Vatican evolution congress to exclude creationism, intelligent design

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As a final blow to the Discovery Institute’s attempts to get Intelligent Design into the Catholic ‘door’, the church announced an evolution congress which failed to invited creationists, and intelligent design

The Congress is titled “Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A Critical Appraisal 150 years after ‘The Origin of Species’” and is scheduled for March 3-7, 2009 in Rome. The organizers are the Pontifical Council for Culture, Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame as one of a series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.”

The reason for the rejection?

He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite” supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

It seems to me that the Catholic church has come to understand that intelligent design fails to contribute either to science or to theology in a manner fruitful to be discussed.

I can’t wait to read Denyse O’Leary’s comments on these ‘shocking’ developments.

The reason for having this Congress was explained in a Press Conference which included “Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Fr. Marc Leclerc S.J., professor of the philosophy of nature at the Pontifical Gregorian University; Gennaro Auletta, scientific director of the STOQ Project and professor of the philosophy of science at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Alessandro Minelli, professor of zoology at the University of Padua, Italy. “

“Debates on the theory of evolution are becoming ever more heated, both among Christians and in specifically evolutionist circles”, Fr. Leclerc explained. “In particular, with the approach of the … 150th anniversary of the publication of ‘The Origin of Species’, Charles Darwin’s work is still too often discussed more in ideological terms than in the scientific ones which were his true intention”.

“In such circumstances - as Christian scientists, philosophers and theologians directly involved in the debate alongside colleagues from other confessions or of no confession at all - we felt it incumbent upon us to bring some clarification. The aim is to generate wide-ranging rational discussion in order to favour fruitful dialogue among scholars from various fields and areas of expertise. The Church has profound interest in such dialogue, while fully respecting the competencies of each and all. This is, however, an academic congress, organised by two Catholic universities, the Gregorian University in Rome and Notre Dame in the United States, and as such is not an ecclesial event. Yet the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture serves to underline the Church’s interest in such questions”.

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers gives us his perspectives on the event. And while PZ has his usual fun with the attempt at combining science with theology, I believe that he is missing the point.

The Catholic Church, and especially the Jesuits, have been bitten by an anti-science stance more than once and have come to appreciate that a good theology needs to include scientific knowledge, not deny it. So while some churches have chosen to ignore science and embrace (Intelligent Design) Creationism, especially the Young Earth variant, the Catholic church, at least in this case, has rightfully rejected (Intelligent Design) Creationism from a conference which focuses on theology and science.

I find such a position quite refreshing even though I disagree with the Catholic Church on many of its teachings regarding the position of women, birth control etc.

PZ points out an interesting fact I had missed

And look! Their exclusivity runs the other way, too!

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the other extreme of the evolution debate – proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection – also were not invited.

I believe that the Archbishop may be referring to a position such as philosophical naturalism, where science is all there is and while theology may have little to contribute to science, good theology needs to embrace the facts of science.

PZ’s somewhat emotional conclusions:

PZ Myers Wrote:

Scientists who willingly participate in this obvious game of propaganda are not helping science at all – they are simply selling sectarian Catholic dogma by adding a false luster of rationalism to a body of rank nonsense. The Vatican is asking for a façade of superficially presented science and an illusion of selectivity to make their lies and fantasies look specially favored by the scientific community … and they have even admitted that scientists who reject their teleology and their doctrines and their lunatic beliefs will not be permitted to question.

It seems that in PZ’s world, religion can never ‘win’, either religion denies science and needs to be rejected or it embraces science and should be rejected for playing an obvious game of propaganda. So is there any middle ground where religion is allowed to play?

Given the fact that many if not most people hold to a personal faith and worldview, it seems rather harsh to suggest that their embrace of science is just an act of propaganda rather than a well informed and meaningful embrace of the place of science within religious faith. One may reject religious faith as foolish lies, and I have no problem with such a position, but should one also not accept that religious faith for many plays a much different role than the one stereotyped here?

