Friday, March 13, 2009

The Catholic Church Takes On Richard Dawkins

Saying that Evolution does not prove the non-existence of God  the Holy Roman Catholic Church has rejected the position of Richard Dawkins, Oxford University Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, during a five day conference allegedly commemorating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.  Well,  Richard Dawkins will surely reply to this.  London Times has the details...
LINK The Vatican has rejected the claim by Richard Dawkins, the biologist and campaigning atheist, that evolutionary theory proves that God does not exist, proclaiming that on the contrary Darwinian evolution and the account of Creation in Genesis are "perfectly compatible".

At a five day conference held to mark the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species this week, Vatican theologians said while Christians believed that God "created all things", the Vatican "does not stand in the way of scientific realities".

Vatican officials joined biologists, paleontologists, molecular geneticists and philosophers for the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, which ends tomorrow. Rafael Martinez, professor of the Philosophy of Science at the Santa Croce Pontifical University in Rome, said although the reaction of Catholic theologians, intellectuals and priests to Darwinian theory had been "generally negative" in the 19th century, "recent declarations by Popes have asserted the full accordance of Catholic doctrine and evolutionary biology".

He said, however, that this was not widely known, and the false impression had arisen "that the Holy See is opposed to evolution". Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which co-organised the conference with Notre Dame University in Indiana and support from the John Templeton Foundation, said there was "no a priori incompatibility between evolution and the message of the Bible".
This is a clever rhetorical position for the Catholic Church to take--and absolutely necessary if she is not to fall into total intellectual disrepute. But it also puts Creationism and Evolution on the same level of validity and will only abet the continued mental abuse of children masquerading as "early childhood religious education" -- in backward places where Damaso still controls the curriculum and continues to defy even the Papacy's rear-guard action to save itself.

7 comments:

Fr. Dennis said...

Found your article by randomly searching for something else, and I'm not inclined to enter into an extended dialog on this. But this isn't a new position for the Catholics to take. We've been saying this at least since Pope Pius XII wrote "Humani Generis" (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html) in 1950.

DJB Rizalist said...

Thanks Padre, I've got my hands full on the comment thread for this post at the other site.
http://filipinovoices.com/catholic-church-takes-on-richard-dawkins

Rank Merida said...

Hello my old friend.
You really have your hands full back there at Filipino Voices.
Nowadays I don't usually leave comments anymore altho I regularly check on your blog and that of Manolo's.
But this post on Dawkins interests, I cannot let pass. In the early days of the blogosphere (about the time of the first incarnation of your blog) I was already reading Dawkins articles on the Net.
In the late 1990s (when I was in my mid-50s) I already dropped out from religion after spending my childhood and until 2nd year high school in the Catholic Church and having been an Armstrongite thereafter.
Then I bought a few Dawkin's books available locally. But even before reading The God Delusion I was already an atheist.
Thanks to "whatever gods there may be" I do not need anymore to wrack my brain reconciling the rational with the superstitions.
Hurray for Dawkins!

Rank Merida said...

Oops! Delete "interest" from
"But this post on Dawkins interests, I cannot let pass."

DJB Rizalist said...

Been too long Rank! Hehe good of you to drop by. And check out the big discussion over at Filipino Voices, where this was cross-posted.

Dave said...

To rather reinforce Fr Dennis:

Ever since Darwin published, eager beavers have rushed to say that evolution means the lack of creationism or intelligent design.

Now the opposite of evolution is spontaneous development. We have empircal evidence of both.

The opposite of intelligent design is random chance. We have empirical evidence of neither.

The prescence or absent of a Creator (God) is neither proved nor disproved by Darwin, Dawkins etc nor by theologians.

To believe in God is to have faith. If H Sapiens lacks faith, can H Sapiens survive?

Answer that question if you can.

DJB Rizalist said...

Dave,
All believers treat "God" as an axiom or postulate. Indeed, there have been recent studies showing that people of faith will still believe even when presented with evidence against. In fact their faith seems to get even stronger at such assaults upon it. Thus there is no proving or disproving it with them.


Likewise it is generally accepted as impossible to prove a negative like "There is no Blue Two Headed God" because you would have to look in all places and times in the Universe and at all possible scales of size and form to do so.

That said, the works and progress of Science only disprove God in the sense that the claims of religion are so improbable given everything else we know for sure, that such proof makes the assailed claims unreasonable to maintain.

Regarding your question at the end about human survival without religious faith, let me ask a question by way of answer:

Before Moses came down the mountain with two stone tablets, do you honestly believe that the Jewish people thought that murder, rape, lying cheating and stealing were ok?

Which came first, in other words, morality or theology?

And what do we make of the Separation of Church and State?

"No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil and political rights."

Is this not equivalent to the notion that while Democracy has all kinds of Morality, it really rejects all theologies?