Did God do it, or was it all “random mutations”?  We discuss evolution, order, intelligent design, and creationism in this episode.  There’s a lot that we agree on, but even more that we disagree on here, which means it was a really loaded episode


  1. Cal Kane, I don’t get you– The Fatima apparition was confirmed by thousands of catholics and several atheists at the scene, yet you brushed it off as “well, bizarre things happen”. Here you have ONE guy who, is making the the most outrageous claim about being reality being a simulation and you’re actually considering it. hmm. 
    Anyways, If I was an atheist, right now, I’d be converted by the Tim Haines perfect nose argument. Yep we should put that in the Catechism. No Im just playing. (Don’t punch the screen, Mr.Haines.)

  2. Thanks for covering this guys, It was a great discussion.
    I noticed you found it wasn’t easy to say my nickname. People call me David.

  3. Mkay Cal. Hehe. So my brother has been reading a ton of literature on the Science of Intelligent Design. You have badly misrepresented their case. Check out the folks at the Discovery Institute. You will not find advocates of Intelligent Design (ID) saying that the earth is between 10,000 and 6,000 years old. I don’t know how much you have looked at this but the main thrust of their arguments when it comes to biology is that we can infer that lifeforms have been designed by intelligence as the best explanation of various constructs we see in them. For example, cells have incredibly efficient micro machines in them called organelles (such as the nucleus, mitochondria, ect). These micro-machines are made up of several different parts and ALL of them need to be present in order for the organelle to function (and therefore, for the cell to function). Darwin was unaware of these incredibly complex details that are part of the most basic unit of life. Simply put, there is no way for mutations to gradually generate a functional organelle step by step because you need all the parts to function. This is called “irreducible complexity.” It has applications across a vast amount of biology. Lets look at DNA for a moment. It has been called by Bill Gates “the most sophisticated computer program ever written.” Well, computer programs come from an intelligent mind. They are not random. If you look at Mt. Rushmore, you wouldn’t conclude “wow look at those weird shapes created by wind erosion!” You would rightfully assume that someone chiseled that out of the rock. Same principle with DNA except it is vastly more intricate! Even Richard Dawkins himself said that all of life “looks” incredibly designed. All advocates of Intelligent Design are trying to say is “It’s exactly what it looks like.” There is more to say but I’ll let you respond first lol. Have a good one!


  4. And Tim, about the Fathers, you are right that they did have allegorical interpretations of Genesis but that doesn’t mean they did not also interpret it literally. You referred to St. Paul who described Sarah and Hagar as “allegory” for the difference between the Old and New Covenants (Hagar being the old and Sarah being the new) In Galatians 4:21-31 but that doesn’t mean that St. Paul did not believe that Sarah and Hagar were historical people. It’s not exactly an “either/or” between literal and allegorical. It could be both/and. I believe all the fathers regarded as Genesis 1:2 as a prefigure of baptism. In any event though, the doctrine of creation has nothing to do with how long creation took as I have said before. God made all the stuff, therefore you worship God and not the stuff lol.

  5. Matthewpao You find a certified Church theologian who says “Genesis is literal” and I”ll give you 1000 dollars.  If genesis is literal,  show me a tree that grows fruit that provides knowledge (or how that could even be possible, naturally), or a serpent that can vocalize (or how it could be possible, naturally). Or explain how a God that can create from nothing needed material to form Adam, and a rib to form Eve. I’m not trying to badger you, I’m just making a point.  I don’t think you guys appreciate the massive burden of evidence (at least reasonable and logical evidence) one assumes when arguing that Genesis is literal.  And what confuses me is that it’s completely unnecessary to view it as literal, so I don’t understand the adherence to the idea that it is a literal text, and not an allegorical one, as the Church holds it to be.  The burden of evidence is in the stratosphere, it contributes nothing to theology, it takes nothing out of theology, it affects nothing doctrinally, it is in contrast with the traditional understanding of the text.  Given all of this, I don’t understand why folks are so insistent on holding it as a literal text.

  6. Matthewpao By the way, Hagar and Sarah were indeed historical people but to process allegory from that narrative requires that allegory is applicable to the script as a whole.  Paul didn’t say “For example” he used the word “allegory” in its technical function.

