Volume > Issue > Letters to the Editor: May 2023

Letters to the Editor: May 2023

The Power of Unvanquished Mercy

Beautiful memories from my time with Fr. Peter Carota came back as I read Fr. Alvaro Delgado’s account of his life (“An Afflicter of the Comfortable & a Comforter of the Afflicted,” March). Most of my time with Peter was before he entered seminary. I was one of the comfortable — but I did not feel afflicted by Peter. I felt freed. For that I will always be grateful to him.

The most edifying part of Fr. Delgado’s article came at the end when we learn that Father Peter and his bishop reconciled. There is something in this so vital for the whole Church to think about in these days of confusion, division, and misunderstanding.

In the hierarchy, ordinary men entrusted with sacred authority and responsibility fight hard over holy things. When the stakes are as high as the liturgy itself, it is not surprising that good people are misunderstood. It is not surprising that terrible mistakes in judgment are made against the order of the Church. Bad judgment and misunderstanding cause real hurt — and this has been so since the Crucifixion.

This suffering, however, is not the last word about the Body of Christ. Something deeper than disagreements and power struggles is at work. Sometimes the awesome power of unvanquished Mercy shines forth in blinding radiance. Such is the holiness of the Bride.

This blinding radiance illuminates Father Peter’s life. His final witness helps us ponder that, in the end, we all go before the Lord with empty hands, and we are judged by love alone.

Anthony Lilles

Professor of Spiritual Theology, St. Patrick’s Seminary and University

Menlo Park, California

I enjoyed Fr. Alvaro Delgado’s article. Peter Carota committed me to my ministry in the Church. I was there in the beginning with Peter as a friend and fellow Realtor. I sold Peter’s home and his rental property, the proceeds of which went to purchase the soup kitchen location and, later, the homeless shelter in Santa Cruz, with no compensation apart from the ultimate reward to join Peter in working for the poor.

I’ve been board president of the St. Francis Catholic Kitchen and Jesus Mary Joseph Home for over 25 years. Due to my longtime association with the kitchen, I am often acknowledged as its founder, but Peter was the man of God who showed us the way here.

Because Peter gave all his earthly possessions to fund the kitchen, we own the property at the kitchen and shelter free and clear. With the dedication of our volunteers, we operate on a very lean budget.

There are so many remarkable stories I could tell about Peter, who, as Fr. Delgado mentioned, would go around in bare feet, with long hair and a beard. He lived in a seven-foot-by-seven-foot shed behind a friend’s home three miles out of town. He never gave a thought to his well-being when expressing love for others in the rough, gang-infested Beach Flats neighborhood in Santa Cruz, the original site of the soup kitchen.

Back in those days, there was a tiny one-bedroom house next to the kitchen that we always wanted to buy to expand our operation. It finally became available for $50,000. We bought it with $20,000 down and carryback of $30,000. A few years later, a friend of Peter’s died. In his will, he left the kitchen his coin collection. Peter took the collection to a coin shop, only to discover that the coins were worth $18,600 — the exact amount left on the loan of the house! With these coins, we were able to pay off the loan.

One more story, this one from Peter’s youth. One time, when the Carota family was traveling to missions in Mexico, they were stopped by the Mexican police, who wanted to inspect the large van carrying the large family. Peter’s father, Mario, started to unload large bags of dirty diapers. The police quickly decided there was no need to search the vehicle!

Wayne Shaffer

Santa Cruz, California

I first met Peter Carota in Mexico City in 1993 on a pilgrimage with the bishop of Stockton. He was a seminarian at the time.

In 2007 Father Peter convinced me, as soon as Pope Benedict XVI had promulgated Summorum Pon­tificum, to go with him to Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Nebraska for training by the priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter in the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. We both wore our cassocks, per his regulations, and, as we swept through Sacramento International Airport, five or six people came up to us for blessings, and one even made his confession. Peter showed me how vital it is for priests to wear a clerical collar and, even more, a cassock in public, so that people can see the priesthood and be consoled by the presence of God in their daily lives. I was amazed at the effect a cassock has on travelers in an airport. In my experience, a cassock brings joy to people like no clerical suit or tab collar ever could.

Peter wore his cassock all the time. Once, when he and I were in Tijuana for a friend’s ordination, we were riding down Avenida Revolución in the back of a little pick-up truck. Peter had his cassock on and was waving to everybody on the sidewalks with a big smile on his face. He got me to wave, too, to the great delight of the bystanders, who rejoiced to see two friendly priests.

Another time, on a long flight back from Rome, I was sitting next to Peter and watching a Batman movie. He was watching a movie, too, but listening to a Mozart concerto. He said modern movies are so much better when you replace their soundtracks with classical music!

At one point during the flight, Peter left his seat to use the bathroom and was gone a good 20 minutes. I was watching my movie (with the Batman soundtrack) when a flight attendant gestured to me. “I think your colleague needs a hand in the rear of the plane,” he said. I went back to find Peter saying prayers of deliverance over a Rwandan soccer player. His team was on the plane, and Peter had been talking with this one about the Rwandan genocide that had happened a few years earlier in 1994. This particular player had lost his whole family and barely escaped death himself. He bore terrible hatred for the murderers, and when Peter said he should forgive them, the Rwandan began to curse maniacally. Peter said some prayers over him, and then the Rwandan began to convulse, foam at the mouth, and vomit violently. He made a terrible mess in the bathroom, but eventually Peter was able to calm him down with persistent prayers, holding a cross over the man as he exorcized the evil spirits from him.

Every year, Peter would celebrate his birthday by throwing a party for the families of his parish and putting on a magic show for the children. He would do all sorts of corny magic tricks that somehow mystified the younger children. He paid for the party, including all the food and decorations, himself. This despite the fact that Peter stopped taking a salary about five years after his ordination and lived on whatever stipends his people gave him for his material needs.

Fr. Joseph Illo, Pastor

Star of the Sea Parish

San Francisco, California

Fr. Peter Carota may well be a saint, for he exemplifies the man who takes the Bible literally, selling all he has and following Christ. His life story should be made into a movie! It would surpass even Father Stu (2022), the true story of a former boxer who studies to be a Catholic priest while suffering a progressive muscle disorder, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson.

Loretta Bedford

San Augustine, Texas

FR. ALVARO DELGADO REPLIES:

The stories about Peter Carota are seemingly limitless.

I remember visiting St. Jude’s Church in Ceres, California, where Father Peter served as associate pastor early in his priesthood. A number of tents were pitched on the parish grounds, where young people were spending the night during a retreat. It exemplified Father Peter’s enterprising, zealous spirit of outreach to young people during the course of his priestly service.

Melanio Puzon III, a friend of Father Peter’s, remembers him as a shepherd always close to his sheep. He told me of one occasion when a young man who was an altar server at Father Peter’s parish missed the 6:30 a.m. Latin Mass due to illness. He felt better in the afternoon, and Father Peter asked him to attend a Novus Ordo Mass elsewhere. But the young man refused. In response, Father Peter celebrated a private Low Mass in Latin for him so he would not fall into mortal sin.

On one occasion, someone stole a large sum of money, around $60,000, which Father Peter had been storing in his garage. He was deeply hurt and saddened, but he reacted in a calm and serene way to the theft. I’d heard that he kept the money in his garage, rather than in a bank, because he did not believe in the principle of accruing interest on money.

During his days in Santa Cruz, some perceived Peter as a troublemaker due to his zeal in working on behalf of the homeless. The local press reported that he appeared barefoot at a Rotary Club luncheon at the ritzy Dream Inn, chastising the establishment for its lack of compassion for the poor in Santa Cruz.

Mary’s Magnificent Fait Accompli?

