August 26, 2006
Redesigning the Vatican
Pope Benedict XVI is to brainstorm on evolution with a top theologian accused of championing controversial theories that rubbish Darwin.
The theologian, Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn, announced the September 1-3 session at a Catholic rally this week where he reaffirmed his belief that the universe could not have come about in a random way.
… The closed-door think-in at the pope’s summer residence of Castelgandolfo is expected to nail down a firmer position on evolution, which has been keenly debated since Pope John Paul II’s famous pronouncement that Darwinism was “not just a theory”.
The Church has been accused of sending mixed signals, with Schoenborn’s views being challenged by prominent Catholic scientists and some theologians. Schoenborn, a former university pupil of the pope’s, grabbed headlines a year ago with a New York Times editorial seen as backing moves to teach intelligent-design theories alongside Darwinism.
… In response to Schoenborn’s blast against Darwinism, the director of the Vatican Observatory, Father George Coyne, said critics of evolutionary theory underestimated God’s willingness to give “freedom” to Nature.
The Baltimore-born Jesuut, 73, who has just stepped down after 28 years at the helm of the Vatican’s flagship science programme, rapped Schoenborn for “underestimating” the US context in which he was speaking and branded Creationism as “a religious movement devoid of all scientific basis”.
… On Wednesday Schoenborn - a media-friendly intellectual heavyweight tipped by many to get the job that eventually fell to Benedict - steered clear of where such theories should be taught.
But he stressed that more attention should be given to the holes in Darwin’s theory, “which (Darwin) himself recognised and regretted”.
“The open questions of the theory of evolution should be exposed” rather than pushing Darwinism as the explanation for how life developed, the cardinal said.
In a veiled reference to Coyne, Schoenborn also cast doubt on the propriety of a religious figure coming out in favour of Darwinism.
… [Coyne recently] penned an article for the authoritative science monthly Newton in which he said “God isn’t a designer and life is the fruit of billions of attempts”.
“People who want to see designers...should go to Milan or, if they’re looking for engineers, to Dubai where they’re building a whole new city,” Coyne wrote.
The Vatican has denied British media reports that Coyne was fired because he had “irritated” the Pope.
TrackBack URL for this entry: