PvM posted Entry 2578 on September 8, 2006 12:18 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2573

Despite the hopes of some ID proponents, the Catholic Church’s position on evolution is unlikely to change significantly in the near time:

Don’t look for a big change any time soon in the Catholic Church’s views on evolution. Although supporters of evolution had feared that the Pope would embrace so-called intelligent design, Pope Benedict XVI gave no sign at a gathering last week as to how he thought the topic should be taught.

The pope said little during the meeting, which included his former theology Ph.D. students and a small group of experts near Rome. Peter Schuster, a chemist at the University of Vienna and president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, attended the meeting and gave a lecture on evolutionary theory. “The pope … listened to my talk very carefully and asked very good questions at the end,” he says. And the Church’s most outspoken proponent of intelligent design, Cardinal Schönborn, seemed to distance himself from the theory.

source: Volume 313, Number 5792, Issue of 08 September 2006
©2006 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Catholic News reports No shift in Church’s position on evolution, Jesuit says

A participant at the Pope’s closed door symposium on creation and evolution, Jesuit Fr Joseph Fessio, has denied speculation about a change in the Church’s teaching on evolution, saying nothing presented at the meeting broke new ground and that American debates on Intelligent Design did not feature in discussions.

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Comment #127138

Posted by PvM on September 8, 2006 12:35 PM (e)

And the National Catholic Report reports

Nor is Benedict XVI really an advocate of “intelligent design” in the American sense, since intelligent design theorists typically assert that data from biology and other empirical sciences, by itself, requires the hypothesis of a designer. Benedict may have some sympathy for this view; he has questioned the evidence for “macro-evolution,” meaning the transition from one species to another on the basis of random mutation and natural selection.

and

Benedict’s deepest concern is that Darwinism has promoted scientific positivism, holding that only empirical science can produce certainty, and hence that religion, if it survives at all, can only do so as a subjective, emotional consolation against the cold indifference of the universe. In response, Benedict argues that Christianity relies on truths deeper than empirical observation, chief among them that life has purpose. In this sense, he believes in “intelligent design” – not necessarily as the product of scientific observation, but as a metaphysical principle.

In In the Beginning, Ratzinger writes: “We must have the audacity to say that the great projects of the living creation are not the products of chance and error. … The great projects of the living creation point to a creating Reason and show us a creating Intelligence, and they do so more luminously and radiantly today than ever before. … Human beings are not a mistake but something willed; they are the fruit of love. They can disclose in themselves, in the bold project that they are, the language of the creating Intelligence that speaks to them and that moves them to say: Yes, Father, you have willed me.”

Comment #127141

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on September 8, 2006 1:07 PM (e)

Enough concern has the church with matters related to the human condition and its results to embrace an effort (ID) that at best is deceitful. Let science to pursue real science and the church to pursue matters of the spirit. It would work better for both.

Comment #127147

Posted by Roger Albin on September 8, 2006 1:18 PM (e)

Its actually dangerous for the Catholic Church for the Vatican to get too close to American style ID positions. This would run the danger of conceding or implying that the doctrine of Biblical literalism is correct. This would mean abandoning centuries of Catholic tradition and endanger the basic Catholic doctrine that the Church possesses a set of extra-Biblical traditions and teachings that are uniquely valuable. Benedict is no dummy, clearly a more rigorous thinker than the DI folks, and their appearant expectation that the Vatican would break with tradition is another example of their sloppy, wishful thinking.

Comment #127153

Posted by Keith Douglas on September 8, 2006 1:34 PM (e)

I note that the CC doesn’t understand positivism. In particular, they seem to forget that Bellarmine was, in essence, a Catholic positivist who seemed to deny that science could discover anything about the world. It is scientific realism (defended by Galileo) that is their enemy, and it is that which actually undermines religious authority.

Comment #127158

Posted by CJColucci on September 8, 2006 2:27 PM (e)

Anyone in Mr. Ratzinger’s job has a professional obligation to believe that “life has purpose” and that the source of this purpose is “a Creating Intelligence.” As long as he and his co-professionals are willing to stand on the ground that these are “truths deeper than empirical observation,” these alleged truths are compatible with any empirical science whatsoever and, logically, this puts the Church out of the science evaluation business altogether.

They can still bemoan the tendency of science to lead people to what they believe are bad philosophical or theological views (the tendency is undeniable and many of us favor it), but at least if Mr. Ratzinger is serious, the Church will fight that battle and stay out of fights over science itself.

Comment #127159

Posted by Coin on September 8, 2006 2:31 PM (e)

They can still bemoan the tendency of science to lead people to what they believe are bad philosophical or theological views (the tendency is undeniable and many of us favor it), but at least if Mr. Ratzinger is serious, the Church will fight that battle and stay out of fights over science itself.

Unless those fights involve blastocysts.

Comment #127185

Posted by Adam on September 8, 2006 4:06 PM (e)

Keith Douglass wrote:

I note that the CC doesn’t understand positivism. In particular, they seem to forget that Bellarmine was, in essence, a Catholic positivist who seemed to deny that science could discover anything about the world.

Pure nonsense. If the Church doesn’t understand positivism and its role in discovering truths about nature, why does she fund an academy of sciences staffed with mainstream scholars? Why does she have an observatory, also staffed with mainstream scholars?

The Catholic Church, of course, rejects positivism as a reliable means of of gaining knowledge about metaphysics and ethics, but that is an entirely seperate matter. However, with regard to turths about the physical world, she has always aknowledged positivism.

Even Bellarmine, Galileo’s inquisitor, understood that empirical positivism could discover that the earth revolved around the sun:

“I say that if there were a true demonstration that the sun was in the center of the universe and the earth in the third sphere, and that the sun did not travel around the earth but the earth circled the sun, then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary, and we would rather have to say that we did not understand them than to say that something was false which has been demonstrated.”

The full text his here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1615bellarmine-letter.html

Bellarmine, of course, didn’t believe that Galileo had sufficient evidence to challange the prevailing interpretation of the relevant scripture passages , but he did aknowledge that someone in the future might come up with such evidence.

Comment #127186

Posted by Adam on September 8, 2006 4:08 PM (e)

Coint wrote:

Unless those fights involve blastocysts.

The fight over embryonic stem cells is a fight about ethics, not science.

Comment #127217

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 8, 2006 5:41 PM (e)

Adam:
You can accuse scientists of many things, but not that they are positivists. It is an old and inaccurate philosophical attempt at a unified description of science. Science is at the very least methodological naturalism, reductionism (fundamental theories) and emergentism (complementing models, effective theories) by method, and many scientists are realists.

“The fight over embryonic stem cells is a fight about ethics, not science.”

It is a fight about ethics and science. There are ethics positions that refuse scientific information about biology and life. Those positions doesn’t save lives. They give inferior science or stop it altogether, a science that will improve or save lives.

Comment #127271

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on September 8, 2006 7:37 PM (e)

I’d like to see more detail on how Schoenborn distanced himself specifically.

It seems that the Pope is claiming the road that there is an ingelligent designer, namely God, however He designed. It’s a shame that the ID movement has appropriated the phrase “intelligent design”, so that it now means design through only one particular means, that of the Discovery Institute and their ilk. Were the Pope to now make the claim that he believes in Intelligent Design, many would misunderstand that as support for the DI, rather than simply a statement that God is intelligent and has a design- a statement that the Christian Church and many other religions have long held since their beginnings.

Comment #127276

Posted by Chiefley on September 8, 2006 8:03 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #127279

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 8, 2006 8:13 PM (e)

It is a fight about ethics and science. There are ethics positions that refuse scientific information about biology and life. Those positions doesn’t save lives. They give inferior science or stop it altogether, a science that will improve or save lives.

Actually, it starts with the metaphysical notion that a zygote has a soul – a view held both by some people who favor stem cell research and by some who oppose it. But then, based on either bad logic or erroneous factual beliefs, the latter conclude somehow that it’s better to incinerate them than to put them to use saving lives. There’s nothing “ethical” about their view, that I can see.

Comment #127281

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 8, 2006 8:24 PM (e)

Were the Pope to now make the claim that he believes in Intelligent Design, many would misunderstand that as support for the DI, rather than simply a statement that God is intelligent and has a design- a statement that the Christian Church and many other religions have long held since their beginnings.

First, the Pope doesn’t talk about what he “believes”, he talks about truth. Second, he can talk about divine design – can and does. And I think the Pope is a lot more interested in characterizing God as divinely loving than “intelligent” – mere cleverness is a rather earthly quality. So there’s really a big gap between the conception of God that the modern Catholic Church wants to present and the anthropic God of the Old Testament, DI, and fundies.

Comment #127283

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 8, 2006 8:28 PM (e)

Benedict’s deepest concern is that Darwinism has promoted scientific positivism, holding that only empirical science can produce certainty

Perhaps someone should tell him that empirical science doesn’t deal in certainty, and in fact certainty – which is a mental attitude – is strongly discouraged by the scientific method.

Comment #127284

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 8, 2006 8:30 PM (e)

But in case anyone asks, I’m not certain of that. :-)

Comment #127342

Posted by Chiefley on September 9, 2006 12:45 AM (e)

“Perhaps someone should tell him that empirical science doesn’t deal in certainty, and in fact certainty – which is a mental attitude – is strongly discouraged by the scientific method.”

I don’t think he is concerned that all scientists have become ontological materialists. I think he is concerned that too many non-scientists have done that, thereby leaving the church in the lurch. I think he is also concerned that fundamentalism is driving us all to forget the distinction between ontological and methodological materialism.

I think the Pope, like the last two or three before him feel more comfortable discussing the limitations of finding truth and certainty with scientists over the typical layman or especially fundamentalists.

Comment #127357

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 9, 2006 1:46 AM (e)

I don’t think he is concerned that all scientists have become ontological materialists.

Since the subject was epistemology, that’s quite the non sequitur.

Comment #127405

Posted by |Alan Fox on September 9, 2006 6:23 AM (e)

Popper's Ghost wrote:

Perhaps someone should tell him that empirical science doesn’t deal in certainty,…

I’m not certain, but isn’t Pliny the Elder quoted as remarking “One thing is certain - that is, nothing is certain”?

PS, PG, are you related to ts or Morbius?

Comment #127633

Posted by Frank J on September 9, 2006 7:07 PM (e)

I see 3 major issues, the last of which I didn’t notice from a quick read of the comments on this thread:

1. Is there an intelligent designer? No one expects the Vatican to change on that point, so it’s useless to even speculate about it.

2. Is evolution the accepted explanation for the origin of species? They can either repeat their ~56 year position, add that it is better supported than ever, or perhaps expand on Pope John Paul II’s observation that the evidence supporting evolution is - in stark contrast to ID/creationist arguments - “neither sought nor fabricated.”

3. This is their chance to state in no uncertain terms that anti-evolution activism has, in recent decades, become first and foremost a misrepresentation of both science and religion. While it may once have been a collection of honest, if misled beliefs, it is now fully based on bearing false witness.

Comment #127641

Posted by normdoering on September 9, 2006 7:47 PM (e)

Frank J wrote:

3. This is their chance to state in no uncertain terms that anti-evolution activism has, in recent decades, become first and foremost a misrepresentation of both science and religion. While it may once have been a collection of honest, if misled beliefs, it is now fully based on bearing false witness.

I don’t think they’d go that far. Do they actually bother to watch DI activities closely?

I suspect they just want to avoid picking any horse in this race knowing that their best people couldn’t pick the right horse in the Galileo affair. They’ve got more to loose than they do to win.

Comment #127688

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on September 9, 2006 11:32 PM (e)

Frank- Well said on #3. It’s a heresy and high time that Christian groups step up to the bat to speak that truth.

Comment #127689

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on September 9, 2006 11:32 PM (e)

Frank- Well said on #3. It’s a heresy and high time that Christian groups step up to the bat to speak that truth.

Comment #141172

Posted by ben on October 22, 2006 4:13 AM (e)

This is a test

You fail.