Monday, September 04, 2006

NY Times Spins the Pope and Evolution: Robert Bennett, Ph.D. Comments

Robert Bennett is the co-author of Galileo Was Wrong and a member of the advisory council of the Kolbe Center for the study of Creation.

Quotes from New York Times, September 2, 2006, Ian Fischer. Responses from Robert Bennett, Ph.D.

Professor-Turned-Pope Leads a Seminar on Evolution
They meet every year, the eminent German professor and his old doctoral students, for a weekend of high-minded talk on a chosen topic. For years it was nothing more than that.

But now the professor, once called Joseph Ratzinger, has become Pope Benedict XVI. And this year, for three days beginning Friday, the topic on the table is evolution, an issue perched on the ever more contentious front between science and belief.

And so the questions rise as the meeting unfolds at a papal palace just outside Rome. Is this merely another yearly seminar? Or is the leader of the world’s billion Roman Catholics signaling that he may join in earnest the emotional debate over evolution, intelligent design and all that might mean for politics and faith, especially in the United States?
[Robert Bennett] The topic was chosen by the seminar participants last year, with the Pope's concurrence, of course. If there is any 'signaling' being done, it's by them, not the Pope.

There is no way to know immediately, though many church experts believe that the pope has fewer problems with the science of evolution than with its use to wipe God more cleanly from a secular world. No document will be published afterward, no news conference given.

But the seminar comes after a year particularly fraught over the issue of evolution, in America — with the fight over intelligent design — and in the church. Last year a leading cardinal, who will speak at the meeting, expressed doubts that Darwinism and Catholicism were compatible, and the pope declared the creation of the universe an “intelligent project.”

And so scientists and believers from around the world, on all sides of an extraordinarily charged debate, are watching the meeting carefully.

Proponents of intelligent design, defeated in a high-profile court case last year in Pennsylvania, say they are pleased that their ideas, which posit that life is so complex that it requires an active creator, may get a fair hearing in the lofty circles of Professor Ratzinger’s seminars.
[Robert Bennett] Will the seminarians be pleased that ID pleads ignorance on the Designer's identity?

“I think this is indicative of an opening and expansion of the discussion, the discussion over Darwinism and evolution generally,” said Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, one of the main proponents of intelligent design. “It’s very helpful to our desire to see an expanded dialogue in many quarters.”

On the other side, scientists and theologians who support evolution say they worry that, even inadvertently, the church may be driving a wedge between itself and science.
[Robert Bennett] There can be no wedge between the true Church and true science, only between that Church and modernist science. (see Fides et Ratio). Unfortunately the modern Church and the science of modernism are very comfortable with each other.

“If for some reason the Catholic Church gets on the wrong side of the science, then it’s going to in the long term do huge damage, just as it did when they went against Galileo,” said Lawrence M. Krauss, chairman of the physics department at Case Western Reserve University and a highly visible opponent of intelligent design. “It threatened their credibility.”
[Robert Bennett] Dr. Krauss was a leader of the modernists screaming for a papal correction of Cardinal Schoenborn's NYTimes article which seemed to support creationism. Since then Vatican damage control has acceded to his wishes.
But the evolution issue is obviously still seen as a threat to the accommodation of the Church to mod sci.

So the devil's drumbeat continues : the modernist claims of credibility invariably return to the strawman of Galileo vs. geocentrism. One can take it to be the logo of modernism, its defining mark and the signature stamp of the demon, the bludgeon by which orthodox dissent is beaten into silence.
[Mark Wyatt: Note that Dr. Krauss was also a source for Dru Sefton's little rampage against Robert Sungenis]

“Because like it or not,” he added, “evolution happened.”
[Robert Bennett] A firm and unquestioned tenet of the Constantly Revised Modernist Church - CRMC
The meeting opened Friday morning at Castel Gandolfo, a papal palace that stands as a sort of symbol for the church’s coexistence with science. Castel Gandolfo houses a world-class observatory — with a telescope that Pope John Paul II enjoyed looking through — built a century after the church acknowledged its mistake in condemning Galileo for his postulation that planets revolve around the sun.
[Robert Bennett] As this is the NY Times speaking, my friends say it must be the truth. But does anyone recall this acknowledgment or its date?

Technically, by using lower case 'church', Fisher could be referring to any religious congregation, not the Church. A convenient ambiguous out, but inconsistent with common usage.

Similarly, the church has moved from neutrality to something like acceptance of evolutionary theory, though drawing a thick bottom line that God is the ultimate creator.
[Robert Bennett] That bottom line seems to be getting thinner every day.

In 1996, Pope John Paul declared evolution “more than a hypothesis,” and in 2004 as Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict endorsed the scientific view that the earth is roughly four billion years old and that species changed through evolution. Indeed, there has been no credible scientific challenge to the idea that evolution, the foundation of modern biology, explains the diversity of life on earth.
[Robert Bennett] More of the stock weapons of modernism are displayed, treating papal opinions as dogmatic dictates by "natural selection" of two of their voluminous public statements.

The deceptive art of the NYTimes is seen clearly in the last sentence. Is this thought that of the two popes that preceed it? Only a phrase from the popes is directly quoted, out of context.

Is this falsehood the interpretation of the reporter, placed so as to imply it reflects papal thinking?

Given that history, scientists and church experts say they cannot imagine the study session ending with any alignment of the pope or the church with intelligent design or American-style creationism, which often posits that Earth is only about 6,000 years old...
[Robert Bennett] Elimination of creation consideration as a possibility is attempted by the pre-emptive statement implying its acceptance is unimaginable.