:: Tuesday, September 05, 2006 ::
Well, That Could've Been Much Worse
El Reg reports on Benny XVI's recent meeting about evolution, and according to its sources they didn't discuss anything off the deep end, like Intelligent Design - or, at least, not favorably.
The meeting was called, aides say, not to align the Catholic Church with the Intelligent Design camp from the US, but to revive a public discussion of faith and reason.Nope, nothing there that I can fault - some scientists do make evolution into a religion, but that doesn't negate the wide and expanding field of knowlege on evolution. Not that this won't stop PZ Myers from freaking out, of course. Also, with the quip about philosophy, it looks like the Vatican may be taking a new tack against the fundamentalists. In all, when the minutes of the conference are published in November, they should make a very interesting read.
...Father Joseph Fessio, provost of Ave Maria University in Florida, told Reuters that described the session as "a meeting of friends with some scholars to discuss an interesting theme".
Fessio explained that the conclusion that God created the world is not a scientific position, but a philosophical one. This, he said, is where the Catholic Church differs from the creationist movement in the US.
He told the news service: "There's a controversy in the United States because there is a lack of awareness of a thing called philosophy. Evangelicals and creationists generally lack it and Catholics have it."
Pope Benedict has also argued that some scientists go too far in their interpretation of the theory of evolution, and make claims for it that are based on ideology, rather than science.
UPDATE: MSNBC, off the Reuters feed, has more information indicating no change in the Vatican's position on evolution.
The minutes, to be issued later this year, will show how Catholic theologians see no contradiction between their belief in divine creation and the scientific theory of evolution, they said after the annual closed-door meeting ended on Sunday.There ya go, Benny XVI's keeping the same line as JPII.
...Benedict and some aides have joined the debate in the past year, arguing for evolution as a scientific theory but against "evolutionism" — which he calls a "fundamental philosophy ... intended to explain the whole of reality" without God.
"He said this meeting could be an impulse to revive the discussion between theologians and evolutionists," said Father Stephan Horn, who organises the sessions for top students the then Professor Joseph Ratzinger mentored in the 1960s and 1970s.
"He's been concerned for a long time, and especially now that he is pope, about fostering a discussion between faith and reason," Horn said by telephone from Rome.
"He probably believes there is not enough public discussion about this, so that's why he wants to revive it."
UPDATE, Part Deux: even more from the Catholic News Service.
This year's topic was "Creation and Evolution," and one of the presenters was Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, who has argued against what he called "ideological Darwinism." That prompted media speculation that the pope was considering a shift in the church's general acceptance of the theory of evolution.Yup, no change. All is good.
But U.S. Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, who attended the symposium, said nothing was presented at the meeting that "would break new ground or that lays the foundation for a new position."
And while participants discussed the relationship among faith, reason and science, Father Fessio said that "the whole American debate on intelligent design did not occur at all here."
Father Fessio said the overall thrust of the presentations and discussion, in which the pope took an active part, confirmed the idea that the church can live with evolution as an explanation of the "how" of creation, as long as evolutionary theory does not try to exclude a divine cause.
He said the philosophical component was an important part of the symposium, which went beyond the perspectives of religion and natural science.
...When the papers are published, Father Fessio said, people will see that the gathering did not mark any significant shift in direction on the church and evolution, but rather a deeper understanding of the challenges it poses.
:: The Squire 12:50 PM :: email this post :: ::