Vatican official refutes intelligent design

| 161 Comments

The Seattle PI reports that Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, has observed the obvious namely that “Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be,…”

While the Catholic church obviously supports ‘intelligent design’, it also seems to realize that ‘Intelligent Design’ is scientifically vacuous.

161 Comments

PvM writes,

While the Catholic church obviously supports intelligent design’, it also seems to realize that ‘Intelligent Design’ is scientifically vacuous.

This is a critical distinction. Of course the Catholic Church believes that the intelligence (and benevolence) of God is responsible for the design and plan of the world, from its overall purpose and meaning to the specific nature of its physical components.

That is vastly different than the claims of the “Intelligent Design” movement: that somehow some things (the bacterial flagellum, for instance) can be scientifcially shown (although they have not done so)to have arisen through means other than natural events. The ID movement plays off of the confusion between these two meanings as much as they can, but Coyne understands the difference.

Jack, if I understand him correctly, makes a very good point. There is no false dilemma. The Catholic Church is not stating that the choice for the faithful is between Behe/Dembski Intelligent Design and full-blown naturalisitc evolution, and only the latter is viable. The Church supports theistic evolution which is is a form of intelligent design (with a little ‘i’ and a little ‘d’.) After all, the Church would say that everything turned out according to God’s sovereign plan. Evolution may have been God’s means to his end, but the outcome, the Church would insist, was never in doubt, and that God cannot be excluded from from having acted at any step in the process.

While the Catholic church obviously supports ‘intelligent design’, it also seems to realize that ‘Intelligent Design’ is scientifically vacuous.

Keep in mind that the Holy Roman Catholic Church is a very big tent, and not all the clowns are performing the same act.

So to speak.

Cardinal Schoenborn’s endorsement of ID last summer, his subsequent about-face, recents comments made by the pope, and recent comments made by Cardinal Poupard indicate that not everyone is on the same page.

My guess is that the current pope and his pal Schoenborn favor intelligent design because they confuse evolution with atheism. They might be even more outspoken if 1) they didn’t wish to directly contradict statements made by the preceding pope, who after all was extremely popular and is on the fast track to sainthood, and 2) they weren’t worried about upsetting Catholic scientists and the more enlightened participants under the big tent. Poupard and Coyne apparently have a better understanding of science than Benedict and Schoenborn.

It’s not easy being infallible.

Infallibility is irrelevant, since these statements concerning evolution, ‘id’ and ID were not made ex cathedra.

Evolution may have been God’s means to his end, but the outcome, the Church would insist, was never in doubt, and that God cannot be excluded from from having acted at any step in the process.

David may be coming around to my way of thinking, which I call “Whateverism”:

Define “God(s)” however you like, conceptualize (his/her/its/their) plan(s) however you like. Just don’t pretend it has anything to do with science or -especially- science education.

David Heddle Wrote:

Infallibility is irrelevant, since these statements concerning evolution, ‘id’ and ID were not made ex cathedra.

It is obvious that items (1) and (2) given concern the reticence of the current pope to speak against the stance of the previous pope and the understanding of Catholic scientists. The idea of popes contemplating the consequences of pronouncements is obviously relevant to the discernment of popes in using ex cathedra pronouncements sparingly. Infallibility is quite relevant, as a pope who speaks ex cathedra on an issue liable to empirical test is putting that bit of doctrine itself at risk. So it is quite to the point that the current pope has chosen not to issue an ex cathedra statement on evolutionary biology.

Most supporters of the Intelligent Design movement seem not to understand that ID is neither scientifically nor theologically sound.

ID rejects real science and bastardizes real faith. Between the two is where ID supporters are actually driving their wedge because they are using bad science to study their theology and using vacuous theology to impune science. It’s a lose-lose effort. Obviously.

Vatican of course is in favor of evolution and reject ID of any kind, speaking of science. It reject evolutionism as philosophy or something like that. They use a lot of words in any kind of way when it happens to talk about this, I’m not really sure I’ve understud it all.

It should surprise nobody that the pope, or any other Catholic or any other Christian believes that there is an intelligent agent behind the origin of the universe because that tends to be part of the definition of theism in general, and Christianity in particular, in the first place. But as Jack correctly notes, there is a big and very important distinction that we MUST reognize and MUST continue to point out between that philosophical and theological point, and the anti-evolutionary movement that is represented by the catchphrase “intelligent design”. As the Vatican astronomer points out, “intelligent design” is simply not a scientific idea. ID proponents are still crowing over the “support” they think they’ve been getting from the Catholic church, so I guess we just have to wait for the pope himself make some comment about the scientific validity of ID.

ID proponents are still crowing over the “support” they think they’ve been getting from the Catholic church,

Why would they do that? ID is nothing to do with religion, right?

Stephen Elliott,

Many supporters of evolution also “crow” over support, as they see it, from the Catholic Church. Therefore the crowing is independent of the religion question.

The Church supports theistic evolution

No shit.

Many supporters of evolution also “crow” over support, as they see it, from the Catholic Church. Therefore the crowing is independent of the religion question.

What “religion question”. I thought ID was science and didn’t have a bloomin’ thing to do with religion.

Or are IDers just lying to us about that?

Dembski’s blog

Even worse, in my mind, is the fact that it DOES all boil down to the Pope’s position. Sorry, but I don’t care what the pope (a position not established in the Bible) says, I care about what the word says. And I don’t understand why most Catholics, it seems, think that what the Pope (and the lower hierarchy) says IS more important than what the Bible says. Sadly, the Catholic Church seems to put too much importance in what a man says as opposed to the Word.

Top Vatican scientists saying these sorts of things…it cannot be helping the overall Christian church in general. Doing, it seems, all you can to destroy the word of God to prop up a hierarchy that is anything but biblical seems to be the worst of ideas in this matter.

Comment by jboze3131 — November 18, 2005 @ 11:31 pm

Careful, Josh. Don’t stray too far into theological matters, or you might really offend someone.

Comment by crandaddy — November 18, 2005 @ 11:40 pm

Yes, Reverend Flank, I think they might be.

The Catholic Church is not supporting ID in any way. I was on Dembski’s blog, and he gave “full coverage” to the Pope’s statement.

The Pope was fully supporting theistic evolution. The very long standing belief of the Catholic Church is that the old testament is a fairy-tale of sorts.

The Pope was suggesting that God could possibly intervene..but did not actually claim that God did intervene.

I spent the last week commenting on Dembski’s blog, trying to learn something about ID…and that was pointless.

The opinion of the catholic church is very important, and not just from a religious standpoint. The catholic church has supported science for a very long time. The one rather notable exception was Galileo. They did however encourage literacy, and other intellectual pursuits.

The Jesuit order is completely committed to learning. The perceive that knowledge is the absolute study of God. God created “reality and knowledge”, therefore studying is a form of prayer and religious understanding.

Sorry to go off on a rant here, but jboze is really a hardcore religious fundamentalist, and living in West Texas, i see them a lot.

They have a problem accepting any form of religion that is not fundamentalist. In other words, they would rather convert from Fundamentalist Christian to Fundamentalist Muslim, rather than convert to a non-fundamentalist religion. its actually very sad.

I spent the last week commenting on Dembski’s blog, trying to learn something about ID…and that was pointless.

How long did it take before you got kicked off?

(BTW, the fact that you can still see your messages doesn’t mean you HAVEN’T been kicked off — Dembski, that stalwart defender of, uh, open debate over ID, apparently uses some computer geek trick to make your messages visible to you but not to anyone else.)

In any case, IDers can’t tell you anything about ID. That’s mostly because ID doesn’t actually *consist* of anything. It’s just a code word for fundamentalist religious opinion, coupled with some regurgitated creation “science” arguments against evolution, from 30 years ago.

ID, in and of itself, simply has nothing to offer, other than “an unknown thing did an unknown thing at an unknown time using unknown methods – and it wasn’t evolution, so there.”

I almost feel sorry for kids like Josh, so ignorant of the world, so certain of their opinions, yet so inarticulate in expressing them, so fearful of confronting reality. Maybe he’ll grow out of it and begin to realise he has been a victim of the fundamentalist propaganda machine.

(BTW, the fact that you can still see your messages doesn’t mean you HAVEN’T been kicked off —- Dembski, that stalwart defender of, uh, open debate over ID, apparently uses some computer geek trick to make your messages visible to you but not to anyone else.)

I’m torn between contempt for Dembski for trying something so sneaky and a grudging admiration that he came up with such a ingenious form of censorship.

well i think i got kicked off recently when i posted a comment about conspiracy theorists normally being crazy.…something like that

actually i did get something of an ID theory out of them …random mutation is insufficient for Evolution to have occured.… …Some other mechanism must be present for mutation.…..We will refer to this mechanism as the Intelligent Agent.…..We will now infer all sorts of nonsense.…..We will also assume all other Evolutionary theory is wrong.…..We have disproven evolution.…..We call the bad evolution Darwinism, because Darwin developed the theory of random genetic mutation(huh?)…

There are two arguments for design used by theists, and they are polar opposites of each other.

The argument used by the Discovery Institute and others is based on a putative inadequacy of natural processes. They argue that the natural world cannot give rise to the subtle complexity of living things, and so a designer must have intervened to give them their complex forms.

The other argument is used by Coyne, and also by a few non-Christian scientists like Paul Davies, and it is based on the adequacy of natural processes. They argue that the natural world is exquisitely well suited to the emergence of subtle complexity, including life and consciousness, and that this occurs because the natural world itself is finely tuned for this capacity.

The first argument looks to replace the findings of conventional science with an alternative science of some kind that is able to accommodate their theology. It sees design and natural processes as alternatives. It employs a variation of the God of the Gaps, looking to see a design in isolated aspects of the world that can stand in contrast to others aspects that are not designed.

The second argument sees conventional science as exploring a world set up at the deepest level by the designer. It shows up both as a form of deism, in which God set it going and has been hands off ever since; and in a form of Christian transcendent theism, where all natural processes are established and sustained by the divine will, for Whom all processes work together for His ineffable purposes.

The first argument is anti-science; and inevitably contributes to the chasm that has opened up between conventional science and popular religion.

The second argument is a conviction by faith that has driven the involvement of Christians within the sciences all down the centuries, in which the very order and regularity of the natural world is seen as divinely ordained law for the maintenance of the creation.

For the record, I do not endorse either argument. But the distinction has fascinated me. I think Jack Krebs has hit the nail on the head in comment 58841.

I see, as always PT is taking quotes out of context. I wasn’t discussing science with my comemnt, I was discussing theology and the Catholic Churche’s seemingly ant-bible stance on many issues…wanting to proclaim that the Pope and others below him are somehow above the word. So, good try, but no cigar.

Alan Fox here seems to think he knows anything about me or my religious views, but I assure you- I don’t know him, and I haven’t discussed my religious views on the web, let alone to Mr. Fox.

PuckSr doesn’t know me or a thing about me either. So, he assumes things about me, then attacks me with this assumptions. I find it troubling when a church official thinks of a the bible as a fairy tale, and I’m sure even atheists would agree that such an idea is absurd. If you don’t accept the bible is anything but fairytales (this is hardly what Catholic believes, despite what Puck claims), then you’d be saying you’re basing your life on fairytales that you even BELIEVE are fairytales…I’m sure few would disagree that such an idea is stupid.

ID, of course, isn’t in the field of astronomy. What most of you guys fail to realize is that Coyne did a big presentation for the American Enterprise Institute where he said, in HIS particular field, design is EVERYWHERE and there’s no denying it. He went into a big presentation on all the design in astronomy and cosmology. Out of the realm of his specific field (biology), he attacks as not being science. You guys want to have your cake and eat it too…you can hardly quote Coyne who says the universe is totally designed from his study of astronomy, since it doesn’t dit with your views. He might speak out against ID in biology, but it isn’t his field…and within his field, he says design is everywhere, so he’s probably not the best guy to use to support your case of non-design!

