Home » Intelligent Design » The Vatican and the Astronomer: Why George Coyne had to go

The Vatican and the Astronomer: Why George Coyne had to go

From what I can determine from recent pronouncements, the Vatican is not backing off the process of evicting Darwinism (“evolutionism”) as an innocuous belief system that a good Catholic can accept. Here’s Cardinal Schoenborn recently proposing an evolution debate:

Cardinal Schönborn, who sparked a worldwide debate in 2005 with an article in the New York Times on the subject, called for clarification of the difference between the “theory of evolution” and “evolutionism,” the latter understood as an ideology, based on scientific theory.

By way of example, the cardinal mentioned Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who saw in the publication of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species,” “the scientific foundation for their Marxist materialist theory. This is evolutionism, not theory of evolution.”

The archbishop of Vienna warned against the application of this evolutionist ideology in fields such as economic neo-liberalism, or bioethical issues, where there is the risk of creating new eugenic theories.

[ ... ]
Cardinal Schönborn explained that the phrase meant that “the theory, as scientific theory, has been expanded with new scientific data, but of course that phrase cannot be interpreted as an ‘Amen’ of the Catholic Church to ideological evolutionism.”

It should be obvious to any reasonable person that Schoenborn knows exactly what the issues around Darwinism (“evolutionism”) are and he is not backing down.

Early last week ,the news broke that, as of August 19, Fr. George Coyne, 73, director of the Vatican Astronomical Observatory, had been replaced by Argentinian Jesuit Fr. José Gabriel Funes as the new director of the Vatican Astronomical Observatory.

Coyne, who had been director since 1978, had become well known to the news media in recent months because of his opposition to Cardinal Schoenborn who, with the apparent blessing of the Pope, has been attempting to put some distance between the Catholic church and Darwinism since July 2005.

Maybe too well known.

The background to the issue is that John Paul II had said that evolution was “more than a hypothesis” but immediately went on to disclaim any materialist interpretation of it, which certainly includes Darwinism. However, the American pop sci media jumped on the first part of his statement like dogs on a rabbit, resulting in any number of essentially mistaken or misleading claims that the Catholic church “supports evolution.” These claims are, of course, used by those who would foist Darwinism on an unbelieving public.

In the sense in which the Catholic Church supports evolution, Michael Behe, the much reviled ID biochemist, also supports evolution. (Behe is a practicing Catholic, by the way.) That is, Behe and Schoenborn accept that evolution happens. But so? That doesn’t prove that Darwin was right about the power of natural selection or that today’s neo-Darwinists are right about anything at all. And those who revile Behe’s views would be unwise to hope for much better from the Vatican.

Apparently, Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education (called by some here the “National Center for Selling Evolution”) has attempted to spin Fr. Coyne’s departure as a normal retirement. He told Dick Fischer at the ASA discussion group that a media account that suggested otherwise was tendentious:

… after all, Coyne is 73 years old, and his retirement could have been predicted in any case. And there’s no reason to think that Coyne’s successor’s view differs from Coyne’s … “

Nice try, Glenn. But … obviously, retiring Fr. Coyne just as the Vatican is seriously deliberating Darwinism and its effects is a message about acceptable avenues of dissent.

From what I can tell, B-16 is good at avoiding visible cow plops. So, however Coyne’s successor may agree with his views, he will probably see that the Vatican observatory refrains from further direct conflict with Rome in a matter that does not even involve astronomy.

My own assessment (which appeared in part as a comment to an earlier story posted by another mod):

The Catholic Church is many things, but one of them is – a large organization. Coyne was doing something that you just can’t do in a large organization – creating a public uproar around top management’s decisions.

Whether it’s GM or the RC church, you can’t run around implying to the press that the CEO is a yo-yo or the Pope is a dope. (I don’t, of course, mean that Coyne used those words, but … I think that if his opposition had been confined to lobbying scientists trusted by the Vatican, he would still have his accustomed telescope.

The Church is not North Korea. There are acceptable avenues of dissent. But the American media are not one of them.

Coyne’s private theology is certainly a problem, but after all, he was not in the parish ministry. At his age, if he wasn’t making a big deal of it, chances are others wouldn’t either.

The problem is, he was making a big deal of it. At at time when the Vatican wants to and should want to blow clear of Darwinism, his actions implied that accommodation was possible.

Look, who knew that the Vatican even had an observatory in Arizona until Fr.Coyne started going public with his criticisms of the Church, to say nothing of his private theology?

Even that wouldn’t have mattered much except that he started getting more media attention than the Pope and was treated as an authority by science orgnaizations.

Also, he was putting his institution on the public mental map in the worst way possible, short of a sex scandal.

Some might wonder why: “With all the suffering and social injustice in the world, how dare they take the donations of the faithful and use them for …. ”

(Now, for my own part, I feel the same about the Vatican observatory as I do about its fabulous art collections: They are part of a culture and they serve a broader purpose. We always have the poor with us, and can help them whenever the opportunity arises. But I’d be naive to think that everyone sees the matter in this light … )

So an institution like the Vatican observatory is best off to maintain the respect of the editors of astronomy journals, and avoid involvement in an array of public controversies. Fr. Coyne seemed unwilling or perhaps unable to do that. It will be interesting to see how his successor fares.

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29 Responses to The Vatican and the Astronomer: Why George Coyne had to go

  1. Father Coyne is 73 years old and being treated for colon cancer with chemotherapy. That could easily be a factor here.

  2. I’d like to ask a deliberately naive question, because I want to get a sense of the range of different responses by the participants in this blog.

    The question is this: is evolution by means of natural selection (i.e. non-teleological but non-random) incompatible with Catholicism? If so, why?

  3. Carlos: Evolution by means of natural selection is ‘incompatible’ with “reason”, not Catholicism. Since Catholicism embraces reason (“faith seeking understanding”, St. Albert), it would embrace RM+NS to the degree that it is reasonable.

    But Catholicism entirely rejects the notion that purely material forces can explain the creation of man and woman; that is, it is against “evolutionism”.

  4. Carlos, as far as I can tell, “teleological” and “random” are the only two choices you get. Either biological change is directed in some way, or it isn’t.

    But I’m not a biologist. So if you see some sort of third possibility, would you elaborate please? Thank you.

  5. Carlos:

    As Lutepsic said, “telelogical” means “non-random”. It’s one of the problems I have with theist evolutionists like Ken Miller – out of one side of their mouths they say that Darwinism is correct and evolution is a completly undirectedm ransom process, and then out of the other side claim that God “directs” it. How? If there is a “direction” to evolution, then the process is by definition not random, no matter how it might appear on the surface.

  6. As Lutepsic said, “telelogical” means “non-random”.

    No it doesn’t. And neither does “teleological” :-)

    Teleology is “the doctrine that the universe, all phenomena and natural processes are directed towards a goal or are designed according to some purpose.” (source). The antonym for “random” would be “non-random”, and if you’re going to insist on an extreme definition of “random”, the antonym would be “deterministic”. But deterministic events may still not be teleological: gravity has no “purpose”.

    Bob

  7. As I understand it, natural selection is not “random” because differential reproductive success is not arbitrary. Those character traits which count as better adaptations for the environment specific to that organism will tend, over time, to become better represented in the gene pool.

    But even though natural selection is not arbitrary, it nevertheless does not act with any sort intention or purpose. It is an “invisible hand,” if you will — much like Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” which is an allegory for the processes by which many individual entrepeneurs, each seeking to maximize his profit, can give rise to what appears to be a single, complex entity — in Smith’s case, a capitalist economy.

    Catholicism entirely rejects the notion that purely material forces can explain the creation of man and woman.

    Which is the complaint here: that the origin of humanity cannot be fully explained by “purely material forces” alone? Or that the origin of humanity cannot be fully explained at all?

    Also — and I hate to become a one-trick pony, but seriously — who here has a firm grasp on what “material” (as in “purely material forces”) even means? For example: would a materialist have to deny that there such things as beliefs, concepts, and numbers? Or deny that these are “things” in any sense?

  8. From the Schonborn-Barr exchange in First Things, deals partly with whether natural selection (or “Darwinism”) is compatible with Catholic teaching.

    http://www.firstthings.com/fti.....nborn.html

    Schonborn on neo-Darwinism: “For now, I happily concede that a metaphysically modest version of neo-Darwinism could potentially be compatible with the philosophical truth (and thus Catholic teaching) about nature….It is obviously compatible with the full truth that the world of living beings is replete with formality and finality.” (from Schonborn’s reply to Barr published in Jan 2006 First Things)

    I’ve already quoted what Schonborn thinks of Darwin himself: “With this [Origin of Species], his major work, Darwin undoubtedly scored a brilliant coup, and it remains a great oeuvre [work] in the history of ideas. With an astounding gift for observation, enormous diligence, and mental prowess, he succeeded in producing one of that history’s most influential works. He could already see in advance that his research would create many areas of endeavor. Today one can truly say that the ‘evolution’ paradigm has become, so to speak, a ‘master key,’ extending itself within many fields of knowledge.”

