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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 30 2006,08:38   

Intelligent Design belittles God, Vatican director says
By Mark Lombard


Catholic Online

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Catholic Online) -- Intelligent Design reduces and belittles God’s power and might, according to the director of the Vatican Observatory.

Science is and should be seen as “completely neutral” on the issue of the theistic or atheistic implications of scientific results, says Father George V. Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, while noting that “science and religion are totally separate pursuits.”

Father Coyne is scheduled to deliver the annual Aquinas Lecture on “Science Does Not Need God, or Does It? A Catholic Scientist Looks at Evolution” at Palm Beach Atlantic University, an interdenominational Christian university of about 3,100 students, here Jan. 31. The talk is sponsored by the Newman Club, and scheduled in conjunction with the Jan. 28 feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Catholic Online received an advance copy of the remarks from the Jesuit priest-astronomer, who heads the Vatican Observatory, which has sites at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, and on Mount Graham in Arizona.

Christianity is “radically creationist,” Father George V. Coyne said, but it is not best described by the “crude creationism” of the fundamental, literal, scientific interpretation of Genesis or by the Newtonian dictatorial God who makes the universe tick along like a watch. Rather, he stresses, God acts as a parent toward the universe, nurturing, encouraging and working with it.

In his remarks, he also criticizes the cardinal archbishop of Vienna’s support for Intelligent Design and notes that Pope John Paul’s declaration that “evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis” is “a fundamental church teaching” which advances the evolutionary debate.

He calls “mistaken” the belief that the Bible should be used “as a source of scientific knowledge,” which then serves to “unduly complicate the debate over evolution.”

And while Charles Darwin receives most of the attention in the debate over evolution, Father Coyne said it was the 18th-century French naturalist Georges Buffon, condemned a hundred years before Darwin for suggesting that “it took billions of years to form the crust of the earth,” who “caused problems for the theologians with the implications that might be drawn from the theory of evolution.”

He points to the “marvelous intuition” of Roman Catholic Cardinal John Henry Newman who said in 1868, “the theory of Darwin, true or not, is not necessarily atheistic; on the contrary, it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of divine providence and skill.”

Pope John Paul Paul II, he adds, told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1996 that “new scientific knowledge has led us to the conclusion that the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis.”

He criticizes Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna for instigating a “tragic” episode “in the relationship of the Catholic Church to science” through the prelate’s July 7, 2005, article he wrote for the New York Times that “neo-Darwinian evolution is not compatible with Catholic doctrine,” while the Intelligent Design theory is.

Cardinal Schonborn “is in error,” the Vatican observatory director says, on “at least five fundamental issues.”

“One, the scientific theory of evolution, as all scientific theories, is completely neutral with respect to religious thinking; two, the message of John Paul II, which I have just referred to and which is dismissed by the cardinal as ‘rather vague and unimportant,’ is a fundamental church teaching which significantly advances the evolution debate; three, neo-Darwinian evolution is not in the words of the cardinal, ‘an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection;’ four, the apparent directionality seen by science in the evolutionary process does not require a designer; five, Intelligent Design is not science despite the cardinal’s statement that ‘neo-Darwinism and the multi-verse hypothesis in cosmology [were] invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science,’” Father Coyne says.

Christianity is “radically creationist” and God is the “creator of the universe,” he says, but in “a totally different sense” than creationism has come to mean.

“It is unfortunate that, especially here in America, creationism has come to mean some fundamentalistic, literal, scientific interpretation of Genesis,” he stresses. “It is rooted in a belief that everything depends upon God, or better, all is a gift from God. The universe is not God and it cannot exist independently of God. Neither pantheism nor naturalism is true.”

He says that God is not needed to explain the “scientific picture of life’s origins in terms of religious belief.”

“To need God would be a very denial of God. God is not a response to a need,” the Jesuit says, adding that some religious believers act as if they “fondly hope for the durability of certain gaps in our scientific knowledge of evolution, so that they can fill them with God.”

