Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Aquinas, Evolution and Double Agency

Here again, scientific work on the story of life has shown that it is a narrative permeated with stochastic processes governed primarily by serendipity. To put it another way, evolution is a sequence of chance events, a series of accidental intersections of two causal chains. For instance, a recent scientific paper published in the prestigious journal, Nature, argues that one or at most two genetic mutations in the FOXP2 gene that occurred sometime during the last 200,000 years of human existence is responsible for conferring upon human beings the physiological capacities to develop a proficient spoken language. Genetic mutations of the type associated with FOXP2, however, are usually caused by one of two processes: random errors in DNA synthesis or random errors in the repair of DNA damaged by chemical mutagens or high-energy radiation. Both processes are mediated by the error-prone molecule, DNA polymerase. Thus, it would seem that the appearance of language, an essential element of human nature, was a completely unpredictable event.

Rev. Nicanor Austriaco, In Defense of Double Agency in Evolution: A Response to Five Modern Critics