    And again: “It is not true that belief in God the Creator in any way hinders the progress of science! Quite the contrary! How could the belief that the universe has a maker stand in the way of science? Why should it be an impediment to science if it understands its research, its discoveries, its construction of theories, its understanding of connections and relationships as a ‘study of the book of creation’? Indeed, among natural scientists there are numerous witnesses who make no secret of their faith and openly profess it, but who also expressly see no conflict between faith and science….I see no difficulty in joining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, but under the prerequisite that the borders of scientific theory are maintained.” (First Catechetical Lecture, October 2005)

    It seems to me Schonborn has no problems with the science (call it evolution, macroevolution, natural selection, Darwinism, or “neo-Darwinism”), his critique is a philosophical one, and I think he sometimes misunderstands the science (not that I understand it that well).

    Hear one of Fr. George Coyne’s critiques of Schonborn on evolution and God from the American Enterprise Institute talks on C-SPAN from 2005. Part 1 begins with Lawrence Krauss, Part 2 begins with Fr. George Coyne. Audio taken from the RealVideo files of these talks.

    http://www.bringyou.to/AEIPanelDiscussionID1.mp3
    http://www.bringyou.to/AEIPanelDiscussionID2.mp3

    I think it more plausible what Jack Krebs says above. The father was getting old, and has cancer. There is no conspiracy of anti-science. :-)

    Phil P

  9. Carlos said “natural selection is not “random” because differential reproductive success is not arbitrary.”

    This is Richard Dawkin’s mantra.

    Natural selection seems to mean nothing more than that fitness is defined by reproductive success. Fitness depends on the re-sorting of already existing genetic material. It is not a creative process. It simply expresses and conserves genetically determined traits that are effective in achieving reproductive success.

    I think it is the process that generates the selectable traits that is said to be random. That process is said to involve various types of random copy errors.

    Here at UD we often shorten Darwinism to RM + NS. We do not shorten it to RM and RNS.

  10. Maybe they should offer the position to Richard Sternberg.

    :)

  11. Which is the complaint here: that the origin of humanity cannot be fully explained by “purely material forces” alone? Or that the origin of humanity cannot be fully explained at all?

    The complaint is that “purely material forces” cannot alone fully explain the phenomena of man and woman.

    Regarding your other comments, the move away from “material forces” leads one to “information theory”–that is, the observation that material objects contain information, as, for example, computers, computer chips, guidance systems, etc, etc., not to mention DNA. This, then, leads to intelligent agency (which, by the way, is the ultimte source of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”) since it is only intelligent agents who can ‘embody’ intelligence/information (think of cave-paintings, if you will). From this perspective, that is, understanding biological forms as ‘embodying’ information/intelligence, it is impossible to see how an entirely ‘random’ process can produce the highly structured information that we find. If it is insisted that NS is a ‘winnowing’ process, and that what fuels this biological process is simply the inherent ‘variability’ of species, this now becomes problematic because there are–contrary to what Darwins supposed–limits to the variability that species can undergo, as is seen when highly-inbred animals become sickly. The argument might then become, a la Darwin, that “Nature” can do very much more than what mere humans can accomplish. Yet, did “Nature” ever produce a Doberman Pincher or short-legged sheep? Man, however, has done this which I take to mean that ‘man’ can do more than “Nature”. I think, in the end, it’s simply a matter of what we see in “nature” and what we don’t see. All the evidence suggests that Darwin’s theory does not conform to “nature”; hence, I reject it. In all of this, it seems incomprehensible that ‘information’ can arise from random actions alone.

  12. It is incompatible with Christianity to say that the world and man arose for no purpose.

    It is also incompatible with Catholicism to say that if there is a God and teleology at work in the world, we can’t see it and could never know it through our experience of the world.

  13. (5) It’s one of the problems I have with theist evolutionists like Ken Miller – out of one side of their mouths they say that Darwinism is correct and evolution is a completly undirectedm ransom process, and then out of the other side claim that God “directs” it.

    OK, but what will intelligent design theory give us that theistic evolution can’t?

