Cardinal backs evolution and “intelligent design”

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Cardinal backs evolution and “intelligent design”

A senior Roman Catholic cardinal seen as a champion of ”intelligent design” against Darwin’s explanation of life has described the theory of evolution as ”one of the very great works of intellectual history”.

Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said he could believe both in divine creation and in evolution because one was a question of religion and the other of science, two realms that complemented rather than contradicted each other.

Schoenborn’s view, presented in a lecture published by his office today, tempered earlier statements that seemed to ally the Church with United States conservatives campaigning against the teaching of evolution in public schools.

All a big misunderstanding?

In his lecture, Schoenborn said his article had led to misunderstandings and sometimes polemics. ”Maybe one did not express oneself clearly enough or thoughts were not clear enough,” he said. ”Such misunderstandings can be cleared up.” Schoenborn said he believed God created ”the things of the world” but did not explain how a divine will to bring about mankind would have influenced its actual evolution

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The Los Angeles Times has a very reasonable editorial entitled, "Designed and confused" on Intelligent Design creationism, religion and teaching religion in the public schools, Here are a few teasers, The business of science is to observe the physical ... Read More

68 Comments

Where I come from, half the Catholics think their church is “against evolution.” The Pope’s statement a few years ago was marvelous, but somehow the word never quite filters down to the grassroots. Why can’t the Church publish a statement for the laiety in clear and simple language? Maybe something like “The Catholic Position on Evolution, Physics, Astronomy and Other Modern Sciences.” Ooh! Ooh! How about one of those Jack Chick-type tiny comic books?

Observation: Evolution is a matter of science, Divine Creation one of faith,

There you have it.…

Did the DI fail to present the talking points to the cardinal? Or was it the cause of these misunderstandings?

The waters were further stirred by a July 9th news article on the Times’ front page, whose authors report that in a telephone conversation the cardinal “said he believed students in Catholic schools, and all schools, should be taught that evolution is just one of many theories” (“Leading Cardinal Redefines Church’s View on Evolution”). The article also connects the cardinal’s essay with the personnel and general mission of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, WA, whose Web site states that it advocates teaching “scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory, not alternatives to it.” According to the Times article, Cardinal Schoenborn was in contact with the Institute prior to writing his essay, and the essay was submitted to the Times by Creative Response Concepts, a public relations firm whose clients include the Institute.

link

Just as it didn’t matter, scientifically speaking, what the cardinal thought about evolution last July, it still doesn’t matter today.

Since he always only expressed a personal opinion, and not Church policy, this is really completely inconsequential. At most, I could say I am glad for him personally that he took the time to think it over and come to grips with evolutionary science, but that’s pretty much it.

Andrea, I agree with you scientifically speaking but the ID/DI people had gotten quite some mileage from Schoenborn’s comments. Additionally, while scientifically speaking Schoenborn’s comments may be irrelevant, his comments could have caused much damage in the socio-political game of ID.

Why can’t the Church publish a statement for the laiety in clear and simple language?

Now why would they want to do that? By leaving it vague and mystical, they can have it both ways.

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No, David, they’re not. As several different posts in the past few months have adequately demonstrated. If you REALLY think different, let’s see the links to the threads that you claim did all this omitting.

And, even if “PT” (who exactly is that, David?) did omit these details–which doesn’t really happen, so you’re not REALLY being honest here, are ya?–under PT’s post’n’comment policy, you and others would quickly set the record straight, right?

Like you just did (or so you seem to think). So how could such an omission really stand?

As you well know, that kind of open door transparency doesn’t apply across the board of blogdom, does it, David?

*sigh*

Mr. Heddle, once again you demonstrate a staggering inability to read English, even when you quote it directly. No genuinely scientific theory of evolution has anything to say about the emergence, nature or existence of “spirit” - whatever the heck that’s supposed to be. So the quotation about “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” ipso facto cannot refer to SCIENTIFIC theories of evolution.

Evolution as a scientific theory also does not in any way affirm or deny “divine providence any truly causal role” in anything - because evolution is not a theory about God in any way. As a theory about organisms, evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of organisms as a class and the structure of particular organisms, but does not address anything so vague and ethereal as “the development of life in the universe.”

Looking ahead: When a fully developed theory of abiogenesis (a theory of the origin of life from non-living matter, which is not the same as evolutionary theory as such) is articulated and supported with ample evidence - and like it or not, it’s only a matter of time - that STILL won’t matter one whit with respect to the Pope’s fencing off of theological/metaphysical claims from science. One might still believe that God made the universe in such a way that abiogenesis was possible, or even necessary, or one might believe that there is no God, and it wouldn’t effect that SCIENTIFIC theory one jot or tittle.

Pope John Paul II understood the difference between science and theology. I don’t hold out much hope that you’ll ever understand the difference, Mr. Heddle, but hopefully some less pig-headed reader won’t be confused by your obfuscations.

Well, one would hardly expect a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church to allow for non-theistic anything, but it would be at least as likely as for the DI to tell the truth about science.

David, you now seem to be firmly in the Ken Miller camp. Welcome. Science is truly a catholic enterprise (small c, obviously).

Stop embarassing yoursel mr Heddle, your unsupported assertions are easily refuted. A more careful reading and comprehension of the statement would lead to the obvious conclusion that the pope sees no problems between the science of evolution and the catholic faith.

“the theory of natural evolution, understood in a sense which does not exclude divine causality, is not in principle opposed to the truth about the creation of the visible world as presented in the book of Genesis.” (from the General Audiences of January 24 April 16, 1986 emphasis added)

Since science never excludes Divine causality, it should be understood that the Pope agrees with the evolutionary science. While some may be confused as to the theory of (neo)-Darwinism,it does not deny a possible role for a deity.

Hope you understand now David…

Cardinal Schoenborn is now stating that his original NYT article was misunderstood.

I’ll take him at his word. In fact, I took that tack when the article first appeared, explaining with some difficulty what I *thought* the article meant.

But that still begs the following questions.

(1)I don’t think there is any denying that the language used in Schoenborn’s NYT article was at least problematic, if not downright careless, coming as it did from such a highly placed person. Who was responsible for that ‘loaded’ language? Could the wording have been suggested by Mark Ryland, the VP of the Discovery Institute, who played some behind-the-scenes role in producing the article?

(2) Schoenborn could have avoided any “misunderstandings” by having the original article vetted by *responsible scientists*, rather than bowing to the ‘urgings’ of someone affiliated with the Discovery Institute. There are plenty of scientists around, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who would have gladly reviewed his article if given the opportunity. In fact, the Vatican maintains The Pontifical Academy at least in part so that clerics with little scientific background do not get into hot water when commenting on scientific matters. Why was this careful review not done?

(3) Why was the article submitted to the NYT through a PR company affiliated with the Discovery Institute, a very strange route indeed for even a Catholic bishop, much less a Cardinal?

Schoenborn said: ”Such misunderstandings can be cleared up.”

Clearly the work the Darwinian Pressure Group. Probably in preparation for the arrival of the Steve 666.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

In fact, JP II is not ok with the purely naturalistic form of evolution we find here.

I hear he’s not ok with ‘purely naturalistic’ weather forecasting, either.

A simple question for you, Heddle (no, not “what makes your religious opinions better than anyone else’s – we already know you wobnt’ answer that one).

This is also a question I’ve asked before (and you didn’t answer), but I want all the new arrivals here to see you dodge it yet again:

What, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than, say, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medicine. Please be as specific as possible.

I have never, in all my life, ever heard any weather forecaster mention “god” or “divine will” or any “supernatural” anything, at all. Ever. Does this mean, in your view, that weather forecasting is atheistic (oops, I mean, “materialistic” and “naturalistic” —- we don’t want any judges to think ID’s railing against “materialism” has any RELIGIOUS purpose, do we)?

I have yet, in all my 44 years of living, to ever hear any accifdent investigator declare solemnly at the scene of an airplane crash, “We can’t explain how it happened, so an Unknown Intelligent Being must have dunnit.” I have never yet heard an accident investigator say that “this crash has no materialistic causes — it must have been the Will of Allah”. Does this mean, in your view, that accident investigation is atheistic (oops, sorry, I meant to say “materialistic” and “naturalistic” — we don’t want any judges to know that it is “atheism” we are actually waging a religious crusade against, do we)?

How about medicine. When you get sick, do you ask your doctor to abandon his “materialistic biases” and to investigate possible “supernatural” or “non-materialistic” causes for your disease? Or do you ask your doctor to cure your naturalistic materialistic diseases by using naturalistic materialistic antibiotics to kill your naturalistic materialistic germs?

Since it seems to me as if weather forecasting, accident investigation, and medicine are every bit, in every sense,just as utterly completely totally absolutely one-thousand-percent “materialistic” as evolutionary biology is, why, specifically, is it just evolutionary biology that gets your panties all in a bunch? Why aren’t you and your fellow Wedge-ites out there fighting the good fight against godless materialistic naturalistic weather forecasting, or medicine, or accident investigation?

Or does that all come LATER, as part of, uh, “renewing our culture” .… . ?

The Cardinal Schoenborn story is clear.

He thought he could score some points with somebody by endorsing, albeit in a rather weasel-worded way, the talking points of the DI.

It’s possible he was tricked, and perceived the DI as a benign institution preaching the idea that science and religion don’t need to be in conflict. They’re good at tricking people. Many casual observers initially assume that a belief in “intelligent design” is the same thing as simultaneous acceptance of a religion and of scientific reality (which is the actual position of the Vatican, however one may disagree with them on other issues).

It’s also possible he saw exactly what was going on, but thought that, with a new “conservative” pope, he could advance himself by kissing up to the American right wing. However, he says he was misunderstood, which favors the former hypothesis.

At any rate, science supporters in the Vatican saw EXACTLY what was going on, and Schoeborn has had to “clarify” his remarks.

David Heddle - don’t respond to this post - you’ve got some questions to answer.

Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger) on creation and evolution:

“We cannot say: creation or evolution, inasmuch as these two things respond to two different realities. The story of the dust of the earth and the breath of God, which we just heard, does not in fact explain how human persons come to be but rather what they are. It explains their inmost origin and casts light on the project that they are. And, vice versa, the theory of evolution seeks to understand and describe biological developments. But in so doing it cannot explain where the ‘project’ of human persons comes from, nor their inner origin, nor their particular nature. To that extent we are faced here with two complementary – rather than mutually exclusive – realities.”

Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger) on “intelligent design”:

“Now let us go directly to the question of evolution and its mechanisms. Microbiology and biochemistry have brought revolutionary insights here. They are constantly penetrating deeper into the inmost mysteries of life, attempting to decode its secret language and to understand what life really is. In so doing they brought us to the awareness that an organism and a machine have many points in common. For both of them realize a project, a thought-out and considered plan, which is itself coherent and logical. Their functioning presupposes a precisely thought-through and therefore reasonable design.…It is the affair of the natural sciences to explain how the tree of life in particular continues to grow and how new branches shoot out from it. This is not a matter for faith. But we must have the audacity to say that the great projects of the living creation are not the products of chance and error. Nor are they the products of a selective process to which divine predicates can be attributed in illogical, unscientific, and even mythic fashion. 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. Thus we can say today with a new certitude and joyousness that the human being is indeed a divine project, which only the creating Intelligence was strong and great and audacious enough to conceive of. Human beings are not a mistake but something willed; they are the fruit of love.”

From Ratzinger’s commentary on Genesis 1-3 titled In the Beginning.… (originally published 1986)

http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p81.htm

And of course the Catechism on science and faith:

159. Faith and science: “…methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” [citing Vatican II GS 36:1]

283. The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers.…

284. The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated by a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of the natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how the universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering the meaning of such an origin.…

Summary: science is wonderful and tells us when and how we got here, faith tells us why we are here (which goes beyond the domain of the natural sciences).

Cardinal Schonborn was the general editor of this text, back in 1992 (in French, 1994 in English translation). No, he hasn’t changed his mind.

Phil P

Lenny should understand that it is for people such as David Heddle that Kevin Trudeau exists in order to cure his diseases with faith based practice.

Of course, given that whole “Galileo” thingie, I’m not sure why any sane person would *care* what the Pope says about … well … anything scientific. (shrug)

While the pope may not be a scientific authority, his opinions still carries a lot of weight. I think Ratzinger’s and Schonborn’s statements are quite eloquent and insightful. They were attempting to reconcile their faiths and scientific reason, without destroying scientific reason in the process. I think the IDers mostly exist because they are not able to make the reconciliation. Schonborn’s NYT op-ed was a DI talking points memo, but I’m willing to believe that he was reacting to what he perceived as hostility toward religion from science rather than informed support for ID, which he seems to be retracting unequivically. Part of the DI’s strategy, and that of all creationist’s, is to label science as “materialist” and thus atheist and a refutation of God. In these charged political times a lot of Christians feel, however unjustified it seems to us, that they are under attack. It is important that they know science would more accurately be called “agnostic” than “atheist,” and we aren’t claiming to answer those questions. If people want to believe in ID that’s great, as long as they don’t call it science.

Science teaches how the heavens go. Religion teaches how to go to heaven.

the theory of natural evolution, understood in a sense which does not exclude divine causality

Guess what, David. The theory of evolution we are advocating for here, the theory of evolution taught in public schools and advanced universities, does not exclude divine causality.

Lenny

To give the Catholic Church its due, it seems to have learned from Galileo (eventually). The current and previous pope have made it very clear to any sane person, that the the pope does not pontificate on science.

Who cares? I expect you can understand why RC’s might feel the need to respond when a pope, cardinal etc is quote mined to support fundy creationism.

The the theory of evolution advocated here does not support divine causality. Where does your TOE permit God to intervene in the process? Tell me where an explanation “God did it” is fine with you and I’ll isolate that step and call it–guess what–Intelligent Design.

The theory of evolution advocated here cannot say any intelligent species on earth was a certainty. The RCC probably (one can infer from her statements) demands that any TOE must include the idea that, at a minimum, God intervened to ensure that our species came about. Even if you say the Catholic Church is fine with the idea that God would have imbued whatever species (e.g. whales) that first reached a threshold of intelligence with a soul (I doubt this idea has RCC approval, but I cannot say I have ever seen an ex Cathedra statement on the matter) the TOE cannot say that any such species was predestined, for pure naturalism cannot deny the possibility that something might have happened to wipe out all life on the planet.

In short, does Rome, which affirms a sovereign God whose plans cannot be thwarted, allow for the possibility that no species such as man (or its equivalent) was a certainty, a species for God to carry out his plan of redemption? Of this I am certain: it does not.

It is here on PT, and even on Miller’s letter to the Pope on his website, where the pope is quote mined. Where his affirmation that evolution may indeed be God’s secondary means is morphed into a blanket endorsement by leaving out the caveats that JP II included.

David Heddle Wrote:

The the theory of evolution advocated here does not support divine causality. Where does your TOE permit God to intervene in the process?

I said divine causality, not divine intervention. The Cardinal said the same thing.

Where does the theory of relativity permit God to intervene in the process? Where does the modern understanding of meteorology permit God to intervene in the process? Planetary motion? Fluid dynamics? They don’t, so why are you only focused on biology?

sanjait Wrote:

While the pope may not be a scientific authority, his opinions still carries a lot of weight.

The popes’ opinions are not worth shit. Consider these opinions from Pius IX:

* If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema.

* If anyone says that it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood and understands: let him be anathema.

* [It is an error to say that] the method and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated theology are no longer suitable to the demands of our times and to the progress of the sciences.

* [It is an error to say that] every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.

* [It is an error to say that] in the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers, the civil law prevails.

* [It is an error to say that] the best theory of civil society requires that popular schools open to children of every class of the people, and, generally, all public institutes intended for instruction in letters and philosophical sciences and for carrying on the education of youth, should be freed from all ecclesiastical authority, control and interference, and should be fully subjected to the civil and political power at the pleasure of the rulers, and according to the standard of the prevalent opinions of the age.

* [It is an error to say that] Catholics may approve of the system of educating youth unconnected with Catholic faith and the power of the Church, and which regards the knowledge of merely natural things, and only, or at least primarily, the ends of earthly social life.

* [It is an error to say that] the Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.

* [It is an error to say that] in the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship.

* From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an “insanity,” viz., that “liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way.”

That last opinion referred to this opinion from Gregory XVI:

* And so from this most rotten source of indifferentism flows that absurd and erroneous opinion, or rather insanity, that liberty of conscience must be claimed and defended for anyone.

It is evident from these opinions that Pius IX, at least, was an IDiot and would have taught IDiocy in public schools. Further, these opinions on faith and morals are “irreformable” Catholic dogma because they were to be believed by all Christians (some of these opinions were promulgated at Vatican I, the others via encyclicals).

So, now, the Catholics have some questions to answer. How do you reconcile the “irreformable” teaching of Pius IX, the IDiotic pope, with the teaching on evolution of John Paul II, the backtracker? Was John Paul II a heretic? Do you believe the heresy that the public education system should be free from religious interference by the popes? Do you believe the “insanity” that freedom of speech and freedom of religion should be protected?

The the theory of evolution advocated here does not support divine causality. Where does your TOE permit God to intervene in the process? Tell me where an explanation “God did it” is fine with you and I’ll isolate that step and call it—guess what—Intelligent Design.

Hey Heddle, where does your notion of weather forecasting permit god to intervene in the process? Tell me where an explanation “God did it” is fine with you in weather forecasting.

Hey Heddle, where does your notion of accident investigation permit God to intervene in the process?

Hey Heddle, where does your notion of medical practice permit god to intervene in the process?

Hey Heddle, why are you Wedge-ites not out there fighting the good fight against atheistic weather forecasting, or atheistic accident investigation, or atheistic medical practice? Why is it that “atheistic evolution” gets your undies all in a bunch, but “atheist weather forecasting” doesn’t? Why is it that you think atheism acceptable in some areas, but not in others? How exactly do you decide in which areas atheism is acceptable to you, and which areas is it not?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Ohhh, I forgot — Heddle doesn’t answer questions, does he . …

Comment # 50988

David Heddle Wrote:

Comment #50988 Posted by David Heddle on October 5, 2005 05:00 AM (e) (s) … Tell me where an explanation “God did it” is fine with you and I’ll isolate that step and call it—guess what—Intelligent Design. …

This is the point David.…You say “God” NEEDS to meddle. While we are saying “God” wouldn’t need to. You bring your “God” down to your level because you can’t understand how “God” could create the universe and know that intelligent beings will come out of the process without meddling along the way.

Secondly you are arguing for no reason. According to yourself you only believe in cosmological ID. The way you have described Cosmological ID just says that “God” only needed to set the initial conditions. But here you are like a fundamentalist saying that “God” needs to constantly meddle with the universe and its contents to achieve “God’s” outcome. How small is your view of your “God” anyway?

No, the Catholic Church, as I understand her writings, will not fall for this ruse: We don’t rule God out, but we don’t need him. (My view of God or ID is not relevant here, what we are talking about is whether Rome is fine with evolution as advocated on PT.)

Once again, the acid test is the inevitability of man (or some man-like species) with which God could work out his plan of redemption upon. Any ToE that says “no guarantees about that, maybe God will be waiting in vain” will, in my opinion based on JP II’s writings, be unacceptable.

Heddle Wrote:

No, the Catholic Church, as I understand her writings, will not fall for this ruse: We don’t rule God out, but we don’t need him. (My view of God or ID is not relevant here, what we are talking about is whether Rome is fine with evolution as advocated on PT.)

Once again, the acid test is the inevitability of man (or some man-like species) with which God could work out his plan of redemption upon. Any ToE that says “no guarantees about that, maybe God will be waiting in vain” will, in my opinion based on JP II’s writings, be unacceptable.

Your opinion seems to be at odds with reality. But I like your ability to spin strawmen. Religion is an issue of faith, evolution an issue of science. Evolution remains silent on the issue of a deity. What’s so hard to undersand about this? And what is this kind of evolution that is being advocated here at PT?

Sigh

Well, the Cardinal’s NYT article, being encouraged by a DI member and submitted via the DI’s PR company, almost certainly meant what it said. It wasn’t misunderstood at all. If it had been in support of theistic evolution, the DI people wouldn’t have been so fast to help get it published, given how much the ID lot seem to despise theistic evolutionists. It would appear that the Cardinal has been given a reality check by someone inside the Vatican and is rewriting history a bit.

By the way, Mr. Heddle, I did not avoid any question.

“Utterly meaningless” would mean,I understand, devoid of meaning in any context. The late Pope’s words, on the contrary, have a clear religious meaning, so they aren’t “utterly meaningless”.

You, on the other hand, want them to have an actual scientific meaning; which they haven’t. I had already told you this, so your claim that I somehow “avoided” your loaded question is baseless, like most of what you write about the ToE.

For you anything.

Cool, then answer my questions:

(1) What, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than, say, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medicine. Please be as specific as possible.

