which He will pronounce ultimate judgment. Otherwise evil might win out as in the Germanic myths, Zoroastrianism, and ultimately all secular thinking. The biblical assurance that nothing is impossible to God (Gen. 18:14; Job 42:2; Lk. 1:37;Mk. 10:27) rests upon belief in a creator God. Because God can give life to the dead and make existent what does not exist, faith in God is always possible and nothing created can separate the believer from God's love (Rom. 4:17-25; 8:31-39). Believers in such a God cannot acknowledge that the world is "an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection" without contradicting their faith.

That basic article of faith does not, however, imply that human beings know God's plan in detail. Quite the contrary: "'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' says the Lord" (Is. 55:8). That hard truth Job learned to his humiliation after his vain insistence that God appear before the tribunal of his intelligence. Faced with the wonders of God's salvation, St. Paul cited Isaiah and Job in writing: "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable His ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor?' 'Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?' For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:33-36). Godremains a mystery that creates salvation.

That God's transcendent mystery is not utterly beyond man's ken is implied in the fact of revelation. Addressing man, God presupposes that man can somehow understand Him. The God of Sinai wrapped Himself in dense cloud, thunder and lightning, but He made known His will to Moses and His people. The 45th chapter of Isaiah expresses the vital tension between the hidden and the revealed God that pervades the Bible. After Israel's confession, "Truly, you are a God who hides yourself, O God of Israel, the Saviour," God responds, "I am the Lord and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, 'Seek me in chaos.' I, the Lord, speak the truth, I declare what is right" (45:15-19). The New Testament heightens the paradox, "No one hasever seen God; the only Son, who is in the Father's bosom, has made Him known" (Jn. 1:18).

Between Chance and Determinism

That the believer should be caught in the oscillation between knowledge and ignorance of God does not surprise the philosopher. Not only is God known analogously in relation to the world but also God's knowledge is analogous to man's knowledge. To non-believers analogy must appear to be a contradiction since it affirms both similarity and dissimilarity. The Enlightenment never understood this type of thought because it simplistically insisted on a science that would banish all mystery, just as Newtonian physics allegedly did. But for believers and true philosophers it is clear that God does not think as humans do. Whereas God knows directly the individuals that He creates, humans know by abstraction, seeking the universal in the multifarious variation of sensible experience. There isobviously a difference between God's exhaustive knowledge and man's a posteriori groping toward truth.[2] Although human abstraction aims at the essential and universal amidst sensible data, it often misses the mark. Erring seems almost congenital to scientists as well as to gamblers, stock market experts, and weather forecasters. Countless scientific theories have been shown inadequate and surpassed. Something was overlooked or a general theory was pushed beyond the evidence, which a later generation of scientists discover to the chagrin of their predecessors.[3] The Enlightenment's battle with religion wished to exclude God because the deterministic laws of Newtonian physics rendered Himsuperfluous; of course such determinism also abolished human freedom. Today neo-Darwinians postulate chance and randomness, not determinism, at the basis of their hypotheses. In their fundamental assumptions the positions of "scientists" now and then are radically opposed.

The opposition is not just between then and now nor between physicists and evolutionary biologists. At the present time a conflict still rages in modern physics between Heisenberg and Einstein. In dealing with sub-atomic particles Heisenberg claimed that human science at best attains probabilities. Einstein rejected that theory: "God does not play dice." He recognised that some absolute is necessary as a standard of measurement for all probabilities. In simple terms, unless he knows what 100 per cent purity is, no Ivory soap salesman can claim that his product is 99.44 per cent pure. Similarly someone playing a game of craps knows the odds for a certain number at any single throw of the dice since each die is constructed with a limited number of faces. Consequently Einstein postulated thespeed of light as his absolute constant in terms of which everything else, including space and time, is measured. Neil Bohr's rejoinder to Einstein was just as simple, "Nor is it our business to prescribe to God how He should run the world."[4] Indeed, if the speed of light is postulated as an absolute, how can it be measured?
Since in Newtonian physics time and space were considered absolute objective schemas of reference, it was possible to measure speed in terms of so many miles per hour or feet per second. Newton postulated the existence of space and time in God's sensorium, but when later physicists like Laplace found God "an unnecessary hypothesis" they neglected to explain where or how spatial and temporal absolutes exist and how absolute continuums might be divisible, as seems necessary for the measurement of particular, or partial, motions.[5] Einstein avoided those conundrums. But once light's speed becomes the norm of measurement, in terms of what might speed itself be measured? Clearly a norm must have something in common with what is measured, yet atthe same time it transcends what is measured. The same problem emerged from Augustine's considerations of time: God's eternity has to be postulated to explain the unity of past, present, and future -without some commonality they cannot be distinguished from and compared to each other - yet God's eternity cannot be measured by man's mind.[6] In all these "physical" problems, dealing with the stuff of this world, analogy is clearly involved. But analogy seems paradoxical since it affirms both similarity and dissimilarity.

