On Thursday, 11/03, Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into “fundamentalism” if it ignores scientific reason.
He made the comments at a news conference on a Vatican project to help end the “mutual prejudice” between religion and science that has long bedeviled the Roman Catholic Church and is part of the evolution debate in the United States. The project was inspired by the 1992 apology by Pope John Paul II for the church’s persecuting of Galileo in the 17th century. He was condemned for supporting Nicolaus Copernicus’ discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun while the church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.
“The permanent lesson that the Galileo case represents pushes us to keep alive the dialogue between the various disciplines, and in particular between theology and the natural sciences, if we want to prevent similar episodes from repeating themselves in the future,” Poupard said.
But he said science, too, should listen to religion.
“We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link,” he said.
“But we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism,” he said.
“The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity.”
What was just as important was this quote:
Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, director of the Vatican project STOQ, or Science, Theology and Ontological Quest, reaffirmed John Paul’s 1996 statement that evolution was “more than just a hypothesis.”
“A hypothesis asks whether something is true or false,” he said. “(Evolution) is more than a hypothesis because there is proof.”
He was asked about comments made in July by Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who dismissed in a New York Times article the 1996 statement by John Paul as “rather vague and unimportant” and seemed to back intelligent design.
Basti concurred that John Paul’s 1996 letter “is not a very clear expression from a definition point of view,” but he said evolution was assuming ever more authority as scientific proof develops.
While I’m glad the church has reaffirmed John Paul II’s statement on Evolution, we should still remain on guard for the more conservative view point which disputes Evolution and science.
In my previous entry about the AEI Forum held on October 21st, I mentioned that part 2 of the video on the C-Span site had as a speaker Father George Coyne who is the director of the Vatican Observatory and I made an inference that the Vatican was now dismissing John Paul II’s statement mentioned above. I wrote:
The second part had a priest, Father George Coyne, gave the Vatican perspective on the issue of Evolution and ID and science. To sum that up – the church shifted from past statements that said natural selection was compatible with religion to now it isn’t. (YAWN!!)
I also mentioned I hadn’t watched the entire video (it is 5 hours in length for all 3 parts). Well after reading the article that is the subject of the post today I watched the first part of Father Coyne’s talk and found that my previous comments were wrong. Father Coyne had some harsh words for the Intelligent Design crowd and pretty much repeats the context of what Cardinal Paul Poupard had to say in today’s article.
My comments were based on the intro given by someone at the forum and was a rehash of comments made in July by Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who dismissed in a New York Times article the 1996 statement by John Paul as “rather vague and unimportant” and seemed to back intelligent design.
I regret the error and have corrected my previous entry.