Catholic Church Moving away from Evolution
Well, this was just a matter of time, I guess. As the Catholic church continues its march to the right, it is now laying the groundwork to turn its back on evolution. Catholic schools have long been supporters of teaching evolution, in many communities putting the public schools to shame with significantly more rigorous science standards and with clear language supporting Darwinism. The New York Times reports on the fallout from an op-ed it ran:
Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, a theologian who is close to Pope Benedict XVI, staked out his position in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Thursday, writing, "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not."
In a telephone interview from a monastery in Austria, where he was on retreat, the cardinal said that his essay had not been approved by the Vatican, but that two or three weeks before Pope Benedict XVI's election in April, he spoke with the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, about the church's position on evolution. "I said I would like to have a more explicit statement about that, and he encouraged me to go on," said Cardinal Schönborn.
He said that he had been "angry" for years about writers and theologians, many Catholics, who he said had "misrepresented" the church's position as endorsing the idea of evolution as a random process.
Opponents of Darwinian evolution said they were gratified by Cardinal Schönborn's essay. But scientists and science teachers reacted with confusion, dismay and even anger. Some said they feared the cardinal's sentiments would cause religious scientists to question their faiths.
Thankfully, Times reporters Cornelia Dean and Laurie Goodstein don't fall into the common trap of thinking they need to present the anti-Darwinists as if they have a legitimate scientific case. They give their readers the facts:
Darwinian evolution is the foundation of modern biology. While researchers may debate details of how the mechanism of evolution plays out, there is no credible scientific challenge to the underlying theory.
Dean is the Times' science editor, and I think she's probably the country's best science journalist. Goodstein is a religion reporter who has recently covered the Air Force Academy scandal and Billy Graham's final crusade. I hope the Times keeps putting them on this important story.