Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pope says science too narrow to explain creation

I want to start off by saying: I agree with the headline!

"Science has opened up large dimensions of reason ... and thus brought us new insights," Benedict, a former theology professor, said at the closed-door seminar with his former doctoral students last September that the book documents.

"But in the joy at the extent of its discoveries, it tends to take away from us dimensions of reason that we still need. Its results lead to questions that go beyond its methodical canon and cannot be answered within it," he said.

"The issue is reclaiming a dimension of reason we have lost," he said, adding that the evolution debate was actually about "the great fundamental questions of philosophy - where man and the world came from and where they are going."


"I would not depend on faith alone to explain the whole picture," he remarked during the discussion held at the papal summer palace in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.

He also denied using a "God-of-the-gaps" argument that sees divine intervention whenever science cannot explain something.

"It's not as if I wanted to stuff the dear God into these gaps - he is too great to fit into such gaps," he said in the book that publisher Sankt Ulrich Verlag in Augsburg said would later be translated into other languages.


Benedict argued that evolution had a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain.

"The process itself is rational despite the mistakes and confusion as it goes through a narrow corridor choosing a few positive mutations and using low probability," he said.

"This ... inevitably leads to a question that goes beyond science ... where did this rationality come from?" he asked. Answering his own question, he said it came from the "creative reason" of God.


I think the Pope and I are on the same wavelength on this issue.

I try not to be too dogmatic about scientific issues that are not the subject of doctrine. I'm inclined to believe there is something to the theory of evolution. I can't believe every single fossil and every single dinosaur bone is a fake.

I also believe, based on my education in history, that the earth is definitively older than 6000 years.

That being said, I hold it as a working theory. There's more to it than meets the eye, and this is where I find Intelligent Design fills in on some important issues.

Like the pope, I don't like the randomness of the evolution theory-- the idea that it all "just happened"-- as if there was no ultimate explanation.

That's ridiculous.

So there is some kind of guiding force. I also think that there are so many mutations, I can't believe evolution alone explains all of them. Now, as Pope Benedict said, the God-of-the-gaps is not a scientifically sound theory-- not even a good philosophically sound theory. I wonder if there is some other global explanation that neither denies evolution, nor intelligent design.

I am not really keen to take a position on this debate. I feel somewhat scientifically literate, but enough to make a really informed decision, and there are just so many hours in a day. In my day-to-day life, my beliefs about evolution, or lack of them, do not have a big impact on my life. So I don't feel compelled to settle on one theory or another. I find scientific convention changes it mind often enough anyway, so why worry about it harder than the experts?

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