Philosophy of Evolution: Not Atheistic

The Scholastic Solutions


Atheistic Evolution Is Logically Impossible,
And Equivocal

The first argument is from the Principle of Contradiction. Evolutionism proves atheism necessary, or not. But Evolutionism does not prove atheism necessary. But again evolutionary atheism alleges necessity. Therefore, evolutionary atheism is not necessary.

The major premise in the above argument is the principle of contradiction, since something is necessary or not. The minor premise is proved from philosophy (department of theodicy) that the works of God are more than just creation, and also proved by the existence of theistic evolutionists like Teilhard de Chardin. The second minor premise is not proved by evolution without God verses creation with God, since God operates elsewhere and otherwise in the cosmos, and therefore the second minor premise is just an opinion without proof. Therefore the conclusion follows that atheistic Evolutionism is not necessary.

A second argument that atheistic evolution is impossible arises from the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Everything must have a sufficient reason to establish its certainty. But evolutionary atheism does not have sufficient reason to establish its certainty. Therefore, evolutionary atheism lacks certainty.

The major premise is the principle of sufficient reason. The minor premise is correct for several reasons: first, the logic is wrong to go from evolutionary atheism (a particular) to prove general atheism (an universal); second, the reasons were not sufficient to prevent theistic evolutionists like Teilhard de Chardin; third, God operates in the cosmos in more ways than in just creation of species, and even there, God would be more likely, according to the Neo-Scholastics, to use secondary causes; and fourth, if the proper form of each body is enough to explain the particular operation of that body, it is not enough to explain different living bodies, different operations, and how all are ordered in a harmonious whole65. Therefore, it follows for a number of reasons that evolutionary atheism lacks certainty.

A third argument that atheistic evolution is impossible arises from the Principle of Finality. This argument is especially directed at such popular theories as Emergent Evolution, Creative Evolution, and Naturalistic Evolution, which all deny extrinsic transcendental finality, which is a denial of the Principle of Finality.66 First, an emerging universe with no extrinsic cause (God) would be in process for an infinite time, which is a physical impossibility due to entropy. Second, an emerging universe with no extrinsic cause would be moving itself, but to be mover and moved in the same motion violates the Principle of Contradiction. Third, an emerging universe with no extrinsic cause would leave nature completely unexplained, e.g., the river cannot supply itself but is fed by streams watered by rain.

A fourth argument that atheistic evolution is impossible arises from the Principle of Causality. If observable and sensible things were ordered by chance alone, there would be an effect without a cause for the very order of things. So the sensible datum seek a cause, which is God.67

In addition to the above a priori arguments, there can be an argument a posteriori that there is no connection between evolution and atheism is the fact that some Evolutionists are also theists. Teilhard de Chardin, the Dominican priest Leroy, and Dorlodot are theistic promoters of evolution.68 Marquart notes that these "promoters of universal evolution are some Animists who hold: first, the necessity of final cause and some formal principle to explain the evolution of the living; second, the soul of man created by God; third, evolution monophylitic or polyphylitic preordained or directed by God (the biosphere of Teilhard de Chardin is an example of monophylitic evolution); fourth, special divine intervention between the origin of plants and the origin of animals so specifically diverse; and fifth, that man’s body may have evolved." In 2006, the Stanford University biologist Joan Roughgarden published Evolution and the Christian Faith, which provides what she calls "a strong Christian defense" of evolutionary biology, illustrating the major points of evolution with biblical passages.69

In addition to the a priori arguments above from the Principle of Contradiction, the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and the Principle of Finality; and also in addition to the above argument a posteriori, the opinions of some Neo-Scholastics are helpful to support the thesis.

Calcagno rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God.70 He gives a lengthy list of errors about the existence of God, including atheism.71 He gives a useful classification of atheists, already noted above.72 He generally follows the five proofs for the existence of God that are found in St. Thomas.

Carroll rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God.73 An evolving universe is still a created universe. No explanation of evolutionary change challenges the metaphysical account of creation, by which the existence of all things depend on God as their cause. Carroll notes, "When some thinkers deny creation on the basis of theories of evolution, or reject evolution in a defense of creation, they misunderstand creation or evolution, or both" (page 4).

Donat rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. Atheists without merit assert that the evolution of the universe makes the creator superfluous.74 He asserts the intervention of God, saying: "Nor is this (evolutionary) hypothesis able to be commended in this, that the origin of organisms from more natural causes makes a diminution of divine intervention; nonetheless the divine creative act is necessary to produce a primitive cell (virtually containing in itself already the perfection of the higher grades of life).75

Gardeil follows the proof of St. Thomas for the existence of God, and implicitly rejects atheism. Gardeil cites St. Thomas, noting, "That God exists can be proved in five ways. The first and more evident way is the one taken from motion. It is certain and evident to the senses that some things in this world are in motion."76 Although Aristotle argued from two principles (That whatever is moved is moved by another; It is impossible for a series of moved movers to be infinite), St. Thomas uses more fundamental propositions: "That a being cannot be reduced from potency to act except by something that is in act; Where there is no first term, there can be no ultimate or intermediate term" (Aquinas Summa Theologiae 1. 2. 3).77 Motion is a wider term than action, and can refer to quantity, quality or place.78 So the first proof from motion is not just local motion from place to place,79 but also includes the movement from one species to another, evolution. Accordingly, the fact of evolution would not the proof of atheism, but the proof of theism.

Gilson rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. He notes that unbelievers should not be led to believe that faith is the only reason for the existence of God that a philosopher can have, and cites Moses Maimonides who knew theologians of this kind, Fundamentalists.80 Gilson follows the five arguments of St. Thomas for the existence of God, first from the Summa Theologiae where the arguments are presented in a succinct and simplified manner, and then from the Summa Contra Gentiles, where the philosophical demonstrations are minutely developed.81 Gilson notes that the most manifest proof for the existence of God is from motion, since no sensible experience is more common or more striking than motion. Further, the most secret (as opposed to motion most apparent) is the distinction between essence and the act-of-being,82 but this distinction is the ultimate metaphysical implication of the five proofs, for the distinction between essence and existence translates the state of second cause, whatever its order of causality, into one and the same formula; it qualifies all the proofs. It is not a sixth way, but the ultimate metaphysical implication of the other five, in the light of the Thomistic interpretation of being. The distinction by the early Aquinas is found in his short treatise On Being and Essence (Aquinas De Ente et Essentia, 4).

Glenn rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. Without an explicit rejection of atheism, Glenn states that "Creation is an operation requiring infinite power, and therefore is possible to God alone."83 He notes that the power of God is ordered in its infinite identity with God’s other perfections, such as His goodness, mercy, wisdom, and justice. He gives the metaphysical principle that underlies the proof from motion for the existence of God, that whatever is moved is moved by something other than itself (Quidquid movetur ab alio movetur). Self-movement, strictly understood, is a contradiction in terms and in thought.84

Gonzalez rejects evolutionary atheism and its ethical implications. He notes the death of religion. Man is necessarily subject to mechanical laws. Ethics is not about obligation, but simply predicts what must happen in the future according to the laws of evolution.85

Gredt implicitly rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. He states that God can be known by demonstration a posteriori.86 Although Gredt lists no adversaries to the thesis (as he normally does) it is clear the atheists would object to the affirmative conclusion. Gredt then continues to prove the existence of God with the thesis: "God, or uncreated being (ens a se), exists."87 Gredt then uses the five proofs of St. Thomas under this one heading.

Hellin rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. He is clear in his opposition not only to atheism in general, but to its various types, including Materialistic, Positivistic, Skeptic, Idealistic, Agnostic, and Pantheistic. Hellin has a specific thesis in which her explicitly reject atheism and discusses possible personal culpability for it.88 Hellin follows the five ways for the proof of the existence of God proposed by St. Thomas.89 Hellin adds additional proofs, such as the proof from entropy and the argument from the origin of life.90

Hugon rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. He rejects the position of Lamark, who endorsed passive evolution by adaptation to external conditions without Divine Influx.91 Hugon states, without a footnote, that Darwin admitted some species were established by God. Darwin apparently changed his mind and embraced atheism later in life.92 Hugon teaches, "Even is evolution is proved to be factual, this would not exclude Divine intervention, since the effect cannot exceed the cause. However, blind evolution would not give a stronger effect than the ordering of a wise person, therefore even if evolution is proved, it would be caused by an intelligent and wise cause, namely God, the founder of species."93

Klubertanz rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. In his book on The Philosophy of Human Nature, he maintains that God is a creator.94 Further, God is the final cause of the universe and the human race.95 Klubertanz notes that the knowledge of God in this life is "analogous knowledge."96 Nevertheless, Klubertanz notes that even the deaf and the blind can attain knowledge of spiritual things, such as charity, soul, and God. He gives the example of Ludivine Lachance in Canada and of Helen Keller. He notes that the turning point in the life of Keller was the acquiring of language as a medium of attaining knowledge.97

Maquart rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. Maquart notes that a number of Evoluionists are theists, including Cunot, Davenport, Teilhard de Chardin, Leroy, Dorlodot.98 He holds that universal evolution, up to but excluding the human body, does not contradict the demands of reason, as long as it is held, not mechanically, but with divine intervention, not only concurrent to the action of nature, but also by educing the substantial forms of the new species from the potency of the material.99 He argues that no agent by its own power can produce a superior effect, and so cannot obtain a substantial form superior to its proper form.100 Therefore, evolution from one species to another is not able to happen without divine intervention educing a new substantial form from the potency of the material. But natural evolution "within" a species up to the highest perfection of that species prepares the eduction of a new form; God operates in that preparation in the genus of dispositive material cause. In the eduction of the new form, God would operate in the genus of formal cause.101 Therefore, evolution without God, for Maquart, would contradict the demands of reason.

Marcozzi rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. He notes that even primitives today have an idea of God and morality; sometimes very elevated.102

La Vecchia implicitly rejects atheism, and affirms the existence of God in the evolutionary process. She argues that when the sense faculties reached the point of maximum perfection in prehominids, "God would have created a spiritual soul in one or more individuals."103

Mondin rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. Mondin cites Claude Tresmontant to maintain atheism is unthinkable in the age of science.104 Mondin notes that St. Thomas confronted the problem of atheism when he examined the arguments against the existence of God, but St. Thomas never used the term "atheisim."105 Mondin argues for the existence of God from the point of view of cosmology, giving an argument from composition of matter and form, an argument from the finite world, an argument from contingency, an argument from motion, and an argument from order.106 He notes that the motive for creation is God’s goodness.107 Mondin notes that God is the original font and primary font of all causality: "God is the universal and principle fountain of all being" (Aquinas De Substantiis Separatis 14).108 This means that God not only gives things existence, but existence with order: "The same divine wisdom is the efficient cause (effectiva) of all things, and not only gives to things their existence but also in things existence with order, in so far as things are joined to one another in an order to the ultimate goal. And so God is the cause of the indissolubility of this harmony and this order, which always remains in whatever way things change" (Aquinas De Divinis Nominibus 4. 733).109

Nogar rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. He repudiates the Atheistic Existentialists for their denial of morals and religion.110 He notes that every society has recognized God in one way or another.111

Renard rejects atheism and affirms the existence of God. The Materialist Evolutionists thought that they had destroyed God. They postulated internal necessity, namely nature itself, as the complete solution to the problem of finality. They spoke of necessity, survival of the fittest, adaptation, evolution, akin to the ancient philosopher Democritus.112 The error of the Materialist Evolutionists is that they did not go far enough. Their argument from the necessity and powers of adaptation in nature is precisely St. Thomas’ argument for the existence of God from finality in nature. The ultimate solution to the problem of finality, that is, the intrinsic determination which is found in things of nature, or in other words, the natural appetite drawing a being to its end, can only be explained ultimately by God, Ipsum Esse, the Author of Nature, the Giver of finality, the End of all beings.113 Renard notes: "The operation of nature, which is to an end that is determined, presupposes an intellect that established the end of nature, and orders nature to that end. For this reason, every work of nature is called a work of intelligence" (Aquinas De Veritate 3. 1).114 And concerning Providence, "That determination by which a natural thing is determined to a particular end does not come from the thing itself but from another. Hence, that very determination to an appropriate effect is proof of providence" (Aquinas De Veritate 5. 2. ad 5).115 Therefore, the argument for finality leads directly to the proof of the existence of God; not the supreme "watchmaker" of Fontenelle and Voltaire in the eighteenth century or of Paley116 in the nineteenth century, but a God who is "Subsistent Intellect" and therefore Pure Act.117

Finally, the concept of evolution as a proof of atheism is equivocal. Equivocal indicates predication where the verbal term is identical, but the concepts have no connection in the mind.118 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... show this radical change in the concept of evolution..."119 Darwin does not impose evolution on a grand scheme of biological, or cosmic, history but the origin of the species.120 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.121 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.122 The extension of "evolution" is not analogous, as explained by Renard.123 The extension of "evolution" is equivocal, as explained by Nogar.124

Author:  John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
Copyright 2009 by The Genealogist, 3236 Lincoln, Franklin Park, IL 60131 U.S.A.