As I mentioned at the time, I was less than enamoured with Pope Benedict XV’s attempt to equate, or entwine, religion and science in a speech at his old University in September last year, during his Meeting with The Representatives of Science. So it’s not a surprise to see that the publication of details of a subsequent meeting at the papal summer palace in Castel Gandolfo, a closed-door seminar attended by his former theology students – in a book which includes lectures from his former pupil, Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, two philosophers and a chemistry professor – should include further attempts to do just that – as reported here on Reuters.From the Reuters report
“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 agree that the argument over evolution which Pope Benedict is engaged in is actually a philosophical argument – It’s not an argument about science.
Also from the same report
In the book, Benedict defended what is known as “theistic evolution,” the view held by Roman Catholic, Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches that God created life through evolution and religion and science need not clash over this.
“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.
I wouldn’t depend on faith to explain any part of it.. nor leap to the conclusion that, if the picture is not yet complete, any gaps should be filled by a supernatural being.
“Both popular and scientific texts about evolution often say that ‘nature’ or ‘evolution’ has done this or that,” Benedict said in the book which included lectures from theologian Schoenborn, two philosophers and a chemistry professor.
“Just who is this ‘nature’ or ‘evolution’ as (an active) subject? It doesn’t exist at all!” the Pope said.
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.
That would be because ‘evolution’ isn’t an active subject. It’s a description of a mechanism by which organisms continually adapt to an ever-changing environment – the survival of the most fitting.
That the evolution of any organism may appear to be rational is, I would argue, a subjective assessment.
What isn’t rational, despite the attempts to claim it as such, is to invent a supernatural being and attribute that mechanism to him/her, not even if that supernatural being is the Flying Spaghetti Monster
Adds As Christopher notes in the comments zone, the official Richard Dawkins website also picked up the article