Vatican Against Intelligent Design


According to the New York Times, the Vatican is signaling its support for science:

The official Vatican newspaper published an article this week labeling as "correct" the recent decision by a judge in Pennsylvania that intelligent design should not be taught as a scientific alternative to evolution.

"If the model proposed by Darwin is not considered sufficient, one should search for another," Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, wrote in the Jan. 16-17 edition of the paper, L'Osservatore Romano.

"But it is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science," he wrote, calling intelligent design unscientific. "It only creates confusion between the scientific plane and those that are philosophical or religious."

The article was not presented as an official church position. But in the subtle and purposely ambiguous world of the Vatican, the comments seemed notable, given their strength on a delicate question much debated under the new pope, Benedict XVI.

Advocates for teaching evolution hailed the article. "He is emphasizing that there is no need to see a contradiction between Catholic teachings and evolution," said Dr. Francisco J. Ayala, professor of biology at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Dominican priest. "Good for him."

In 1996, Pope John Paul II issued a message to his Pontifical Academy of Science which declared,

"[N]ew knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. [… de nouvelles connaissances conduisent a reconnaitre dans la theorie de l'evolution plus qu'une hypothese.] It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory."

While it's not ex cathedra, John Paul II's message seems a clear endorsement of evolutionary biology was the explanation of how the diversity of life arose on earth.

The chief promoter of intelligent design, the Discovery Institute, dismisses the article, saying that it's just "trying to put words in the Vatican's mouth."

Pope Benedict XVI, how about an encyclical telling the Discovery Institute to "go stuff it"?