Oh, dear God (pun so deliciously intended):
Pope Writes on Evolution, Limits of Scientific Reason
And if there's anyone who should be lecturing us on the limits of scientific reason, it's a man who firmly believes in invisible sky monsters. Oh, yes, this is going to be entertaining. Let's read on.
Apr. 11, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI discusses the limits of the scientific method, and in particular of evolutionary theory, in a new German-language book issued on April 11.
Schoepfung und Evolution ("Creation and Evolution") represents the product of a seminar held last September at the summer papal residence in Castel Gandolfo. At that seminar, Pope Benedict and his former theology students discussed the theory of evolution in the context of the Catholic faith.
Because, I'm guessing, it would have been intellectually taxing to have discussed the theory of evolution in the context of, say, actual science. Does this mean we can discuss Catholic dogma in the context of, oh, critical thinking and logical consistency? I can hardly wait. But let us not tarry. So much crunchy, Catholic wingnuttery awaits.
In his own essay, Pope Benedict acknowledges the many advances that science has brought, but observed that scientific findings often prompt further questions which science cannot answer.
An example would have been nice but ... onward.
Reliance upon science can become a handicap, he argued, because "it tends to take away from us dimensions of reason that we still need."
Yes, that must be it -- becoming overly dependent on the scientific method tends to lead one dangerously away from rational analysis. No, really. But the best is yet to come.
The Pope went on to say that today's world needs to recover an appreciation for ultimate philosophical questions, which science cannot properly address. While the use of scientific reason is necessary and proper, he explained, that form of reason cannot address certain questions-- such as, for example, the origin of rationality itself.
Let us understand one basic and inarguable truism -- neither the Catholic Church, nor any other form of religion -- organized or otherwise -- has anything of any value to say on any subject in any context. Nothing. Nada. Squat. Zip. Sweet fuck all.
It's always amusing to watch Catholics calmly argue that, while science has, you know, its place and value, it can't address the more pressing, more philosophical or metaphysical issues of the day. Let's deal with that in two parts, shall we?
They're right about the first part. The Church has nothing of any value to say about science. It has been howlingly wrong about damned near everything related to science ever since its inception, so it's no surprise to understand that, when it comes to dealing with stuff like testability and reality and empirical evidence, the Church just flat out blows dead bears. But what about that second part?
The Church would have you believe that, where science (allegedly) falls down -- morals, ethics, stuff like that there -- the Church is ready to rush in and pick up the slack and handle all those tricky questions like: Where did we come from? Why are we here? And how does Tori Spelling keep getting work?
In fact, the Church's pronouncements on those topics are utterly and absolutely worthless. Having failed to understand and accommodate itself to even the most fundamental scientific principles, it seeks to lay claim to everything else for which it thinks it only has to wave its arms and issue sanctimonious proclamations.
Fuck off. Just fuck right off.
There is absolutely nothing about the Church that suggests it has any authority to speak on any subject and be taken seriously. One need only take a quick look back to see how they seem to be constantly apologizing for being out to lunch on so many things. You know, like Galileo. And the Crusades. And the Holocaust. And, oh yeah, there was that recent "Um, you know all that limbo stuff we've talked about for so long? Well, heh heh, funny story ...".
Perhaps no one addresses this egotistical territoriality (is that actually a word?) like Richard Dawkins in his book "The God Delusion" (p. 55, hardcover edition)
What are these questions in whose presence religion is an honoured guest and science must slink respectfully away?
Martin Rees, the distinguished Cambridge astronomer whom I have already mentioned, begins his book Our Cosmic Habitat by posing two candidate ultimate questions and giving a NOMA-like friendly answer. 'The pre-eminent mystery is why anything exists at all. What breathes life into the equations, and actualized them in a real cosmos? Such questions lie beyond science, however: they are the province of philosophers and theologians.' I would prefer to say that if they lie beyond science, they most certainly lie beyond the province of theologians as well ... I am tempted to go further and wonder in what possible sense theologians can be said to have a province. I am still amused when I recall the remark of a former Warden (head) of my Oxford college. A young theologian had applied for a junior research fellowship, and his doctoral thesis on Christian theology provoked the Warden to say, 'I have grave doubts as to whether it's a subject at all.'
What expertise can theologians bring to deep cosmological questions that scientists cannot? ...
It is a tedious cliche (and, unlike many cliches, it isn't even true) that science concerns itself with how questions, but only theology is equipped to answer why questions. What on Earth is a why question? Not every English sentence beginning with the word 'why' is a legitimate question. Why are unicorns hollow? Some questions simply do not deserve an answer. What is the colour of abstraction? What is the smell of hope? The fact that a question can be phrased in a grammatically correct English sentence doesn't make it meaningful, or entitle it to our serious attention. Nor, even if the question is a real one, does the fact that science cannot answer it imply that religion can.
Perhaps there are some genuinely profound and meaningful questions that are forever beyond the reach of science. Maybe quantum theory is already knocking on the door of the unfathomable. But if science cannot answer some ultimate question, what makes anybody think that religion can?
Exactly. Given religion's abysmal track record in things scientific, what kind of arrogance does it take for those same people to suggest that they'll do better with philosophy and metaphysics? While those of us doing science have been discovering things like the age of the universe and the secret of DNA and quantum mechanics, these are the same dingbats who are still pondering how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, or where unbaptized babies go when they die, or why bad things happen to good people, and whose best answer to all of that seems to be, "Well, God works in mysterious ways, you know."
And you're going to let these people answer the really tough questions? I'm surprised they can dress themselves in the morning without help.
IT'S ALMOST UNFAIR, but I'll go out on a limb and bet that no one who takes offense to the above will actually try to address any of the issues. You know ... like the commenter who wrote:
There's nothing quite like an open mind, is there?
Wow, that's ever so clever and witty. So ... got anything meaningful to say? Or is that about the limit of your contribution? I mean, don't intellectually strain yourself on my account.