Paradox and Analogy

These reflections recall the limitations of human knowledge, which constantly arrives at or produces paradoxes. Space and time have seemed both continuous and discontinuous from Zeno's paradoxes up to current debates about the reality of electrons and photons: are they (continuous) waves or (discrete) particles? Yet more is involved. On the one hand human thought presupposes universally valid laws; otherwise it could wind up with contradictions or basic incomprehensibility. On the other hand the human mind cannot establish itself in its finitude and contingency as the ultimate judge of reality. Hence, human knowing oscillates between determinism and contingency. Man's cognition thereby corresponds to the hylomorphic structure of reality [i.e. to the way in which physical objects aredefined by a combination of matter and form]. Lest human inquiry be frustrated in its root, knowing presupposes a correspondence between itself and reality in one way or another. Such is the classical definition of truth. Classical philosophy understands man and all sensible reality as a combination of form and matter. Form is an intelligible universal, what can be abstracted from the hylomorphic composite. But matter is the principle of individuality, which the abstracting human mind cannot grasp in itself. Since truth involves the conformity between mind and being, i.e. reality, and "matter" cannot be understood, matter must be "non-being." Paradoxically "non-being" exists because it contributes to the constitution of the sensible world around us.
Matter is the equivalent of chaos, that which is without intelligibility. But chaos cannot be recognised unless it is contrasted with order. If everything were chaotic, language and intelligence would not exist. Conversely, if everything in sensible creation were reduced to deterministic order, no one would recognise it. The very act of recognition withdraws the subject from the object being observed and analysed. On this basis existentialist philosophers revolted against the deterministic philosophical theories which dominated a great deal of thought at the end of the nineteenth century. By emphasising the "alienation" of the subject, the pour-soi, from the object, the en-soi, philosophers such as Sartre and Camus concluded that reality is absurd. For Sartre "existence"denotes the individual and is the equivalent of "non-being." His celebrated saying that existence precedes essence, once it is translated into classical terms, means only that non-being precedes the essences formally constructed by human thought. When nothingness is king, no laws hold and absurdity rules.[7]

Such existentialism in many ways resuscitates medieval nominalism. The late medievals, however, were more pious than their 20th-century heirs. They arrived at their nominalism precisely because an infinite creator God existed, whose mind could not be fathomed. Material individuals are real and they are known by the God who created them. But the human mind can grasp neither the reality of individuals nor the mind of God. At best by approaching individuals from without, the human mind can establish provisional categories permitting some pragmatic generalisations to guide action. But the nominalists trusted that a good God upheld the universe and for that reason their intellectual probings were not completely vain. Nonetheless their distrust of universals went a long way toward undercuttingthe analogy which instils confidence into human thought and supplies the presupposition for biblical revelation.

Freedom and Analogy

The unintelligibility of the world not only destroys the root of science, it also deprives man of any meaningful freedom. Sartre understood freedom as the arbitrary postulation of values which are created by their very choice. Not only does man suffer "anxiety" because he has no objective reason for any choice, but the values are mortal, perishing with their "creator".[8] Sartre was doubtless revolting against the determinism of scientists like Laplace and Freud. Pushing Newtonian determinism to the extreme, the former wrote, "We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future." Freud denied human freedom lest it introduce irrationality into the world. He insisted on a necessary causal linkbetween every choice and its determining precedents; otherwise "science" would be overthrown and with it all hope for humanity. In practice, however, Freud presupposed that his patients would be able to change their lives once they became aware of the sources of the psychological mechanisms disrupting their behaviour.[9] As so often happens, theory and practice do not coincide. Abstractions do not completely cover real individuals.

Human freedom presupposes some intelligibility in the world; otherwise man would have no reason for his choice and would thus be reduced to the state of the brute beasts. Yet the intelligibility available to him cannot be exhaustive and determining. He must leave some room for indetermination or chance. Classical philosophy allowed for chance because, despite all its insistence on intelligible causes, it recognised that the coincidence of several causal series in the "here and now" cannot be totally foreseen.

One can amusingly expand upon Maritain's version of Aristotle's explanation by recounting the story of the Athenian travelling from Athens to Megara.[10] Upon his departure his friends presented him with a spicy sausage. Its consumption along the journey left him thirsty. Seeing some water dripping down the side of a rock, he climbed up to its source in a pool hollowed out by time. A band of robbers, however, had selected a nearby cave for a hideaway because of its proximity to water. Emerging from their hidden den to perpetrate another crime, they were seen by the Athenian traveller. To prevent their discovery being reported to the authorities the bandits killed the traveller. Were his friends then responsible for his death because theyhad given him the sausage? Certainly, without the donated sausage the Athenian would not have died, but much more was involved than a sausage. One might assign causes, or reasons, for the dripping water, the position of the pool near the road, the choice of the cave, the emergence of the bandits, the presence of the Athenian, the decision to kill him, etc., but his death resulted from the coincidence of many causal series in the "here and now" or "there and then" of his murder. Since the "here and now" indicates a unique position in space and time, it is equivalents "matter." Thus the presence of matter does not explain, but allows for the chance or contingency of many events. Since free acts all occur in individual "heres and nows" matter prevents history from being reduced to adetermined series of events and, without denying causality, leaves room for freedom. In this way classical philosophy effects the reconciliation in theory of freedom and intelligibility. While the individual instance is not equated to the universal law or abstraction, it does not destroy the relative intelligibility required for freedom but permits the application of reason to free choice.[11]

Analogy and God

In protesting against random natural selection as the universe's guiding principle Cardinal Schonborn was defending intelligibility and ultimately science itself against the neo-Darwinians who preach randomness. Pure randomness is chaotic and meaningless. But the cardinal was also defending the Catholic position that God can be known through created works (Rom. 1:20). Naturally all the rational proofs of God's existence have to employ analogy whether they appeal to man's interior experience of knowing and loving or to his understanding of the external world. St. Anselm best synthesised the first method, arguing that the mind's necessary grounding in truth must surpass all contingency to arrive at a Being whose existence is necessary. Since the truth grounding knowledge cannot be arbitraryor contingent, yet nothing finite can ground its own existence, there must be a Being, than which nothing greater can be thought, who supplies the final necessity for all thought.[12]

The argument is brilliant and powerful. Its difficulty, however, resides in this dilemma. If, on the one hand, the human mind really knows by necessity, it need not go outside itself for the grounding of its thought; but that would be to make the finite absolute, rendering it necessary. If, on the other hand, the human mind belongs to a rational animal, whose being is contingent, all its arguments are laced through and through with contingency; they cannot prove necessarily. Anselm was clearly seeking to uphold the balance of analogy between Infinite and finite because he did not want to refer all human meaning to nothingness. He realised that intelligence illuminates reality, but to be consistent with itself it has to point beyond itself; the mind must turn upward if its quest forgreater illumination is to be fulfilled, even if final fulfilment does not come in this life.

Analogously in their Aristotelian appeal to the sensate order of the external world St. Thomas's five ways rely on the insufficiency of the universe to explain itself. The human mind seeks causes, be they final, efficient, or formal. A formal cause responds to the question why a being is such as it is; a final cause explains why or for what purpose something acts or exists; an efficient cause seeks the why, or reason, for a perceived motion from without. Since regression in an infinite series of causes explains nothing - the human mind cannot comprehend the infinite, be its extension temporal, spatial, or spiritual - there must be, so goes the argument, a First Cause.[13] This First Cause must be similar to the other causes, since He is aFirst Cause; yet He is also dissimilar since, as First Cause, He is uncaused. Analogy must be employed if the universe has an ultimate intelligibility, an answer to man's basic question "why?" The employment of analogous language is all the more indispensable if God is recognised as infinite; an infinite Cause is in His transcendence unlike all finite causes, which can be opposed to their effects. Agnostics and atheists refute such "proofs" by insisting on the dissimilarity between the First Cause and all other causes; they reject the leap from the series of relative causes to an absolute First Cause. By doing so, they ultimately preclude a final intelligibility of the universe, or at least one that can be affirmed by men.

Similar conundrums arise in modern physics. In Newtonian physics an infinitely extended space and time allow for infinite causal series. But series of efficient causes in space or time are unintelligible; one never arrives at a final answer explaining the origin and goal of motion. Similarly a spatial universe infinitely extended is inconceivable. Without any centre nothing can be objectively measured. Moreover, since an infinitely extended universe must contain an infinite number of bodies, each exerting a gravitational attraction upon the others, the infinite force exerted must result in the splintering of finite bodies subject to their attraction. But the Earth and other bodies maintain their solidity.[14] Einstein avoided suchconundrums by postulating a curved space turned back upon itself.[15] There results a finite, self-contained universe apparently hanging on nothing in space. What limits it from without cannot be answered any more satisfactorily than the Hindu philosopher's postulation of an elephant standing upon a turtle standing upon a serpent, etc, to explain why the universe maintains its position in space.[16]

Analogously regarding time, the Big Bang theory hypothesises an original moment when a minute speck of reality exploded into the energy-mass continuum constituting our universe. How so much comes from next to nothing presents a problem.[17] The human mind cannot explain something from nothing nor imagine a beginning time without a previous time. For that reason most ancient pagan philosophers rejected the Christian Creator.[18] Perhaps a similar dissatisfaction with the apparent production of something from nothing leads to those exponents of string theory who try to go behind the Big Bang's initial moment. In either case the mind is faced with a conundrum: an endless regress withoutpossibility of finding a First Efficient Cause, or ultimate reason, on the one hand, or an absolute beginning without necessity, on the other. At all events the physicist and the philosopher have a choice: either the infinite supporting the finite structures of intelligibility is material and hence meaningless or there is a personal Infinite, whose intelligibility surpasses human intelligibility even while supporting its analogous understanding.

The Mystery of God's Love

Precisely because the Catholic Church believes in a good creator God on the basis of Jesus' resurrection, it affirms a supra-intelligibility and a supra-intelligence for the universe. Because it knows that God appeals to human freedom, human freedom can find intelligible signs indicating God's existence and will for men. Insofar as this finite world cannot explain itself in terms of itself, the reason for its being and intelligibility must lie beyond it. The finite human mind cannot comprehend God's infinite mystery, but it can have some awareness of God, reading the signs of His presence and activity in the world. The world is a parable of God for those who have the eyes to see. Just as God's infinity does not crush or exclude but creates and supports finitude, just as God's omnipotencedoes not destroy but empowers human freedom, so also God's knowledge does not render human knowledge void or superfluous but gives it its source, ground and goal. The finite is grounded in the Infinite in its being, knowing and acting.[19]

If the biblical God is a God of love - Christianity draws the ultimate conclusion about that in affirming a Trinity of self-giving divine persons - the human response to God should occur in freedom. Knowledge does not exist for its own sake but in order to point to the objective mystery surpassing it. Hence there must be reasons for obedience and love which cannot force the consent of faith but which help to motivate and support the choice of love in return for love.

In a paradisiacal world where God's goodness was readily experienced in created things, it would have been relatively easy to affirm God's existence with certitude. But in a fallen world, tainted by sin, where selfishness, suffering and death deface the primordial goodness of the world, further signs are needed for man's sake. That is why God initiated a history of salvific revelation aimed at liberating human freedom. The great deeds done for the fathers and the people of Israel bear witness to the concrete reality of God's protective love for His people. Christians see the supreme sign of love in Jesus' death and resurrection. There, as John Paul II frequently pointed out, they learn that love is stronger than sin and death.[20] Love isnot a theory excogitated by a philosopher in an easy chair. It is a reality realised on the altar of the cross, a reality rooted in the deepest depths of God. For in Jesus Love became incarnate and was lived in a human nature to the end, and that end was just the beginning for the rest of mankind. However vigorously the Catholic Church defends human reason, a necessary presupposition of freedom for love, even defining that reason can know with certitude God's existence, the reason envisaged cannot be a deterministic reason that would banish all ambiguity and freedom. For the Church simultaneously insists that faith's certitude surpasses the certitude of reason.[21] It has done so not just because de facto not many people would bewilling to give their lives for the principle of contradiction while countless believers have sacrificed their lives for Jesus Christ. More profoundly, it recognises that by accepting Jesus Christ in faith and loving Him, that choice is grounded in God Himself. Because Jesus died freely for sinners, His initiative broke their hardened hearts and converted them to Himself. In that love the greatest unity is combined with the greatest diversity. The lover seeks the greatest union with the beloved but does not seek the beloved's absorption; he wants the beloved to remain different in unity. That is the deepest truth of the Trinity, and it is applied analogously to man for his salvation.
In the freedom of love unity and diversity, similarity and dissimilarity, are both preserved and elevated to a divine level. Thus the ultimate grounding of analogy is love. Man is the image of God, i.e. the analogy of God, for in loving each other men love God. Only God can ground the absolute commitment and fidelity inherent in love. No finite creature dare say to another, "You have to love me; you have to give your life for me." Love happens because one is pulled out of oneself to acknowledge the goodness of another. That is the attraction of God working originally in marriage, which John Paul II identified as the primordial sacrament.[22] Once that image of love was desecrated by sin, it had to be recast in the furnace of divine love.The Incarnation marks the moment when the image of the invisible God became man, renewing man's image in a new creation so that men might become in Him who they were forever intended to be in God's eyes, the image of the God who is love (Eph. 1:3-10). Jesus is then the living analogy of God, and it is not by chance that He expressed His message in parables and gave Himself in finite symbols.[23]
Biblical religion holds that man was made in love for love. Human reason cannot explain itself: it cannot make itself absolute. In the mystery of matter, or corporeal individuality, it strikes a limit to its knowing. It is then forced in freedom to choose either to postulate a fundamental nothingness or absurdity in existence, thus denying intelligibility and destroying itself, or to transcend itself toward the infinite God of love who has made Himself known through the finite, visible structures of this world. God's love is mediated, however imperfectly, to the newborn child in and through the frail vessel of matrimony. Because humans are so weak in their love, so easily distracted, so fearful of love's sacrifice, God Himself had to strengthen the weak vessel of flesh by taking fleshupon Himself and showing of what it is capable. He demonstrated the goodness that created flesh can bear in sacrificing itself for love. Thus Christian faith presupposes and deepens faith in a creator God, and Jesus Christ is truly, in the words of Stanley Jaki, "the saviour of science" as well as the redeemer of man.[24]

Back to the Neo-Darwinians

A developed notion of analogy easily resolves the difficulty invented by the editors of The New York Times. Neo-Darwinians start with sensible experience. They study individual relics of bygone eras remote from themselves in time. They apply great ingenuity in teasing out similarities or connections among their "finds." But there is no straightforward line of ascent or decline. Evolutionary theories have changed so much in the forty years since I first studied cultural anthropology that the assured "facts" which I learned have been superseded by new theories. There are many gaps in the record, and the relics, as befits the dead, tell no unambiguous tales.
Even as new discoveries close some of the physical gaps, the riddles are not necessarily more easily deciphered. Sometimes they become even more incomprehensible, almost mysteries. The eye either sees or serves no imaginable purpose. How then did its immense complexity evolve so quickly? Similarly the enormous skeletal changes between upright man and his buckled-over simian ancestor have to be explained. How could some intermediate "link" survive if it could neither swing away in the trees from proximate danger nor see a distant peril in time for flight? How did language ever develop without teachers when a child's window of linguistic receptivity is so very limited? Why does a quantitative augmentation of cranium capacity imply a qualitative increase in intelligence? Do we really knowwhat constitutes life? Efforts to reproduce it in laboratories have repeatedly failed, although not so long ago scientists confidently predicted the achievement of that milestone.[25]

The students of evolution have to postulate a progression towards mankind since all but the most obtuse recognise a qualitative difference between man and the beasts. But they do not understand the inherent intelligibility of that movement. God stands outside the parameters of their science since He cannot be exhumed or measured. Like many other post-Enlightenment scientists, they are wary of final causes. Like Hume, since they are limited by sensible experience, they cannot uncover a necessity connecting the various data of their discoveries. They have become more humble or at least more hypothetical in propounding their theories. That advance is to be applauded. But when any scientist "explains" any event or series of events by appeal to randomness or chance, he is not doing science.Randomness has no inherent intelligibility. At most the scientist may employ that word to indicate the limitations of his knowledge, but to make a universal statement about the development of the human race in terms of randomness far transcends the evidence. All science deals with hypotheses since no "fact" can be recognised without a wider horizon of meaning, and that meaning does not let itself be deduced from any higher fact or proposition. All the more hypothetical must be a science whose field of experimentation consists of partial tokens of remote events.[26]

For all that, neo-Darwinian evolutionists can look upon their science as the study of a random progression. They are close to material remains and, as noted above, there is no final human intelligibility in material individuals. Individual instances apparently happen at random. It is the role of intelligence to make sense out of those instances. Analogies among them are discovered in the elaboration of hypotheses, and a greater intelligence can discover wider and deeper analogies, more comprehensive theories. In that sense the study of evolution is grounded in randomness. But to insist that evolution itself is random transgresses the limits inherent to any science restricted to material instances.

Were evolution ultimately random, there would be no intelligibility in the universe and all study of it would be doomed to the frustration of post-modern hypothesising. If evolutionists wish to preserve their science as "knowledge," they might describe their method as concerned with the collection, comparison, and ordering of apparently random mutations and events, but they can never give chaos as the final explanation of the reality studied. Ultimate explanations rest with God, whose ways surpass our ways. His mysterious judgments - the mysteries of His love - have to be accepted if there is to be any hope at all for human intelligence. In his defence of design Cardinal Schonborn did evolutionists a favour. He was defending their science, encouraging them to look for intelligible signsin the universe. Admittedly the best attempts to read the signs of design in creation remain human hypotheses, subject to criticism and revision, but without divine design there would be neither analogous intelligence nor analogous science.

Finally, without God there would be no resurrection, the divine sign illuminating the ambiguity of fallen existence. If that illumination empowers believers to find signs of design in creation, who can affirm that their insight is less scientific than the neo-Darwinian hypotheses? Of course, the mere complexity of creation or the inability of a theory to explain certain "gaps" does not allow anyone to conclude immediately that God exists. Complexity depends upon human analysis, which implies intelligibility, while the lack of intelligibility allows no conclusion whatever. Some "intelligent design" proponents are overhasty in joining the intelligibility of the one to the unintelligibility of the other in order to find God in creation.[27]The material evidence itself is ambivalent because it is offered to human freedom, but only those who find design in creation, a providential design surpassing all human reconstructions, can uphold the final meaningfulness of human reason.
Next issue: A discussion on this piece.

The footnotes in the original article were longer

[1] J. Maritain, Sept lecons sur I'etre (Paris: Tequi, 1934), pp. 23-34; —, Science etsagesse (Paris: Labergerie, 1935), 42-55, 63-65; —, The Range of Reason (New York: Scribner's, 1952), 6-18.
[2] Thomas; Summa Theologiae I, q. 16 indicates the analogous meanings of truth.
[3] Cf T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. (Chicago: U. of Chicago, 1970), esp 92-110.
[4] W. Heisenberg, "Fresh Fields (1926-1927)," in Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, tr. A. Pomerans (New York: Harper &Row, 1971), 79-81.
[5] Cf E. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, 2nd ed. (1932; rpt. Garden City: Doubleday, 1954), 244-264, 284-297. Cf A. Jammer, Concepts of Space: The History of Theories of Space in Physics (Cambridge: Harvard, 1957), 112f, for Clarke's defense of Newton. The unanswered question remains how an infinite absolute can subsist alongside God. Cf. J. Hagen, "Laplace, Pierre-Simon," in The Catholic Encyclopaedia, ed. C. Herbermann et al, VIII, (New York: Appleton, 1910), 797, and D. Brouwer, "Laplace, Pierre Simon de," in New Catholic Encyclopaedia, ed. W. McDonald et al (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967), VIII, 383. On Einstein's awareness of Newtonian problems with absolute time and space cf. his1933 Spencer lecture "On the Method of Theoretical Physics," cited in A. Pais, 'Subtle is the Lord...': The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), 133f; —, "Einstein, Newton, and Success," Einstein: A Centenary Volume, ed. A. French (Cambridge: Harvard, 1979), 35; and Einstein's Relativity: The Special and General Theory, 15th ed., tr. R. Lawson (1952; rpt. New York: Crown, 1961), 9-24,105-107.
[6] Cf Augustine, Confessiones, XI, 15-31 (18-41).
[7] A. Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, tr. J. O'Brien (New York: Random House, 1955), 12-16; J. Sartre, Existentialism, tr. B. Frechtman (New York: Philosophical Library, 1947), 15-28, 56-61; —, Being and Nothingness, tr. H. Barnes (1953; rpt New York: Washington Square, 1966), 9-85, 784-798.
[8] Sartre, Existentialism, 21-28, 46f
[9] The Laplace quote is from Oeuvres Completes (Paris: Gautier Villars, 1878-1912), VIII, p. 144, as cited in T Williams, The Idea of the Miraculous: The Challenge to Science and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1990), p. 141. On Laplace's "demon" or "superhuman intelligence" to which "nothing would be uncertain and the future, as the past, would be present to its eyes," cf. R. Harre, "Laplace, Simon Pierre de," The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, ed. P. Edwards, VI (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 392. On Freud cf. H. Ruppelt, "Das Freiheitsverstandnis in Psychologie und Ethik," Zeitschriftfur Katholische Theologie 99 (1977), 25-46.
[10] Maritain, Sept lecons, 153-55; cp. Aristotle, Metaphysics VI, 3,1027b 1-5.
[11] For the pragmatic complementarity of law and freedom (spontaneity) cf. C. Peirce, ;'The Doctrine of Necessity Examined," in Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, ed. C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1934-1935), VI, 28-45 (par. 35-64), and V Potter, S.J., Charles S. Peirce on Norms and Ideals (Worcester: U. of Massachusetts, 1967), esp. 133-47;.
[12] Anselm, Proslogion, 1,1 -5. [13]Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3.
[14] S. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (Toronto: Bantam, 1988), 5, cites Newton's letter for a universe infinitely extended; the universe would not crunch together because infinity has no centre. But Einstein, 105f, sees that the infinite lines of force on any body would result in a field of infinite intensity, which is impossible; hence he argues that Newton had to postulate for his universe "a kind of centre in which the density of the stars is a maximum, and that as we proceed outwards from this centre the group-density of the stars would diminish, until finally, at great distances, it is succeeded by an infinite region of emptiness." This postulation, however, he also found insufficient.
 [15] Einstein, 105-114. Cf. also Hawking, 40,151.
[16] Although upholders of general relativity theory maintain the unintelligibility of such questions, the questions are unintelligible only within their system Riemannian space depends for basic concepts upon Euclidean geometry, which is then transcended. But the origin of transcendence, be it Euclidean geometry or ordinary experience, can never be obliterated by later speculative constructions. Precisely because Euclid employed abstractions — a dimensionless point does not exist in the real world — his geometry falls short of reality. All other geometries likewise fall short of reality. They employ abstractions. Hence one can ask in what space or on what a finite universe stands. Cf. W. Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (1958;rpt New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 56,175-176, 200-2002, recognised the validity of Euclidean geometry in its sphere and noted that the concepts of ordinary language are more stable than scientific concepts because the former are closer to reality whereas the latter are “idealisations." Abstractions break down at the edges, the infinitely small and the enormously large, and the language developed to explain the edges must refer to the primary concepts to which they are complementary. Ibid., 125: "Every word or concept, clear as it may seem to be, has only a limited range of applicability." Man's self-conscious, reflective unity-in-duality, means that metaphysics complements physics, metalanguage complements language, statistical analyses and classical laws complement each other, andvarious physical theories complement Newton's. Cf. J. McDermott, S.J., "Maritain: Natural Science, Philosophy and Theology," in Teologia e science nelmondo contemporaneo, ed. D Mongillo (Milan: Massimo, 1989), 227-244.
[17] Hawking, 46, notes that at the Big Bang moment "the density of the universe and the curvature of space-time would have been infinite," yet "because mathematics cannot really handle infinite numbers, ... the general theory of relativity ... itself breaks down."
[18] Cf Augustine, De civitate Dei, XI, 4; R. Wallis, Neoplatonism, 2nd ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1995), 102f For Aristotle cf. Phy. VIII, If 250bll-253a21; 6-8 258bl0-265al2; De caelo III, 2 302al-9; Metaphy. Ill, 4 999b4-l 6; VII, 7; 1032b30f; XII, 6 1071b6-ll; for Plotinus cf. Enneads II, 4, 5; 111,2, 1; V, 8,14; 18, 9. Most ancient interpreters understood the Timaeus' arche to regard a metaphysical, not a temporal, principle: Wallis, 20, 65, 68, 77,102f
[19] For the metaphysical grounding of these statements cf. J. McDermott, S.J., "Faith, Reason, and Freedom," Irish Theological Quarterly 67 (2002), 307-332.
[20] Cf Redemptor Hominis 9; Dives in Misericordia 8; Evangetium Vitae 51, 81, 86.
[21] In claiming that "nothing is more certain nor more secure than our faith" Pius IX referred to external signs of credibility (DS 2780), Yet previous tradition referred faith to God's freely given grace (DS 375, 378, 396-400, 1525,1553,2813) with which man must cooperate for salvation (DS 1525, 1554f). Faithful to it, Vatican I recognised that faith involves a free act which cannot "be produced necessarily by arguments of human reason" (DS 3035, 3010); hence the Council added to those external signs the "internal helps of the Holy Spirit" so that the former might be "most certain signs of divine revelation adapted to every intelligence" (DS 3009f, 3033f); as a result faith relies on "a most firm foundation" and "none can ever have a justreason for changing or doubting that same faith" (DS 3014, 3036; 2119-2121). Cf. also Pius XII (DS 3876).
[22] Mulieris Dignitatem 29; The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan (Boston: Pauline, 1997), 76, 333-336, 341-354.
[23] "Parable" properly understood finds its deepest grounding in "sacrament": cf. J. McDermott, S.J., "Jesus: Parable or Sacrament of God?" Gregorianum 78 (1997), 477-499; 79 (1998), 543-564.
[24] S. Jaki, O.S.B., The Savior of Science (Washington: Regnery Gateway, 1988).
[25] In his discourse to the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences, August 22,1996, John Paul II spoke of "an ontological jump" that occurs when man is considered. But he found the discontinuity to depend upon a different point of view from "the sciences of observation" dealing with the "experimental level" since man's spiritual moral conscience and freedom are not caught by them (Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XIX/2-1996 (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1998), 574f. The "gaps" to which our text refers, however, are problems to sciences of observation. Modern studies in DNA may reveal how an apparently small change in regulatory genes can effect momentous changes in morphological and physiological aspects of the organismsinvolved. But why the changes should occur at all and at the time that they do and why they should advantageously adapt the organisms to their environment and not produce monstrosities so different from their environmentally adapted parents, monstrosities which would normally be condemned to a quick extinction, that is a mystery. Appeals to randomness mean that science has hit an obstacle..
[26] K. Miller, Finding Darwin's God: A. Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution (New York: HarperColliins, 1999), 53f, distinguishes the "fact" of evolution, grounded on so much evidence, from various theories of evolution. But evolution is more than change, and every theory accepts as evidence only what fits the theory. Nineteenth century physicists considered gravitation a fact, but Einstein altered their understanding of gravitation, just as Newton altered Aristotle's. New questions may provide new parameters and change biologists' understanding of evidence. Cf. following note.
[27] K. Miller, 57-164, uncovers the inconsistencies and difficulties in major proponents of "intelligent design." His own reliance upon Darwinian biological mechanism to explain evolution does not admit final causes. Yet he realises that quantum physics excludes pure determinism and so opens the way to a reconciliation of evolution with human freedom and divine providence. But once randomness is introduced into an explanatory science, "mechanism," understood as a necessitating chain of efficient causes, no longer suffices as an explanation. Room is left for other types of causes. The body is not a machine but has an implanted teleology. Biological laws are not simply reduced to laws of physics. Why should not final cause also be admittedas a complementary way of explaining biological processes and "evolution"?

Faith Magazine

May - June 2011