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Monday, August 21, 2006


Ed Peters

Purely coincidental, I am sure.

Plato's Stepchild

Perhaps the new Vatican astronomer can find out which theological planet, in which solar system, Fr Coyne lives on.

As they used to say in the 60's "he is far, far out, man."

Ed Peters

I am frankly sorry to see him go out on this note. Assuming it is a note, that is. The astronomy buff in me some years ago saw the science he was doing or supervising, and it seemed to me pretty solid stuff. But his more recent foray into ID issues was regrettable. A lesson to us all, in here somewhere, at least to those of us who strive to lead a life of the mind.

Brian John Schuettler

This may have been Father Coyne's ultimate undoing.
(As Carl quoted earlier this year from an article written by Father Coyne):

"How are we to interpret the scientific picture of life’s origins in terms of religious belief. Do we need God to explain this? Very succinctly my answer is no. In fact, to need God would be a very denial of God. God is not the response to a need. One gets the impression from certain religious believers that they fondly hope for the durability of certain gaps in our scientific knowledge of evolution, so that they can fill them with God. This is the exact opposite of what human intelligence is all about. We should be seeking for the fullness of God in creation. We should not need God; we should accept her/him when he comes to us.

But the personal God I have described is also God, creator of the universe. It is unfortunate that, especially here in America, creationism has come to mean some fundamentalistic, literal, scientific interpretation of Genesis. Judaic-Christian faith is radically creationist, but in a totally different sense. It is rooted in a belief that everything depends upon God, or better, all is a gift from God. The universe is not God and it cannot exist independently of God. Neither pantheism nor naturalism is true."

That kind of closed the discussion, at least as far as Father Coyne was concerned. Unfortunately, the arrogant tossing aside of opposing viewpoints didn't win him many supporters in the Vatican. The rest is, as the cliche goes, history.


Personally, I suspect the arrogant tone was less of an issue than the rather squirrely theology.

Plato's Stepchild

"Personally, I suspect the arrogant tone was less of an issue than the rather squirrely theology."

Brings to mind the "squirrel cage" comments that Msgr George Kelly once made about the late Raymond Brown's biblical hermeneutics.

Ed Peters

To your great mind, O Stepchild of Plato. Not mine. What was it about?


This may be the article which Plato's .... was talking about.


by Msgr. George A. Kelly


The tragedy of Fr. Coyne is that most of his comments that I have seen posted regarding the scientificness of Creationism and Intelligent Design are correct. Neither one is scientific in the modern sense of that word because, though they are obvious, they are not experimenatlly verifiable. But then neither is so-called Evolutionism. In fact, the experiments done to try to prove Evolution number in the thousands and everyone single one has been a failure. In the Feynman sense of "science" and "scientist" Fr. Coyne is an ideologue, a poster boy of scientism.

Mark Brumley

We don't know that Father Coyne was replaced because of his views about evolution or his criticism of Intelligent Design. At age 73, he may simply want to step down as director.

If his resignation does involve more, it seems likely that it is his theology, not his science, or his criticism of Intelligent Design, that is at issue. Father Coyne's understanding of God's action in the world is sometimes hard to follow. He sometimes writes as if God were somehow waiting around to see how things turn out, including human beings. He has made comments about miracles, in a public lecture aired on television, that seem tantamount to denying they happen. And so on.

Usually, his comments come off muddled rather than malicious.

Now it's one thing when a priest says nutty things at the parish bingo night--as bad as that is--and another thing when he does it throughout the international media, with "Vatican Astronomer" or "Director of Vatican Observatory" following his name.

That's the problem. Perhaps--we don't know for sure--that's the problem the new appointment is intended to solve.

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