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The Pope Circling Around ID

It will be interesting to see where this debate is in the Roman Catholic Church by the time we get to Darwin’s bicentennial in 2009.

Pope puts his faith in the Book of Genesis, not Darwin
Richard Owen in Rome
From The Times, April 13, 2007

His predecessor appeared, on balance, to favour the scientists. But the present Pope may have tipped the scales the other way in the argument over which is the truer account of the Creation: On the Origin of Species or the Book of Genesis.

Pope Benedict XVI has stepped into the debate over Darwinism with remarks that will be seen as an endorsement of “intelligent design”.

The Pope did not explicitly back intelligent design or creationism. He praised scientific progress but said that the Darwinian theory of evolution was “not finally provable” because: “We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory.”

Intelligent design (ID) argues that life forms are too complex to have evolved randomly, and must have been created by a higher power. Scientists denounce this as a thinly disguised form of creationism, the view that God created the world literally as described in the Book of Genesis. US courts have ruled that neither should be taught in school science because that would violate the separation of Church and State.

Many of those who back intelligent design will draw encouragement from the Pope’s remarks.

The Pope’s remarks are made in a book published in Germany, Creation and Evolution, a summary of the discussion on Darwinism that the pontiff held last summer at Castelgandolfo, the papal retreat. He makes clear his belief that there is room for an explanation beyond scientific limits when discussing the origins of life and the Universe.

Last summer Father George Coyne, the Vatican’s chief astronomer, was removed after he lambasted intelligent design, saying that it was not science. Father Coyne, an American Jesuit and director of the Vatican Observatory for nearly 30 years, had said that placing intelligent design alongside evolution was “like mixing apples with oranges”. He urged the Pope to withhold judgment, saying that he “doesn’t have the slightest idea of what intelligent design means in the US”.

Last November the Pope suggested that the “cosmos” was an “intelligent project” and criticised those who said that creation was without direction or order.

In his latest intervention, the Pope appears to dissociate himself from remarks made in 1996 by John Paul II, who said that although creation was the work of God evolution was “more than a hypothesis”.

“My predecessor had his reasons for saying this,” the Pope said. “But it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.”

On the day of his installation as Pope, he remarked: “We are not some casual and meaning-less product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God.” Two years ago the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, also appeared to back intelligent design. He dismissed John Paul II’s views on Darwinism as “vague and unimportant”.

The Pope said that evolution raised questions that science alone could not answer. He advanced the view that God created life through evolution, with the creation in Genesis explained as an allegory. But he rejected the “God of the gaps” theory, which argues that whatever science cannot explain must be due to divine intervention.

Life, the Universe and everything

“There is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points. In order to mark out the limits of their own proper fields, theologians and those working on the exegesis of the Scripture need to be well-informed regarding the results of the latest scientific research.”

— John Paul II, 1996

“The question is not to either make a decision for a creationism that excludes science, or for an evolutionary theory that covers over its own gaps and does not want to see the questions that reach beyond the methodological possibilities of natural science. The theory of evolution implies questions that must be assigned to philosophy and which themselves lead beyond the realms of science.”

— Benedict XVI, 2007

SOURCE: www.timesonline.co.uk…

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9 Responses to The Pope Circling Around ID

  1. I like Benedict XVI so far.

  2. Here is the headline

    “Pope puts his faith in the Book of Genesis, not Darwin”

    Here is a paragraph near the end.

    “The Pope said that evolution raised questions that science alone could not answer. He advanced the view that God created life through evolution, with the creation in Genesis explained as an allegory. But he rejected the “God of the gaps” theory, which argues that whatever science cannot explain must be due to divine intervention.”

    Let the spin begin.

  3. The Pope has also said something along the lines of criticizing the notion that Natural Selection has “agency”. In other words, people will say, “Oh, Natural Selection brought about that result.” It’s a kind of anthropromorphism. This, I suspect, will be the philosophical approach the Pope will take in criticizing Darwinism.

    It comes down, I think, to the circularity involved in this kind of statement: “Nature is the result of natural forces working on variations that arise.” This has the structure of something lifting itself up by its bootsraps since “natural forces” are the result of “Nature”, and “Nature” is the result of “natural forces”. Some kind of “agency” is required, and, philosophically, it is impossible to attribute “agency” to anything other than a “subject”. Hence, the proper question to be asked is: “‘who’ is the subject of this ‘agency’?”, not “‘what’ is the subject of this ‘agency’?”

    This is exactly the kind of discussion that needs to take place. Alleluia.

  4. Headlines are usually written by someone else and not the author of an article. Headlines are meant to be eye catching and many times it can be at odds with the actual article. The article itself seems to state that the current Pope agrees with the last Pope and that evolution was used by God to create life. That’s nice and all, but it’s just the Pope. I really don’t care what his opinions are on most things, especially science.

  5. Think I mentioned this somewhere hereabouts before—the Der Spiegel article: “Viennese Archbishop Christoph Schönborn is no longer alone in his crusade against the theory of evolution.” No telling what’s in the works over there.

  6. “We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory.”

    No disrespect, but has the Pope heard of bacteria?

  7. The article makes serious misrepresentations. (Seemingly typical of British writings on the Roman Catholic Church.)

    The article quotes Pope John Paul II’s 1996 statement:

    There is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points. In order to mark out the limits of their own proper fields, theologians and those working on the exegesis of the Scripture need to be well-informed regarding the results of the latest scientific research.

    This and other things in the article make it seem as if he had no problem with Darwinism. However, in the same speech, the Pope also said:

    And to tell the truth, rather than speaking about the theory of evolution, it is more accurate to speak of the theories of evolution. The use of the plural is required here — in part because of the diversity of explanations regarding the mechanism of evolution, and in part because of the diversity of philosophies involved… [T]he theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man.

    Also,

    Cardinal Schönborn did not “dismiss John Paul II’s views on Darwinism as ‘vague and unimportant’ ” as the article claims. Schönborn only said that the 1996 statement was “vague and unimportant” in relation to his 1985 lecture.

    From his July 7, 2005 essay in the New York Times:

    Consider the real teaching of our beloved John Paul. While his rather vague and unimportant 1996 letter about evolution is always and everywhere cited, we see no one discussing these comments from a 1985 general audience that represents his robust teaching on nature:

    “All the observations concerning the development of life lead to a similar conclusion. The evolution of living beings, of which science seeks to determine the stages and to discern the mechanism, presents an internal finality which arouses admiration. This finality which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible or in charge, obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator.”

    He went on: “To all these indications of the existence of God the Creator, some oppose the power of chance or of the proper mechanisms of matter. To speak of chance for a universe which presents such a complex organization in its elements and such marvelous finality in its life would be equivalent to giving up the search for an explanation of the world as it appears to us. In fact, this would be equivalent to admitting effects without a cause. It would be to abdicate human intelligence, which would thus refuse to think and to seek a solution for its problems.”

  8. “No disrespect, but has the Pope heard of bacteria?” rbrunner,

    Apparently he had some top scientists with him when they discussed evolution. The 10,000 would obviously apply to the organisms of interest to most when they examine evolution such as the animal phyla and specifically primates.

    The comment is a sop to the Darwinist because the statement implies there is nothing in the lab that supports evolution so he saying because scientists have not had enough time one can not conclude there is a definitive proof against it.

    As an aside. Are the original fruit flies of Morgan still going? How many generations would there be if there are?

  9. [...] papers and results from this conference. See following articles and Dembski’s previous post: The Pope Circling Around ID: [...]

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