Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Vatican and Darwin: A Rebuke to the Creationists

The Catholic Church continues to maintain its very sane and level-headed view of evolutionary reality. It rejects the ludicrous Biblical literalism of so many American fundamentalists, and is scornful of attempts to use the Bible to undermine scientific principles. The key thoughts from the article

At [a] press conference [Cardinal Paul Poupard] was discussing the issue of evolution, which is the critical dividing line between science and religion. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species shook religious belief when it was first published in 1859 in a way that Isaac Newton’s equally important Principia had not shaken the faith of 1687.

In The Times Martin Penner reported the cardinal’s argument. He had said that the description in Genesis of the Creation was “perfectly compatible” with Darwin’s theory of evolution, if the Bible were read properly. “Fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim.”

He argued that the real message of Genesis was that the Universe did not make itself, and had a creator. “Science and theology act in different fields, each in its own.” In Rome, the immediate reaction was that this was a Vatican rejection of the fundamentalist American doctrine of “intelligent design”. No doubt the Vatican does want to separate itself from American creationists, but the significance surely goes further than that. This is not another Galileo case; the teachings of the Church have never imposed a literal interpretation of the language of the Bible; that was a Protestant mistake. Nor did the Church condemn the theory of evolution, though it did and does reject neo-Darwinism when that is made specifically atheist.

Well said. More intelligent and thoughtful Christians need to add their voices in the increasingly vocal chorus that is denouncing the absurd creationist fairy tales of the religious right.

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