Wesley R. Elsberry posted Entry 3060 on April 11, 2007 09:58 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3050

This news article reports on a topic that tugs at antievolutionist heartstrings: would the Pope, leader of the Catholic church, throw in with them, joining them in the “intelligent design” big tent? The answer, at least according to this news report, is “No”. Pope Benedict is reported to adopt theistic evolution, the idea that God’s method of creation is what science has discovered concerning evolutionary biology. And we know from William Dembski that “intelligent design theorists” are no friends of theistic evolution.

A lot of the coverage has concentrated on Benedict’s stance against atheism, which seems to me to be about as newsworthy as taking up the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?” Well, yes, it seems that he is.

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Comment #169407

Posted by moioci on April 12, 2007 1:58 AM (e)

Yes, but he’s not a consistent theistic evolutionist, maybe a theistic 80% Darwin/ 20% Paleyist. Or else he has a rather superficial understanding of evolutionary theory, which is disappointing for one of his perceived intellect. Consider:

Benedict argued that evolution had a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain.

“The process itself is rational despite the mistakes and confusion as it goes through a narrow corridor choosing a few positive mutations and using low probability,” he said.

“This … inevitably leads to a question that goes beyond science … where did this rationality come from?” he asked. Answering his own question, he said it came from the “creative reason” of God.

Comment #169409

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 12, 2007 2:12 AM (e)

I’m not too concerned about Pope Benedict not having a full technical appreciation of evolutionary science. What was of more concern to me was whether he was going to come out as an advocate of “intelligent design”, which was precisely what the ID creationism advocates were sure would happen in the wake of the Cardinal Schonborn letter published in the NYT in 2005. By the reports, Pope Benedict is content with pursuing a non-conflict model of the interaction between science and religion, which will be a big disappointment to fans of the conflict model on both sides of the aisle.

Comment #169434

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on April 12, 2007 5:05 AM (e)

Pope Benedict is content with pursuing a non-conflict model of the interaction between science and religion

Whether theistic evolution conflicts with science or not is a different issue than the idea of the theological model itself. The evidence seems to be that science and religion most often conflict.

Some variants of theistic evolution is in conflict with evolutionary biology. Benedict seems to be adhering to such a variant. “The Pope also says the Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory.”

A religious leader has no business to tell us how science performs, and if he does he will inevitably mess up. I believe Thomas of Aquin said something about this.

A lot of the coverage has concentrated on Benedict’s stance against atheism

Interesting, I haven’t seen any of that.

This seems OT, but since the subject is raised there is trouble brewing in Europe. Evidently the catholic church, specifically its leader, and its sympathizers presses for removing the neutral view in the preparations for future work on a new foundation and insert itself, to the detriment to other world views and religions, and, I would claim, to the efficient workings of the bureaucracy.

So yes, perhaps it is newsworthy.

Comment #169436

Posted by Frank J on April 12, 2007 5:21 AM (e)

Now that I read more than an excerpt, my comments on Talk.Origins were a bit harsh. But that’s the problem. If someone like a Pope is going to say anything about evolution, he should expect the media and anti-evolution activists to bend over backwards to twist it to imply that he is friendly to pseudoscience. So someone in his position, regardless of the potential risk of loss of congregation, has a moral obligation to not just unequivocally endorse good science and criticize the spin put on it by atheists, but also denounce anti-evolution scams that simply bear false witness.

At the least I would have appreciated a rebuttal to Cardinal Schonborn’s baseless assertion that Pope John Paul II added nothing significant. The phrase “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” (referring to the multiple lines of independent evidence supporting evolution) were strong words, and, intentionally or not, a subtle reminder that anti-evolution arguments are all sought and fabricated, and are lately diverging into “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Pope Benedict’s previous comments on evolution illustrated the absurdity that Wesley mentions above. Instead of expanding on how well the evidence supports common ancestry of species and a timeline that renders Genesis a mere allegory, he chose to dwell on how he rejects atheism. Just in case anyone wasn’t sure.

Comment #169441

Posted by Frank J on April 12, 2007 6:05 AM (e)

Now that I read more than an excerpt, my comments on Talk.Origins were a bit harsh. But that’s the problem. If someone like a Pope is going to say anything about evolution, he should expect the media and anti-evolution activists to bend over backwards to twist it to imply that he is friendly to pseudoscience. So someone in his position, regardless of the potential risk of loss of congregation, has a moral obligation to not just unequivocally endorse good science and criticize the spin put on it by atheists, but also denounce anti-evolution scams that simply bear false witness.

At the least I would have appreciated a rebuttal to Cardinal Schonborn’s baseless assertion that Pope John Paul II added nothing significant. The phrase “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” (referring to the multiple lines of independent evidence supporting evolution) were strong words, and, intentionally or not, a subtle reminder that anti-evolution arguments are all sought and fabricated, and are lately diverging into “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Pope Benedict’s previous comments on evolution illustrated the absurdity that Wesley mentions above. Instead of expanding on how well the evidence supports common ancestry of species and a timeline that renders Genesis a mere allegory, he chose to dwell on how he rejects atheism. Just in case anyone wasn’t sure.

Comment #169455

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 12, 2007 7:26 AM (e)

So someone in his position, regardless of the potential risk of loss of congregation, has a moral obligation to not just unequivocally endorse good science and criticize the spin put on it by atheists, but also denounce anti-evolution scams that simply bear false witness.

I would hope that something of that sort might lie within the pages of Benedict’s book, but given that the media reports haven’t noted such a passage, perhaps he does skip over that. I don’t have the book, so I can’t say with certainty one way or the other on that.

Comment #169456

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 12, 2007 7:30 AM (e)

Interesting, I haven’t seen any of that.

About a quarter to a third of the article I linked to concerned that topic. Even the headlines of several other articles chose that as the issue of interest.

Comment #169463

Posted by Vyoma on April 12, 2007 8:00 AM (e)

A pope is as good a source on the validity of scientific theory as a theoretical physicist is on matters of Catholic theology.

Comment #169467

Posted by millipj on April 12, 2007 8:26 AM (e)

The Pope also says the Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory.

Lets hope the Vatican Observatory doesn’t start using this new Papal definition of how science must be done and start making black holes and supernovae in their lab.
And is “hundreds of thousands of years” a compromise between 6000 and 4 billion?

I hope that this piece of gibberish is due to the editor and not the Pope

Benedict argued that evolution had a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain.

Comment #169475

Posted by vitruvian on April 12, 2007 9:00 AM (e)

very interesting how the human mind can adapt an argument to suit its dogma… i guess that can only go so far before it becomes ridiculous. how many trilobites died for our sins?

Comment #169478

Posted by harold on April 12, 2007 9:10 AM (e)

This is a very UNsurprising story.

The current pope is drawn to the political right at times. (He went as far as to endorse the idea that reproductive/sexual issues should be “prioritized” over Catholic opposition to war and the death penalty in the 2004 US election. The pope and “conservative” bishops thus pretty much openly campaigned against Kerry and for Bush, even though Kerry is a practicing Catholic and the immediate prior pope, no “liberal”, had preached perhaps even more strongly against executions and war than against reproductive/sexual issues. It is mathematically possible that Kerry would have been elected if he had not lost the Catholic vote to Bush.)

However, the Catholic hierarchy is full of very intelligent and educated men. It includes people with full understanding of evolution. They all know perfectly well that denying scientific reality is not a good long term strategy. If the pope were dumb enough to throw the lot of the Catholic church in with that of a transient, politically-motivated US pseudoscience movement (a movement which accomplished nothing and whose political “allies” are becoming very unpopular), the pope could not have been elected pope in the first place.

As for the broader question of whether “theistic evolution” conflicts with “science”, or whether “science” and “religion” inevitably conflict, I would suggest that these terms are far too imprecise and generalized to form any such conclusion, particularly the terms “theistic” and “religion”.

I would leave it up to each individual to decide whether his or her personal religion conflicts with some aspect of science.

As for the Catholic religion, Ken Miller and two popes have now assured me that it does not conflict with evolution. They’re the Catholics, they’re experts on biology and theology respectively, and so that’s good enough for me as far as that specific question goes.

My typically complex personal relationship with Catholicism is not very relevant here, but for disclosure, I was not raised Catholic, I am adamently opposed to Catholic teachings on birth control and sexual orientation but agree with them on the death penalty, poverty, and war, some branches of my family are culturally Catholic, and I am proudly the godfather of a nine month old nephew who was baptized in a Catholic ceremony.

I don’t practice a formal religion but perceive dharmic religions, especially some forms of zen, as reflecting reality, for me, better than Hobbesian atheism. This causes me to be more tolerant of the idea that formal religion, for all its obvious harmful effects, may reflect an approximate striving for a universal “truth” (for want of a better word) than some other posters.

I am also a massive proponent of human rights, which means that I respect the right of others to believe and express themselves as they wish, as long as they, too, respect the rights of others.

I think the question of whether we would be “better off without religion” is highly similar to the question of whether we would be “better off without too much technological progress”. Neither is answerable in an objective way, and both refer to human behavior patterns which are so ingrained, it is meaningless to conjecture whether we would be “better off” without them or not.

Comment #169481

Posted by raven on April 12, 2007 9:29 AM (e)

The Pope seems to have adopted a nonconflict position with regard to science. A wise idea.

One of the low points in the Catholic church was burning Grigorio Bruno at the stake for among other things, claiming that the earth circles the sun. They almost did the same thing to Galileo. This sort of thing results in bad PR that can take centuries to live down. One hopes that they learn from their mistakes.

JC said, “render unto Ceasar what is Ceasars and unto god what is gods.” Meaning don’t try to overthrow secular authority in the name of religion. Good way to get yourself crucified or tossed to the lions. The basic principle is sound.

He could have said, render unto science what is science’s and unto god what is gods. It is bad religion to knock heads with reality. The two don’t overlap that much in subject and have coexisted without many problems for hundreds of years.

It’s really only a modern fundie cultish wing that is having problems. The Catholics and mainstream Protestants have better things to do than dumb down science classes.

Comment #169482

Posted by David Stanton on April 12, 2007 9:29 AM (e)

“Benedict argued that evolution had a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain.”

I agree. “purely random selection” could not reasonably be expected to produce anything. Just like the purely random dealing of cards in a poker tournament provides no information as to who will win. Funny how the same names always seem to end up on top in poker tournaments. I wonder why that is. Maybe the “selection” is not really random!

You have to admire a guy who can walk such a fine line as the pope. Not denying the truth of evolution while still trying to keep the faithful in line is not an easy task. Still, he should really have someone check for technical errors before printing something so absurd.

Comment #169488

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 12, 2007 10:03 AM (e)

I’d have to agree with those who wish it was a less confusing (and seemingly confused) statement. John Paul II, who naturally included the obligatory references to God, was decidedly on the side of evolution and science, no matter if he really understood it well. Benedict displays a rather more ambiguous stance, even though overall he’s cast his and the Church’s lot with science.

One has to interpret the following:

“Just who is this ‘nature’ or ‘evolution’ as (an active) subject? It doesn’t exist at all!” the Pope said.

I like this the least. While he’s right that “nature” or “evolution” isn’t some entity acting in the universe, he implies that therefore there must be an entity which does act. True, the pope’s Catholic, and he sensibly must come out for God, however the “reasoning” that “no active subject in nature or evolution” implies God is hardly reasonable. The article suggests that the following depends upon the above quote:

Benedict argued that evolution had a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain.

“The process itself is rational despite the mistakes and confusion as it goes through a narrow corridor choosing a few positive mutations and using low probability,” he said.

“This … inevitably leads to a question that goes beyond science … where did this rationality come from?” he asked. Answering his own question, he said it came from the “creative reason” of God.

“Random selection” is an oxymoron (conceivably due to translation). Other than that, in the broader sense of “rationality” it could be considered true that evolution has a rationality not explained by randomness—at least a rationality possible to recognize in hindsight.

I’m truly at a loss to know what he means by “a few positive mutations and using a low probability” is supposed to mean. The “narrow corridor” seems not to be standard evolutionary text, as well. One could read “guidance” into the statements referred to in this paragraph, though one could see a more hands-off Catholic approach favored by many as well.

I suppose that it is inevitable that he’d make God ultimately responsible for some “rationality” that he thinks he sees in evolution. This concept doesn’t really fit well with science’s understanding today, but if “God’s rationality” were sufficiently removed from the day-to-day operations of “nature” it’s not so very far from science. What I would like to add is that “rationality” is also no obvious sort of entity acting in the universe, but it appears to be a collection of “rules” evolved by us to deal with the repeating patterns of “nature”.

Thus he begs the question of what this “rationality” which he attributes to God actually is. Yet if we don’t sweat that too much, no doubt a Catholic scientist could give God the ultimate credit for the repeating patterns of nature which we evolved to recognize, and not let this idea affect science in any subject or at any level.

Had he made it more clear that evolution is only ultimately dependent upon this “God” and is not a “narrow corridor” with “low probabilities” because of any nearby guidance from “God”, I’d rest more easily with his add-ons to empirical science (not approving, not especially concerned). He used wording which allows for more interpretations contrary to known science than it seems that he should have, if he really meant to put Catholicism solidly on the side of science and opposed to the unreason of fundamentalist sects.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #169491

Posted by mark on April 12, 2007 10:24 AM (e)

One interpretation of Glen’s last quote is that if there had not been divine guidance, creatures may not have climbed the ladder of evolution that led to humans. And that’s a very fundamental and important misunderstanding of evolution.

Comment #169501

Posted by wamba on April 12, 2007 11:29 AM (e)

Yahoo News article


“The pope (John Paul) had his reasons for saying this,” Benedict said. “But it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.”

Benedict added that the immense time span that evolution covers made it impossible to conduct experiments in a controlled environment to finally verify or disprove the theory.

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

The Pope hauls out the “Only a Theory” card, Wesley R. Elsberry applauds.

The Pope does not seem to know that evolutionary experiments covering far more than 10,000 generations have already been conducted. That’s 100-200 days for E. coli.

Comment #169503

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on April 12, 2007 11:31 AM (e)

I appreciated his remarks. But the statement that “evolution is not completely provable” was a little concerning for me. It’s true, you can’t absolutely prove it, just as nothing can absolutely be proved in science. But I would wish he’d clarified that more, instead of making it sound like retrodiction is not as valid a method of discovering truth as an experiment in a lab. Too often the layity gets the impression that, to be scientific, it must be in a lab. We see this kind of reasoning all the time from the ID folks.

Comment #169510

Posted by Raging Bee on April 12, 2007 12:38 PM (e)

It’s looking like this Pope is kinda sorta trying to waffle between the perfectly sensible position of JP-II, and the irrational right-wing zealotry that’s gaining power among Catholics in AFrica and other places. Pope Palpadict has always been strongly for traditionalism and against liberalization (the political upheavals of the ’60s terrified him), and has tentatively offered bits of red meat to the irrational right before; so I would be scared, but not surprised, to see him doing the same on any other hot-button topic, including evolution.

He’s still in the right place, but he’s slowly drifting in the wrong direction.

Comment #169512

Posted by harold on April 12, 2007 12:52 PM (e)

I adamently abhore anti-Catholic bigotry, but I do feel that some very specific statements about the observed behavior of the current pope are in order. These comments are not intended to reflect on the Catholic faith, nor on the spiritual role of the pope, but rather on his human behavior.

With apologies to anyone who may be offended, the current pope is generally quite “sneaky” in the way he expresses himself.

His current statements are an obvious attempt not to deny evolution, while saying everything he can to mollify wingnuts who desperately wish he would.

The pope can’t end his shifty love affair with the American right wing. Everything he ever says seems to be designed to claim that Catholic-incompatible right wing politics is actually okay when some contortions are applied. Note for example that he recently “lamented the waste” in Iraq but wouldn’t condemn the war.

But in the end, he didn’t endorse ID, nor actually deny evolution.

That may actually represent a major nail in the coffin of ID. This is a pope who is perceived as dedicating himself to supporting the American domestic right wing; he’s often referred to as the “Domino’s Pope” because the founder of Domino’s Pizza is a major right wing Catholic Bush donor in the US.

If this pope wouldn’t overtly support ID, it’s never going to happen.

(Note on the terminology “right wing” - the current combination of authoritarianism, pseudo-theocracy, militarism, cronyism, and corruption can hardly be called “conservative”. It’s true that these policies are perceived as “wrong” not “right” by many of us, and it’s true that there’s no longer a viable extreme, communist “left wing” to speak of in the US. But “right wing” is a very well understood term that expresses reality quite succinctly.)

Comment #169513

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on April 12, 2007 12:59 PM (e)

Raven said: “render unto Ceasar what is Ceasars and unto God what is God’s.” Meaning don’t try to overthrow secular authority in the name of religion.”

Actually, Jesus was referring there more to the idea that money is unimportant and should not be the thing that people of the Kingdom of God strive for.

Comment #169514

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 12, 2007 12:59 PM (e)

The Pope hauls out the “Only a Theory” card, Wesley R. Elsberry applauds.

Golly. I guess it is time for me to donate to the “Reading is Fundamental” folks.

Comment #169515

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on April 12, 2007 1:02 PM (e)

I’m not sure how much the Pope is trying to balance here, between evolution’s truth and his followers. It’s not like there’s a lot of Catholics out there who are against evolution- they are an extreme minority within Catholicism.

Comment #169519

Posted by raven on April 12, 2007 1:25 PM (e)

Actually, Jesus was referring there more to the idea that money is unimportant and should not be the thing that people of the Kingdom of God strive for.

Not to turn PT into sunday school but I think I got it right the first time. Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s, unto science what is science’s, and unto god what is god’s. It is IMO foolish for religion to clash with subjects like science outside their domain. A disservice to both.

Fortunately in these enlightened times, the cultists won’t be burning scientists at the stake for doing research on evolution or the Big Bang. Well, probably not anyway. Hmmm, well lets just hope for the best, LOL.

Wikipedia:

Hostile questioners tried to trap Jesus into taking an explicit and dangerous stand on whether Jews should or should not pay taxes to the Roman occupation. The trap was that if he advocated tax-paying, he would lose his credibility as a Messiah (if not his life to a lynch mob), but that if he advocated nonpayment, the power of the Roman state could be turned against him. At first the questioners flattered Jesus by praising his integrity, impartiality and devotion to truth. Then they asked him whether or not it is right for Jews to pay the taxes demanded by Caesar. Jesus first called them out on their attempt to trap him, then asked one of them to produce a Roman coin that would be suitable for paying such a tax. One of them handed such a coin to him, and he held it up and asked them to tell him whose name and inscription were on it. They answered that these were Caesar’s and he responded “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” His interrogators were flummoxed by this, and left without having succeeded in pinning him down.

Comment #169520

Posted by Adam on April 12, 2007 1:28 PM (e)

I surprised at how quick some posters here are to criticize Benedict’s book given that 1) they haven’t read it and 2) how little information about it is available in the linked article. Most of the article constitutes paraphrase, and little context is provided for what few actual quotations are given. Furthemore, it’s obvious the author of the article does not have a good grasp of evolution or theology, so it’s very likely his account of Benedict’s views is not accurate.

May I humbly suggest that people lay of Benedict until they actually read his book, or at the very least, read a more trustworthy review of it?

Comment #169527

Posted by Raging Bee on April 12, 2007 1:58 PM (e)

Jedidiah: Actually, Jesus was answering the question “Should we pay tribute to Caesar?” Which went to the loyalties and political duties required of Christians. And Jesus’ answer – far from being a dodge – was to say that Christians (like everyone else) must decide their political loyalties based on their own judgement of their respective situations and their worldly moral duties therein. Today, it may make sense to support Caesar; tomorrow, civil disobedience, defection or revolution may be in order. In either case, the Bible is not about politics, and Jesus talks to Christians on all sides of all worldly conflicts.

Comment #169528

Posted by CJO on April 12, 2007 2:06 PM (e)

Of course, from Jesus’s POV, he was advising Jews, not Christians, on their relationship to secular authority.

/nitpick

Comment #169536

Posted by Daniel DiRito on April 12, 2007 2:39 PM (e)

See a visual commentary on the Catholic Church’s inability to evolve…here:

http://www.thoughttheater.com/2007/04/the_evolut…

Comment #169546

Posted by harold on April 12, 2007 4:02 PM (e)

Raging Bee -

It seems that we share a similar opinion of the pope, except that you see him as “moving” in a certain direction, while I think that he’s already there. And you see him as being motivated by views indigenous to Africa, whereas I see him as primarily concerned with the politics of the US - he gave up on Italy long ago :-) - and simply promoting of the same policies and people in Africa as everywhere else.

It may actually have been quite painful for this pope - who found a contorted way to support a right wing, war-making, execution-loving Protestant over a practicing Catholic for president - to have to deny the wingnuts their joy.

Incidentally, when I refer to the current president as a “Protestant”, I mean in terms of public presentation. I don’t mean to imply any actual adherence to “Christian” values. I can’t read minds, but the policies of the last eight years have not been consistent with any traditional concept of “Christian values”, stem cell ban notwithstanding.

Comment #169547

Posted by harold on April 12, 2007 4:03 PM (e)

That should be seven years - I’m giddy with anticipation - but whatever.

Comment #169549

Posted by pb on April 12, 2007 4:16 PM (e)

I would have to say that I was disappointed in what I read because the current pope gave indications in the past that he would be an ardent supporter of good science. The International Theological Commission, which was headed by Benedict before he became Pope had issued statments that were much less equivocal and straightforward in their support of science, while simultaneously claiming, in their view, the role of the divine. Consider these statements which came from the Benedict (then Ratzinger)-led commission:
“God is…the cause of causes….Through the activity of natural causes, God causes to arise those conditions required for the emergence and support of living organisms, and, furthermore, for their reproduction and differentiation.”The comission also referred to evolution as a “radically contingent materialistic process driven by natural selection and random genetic variation”, but concluded “even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation.”
That seems to me to be the best case scenario for science and theology to overlap without being in utter conflict. Perhaps he didn’t really endorse those statements, or perhaps he allowed them to be published because they were what he thought his predecessor wanted to hear.

Comment #169567

Posted by John Farrell on April 12, 2007 6:15 PM (e)

After reading PZ’s post, I have to agree with him more on this one. BXI seems clearly loath to do what he should have done, which is to trust the intelligence of the general population and remind RCs of what Thomas Aquinas called ‘the doctrine of secondary causes’ and that there’s no need to doubt the scientific accuracy of evolution. Instead, too much of what he said does sound like Dembski, channeled by Schonborn during their Labor Day conference, at which, as I recall, only one scientist, and an elderly one, was invited.

(sigh)

Comment #169568

Posted by John Farrell on April 12, 2007 6:18 PM (e)

PB–exactly. Why didn’t the pope just reiterate the commission, and have done with it?

Comment #169642

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on April 13, 2007 9:37 AM (e)

Wesley wrote:

About a quarter to a third of the article I linked to concerned that topic.

Oh, I somehow construed it to mean all the earlier press coverage on him. Thanks, now I see your point.

Well, I have to say that it is he who choose to discuss implied atheism. Since religion is supposed to be compatible with science by his statements, he could as well have taken on all the other world views that is also admitted by it.

Or rather left it out all together, since science is secular.

Jedidiah wrote:

But the statement that “evolution is not completely provable” was a little concerning for me.

But that isn’t what he said. He outright claimed that “evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.” I.e. he denies that it is science yet.

The “complete” part is snarky, since evolution is complete enough to explain common descent. Science will never be ‘complete’ in the sense that it describes everything.

Adam wrote:

May I humbly suggest that people lay of Benedict until they actually read his book,

The comment thread is about Wesley’s post on the press release for Ratzinger’s book. So far not many here has commented on his book.

Comment #169659

Posted by Jason F on April 13, 2007 11:04 AM (e)

Wesley states:

And we know from William Dembski that “intelligent design theorists” are no friends of theistic evolution

Do we? Just recently, didn’t Dembski state regarding the protein engineering paper:

“Directed evolution” properly falls under ID.

Isn’t theistic evolution just evolution that’s directed by God?

Comment #169715

Posted by Mark Studdock on April 13, 2007 2:51 PM (e)

If you asked the pope whether he thought the natural world was the product of a designing mind or just a product of itself, he would answer a designing mind of course. Thus he is a proponent of at least what we might call, a design explanation. However, does he think that design in nature is detectable? (or to put it a bit more theologically, does he think the heavens declare the glory of God or that the invisible attributes of God are known by what people can see in nature?)

If the pope holds to this view that God’s handiwork can be seen, then he inadvertently supports the general idea behind Intelligent Design.

If evolutionist want to claim him and the catholic church among their supporters, then they must redefine the word evolution as just referring to a mechanism that may or may not have been designed by God. Theistic Evolution and Darwinian Evolution are not synonymous right?

MS

Comment #169725

Posted by David Stanton on April 13, 2007 3:39 PM (e)

“evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.”

Then name one that is.

Comment #169732

Posted by raven on April 13, 2007 4:04 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'blockquote'

Comment #169785

Posted by Science Avenger on April 13, 2007 7:48 PM (e)

Mark Studdock said: If evolutionist want to claim [The Pope] and the catholic church among their supporters, then they must redefine the word evolution as just referring to a mechanism that may or may not have been designed by God.

Everything “may or may not have been designed by God”. That’s the problem with that hypothesis: it explains everything, and nothing.

Theistic Evolution and Darwinian Evolution are not synonymous right?

Pretty much, when you get down to it. DE says “evolution happened”. TE says “evolution happened because God wanted it to”. Is there a substantive difference? Is there a single case where the theories produce different predictions?

Comment #169938

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on April 14, 2007 10:12 PM (e)

Is there a substantive difference?

Of course there is.

First, even the philosophical TE you mention inserts an unnecessary agent, that also by definition doesn’t do anything. (Since evolution theory is supposed to eventually suffice.)

Second, when apologists like Miller gets hold of it, insertions of predetermination and unsubstantiated physical effects takes place. Ask Dawkins about the difference between religion as stated and religion as practiced.

Comment #169954

Posted by raven on April 14, 2007 11:30 PM (e)

“evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.”

Then name one that is.

How about the germ theory of disease?

Oh wait, that is just a theory too. No need to treat drinking water, sterilize surgical instruments, vaccinate, or use antibiotics.

Comment #170254

Posted by Mr_Christopher on April 16, 2007 2:18 PM (e)

Why would God use such a time consuming, inexact process such as evolution as a vehicle for creation? Is God dumb as a fence post? Impotent?

Using dust and a man’s rib (to creat the broads) seems much quicker than sitting on your ass for a few million years waiting for this trait or that trait to catch on.

Saying “I am a theistic evolutionist” is like saying “I am dumb as a brick, I just don’t want to admit it”

Nutty.

Comment #170443

Posted by Al Moritz on April 17, 2007 9:16 AM (e)

Mr. Christopher wrote:

Why would God use such a time consuming, inexact process such as evolution as a vehicle for creation? Is God dumb as a fence post? Impotent?

Using dust and a man’s rib (to creat the broads) seems much quicker than sitting on your ass for a few million years waiting for this trait or that trait to catch on.

Saying “I am a theistic evolutionist” is like saying “I am dumb as a brick, I just don’t want to admit it”

Nutty.

These comments are based on a misconception of how God is viewed by the diverse religions. As the director of the Human Genome Project and former atheist, Francis Collins, put it in a debate with Richard Dawkins for Time magazine:

“By being outside of nature, God is also outside of space and time. Hence, at the moment of the creation of the universe, God could also have activated evolution, with full knowledge of how it would turn out, perhaps even including our having this conversation. The idea that he could both foresee the future and also give us spirit and free will to carry out our own desires becomes entirely acceptable.”

The timelesssness of God is one of the most basic tenets of theology – Christian, Jewish and probably Muslim as well.

God does not need to “wait” – “sitting on his ass for a few million years waiting for this trait or that trait to catch on” (your words).

Comment #171209

Posted by Science Avenger on April 20, 2007 9:50 PM (e)

True, God may not have to wait, being “outside time and space” and all, whatever the hell that means. However, it still would remain true that the process God chose to produce us, took many millions of years (the exact figure depending on your choice of intervention moment). And the question remains: why in the universe would he do that if he could in fact make it happen far more directly and far more quickly. The passing of time may not be a problem for his Holy Timelessness, but is that reason to construct the equivalent (from a Designer’s perspective) of a Rube Goldberg machine to make it come about? God must have quite a sense of humor, and not just with the platypus.

Comment #171455

Posted by Al Moritz on April 23, 2007 6:07 AM (e)

Science Avenger,

I am glad that you are willing to consider God’s timelessness, even if maybe just as a thought experiment. However, I am not quite sure if you have absorbed all the implications. For a being that can see everything in an instant, concepts like “millions of years” and “more directly and more quickly” cannot at all have any of their usual meaning for us human beings.

I don’t know about God’s humor, but I could imagine that it is sort of “fun” to make the world make itself, instead of just making the world. If you were a timeless being and had the ability to create the world, might you not find it much more (intellectually) satisfying to pre-set exact initial conditions and watch the processes of physical and biological evolution grow (doesn’t cost you time, given that you can see every slice of it in an instant), than just to “put stuff there and that’s it”?

I personally find the processes of evolution awesome ones (and I find the physical evolution of the universe from the big bang to the formation of later-generation stars and planets just as fantastic as biological evolution). Since I have started to study these things more deeply, the concept of God has become for me even greater than it already was.

(BTW, I liked your blog entry “Debating as the lone atheist vs. the true believers”.)

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Posted by Pharyngula on April 12, 2007 10:04 AM

Here is a criticism of evolutionary biology: …it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory … We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory. If a Bill Dembski or a Michael...