    (9) Natural selection seems to mean nothing more than that fitness is defined by reproductive success. Fitness depends on the re-sorting of already existing genetic material. It is not a creative process. It simply expresses and conserves genetically determined traits that are effective in achieving reproductive success.

    Natural selection does more than “simply express and conserve,” because it also explains that the less adaptive traits in the population — all other things being equal (which they never are) — will tend to disappear over time. If there are selective pressures at work — and this is not always the case! — then there will be a tendency or trajectory of morphological change. In that sense evolution is not random.

    Now, I’ll happily concede that natural selection can only operate on whatever variation exists in a population, and that it cannot account for the variation itself. (But whoever said that it could?)

    One part of where I’m coming from is, what are we going to get, scientifically, by preferring intelligent design over the accounts given in HOw the Leopard Changed Its Spots or Endless Forms Most Beautiful?

    And, what are going to get, theologically, from preferring intelligent design theory over theistic evolution or process theology?

    If we’re going to prefer intelligent design theory over both it’s scientific and theological rivals, I’d like to hear much more about what it’s going to give us that cannot be gotten elsewhere.

  14. Carlos,

    We have had these same discussions it seems like a hundred times in just the last year. Both neo Darwinism and theistic evolution are not in sync with what has been found in the natural world in terms of scientific evidence. In other words both philosophies have seemed to be falsified by scientific findings. Whether you consider neo Darwinism a philosophy or a science the previous statement is accurate.

    Because of this discrepancy between these philosophical points of view and reality people are searching for an alternative. One of alternative explanations that has appeared is Intelligent Design. It is that simple. Some of the discrepancies or events which these ideas cannot explain are unbelievably complex. For example, the origin of life. Thus, many people have said it must be an intelligent force that caused the event.

    It is that simple.

  15. Jerry writes,

    “Both neo Darwinism and theistic evolution are not in sync with what has been found in the natural world in terms of scientific evidence.”

    Could you very succinctly tell me what part of theistic evolution has been found to not be in sync with the evidence? My understanding is that theistic evolution is a subset of the standard Christian theological belief that whatever happens in the natural world is an expression of God’s will. How could that be contradicted by any evidence?

    Jerry writes,

    “Because of this discrepancy between these philosophical points of view and reality people are searching for an alternative. One of alternative explanations that has appeared is Intelligent Design. It is that simple. Some of the discrepancies or events which these ideas cannot explain are unbelievably complex. For example, the origin of life. Thus, many people have said it must be an intelligent force that caused the event.”

    The theistic evolutionist would agree that an intelligent force, God, caused the origin of life. However the theistic evolutionist would argue that the means by which this was done is no different than the means that God every day causes all the events of the world. Every moment of God’s causation of the physical world is manifested to us, as limited human beings, as the causal flow of natural events.

    Looking for, and finding, sequences of causally connected natural events does not mean that God was not involved; conversely, believing that God was involved does not mean that natural causes were not involved.

  16. What are we going to get scientifically? A cause that is proportionate to the patterns found in nature.

    What are we going to get theologically? The refutation of fideism.

  17. “OK, but what will intelligent design theory give us that theistic evolution can’t?”

    I fail to see why you have to choose one over the other here. Theistic Evolution is the idea that God directed (had intelligent input into) evolution. Intelligent Design says that we can detect effects of design (intelligent input) in living things. There is only a conflict if one holds to an inconsistent version of Theistic Evolution.

    Not that I agree with Theistic evolution myself. I think it disagrees with reality in areas that ID doesn’t address.

  18. Jack Krebs,

    I do not maintain that I am an expert on theistic evolution. The way you describe it, whatever happens is God’s will. I will accept that but are the events in question best described as special creation by God or someone else or the result of natural processes designed by God and playing itself out with the result the same. Some of the events do not seem to be the result of natural processes playing out. Thus, if theistic evolution would allow the intervention of an intelligence as a direct agency of the event then it seems that theistic evolution and Intelligent Design are the same thing. What is the difference?

    Some how I have not got that impression from past discussions of this topic. What did I miss so that next time I will not make the same mistake.

  19. (16) What are we going to get scientifically? A cause that is proportionate to the patterns found in nature.

    What are we going to get theologically? The refutation of fideism.

    Thank you for a succinct response.