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You have got to love the Roman Catholic Church in a way. Ok, so their views on contraception is really dangerous and wrong in this day and age, but at least they do have something when it comes to sci... Read More

52 Comments

It seems that the import is even greater, and more positive, than you say. After Cardinal Schoenborn’s pro-ID outburst two years ago it out was possible to conclude that this was done with tacit approval from the very top, and was a signal from the Vatican. The new Pope’s position was not easy to discern. Since then the Pope has been careful not to align himself with ID, except to maintain the usual Catholic position of a divine origin of the human soul. This congress seems to be more aggressively rejecting ID and creationism. The other shoe is in the process of dropping, fortunately in the right way.

Every evolutionary biologist ought to feel relief, no matter how little they personally identify with the Catholic Church. Imagine what would happen if the Church concluded that ID should be part of its position. Would hundreds of millions of Catholics worldwide then feel pressure to advocate for ID? Imagine the resulting uproar.

The loudest Catholic voices in the United States belong to the EWTN broadcasting system and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. These people do their best to give the impression that Catholicism in America is an arch-conservative monolith, all the while wringing their hands because too many Catholics nevertheless insist on voting for Democrats and liberal social policies. EWTN even promotes Alan Keyes and Peggy Noonan as if they are representative of Catholic thought in the U.S. Certainly not to the degree they wish.

Although Benedict XVI had edged away from his predecessor’s bald statement that evolution is “more than a hypothesis,” the current pope is at pains to avoid being co-opted by any specific outside organization. While the Discovery Institute may have gotten cozy with Cardinal Schönborn, Benedict keeps them at arm’s length. When you get right down to it, the Church has learned painful lessons about trying to exercise its arbitrary authority in domains where it cannot make it stick. The Galileo affair left scars. Thus Rome enforces a studied neutralism on science questions in general (with notable exceptions for dogmatic pronouncements on sex and birth control) and the Discovery Institute is left courting the Catholic laity and less significant clerics.

Official Church teaching on evolution is that faithful Catholics can fully embrace natural selection and its implications so long as they do not argue that the human soul evolved. That has to be considered the free gift of God to the first humans (a literal Adam and Eve, whose antecedents are best not examined too closely). Catholics assume that God supervises evolutionary processes and thus embrace a theistic evolution whose specifics are mostly quite vague. It’s not a particularly scientific view, but it’s not a particularly anti-scientific one either. (In fact, it’s irrelevant in the laboratory, where Catholic scientists – including Jesuits – work away blithely within the framework of the modern synthesis.)

I understand why PZ mocks the Vatican’s conference on evolution (especially that goofy caveat about “overly scientific” views), but it has positive aspects if it isolates a big fat influential body like the Catholic Church from the intelligent design lobby. The Discovery Institute can weep and gnash their teeth.

.….which failed to invited creationists, and intelligent design.

Oh bummer. What a shame. I can see Denyse O’Leary having a full-on conniption at this one.

Even though there might well be lingering doubts as to Benedict’s true views on the topic, it could at least qualify as “not a step in the wrong direction” from the largest Christian church in the world. For that we can be thankful.

.….which failed to invited creationists, and intelligent design.

Kinda redundant.

So is there any middle ground where religion is allowed to play?

Well, there’s always God-of-the-gaps and NOMA. Or Deism, for those faithful who prefer to do all the surrendering at once. Nothing that would really satisfy a Catholic, though. Except perhaps good old Orwellian doublethink, which seems to be the solution of choice these days.

There is what you believe, and what you can prove. Most of religion falls in the former, most of science in the latter.

Just about any claim you could make about a being of infinite power and ability is unfalsifiable, and hence non-scientific, but this doesn’t automatically make it wrong. Many atheists, myself included, don’t think we have disproved there is a god, we just don’t believe in one. Other people do, and for a variety of reasons, ones they obviously find convincing.

That something does not come with objective evidence does not make it untrue, it makes it unproven, “absence of evidence” and all that. What a given individual believes is not particularly important to me, it is what they want me to believe I want to see evidence for.

PZ Meyers and Dawkins may be of the opinion that believing something while not being able to show evidence of it is somehow deranged, loopy or otherwise irrational, but this smacks more of Scientism than science. And Meyers’ attack on those scientists attending is just ‘poisoning the well’, it would have perhaps been better to wait for the delegates to actually say something before criticising it.

Meyers describes the Catholic position as “lies”, “fantasies” and “lunatic beliefs”, but I fail to see how making opinionated rants about religion is “helping science” any more than attending the congress. Does he think all scientists must also be atheists? Or that belief in a god automatically invalidates a scientist’s conclusions?