  7. JediMasterTim Matthewpao I should also clarify that I personally do NOT interpret the week of creation as being six 24 hour periods. But you have some like St. Basil who do seem to interpret the genesis account as literal but even he will say that that is not the point of the text. Maybe you could accuse him of being scientifically naive but it was the 4th century so I cut him some slack. I suppose the reason I’m less hostile to the view than other Catholics is that it isn’t a reason to divide. There are many who dislike the Church because they believe “we teach evolution.” That’s not true and Catholics are free to hold to St. Basil’s opinion. They are also free to hold your opinion. However I notice that in your conversation with Cal that you (and rightly so) do believe in Intelligent Design at least to some degree. I do think that is required just by the statement “God created the heavens and the earth.” Theistic evolutionists (as the term has been coined) I do believe have to posit some kind of direction of the order of life but then that does indeed run counter to the new-Darwinian insistence that evolution is a “completely unguided process.” Which is why I do find the science of Intelligent Design very compelling and I see that the neo-Darwinian evolutionary model has holes big enough to drive a truck through. That doesn’t mean everything about it is wrong. I do believe that natural selection is a process that does occur but it no where near possesses the power to create the diversity of life that we observe.

  8. JediMasterTim Matthewpao I don’t follow. I don’t think St. Paul was implying much about the rest of Genesis at that time but…meh lol.

  9. Matthewpao JediMasterTim I don’t think the question is one of scientific naiveté but of upholding the impossible.  Snakes don’t speak and trees don’t grow knowledge, and so on, and so on.  Cherubs don’t stand guard at gates, they serve at the “feet” of the Father…and so on.  The allegory tells on itself here, and I don’t understand why or how someone would see this as literal.  I’m not being snide there, I’m being very literal—I do not understand why/how these things can be seen as literal.  I am genuinely confused about it.
    It can be an easy thing to find a few Fathers who held Genesis as literal, but I should also say that when talking about Genesis, it’s discussed in the voice of the script, so all of them would commonly talk about it “like” it was literal, but may not have believed it to be.  In any event, a couple of Fathers may have believed it to be literal; that isn’t an unfair thing to say.  But it would be natural to believe it to be literal.  It would be unnatural however to treat it as allegory, unless there was precedent.  That there are several Fathers who discussed it allegorically demonstrates that there was already precedent for that interpretive approach.
    Like you, I have no horse in this race; I don’t really care if Catholics hold Genesis as literal as long as they maintain the Church’s teaching with regard to the scripture.  The only reason I’m on this soap box is because I’m genuinely confused as to why/how someone would hold to literalism as I see no benefits over an allegorical interpretation, and I see only rhetorical and logical liabilities in literalism.  Maybe you can help me to understand why a Catholic would maintain a literal interpretation in favor of an allegorical one.  
    I believe wholly in intelligent design, but I also believe designs get developed/built, they don’t get zapped into existence, so to speak lol.   God be with you.

  10. JediMasterTim Matthewpao Tim, when you say you guys, I am going to go ahead and assume you are including me. The Church has stated some of Genesis is symbolic, and I went to the Catechism to see this; I guess I need to read more, but in any case the Church has not stated that all of Genesis is symbolic and I see no reason to believe that until presented with evidence to prove otherwise. Particularly when it comes to obscure things. Do you believe Adam lived to be 900+ years or is that allegorical too? The list could literally (pun intended) go on forever.  I generally take scripture as literal until I have a good reason to not do so, and I would imagine that is the default way to read it. That’s not to say there are not parts that are symbolic, but ultimately this whole discussion is just one more example why we need the Church’s guidance on reading scriptures.
    For anyone else who is interested, I think paragraphs 337, 362, 375, 396 of the Catechism are interesting as far as symbolic creation goes. 
    And Tim, frankly speaking, this is the first time I feel you have sort have responded a little snidely here – and it’s ironic when I just viewed your below response you say you are not being snide but that word is what came to mind before I even saw that second response- but that is the aura your first post gives off to me.

  11. JediMasterTim Matthewpao You too Tim! Sooo…does this mean I get 1000 dollars??? 😉 lol kidding. I can think of a few Catholics who kind of want to hold onto what they view as a more traditional understanding that some Fathers like St. Basil had. I agree that Genesis is definitely allegory but also contains a lot of historical information. I also think it’s wise to look at the book in sections. There is a shift in tone starting at chapter 12 when Abram enters the picture. That’s when the book gets a lot more historical but still contains allegory as St. Paul points out. Anyways, I still enjoy the show! I’m gonna have to catch Vericast live at some point and give you a call! lol.

