Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Evolution Pespective

John Allen's Word From Rome this week covers the evolution flap from a couple weeks back with several good interviews, including this one with Professor Nicola Cabibbo, president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciencies:

Q: What did you think of Cardinal Schönborn's article in The New York Times?
Cabibbo: … The theory of evolution can be disturbing to Christians because it seems to clash with the idea of divine creation. However, this is not true. What clashes with divine creation is an extension of the theory of evolution into materialistic interpretations, the so-called "evolutionism." What evolutionism says, and here I'm thinking about people such as Dawkins, is that there's no need for God. But that is not science, it's not part of what has been discovered by science. … The great intuition of Darwin was that there is an evolution, that different species evolved over time, even if he could not understand the mechanism. … To this, there are two different reactions. One is the atheistic view, saying that we know how it works now, we don't need God. This goes beyond the scientific facts because it is a metaphysical conclusion. The other is the theistic response, believing that God is the cause of this process. … In reality the contrast between evolutionism and creationism has nothing to do with science. They are instead two very different religious and philosophical positions.
What troubles many people is that scientists use words such as 'unguided' and 'unplanned' in referring to evolution. As a scientist, what do those terms mean to you?
Let me come at it from a distance. In Italian, there is a popular saying, non cade foglia che Dio non voglia. ["No leaf falls unless God wants it."] What science does is to try to explain the mechanism by which the leaf falls. … This doesn't mean that what happens doesn't have its own logic, its own way of happening. It's not like we're all puppets in God's hands. It would be debasing to think that God is directly causing every leaf to fall from the tree. Instead there is a system, a mechanism, by which things happen. I think there is no philosophical, no theological, problem here. This was the thought of John Paul II -- there is no a priori reason to see a clash between science and religion.
When Cardinal Schönborn says that purpose and design can be clearly discerned in the natural world, would you agree?
Not scientifically. As a scientist, I cannot draw this conclusion. What I can say is this: If the will of God was to create man, he certainly organized things in a beautiful way to do it. Of course, we know that God wanted to create man by revelation, but we don't know how he did it. This is what science attempts to explain. There should be no problem. There cannot be any clash or controversy between science and religion, because they do different things.
Some creationists argue that on the basis of an examination of the scientific facts, you can conclude that there must be a creator. This is not believed by any serious scientist. … They have found some renegade scientists, or people with some scientific education, to give them some credibility. … You can certainly construct an argument about how beautiful creation is, how intelligent it is, but these are not scientific concepts. It's aesthetic, not scientific.
A more extensive version of the Cabibbo interview is available here.

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