Kolbe Report 6/22/24

The Origin of Life and the End of Evolution

Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I have a number of things to share with you in this newsletter, but first I would like to tell you about a bizarre situation that we have encountered in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.  On Saturday, June 29, we will give a Kolbe seminar at a 4-H Center near Front Royal, but the pastor of the local parish, St. John the Baptist, was willing to host a debate the following day, between two of our speakers and two theistic evolutionists, if we could find two Catholic theistic evolutionists willing to participate in a debate on the following resolution:

Be it resolved that the special creation by God of all things less than ten thousand years ago is a better explanation of all of the facts of Scripture, Tradition, authoritative Magisterial teaching and natural science than theistic evolution, the idea that God used hundreds of millions of years of the same kinds of material processes going on now to evolve the bodies of the first human beings.

Since Front Royal is located near to some of the leading academic centers of theistic evolutionism in the United States, including the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., some of our colleagues began to contact those institutions several weeks ago to see if any of their faculty would be willing to participate in a debate.  To our amazement, we have not been able to find a single person who is willing to accept this opportunity to debate the resolution posted above in a parish forum, including a person in the Diocese of Arlington who gives regular seminars promoting theistic evolutionism.  That person attempted to sabotage an invitation that I received to make a presentation in another parish in the diocese about ten years ago, but when I asked him if he would be willing to have a debate in that parish, he said that he did not think that it was right to have debates with fellow Catholics!  When one of our colleagues contacted him recently to invite him to take part in a debate in St. John the Baptist Parish, he once again declined.

Dr. Kevin Mark generously arranged to be away from his family in North Dakota for an extra day so that he could participate in the debate with me, but since we cannot find anyone to debate with us, we would be available to make a presentation at any venue within a reasonable driving distance of Front Royal, Virginia, on Sunday, June 30.  If you or someone you know in the area could arrange a venue for us that afternoon, we would be delighted to accept the invitation.  Please just contact me as soon as possible at

The Origin of Life and the End of Evolution

One of the consequences of living in the Information Age seems to be that we lose our capacity to distinguish between the trivial and the profound.  Even when we are presented with information that has profound ramifications for our understanding of God and the universe, we tend to want to “move on” to the next new piece of information, rather than to rest in the contemplation of profound truth.  Some of my Kolbe colleagues and I had a series of exchanges with an Evangelical-turned-traditional-Catholic-turned-atheist which included a session on the origin of life.  When the atheist presented the usual materialist arguments for the possibility of the origin of coded information and of the whole machinery of life through unguided material processes, my three colleagues showed that he had not even demonstrated how the building blocks of life could have been produced through un-directed material processes, much less how coded information and increases in functional biological information could be produced in this way.  According to the protocol we had agreed upon, each side was supposed to give a critique of the other side’s arguments, but instead our atheist friend announced that he had no interest in pursuing this particular topic any further!

If our friend at that point had stopped to reflect on the gulf that separates non-living matter from the “simplest” life, he could not have remained an atheist.  Instead, he immediately wanted to “move on” to the next topic in his arsenal of arguments against the existence of God.  I mention this experience because when we engage in discussions with unbelievers, we need to be prepared to insist that they not “move on” to another topic when we present an unanswerable argument against one of their central tenets.  We often suggest that a great place to begin a discussion with an atheist is with the origin of coded information—since atheists will generally acknowledge the reality that all living things are full of coded information.  It is not difficult to prove that even the simplest code requires a mind and a free will.

We recommend using the example of a group of cousins on vacation in their grandparents’ house. They want to create a code to warn each other when Grandma or Grandpa is coming to check up on them.  They agree that one knock will stand for Grandma and two knocks for Grandpa.  Now even this simple code could not come into existence without intellect and free will.  The children must have minds to decide that X = Y and they must have a free will to decide that X = Y and not Z.  Moreover, there are no examples of any kind of meaningful code arising from inorganic chemicals, either in nature or in the laboratory.  All such examples involve the assignment of meaning to the chemicals by human beings—which requires the use of the intellect and free will of those human beings, be they atheists or theistic evolutionists.

But that is not the end of the story.

As Dr. John Sanford explains, DNA sequences in all living things possess an information density that far surpasses the capabilities of the most gifted human intellects:

DNA sequences have meaning on several different levels (poly-functional) and each level of meaning limits possible future change (poly-constrained). For example, imagine a sentence which has a very specific message in its normal form, but has an equally coherent message when read backwards. Now let’s suppose that it also has a third message when reading every other letter, and a fourth message when a simple encryption program is used to translate it. Such a message would be poly-functional and poly-constrained. We know that misspellings in a normal message will not normally improve the message . . . However, a poly-constrained message . . . cannot be improved. It can only degenerate.

With this in mind, when confronted by an atheist or theistic evolutionist who believes that the functional coded information in living things could have arisen and increased in functionality through material processes without any direct involvement by God, you could give them this simple challenge:

Create an English sentence of 12 to 20 words which:

  • A) gives a meaningful set of directions when read from left to right;
  • B) gives a different meaningful set of directions when read from right to left;
  • C) gives a different meaningful set of directions when every third letter is read from left to right;
  • D) gives a different meaningful set of directions when translated into another language.

If your interlocutor is an honest man, he will admit that he would hail any human being as a genius who could meet that challenge.  And yet even the “simplest” living things are filled with books of information, written into their genomes at this level of designed complexity and information density.  Thus, it is absurd to hold that the complexity of the coded information in living things could have arisen through unguided material processes, without the agency of an exalted intellect and will.

The Absurdity of Evolution and the Simplicity of the Children of God

If it is absurd to posit the origin of languages and coded information through material processes, it is just as absurd to suppose that the biological information in the genome of a microbe could increase over time through merely material processes to produce the information in the human genome.  With expert help from our webmaster Keith Jones, our colleague Helen Dickey has made a video of her excellent pamphlet “DNA, Fairy Tales and Chance,” which we hope you will use to show family and friends the impossibility of explaining the origin of life and of the different kinds of living things without acknowledging the Supreme Intellect and Will of our Creator.

One of the things that I love about Helen’s video is the way that she describes asking for and receiving Our Lord’s guidance in putting it together.  At critical points, she asked Him how to communicate a particular idea, and immediately He inspired her with the answer.  This serves as a great example for all of us as we try to speak “the truth in charity” to lead souls to God.  On the one hand, we must know the essential doctrines of our Catholic Faith from a tried and tested source, like the Catechism of the Council of Trent.  The unchanging defined doctrines of the Faith provide the foundation for our spiritual life.  On the other hand, they do not absolve us of the need for mental prayer and personal communication with God.  It is only when we have true doctrine AND a living relationship with God who is the Way, the Truth and the Life that we can communicate His Truth to others in charity so that they recognize His voice in ours and want to invite Him into their lives.

Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,

Hugh Owen

P.S.  As explained in an article on the Kolbe website at this link by “an anonymous priest,” the theology of the Absolute Primacy of Christ goes hand in hand with the traditional doctrine of creation.  On July 12-14, in Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Parish in Chicago, a conference on the Absolute Primacy of Christ will take place as described at this link. If you would be interested in attending the conference, you will find all of the information you need to register on the conference website.  I will be giving a presentation on the test of the angels at the beginning of creation as it relates to the theology of the Absolute Primacy of Christ.

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