Creationism at Italian Science Agency

| 124 Comments

That’s the headline of a short blurb in yesterday’s issue of Science. According to Science, the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy helped to fund and promote a creationist book that was edited by a vice-president of CNR. I have not investigated CNR, but I assume it has properties in common with the US National Science Foundation.

The book, Evolutionism: the decline of an hypothesis, was edited by a historian of Christianity at the European University of Rome and was based on the proceedings of a meeting at which scientists and philosophers argued, in the words of Science, “that conventional dating methods are wrong, that fossil strata resulted from the Deluge, and that dinosaurs died 40,000 years ago,” not to mention “why evolution is unscientific.”

Evidently CNR contributed money to the publication of the book, but CNR President Luciano Maiani said that CNR has not endorsed the book. Rather, he told Science, “I’d like to stress the fact that intellectual research is an open enterprise as well as my [opposition to] any form of censorship.” If creationism were intellectual research, then he might have a point.

Ferdinando Boero, a zoologist at the University of Salento, got it right: He told Science, “Here we are not talking about the freedom of expression. If you send a scientific paper stating that the Earth is flat, no scientific journal will ever publish it.” The President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, according to Science, thinks it is ironic that “while the Church has devoted many conferences to the topic [of evolution] this year, the vice president of CNR organized conferences in favor of creationism.”

Ironic is probably not the word I would have chosen.

124 Comments

Ironic is probably not the word I would have chosen.

Perhaps “irresponsible” or “incompetent”?

Scientific American’s site also had an article about this development here.

Is there hope that maybe we aren’t the dumbest country?

Karen S.,

Well Ken Miller has reminded his British friends that there seems to be an inordinate fondness (with apologies to J. B. S. Haldane) for evolution denial within a substantial part of the British general public (Recent polling data indicates that 40% of Britons reject Darwin and his work.).

I couldn’t help wondering whether Harun Yahya has been rendering some Italians important technical assistance, in light of Matt Young’s post. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he is.

Regards,

John

As far as I know, Yahya’s big book has been sent to some university professors and museum curators in Italy, as elsewhere. My impression however is that the vice-president of CNR has no interest in presenting the issue as a scientific one - he wants it to appear as a philosphical debate. While the president (who is a physicist) did not endorse the book, he did endorse this stance. So, the problem with the CNR is that both its vice and its president do not understand that evolutionary theory is science, or just don’t care.

Creationism has not a mass following in Italy, not because people know much about Darwin, but because the Catholic Church is not opposed to the idea that life might have evolved. The spread of creationism is limited to some extreme-right Catholics, some religious minorities and plain lunatics.

Honestly, if evolution is not heavily disputed in Italy we should thank the open-mindedness of the Catholic church (I know, an oxymoron) more than the public engagement of Italian scientists. With a few exceptions, our “scientific community” had nothing to say about the book funded by CNR. They could say it didn’t deserve any comment (Italians are used to see public money being wasted), but I’m left with the impression that they don’t want to make enemies with CNR’s top ranks.

Regards,

Marcello (from Rome, near the Vatican)

So, the problem with the CNR is that both its vice and its president do not understand that evolutionary theory is science, or just don’t care.

Probably not. Few citizens really know what science is or how it works. They’re only taught what “science has learned”, and they only accept it because no other authority conflicts with most of this. Accepting the knowledge science gleans is the default, understanding that knowledge (much less the process that produces it) isn’t really important.

Evolution, however, directly conflicts with a powerful message from a competing authority. And for most people, lacking any meaningful understanding of what evolution is, this devolves to a straight swearing contest. Which authority do you prefer, or respect more, or fear more, or get exposed to earlier in life? On the actual merits (about which most of us know essentially nothing), it’s a straight coin flip.

I would suspect that the bigwigs at the CNR know perfectly well that evolution is science. BUT science in their minds and emotions is trumped by a higher authority. I think in their minds, they feel that this part of science can be, uh, compromised without all that much damage to the rest of science, whereas full acceptance of evolution lays their (interpretation of) Higher Authority pretty well waste.

It’s just part of human nature than when reality and preference conflict, reality doesn’t stand a chance.

40,000 yr old dinos? SPLITTER!

Reads like Sternberg, Meyer, and the Smithsonian?

The President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, according to Science, thinks it is ironic that “while the Church has devoted many conferences to the topic [of evolution] this year, the vice president of CNR organized conferences in favor of creationism.”

Ouch. You know you’re doing something wrong when you get pwned by the Catholic Church like that.

Well, if evolution is a “hypothesis” and it is “in decline”, then there is no such thing as a theory and every other hypothesis ever put forward in science has been a dismal failure.

What a bunch of lying retards. Shame on them.

Evolution, however, directly conflicts with a powerful message from a competing authority.

True indeed. That’s what I tried to tell ‘em down at ATBC recently. You got it right.

Btw, upon closer examination, it turns out that the name of the competing authority happens to be somebody called “Jesus Christ”. Imagine that!!

FL

FL said:

Evolution, however, directly conflicts with a powerful message from a competing authority.

True indeed. That’s what I tried to tell ‘em down at ATBC recently. You got it right.

Btw, upon closer examination, it turns out that the name of the competing authority happens to be somebody called “Jesus Christ”. Imagine that!!

FL

What Flint actually Wrote:

Probably not. Few citizens really know what science is or how it works. They’re only taught what “science has learned”, and they only accept it because no other authority conflicts with most of this. Accepting the knowledge science gleans is the default, understanding that knowledge (much less the process that produces it) isn’t really important. Evolution, however, directly conflicts with a powerful message from a competing authority. And for most people, lacking any meaningful understanding of what evolution is, this devolves to a straight swearing contest. Which authority do you prefer, or respect more, or fear more, or get exposed to earlier in life? On the actual merits (about which most of us know essentially nothing), it’s a straight coin flip. I would suspect that the bigwigs at the CNR know perfectly well that evolution is science. BUT science in their minds and emotions is trumped by a higher authority. I think in their minds, they feel that this part of science can be, uh, compromised without all that much damage to the rest of science, whereas full acceptance of evolution lays their (interpretation of) Higher Authority pretty well waste. It’s just part of human nature than when reality and preference conflict, reality doesn’t stand a chance.

Quote-mining is still one of FL’s “Christian” things to do.

Funny. I’ve read the rubric through and through, and I can’t find a single one of the recorded words of Jesus that provide a competing theory to evolution. Tell me, FL, where does he provide one?

FL wrote:

“it turns out that the name of the competing authority happens to be somebody called “Jesus Christ”. Imagine that!!”

Too bad for “Jesus Christ” then.

SciAm:..Mattei..political appointee..

Hmm. This all is perhaps related/reflection of extreme right-wing government of Italy (with perhaps even Nazi..Mussolini sympathies in some of members ?). Same was in Poland etc.

You don’t usually get these kind of scandals during left-wing governments..

MrrKat -

Hmm. This all is perhaps related/reflection of extreme right-wing government of Italy (with perhaps even Nazi..Mussolini sympathies in some of members ?).

I had the same thought.

But it’s odd. Here in the US, the relationship between creationism and right wing politics is extremely strong, but the religious stance behind it is evangelical “literalist” Protestant. That tends to be the case in Canada and Australia as well.

But the Catholic church openly refuses to deny evolution.

What is the relationship between the current Italian government and the Catholic church? Does the government portray itself as a “defender” of the traditional Catholic faith, or is the relationship strained?

FL said:

turns out that the name of the competing authority happens to be somebody called “Jesus Christ”. Imagine that!!

FL

Authority?

I remember Jesus talking at length about love and tolerance in a time of rampant brutality, and about how it’s important to treat your fellow human beings as, well, human beings.

But it’s funny, FL, somehow I don’t recall JC ever speaking definitively about something scientific, like the Earth actually orbiting the sun instead of the other way around.

I seem to have missed him explaining the Newtonian laws of motion, or electricity or detailing how heavier-than-air flight might work.

I’m pretty sure he never addressed the Burgess shales, or the physiological similarities of dinosaurs and birds. I don’t recall him ever uttering a word abut mitocondria, or genetic clocks.

I seem to have skipped the part were he detailed how only large marsupials managed to migrate from Ararat to Australia. In fact, I seem to have missed any address at all to any unique fauna of an isolated landmass. Darwin’s finches seem uncommented upon.

Heck, he didn’t even mention Peppered Moths, a significant omission for someone who’s omnipotent.

JC’s “authority” seems to have extended neatly to the edges of rabbinical teaching in 1st century Judea, and stopped there.

So, if that’s the standard you want to use, FL, If you want to live by what Jesus talked “authoritatively” about, then put down the computer, turn off the gas heat and the electric lights, and walk away from the indoor plumbing, all unknown concepts in 30AD (unless you were a Roman, in which case, you at least get to keep the hot baths).

Learn to fish for your own food and do your own carpentry with soft copper tools and walk wherever you want to go. That’s what Jesus taught, and he led by example.

But don’t worry FL, you won’t have to put up with it for long.

Jesus also didn’t teach modern medicine, so the average lifespan in his days was in the mid 40’s. When the Romans nailed him to a tree for having the temerity to think that maybe violence wasn’t the answer, Jesus was already an old man of 33.

Who’s this “Jesus Christ” guy I keep hearing about? If he’s such an authority on the subject of evolution how come I haven’t read any of his scholarly journal articles or heard any lectures by him until now?

I think my point has been lost. People have multiple authorities (or claims on their respect and obedience, or whatever). Public education and the knowledge it imparts is one such, and religious education and the socialization force it represents is another.

Now, what can you think about a distinctly technical domain within which you have zero expertise, when two of the socialization forces in your particular life take hopelessly imcompatible positions about it? It’s not like you’re going to adopt a new career necessary to know enough about the subject matter to make a fully informed choice. And experience tells us that those who DO make the attempt nearly always fail anyway if the influence of religion in their lives was imparted early and effectively enough.

FL, and the CNR people, fall into this latter category. For them, the scientific theory of evolution simply is not acceptable, for reasons having nothing to do with science. And also having little to do with any particular religious scripture or doctrine or historical characters.

In FL’s case I suspect it has little to do with anything beyond a powerful psychological need to defend something - maybe his parents, maybe his pride, maybe his delusions. But ultimately, such psychological needs are the highest authority we have. All of us.

RDK said:

Who’s this “Jesus Christ” guy I keep hearing about? If he’s such an authority on the subject of evolution how come I haven’t read any of his scholarly journal articles or heard any lectures by him until now?

The lord and savior of Christians, and, tragically, a convenient magic zombie ventriloquist’s dummy for creationists to whip out and attempt to awe their opponents with.

harold said:

But the Catholic church openly refuses to deny evolution.

What is the relationship between the current Italian government and the Catholic church?

I don’t know what theirs relationship really is but usually right wing is generally more religion backing. You can think many US-churches and (US)Clergy Letter Project that backs evolution and are against unscientific ID hoax. It is another thing. Laymen, ID backing politicians & people with lazy religious ideas, are another thing.

Flint said:

In FL’s case I suspect it has little to do with anything beyond a powerful psychological need to defend something - maybe his parents, maybe his pride, maybe his delusions. But ultimately, such psychological needs are the highest authority we have. All of us.

I suspect it also has something to do with mental illness. FL’s extreme narcissism and obsessive/compulsive taunting would suggest he is a member of a personality cult in which the leaders want all attention directed onto themselves as the scary, ultimate authorities who demand fear and obedience.

Whether such personalities are attracted to such cults or if these cults induce such mental states is perhaps a bit debatable; but there is a clear correlation.

FL certainly seems to crave being an authority who talks down to anyone who doesn’t like his sectarian dogma.

Just how long can a normal person keep returning to PT in order to taunt and badger others?

FL’s behavior, and it’s persistence over time, suggest strongly an element of narcissistic mental illness along with a cruel streak of hatred of those who don’t accept his authority.

stevaroni said:

FL said:

turns out that the name of the competing authority happens to be somebody called “Jesus Christ”. Imagine that!!

FL

Authority?

I remember Jesus talking at length about love and tolerance in a time of rampant brutality, and about how it’s important to treat your fellow human beings as, well, human beings.

But it’s funny, FL, somehow I don’t recall JC ever speaking definitively about something scientific, like the Earth actually orbiting the sun instead of the other way around.

I seem to have missed him explaining the Newtonian laws of motion, or electricity or detailing how heavier-than-air flight might work.

I’m pretty sure he never addressed the Burgess shales, or the physiological similarities of dinosaurs and birds. I don’t recall him ever uttering a word abut mitocondria, or genetic clocks.

I seem to have skipped the part were he detailed how only large marsupials managed to migrate from Ararat to Australia. In fact, I seem to have missed any address at all to any unique fauna of an isolated landmass. Darwin’s finches seem uncommented upon.

Heck, he didn’t even mention Peppered Moths, a significant omission for someone who’s omnipotent.

JC’s “authority” seems to have extended neatly to the edges of rabbinical teaching in 1st century Judea, and stopped there.

So, if that’s the standard you want to use, FL, If you want to live by what Jesus talked “authoritatively” about, then put down the computer, turn off the gas heat and the electric lights, and walk away from the indoor plumbing, all unknown concepts in 30AD (unless you were a Roman, in which case, you at least get to keep the hot baths).

Learn to fish for your own food and do your own carpentry with soft copper tools and walk wherever you want to go. That’s what Jesus taught, and he led by example.

But don’t worry FL, you won’t have to put up with it for long.

Jesus also didn’t teach modern medicine, so the average lifespan in his days was in the mid 40’s. When the Romans nailed him to a tree for having the temerity to think that maybe violence wasn’t the answer, Jesus was already an old man of 33.

I also don’t seem to recall Joshua of Nazareth pontificating on the theory of relativity or quantum mechanics but maybe the authors of the Christian just missed those tidbits.

Stanton said:

RDK said:

Who’s this “Jesus Christ” guy I keep hearing about? If he’s such an authority on the subject of evolution how come I haven’t read any of his scholarly journal articles or heard any lectures by him until now?

a convenient magic zombie ventriloquist’s dummy for creationists to whip out and attempt to awe their opponents with.

Unfortunately this laughable attempt mostly comes off as a pathetically flaccid display.

Oops, I should probably revert back to non-AtBC replies for now.

Flint said: Now, what can you think about a distinctly technical domain within which you have zero expertise, when two of the socialization forces in your particular life take hopelessly imcompatible positions about it? It’s not like you’re going to adopt a new career necessary to know enough about the subject matter to make a fully informed choice. And experience tells us that those who DO make the attempt nearly always fail anyway if the influence of religion in their lives was imparted early and effectively enough.

My best guess - and this is a wild shot in the dark, now, folks - is that our boy Floyd is one of two things. He’s either A) a brainless Bible-thumping neanderthal who has never heard of the explanatory powers of a decent Google search, or B) he’s a sadistic leech in the same vein as people like Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells, who are just as educated as the rest of us, yet choose instead to feed off of the ignorance of the Type A people mentioned above.

After seeing Floyd get thrashed in not just one, but two AtBC threads, and based off of his seeming expertise in the field of being a professional slimeball, I’m more inclined to go with the latter, but after scanning some of his more infantile comments I can’t help but think that maybe the poor guy is just a moron.

What is the relationship between the current Italian government and the Catholic church?

Here is an interesting headline from Reuters:

Berlusconi says rift with Catholic Church “a lie.”

Using the first axiom of investigative journalism,

An official denial is equivalent to a confession,

I conclude that relations between Berlusconi and the Vatican are not good.

FL on the anti-reason terrorism thread:

So you have to choose. Believe the Bible or believe the evolutionists. One or the other.

FL’s comments boil down to the above. Short and simple.

It is also wrong on several counts.

1. The majority of the world’s Xians don’t agree. They don’t have a problem with science and evolution and xianity. There are over a billion evolutionist Xians.

2. If one was to make believing creationism a requirement to be a Xian, that would be the end of the religion. Because 2 pages of bronze age mythology are just 2 pages of bronze age mythology and the real world is the real world.

There is something not right here and it isn’t going to be fixable. {Backs away slowly while fumbling for the cell phone}

So you have to choose. Believe the Bible or believe the evolutionists. One or the other.

That’s their problem and that’s why they are a problem. To them, religion is all about believing a cryptic book. They don’t recognize the inherent danger. They fail to realize religion is about spirit and man’s struggle to reconcile the force(s) at play in his soul and mind.

Flint said:

So, the problem with the CNR is that both its vice and its president do not understand that evolutionary theory is science, or just don’t care.

Probably not. Few citizens really know what science is or how it works. They’re only taught what “science has learned”, and they only accept it because no other authority conflicts with most of this. Accepting the knowledge science gleans is the default, understanding that knowledge (much less the process that produces it) isn’t really important.

Evolution, however, directly conflicts with a powerful message from a competing authority. And for most people, lacking any meaningful understanding of what evolution is, this devolves to a straight swearing contest. Which authority do you prefer, or respect more, or fear more, or get exposed to earlier in life? On the actual merits (about which most of us know essentially nothing), it’s a straight coin flip.

I would suspect that the bigwigs at the CNR know perfectly well that evolution is science. BUT science in their minds and emotions is trumped by a higher authority. I think in their minds, they feel that this part of science can be, uh, compromised without all that much damage to the rest of science, whereas full acceptance of evolution lays their (interpretation of) Higher Authority pretty well waste.

It’s just part of human nature than when reality and preference conflict, reality doesn’t stand a chance.

I am YEC but agree with much of what you said here. Yes it is for most people about authority. People who accept evolution do so mostly because they have no reason to question the authority of it from educational institutions. Likewise creationism , for YEC at least, is based on a conflicting authority. The bible. Then later YEC thinkers allow a person to answer evolution etc . I do find a lot of people, who are not YEC, have a innate objection to authority in North america and easily will dismiss evolution. Yet it comes from a innate questioning of authority and not bible believing people.

Few people on either side(s) of origin issues have much knowledge relative to the population.

I disagree that people deliberately pretend evolution is not science when think it is. In fact upon serious study of evolution and company these origin issues do turn out to not use the scientific method but only ordinary methods of evidence gathering. It truly always is apparent that testing of most or all origin conclusions does not take place. No testing then no science. Just ordinary detective work.

The line i like is where a creationist can say we are like Sherlock Holmes to evolution’s Scotland Yard. We are doing better detective work but both are not doing science.

Robert wrote:

“Yes it is for most people about authority. People who accept evolution do so mostly because they have no reason to question the authority of it from educational institutions.”

I know you would like to believe this, but once again, you are dead wrong. No real scientist accepts anything because of authority. Grow up.

“In fact upon serious study of evolution and company these origin issues do turn out to not use the scientific method but only ordinary methods of evidence gathering.”

i hate to break this to you Robert, but no accepts your argument from non-authority either. Just because you don’t understand the scientific method doesn’t mean that no one else does.

“The line i like is where a creationist can say we are like Sherlock Holmes to evolution’s Scotland Yard.”

the line i like is where evolutionary biologists, like Sherlock Holmes, use the scientific method to find the evidence to catch the foolish, ignorant, dishonest creationists, er i mean criminals, in their lies.

Robert Byers said:

The line i like is where a creationist can say we are like Sherlock Holmes to evolution’s Scotland Yard. We are doing better detective work but both are not doing science.

Well, yes, given that Sherlock Holmes is fictional and Scotland Yard is real.

Brachychiton said:

Robert Byers said:

The line i like is where a creationist can say we are like Sherlock Holmes to evolution’s Scotland Yard. We are doing better detective work but both are not doing science.

Well, yes, given that Sherlock Holmes is fictional and Scotland Yard is real.

And Sherlock Holmes was looking for actual truth behind the “facts”, not forcing his personal beliefs with cherry picking information.. Ahh yes, he was cool… not Booooring, and unscientificly using Circular Reasoning based on Myths … just like Creationism / ID , YEC ,etc 99.99999999% of the time usually do..

Paul Flocken said:

Rolf Aalberg said:

So you have to choose. Believe the Bible or believe the evolutionists. One or the other.

That’s their problem and that’s why they are a problem. To them, religion is all about believing a cryptic book. They don’t recognize the inherent danger. They fail to realize religion is about spirit and man’s struggle to reconcile the force(s) at play in his soul and mind.

Man has a soul? What exactly is that? And where did you find this out?

Besides whatever personal reflections I may have made wrt the iceberg inside our skull, I can only point to C.G. Jung’s attempt in his autobiography, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” (http://tinyurl.com/yb96hzc)

It contains a glossary of terms like Alchemy, Amplification, Anima and Animus, Archetype, Consciousness, Dream, Extraversion, God-image, (Imago Dei), Mana, Mandala, Neurosis, Numinosum, Persona, Self, Soul …

I only have a Norwegian edition.

Thanks from sweden for this post

The line i like is where a creationist can say we are like Sherlock Holmes to evolution’s Scotland Yard. We are doing better detective work but both are not doing science. ( Tr )

borsa said:

The line i like is where a creationist can say we are like Sherlock Holmes to evolution’s Scotland Yard. We are doing better detective work but both are not doing science. ( Tr )

Sherlock Holmes? I would think more like Inspector Clouseau.

“Do you know what kind of a bomb it was?”

“Ze exploding kind!”

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