Friday, February 01, 2008

Abdicating Intelligence: Schönborn on Evolution

The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn just launched his book entitled "Chance or Purpose" where he reflects on the relationship of science and religion. Schönborn caused controversy in 2005 when he wrote an op ed piece in the New York Times essentially saying that neo-Darwinian theory is not compatible with Catholic belief and that if one accepts the theory that presupposes that life's complexity is due to chance alone, that would presume that one had "abdicated his intelligence".

Jesuit priest and former Vatican Astronomer George Coyne SJ criticised Cardinal Schönborn's opinion in an article published in the Tablet. Coyne essentially states that Schönborn muddles up science and theology by assuming science as not neutral with regards to faith.

Thus the controversy exploded. Father Coyne (as most scientists) has no qualms with Intelligent Design if this is taught in theology. But when Schönborn begins to say that acceptance of the scientific theory means "abdicating intelligence"then nothing really separates Catholic Schönborn from Atheist Richard Dawkins who says essentially the same thing about believers.

Atheism and Catholicism when they throw all reason in the face of empirical evidence about nature is nothing but a route to abidicating intelligence. Science has nothing to say about religion be this the atheistic kind or the theistic kind.

Perhaps Schönborn has to take the guns against Dawkins but you don't need Catholic theology to do that. Philosophy would do and Dawkins is revealed in all his logical fallacies.

When theologians discount science in explaining nature that is really abdicating intelligence.

What is worrying is that Pope Benedict XVI's worldview of bringing the old back in the Roman Church is interpreted by some as a need to challenge science. While if this deals with Catholic faith and practice,scientists are likely not to obejct. Benedict's lieutenants are reversing the progress made by John Paul II in the dialogue between science and Catholicism.

In this contrived conflict between science and religion, as in the Galileo affair, the Roman Catholic Church is likely to sustain much of the damage which John Paul in the spirit of respect, made headways in undoing.

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