Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Council of Europe has backed the teaching of evolution in European schools. Here is the resolution, phrased in typically EU, secular fashion. Here is the paragraph regarding the Catholic Church:

76. In the tradition of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI now welcomes the role of the sciences in the evolution of humanity: Science has opened up large dimensions of reason that have been closed up to now and thus brought us new insights. In early September 2006, he brought together a group of former students and colleagues at Castel Gandolfo for a seminar on the evolutionism versus creationism debate. He published the conclusions of this seminar in mid-April 2007 in German under the title “Schöpfung und Evolution” (Creation and Evolution). He does not support the ideas of creationism: the creationist position is based on an interpretation of the Bible that the Catholic Church does not share. The Pope rejects both a creationism that categorically excludes science and the theory of evolution, which hides its own weaknesses and does not want to see the questions that arise beyond the methodological capacities of science. The theory of evolution is considered too pervasive by the Catholic Church, which seems above all to be worried about the influence of “social Darwinism” and the evolutionist theories concerning economic matters and medical ethics.

The draft is quite long and an interesting read. Pastafarianism is even mentioned. Paragraph 87, however, is the one that cuts to the heart of why evolutionary theory ought to be considered on its own merits:

87. Some creationist fundamentalists attack “Darwinism” and materialism by accusing them of being the “real ideological source of terrorism”. “Darwinism is the basis of several violent ideologies that brought disaster to the human race in the 20th century”. Is it necessary to point out that human beings did not await the publication in 1859 of Darwin’s work The Origin of Species to indulge in a large number of massacres? How many people have died in the name of religious wars? The use of religion, like the reference to “social Darwinism” by some dictatorial regimes, is insufficient and cannot in any way call into question the theory of evolution or religion. Social Darwinism is an ideology that claims to have been inspired by Darwin but it has nothing to do with the Darwinian theory of evolution.

Correctly stated.

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