    In response, I’d register my skepticism with respect to ID by saying, firstly, that I don’t see what “proportionateness” is really going to add to the story — without hearing more about what this means — and secondly, I’ll confess some strong affinity to fideism, at least in Kierkegaard’s version.

  20. Jerry has some good questions and comments when he writes,

    “I will accept that but are the events in question best described as special creation by God or someone else or the result of natural processes designed by God and playing itself out with the result the same. Some of the events do not seem to be the result of natural processes playing out. Thus, if theistic evolution would allow the intervention of an intelligence as a direct agency of the event then it seems that theistic evolution and Intelligent Design are the same thing. What is the difference?”

    You have hit upon the key difference, I think: the theistic evolutionist does not think that special intervention or special creation are necessary, or have in fact happened in the course of the evolution of physical human beings, any more than the theistic evolutionist thinks that God had to specially intervene today in the lives of people as he guides them and the world around them according to his divine plans. There is no theological need for special creation.

    One difficulty here, I think, is that Jerry dichotomously contrasts ID with “some of the events” just being “the result of natural processes playing out.”

    The incorrect view is that theistic evolution is a form of deism, in which God sets things in motion and then sits back and watches things “play out.” But that is not what orthodox Christianity says about God: orthodox belief is that God is creatively present and active in all moments – that what we experience as nature is in fact one aspect of God’s continuous creative activity.

    In fact, it is a theory of special intervention that is more like deism, for the interventionist view seems to be that natural processes do proceed on their own, without God’s involvement, and only when those processes become insufficient does God need to step in via special creation.

  21. Theistic evolutionism is an atempt tp take a bite on both worldviews. Logically speaking, there wouldn’t be any problem IF evolution had any backing in empirical evidence. However, since evolution lacks in empirical evidence, and since it’s intended purpose right from the start was to remove God from the SOurce of Biological life forms, the only way to be a theistic and an evolutionist is to redefine terms and give them meanings that they were never meant to be.

    Michael Denton puts it in a very eloquente fashion:

    “Depite the atempt by liberal theology to disguise the point, the fact is that no biblically derived religion can really be compromised with the fundamental assertion of Darwinian theory. Chance and design are antithetical concepts, and the decline in religious belief can probably be attributed more to the propagation and advocacy by the intellectual and scintific community of tghe Darwinian version of evolution to any other single factor.” – “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, page 66″

    Notice that Denton is an an agnostic but he can really perceive that the Darwinian speculation is the opposite of Divine creation. So this is an either/or situation: either biological forms were designed, or they weren’t (NCSE’s cry out nottwithstanding).

    Denton also points out what is the true appeal of Darwinism:

    “It was because Darwinian theory broke man’s link with God and set him adrift in a cosmos without purpose or end that its impact was so fundamental” – ibid, page 67

    It is for this reason that atheists are s interested in pushing Darwinism into the churches, since they know that a faith that compromises with Evolution will sooner or later vanish (just look at England).

  22. Lutepisc: “As far as I can tell, ‘teleological’ and ‘random’ are the only two choices you get. Either biological change is directed in some way, or it isn’t. But I’m not a biologist. So if you see some sort of third possibility, would you elaborate please?

    You don’t have to be a biologist. A rock falls from a cliff in a particular direction, down. This is non-random and non-teleological. You have inadvertently created a false dichotomy.

    jerry: “Thus, if theistic evolution would allow the intervention of an intelligence as a direct agency of the event then it seems that theistic evolution and Intelligent Design are the same thing.

    Consider a plane crash with a sole survivor. Many survivors in these situations feel and hope that somehow God must have selected them for some special purpose when so many others died. There is no scientific evidence to support such a belief. The science indicates that in chaotic events, some people just get lucky. Most reasonable people know that science does not validate their belief in a special purpose and support the scientific investigation into the material causes of the crash and any appropriate safety measures. Nonetheless, they consider their survival a miracle.

    Theistic science holds that, while science is valid in its findings as far as it goes, God still has a purpose for His Creation. From the scientific point-of-view, people are worm-meat, but people still often believe in an immortal soul. They point to no scientific evidence for this belief. It is held a priori, or mystically, perhaps. Intelligent Design, on the other hand, claims to have scientific evidence to support their point-of-view.

    NATIONAL ACADEMY of SCIENCES: “The theory of evolution has become the central unifying concept of biology and is a critical component of many related scientific disciplines. In contrast, the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested.”

  23. The problem with Denton’s story is that he’s confusing Aristotle with Scripture. Aristotle (and Plato) give us a very complicated metaphysics in which “form” and “design” play central roles. But Scripture gives us a much more poetic presentation of God’s relationship with Creation — there’s nothing there which tells how God created the earth and its creatures, only that He did so.

    Darwin does contradict Aristotle — that’s undeniable. The whole Aristotelian edifice — “kind,” “substance,” “form,” “matter,” — is incompatible with Darwin’s insights. But so what? We’ve already accepted Aristotle’s mechanics has long since been replaced with Newton’s, which has since been supplemented with the physics of Einstein and Schrodinger. Aristotle’s psychology has been replaced with cognitive science. Aristotle’s logic has been replaced by the work of Boole, Frege, and Russell.

    In other words: by this time, so much of the Aristotelian picture — physics, psychology, and logic, just to name a few — has already been rejected that it seems silly to insist that the truth of Scripture will collapse if Aristotelian biology is also replaced by that of Darwin, Mendel, and Goodwin.

    There might be good reasons to want to hold onto an Aristotelian approach to ethics, but why should we insist that one cannot have Aristotelian ethics without Aristotelian biology? Alastair MacIntyre, a philosopher whose commitment to Aristotle and to Aquinas runs deep, has shown how to graft an Aristotelian ethics onto Darwinian biology: Depedent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues.

  24. Zachriel:

    NATIONAL ACADEMY of SCIENCES: “The theory of evolution has become the central unifying concept of biology and is a critical component of many related scientific disciplines. In contrast, the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested.”

    This is not so. Creationist Dr Robert Gentry offered a challenge to NAS and other organizations to refute his findings yet, to date, they haven’t.

    Year 2000 Challenge to the National Academy of Sciences

    Our letter of March 22, 2000, to Dr. Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Alberts claimed that evidence for special creation has been experimentally falsified. This letter requests the Academy to publicly explain at Wichita State University on March 30, 2000, why it has chosen to reject the published evidence for the Genesis creation, evidence which after more than twenty-five years still stands unrefuted in the open scientific literature.

    http://www.halos.com/faq-repli.....to-nas.htm

    Another interesting point is that NAS says in your quote that Creation Science “cannot be meaningfully tested”. However Dr. Press claimed that “evidence for creationism” has been scientifically invalidated. How did they invalidated it without testing it? Could this be another evolutionary illusion?

  25. You’re right; they can’t have it both ways.

    But it’s also difficult to get a firm lock on what “validation” or “verification” is supposed to look like. Suppose I look through my binoculars to determine if a distant bird is a falcon or an eagle, and I determine that it’s an eagle. Have I verified, “this bird is an eagle”? Have I verified, “the binoculars are working properly”? How am I to know which assertions I’ve verified and which ones I haven’t? (Have I also verified, “the part of my brain which recognizes eagles is working properly”?)

    I don’t mention these problems in order to systematically address them — unless there’s real interest in doing so — but in order to show that it’s no easy matter to determine when something is verified or validated — or “falsified,” although falsification is also a very different concept than verification.

  26. Mats: “How did they invalidated it without testing it? Could this be another evolutionary illusion?

    When vague, creation claims are generally considered untestable. When specific, they are generally falsified by the evidence. So you have to pin down the specific claim.

    God made the universe 6000 years ago is generally considered testable, but God made the universe 6000 years ago to look billions of years old is not testable.

  27. God made the universe 6000 years ago is generally considered testable, but God made the universe 6000 years ago to look billions of years old is not testable.

    I haven’t seen any creationist scientist say that the world “looks billions of years old” but was created 6,000 years ago. Can you provide any reference for that?

  28. Mats: “I haven’t seen any creationist scientist say that the world ‘looks billions of years old’ but was created 6,000 years ago. Can you provide any reference for that?

    It was meant as a generic example, but it appears applicable.

    “Many young earth creationists claim that the universe and earth just appear to be old, but are really young.”
    http://www.godandscience.org/y.....rance.html

    “Even many of those who believe that the earth is ‘young’ think that it looks ‘old’.”
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....howold.asp

    “How can we see distant stars in a young universe?”
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/405.asp

  29. [...] My most recent post talked about why Fr. George Coyne was asked to retire from the Vatican Observatory, after his vigorous campaign to oppose the Vatican’s efforts to distance itself from Darwinism (or “evolutionism,” as Cardinal Schoenborn likes to call it). [...]

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