It’s sad to see many here trying to claim that ID has nothing to do with religion. That’s true and it’s not true. Many things in science have to do with religion and worldview…by your complaints, you’d have to attack neodarwinism, considering the big names in that field are ALWAYS talking about God (Scott, Provine, Dawkins, Gould, etc)…and they have all turned the theory into an atheistic theory (dawkins famous comment for example.)

My comment was clearly based on a side topic of theology…which is clearly related to ALL science in that various branches of knowledge affect a persons worldview. Anyone can clearly go to UC and see that we weren’t speaking of science, we were having a discussion on religion. Does that mean that IDers are liars and it’s really about religion and not science? Well, let’s ask this question- PT here posts all the time about religion, religious groups, quotes from Dawkins (who despises religion and religious people), Myers (who also hates religion and religious people, going out of his way to attack and mock them nearly daily).…seeing all of that, that surely means the theory PT is pushing is a religion as well, no? Guilt by association- if it works on your attacks of me and others at UC…it surely fits here, or we have a double standard.

Like I said, good try boys, but no cigar…a number of topics are discussed at UC and with this thread we were discussing theology NOT science. Next time someone at PT here mentions ANYTHING about religion, we can post that NDE’s are liars and it’s really about religion…ok? Fair is fair. If you can distort discussions to suit your agenda, we’ll do the same.

By the way…Alan Fox. Before you make personal insults toward me, how about you get your facts straight and actually figure out what I believe? It’s called using your head. And, I’m not a kid…but your rude tone exposes those flaws in your character (rudeness like this is actually the domain OF children, so we might easily assume that YOU are a child, no?) Then again, it’s par for the course when it comes to the vitriol of the comments I see everyday on this site.

By the way…Alan Fox. Before you make personal insults toward me, how about you get your facts straight and actually figure out what I believe? It’s called using your head. And, I’m not a kid…but your rude tone exposes those flaws in your character (rudeness like this is actually the domain OF children, so we might easily assume that YOU are a child, no?) Then again, it’s par for the course when it comes to the vitriol of the comments I see everyday on this site.

I haven’t discussed my religious views on the web

Josh, I think you’ll find you have, but you are free to do so. Just don’t expect others to take you seriously until you have a little more experience. In my book twenty-four is young, and I envy your youth. What you believe does not concern me; what does concern me is the feeling I get that you would like to impose your beliefs on others.

jboze

You are a fundamental Christian…or at least you should be

Correct…technically the Catholic church does not view parts of the bible as “fairy-tales”…they do however believe that they are stories intended to be read for their moral and ethic purpose in a poetic sense. This sounds a lot like myth and fairy-tales. Wait, jboze, are you Catholic?…no? then shut up about it.

Pandasthumb is capable of discussing whatever they want, and they can still claim that the Theory of Evolution is non-theistic.

Unlike Dembski’s blog, this is just a bunch of people posting about how crazy the IDers are, it is not a site dedicated in any way to “proving” a non-theory.

Even DaveScot has taken you to task for your strange views on religion, so just drop it.

I see, as always PT is taking quotes out of context.

Ah, the old generalized group denunciation. It would be interesting to do a survey and see who does this: Are evophiles just as guilty as evophobes? Is it just my bias that tells me that the out-of-context quote is a particular specialty of creationists (in which I include IDCists)?

“PT” doesn’t take quotes in or out of context. Individuals do. Is there some reason to believe PT bloggers and/or commenters have less integrity in this regard than others?

ID, of course, isn’t in the field of astronomy.

Um, did someone explain that to Discovery Institute before they tried to pull a fast one by having a party in astronomer Gonzalez’s honor (ya know, the guy who wrote the book putting ID in the field of astronomy) at the Smithsonian . … . ?

