Friday, August 05, 2005

The Catholic Big Bang

The Independent has the break, and The Tablet will have the story:
The conflict at the highest level of the Catholic Church about the truth of Darwin's theory of evolution breaks out publicly today.

Recent comments by a cardinal close to the Pope that random evolution was incompatible with belief in "God the creator" are fiercely assailed in today's edition of The Tablet, Britain's Catholic weekly, by the Vatican astronomer.

In an article with explosive implications for the Church, Father George Coyne, an American Jesuit priest who is a distinguished astronomy professor, attacks head-on the views of Cardinal Christoph Shönborn....

The cardinal's views are publicly and robustly rejected by Fr Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, which is a scientific institution sponsored by the Holy See....

In The Tablet he says that Cardinal Shönborn's article has "darkened the waters" of the rapport between Church and science, and says - flatly contradicting the cardinal - that even a world in which "life... has evolved through a process of random genetic mutations and natural selection" is compatible with "God's dominion".

For a Vatican official of such seniority openly to attack the views of a cardinal on such a potentially explosive subject as evolution is unprecedented. It also reveals a deep rift at the heart of the Catholic Church's thinking. It is known that Fr Coyne wrote privately to both Cardinal Shönborn and the Pope himself protesting against The New York Times article soon after it was published last month. But it is understood that so many scientists, especially Catholic scientists, have since contacted him to express their disquiet, that he felt he had to go public. He is believed to have cleared the article with his Jesuit superiors....

Oh, my. A Jesuit and a Dominican sparring? I love watching intellectuals get to it. Love it, love it, love it.

The key question behind the debate is the opinion of new Pope. Some fear that the cardinal would never have published such a controversial article in such a prominent medium without his personal approval. But nothing will be known for certain until the Pope speaks for himself.

Yep, Schonborn (don't know how to do umlauts, sorry) went around telling the cardinals that Ratzi's election was "God's will." He got the first copy of the impending Compendio from the hand of B16. They're way tight.

Well, the Catholic church seems poised to become a school board in Kansas, squabbling over all this as if the Scopes trial didn't matter a fig. And what a good seat I've got for the action. Don't get all hopped up though, snowflakes; Ratzi is not William Jennings Bryant -- we will not be crucifying Jesuits on a cross of gold.

Let's get it on! Fetch the popcorn. But, at the same time, let's be wise to remember, as a good prelate would say, that "Evolution is not Lord."

-30-

3 Comments:

Blogger Banshee said...

But how could you tell if it was truly random evolution? No matter how random it looked, God could still be in there "watching the game -- controlling it", as they sing in Chess.

And obviously, that's exactly what the Church has to maintain, by virtue of believing in an involved God who is constantly creating and sustaining the universe (much less every individual person).

So what's the point in arguing the ways and means? Whatever the means, God is there -- and God thought it up, and designed it that way.

5/8/05 07:07  
Blogger Papabile said...

Most people missed it, but Benedict XVI addressed evolution in his Homily on April 24, 2005. It was the Mass he offered where he received the Pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman.

It is my understanding that Schoenborn's article was an itentional followup to these comments.

The Holy Father's explicit commends on this were:

"It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

Now, note, this does not fully express what Schoenborn wrote. However, it is not common for a Pope to be explicit like that in homilies.

However, I am quite sure that Schoenborn's article was first approved by someone else inside the Curia, or the Holy Father himself.

It wasn't a coincidence.

5/8/05 12:36  
Blogger michigancatholic said...

As a person who's studied philosophy of science at the graduate level, I can tell you that most people, including the media, have no idea how science works. In addition, most peple who've even bothered to read Darwin misquote his meaning.

What's more important than all this wrangling by amateurs in the media, the comboxes, the pulpits, etc. is what the dispositions displayed tell us about other things....how truth is understood and how religion and science are mediated by the Church. How Benedict XVI deals with issues and how interested he is in making the Church's teachings visible to whom. These are far more important issues.......

6/8/05 08:58  

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