Controversies over the teaching of evolution are back in the news. President Bush and a prominent Catholic cardinal have lent their support to the teaching of “intelligent design,” a purportedly scientific alternative to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The president said he wanted people to “understand what the debate [over evolution] is about.” Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, said the randomness of natural selection, unguided by any divine intention, clashes with Catholic understandings of providence.
Proponents of intelligent design point to biological systems so complex that the chances of their evolving by a random process is all but nil. They also note gaps in the evolutionary record and surprising leaps in the proliferation of species, and they conclude that evolutionary change must have been supplemented by some sort of guiding hand.