“Meyers”?! (Note to self, pay more attention when using spell-checker.)

“proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection – also were not invited”

In other words, actual scientists doing actual science were not invited?

Joe Felsenstein said: Imagine what would happen if the Church concluded that ID should be part of its position. Would hundreds of millions of Catholics worldwide then feel pressure to advocate for ID? Imagine the resulting uproar.

I imagine that most young western Catholics would treat it the same way they treat the Church’s position on birth control: ignore it.

Personally, I think there are (at least) two “yes” answers to PvM’s question as to whether there’s a place in science for religion to play:

1. At its best, religion provides motivation to fund worthy causes. Like (e.g. cancer) research. So in good cases, religion may positively influence the amount of resources spent on different research areas and in that way help direct science towards noble goals (the reverse is true too, in bad cases religion can stifle research into important areas).

2. Religion may provide science with new testable hypotheses. Technically, anything can be the inspiration for a hypothesis, but religious claims are certainly not excluded.

I think PZ is wrong about the overall impact of the conference, but he’s right about its absurdity. It’s extraordinarily arrogant for the Vatican to claim that creationism (or even ID, for that matter), simply don’t count as theology or philosophy. It’s one thing to say they’re really bad theology/philosophy, but to dismiss them altogether is unjustifiable.

Furthermore, how can you start by saying “Charles Darwin’s work is still too often discussed more in ideological terms than in the scientific ones which were his true intention” (ignoring for the moment that evolution isn’t “Charles Darwin’s work) and then go on to complain about and exclude “overly scientific” concepts of evolution?

And I don’t buy the argument that he’s talking about philosophical naturalism, given that the Vatican has consistently used the terms “scientism” and “scientistic” to describe and berate that position. See for instance, Pope JP II’s 1998 encyclical: “Another threat to be reckoned with is scientism. This is the philosophical notion which refuses to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive sciences; and it relegates religious, theological, ethical and aesthetic knowledge to the realm of mere fantasy.”

Well, my only problem with this is what the ID crowd will do when the results are done. Even though the most the Catholics will come up with is a more refined definition of Theistic Evolution so they can go “see, we’re pro-science!”, I fully expect there to be plenty of gems that the ID crowd will quote-mine in order to make it seem that the Catholic Church is really pro-ID. This will give them new weapons to be used to pull Catholics into union with their evangelical base at the local political level.

I really can’t see this doing any good. Moderates will ignore it and carry on. Conservative Catholics can ignore it because within 4 months, someone else in the Vatican will produce a document that totally contradicts it (as has happened in the other direction constantly since Benedict was elected). And American Catholics will either ignore it, or be fooled into pro-ID positions by the quote-miners (something already happening to several Catholic friends of mine, unaware that ID and theistic evolution are utterly separate ideologies).

David B. said:

Myers describes the Catholic position as “lies”, “fantasies” and “lunatic beliefs”, but I fail to see how making opinionated rants about religion is “helping science” any more than attending the congress.

All I could think of was the old notion that punishing the guilty is not the same thing as helping people.

Being an “agnostic of indifference” I have no real problem with anyone taking on religion, but I question the utility of Myers’ recent “jackass theatrics” on the issue. Even Dawkins, who can go over the top on occasion, would be embarrassed to throw a tantrum like that in public.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Eric, my namesake, I have occasionally objected to the rejection of religious ideas in science. Here I object to the supporting of religious ideas in context with science.

Eric said:

Personally, I think there are (at least) two “yes” answers to PvM’s question as to whether there’s a place in science for religion to play:

1. At its best, religion provides motivation to fund worthy causes. Like (e.g. cancer) research. So in good cases, religion may positively influence the amount of resources spent on different research areas and in that way help direct science towards noble goals (the reverse is true too, in bad cases religion can stifle research into important areas).

The problem I feel here is to define what is a “worthy cause”. Religion itself is trying to define good and evil, but scientists pursue, in my understanding, to look for knowledge.

Of course you are right in that political decisions dictate the directions especially in applied fields of science. I guess that is all well, political decisions affect building harbours and railroads too.

Even then, I do not think that fund raising is a sufficient reason to promote religion. Cancer is a disease that hits both religious and non-religious people equally. Both groups have the same motivation to support cancer research. Science may be able to provide background information for the politicians of whether it is better to concentrate on third world famine than domestic cancer for better global stability.

Somehow religions in your comment are mixed with politics.

2. Religion may provide science with new testable hypotheses. Technically, anything can be the inspiration for a hypothesis, but religious claims are certainly not excluded.

Indeed, anything can inspire or motivate a scientist. No disagreement here.

Regards

Eric

Thus Rome enforces a studied neutralism on science questions in general

A little while ago I was in Italy on some business, and had the opportunity to visit the Vatican museum.

Fascinating place, they collect art like most people collect lint, and the museum is stuffed to the gills with all manner of cultural artifact.

I was quite surprised, however, at the two rooms related to ancient Egypt and the even older civilizations of the fertile cresent.

The displays made no bones about describing the details of the Egyptians’ religion, their multiple gods, the pharonic son-of-the deity and bodily resurrection stuff, etc.

Nor, surprisingly, did they flinch at putting accurate dates on all the stone-age stuff, clearly admitting that the items in the case were created in an age that doesn’t even officially exist.

Not that they exactly advertised it, mind you, but to their credit, they didn’t try to hide it either.

They’ve come a long, long way since they first threatened Copernicus.

Wait, the Vatican flinched at admitting an old earth? Or what?

Eric Finn said: Even then, I do not think that fund raising is a sufficient reason to promote religion.

I agree with you. I think that charitable donations are a way that religious groups can have a positive “play” on science - but that certainly doesn’t make religion necessary.

Somehow religions in your comment are mixed with politics.

Well, yeah, that’s true. Like it or not, religion and religious organizations are political forces that influence public policy, such as how much we spend on research and what we research.

Hi all,

Sounds as though scientists like Richard Dawkins would be excluded from this conference. Instead, I suspect that they would invite the likes of Francisco J. Ayala and Francis Collins, among others. Does anyone know who has been invited?

Thanks,

John

Wheels said:

Wait, the Vatican flinched at admitting an old earth? Or what?

No, that was the cool part. They didn’t flinch.

All the stone age displays had little matter-of-fact cards that read like “Bone Flute, 30000 BCE”

I was especially chagrined about the “BCE” part.

Hell, I still get sloppy and use just plain BC, and this is the Vatican Museum we’re talking about.

stevaroni said:

All the stone age displays had little matter-of-fact cards that read like “Bone Flute, 30000 BCE”

I was especially chagrined about the “BCE” part.

Hell, I still get sloppy and use just plain BC, and this is the Vatican Museum we’re talking about.

I generally use “BC” and “CE.” After all, no matter what you think of him, BC was (roughly) “before Christ.” I like the symmetry of using two letters for each one. Still, yes, it’s kind of funny that the Vatican museum would use “BCE.”

wut said:

“proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection – also were not invited”

In other words, actual scientists doing actual science were not invited?

Not really, as I said, context matters. After all we do not want to pull a ‘Luskin’ now do we?

He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite” supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

I love the “did not think to invite.” It reads as if they didn’t reject ID or creationism; they just didn’t think they were relevant to the topic at hand. I’m reminded of “not even wrong.”

No, that was the cool part. They didn’t flinch.

All the stone age displays had little matter-of-fact cards that read like “Bone Flute, 30000 BCE”

I was especially chagrined about the “BCE” part.

Hell, I still get sloppy and use just plain BC, and this is the Vatican Museum we’re talking about.

Ah, okay. I’m lazy. I just use AD/BC out of habit.

Seems that the Catholic Church approves of Evolution - as long as you aren’t an atheist. Then it’s Just Wrong. How’s that for solving Scientific Debate?

What we can expect from the Congress will not differ from Theological Evolution, and is already written in church Law. What the Catholic Church plans to achieve from this Congress seems questionable.

Look up Fr. George Coyne on the internet for an example of Pope Benedict’s track record.

In the past, Pope Benedict XVI has stated that the universe was made by an “Intelligent Project”, and criticized those who, in the name of Science, say things have no direction or order.

An Austrian Cardinal, Christoph Schoenborn dismissed previous Pope, John Paul II’s opinion that Evolution was “more than just a Hypothesis” by stating John Paul II was “rather vague and unimportant”. Cardinal Schoenborn studied at University of Regensburg, in Regensburg, in Bavaria, Germany under Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) who was a professor there in 1969-1977.

Fr. George Coyne dismissed Intelligent Design as merely a “Religious Movement”, and lacked scientific merit. And was replaced by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 as director of the Vatican Observatory. This was then seen as punitive at the time, but now is recorded as merely coincidental.

Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized what he sees as a need for Europe (world) to return to fundamental Christian values in response to increasing de-Christianisation and secularization. He has proclaimed relativism’s (presumably in contrast to absolutism) denial of objective truth as the central problem of the 21st century.

The following is interpreted from Catholic Magisterium:

The Theory of Evolution must rest on a Theistic Foundation. Any denial of a personal Creator is materialistic and atheistic, and is in contradistinction. The Christian theory of evolution also demands a creative act for the origin of the human soul, since the soul cannot have its origin in matter. The atheistic theory of evolution, on the contrary, rejects the assumption of a soul separate from matter, and thereby sinks into blank materialism.

Darwinism and the theory of evolution are by no means equivalent conceptions. Darwinism expanded a previously proposed Theory of Evolution by attempting to explain the origin of species by means of Natural Selection. As a theory, it is scientifically inadequate, since it does not account for the origin of attributes fitted to the purpose, which must be referred back to the interior, original causes of evolution. The application of Natural Selection to Man is impossible to accept. Darwinism frequently stands, in popular usage, for the theory of evolution in general. This use of the word rests on an evident confusion of ideas, and must therefore be set aside.

To what extent is the theory of evolution applicable to man? That God should have made use of natural, evolutionary, original causes in the production of man’s body, is per se not improbable, and was propounded by St. Augustine (see AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, SAINT, under V. Augustinism in History). The actual proofs of the descent of man’s body from animals is, however, inadequate, especially in respect to paleontology. And the human soul could not have been derived through natural evolution from that of the brute, since it is of a spiritual nature; for which reason we must refer its origin to a creative act on the part of God.

Does he think all scientists must also be atheists? Or that belief in a god automatically invalidates a scientist’s conclusions?

Wow, if only there were a way to determine the answers to these questions! Hmm. Well, I guess it’ll just have to remain a mystery. Perhaps the RCC can convene a council to make up an answer. They can invite PvM to chair it.

Bleh.

Sorry, I get a little tired of people trashing PZ just because he’s actually consistent in his reasoning. I’m glad he doesn’t give irrationality a pass just because it’s big and organized. I attempt to approach life with a similar sort of consistency, so I suppose his approach resonates with me. Regardless, because of that consistency, I’m certainly not going to ask that PvM stop beating up on PZ for not respecting people who won’t grow up and face reality, so I will just remove myself instead.

Befuddled Theorist said: The following is interpreted from Catholic Magisterium:

…As a theory, it is scientifically inadequate, since it does not account for the origin of attributes fitted to the purpose, which must be referred back to the interior, original causes of evolution. The application of Natural Selection to Man is impossible to accept.

Interpreted is right. I think you are befuddled. Or at least, you seem to be quoting from 1950’s sources before Pope John Paul came along.

As far as I understand it, the Catholic church - for now - accepts descent with modification via the primary mechanism of natural selection. Even for humans. Nor does the church consider it inadequate. See PJPII’s 1996 address:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP961022.HTM

Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that [1950 - Eric] encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis.* In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.

And later:

Pius XII underlined the essential point: if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God

Catholic doctrine adds to evolution the theological claim that God gave humans souls, and speaks aganst materialism (philosophical naturalism) but does not, as you claim, reject TOE in whole or in part. Not even human evolution.

Befuddled Theorist said:

Seems that the Catholic Church approves of Evolution - as long as you aren’t an atheist. Then it’s Just Wrong. How’s that for solving Scientific Debate?

Misrepresentation of what they actually stated.

Eric said:

Befuddled Theorist said: The following is interpreted from Catholic Magisterium:

…As a theory, it is scientifically inadequate, since it does not account for the origin of attributes fitted to the purpose, which must be referred back to the interior, original causes of evolution. The application of Natural Selection to Man is impossible to accept.

Interpreted is right. I think you are befuddled. Or at least, you seem to be quoting from 1950’s sources before Pope John Paul came along.

it comes from a 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia. For goodness sakes, this is just foolish trolling and quote mining.

Just search Google Books

The Catholic Encyclopedia By Kevin Knight Online version of the original print publication: New York : Appleton, 1907-1912.

Note to Disco Institute… PWNAGE!!! :)

Are the ID-creationists now going to vent their spleens that the Roman Catholic Church has been infiltrated by godless atheists?

I, too, cannot wait to see how the Ben Stein’s of the world react to being ‘expelled’ by the RCC.

Oh, they’ll probably be miffed that the Catholics will have nun of them.

I’m surprised that anybody is surprised at the Vatican’s position. Creationism in Christianity is an American disease and I would think that most catholic’s worldwide accept evolution.

I think that what they are doing is good as they will end up with an unambiguous position on evolution and theology and people like O’Leary will be officially on the outer and can not pretend that the Church supports ID.

Among the Jack Chick Fundamentalists the Catholics are a Satanic plot anyway. Chick once wrote a book claiming that the Catholics invented both Islam and Mormonism to further their evil plan.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Chick once wrote a book claiming that the Catholics invented both Islam and Mormonism to further their evil plan.

Whaaaaat? Funny, I thought that Islam was supposed to be from one branch of the family of Abraham? (Hebrews being the other branch of descendants of that patriarch.)

Henry

MattusMaximus said: I, too, cannot wait to see how the Ben Stein’s of the world react to being ‘expelled’ by the RCC.

That would be rich. “THEY KICKED US OUT OF THEIR CONFERENCE! THOSE NAZIS! DID WE MENTION HITLER WAS A CATHOLIC? ALSO STALIN! RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION! I MEAN SCIENCE DISCR… Religious… sci… uh… Bueller?”

Henry J said:

Chick once wrote a book claiming that the Catholics invented both Islam and Mormonism to further their evil plan.

Whaaaaat? Funny, I thought that Islam was supposed to be from one branch of the family of Abraham? (Hebrews being the other branch of descendants of that patriarch.)

Henry

It’s true. I have a clip saved somewhere… Here! Nazis, Communists, Muslims, KKK…ists! And who can forget the Masons? All part of the vast Catholic Conspiracy. You have to check out Chick’s site and read the free issues of the Alberto series. Also check out the source of this “information.” You can’t help but feel sorry for poor old Jack Chick. He’s obviously been without his mind for a very long time.

I keep trying to start up a collection of tracts, but despite being a male, in the South, with hair longer than my arms, I haven’t gotten a single one my entire life! Incredible, but true.

It’s extraordinarily arrogant for the Vatican to claim that creationism (or even ID, for that matter), simply don’t count as theology or philosophy. It’s one thing to say they’re really bad theology/philosophy, but to dismiss them altogether is unjustifiable.

So far, nobody seems to have responded to Ginger Yellow’s point. And it’s a strong point too. Any evolutionists out there dare to address it.….?

FL

Sure they are bad science and bad theology. Simple really

What’s your point?

FL said:

It’s extraordinarily arrogant for the Vatican to claim that creationism (or even ID, for that matter), simply don’t count as theology or philosophy. It’s one thing to say they’re really bad theology/philosophy, but to dismiss them altogether is unjustifiable.

So far, nobody seems to have responded to Ginger Yellow’s point. And it’s a strong point too. Any evolutionists out there dare to address it.….?

FL

PvM asks:

It seems that in PZ’s world, religion can never ‘win’, either religion denies science and needs to be rejected or it embraces science and should be rejected for playing an obvious game of propaganda. So is there any middle ground where religion is allowed to play?

Of course! I’ve always said that, and I’m not even a Christian or a believer in God, but having experienced dogmatic religions firsthand, I am not one to go to the other extreme as Dawkins and P Z Myers have done. I even said so directly on P Z’s blog.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/[…]r_merkin.php

Posted by: Dale Husband | September 17, 2008 10:29 PM #392

I’m not Catholic or even Christian at all, but reading this post by P Z Myers makes me wonder if his extreme anti-religious bias is really justified. He actually BASHES the Catholic Church for hosting a conference on evolution??? Evolution has been accepted as a valid scientific theory by the Church for many decades, so hosting a conference about it to address it from the Catholic perspective seems appropriate to me.

I eagerly await the announcement of the associated banquet for the participants. They will only be serving the highest quality food, made by master chefs of Europe, using only the freshest, best ingredients, oh, and there will be dollops of runny, rancid fecal material splattered over the tables and dishes. But the meal will be a magnificent gourmet experience, and the world will know that Vatican shit deserves to be served to the greatest minds of science.

That was totally uncalled for!

And the only direct response to my comment was:

Posted by: heliobates | September 17, 2008 10:44 PM #395

@392

He actually BASHES the Catholic Church for hosting a conference on evolution???

Reeding komprehenshun. Yr doin it rong.

No, I was not and that was a stupid thing to say, quite frankly!

FL said:

It’s extraordinarily arrogant for the Vatican to claim that creationism (or even ID, for that matter), simply don’t count as theology or philosophy. It’s one thing to say they’re really bad theology/philosophy, but to dismiss them altogether is unjustifiable.

So far, nobody seems to have responded to Ginger Yellow’s point. And it’s a strong point too. Any evolutionists out there dare to address it.….?

FL

No, it’s not a strong point and no one should respond, you delusional pest!

No, it’s not a strong point and no one should respond, you delusional pest!

Of course, I meant in the sense that the point should even be taken seriously. A Protestant Creationist calling the Catholic Church arrogant for its dogmatic positions is really the pot meeting the kettle!

FL said:

It’s extraordinarily arrogant for the Vatican to claim that creationism (or even ID, for that matter), simply don’t count as theology or philosophy. It’s one thing to say they’re really bad theology/philosophy, but to dismiss them altogether is unjustifiable.

So far, nobody seems to have responded to Ginger Yellow’s point. And it’s a strong point too. Any evolutionists out there dare to address it.….?

FL

It’s extraordinarily arrogant for FL to claim that bible non-literalists simply don’t count as Christians. It’s one thing to say they practice bad theology/philosophy, but to dismiss them altogether is unjustifiable.

Wheels said:

I keep trying to start up a collection of tracts, but despite being a male, in the South, with hair longer than my arms, I haven’t gotten a single one my entire life! Incredible, but true.

I used to find the Chick Tracts scattered around the barracks when I was stationed down at Fort Hood, Texas, in the early 1970s. These were from the era when Chick did his own artwork, later he got professional help. Never saw them again, but ran across his work on the net recently.

Obviously the tracts were being discreetly left around by fundamentalist GIs as a propaganda measure. Oddly, though, the barracks were also littered with little “8-pager” porn comics in the same format as the Chick Tracts.

Don’t know where the 8-pagers came from. They were parodies of classic comic strips like DENNIS THE MENACE: “They said I was too little to do this!” No, not gonna elaborate … Hmm, in retrospect I wonder why I never saw an 8-pager that was a parody of a Chick Tract.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

These were from the era when Chick did his own artwork, later he got professional help

I think there’s a different kind of “professional help” he should have probably sought instead.

Sure they are bad science and bad theology. Simple really

What’s your point?

Re-read what Ginger Yellow posted. The conference guys have gone beyond the usual worthless “bad theology” sales-pitch, and are saying that creationism and ID does not constitute philosophy or theology at all.

That’s a claim that clearly can’t be rationally supported. Unless you can do so here and now, of course. That’s the point.

FL

FL said:

Sure they are bad science and bad theology. Simple really

What’s your point?

Re-read what Ginger Yellow posted. The conference guys have gone beyond the usual worthless “bad theology” sales-pitch, and are saying that creationism and ID does not constitute philosophy or theology at all.

That’s a claim that clearly can’t be rationally supported. Unless you can do so here and now, of course. That’s the point.

FL

Since the Vatican is itself very definitely “creationist”, perhaps they ought to have said “biblical literalist creationism” or similar. Since the literalist position is allied to the extreme Protestant groups that have discarded the 2 millennia of biblical interpretation that the RCC have collected, it is not surprising that the Vatican, in turn, will have nothing to do with literalism.

As for ID; since it’s merely a ploy to smuggle literalism into American public schools by hiding the references to “God”, is it at all surprising that any competent theologian would consider it theologically vacuous?

