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Chance or Purpose?: Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith [Hardcover]

By Christoph Cardinal Schonborn (Author), Hubert Philip Weber (Editor) & Henry Taylor (Translator)
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Item description for Chance or Purpose?: Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith by Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, Hubert Philip Weber & Henry Taylor...

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn's article on evolution and creation in The New York Times launched an international controversy. Critics charged him with biblical literalism and "creationism". In this book, Cardinal Schonborn responds to his critics by tackling the hard questions with a carefully reasoned "theology of creation". Can we still speak intelligently of the world as "creation" and affirm the existence of the Creator, or is God a "delusion"? How should an informed believer read Genesis? If God exists, why is there so much injustice and suffering? Are human beings a part of nature or elevated above it? What is man's destiny? Is everything a matter of chance or can we discern purpose in human existence? In his treatment of evolution, Cardinal Schonborn distinguishes the biological theory from "evolutionism", the ideology that tries to reduce all of reality to mindless, meaningless processes. He argues that science and a rationally grounded faith are not at odds and that what many people represent as "science" is really a set of philosophical positions that will not withstand critical scrutiny. Chance or Purpose? directly raises the philosophical and theological issues many scientists today overlook or ignore. The result is a vigorous, frank dialogue that acknowledges the respective insights of the philosopher, the theologian and the scientist, but which calls on them to listen and to learn from each another. "Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn's 2005 essay in the New York Times, which seemingly condemned Darwin's scientific theory of evolution, ignited a firestorm of controversy. Yet the hasty responses did not look deeply enough into the Cardinal's words. Rather than the science of Darwin, it is the philosophical claims made in its name that the prelate upbraided. Science cannot speak of ultimate purpose, and scientists who do so are outside of their authority. In Chance or Purpose? the Cardinal shows that the data of biology, when properly examined by reason and philosophy, strongly point to a purposeful world." -Michael Behe Author, Darwin's Black Box "Cardinal Schoenborn writes with masterful simplicity on profound theological issues. I, as a scientist and Christian outside the Catholic tradition, welcome his wisdom. He argues effectively that there are multiple approaches to reality, and he states clearly that while intelligent design is worthy of human reflection, from a scientific perspective the evolutionary model is the true story."

Citations And Professional Reviews
Chance or Purpose?: Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith by Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, Hubert Philip Weber & Henry Taylor has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Booklist - 10/01/2007 page 20

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ignatius Press
Pages   181
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.26" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.78"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2007
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  1586172123  
ISBN13  9781586172121  

Availability  0 units.

More About Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, Hubert Philip Weber & Henry Taylor

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Reviews - What do customers think about Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith?

Chance and purpose can, and do, co-exist.  Nov 13, 2008
In this book, Cardinal Schoenborn deconstructs the false dichotomy set up between chance and purpose. A fallacy was born in the 19th century when Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx hijacked Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory in order to promote atheistic Marxism and economic class warfare. Schoenborn explains all this as he strives for a "both-and" position, not an "either-or" polarity between a transcendent and intelligent creative agent and the dynamics of natural selection and evolutionary change. Rev. Dennis J. Mercieri
Understandably a view from an unquestioning Catholic  Oct 17, 2008
Since I do not share the Cardinal's calling, I will, while sympathizing with many of his attitudes, not accept most of his explanations, instead giving my own reasonings.

He offers some appealing observations, while exhibiting dilettantism in fields outside his own. Appealing to me is his noting (p.77) that Darwinism is the only scientific theory that, so far as he knows, has become an "-ism", there being no "Einsteinism", "Newtonism", etc., my also finding appealing his rebuttal (pp.95-6) of "Experts" who allege "that no optician would construct the objective, the lens, and the reflector according to the way they are now arranged in the human eye". He replies, "It is thanks to this 'construction' [of the eye] that we are able to become opticians [etc.], that we are able to experience the marvel of vision, so far as no defect hinders us... And in spite of all our fantastic technical expertise, no one is capable of constructing a human eye that is alive and working". A fine answer to what appears unsurpassed arrogance in the strenuous faultfinding by opponents of "intelligent design".

The author, however, is too ready to swallow scientific claims he fails to sufficiently comprehend. Among them are the famed "random mutations" of Darwinism. The author asks (p.102): "Why are there deformities, as a result of harmful mutations?" This rests on the Darwinian supposition that changes in organisms are indeed the result of chance.

We are now led to the title of the book, "CHANCE OR PURPOSE?". The author argues lengthily throughout the book for divine purpose behind the findings proclaimed by science, which he accepts with little reservation and holds compatible with faith. He says (p.165), "the question as to the origins of the obvious 'intelligent design' in living things is an entirely legitimate one... An answer to this question is not to be expected from research working along strictly scientific methodological lines". By "origins of the obvious 'intelligent design'" he means the mentioned divine purpose, the "obvious" set aside here. But he is entirely mistaken in accepting the contentions about "strictly scientific methodological lines". That science can only observe chance, namely the operation of unguided natural forces, is belied by medical science if no other. Physicians know full well the body's purposeful healing power, that the body always aims to preserve itself.

The answer to Cardinal Schoenborn's quandary about "Chance or Purpose" need accordingly not be constricted to faith alone. Nature itself exhibits purpose bountifully in the live activities of all its organisms, aimed at their preservation. I have been trying to get this simple understanding across in reviews here, if falling on deaf ears. For more, including various other subjects relating to human knowledge, I want to again recommend my On Proof for Existence of God, and Other Reflective Inquiries.
Schoenborn is the man.  Sep 19, 2008
A great discussion of Darwinism as a world-view vs Christianity. Schoenborn shows how evolution as a scientific theory is perfectly compatible with Catholicism.
A lamentable compromise  Sep 10, 2008
I have a somewhat intimate knowledge of the contents of the book, since I translated the last three chapters from German to English. (Does anyone know whether Ignatius gave me credit for this in the book?)

I found the intellectual compromises contained in these chapters fatal to the intellectual integrity of the Christian faith. Perhaps the most important problem is the Cardinal's failure to recognize that there really is no distinction between evolution as an ideology and evolution as a basis for science. The reason is that evolution cannot be scientifically tested or falsified. As such, its ideological essence is necessarily an element in any framework of scientific endeavor where it is asserted to be true, in the form of a basic assumption that is not itself empirically demonstrable. Evolution therefore is, as Karl Popper so aptly put it, not a scientific theory at all, but is rather a metaphysical research programme. Moreover, it is a metaphysical research programme that is fatally at odds with the objective truth content of Christian revelation, as this is recorded in the Scriptures.

Another huge disappointment that I have with Cardinal Schonborn is his refusal to take Young Earth Creationism seriously. He simply accepts the prevailing Catholic prejudice, successfully hammered home by evolutionist propaganda for 150 years now in the face of Catholic timidity with regard to the spirit of the age, that Young Earth Creationism is based entirely on obscurantism and scientific ignorance.

I, too, grew up imbued with this prejudice; but translating the Cardinal's work and seeing the deficiencies in it forced me finally to set aside this prejudice and carefully consider the Young Earth Creationist viewpoint on its intrinsic merits alone. After much research over the past 18 months, I can bear confident witness to the fact that Young Earth Creationism is both very scientifically sophisticated and intellectually formidable. Over the past fifty years, the YEC movement has successfully exposed the many breathtaking and sometimes fatal scientific weaknesses inherent in the evolutionary approach to biology, geology, astronomy, paleoanthropology, etc. In addition, the Creation-Flood models proposed by them as alternative frameworks of scientific inquiry come off looking very intellectually and scientifically respectable by way of comparison, both in light of the empirical data themselves and of their scientific analysis.

About a year ago, I had a correspondence with the Cardinal about these matters in which I attempted to persuade him that Young Earth Creationism was worth taking seriously, and that there was no need for him to capitulate intellectually to an evolutionary scientific establishment that is in fact bitterly hostile to the Christian faith. Sadly, my appeal to the Cardinal to be open-minded in this regard, and not to fall prey to the scurrilous prejudices and slanders against Young Earth Creationism that evolutionary propagandists have so successfully propagated for so long, fell on deaf ears.
Timely and valuable  Sep 8, 2008
Cardinal Schoenborn has written a very good book that tackles a very difficult issue.It is a valid attempt on many levels as it is both intellectually nourishing and also adds great depth to a readers Faith ,assuming they have it.The Cardinal shows the breath of Catholic Vision on the subject and bravely tries to open up an area of dialogue between Science and Faith.Knowing full well that Faith has nothing to fear from the advance of Science if it is humane .I hope the Cardinal revisits this issue with a broader setting and perhaps a correspondence or Dialogue with some openminded experts from the field of Science that could allow for some norms to be agreed upon.This will allow the entire debate to advance in a more reasonable way

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