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Philosophy of Evolution: Human Apex

The Scholastic Solutions


The Neo-Scholastics do have answers to questions about the future of man.  Further, the Neo-Scholastic answers are much more extensive than the traditional Evolutionists.

First, in answer to the likelihood of the future biological evolution of man, Neo-Scholastics answer that in the negative. Man himself is the goal of the world, the end of evolution, according to Renard, Hugon, and Benignus. Consider each in turn.

Renard views man as the terminal goal of evolution.54 Renard argues that man is a rational (soul) animal (body). The true definition of man postulates this composite nature of soul and body. No efficient cause, not even God, could produce a creature possessing the nature of man which would not be composed of body and soul. Thus a man who is not rational, or a man who is not an animal, would not be a man. Man would be a non-man, which is opposed to the principle of contradiction.

Hugon argues against the future biological evolution of man.55 The proximate goal of the world is the perfection of creatures, especially rational creatures, so progress is admitted which more and more evolves as man becomes more and more proficient in the arts and sciences. But because every creature has its determined mode of being and operation, none can progress without some end, or the species would disappear and the creature perish.

Benignus argues that matter can evolve into an infinite number of things but they will all be material. Matter cannot evolve itself into the immaterial.56

Second, in answer to the question about whether cultural evolution will take the place of biological evolution for the human species, several Neo-Scholastics answer in the affirmative. Nogar believes culture will predominate.57

Cultural evolution has already taken the place of biological evolution in the Humanist Movement. The title of humanist is not exclusive to the lay philosopher, but can be applied to Pope John Paul II, who affirmed human dignity and the importance of human reason in moral and ethical questions.58 In his message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1996, Pope John Paul II also explained why the Magisterium is interested in theories of evolution, precisely because of the impact on the vision concerning the human person, who is created in the image and likeness of God.59 Accordingly, the seeming change of emphasis from the abstract study of Neo-Scholasticsm to the papal teaching on the practical issues of social justice and option for the poor is more of an application of doctrine to practice than a lack of consideration for Neo-Scholasticism. Equally, in those Neo-Scholastics who became Liberation Theologians, we see the application of philosophy to the ever more urgent needs of the times.

Cultural evolution has already taken the place of biological evolution if man is responsible for the care of the world. De Finance notes that the development of man makes man an agent of history, so that we should not just think of biology but of social and spiritual values, for the world would not be what it is without man.60 Mondin notes that the world has a need to be integrated by man, and without man the universe lacks a subject to understand it.61

Third, in answer to the question about the final goal of man, Mondin and Hellin argue to the final goal of creation, especially the special goal of man.62 Gonzalez notes that the goal of man cannot be in this world. Gonzalez then argues that the only sufficient goal that will satisfy man is the possession of God. Klubertanz notes the intrinsic independence of the soul.63 Bittle considers the restoration of man in resurrection, from a philosophical point of view.64 Consider Modin, Hellin, Gonzalez, Klubertanz and Bittle.

Mondin argues that there is a goal of the universe is admitted by almost all philosophers from Anaxagoras up to Kant. Mondin notes that the teleological argument has been a recurring issue in philosophy and considered by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Plotinus, Origin, Augustin, Avicenna, Anselm, Albertus Magnus, Bonaventure, Nicholas of Cusa, Descartes, Leibniz and Kant. For Neo-Scholastics there is a double goal of the universe. God created the universe primarily for the good of God. God also created the universe for the good of creatures.65

Hellin argues a priori that God has a special providential care of man.66 God has established a most special goal for man, which demands very special means. But if God wills the goal, God must also will the means, because of His Divine Wisdom. Therefore, God does provide man with most special means in proportion to man’s most special goal. The minor proposition is evident. The major proposition is proved two ways: first, God imposed on man the role of glorifying God and following reason, which is not imposed on irrational creatures; second, since the goal is intrinsically supernatural then the means provided man must also be most specially supernatural. From this it is easy to conclude that man is the apex of creation. Benignus agrees that "Man has a glorious destiny; God did not make man to live a few years and then doom him to death and destruction."67

Gonzalez provides a number of arguments that man is destined to perfect beatitude.68 Man is destined to perfect beatitude from man’s own innate appetite for beatitude; from the nature of the human will, which has the desire for good; from the constant and universal desire for full satisfaction in the attainment of good; and no one opposes a desire to do good. Perfect beatitude is man’s ultimate internal goal from the very nature of ultimate internal goal.69

Gonzalez and Donat argue that perfect happiness cannot be obtained in this life.70 He argues from the concept of perfect beatitude, which excludes anything bad and includes the fulfillment of all desires. In this life there are many bad things, and all our desires are not able to be obtained here. So perfect happiness cannot be obtained in this life.

Gonzalez argues that God is the necessary and sufficient object of human beatitude. God is the necessary object of human beatitude, because the properties of beatitude, that the object has to have perfect truth and goodness, are found only in God.71 God is also the sufficient object of human beatitude.72

Bittle considers the restoration of man in the resurrection after death. He notes the argument that the condition of man as a truncated being would entail an incomplete happiness.73 But man is destined for full happiness in the next life. Secondly, the body was the bridge of communication between the spirit of man and the physical world, and soul and body formed one nature. Third, an argument per impossibilem would be that the soul, the form of the body in this life, and the soul, subsistent and immortal in the next life, would have two natural forms of existence, which is not rationally satisfying. Finally, Bittle argues that man is by nature an organism of which the body is an integral substantial part. These arguments do not provide absolute proof of the resurrection of the body, but are an argumentum suasivum that incline us to believe at least the possibility of the full restoration of man even after death.74

Fourth, the concept of evolution applied to the future of man is equivocal. Equivocal indicates predication where the verbal term is identical, but the concepts have no connection in the mind.75 Nogar says, "These papers (at the Darwin Centennial Celebration at the University of Chicago in 1959 composed of fifty international experts on evolution reporting) on cultural anthropology, archaeology, psychology and language not only show this radical change in the concept of evolution as it is applied to man, but they even show a strong tendency to ignore the concept of man’s prehistory and concentrate upon man as he is now known to be fashioner of his own future."76 Darwin does not impose evolution on a grand scheme of biological, or cosmic, history but the origin of the species.77 The general meaning of the term "evolution" is tied to biological transformation of species by mutation and natural selection. Philosophical Evolutionism may attempt of extend that meaning.78 Herbert Spencer and some others wish to extend the term "evolution" to the level of a universal law that pertains to all transformation in the universe. Those followers of Darwin, notably Huxley and Spencer in England and Hackel in Germany, made unwarranted extensions of the theory into fields of philosophy and ethics. The extension of "evolution" is not univocal, as explained by Norgar.79 The extension of "evolution" is not analogous, as explained by Renard.80 The extension of "evolution" is equivocal, as explained by Nogar.81

Author:  John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
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