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Tuesday, February 10, 2009



You have a gift for making the most mundane things into an us-against-them affair, Carl.

But thanks for the heads up about the conference.

Mark Brumley

The Vatican under Benedict has been trying to stress its belief that there is no incompatibility between faith and reason, and the evolution conference is supposed to be a key demonstration of that.

Church teaching holds that Catholicism and evolutionary theory are not necessarily at odds. But the Vatican's position became somewhat confused in recent years, in part because of a 2005 New York Times op-ed piece penned by a close collaborator of Pope Benedict XVI, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

In the piece, Schoenborn seemed to back intelligent design and dismissed a 1996 statement by Pope John Paul II that evolution was "more than just a hypothesis." Schoenborn said the late pope's statement was "rather vague and unimportant."

How would Schoenborn's statement of his view of the matter amount to a confusion of the Vatican's view?

Vatican officials later made clear they didn't believe intelligent design was science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only created confusion.

But of course this is only the opinion of the Vatican organizers of this conference, not the position of the Vatican. And I am not even sure it is the opinion of the Vatican organizers. Since the reporting on this story is already fuzzy, why should I expect that this part of story is any more accurate?

The conference is being hosted by Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, along with the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture and the University of Notre Dame in the U.S. state of Indiana.

I'll assume for the sake of discussion that this last part is accurate.

Why no mention of the Schuelerkreis discussion on creation and evolution by Pope Benedict and his former students? Why not mention of the book of the discussion, Creation and Evolution? Why no mention of Cardinal Schoenborn's book, Chance or Purpose??


"Also, an Associated Press piece about the conference expresses some befuddlement about how various Catholic leaders (Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Schönborn, etc.) can apparently disagree on particulars about evolutionary theory."

Whenever the Church doesn't act like an iron-fisted authoritarian tyrant on an intellectual matter, the secular media just can't process it because it doesn't fit their preferred "the Church is evil and oppressive" narrative.

Or, as the Ferengi say, "Every once in a while, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies."

...And I can't believe I just made a Star Trek reference. In public.

Jeff Grace

"It is my view", he went on, "that this congress represents an opportunity, neither propagandistic nor apologetic, for scientists, philosophers and theologians to meet and discuss the fundamental questions raised by biological evolution - which is assumed and discussed as a fact beyond all reasonable doubt - in order to examine its manifestations and causal mechanisms, and to analyse the impact and quality of the explanatory theories thus far proposed".

Amen!!! This is right on the nose. I have argued again and again that there is a difference between Darwinian theories and the political and social theories advanced by some as being based on Darwin. Even when I would find an “IDer” who wold concede this point, all too often I’d soon discover that what they really were rejecting was the basic tenets of evolutionary theory rather than the social and political theories supposedly based on Darwin. There are some adherents of ID that will also claim to accept a theory of evolution, but not Darwin’s. When pressed on what this theory is that they accept, it’s not really an evolutionary theory at all. It’s soon clear to me that they really have no scientific arguments for rejecting anything remotely Darwinian…

Mark Brumley

Michael: And you quoted a Ferengi saying, to boot!

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