Although nothing official has been announced, some believe that the new Roman Catholic (RC) pope, Benedict XVI, is preparing to move the 2000 year old Christian church from the middle of the "of course evolution is true" camp to a more conservative "Intelligent Design" (ID) camp. Those who predict this change see a foretaste in this week's annual conference of RC experts on science meeting at the pope's summer place outside Rome.
According to the National Catholic Reporter magazine in the US, this meeting was "to give a broader extension to the debate" between materialistic or Darwinian evolution and Intelligent Design, which argues that some features of the universe & nature are so purposefully complex that they cannot be explained by mere materialistic chance over time, but infer an intelligent designer. (This designer may or may not be God, but is in some sense logically prior to & greater than the material universe in which we find ourselves.)
The report continued quoting anti-evolutionist & RC scientist Dominique Tassot, "Even if [the Pope] knows where he wants to go, & I believe he does, it will take time. Most Catholic intellectuals today are convinced that evolution is obviously true because most scientists say so."
This week's meeting, called the Schulerkreis, has been held annually since the 1970s. Those who attend consist mostly of his former doctoral students. A leader is Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, & one of the youngest members of the Catholic Church's College of Cardinals. It was Schonborn who announced this week that the topic would be evolution & creation. Others who will weigh in include the president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Peter Schuster; the conservative ethical philosopher Robert Spaemann; & Father Paul Erlbrich, professor of philosophy at Ludwig-Maximillians University of Munich.
During the Pope's inaugural sermon he said, "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."
That article was criticized by Father George Coyne, who was the director of the Vatican Observatory in his address, the annual Aquinas Lecture on “Science Does Not Need God, or Does It? A Catholic Scientist Looks at Evolution” at Palm Beach Atlantic University, an interdenominational Christian university of about 3,100 students, in Florida on January 31, 2006. Coyne said that ID "belittles God's power & might," that "science & religion are totally separate pursuits," & that Schonborn "is in error" on at least "five fundamental issues."
Last week, August 19, Father Coyne was replaced without explanation, although the Vatican said Coyne, who has cancer, had asked to be replaced.
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26