Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Darwin Is No Heathen

The Australian broke an interesting story yesterday:

THE Vatican has issued a stout defence of Charles Darwin, voicing strong criticism of Christian fundamentalists who reject his theory of evolution and interpret the biblical account of creation literally.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution were "perfectly compatible" if the Bible were read correctly.

His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the US, who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

"The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim," he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that "the universe didn't make itself and had a creator".

This idea was part of theology, Cardinal Poupard emphasised, while the precise details of how creation and the development of the species came about belonged to a different realm - science. Cardinal Poupard said that it was important for Catholic believers to know how science saw things so as to "understand things better". His statements were interpreted in Italy as a rejection of the "intelligent design" view, which says the universe is so complex that some higher being must have designed every detail.
Amen. I don't agree with the Catholic Church's politics and many of its procedural policies, but when it comes to theology, they are more intellectual than most. It is ridiculous to assume a fragmented creation story could take the place of science, even among the religious. Religion is a way of life, requiring generous reason and rational peppered with faith. Taking things literally is too easy to be called a religion. Even chimps can be trained to read and follow instructions. It is the thinking part that cannot be forgotten.

I am glad for this announcement, but the Church will still need to atone for Galileo and other scientists it has persecuted in the past.


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