Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Vatican and Science

UPDATE I - Jan. 22, 2006
With the intelligent design debate still brewing in America, the Vatican newspaper published more on this subject:

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican newspaper has published an article saying "intelligent design" is not science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only creates confusion.

The article in Tuesday's editions of L'Osservatore Romano was the latest in a series of interventions by Vatican officials _ including the pope _ on the issue that has dominated headlines in the United States.

The author, Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, laid out the scientific rationale for Darwin's theory of evolution, saying that in the scientific world, biological evolution "represents the interpretative key of the history of life on Earth."
...
"This isn't how science is done," he wrote. "If the model proposed by Darwin is deemed insufficient, one should look for another, but it's not correct from a methodological point of view to take oneself away from the scientific field pretending to do science."
...
Facchini said he recognized some Darwin proponents erroneously assume that evolution explains everything. "Better to recognize that the problem from the scientific point of view remains open," he said.

But he concluded: "In a vision that goes beyond the empirical horizon, we can say that we aren't men by chance or by necessity, and that the human experience has a sense and a direction signaled by a superior design."

Read more...


In a similar article on this subject, TIME magazine concludes:

The Pope himself entered the fray in November, when he used the words "intelligent project" to describe the origins of the universe. Camillo Cardinal Ruini, Benedict's Vicar of Rome and head of the Italian Bishops Conference, went the next step a few weeks later, explicitly endorsing intelligent design. But others have been less eager to jump on the bandwagon, including the Rev. George Coyne, head of the Vatican Observatory, who said, "Intelligent design isn't science, even though it pretends to be."

Does all this mean the Church is divided on the controversy? Not necessarily. It may just be that Catholic leaders will conclude that intelligent design makes for bad biology, but great theology.

Read more...

Exactly what I think of intelligent design.


ORIGINAL POST Nov. 5, 2005
It's was nice to read this report by the Associated Press:

VATICAN CITY -- A Vatican cardinal said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, made the comments at a news conference on a Vatican project to help end the "mutual prejudice" between religion and science that has long bedeviled the Roman Catholic Church and is part of the evolution debate in the United

The Vatican project was inspired by Pope John Paul II's 1992 declaration that the church's 17th-century denunciation of Galileo was an error resulting from "tragic mutual incomprehension." Galileo was condemned for supporting Nicolaus Copernicus' discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun; church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.

"The permanent lesson that the Galileo case represents pushes us to keep alive the dialogue between the various disciplines, and in particular between theology and the natural sciences, if we want to prevent similar episodes from repeating themselves in the future," Poupard said.

Read more...

I'm glad the Vatican voiced its opinion publicly. I'm not thrilled with introducing the intelligent design concept into science classes. Even in the Middle East, we separate scientific facts from religious beliefs in our classrooms. The intelligent design concept is more suitable for religion classes than science classes.
 

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