Saturday, July 09, 2005

Evolution, Vatican-style

Been awhile, snowflakes. Forgive my absence -- crazy things are happening, but all is well.

So a Cardinal made the front page of The New York Times for something other than presiding over a massive abuse ring. Who is this wunderkind?

None other than Schonborn, who wrote an Op-Ed for the Grey Lady which ran on Thursday. Here's today's Page One lede:

An influential cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, which has long been regarded as an ally of the theory of evolution, is now suggesting that belief in evolution as accepted by science today may be incompatible with Catholic faith.

The cardinal, Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, a theologian who is close to Pope Benedict XVI, staked out his position in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Thursday, writing, "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not."

In a telephone interview from a monastery in Austria, where he was on retreat, the cardinal said that his essay had not been approved by the Vatican, but that two or three weeks before Pope Benedict XVI's election in April, he spoke with the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, about the church's position on evolution. "I said I would like to have a more explicit statement about that, and he encouraged me to go on," said Cardinal Schönborn.

He said that he had been "angry" for years about writers and theologians, many Catholics, who he said had "misrepresented" the church's position as endorsing the idea of evolution as a random process.

Here's more:

One of the strongest advocates of teaching alternatives to evolution is the Discovery Institute in Seattle, which promotes the idea, termed intelligent design, that the variety and complexity of life on earth cannot be explained except through the intervention of a designer of some sort.

Mark Ryland, a vice president of the institute, said in an interview that he had urged the cardinal to write the essay. Both Mr. Ryland and Cardinal Schönborn said that an essay in May in The Times about the compatibility of religion and evolutionary theory by Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, suggested to them that it was time to clarify the church's position on evolution.

The cardinal's essay was submitted to The Times by a Virginia public relations firm, Creative Response Concepts, which also represents the Discovery Institute....

Bruce Chapman, the institute's president, said the cardinal's essay "helps blunt the claims" that the church "has spoken on Darwinian evolution in a way that's supportive."

But some biologists and others said they read the essay as abandoning longstanding church support for evolutionary biology.

"How did the Discovery Institute talking points wind up in Vienna?" wondered Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, which advocates the teaching of evolution. "It really did look quite a bit as if Cardinal Schönborn had been reading their Web pages."

Mr. Ryland said the cardinal was well versed on these issues and had written the essay on his own.

Hmmm... some are already chalking up conspiracy theories on this one. But considering Schonborn's role as one of the two or three main kingmakers in the conclave -- he basically told his fellow electors that Ratzinger's election was "God's will" -- this shows that the B Boys are ready to start flexing the muscle of their papal capital.... Well, some of them.

More soon.



Blogger Tony said...

Catholicism has always been compatible with evolution, just not "big bang" evolution. If you look at evolution as God's ongoing work of creation, it all makes sense. If you don't, it makes about as much sense as shaking up all the component parts of a Cadillac in a big bag for a few million years and expect a running Cadillac to emerge.

9/7/05 23:22  
Blogger pazdziernik said...

Entropy is well established in science. Things break down and decay. This is universal. I have not investigated the many theories of macro-evolution to see how they address this reality. Nevertheless this is an issue for science to resolve. Science should not be in conflict with Faith. Faith has always been open to science. The opposite has not always been the case. It's unfortunate that all too often atheistic ideologies hinder science. The findings of authentic science will never be in conflict with the data of Faith. The limits of both science and Faith should be acknowledged and embraced with humility. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is a great example of this humility.

10/7/05 08:54  
Blogger Perry Lorenzo said...

Truth is Truth, and science and faith cannot be in conflict.

Since "evolution" is a process and since "design" is a finality, an end, a point, a telos, an intention, I don't really see how there's a problem, except in the assumptions, really more poetic at best and ideological at root, in both the atheists and the Christian scientists who approach this topic.

Further, it is the atheistic ideological scientists whose ideas are at issues here, and their ideas have more than scientific impact: do recall the stunning scene in "Rebel Without a Cause", where James Dean and Sal Mineo go into existential crisis because of a scientific evolutionary account of universe's origin, evoking from Sal Mineo's Plato: "What does he know about Man Alone!" Well, there's more than scientific impact, you see, from scientific jargon.

Well, if I had to choose between Dante and Darwin, between Cardinal Schoeborn and ANYONE who works for the New York Times, I'm coming down on the side of Dante, the good Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, and God. So be it!

10/7/05 13:11  
Blogger Jeff said...

Regardless of what the "answer" about the degree to which certain theories of evolution can be reconciled with Cathoicism is, one thing is certain. The unwashed Primitive who thinks that God reached down and literally molded Adam and Eve from earthly clay with the digits of His Hand is far closer to the essential truth of the matter than the erudite Scientist who thinks that matter simply developed, according to its own autonomous rules, until Man appeared, one more example of mere material organization.

10/7/05 14:20  

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