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Appealing to the Pope

Kenneth Miller, Francisco Ayala, and Lawrence Krauss have decided to go to the top, asking Pope Benedict XVI to clarify his views on evolution and design.

New pope questioned over evolution
New Scientist, 23 July 2005, 5.
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18725096.200

THREE prominent US scientists have asked the new pope, Benedict XVI, to clarify the Roman Catholic church’s views on evolution, and to reject a piece in The New York Times last week by Austrian cardinal Christoph Schönborn, a close associate of Benedict, which said that the church does not accept “neo-Darwinian dogma”.

A 1996 statement by the late Pope John Paul II seemed finally to mark the church’s acceptance of evolution. But while common ancestry for life “might be true”, Schönborn wrote, “an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection is not”. Denial of the “overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science”, he added. Most biologists would question that such evidence exists.

“Denial of the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science”

The cardinal’s language is highly reminiscent of intelligent design activists in the US, with whom he has links. Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, and prominent Catholic evolutionists Francisco Ayala of the University of California at Irvine and Kenneth Miller of Brown University in Rhode Island have asked Benedict not “to build a new divide, long ago eradicated, between the scientific method and religious belief”.

Miller calls himself an orthodox Catholic and an orthodox Darwinian. Ayala left the Catholic priesthood long ago — is there evidence that he is still a practicing Catholic? I have no knowledge of Krauss being a Catholic.

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7 Responses to Appealing to the Pope

  1. Here we go again. Darwinism = scientific method, ID = religious belief. I am realy getting tired of this dogma. It is accepted and reiterated, may times, by prominent evolutionists that Darwinism fits the sphere of philosophical (if not religious) belief. So lets move forward and debate pros and contras based on scientific evidence.

  2. Miller is scared because he knows, that as a scientist, he should not have his religion question darwinism. Common ancestry is well established based on the evidence. However, the catholic church isn’t positing an unguided or unplanned process. Far from being the case. Miller is just really scared.

  3. Ken Miller is a religious fanatic!

    “The indeterminate nature of quantum events would allow a clever and subtle God to influence events in ways that are profound, but scientifically undetectable to us. Those events could include the appearance of mutations, the activation of individual neurons in the brain, and even the survival of individual cells and organisms affected by the chance processes of radioactive decay…God, the creator of space, time, chance and indeterminacy, would exercise exactly the degree of control He chooses” –Ken Miller

    I don’t see how Miller can embrace quantum indeterminacy as mechanism of divine intervention and yet lambaste ID (a non-religious proposition based on events that are detectable). Perhaps I should write the pope and have him clarify this for me… :)

  4. I would obviously like the creation-evolution-design issue to be clarified by the Pope, but of course the Church cannot speak “infallibly” to science issues since infallibility is restricted to faith and morals ONLY. The Church and the Pope can have an “opinion” on the science obviously, but there can also be individual orthodox Catholics who are geocentrists, young earthers, progressive creationists, theistic evolution, intelligent design, or anything in between simply because the Church cannot make official judgments on science matters.

    To quote Catholic scholar Ludwig Ott from a standard reference source, FUNDAMENTALS OF CATHOLIC DOGMA (Tan Books, 1974) –

    “By DOGMA in the strict sense is understood a truth immediately (formally) revealed by God which has been proposed by the Teaching Authority [or Magisterium] of the Church to be believed as such. The first Vatican Council (1869-70) explains:

    Fide divina et catholica ea omnia credenta sunt, quae in verbo Dei scripto vel tradito continentur et ab Ecclesia sive solmeni iudicio sive ordinario et universali magisterio tanquam divinitus revelata credenda proponuntur [Denz 1792].

    “All those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God written or handed down [from Christ and His apostles] and which are proposed for our belief by the Church either in a solemn definition or in its ordinary and universal authoritative teaching.” (Ott, page 4)

    Christ and His apostles obviously did not hand down any teaching about biology or how it works. We turn to science for the physical facts on that.

    Again, see paragraphs 62-70 of the International Theological Commission statement, endorsed by Cardinal Ratzinger last year, although not directly penned by him. Also his commentary on Genesis 1-3, both pro-evolution and pro-ID statements can be attributed to him.

    http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p80.htm

    Phil P

  5. Kudo’s to you guys with the above comments.
    and i’ll add to that the following….

    {{{ hear no evil!, see no evil!, speak no evil! }}}

    such are the lame ideas/comments/beliefs [& answer to everything ] by the darwinist camp…
    perhaps then, there is no evil! ?.

    p-s, ill also like to add – if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear the sound, does it make a sound [when it falls] ?

    Charlie

  6. OK, here is the scoop on Catholic teaching about creation –

    Ludwig Ott in his authoritative Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (TAN Books, 1974, orig 1952) affirms these points (De Fide are infallible dogmas “of Catholic faith”).

    All that exists outside God was, in its whole substance, produced out of nothing by God. (De Fide)

    Ott points out that what is in view here by the First Vatican Council are those heresies of ancient pagan and gnostic-manichean dualism (where God is not responsible for the entire created world, since mere “matter” is evil not good, etc), along with modern materialism or pantheism (Ott, page 79). Biological evolution is not in view here. Further:

    God was moved by His Goodness to create the world. (De Fide)
    The world was created for the Glorification of God. (De Fide)
    The Three Divine Persons are one single, common Principle of the Creation. (De Fide)
    God created the world free from exterior compulsion and inner necessity. (De Fide)
    God has created a good world. (De Fide)
    The world had a beginning in time. (De Fide)
    God alone created the world. (De Fide)
    God keeps all created things in existence. (De Fide)
    God, through His Providence, protects and guides all that He has created. (De Fide)

    There’s more about Adam/Eve, original sin and the Fall, but this should get Miller, Kraus, Ayala and the Pope started. :-)

    Phil P

  7. Re Miller’s stating the God can influence the outcome of quantum uncertainty. I don’t think Miller’s out of line saying that but I have a problem with it because I don’t know what natural law God could use in the intervention. I’d rather suppose an intelligence that works through, not around, natural laws.

    Intelligence is all about choosing between possible outcomes for a purpose. Events that are highly improbable can be routinely selected via intelligent means. For instance, it’s not impossible for nature to produce a Swiss watch and in an infinite amount of time nature would have to eventually produce one. Such is the nature of infinity. But in a finite amount of time in a finite universe, even with 20 billion years and the entire known universe, it’s practically impossible. So when we see a Swiss watch we can rest assured it wasn’t spit out by a natural process even if we’ve never seen a Swiss watch before. The machinery of life is many orders of magnitude more complex than a watch. The most reasonable assumption about its origin and evolution is that it wasn’t a natural process that spit it out. RM+NS operating over 4 billion years in an experimental laboratory the size of the earth appears to fall far short of the time and space needed. A Lamarckian mechanism would have greatly accelerated the process (Darwin realized this) and even though that wouldn’t answer abiogenesis (which Darwin never attempted to explain) it would go a long way towards explaining how creative evolution from bacteria to everything extant today could be reasonably accomplished in 4 billion years. I half expect that a Lamarckian mechanism of some sort will be discovered that replaces the RM part of RM+NS. I also half expect that there will some sort of intelligence (perhaps quantum based neural networks embedded in the structure of DNA) the drives the Lamarckian modification and inheritance mechanism. RM+NS just doesn’t cut the mustard and most biologists will privately concede that point. What most biologists won’t
    do is risk their careers through public admission. As the political climate improves and evidence against RM+NS mounts more and more scientists will bring their skepticism out of the closet. For them to do it now is like gays coming out of the closet 50 years ago – for most it just isn’t worth the persecution to do it.

    I’m a firm reductionist who believes that, in principle, everything observable is explainable via natural law. I also believe that intelligence is explainable via natural law. What I don’t necessarily believe is that humankind is the first intelligence that emerged in this big old universe. The whole shootin’ match appears to be designed to accomodate the emergence of rational man. Various multiverse theories are all I know of that can begin to explain the virtual impossibility of the universe’s accomodating nature. And as another poster eloquently said – many-worlds theories don’t pass the giggle test amongst experimental and quantum physicists so while they’re interesting to read I don’t put much faith in any of them being true. Since intelligence is already a proven quantity in the universe it doesn’t need to pass a giggle test – it already passed the reality test.

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