Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why the Pope can save Richard Dawkins and vice versa.

The latest tome to come out from the laptop of the famed atheistic, scientistic Don of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, Richard Dawkins is appropriately titled "The Greatest Show on Earth, The evidence for evolution". Now the title to me seems a bit desperate. Why on heaven and earth should one call evolution as a "show"? This smacks of intelligent producers and intelligent stage designers, something that a Roman Catholic evolutionist like me won't touch with a 10 meter pole! (Who ever heard of intelligent producers anyway?)

Yes my dear readers, there are Roman Catholic evolutionists. The fact is that despite what many think, the Roman Catholic Church is hospitable to evolutionists as long as they aren't professional practitioners of the faith. But even then the Jesuit Father Teilhard de Chardin was an evolutionist but when he started including Christ in his theory of evolution, the Holy Office told him to shut up and prevent publication of his theological works but not to STOP doing science.

In 2009, the present Pope, Benedict XVI praised Teilhard's work.

The first chapter of the Dawk's latest book sets the stage for the argument for evolution. I did not buy the book at a 20% cut price at National Bookstore to be converted to evolution but to read the philosphical argument that Dawkins uses.

And voila, I was pleasantly surprised that the Dawk uses precisely the argument that Papa Ratzinger uses. Papa Ratzi is at war with relativism and the Dawk is too!

While Papa Ratzi's works as a Cardinal and his papal encyclicals are a bit of a heavy read (after all the theologian-professor has a lot of cross references to historical literature), the Dawk's is a bit light.

The Dawk starts out history deniers beginning with the hypothetical Roman history deniers and the very real Holocaust deniers.

Now the Dawk would do Ratzinger proud when he writes

" Fashionably relativist intellectuals chime in to insist that there is no absolute truth: wheher the Holocaust happened is a matter of personal belief; all points of view are equally valid and should be 'respected"."

And that's where the Dawk realises that the Roman Catholic faith and Science share the same philosophical baseline. Both systems of knowledge requires one to susbcribe to objective truth and reject the heresy of relativism.

It isn't a surprise. Science is the most famous child of the Roman Catholic faith! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

No wonder the Dawk writes with rationalist Anglican sarcasm that the Pope has no problem with evolution give or take the odd wobble on the precise paleontological juncture when the soul was injected. Oh c'mon Prof Dawkins, Pope John Paul II was not into paleontology but ontogeny. But that is another matter that we can debate with Catholic theologians.

Unfortunately, the Dawk enlists the Anglican bishops and not the Catholic ones to his cause. The Anglicans as comprehensive they are do not subscribe to a final authority and waffle much on the basic issues of the faith. They plan to have women bishops and go into knots over interpreting the Holy Writ. Too bad the Dawk is so Oxfordian and Anglican. He could start reading Pius XII's Humani Generis to the latest encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI.

To get certainty, the Dawk has to subscribe to an infallible authority. Maybe Papa Ratzi can help. Well that should not harm a scientist, after all the Pope is a razor sharp thinker.

Conversely the Dawk can save the Pope (a lot of effort in his pastoral mission) by discarding his atheistic scientism and accepting that philosophy alone (even if it is of the science type) can make you conclude that there is a God, the "intelligent producer".

But I doubt if the Big Guy upstairs would like being called a producer!

SOURCE: Philippine Commentary


Jm Benavidez Estoque said...

me too... I both believe in creation and evolution for if you could observe, there's almost a similarity on their order!

Evolution told us that everything is at first generated by a light that serves as the source of all of energy that is necessary for an orgnism to exist!

Creation told us that God first created a Light!

After Heavens and Earth, Seas and land, God what God created next are the fishes and next beasts of the land.

Evolution told us that, little cellular organisms living from the water came to evolve into fishes which later some of which developed lungs and later developed false feets which later evolved into reptile then to beasts of the land.

In creation, God created the earth in 7 days

On my own reasoning, that singular day does not pertains literally to days in human time but metaphorically to days in a divine clock which is comparable to a specific generation perhaps! and thus 7days refers to 7 generations!

Well... that's my theory anyway...

Jm Benavidez Estoque said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


the storytelling in genesis reflects the literary environment of our jurassic ancestors who were not scientific in their methodology and thinking, and therefore no amount of scientific interpretation would make the first book a scientific treatise-- which only dumb-dumbs (not you) will like to take literal swipes [e.g., 'hala ka, nagsasalita ang ahas, oh. meron ba nun?'], and then pull the plug on religion.

inodoro ni emilie

Anonymous said...

unrelated topic, but worth bringing it up again--on teaching science and the value of language:


The most effective teaching expands both the knowledge and the skills needed to engage with science authentically—that is, in a manner akin to how scientists work. To practice science in the classroom calls for problem- and project-based lessons, as well as considerable social interaction. As is the case among scientists, argumentation and discourse help students to refine one another’s ideas and to articulate their own.

let's revisit the english language medium debate. this finding, in the philippine education context, only meant one thing: english as the medium to silence science.

inodoro ni emilie

tayerevo said...


RD doesn't want salvation from the pope.

It's the pope and the catholics that need salvation from irrelevancy.

blackshama said...

That the Dawk has belatedly realized that his enemy is relativism is evidence enough that he (and evolutionary science) needs to be saved.

The Dawk unlike the Ratzi has no guarantees of infallibility!

Catholics are not irrelevant. The Protestants are. Protestantism is fast falling into anti-science.

tayerevo said...

The strenght and merits of science and the fact of evolution can very well stand the falsity of relativism. It can easily demolish the IDers and the creationists.

The truth of Science is verifiable. The truth of Ratzinger is floating and suspended in the ethereal world of Harry Potter.

blackshama said...

Unfortunately you don't appreciate that COGNITIVE RELATIVISM is disastrous for Science and Roman Catholicism. Whether the theology of Ratzinger is ethereal is not the point here at all.

SECULARISM can also blind reason!

tayerevo said...

The laws of physics, chemistry, or thermodynamics is not relative. It is universal. The Laws of gravity is the same in Ukraine, in India, in Somalia, or in Jupiter. Ditto with atoms and sub-atomic particles. Ditto with cellular development and propagation.

Only the IDers are raising this relativistic bulldung which RD has repeatedly mocked and refuted. Alan Sokal called this postmodernist bull fashionable nonsense and has listed erroneous tactics like :

-Using scientific or pseudoscientific terminology without bothering much about what these words mean.

-Importing concepts from the natural sciences into the humanities without the slightest justification, and without providing any rationale for their use.

-Displaying superficial erudition by shamelessly throwing around technical terms where they are irrelevant, presumably to impress and intimidate the non-specialist reader.

-Manipulating words and phrases that are, in fact, meaningless. Self-assurance on topics far beyond the competence of the author and exploiting the prestige of science to give discourses a veneer of rigor.

And you say that postmodernist, pseudo-scientific relativism is a threat or disastrous to Science?
Hah! They've been unmasked and found wanting.

It might be a danger more to your catholicism as so-called God truths could indeed vary from India to Turkey to Africa. How about explaining the mechanism involved in transubstantiation of bread crackers or the virgin birth to a devout Muslim in Bangalore?

You and the pope is in desperate search for an ally. Real science won't fall for the flirtations kahit mag beautiful eyes pa si Papa Ratzi.