Vatican hosting conference on Evolution

Ok, I’m not officially here, but I couldn’t let this one pass! I had gained the impression that Pope Benedict was more conservative than his predecessor (who stated evolution was “more than just a theory”), but this throws that idea out the window.

I would have no problem with the Vatican hosting a conference that was genuinely “A critical appraisal” of Darwinism, looking at it from both perspectives and discussing the science behind it and how it relates to Christianity. But that is not how they are approaching the issue. From the Vatican News Service:

Saverio Forastiero:

“…biological evolution – which is assumed and discussed as a fact beyond all reasonable doubt…”

Fr. Tanzella-Nitti:

“…from the perspective of Christian theology, biological evolution and creation are by no means mutually exclusive.”

Now the idea that evolution and creation are not mutually exclusive is a valid opinion to hold. But when such views are being stated by people organising the conference, who should be approaching the issue from an unbiased perspective and allowing both sides of the story to be debated, it shows the tone of the conference.

The topic of the conference:

Fr. Leclerc explained that the congress will be divided into nine sessions, focusing on “the essential facts upon which the theory of evolution rests, facts associated with palaeontology and molecular biology; … the scientific study of the mechanisms of evolution, … and what science has to say about the origin of human beings”. Attention will also be given to “the great anthropological questions concerning evolution, … and the rational implications of the theory for the epistemological and metaphysical fields and for the philosophy of nature”. Finally, he said, “there will be two theological sessions to study evolution from the point of view of Christian faith, on the basis of a correct exegesis of the biblical texts that mention the creation, and of the reception of the theory of evolution by the Church”.

In other words, they will be considering evolution to be an established fact, learning all about those “essential facts” underpinning it, then finally looking at how this can be fitted into Christianity through “correctly” understanding the scriptures.

There is only one way that discussion is designed to go…

Evolution is not an established fact – there are many dissenters, including atheists who disagree on purely scientific grounds. But just like global warming, if you speak up you will generally be ignored by the media (or ridiculed if you are lucky to be noticed), and could lose your job. Furthermore in the opinion of many Christians it IS mutually exclusive with Christianity – Evolution requires death before the Fall (undermining the Cross). It also requires God to use millions of years of death and suffering to create a world he then pronounces to be “very good”, and requires passages clearly written as literal (even in the Ten Commandments) to be interpreted as figurative to squeeze the theory into the text somehow.

By accepting evolution as undeniable fact before the conference even starts, discussion is stifled, and the results are predetermined – just like in a Green Party discussion on climate change…

13 Responses to “Vatican hosting conference on Evolution”

  1. Paul from Canterbury Atheists Says:

    What’s next?

    Will we see Rothmans hosting a Cancer Conference?

    May be the Church and ‘approved’ Scientists will get together and find-out at which stage of mans evolutionary development e.g. homo rhodesiensis, did the Christian God place souls in the 3rd branch of Chimpanzee’s we call human?

    The whole idea of The Catholic Church giving-up to science is laughable to the extreme, they owe their very existence to keeping their flock ignorant and unquestioning.

    No Scientist of any standing would bother with this witch-doctoring pantomime, anyway.

    See ya.


  2. Mr Dennis Says:

    I was expecting you to have the first comment, well done. You must spend all day watching the Christian blogs trying to find something to ridicule. Hopefully you’ll learn something one day with all that reading!

  3. ZenTiger Says:

    My latest reading seems to indicate Darwinistic Evolution does not explain the initial science around creation (of life) at all, and there is a lot more good science out there providing interesting alternate theories.

    I suspect that Darwinistic Evolution as a theory will simply be expanded to encompass the new stuff, rather than admit some people were making a valid point.

  4. Mr Dennis Says:

    Zen: There is no (realistic!) naturalistic explanation for the origin of life, which is a major problem for atheists. However evolution does not explain how life actually got from there to now very well either. The known natural processes (natural selection and mutations) only allow for breeding within kinds of animals (e.g. breeding dogs to get different dogs) and cannot be expanded beyond this without serious problems. The more I study science, the more I realise that the Genesis account of Creation explains everything better than any story men can come up with.

    “I suspect that Darwinistic Evolution as a theory will simply be expanded to encompass the new stuff, rather than admit some people were making a valid point.”
    Yes where this is vaguely plausible, for the rest it will be hands over the ears, eyes tightly closed, loudly yelling “consensus, consensus”!

  5. Paul from Canterbury Atheists Says:

    Sam & Zen,

    Guys, off the top of my head, the universe is 15 billion years old, earth 4.5 billion.

    Not 6,000 years per the Bible or other ludicrous figures from other stone-age creation stories.

    And if Gods crowning creation was mankind, why did he wait so long to create his image?

    Why create 99% of creatures, so they can become extinct?

    Did man have dinosaurs as pets?

    Back at the end of last year I have did a comparative study of these respective religious fables on how man/animals/earth were created.