Louise Carroll Keeley’s article “The Annunciation: Mary’s Magnificent Act of Consent” (March), particularly her deep analysis of Mary’s agency, raises a question, at least in my mind. Since we accept that Mary’s crushing of the serpent’s head and, by extension, her fiat were predicted in Genesis, and that at the time of the Annunciation she had already been conceived without sin and living a sinless life, I struggle to reconcile the fullness of her agency as Keeley describes it. Mary did not choose to be immaculately conceived. And under such a strong, lifelong influence of the Holy Spirit, her turning down the Lord’s messenger would be recognized as a sin, would it not? It seems as though God “stacked the deck” in favor of Mary’s acceptance of His offer, to the extent that He chose to predict it so far in advance and took such profound steps to bring it about.

I don’t doubt Keeley’s characterization of Mary’s consent as interior, courageous, and loving — but was it a fait accompli?

John McFadden

Virginia Beach, Virginia

LOUISE CARROLL KEELEY REPLIES:

I thank John McFadden for his thought-provoking suggestion that Mary’s consent might have been a fait accompli. I am not a theologian — my formal training is in philosophy — so I hesitate to venture a theological response, even as I hope that others better informed might so venture. But I will try.

Let me begin by recalling a piece of advice offered by the philosopher Simone Weil. She observed that if you hope to apprehend the truth in its fullness, you must always ask what speaks against the position put forward. Mr. McFadden has done exactly this in his critique of my article. Similarly, it seems to me that there are serious reasons to oppose the claim that Mary’s fiat was essentially a fait accompli, even if we affirm her Immaculate Conception and freedom from Original Sin and the prophetic intention of Genesis 3:15.

Although variations in the text of Genesis 3:15 disagree regarding who will do the striking — either “she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” or “he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel” — both prophesy clearly that “the woman” (Mary) and “her seed” or “offspring” (Jesus) will one day crush the serpent. Whether Mary acts directly or indirectly (through Jesus) is irrelevant to the argument McFadden is making, as in either case Mary’s part in salvation history is prophesied. But does it follow that such a prophesy entails that Mary’s agency was somehow compromised, as if she had no choice — that is to say, no freedom — in the matter? I think not.

First, God’s foreknowledge of an action or event does not mean that the action or event is unfree; similarly, God’s prophetic utterance in Scripture does not mean that any predicted action or event is constrained. Isaiah’s Suffering Servant is read as a prophetic announcement of Jesus, but all agree that Jesus freely surrendered Himself on the cross. Moreover, if Mary’s fiat were not free — that is, if she had no choice but to agree to Gabriel’s proposal — then it was constrained. What sort of God would compel Mary to cooperate, as if she had no say in a matter simultaneously so deeply personal and so critical for salvation history? If Mary could not fail to act when she offered her fiat, does this not compromise both the greatness of her fiat and her humanity?

Granted, Mary did not choose or refuse to be immaculately conceived — this was altogether God’s doing — and, as the existentialists say, Mary simply “found” herself alone among all human beings, past or present, free from Original Sin. But surely there must be a difference between a dogma we espouse and actually living the reality of that dogma in ordinary human experience, as Mary did. And as a human being, Mary must have experienced herself as free and capable of saying “yes” or “no.”

St. Thomas Aquinas raises the same question in the Summa Theologiae (III, q30, art. 1). He poses McFadden’s argument in Objection 1 (a position Thomas opposes) as follows: “It would seem that it was unnecessary to announce to the Blessed Virgin that which was to be done in her. For there seems to have been no need of the Annunciation except for the purpose of receiving the Virgin’s consent. But her consent seems to have been unnecessary: because the Virginal Conception was foretold by a prophecy of ‘predestination,’ which is ‘fulfilled without our consent,’ as a gloss says on Matthew 1:22. There was no need, therefore, for this Annunciation.” In his response to the objection, Thomas states, “The prophecy of predestination is fulfilled without the causality of our will; not without its consent” (my emphasis). Thomas claims that the Annunciation was reasonable in that Mary “might offer to God the free gift of her obedience: which she proved herself right ready to do, saying: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord’” (my emphasis). Later, Thomas argues that Gabriel had “a threefold purpose” in addressing Mary, the third of which was “to lead her mind to consent” (III, q30, art. 4).

Against Catholic Time Travel

I heartily agree with the premise of Fr. Robert McTeigue’s guest column “The False Hope of a ‘More Apostolic Church’” (March). The post-Vatican II Church has indeed been a boon time for those who wish to appeal to the Church of the distant past (i.e., the Apostolic Age) in order to disparage her more recent past as being insupportably unecumenical, clericalist, and largely inferior to the paradise in which we are now supposedly living. I recall hearing an enthusiastic priest give a talk years ago in which he suggested that the Church had gone off the rails at some unspecified time after the Council of Trent.

This does not mean that I believe the Church between Trent and Vatican II is beyond criticism — far from it — but as someone who once idealized (and still does, in a chastened sort of way) the Church of late antiquity, I’ve learned that to live the faith fully you need to appreciate the accumulated wisdom of the Church even in those eras that are not as attractive to you at first. There are countless saints and holy men and women in every age who have sought to live in Christ’s life, making available patterns for us to emulate. I recall reading with satisfaction that the late Pope Benedict XVI was devoted to Benedict Joseph Labre, a saint of the Enlightenment era, who earned the scorn of the great and good by spending his life visiting the Catholic shrines of Europe. God is always present, on the altar of sacrifice and in His angels and saints, in every age, at all times.

Though it is true that the Apostolic Age is foundational for our faith, it is still one part of a chain of human mediation that stretches forth through every age, communicating to us the message of God’s love. Trying to make the Church more “apostolic” by despising the rest of her heritage is a losing game, and, sadly, one that many seem to play on purpose in order to skirt later developments they find distasteful or incompatible with “modern life.” But, as Fr. McTeigue reminds us, we are to preach and follow “the whole counsel of God” and not skip over the parts we don’t like. In any case, all we need for our salvation is always present, in every moment, in every era. There is no need to engage in “Catholic time travel” to restore that which has never been, and can never be, completely lost.

Darrick Taylor

Citra, Florida

Fr. Robert McTeigue suggests that returning to a “more apostolic Church” means a retreat to the catacombs to avoid the lethal toxicity of an ambient culture, to look to the past to concentrate more firmly on the example of Christ, to observe rigid adherence to doctrinal and moral norms, and to prepare for martyrdom rather than compromise with a world at war with Christ. I cannot speak for others, but when I hear the call for a “more apostolic Church,” this is exactly what I am expecting! And, frankly, what I’m anticipating. I’m just waiting for the Church and my fellow Catholics to catch up with this understanding.

As a professional historian, though, I appreciate what Fr. McTeigue says about “turning back the clock.” People always say, “History repeats itself,” a point with which I take great issue, as it isn’t actually true. History doesn’t so much repeat itself as rhyme occasionally. This time around, we are not dealing with a pagan culture that has never known Christ; we are dealing with a post-Christendom culture that has rejected Him. As such, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the strategy for future evangelism must be less like capturing a blushing bride and more like wooing a cynical divorcée.

Fr. McTeigue points out another problem with the “apostolic Church” analogy: We aren’t in as dire a position as the Apostolic Fathers were, as we have the benefit of levels of achievement in things like theology, art, culture, sacraments and sacramentals, and holy Tradition that the Fathers never had. It’s just a question of rediscovering them. The problems the Church faces for the future are greater than they were before, but the resources we have are greater, too. It’s true you can’t turn back the clock, but we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, either.

This isn’t the age of the Church in which I, personally, would have chosen to live. But the Lord put each of us here, in this time, for His reasons. All we can do is redeem the time and try to discern what He wishes us to do.

Christopher Beiting

Forest City, Iowa

Readers of the NOR could be forgiven when reading Fr. Robert McTeigue’s short but densely packed guest column for thinking they were listening to Cicero in the Roman Senate. After all, Fr. McTeigue is a trained philosopher and rhetorician. His prose possesses the sonority and sharp rhetorical daggers of the Old Masters of Speech. Reading him is intoxicating, not only for his alluring style but more for his rapier mind slashing through the settled Lies of the Age, and of the Church.

Fr. McTeigue relishes toppling, in Daniel J. Mahoney’s premonitory book title, The Idols of the Age. He exposes the current crop of Enlightened clerics for being not the “friends of sinners” (Mt. 11:19) but the friends of sin. We know we are in a New Dark Age when the highest ecclesiastics speak nonchalantly about a “re-imagined Church,” or when a San Diego prelate summons Catholics to have better ideas about sin and redemption than did Christ.

Fr. McTeigue knows well this current wasteland. When he writes, “The historical Apostolic Church (in contrast to the ‘apostolic Church’ of current whimsy) had the good sense to go to the catacombs in response to the lethal toxicity of the ambient culture,” or “What the wisdom of Christendom (accumulated at great cost over centuries) knows regarding the demands of sanctity is being scoured away so that faith, hope, and love can be diluted into credulity, utopianism, and enthusiasm,” he unmasks the clerical charlatans who perform rather than teach, who cover up rather than scold, and who sport Hollywood smiles before television and YouTube cameras rather than the grave visages the ancient Catholic faith deserves, and the hierarchs whose forte is the anodyne “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.”

Fr. McTeigue restores my faith in the Society of Jesus. Perhaps he personifies the beginning of the Great Return to the muscular fervors of the saintly founder of the Jesuit order. I hope so.

Fr. John A. Perricone

Secaucus, New Jersey

FR. ROBERT MCTEIGUE REPLIES:

I am grateful to the respondents for their generosity, attentiveness, and thoughtfulness. Although it makes great press to have dramatic and animated disagreements with one’s learned readers, I am glad we are very much in agreement regarding matters so vitally important.

I think that Darrick Taylor and Christopher Beiting, along with Fr. John A. Perricone, would also agree that faithful Catholics, for at least the past 50 years, have been misinformed, misled, and misdirected. Now that structures are collapsing under the weight of neglect and abuse, a new myth must be generated to assure us that, really, the collapse isn’t so bad after all. Now, onwards toward a “more apostolic Church”! I don’t think that we can afford to be fooled again.

Although it is tempting to hold (or least fantasize about) liturgical and ecclesiastical Nuremberg trials, our time would be better spent tuning out charlatans and tuning into the wisdom of the culture that made great cathedrals and even greater saints.

His Brotherly Duty?

In his reply to the letters (Jan.-Feb.) regarding his article “A New Look at the Old Testament” (Oct.), Frederick W. Marks writes, “It makes no sense, in my opinion, to argue that God struck Onan dead merely because he failed to do his brotherly duty.” Not so. Rather, it makes no sense to argue, as Marks does in his article, that God struck Onan dead merely because of his method of avoiding his brotherly duty. A careful reading of Genesis 38 confirms this.

The fundamental context of Genesis 38 is the Levirate Law. But Onan’s offense, for which the Lord struck him dead, was not merely his violating the Levirate Law (brotherly duty), nor was it his method for doing so (sexual immorality). Onan’s father, Judah, admitted he had violated the Levirate Law by not giving his last son, Shelah, in marriage to Tamar, his first son’s wife, yet he was not punished. Nor is there any mention of punishment or even opprobrium for Judah’s engaging in sexual intercourse with a prostitute. So, why did God punish Onan with death? Let’s refer to Scripture:

  •  “God blessed them saying, ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Gen. 1:28).
  •  “The Lord…no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands…. It is because the Lord is witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have broken faith though she is your companion, your betrothed wife” (Mal. 2:13-14).

Onan pretended to follow the Levirate Law by contracting a sacramental marriage to Tamar, his dead brother’s wife, which was blessed by the Lord and to which the Lord was a witness. He then engaged in sexual intercourse with his Levirate wife but intentionally frustrated his obligation to raise offspring for his dead brother because he knew the offspring would be his brother’s according to Levirate Law. It was his perfidy, his breaking faith in a sacramental marriage that God had blessed and to which He was a witness, for which God struck Onan dead.

Consider this: If Onan had chosen to limit his intercourse with Tamar to times when he knew she was infertile (i.e., if they had practiced natural family planning) to prevent raising offspring for his brother, would his perfidy have been acceptable to the Lord?

William R. Davidson

Breckenridge, Texas

FREDERICK W. MARKS REPLIES:

Thanks, Mr. Davidson, for your queries.

You say that Judah was not punished for failing to give his son, Shelah, to Tamar. But doesn’t this support my case? You also state that Onan may have been punished for “breaking faith in a sacramental marriage.” The question still remains: Why was he punished so severely? Other folks who broke matrimonial faith were not struck dead: David, for example, along with Gomer, the adulterous wife of Hosea.

I stand firm, Mr. Davidson, in my interpretation of the sin of Onan. With me are not only all the classical Jewish commentators, but also every Church Father who ever wrote on the subject. As I pointed out in both my article (Oct.) and my reply to Patrick Greaney (Jan.-Feb.), the Mosaic penalty for mere refusal to carry out one’s Levirate duty was ridiculously mild compared to what happened to Onan, who wasted his seed (cf. Deut. 25:5-6, 8-9).

As for what might have happened if Onan had shirked his duty by means of natural family planning, that method requires the wholehearted cooperation of both spouses — wife, as well as husband — which, in this case, would have been unthinkable.

One more thought. Rape is extremely serious as a sexual offense, but whose life was ever instantaneously taken by God for assaulting a woman? The Lord did not cut down Amnon for violating Tamar (though he was assassinated later by his half-brother, Absalom).

Why Is the NOR Reviewing Fringe Science?

In recent issues, your book reviewers have failed to identify just how far on the fringes the authors are assessed to be by those who study and report on the same subjects. I recommend either avoiding reviewing such farfetched material or, at the very least, providing reviews by people who practice science.

In his review of Knowledge and Evolution: How Theology, Philosophy, and Science Converge in the Question of Origins (Oct.), Darrin Tebon does identify author Michael Chaberek, O.P., as a proponent of intelligent design (ID), but he does not say that such a label is generally sufficient to suggest ignoring whatever else the author has to say on evolution for precisely the reason Tebon gives: “ID does not try to provide a mechanism for the origin of species.” How, then, is ID an alternative to evolution, which is a mechanism for the origin of species? This is just one of several problematic statements in Tebon’s review. For example, he writes, “Natural scientific knowledge is so speculative [because it is] relying on theory and complex equipment.” As theory and equipment are at the heart of the scientific method, rejecting them seems a contrived way to say there must be some other domain to address the questions. Bosh! And his line that “there is no way to observe the coming-into-being of a new species” ignores several successful demonstrations of just that (see, e.g., “Evolution: Watching Speciation Occur” by Christie Wilcox, Scientific American, Dec. 18, 2011).

Terry Scambray, in his review of The Miracle of Man: The Fine Tuning of Nature for Human Existence (Dec.), also identifies Michael Denton as a proponent of ID, but he too does not address any of the implications. Scambray asserts, without citing any support, that “the inner workings of the cell alone are too complex and far too interdependent to be built in a piece-by-piece manner and without purpose,” ignoring that life does not need purpose to do everything possible just to continue living. We have all seen a weed growing in the crack of a sidewalk.

What is more interesting than people saying they don’t know how something like evolution can take place is to discuss the emergence of the scientist religion. Philosophy says the universe needs a First Mover, and the universe needs to exhibit life-promoting tuning. Theology says conscience and consciousness are features of a God-given soul. Many in science respond by declaring, as a matter of faith, that the universe is cyclic (unfalsifiable) and hence needs no First Mover, and that the tuning only mandates an infinity of universes to produce the one we are in (also unfalsifiable). These assertions require faith; it is a religion.

Evolution, by the way, is not a matter of faith; it is consistent with all our observations.

John Dyer

Vienna, Virginia

TERRY SCAMBRAY REPLIES:

John Dyer begins his letter by throwing some stiff jabs at various individuals, one of whom is me. He concludes with a haymaker intended to knock out those of us who are uncredentialed and presume to criticize Charles Darwin while privileging intelligent design. Though Mr. Dyer’s punches miss their targets, I like his letter because it represents what many people think.

Dyer shows he is all caught up with “the received wisdom” when he discredits the books under review because credentialed experts likewise have done so. Alas, the trouble with the received wisdom is that most receivers thereof do not bother to look this particular gift horse in the mouth.

How did that work out for the Trojans?

Dyer questions the credentials of both the authors of the books reviewed and of the reviewers themselves, who, like me, are non-specialists. This is, of course, a proverbial issue. Suffice it to say that having non-experts serve as intermediaries between experts and laymen is precisely the point. Does Dyer leave his common sense at the door when he visits his physician, his accountant, or his attorney? Indeed, when he has his hair cut, does he give carte blanche to his barber? Is he mistaking the marketing for the merchandise, the packaging for the performance? My gosh, the controversy among experts and others over the various methods of combating the Wuhan Flu should arouse suspicion regarding the role of experts.

Intelligent design is, albeit with a lot more evidence, the modern version of the “teleological argument” (telos is a Greek word meaning “a goal,” or what Aristotle called “a final cause”). It says that even Dyer’s seemingly simple weed was built according to a plan. And a mind, an intelligence, is the only thing capable of planning.

Conversely, Darwin said that the blind process of “natural selection” was the planner. But even Thomas Huxley, a.k.a. “Darwin’s Bulldog,” warned Darwin that natural selection was not nature’s change agent. For example, some of the iconic “Darwin’s finches” didn’t survive when the weather changed on the Galapagos Islands. However, enough of the finches had adapted, so that when the weather returned to normal, the finch population returned to normal. No permanent change had occurred.

Darwin thought adaptation would lead to transformation, given enough time. His revolutionary purpose was to show how natural selection created new organisms: how squirrels became eagles, and bacteria became whales, etc. However, fossils, nature as presently observed, and laboratory experiments all show this to be a pipe dream, making “evolution” not worthy of even being called a theory.

Despite Dyer’s citation from Scientific American, speciation has never been observed. Speciation, according to Darwin, occurs when an organism is permanently unable to breed within its original breeding community. Thus, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species failed to show what its title claimed!

Stephen Jay Gould admitted, in his euphemistic way, that Darwin’s role was to provide cover for the emergence of 19th-century materialism. Since then, Darwin has become the foundation for “the received wisdom.”

Ed. Note: Terry Scambray has been writing for the NOR on science, primarily evolution and intelligent design, for 16 years — longer than it takes to earn an advanced degree in paleontology, anthropology, or the biological sciences. His first appearance was in April 2007, when he reviewed A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature by Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt. Mr. Scambray was well versed in the subject at the time, and he is even more knowledgeable now, over a decade and a half hence.

Darrin Tebon is, by trade, an engineer in aerospace design. He is, therefore, likewise no stranger to thinking in scientific terms.

Intelligent design is a growing avenue of research, not some crackpot theory clung to by fringe fanatics or a souped-up version of creationism. Even Pope Benedict XVI gave intelligent design a boost, if not an implicit endorsement, when he said that the universe is an “intelligent project,” and criticized those who are “fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them” in imagining the universe is “free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance” (Nov. 11, 2005).

Both Michael Denton and Fr. Michael Chaberek have done decades’ worth of research in the field. As they have offered their ideas for consideration by the general public, it is not unreasonable that educated laymen should assess and convey their ideas in a publication that serves educated lay readers. The NOR isn’t an academic journal wherein specialists review one another’s work. It is a publication by and for educated laymen.

Readers interested in wading further into this debate may refer to our online dossier “Evolution & Intelligent Design” by clicking Topics in the top toolbar at newoxfordreview.org.

You May Also Enjoy

Letter to the Editor: September 1993

Vanauken Maligned... Let's Be Literal... Peter, the High Priest... The Merits of the Case... A Convert's Reminder... It Just Doesn't Work... Television Addiction... Jesus and Judaism... Look to the Desert...

The Perennial Crisis of Clerical Sexual Abuse

An attitude found among much of the laity is that an abused child will simply "bounce back" from grave sexual abuse once he grows up.

The Marketplace of Ideas -- Command-Economy Style

If you want to continue teaching on college campuses, it's best to hold to the politically correct version of the genesis of homosexual orientation.