by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. | Editorial | Homiletic & Pastoral Review | October 2011
In his textbook, Philosophical Psychology (FSSP, Elmhurst, PA 1999), Prof. D.Q. McInerny lists and evaluates the six presuppositions of Darwinist evolution. The first presupposition is that life came to be, the way it is on earth, through natural means; there is no need for divine intervention, such as we find in the Book of Genesis. The second element is that life arose from non-life. The claim is that, over millions of years, matter became more complex until, by some chance of volcanic activity or lightning, there was a sudden transformation to the organic state, the beginning of life.
The third element is the idea that all life we know on earth is to be traced back to that first primitive form of life. Once life had gained a foothold on earth, there was more complexification until animal life evolved from plant life. After that, the two kingdoms continued to develop over millions of years to produce the many species of plant and animal life, including man.
According to the fourth element in the theory, it all began with a simple cell that underwent changes. The multiplicity of species in plants and animals is explained by chance mutation. The mutations, they say, must be small so that the new entity can survive; the change is positive, and gives the new entity an advantage over what went before. It is more suitable to survive, and to propagate others like itself. The improved one survives, and its ancestors do not. The process went on for millions of years to produce all the life forms on earth.
The fifth element is natural selection, or the survival of the fittest. The mutated organisms, that have an enhanced capacity for survival, is what Darwin called natural selection. The fourth and fifth elements are the key to the explanation of why one species is formed into another. So the mutations are necessarily very small, with the process requiring an immense amount of time—millions, and perhaps billions, of years.