    You’ll see [by pressing my name] the Christian way of explaining things (before science came along) is only ‘middle of the road’ in terms of the known facts versus what is written in the numerous ‘how we got here’ fables.

    If you are wanting to believe in superstition over science in respect to Creation, Chinese Taoism gives a much more credible summation, than the one you and Zen propose as written in The Old Testament (we atheists are allowed to read it as well).

    The problem of course for you Sam & Zen, is Taoism isn’t big in these parts and you have both chosen another brand of superstition (probably that of your parents)and would equally dispute a Taoist’s position on creation as that of mainstream scientists and biologists etc.

    Me I prefer to look at things of this nature with an open-mind.

    Gotta shoot.


  6. Mr Dennis Says:

    “Guys, off the top of my head, the universe is 15 billion years old, earth 4.5 billion.”
    Stop there. You rote-learned your school lessons very well. But why do you say it is that age? What evidence do you have? Do you know why you think that at all?

    Come back with some scientific evidence, and we’ll discuss that – and I might then believe your claim that you “look at things with an open mind”.

  7. peterquixote Says:

    pray to God for the truth, and you will receive the answer,
    I am not,
    Mr Dennis, he does not exist,
    he is like like the fairies and the bunnies and Santa,

  8. Mr Dennis Says:

    Really Peter? Bunnies don’t exist?

  9. Paul from Canterbury Atheists Blog Says:

    Sam, it’s Chinese Taoism for me mate, every-time.

    Be honest that ying & yang stuff beats that naff Genesis story ‘hand over fist’.

    You want to read more about religion – it’s fascinating stuff.

    All a load of crap, but fascinating neither the less.

    See ya.


    PS: The world IS 4.5 billion years old, give or take a few million. Ooouch that must have hurt.

  10. Mr Dennis Says:

    Paul, you blindly spouting your own personal beliefs without offering any reason for them doesn’t hurt me at all. It just makes you look silly.

  11. Paul from Canterbury Atheists Says:

    Yes, my opinion the Taoism presents a better ‘fairy story’ than the Christian ‘fairy story’ , is indeed just that, an opinion.

    Never the less, it doesn’t change the fact all religious creation stories are just that – fairy stories.

    So it’s just the Christian one you have chosen, over all the other ones I was analysing versus known facts, you want to defend, not the Maori or Islamic ones.

    The ancient Taoist creation story is as incorrect as saying the Earth is 4.50 years old, eh?

    It’s only the Christian story you defend against all-comers.

    According to Wikipedia, the age of planet earth is 4.54 billion years, so my school teacher was in fact correct (the Wiki listing come with 28 references)

    Sam, if you want to disregard main-stream science in pursuit of your faith, it’s a free world, but don’t go telling us that scientific facts are incorrect – simply because you and a minority of earthlings believe in a story-book, that puts Grimm to shame, with tall-tales of Giants, Unicorns, Zombies etc.

    Instead please provide us all some neutral links (non-Christian, thank-you) to any site which substantiates the ‘flat earth’ story you believe in – that being planet earth was created in six days, 6000 years ago.

    By the way if this is what they teach students at Lincoln College in terms of education, then may your God help us!

    Gotta go.


  12. ZenTiger Says:

    Hi Paul, I don’t know what treadmill you are on, but I mentioned that there were emerging *scientific* theories that had a more credible chance of explaining the creation of life than evolution.

    Must be annoying for you that holding religious beliefs is no barrier to be a good scientist.

    You might want to look into some of these theories, and I’m not speaking about ID and creationism, before you get all distracted with things I haven’t said.

  13. Mr Dennis Says:

    “According to Wikipedia, the age of planet earth is 4.54 billion years, so my school teacher was in fact correct (the Wiki listing come with 28 references)”

    Paul, a reference to Wikipedia is NOT scientific evidence!

    I’ll help you out a little. Scientific evidence is stuff people actually dig up, measure, and test. Scientific evidence for the age of the earth involves things like measuring the ratios of various isotopes in rocks. The EVIDENCE is the scientific facts that were measured – the ratio of isotope X to isotope Y.

    The interpretation of this evidence to say the earth is either several billion years old or several thousand years old is NOT evidence itself, just one interpretation of the evidence. Alternative interpretations may be possible as well.

    By EVIDENCE I would like you to say “this scientist measured this and that means the earth cannot be younger than 4 billion years because of this”. That is how science works.

    If you want to learn science, study it. Don’t spout nonsense about stuff you obviously haven’t even looked into.

    You come across as someone who has decided that there is no God. This can never be proved (you cannot prove logically that something does not exist), so you accept atheism by faith. You then blindly accept whatever people say that agrees with your presuppositions, and blindly reject whatever disagrees with it. You exhibit blind faith in the words of others, not rational thought of your own.

    You speak from faith, not from science. Go study science, and come back when you are ready to debate this scientifically.

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