Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Catholic Church is Compromising in the Wrong Direction

I have always viewed the Roman Catholic Church to be reactionary in the worst possible ways (notwithstanding that the last Pope, Pope John Paul II, seems to have been the best Pope), but this takes the cake. I couldn't believe that the RCC would compromise on such an important issue as the origins of the universe and of the species by calling "Intelligent Design" not a science and should not be taught as an alternative to Darwinian evolution.

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."

The RCC would not compromise on priestly celibacy, or the role of women in the church, the merit system of the Saints or even Papal infallibility (yes, I am aware of the qualification that infallibility only extends ex cathedra), but whoa! they are willing to compromise when it comes to calling the theory (that we all descended from just one organism in just a few billion years) as science while teaching the belief that we were created by one God as not science?

I suspect that this is reactionism, plain and simple. The RCC are recently giving the appearance that the affair with Galileo is not an instance of Papal infallibility displaying fallibility, i.e. that the Pope wasn't using his claim to Papal infallibility. But the embarassment of having Galileo, whom they tagged with the label "heretic" and had under house arrest all his life, even if it wasn't under the assumption of Papal infallibility, as being right all along may have contributed to their more recent view of keeping science and "religion" separate. In short, they are claiming the right to believe anything they want even if it is contradicted by science; in this case, their belief that the universe, and us along with it, was created by an intelligent entity called God.

This is a cunning move on their part, as most of their beliefs can be, and has been, disproved by science. Transubstantiation, for instance. By calling the belief in God as creator not science, I suspect that they feel that they can now continue with their unscientific beliefs on one hand, while on the other delve and contribute to the very science that contradicts their belief. This, in my opinion, is dishonest. And I believe that Rev. Coyne is very dishonest, if he both believes that the universe began and was developed by chance and that, after all, God "created" the world. In fact, I am curious as to what he believes "creation" is.

Which is a shame, because "Intelligent Design" is a science as much as Darwinian evolution is. Both handle the same data, both make conjectures over periods we no longer have access too, and both have tenets that we have to take on faith. We either trust that Darwin was right or wrong, and it seems that the RCC would rather have Darwin be right (with the condition that the Roman Catholic Church, within it's own sphere, can also be as right) than have the Protestants show that Darwin and the Catholic Church are wrong.