Anselm and evolution

Church doctor, St Anselm originator of the term “Fides Quaerens Intellectum” (Faith seeking understanding) during the second century wrote in Chapter 7 of Monologion under the title ‘In what way all other things exist through him and from him’ on the nature of matter…
“Now whatever he made, he certainly made it either from something as its matter or from nothing. Therefore, since it is perfectly obvious that the essence of all things that exit, other than the supreme essence, was made by that same supreme essence, and that it does not exist from any matter , there is undoubtedly nothing more evident than this: the supreme essence alone, through himself, produced so great a mass of things – so numerous a multitude, so beautifully formed, so orderly in its variety, so fitting in its diversity – from nothing.”
In light of this it is interesting that Ratzinger, the same year he became Pope, wrote in ‘The Dialectics of Secularization’
“The idea of the natural law presupposed a concept of nature in which nature and reason overlap, since nature itself is rational. With the victory of the theory of evolution, this veiw of nature has capsized: nowadays, we think that nature as such is not rational, even if there is rational behaviour in nature. This is the diagnosis that is presented to us, and there seems few voices today that are raised to contradict it”
From an antagonistic perspective to Ratzingers comments we find Joseph Bolin offering a contradictory diagnosis in ‘Darwin and Evolution from a Catholic Perspective’ in 2009 which seems to reinforce Anselm’s argument…
“…from this philosophical principle that an effect cannot be greater than its cause, we can legitimately conclude that the source from which all living things developed, must have been in some way at least as perfect as the result. But what what kind of perfection is this? Since the historical process that the theory of evolution examines is a sequence of material development and order, the perfection in question is actually that of matter and its orderliness.”

Sources quoted…
Anselm, Monologion and Proslogion with replies of Gaunilo and Anselm, translated by Thomas Williams – Hackett (page 20)
The Dialectics of Secularization, on Reason and Religion, Jurgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger – Ignatius (page 69-70)
Darwin and Evolution From a Catholic Perspective by Joseph Bolin – CTS (page 55)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: