Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Religion vs. science, round 397

Pope Benedict has waded into the evolution vs. creationism debate:
Pope Benedict XVI said the debate raging in some countries — particularly the United States and his native Germany — between creationism and evolution was an “absurdity,” saying that evolution can coexist with faith.

I always get pretty nervous when he does this. Unlike Pope John Paul II, Benedict has not shown that much respect for science, particularly when it runs up against his personal dogma. Within the first year of his becoming pope, his top lieutenant Cardinal Schönborn denigrated evolution then turned around and backtracked somewhat. Benedict does a much better job of keeping to John Paul II's clear-eyed position on the matter, but even so, he still tries to shoehorn theology into the science itself, saying, "while there is much scientific proof to support evolution, the theory could not exclude a role by God." Well, of course not. Science cannot legitimately include or exclude "God" because "God" cannot be measured or quantified. Science can only measure and quantify that which can be measured and quantified. I believe it's perfectly acceptable to view science through a religious worldview. If the observer is being honest, the facts won't change, even if the observer's belief influences their understanding. There are Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, atheist and agnostic scientists doing great work today in everything from evolutionary biology to cosmology, and while their spiritual view of the universe may differ significantly, the underlying science is a shared understanding. But saying that science itself is somehow deficient because it doesn't include metaphysics is like saying a cheeseburger is lessened by the fact that it doesn't solve Fermat's last theorem.

No comments: