recursos_evolucion_txt_Origen del hombre

Origin of man

Origin of man

Author: Mariano Artigas and Daniel Turbón
Published in: EUNSA
Publication date: 2007

The second edition of the "Origin of Man" has appeared (May-08); besides allowing for the correction of some errata, it has given Professor Turbón the opportunity to include a new chapter entitled "The Origin of the Living", like the second chapter of the previous edition. The chapter which in the first edition bore this name, and which has now become the third, is entitled "The theories of evolution". This addition maintains the original outline of the book, in which the first part is of a scientific nature and the second part is a philosophical reflection. In this way, fill in is achieved and gives a broader perspective of the current scientific data on the origins of life and its most remote evolution. The general scientific framework is thus established, in which the contents of the following three chapters are framed. Some illustrations have also been replaced by others that provide greater clarity to what is presented in the text.

Origin of Man. Science, Philosophy and Religion
Mariano Artigas and Daniel Turbón
Collection: Astrolabio Ciencias
ISBN: 978-84-313-2501-5
192 pages


Review by Carlos A. Marmelada

(The numbers in brackets indicate the pages of the book.) 

Although there are still many uncertainties surrounding knowledge about the origin of humanity, science is shedding more and more light on topic. The question is whether science alone can do this. The question is whether it is only science that can do this: can philosophy and religion no longer say anything meaningful about it? Precisely what Artigas and Turbón's book tries to do is: "to establish a philosophical framework that gives an account, on another level of rationality, of what science currently tells us about our roots" (11).

Science is an extremely successful form of knowledge . It has managed to transform society and the world in just three centuries, allowing man to influence, for better or worse, nature itself. It is this very success that has led many to believe that science exhausts rationality; or at least that it is the best form of rationality that human understanding can achieve. It is true that neither philosophy nor theology can live with their backs turned to scientific rationality if they want to say something that makes sense to today's man; but this does not mean, far from it, that science occupies a privileged place, let alone a superior one, in terms of its ability to knowledge goal of reality. All it means is that there are a series of questions that are on the borderline between these three forms of human knowledge and, therefore, that all three must be open to a fruitful dialogue that can only benefit them, as long as this dialogue is carried out with due respect for the methodological limits of each of these forms of knowledge. For this reason, reading this book "constitutes an invitation to reflect personally on the different questions that appear throughout the pages" (16).

Already the first chapter confronts us, from the outset, with the basic questions that will be addressed in this book: are we purely beings Materials whose existence ends with biological death? Are we the simple fruit of natural forces moved by chance or are we the result of a divine plan? Of course, to answer one way or the other means that we are faced with a radically different concept of man, depending on the answer we come to. Indeed, it is not the same to say that the human being is the fruit of a biological evolution produced entirely by chance as it is to say that a transcendent God creates the universe by conferring on it a dynamism that implies an evolutionary unfolding of his creation in such a way that he also counts on the fortuitous concurrence of causes to be able to realise the biological origin of man.

It is now of great importance to be able to establish the real limits of the scientific theory of evolution. When this is done, it becomes clear that evolution, as a scientific theory, "has nothing to say about the existence of a divine plan" (20). This is common sense. Natural science studies material reality, leaving it outside its purview, in a way deliberated by methodological imperatives, so it can say nothing about them, either for or against. When this is forgotten, science is often made to "say more than it is actually in a position to say" (25).

There are occasions when problems arise from semantic confusion. For this reason, the authors insist on clarifying the difference between methodological naturalism and ontological naturalism. The former is of a genuinely scientific nature and consists in focusing on the study of the quantitative aspects of nature, and thus completely neglects the study of spiritual realities, since its method of investigation is incapable of dealing with them. The second, on the other hand, is not scientific but philosophical and makes the mistake of declaring that spiritual realities do not exist because they cannot be studied by the methodological tools of science.

Ontological naturalism abuses the scientific theory of evolution and forces it to say more to the latter than it, strictly speaking, says in an attempt to make it an ally of materialism and an enemy of religion.

But the truth is "that religion, philosophy and natural science respond to different perspectives" (26) and therefore do not oppose each other, but complement each other. There are questions, such as the origins of the universe and the origins of man, which are on the borderline between these three forms of human knowledge. Clarifying these frontiers is what Artigas and Turbón's book develops.

The second chapter deals with the origin of living organisms and begins with a brief review of the theories of biological evolution since the 18th century. The names of Linnaeus, Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, Spencer and Hugo de Vries are presented in these pages before giving way to the study of the synthetic theory and the theory of punctuated equilibrium.

The chapter continues with the study of human evolution, but not from the point of view of the fossil record, but from the perspective of the evolution of the notorious encephalisation that we humans have, addressing questions such as the reason for our lengthy childhood or the need for the introduction of adolescence in our ontogenetic development .

This brings us directly to chapter three, which deals with the origin of man. Although there is some discussion of the fossil record here, again the topic of encephalisation is discussed, this time in relation to language. What was the first hominid species to begin to speak? The authors address the question in this chapter. The first humans to move out of Africa is also discussed. Finally, the exclusively human ontogenetic development is revisited: childhood and adolescence.

Chapter four deals with the origin and development of our species. Naturally, the Neanderthals are also discussed here, as well as the theories that maintain that all of today's humanity comes from African populations that migrated and colonised the entire world, replacing the existing populations (out of Africa hypothesis), and its competitor, the regional continuity hypothesis. Today, most specialists opt for the former, although the authors note the exceptional case of a skull found in China. This chapter is therefore the right place to talk about the African Eve or mitochondrial Eve and the Y-chromosome Adam.

The fifth chapter, written in collaboration with Enrique Moros, deals with the relationship between biological evolution and divine action. The first thing the authors explain is something obvious, but which is often forgotten or simply ignored, and that is the fact that scientific theories of evolution do not resolve religious questions (73 ff.). The alleged opposition between evolution and divine action is unfounded; "indeed, for something to be studied by the sciences, it must include dimensions Materials, which can be subjected to controllable experiments, and this is not the case with the spirit, nor with God, nor with the action of God" (77).

On certain occasions "Darwinism is often used to claim that Darwin has made it possible to be an atheist in an intellectually legitimate way, because Darwinism would show that it is not necessary to admit divine action to explain the existence of order in the world" (78). But the truth is that "the evolutionary worldview, rather than placing obstacles in the way of the existence of divine action, is quite congruent with the plans of a God who ordinarily wants to reckon with the action of created causes" (80-81).

One of the key issues in the discussion on the compatibility between the theory of evolution and Christianity is the question of finality in nature. This is the subject of the sixth chapter. Naturally, this is the place to analyse the theses of Jaques Monod and Stephen Jay Gould. Monod speaks of chance, but he himself proposes the existence of teleonomy in nature; however, teleonomy is still "a kind of teleology or finality" (86); therefore, "there should be no problem in combining evolution and the existence of a divine plan" (88). The reason for this is that "the same effect can be regarded as contingent when compared with its immediate causes and, at the same time, be included within the divine plan which cannot fail" (89). In other words, the existence of chance within a rationally made divine creation is not impossible, but entirely logical. According to Carlo Rubia, award Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984, "it is clear that all this cannot be the consequence of chance (...) There is, evidently, something or someone making things as they are" (92). At final: "the combination of chance and necessity, of variety and selection, together with the potentialities for self-organisation, can easily be envisaged as the path used by God to produce the process of evolution" (92).

Chance is the result of the accidental concurrence of numerous independent causes. Chance exists, it is something real, but it only exists from an immanent perspective, "for God, who is the First Cause on which everything always depends, there is no chance or causality. Therefore, from the existence of chance in evolution it cannot be concluded that there is no divine plan and that the human being is not the foreseen result of that plan" (93).

The fact that chance is compatible with an order that reflects a rationally conducted creation does not mean that the proponents of the intelligent design are right.

Chapter seven deals with the origin of the so-called scientific creationism movement. The ultra-creationists adopt a radical stance in opposition to the ultra-Darwinists; but the error of both is very similar; what both groups seek to do is to settle the question on the basis of some scientific evidence. Both sides try to prove their thesis with scientific arguments, but, since that is not possible, they have to make science say things that it neither really says nor can say; and, therefore, arguments arise about what is really science and what is not.

For the ultra-evolutionists the concept of "scientific evolutionism" is synonymous with "naturalism"; that is, it denies, plain and simple, the existence of realities outside the forces of nature studied by experimental science. But the fact that experimental science only studies phenomena Materials does not mean that there are no spiritual realities; it is just that science can only study these realities subject because of its methodological limits.

Evolutionism, understood as a scientific theory, is one thing, and materialism as a philosophy is quite another, which does not follow at all from the former. So to maintain, as the ultra-Darwinists do, that materialism is the logical conclusion of the scientific theory of biological evolution is to confuse the scientific and philosophical planes.

Scientific creationism opposes the teaching of the scientific theory of evolution in schools because it sees it as an ally of the atheistic materialism to which we alluded. But this is a misunderstanding of topic, and, in making such an identification, they make the same mistake as the ultra-Darwinists.

The theory of intelligent design (ID) is a movement that aims to demonstrate that science is capable of proving that nature clearly reflects the existence of a design that has been intentionally conceived by an intelligent designer.

The motivation of ID proponents is the same as that of scientific creationists, to combat materialism that claims to rely on science to support its thesis. The difference is that ID proponents rely neither on the Bible nor on arguments drawn from religion, but insist that their thesis is scientific. As to what this Universal Designer is like, they do not commit themselves to identifying him with a personal, provident God.

Chapter eight deals with the relationship between evolution and the human person. The authors admire the fact that there are those who "use science, one of our most amazing creations, to diminish what we really are" (110), when it turns out that science itself is a clear example of the exceptional nature of human intelligence. From this point of view, recognising human dignity and its peculiarity compared to the rest of nature is not an attitude of anthropocentric arrogance but the simple recognition of a fact goal.

When did man's spiritual dimensions appear, was it with Homo sapiens, or were they perhaps already present in Homo habilis? Here is the discussion. A discussion that implies being clear about "what is unique about man, what distinguishes and characterises him? (116).

This chapter analyses emergentism, which affirms that all specifically human qualities emerge from the potentialities of subject. It also reviews the antithetical position, which asserts that man is a being of nature but at the same time transcends it.

The ground is ready to address the relationship between evolution and Christianity, which is done in chapter 9. This chapter opens with a fundamental, clear and direct question: "Can one be both an evolutionist and a Christian? (121); the authors' answer is yes. And in contrast to those who proclaim a creative evolution, they counterpose an evolutionary creation.

This chapter first reviews the historical position of the Catholic thinker Mivart in relation to evolutionism. It then analyses the words of the letter written on 16 January 1948 by the Pontifical Biblical Commission and sent to the Archbishop of Paris with the approval of Pope Pius XII, which deals with the first chapters of Genesis.

In 1950 Pius XII himself published an encyclical, Humani generis, in which he spoke about evolutionism and its relationship with the Christian faith. The next reference is John Paul II; specifically, one of his speech made in 1981 at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and another, made in 1985 and addressed to the participants of a symposium on Christian faith and evolution, in which he recalled the aforementioned encyclical of Pius XII. The following year John Paul II returned to topic in his catechesis. But the Holy Father's most significant words came in 1996 when he addressed a message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. On this occasion he said that the theory of evolution was more than a hypothesis. As could not be otherwise, there is also an epigraph dedicated to analysing Benedict XVI's position on evolution, starting with his homilies on the first chapters of Genesis, delivered in 1981 and published in 1985 under the title: Creation and Sin. The chapter closes with an interesting reflection on monogenism and polygenism.

The last chapter, the tenth, focuses on the analysis of the relationship between science and ideology. The authors' position is quite clear: "neither the fact of evolution nor its explanation by means of genetic variation and natural selection need to be interpreted in a materialistic or anti-supernaturalistic core topic , and are compatible with the existence of a personal creator God who governs the whole world, including the development of evolution" (137).

The analysis is not limited to biological evolution, but starts with some reflections on the impossibility of a self-creation of the universe, but then returns to topic of biological evolution. The thesis defended by the authors can be summed up in one sentence: "biological theories provide no basis for materialism or agnosticism" (143).

The authors' text ends with a declaration in favour of an interdisciplinary dialogue that would be of great benefit to all because "harmony between science, philosophy and religion is the way to achieve an authentic wisdom capable of making sense of human problems" (145).

The book closes with more than thirty pages devoted to an analysis of a whole series of documents by John Paul II, Robert Speamann, Fiorenzo Facchini, and points 56 to 70 written by the International Theological Commission and devoted to the human person as created in the image and likeness of God.

Artigas and Turbón have succeeded in writing a fundamental book for a correct understanding of the relationship between the scientific theory of evolution and the contents of the Christian faith.

Review published in El Manifiesto:

The most important question of all 

Human evolution: a fundamental update

What the newspapers have emphasised most about Professor Daniel Turbón is his assertion that man does not come from the chimpanzee. That's fine, but that's the least of it. The most important thing is the work he has just published together with Mariano Artigas: Origen del hombre. Science, philosophy and religion, which is the best update on human evolution, the controversies surrounding the origin of man and the philosophical and theological implications of the different theories involved. When did what we know as "man" appear, what is the value of the theory of evolution, what exactly did Darwin say, what have we discovered thanks to genetics, what does philosophy have to do with all this... Fundamental questions that Turbón exposes with impressive clarity and pleasant conciseness.

Is it possible to explain the theory of evolution today, after the knowledge acquired thanks to the Genetics, and to do it in a clear, simple and pedagogical way without losing rigor? Yes, it is possible, and the book by Mariano Artigas and Daniel Turbón Origen del hombre. Ciencia, Philosophy, religión (Eunsa Astrolabio, Pamplona, 2007) is the best demonstration. All the great questions about the origin of man and his evolution pass through these pages. Mariano Artigas, recently deceased, was a priest and doctor in Physics, member of the International Society for Science and Religion, of the School of Theology of Cambridge. Daniel Turbón is Full Professor of Physical Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, where he has been explaining human evolution for twenty-five years. This work is the decanted fruit of many years of research and pedagogy.

The origin of man begins by posing the great question: precisely that of the origin of man, in a rapid tour of the different theories that have tried to answer this eternal question. The authors then methodically examine the subject: they talk about the origin of living beings according to the different theories of evolution, and the origin of man as the scientific community represents him today (pre-humans, the process of encephalisation, the birth of language, the first African migration, etc.), to end with an examination of the current theories on the origin and dispersion of present-day mankind. Having established the scientific evidence, Artigas and Turbón review the different ways in which thought has interpreted this data: the relationship between evolution and divine action, and between evolution and purpose; the intelligent design , evolution and the human person, as well as the position of the Church in this respect, to end with a very pertinent clarification of how much science and how much ideology there is in current theories of evolution.

The most brilliant aspect of the book is undoubtedly its display of both philosophical and scientific erudition: the authors do not ignore anything that has been said and written about the origin of man in two thousand years of Western culture. At the same time, this display is shown in a deliberately informative way, so that the reader never loses the thread of the story. The abundant pictures and drawings effectively help the reader to understand those passages that may be more difficult to understand because of their Degree specialisation.

If you want to get a clear idea of what the scientific discussion on human evolution consists of and what its philosophical and ideological implications are, Origin of Man will be an essential tool .

Review published in Aceprensa

This posthumous work by Mariano Artigas (PhD in Physics, Philosophy and Theology, author of a number of books) seeks to overcome the outdated stereotype that science and religion are antithetical; today they are considered to be complementary.

The author collects the most important issues relating science and religion and explores them in such a way as to clarify the fundamental concepts involved in the discussion.

A number of chapters deal with the nature of science, as well as its epistemological status; others with the relationship between science and philosophy on the one hand, and theology on the other. Scientism is criticised, but also creationism, which holds against all odds a literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis. The relations between religion and the theory of biological evolution are also analysed, as well as the concept of metaphysical creation. Artigas rigorously concludes that there is no contradiction between the fact of creation and the theory of biological evolution, as long as the latter is not confused with those ideologies that use it to defend a scientifically unjustifiable ontological materialism or naturalism.

Science and Religion is, at final, an essential book for those who are interested in a serious approach to the philosophy of nature, but also for all those who want to start a global reflection on science and theology.