Ernan McMullin dies

Ernan McMullinErnan McMullin

The philosopher Ernan McMullin died on February 8, 2011, at the age of 86, according to the University of Notre Dame's obituary (February 9, 2011). Born in Ballybofey, Donegal, Ireland, on October 13, 1924, McMullin was educated at Maynooth College, where he received his B.Sc. in 1945 and his B.D. in 1948. He was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1949, and then studied at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Dublin and the University of Louvain, where he received his Ph.D. in 1954. He spent forty years in the philosophy department at the University of Notre Dame, from which he retired in 1994. The author of numerous scholarly and popular articles on the history and philosophy of science, he was also the author of Newton on Matter and Activity (1978) and The Inference that Makes Science (1992). Among his honors were honorary degrees from Maynooth College, the National University of Ireland, Loyola University (Chicago), Stonehill College, and the University of Notre Dame.

Evolution and creation was a recurring topic in McMullin's work. For example, he edited and contributed a lengthy introduction to the collection Evolution and Creation (1985); criticized Alvin Plantinga's views on evolution and the Bible in Christian Scholar's Review in 1991 (reprinted in Robert T. Pennock's collection Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics, 2001) and in Zygon in 1993; and delivered a lecture on "Evolution as a Christian Theme" at Baylor University in 2004. In his 2004 lecture, he argued (PDF) that Augustine's view of origins, though not itself evolutionary, "open[s] the way to portraying the contemporary theory of evolution as consonant with the Christian doctrine of creation," and criticized "these proponents of what nowadays goes under the label of 'Intelligent Design'" for implicitly assuming "inadequacy of the original creation to bring about the Creator's ends without further later causal supplementation on the Creator's part."