Actually I agree with you that the Vatican is being arrogant in excluding literalism from theology.

However, you have failed to address Ben’s point, which is that here on these discussion groups you constantly demonstrate the same arrogance, excluding from legitimate theology everything *but* literalism.

You’re decrying Vatican for doing what you do.

THATs the point.

eric

FL said:

Sure they are bad science and bad theology. Simple really

What’s your point?

Re-read what Ginger Yellow posted. The conference guys have gone beyond the usual worthless “bad theology” sales-pitch, and are saying that creationism and ID does not constitute philosophy or theology at all.

That’s a claim that clearly can’t be rationally supported. Unless you can do so here and now, of course. That’s the point.

FL

FL said:

The conference guys have gone beyond the usual worthless “bad theology” sales-pitch, and are saying that creationism and ID does not constitute philosophy or theology at all.

That’s a claim that clearly can’t be rationally supported. Unless you can do so here and now, of course. That’s the point.

I must agree. Given the extraordinarily low bar for what qualifies as theology, it is difficult to conceive of anything that wouldn’t pass muster.

Science Avenger said:

FL said:

The conference guys have gone beyond the usual worthless “bad theology” sales-pitch, and are saying that creationism and ID does not constitute philosophy or theology at all.

That’s a claim that clearly can’t be rationally supported. Unless you can do so here and now, of course. That’s the point.

I must agree. Given the extraordinarily low bar for what qualifies as theology, it is difficult to conceive of anything that wouldn’t pass muster.

Nice shot, Science Avenger! FL makes a fool of himself yet again! His position is no better than that of the Catholic Church, but only his bigotry makes him think otherwise.

Eric said:

Actually I agree with you that the Vatican is being arrogant in excluding literalism from theology.

Given the focus of the meeting, it is not surprising because literalism leads to flawed science. The Vatican is interested in learning about science to inform its theology. There is no reason to invite ID creationists or others to such a conference.

For anyone interested in what science will be discussed at the conference, here’s a sample from the Program: Rome, 3-7 marzo 2009

Tuesday 3 March 2009

First Session: The Facts that we Know

09:00 a.m. Addresses of the Authorities
10:00 a.m. Paleontological Evidences (Conway Morris)
10:45 a.m. Bio-Molecular Evidences (Werner Arber)
11:25 a.m. Coffee Break
11:55 a.m. Taxonomic Issues (Douglas J. Futuyma)
12:35 p.m. Discussion
01:30 p.m. End of the Session and Lunch

Second Session: Evolutionary Mechanisms I

03:30 p.m. History of the Evolution Theories (Jean Gayon)
04:15 p.m. The Standard Theory (Francisco Ayala)
05:00 p.m. Tea Time
05:30 p.m. Symbiosis (Lynn Margulis)
06:15 p.m. The Speciation Problem (Jeffrey L. Feder)
07:00 p.m. Discussion
07:30 p.m. End of the Session and Dinner

Wednesday 4 March

Third Session: Evolutionary Mechanisms II

9:00 a.m. Evo-Devo (Scott Gilbert)
09:45 a.m. Complexity and Evolution (Stuart Kauffman)
10:25 a.m. Coffee Break
10:55 a.m. Evolution and Environment (Robert Ulanowicz)
11:35 a.m. Title to be defined (Stuart A. Newman)
12:15 p.m. Discussion
1.00 p.m. End of the Session and Lunch

Not exactly lightweights in their respective fields.

Conference home page is here.

Holey Smoke (pardon the pun)

That’s quite a conference, including some of the more controversial people as well as some of the leading minds. I will reformat your posting to better show the flow.

Thanks

You’re decrying Vatican for doing what you do.

Note that contrary to what the Vatican is doing which is having science inform theology, FL is doing exactly the opposite.

I echo PvM’s sentiments. I was expecting more of a philosophy conference, but this roster is worthy of high-level scientific conference. Quite a few folks renowned for blowing ID and creationism out of the water, too. Excellent.

Has there been any reaction from the ID crowd to this snub?

Well for the Disco and the ID sycophants Catholics are not “christians”. That will be their way out to keep the kooks fundamentalists under the fold. After all the fundies are the ones that dominate the shouting matches in the so-called public discourse in the US.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on September 17, 2008 11:38 AM.

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