A wishy-washy dispatch from the Pope

12 04 2007

The Panda’s Thumb beat me to the scoop, but I figured I’d give my $0.02 on what Pope Benedict had to say about evolution in his new book (soon to be translated). It’s not a big surprise, but the Pope tip-toed around endorsing “creationism’s Trojan Horse” (i.e. intelligent design), but rather embraced theistic evolution. Indeed, the Pope took more of a finalist approach that is common in this debate, suggesting that God set things off in such a way as to produce man, therefore keeping Homo sapiens as the crowning glory of the earth but not rejecting God either. This is nothing new, but I was a little surprised by a quote put near the closing of many news reports about the story;

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.

If this were true, that evolution was rational, then wouldn’t it have something to teach us? Is God merely trying to fool us through using what appears to be random but really is not? Granted, the Pope is looking at this philosophically/theologically and he is no scientist, but if evolution is somehow a rational process then shouldn’t we be able to determine some moral value from it? I don’t think so, but some might see the consequences of this reasoning as such. I don’t have a problem with the idea of God kicking off things in the universe, knowing where they’ll end up and thus having no interference, but I wouldn’t say that evolution is a rational process with man as it’s final goal (if this is true, why does evolution yet continue?).

In all I don’t see the Pope’s new book contributing much to the debate; those inclined to agree will and those who aren’t will not. Indeed, such a book isn’t likely to have much impact on fundamentalist members of Protestant denominations that feel the Pope is essentially a handmaiden of Satan, so whatever reconciliatory effect the book may have is greatly diminished. I may end up reading it, I may not, but I doubt that it’s going to be little more than a footnote in the “long argument” we’re currently embroiled in.


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