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Saturday, July 09, 2005

New York Times puzzles over Catholic Church's insistence that life has meaning

The New York Times, in the persons of writers Cornelia Dean and Laurie Goodstein, pretends amazement that the Roman Catholic Church has come out against the meaningless, purposeless universe of life forms advocated by Darwinists, and atheistic materialism generally. (Note: You have to register with the Times to see this, but hey, just do it, and get it over with.)

An influential cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, which has long been regarded as an ally of the theory of evolution, is now suggesting that belief in evolution as accepted by science today may be incompatible with Catholic faith.

The cardinal, Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, a theologian who is close to Pope Benedict XVI, staked out his position in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Thursday, writing, "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not."

In a telephone interview from a monastery in Austria, where he was on retreat, the cardinal said that his essay had not been approved by the Vatican, but that two or three weeks before Pope Benedict XVI's election in April, he spoke with the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, about the church's position on evolution. "I said I would like to have a more explicit statement about that, and he encouraged me to go on," said Cardinal Schönborn.

He said that he had been "angry" for years about writers and theologians, many Catholics, who he said had "misrepresented" the church's position as endorsing the idea of evolution as a random process.

No wonder outfits like the Times attract the term "legacy media." Why can't they get it? Of course the Catholic Church has never supported anything like the Darwinism mandated for U.S. school systems! And despite a century of indoctrination, most people just do not believe Darwinism, and are not about to start. Even a slow-moving institution like the Catholic Church is waking up to the fact that science, public policy, and education now reflect doctrines that most people doubt — doubt for good reason. They simply do not believe what Darwinists believe - that life is without design, purpose or meaning (see the post below), because the evidence suggests the opposite.

As a Roman Catholic myself, I am glad to see the Church weighing in against Darwinism, but note the following:

Opponents of Darwinian evolution said they were gratified by Cardinal Schönborn's essay. But scientists and science teachers reacted with confusion, dismay and even anger. Some said they feared the cardinal's sentiments would cause religious scientists to question their faiths.
I would suggest to those "scientists and science teachers", on whose behalf the Times worries, that they make up their mind whether they think they are Christians or not.

Thankfully, there is no public penalty for not being a Christian. As a Catholic Christian myself, I cannot imagine anything worse for the faith than invoking secular powers, typically masterminded by idiot mortals, to defend a position that the universe itself properly defends, through its own laws and design.

But if you are or think you ought to be a Christian, you simply cannot be a Darwinist. Don't deceive yourself: Either there is design in nature or there is not. Either the design is evident, as the Bible claims (Rom 1:20, NIV*), or it is not evident, in which case the Bible is obviously untrue, and you shouldn't be a Christian. Don't blame the Catholic Church for making its own position clear. In my view, it should have done that decades ago, but hey, it's an old institution and takes long time to move.

*In the quoted passage, Paul says, " ... men are without excuse" He means that wrongdoers are without excuse for their wrongs. They cannot say, "God botched me, so that is why I lie, cheat, steal, and kill, whenever I think that kind of behaviour will buy me time." Paul maintains that the design of the world is, in principle, good, and that therefore people are responsible for actions that disrupt relationships and society. God did not ordain those wrong actions from the beginning of time.

Blog service note: Did you come here looking for any of the following stories?
- the Privileged Planet film shown at the Smithsonian, go here for an extended review. Please do not raise cain about an "anti-evolution" film without seeing it. If your doctor forbids you to see the film, in case you get too excited, at least read my detailed log of the actual subjects of the film. If you were one of the people who raised cain, ask yourself why you should continue to believe the people who so misled you about the film's actual content ...

- the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian, go here and here to start, and then this one and this one will bring you up to date.

- the California Academy of Sciences agreeing to correct potentially libellous statements about attorney Larry Caldwell, who thinks that students should know about weaknesses as well as strengths of Darwinian evolution theory, click on the posted link.

- Bill Dembski threatening to sue the Thomas More Law Center in the Dover, Pennsylvania ID case, click on the posted link and check the current daily post for updates. (Note: This dispute has apparently been settled. See the story for details. )
Blog policy note: This blog does not intentionally accept fully anonymous Comments, Comments with language unsuited to an intellectual discussion, URLs posted without comment, or defamatory statements. Defamatory statement: A statement that would be actionable if anyone took the author seriously. For example, someone may say “O’Leary is a crummy journalist”; that’s a matter of opinion and I don’t know who would care. But if they say, “O’Leary was convicted of grand theft auto in 1983,” well that’s just plain false, and probably actionable, if the author were taken seriously. Also, due to time constraints, the moderator rarely responds to comments, and usually only about blog service issues.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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