I have never, in all my life, ever heard any weather forecaster mention “god” or “divine will” or any “supernatural” anything, at all. Ever. Does this mean, in your view, that weather forecasting is atheistic (oops, I mean, “materialistic” and “naturalistic” —- we don’t want any judges to think ID’s railing against “materialism” has any RELIGIOUS purpose, do we)?

I have yet, in all my 44 years of living, to ever hear any accifdent investigator declare solemnly at the scene of an airplane crash, “We can’t explain how it happened, so an Unknown Intelligent Being must have dunnit.” I have never yet heard an accident investigator say that “this crash has no materialistic causes — it must have been the Will of Allah”. Does this mean, in your view, that accident investigation is atheistic (oops, sorry, I meant to say “materialistic” and “naturalistic” — we don’t want any judges to know that it is “atheism” we are actually waging a religious crusade against, do we)?

How about medicine. When you get sick, do you ask your doctor to abandon his “materialistic biases” and to investigate possible “supernatural” or “non-materialistic” causes for your disease? Or do you ask your doctor to cure your naturalistic materialistic diseases by using naturalistic materialistic antibiotics to kill your naturalistic materialistic germs?

Since it seems to me as if weather forecasting, accident investigation, and medicine are every bit, in every sense,just as utterly completely totally absolutely one-thousand-percent “materialistic” as evolutionary biology is, why, specifically, is it just evolutionary biology that gets your panties all in a bunch? Why aren’t you and your fellow Wedge-ites out there fighting the good fight against godless materialistic naturalistic weather forecasting, or medicine, or accident investigation?

Or does that all come LATER, as part of, uh, “renewing our culture” .… . ?

(2) What exactly is the source of your religious authority. What exactly makes your (or ANY person’s) religious opinions more (or less) authoritative than anyone else’s. Why should anyone pay any more attention to my religious opinions, or yours, than we pay to the religious opinions of my next door neighbor or my gardener or the guy who delivered my pizza last night. It seems to me that no one alive would or could know any more about God than anyone else alive does, since there doesn’t seem to be any potential source of such knowledge that isn’t equally available to everyone else. You pray; I pray. You read the Bible; I read the Bible. You go to church and listen to the pastor; I go to church and listen to the pastor. So what is it, exactly, that makes your religious opinion any more (or less) valid than anyone else’s. Are you more holy than anyone else? Do you walk more closely with God than anyone else? Does God love you best? Are you the best Biblical scholar in human history? What exactly makes your opinions better than anyone else’s? Other than your say-so?

Is it your opinion that not only is the Bible inerrant and infallible, but YOUR INTERPRETATIONS of it are also inerrant and infallible? Sorry, but I simply don’t believe that you are infallible. Would you mind explaining to me why I SHOULD think you are? Other than your say-so?

It seems to me that your religious opinions are just that, your opinions. They are no more holy or divine or infallible or authoritative than anyone else’s religious opinions. No one is obligated in any way, shape, or form to follow your religious opinions, to accept them, or even to pay any attention at all to them.

Can you show me anything to indicate otherwise? Other than your say-so?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought.

The only reason the pope felt the need to add “as long as it does not exclude divine causality” is because for 150 years certain hard-core Christians have been spreading the lie that the scientifically accepted theory of evolution does exclude it. They, as we all know, were and are mistaken, but they have still managed to get that idea out there.

You seem to think that “does not exclude” is synonymous with “include”. It is not. If ANY scientific theory included or excluded divine causality it would radically redefine what “science” has meant for 2500 years.

Can you show us an example of any scientific paper that excludes, or even addresses “divine causality”?

buddha: “This clearly is de fide, and it is my opinion that this teaches intelligent design. If this does not teach intelligent design, could you please tell me what it does teach?”

I agree Vatican Council I is De Fide (i.e. infallible), but I’m not sure what you’ve quoted is equivalent to modern “Intelligent Design.” All these statements are saying is that God can be “known with certainty” from his creation (a reference to Romans 1:19-20 is made), and that God can be “known with certainty” from reason. Something that St. Thomas Aquinas believed as well. The claims of the modern Intelligent Design movement go much farther than this it seems to me. Catholics obviously believe in an intelligent designer, no doubt about that, but how that intelligent designer “designs” we leave mainly to science (see e.g. Catechism 159, 283-284, and Ratzinger’s statements I’ve quoted).

buddha: “I am posting this at PT because it has been claimed here that the Catholic Church does not teach intelligent design - but obviously it does, and as infallible dogma, no less!”

I’ll admit I would have to look more deeply into Pius IX’s 19th century teachings (e.g. the Syllabus of Errors, etc), but the modern Church does not teach modern “Intelligent Design” is clear from the statements I’ve quoted. What is infallible Catholic dogma (De Fide) I’ve cited here before:

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

However, none of these are scientific statements and the Church doesn’t claim they are. They are statements of faith and revelation, not science. I am with the Catechism, Benedict/Ratzinger, John Paul II, and Ken Miller on this.

Phil P

PhilVaz Wrote:

Catholics obviously believe in an intelligent designer, no doubt about that, but how that intelligent designer “designs” we leave mainly to science (see e.g. Catechism 159, 283-284, and Ratzinger’s statements I’ve quoted).

I’ll concede that the dogma that God “can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason” may have several interpretations:

1. God can be known with certainty, in principle, but we may not have discovered the proof yet.

2. God can be known with certainty, provided some things are first believed by faith. This seems to be the opinion of CCC 286:

John Paul II Wrote:

Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason, [Cf. Vatican Council I, can. 2 § I: DS 3026] even if this knowledge is often obscured and disfigured by error. This is why faith comes to confirm and enlighten reason in the correct understanding of this truth: “By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.” [Heb 11:3] [32, 37]

3. Specifically, God can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, including human souls which are first believed by faith to exist. For example, by the first cause of transcendent intelligence argument.

4. God can be known with certainty of a subjective kind. For example, by the aesthetic argument or the moral argument.

5. God can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by induction. For example, by the cosmological argument.

6. God can be known with certainty from reason alone (a priori). For example, by the ontological argument or the transcendental argument.

7. God can be known with certainty by the “design inference” from currently available examples of irreducible complexity, cosmological fine tuning, etc.

The first of these interpretations is vacuous; the next two interpretations dilute the dogma to “God can be known with certainty from faith”; likewise, the fourth interpretation yields “God can be known with certainty from intuition”; the arguments for the next two interpretations are not sound; and the seventh interpretation is the controversy of the day.

May I ask, which, if any, of these interpretations would you support? Do you agree that the original dogma, viz. that “God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason” has needed to be tempered somewhat? If some qualification needs to be added to the dogma of Pius IX to make it true, is this not a case of a strict mental reservation on the part of God’s “infallible” teacher? Finally, does the Catholic Church actually disavow non-faith-based “proofs” of God (including the design inference) or do you try to have it both ways, peddling lies when and only when educated people are not watching?

PhilVaz Wrote:

What is infallible Catholic dogma (De Fide) I’ve cited here before: […]

You’ll need to add this one:

* God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason. (De Fide)

buddha: You’ll need to add this one, “God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason.” (De Fide)

OK, I’ll add it. Most of these De Fide statements are found in the source Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott, the Jesuit theologian, and he says the following on evolution:

“The doctrine of evolution based on the theistic conception of the world, which traces matter and life to God’s causality and assumes that organic being, developed from originally created seed-powers (St. Augustine) or from stem-forms (doctrine of descent), according to God’s plan, is compatible with the doctrine of Revelation. However, as regards man, a special creation by God is demanded, which must extend at least to the spiritual soul [creatio hominis peculiaris Denz 2123]. Individual Fathers, especially St. Augustine, accepted a certain development of living creatures.….The question of the descent of the human body from the animal kingdom first appeared under the influence of the modern theory of evolution. The Biblical text does not exclude this theory. Just as in the account of the creation of the world, one can, in the account of the creation of man, distinguish between the per se inspired religious truth that man, both body and soul, was created by God, and the per accidens inspired, stark anthropomorphistic representation of the mode and manner of the Creation. While the fact of the creation of man by God in the literal sense must be closely adhered to, in the question as to the mode and manner of the formation of the human body, an interpretation which diverges from the strict literal sense, is, on weighty grounds, permissible.” (Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pages 93-94, 95)

He originally wrote this in the 1950s. It is a standard orthodox theological source. The version I am using is by Tan Books, 1974.

Phil P

Is the TOE compatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church? The Church says that it is when properly considered. We need to consider what “proper consideration” involves.