  12. Matthewpao JediMasterTim To be clear, the “literal” view is the exception amongst the Fathers—particularly the Apostolic Fathers.   
    You agree that Genesis is allegory…then why are we having this conversation? lol  Of course it also contains historical information; I’m with you there.  I have always said that.  The “shift in tone” you mention is also something I have asserted. In fact I said it again in this episode.  See, this is what I thought the issue was, because I encountered this a lot before:  You and I don’t have different views here, we have the very same view, but for some reason you’re stuck on the word “allegory” and I am failing to understand why.  It could be my failure to clearly communicate my meaning.  In the past people hear me say ‘allegory” and they treat it as if I’m saying “Genesis didn’t really happen. It’s total make-believe. But the lessons are good”.  That is not what I’m saying at all.  That would be like Aesop’s fables where the voice is allegory AND the narrative is fictional.  Genesis is not like Aesop’s fables.  The narratives in Genesis are FACTUAL, despite the voice being allegory.  Does that make better sense?
    So while there was no tree with fruit that gave knowledge, the tree represents a thing that Adam/Eve were not to partake in.  The fruit represented knowledge of exploiting/distorting a good for evil or self-serving purposes.  See what I mean?
    To give a little more clarity, I agree that Genesis is historical, and that at a point it shifts to a more literal and less allegorical voice.  We don’t disagree there.    I hope for my part that this clears up any confusion that I may have been responsible for.  Do let me know your thoughts!  Thanks for the continued exchange.

  13. GabrielDannemiller JediMasterTim Matthewpao Hi Gabriel.  A lot of people have taken me to task on this “Genesis…Allegory…Literal” thing, not just you and Matthew.  And you’re all wrong!  Nah, just kidding  lol.  I suggest you look over my latest response to Matthew, because it may clear up some confusion between what I’m saying and how it’s being taken (and vice/versa).  That having been said…
    “The Church has stated that some of Genesis is symbolic” – And that’s the only part of Genesis I’m talking about.  You may remember that this all started with the show we did on the creation/fall narrative.  So when I say “Genesis is allegory” what I’m really saying is THAT section of Genesis is allegory.  I did make it a point I think twice to reiterate that in our last exchange, saying that I’m only talking about the creation narrative.  
    The only scripture that can be taken as literal is the scripture that was authored in a literal voice, and not all of it was authored that way.   But that doesn’t mean it isn’t authoritative/true/factual.  Again, look at the last comment I offered to Matt because I think I provided some clarity based on what I think may have been a misunderstanding between the parties. Possibly my own fault.
    I wasn’t being snide in my first post, I was being direct.  Sorry for any confusion.  I thought you guys knew me well enough by now though lol.  My “snide” is much, much worse, than my “direct”, and my “nasty” is even worse than that.  
    Check out that comment to Matt, I think it will be helpful. God keep you.

  14. “…just the one, as a thinker, I find it fascinating” said Tim.  “I find it fascinating, as well, we’re getting dangerously close here to the exceptionalism of man…” replied Cal. You two are a stitch!  Oh my!  I don’t know if you see each other’s face when you tape The Dialogue, but I sure can picture both of yours’ when one scores a “touch” in your bout, and the other acknowledges it, and jokes about it.  Quite the fencing bout between the two of you with polite humor as well.  Enjoyable.  My daughter, who graduates in 2 weeks from college will provide me with the readings I need to truly enter in to either understanding and agreeing with or perhaps scoring a few touches of my own!  I am so enjoying you guys…thanks, and keep up the great work.

  15. Oh dear…a simulated universe…well, this may sound like an unworthy question, but that has never stopped me in the past…Wouldn’t someone do a better job of predicting and adjusting our response to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, hurricanes.  I believe one who thought up a simulated universe is truly involved in a dissimulation.

  16. JediMasterTim GabrielDannemiller Matthewpao Yeah, I know Tim. I’m glad I don’t get the nasty side. Direct sometimes seem snide, even from myself, so I get it. It’s all about author’s intent. Perhaps I was reading something that wasn’t there and I apologize for that.

    I just needed those Catechism links to put things together. 
    I did read the other responses you had for Matt and found them much more clear. Thanks for the response. As always, keep up the solid work – know I really think a lot of the hard work you do!

  17. catholicchild I guess the unpredictability of those things is something a programmer would have built into the mechanism.  And if that sounds crazy, it’s only because the concept of a “programmed universe” is already crazy lol (sorry Cal!)

  18. GabrielDannemiller JediMasterTim Matthewpao And thank YOU for challenging me—on my thinking, or on my behavior lol.  Seriously, I’m grateful and thankful that we have that rapport.

  19. JediMasterTim Matthewpao I’m following this exchange. Tim Haines, it does make sense to me that a talking serpent could be taken in a literal context. Catholic tradition tells us that St.Francis and St.Anthony had the capacity to communicate with animals (i.e fishes and birds). Is there a catholic source that tells us which part of genesis should only be taken as allegorical? =)

  20. Thanks for the show just think of the consequences of 3%differece in the DNA human and chimp.We have 2or3 harvest annually of some crops.One of Darwins evolution concepts was adapt to the environment and we are doing the reverse adapting the environment for ourselves

Comments are closed.