Sunday, November 13, 2005

The evolution of religious criticism of science

The Pope on Creation: (from the AP. No surprises here)
Pope Benedict XVI has waded into the evolution debate in the United States, saying the universe was made as an "intelligent project" and criticizing those who say its creation was without direction. .... He quoted St. Basil the Great as saying that some people, "fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance."
Op-Ed: Our Faith in Science by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.
This is very interesting, for in the middle of an otherwise thoughtful, balanced and progressive article, the Dalai Lama slips in this scary sentence:
Yet the ramifications of [the progress in science, esp. genetic manipulation] are such that it is no longer adequate to say that the choice of what to do with this knowledge should be left in the hands of individuals.
I am really curious about what alternatives he has in mind.


Anonymous said...

Well, these two quotes are interesting. In fact, as far as I can understand, the C. Church's opinion of evolution is that it's up to scientists to decide. Unlike some protestant streams, the Catholic point of view is that God's work was done to set the universe in motion, and most of what happened later progressed physically. Of course this is far from making them totally pro-science, and that "most" bit is a problem (not to mention the idea of setting the universe in motion).
As for the Dalai Lama, while the head of a very tolerant religious sect compared to some we know, he certainly must back many religious ideas that don't appeal to the western secular scientist. The Chinese acts in resettlement of Tibet may be very intrusive and wholly unjustified, but a religious reign in Tibet isn't that amazing an idea either. At least the interaction that the Tibetan leadership has now had with the west may help mellow it a bit. I'm sorry if what I'm saying isn't PC, but the Dalai Lama is treated differently by most secular thinkers than almost any leader of a religious group, and not always for the right reasons.

Anonymous said...

Well, well. What happened before the "creation/bigbang/whatever-there-was-in-the-begining"
really is not a scientific question.
Proof is left as an excercise of the reader. :-)

So, the question is more philosophical
in nature. I don't belong to C. Church,
but if Gilad's comment is true, then I don't see any problem in their view of evolution.

Anonymous said...

I actually agree with the other two commentators. The Pope made a philosophical statement backed up by philosophical not scientific sources. I do not see how he waded into the "evolution debate", because he hasn't said that science should pursue any other than natural explanations.

As for the Dalai Lama, I believe that what he meant was not controversial. He probably was referring to the ethical aspects of new areas of research such as stem cell research etc. and saying that the decisions about what research is ethical cannot be left to scientists as individuals, and society has a right to regulate it. This position is widely supported.