Before you make personal insults toward me, how about you get your facts straight and actually figure out what I believe?

Um, would you mind explaining to me why science should give a flying fig *what you believe*?

Next time someone at PT here mentions ANYTHING about religion, we can post that NDE’s are liars and it’s really about religion…ok?

(yawn) You go right ahead and do that. Go tell the judge that evolution is just a big bad atheistic conspiracy.

Oh, wait, y’all ALREADY tried that . …

Google “Peloza v New Capistrano”.

(snicker) (giggle)

It’s sad to see many here trying to claim that ID has nothing to do with religion. That’s true and it’s not true.

Um, I think that a judge in Pennsylvania is about to conclude that it’s NOT true.

And that the people who told him it WAS true were, well, just lying to him under oath.

“I’m torn between contempt for Dembski for trying something so sneaky and a grudging admiration that he came up with such a ingenious form of censorship.”

somethingawful.com has been using it for ages for people who incur the specialized wrath of the moderators. They call it “hellbanning”

lamuella “I’m torn.…

Yes you have correctly identified the Dembski “Weasel” school of ID/Science/Theology and blogging (Credit Dean Morrison)

Funny Simpson’s line = Homer: “Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals … except the weasel.”

Say all you want about Josh Bozeman, but he does hit the nail on the head with one of the sentences he wrote in a rant against PvM.

Josh Bozeman Wrote:

Like many here at PT, you will continue to be honest about this and many other things.

On Uncommon descent in a rant about PZ Myers

Bill Dembski Wrote:

I preserve it here for the record books.

Well, that will be a first.

I would actually avoid making that request, because you’ll probably just get back pages of “Blah blah Explanatory Complexity Filter for Irreducible Information Revised Definition 16 blah blah”

Nothing new there. Creation “scientists” were blithering about “X Y and Z could not have happened by chance, so goddidit” decades ago. And stripped of its mathematical BS, that’s all Dembski’s “filter” says, too.

I think he will reply that he’s not here preaching his religious opinions.

And yet, we keep hearing about them . … .

Keith Douglas:

I dont believe in a strict definition of any particular religion. I believe that Christianity can easily be interpreted as “following the teachings of Jesus”. Therefore i can be a deistic Christian

Also…as far as the “divine” spirit of Jesus, im not above stretching it.

If God created a man who was insane, but thought he was the son of God, and would teach the people what God wanted them to hear…what would be the real difference between God creating a mildly-crazed man who thought he was the incarnation of God.…..isnt it all the same as far as results are concerned.

Im not claiming that the belief is false, but that our understanding is flawed.

Josh I am still waiting for you to answer my question. Are you avoiding it because you dont have the courage to answer it?

Josh, i’m still waiting an a answer to my simple question

Josh simple question.

Does Dembski delete/censor comments to give the impression that everyone agrees with him, yes or no?

Think carefully before you answer…

A question for Josh:

Just curious-what do you do for a living? (I just visited your website and hoped to get some info on your science background) Do you work? Go to school?

Josh,

I’d like to hear you comments regarding the testimony that came out in Dover stating that the term “Creation” was removed in the book, “Of Pandas and People”, and replaced with “Intelligent Design”.

Would this fact not sway you to believe that ID is really Creation??? And, that the supporters of ID know this???

Thank you…Steverino

I’d like to hear you comments regarding the testimony that came out in Dover stating that the term “Creation” was removed in the book, “Of Pandas and People”, and replaced with “Intelligent Design”.

Would this fact not sway you to believe that ID is really Creation??? And, that the supporters of ID know this???

That, plus the fact that the DI’s own Wedge Document clearly states that seeing more churches defending “traditional doctrine of creation” is one of their “five year objectives”.

But alas, it appears that Josh simply doesn’t answer questions. Just like Donald. And Heddle. And Sal. And Nelson. And Dembski.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on November 19, 2005 12:34 PM.

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