Friday, September 19, 2008

Adapt Or Die

A couple days ago I came across this article. I had to ponder it a while. Here's part of it.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana are organizing an international conference in Rome March 3-7 as one of a series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species."

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers "wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific" and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.

He said arguments "that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite" supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

Phillip Sloan, a professor at Notre Dame, told the press conference the evolution debate, "especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence ... and the discourse has suffered accordingly."

While there has been Catholic commentary on the compatibility of faith and evolutionary theories, there is no definitive written source to which people can refer to learn the church's position, he said.

A couple parts of this draw my attention. Excluding creationists and intelligent design proponents, i.e. creationists, could be interpreted as excluding people who accept the bible as the literal truth. Doesn't the Roman Catholic Church accept most the bible as literally true? Why do they get to decide which parts? I'll answer in a minute.

Creationists are excluded because their arguments are not considered theology. How can that be? I'll answer in a minute.

Another curious point. How can a "strictly scientific" conference include theology? I'll answer in a minute.

Science has debunked and eroded many of the church's teachings over the years. (The Warfare of Science with Theology by Andrew White is an excellent read on the subject.) It wasn't until October of 1992 that Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the church treated Galileo (in 1633 he was tried and convicted of heresy for saying the Earth orbits the sun) and officially conceded that the Earth was not stationary. This came as a result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the same council that's running this conference next year. Every scientific finding that contradicted church teachings eventually forced the church to change its position. So in order to keep itself relevant the church has had to adapt. And that, I think, is the answer.

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