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Would St. Thomas Have Been an Evolutionary Psychologist?


Over at the Huffington Post, that organ of sophisticated theological analysis, Matt Rossano argues:

If he were alive today would Aquinas be an evolutionist? His writings suggest a mind already resonating with many evolutionary concepts. My sense is that Aquinas, like Aristotle and Albert before him, was just too curious and too smart not be at the intellectual vanguard wrestling with exciting new knowledge. Limping weakly behind with whiny unimaginative creationists would have been far too boring for a mind such as his.

In fact, Rossano actually tries to marshal St. Thomas for the least plausible part of the Darwinian program--evolutionay psychology.

Rossano finds some simlarities between Thomas' thought and the ideas of evolutionary psychology. But any two schools of thought will have something in common. On close inspection, however, it seems that Rossano's argument is something like the following:

St. Thomas was really smart and up-to-date in his own time period.

Really smart people in the twenty first century believe in Pan-Darwinism.

Therefore, if St. Thomas were alive today, he'd be a good Darwinist.

But, as Logan Gage argues in his chapter in God and Evolution, Thomas was an essentialist. And essentialism is about as far from evolutionary psychology as you can get.

For two good critiques of Rossano's argument, check out Vincent Torley's response to Rossano over at Uncommon Descent, and Joe Carter's response in the comments at First Things.