The TOE, qua scientific theory, is incompatible with the CC. As a demonstration and explanation of how all living species evolved by entirely natural processes from an original elementary form of life it omits any mention of what is most necessary for the CC - God, of course. The CC has to consider what the bible says on these matters whereas science does not. It necessarily must omit any mention of God; it must exclude God as being any part of the explanation - as a matter of method.

Science is methodologically naturalistic: it can never assume or infer the existence of a creator God; nor can it infer the occasional or continuously acting intervention or guidance of God. God is not a scientific explanation.

Science requires natural explanations for natural phenomena. Theistic evolution is a scientific oxymoron. The scientific TOE demonstrates that the assumption of an intervening or guiding God is superfluous for an understanding of the evidence of natural history; and also, that the inference of God’s existence from any natural fact is unwarranted. To do otherwise is not to do natural history, it is to do natural theology.

That said, there is nothing to stop anyone from believing that evolution is the method which God has used to create life. After all, if evolution is true, and a creator God exists, then either God has occasionally acted - poof! - poof! - poof! - at different times and places, or He/She has been guiding the process continuously throughout. All of which has precisely nothing to do with science. Science can no more demonstrate or refute the one form of creation than the other.

Those who believe in God must necessarily produce some form of evolution which incorporates the action of God (or deny it all together). In this way evolution is rendered compatible with CC. Thus the theistic theory of evolution is designed to make evolution - not the scientific theory of evolution - compatible with faith. The theistic theory of evolution is incompatible with the scientific account. One must rule God out of consideration, the other must rule God in.

I won’t repeat what Leigh Jackson said above but the conclusion that I naturally draw and I presume so do the DI crowd is “God can not be scientifically proven to actually exist” is just the same as saying god doesn’t exist unless you are told to believe it by whichever religion, faith, belief system, hearing voices, magic, miracle and no amount of pontificating by any religion can get around this.

That scares the pants off the DI and the Heddles of this world. Who are driving themselves mad trying to find a real (not magic) god you could buy in a (gun)shop. They just don’t understand that magic has no influence on natural events or maybe they do and all this self generated “conflicting evidence” is a lie …shock horror. They know the real real problem for them is it usurps their social and political power, it confounds their worldview [which is actually self view].

They equate faith,in their brand of faith-magic, to something that is diminished by science simply because science has such a good name and can be trusted more that anything you can buy in a shop. They want some of that trust to shore up their support base.

Much to the disgust of the cc this brings into focus all religious faith as nothing more than a bunch of neurons firing in the recipients brain since science (which is highly trustable because of its rigor and absolute lack of magic) explicitly excludes faith,magic etc. and the world doesn’t explode, endure the wrath …I could go on but you get the picture.

The CC at least, as has been pointed out above, is modifying its dogma, how times have changed.

Specifically allowing science to push back the unexplained and hence what appears to be magic, to as far as it can, now and in the future and still claim compatibility and the upper hand by saying the Grand Old Designer still did it.

It is still magic though and the DI has done the cc no favors by “misrepresenting” Schoenborn, no wonder the Vatican had conniptions and “cleared up the facts” so as not to bring them too much critical viewing.

They seem to be doing a better job (mostly) on PR than the DI. But they are in a similar position, having to justify themselves. If anyone has had the misfortune to see the inner workings of a PR firm you will know how spin is the next best thing to magic i.e plant a plausible story in the minds of your target audience.

The cc will try to get as much distance as it can from the DI mob while still having a side bet so as not to loose the the already converted.

In the UK the cc has even gone as far as saying (as reported in the London Times—its on PT somewhere) that some stories in the bible can’t be taken as being real[gospel, in the vernacular]. Expect more of the same.

I can’t imagine the DI saying that.

The cc is going for differentiation another great marketing term to ensure brand loyalty which in my view is not that much different to religious faith, it gives you a good feeling, you trust it and so on.

Anyway claiming an exclusive franchise on a supreme being is so ingrained into their power structure that to give it up now would be unthinkable and they have to differentiate themselves from competing religious belief systems that don’t have the same limitations.

This is wishfull thinking I know but could the cc in another 350 years or so say we were just pulling your leg on the god thing. Then they could just get on with the job of saying how JC was a great guy etc etc which is what I thought Christianity was all about… I must be more deluded than Heddle.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 4, 2005 2:58 PM.

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