Yet, he adds, this is the opposite of what human intelligence should be working toward. “We should be seeking for the fullness of God in creation.”

Modern science reveals to the religious believer “God who made a universe that has within it a certain dynamism and thus participates in the very creativity of God,” Father Coyne says, adding that this view of creation is not new but can be found in early Christian writings, including from those of St. Augustine.

“Religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly.”

He proposes to describe God’s relationship with the universe as that of a parent with a child, with God nurturing, preserving and enriching its individual character. “God should be seen more as a parent or as one who speaks encouraging and sustaining words.”

He stresses that the theory of Intelligent Design diminishes God into “an engineer who designs systems rather than a lover.”

“God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world which reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity,” he said. “God lets the world be what it will be in its continuous evolution. He does not intervene, but rather allows, participates, loves.”

The concludes his prepared remarks noting that science challenges believers’ traditional understanding of God and the universe to look beyond “crude creationism” to a view that preserves the special character of both.

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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 30 2006,09:50   

Father Coyne is scheduled to deliver the annual Aquinas Lecture on “Science Does Not Need God, or Does It? A Catholic Scientist Looks at Evolution” at Palm Beach Atlantic University  
Great! Let's hope PBAU's Stephen Meyer is in the audience.

Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.


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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 30 2006,14:43   

There are a few Coyne lectures online here and there, I've watched 2 of them. His above remarks summed up the 2 lectures I watched and I assume he's just going to give another lecture essentially identical to the 2 I watched online.

Coyne is not really a catholic, he's essentially a disciple of Teilhard De Chardin. De Chardin was a priest whose books were banned by the church (I think) and he was pretty much demonized by the vatican. Still he has his followers, especially amongst the Jesuits. In fact the Jesuits celebrate De Chardin as one of their heroes the last time I checked out their website.

What De Chardin and Coyne (and others) are trying to do is reinvent christianity (I'm not a christian). De Chardin is famous for his Omega Point theology and Coyne seems to more or less parrot it. To De Chardin "God" and the "Universe" are "evolving" towards an apotheosis i.e the omega point. That philosophy has it's roots in Kabbalism and other esoteric philosophies.

What De Chardin and his disciples have been doing for many years is to try to do away with catholicism and replace it with their bizarre esoteric beliefs (The billion dollar Templeton foundation seems to be close with Coyne and has sponsored investigating Omega Point doctrine with Coyne and the catholic church in vatican city or elsewhere in Italy) . I am no fan of christianity but I do know what the theology and philosophy is and what it is not. These people see themselves as prophets who want to do away with traditional catholic and mainstream christian belief.

From the article:

"He stresses that the theory of Intelligent Design diminishes God into an engineer who designs systems rather than a lover."

This is typical of these types of "philosophers". To them god is more like "the force" in star wars theology then an actual thinking, willing, intellectual, single conscious entity. Why does seeing God as a scientist and builder/designer "diminish" God? It is not stated why a "loving" bystander view of God is more appreciative of God then seeing God as an interested active participant. It's just mindless nonsense (but spoken with a specific objective and purpose in mind). Coyne's vision of God is of a "loving" something or other. God "loves" but doesn't get involved. It's kind of like saying to your children "I love you, but I'm not really interested in dealing with your life except to send you good vibes. So don't expect any help in feeding yourselves or in paying the rent, I'm just about love. If I were to do anything to help you  then that would diminish me"

To him a God who gives you life, a planet to live on, food to eat, etc, is less of a noble being then a God who does nothing but sit back and send you good vibes?

What Coyne is trying to do is change the personalist theological viewpoint of the catholic church and of christianity in general into an impersonalist theological  viewpoint. His God doesn't do anything but send out good vibes. His God didn't set in motion evolution of species or the universe. According to his philosophy the universe and all life came about by a completely unguided "drive towards complexity", which is inherent within the matrix of the universe. His God is not really a thinking conscious intelligent entity. Rather it's a kind of universal "love" blob. His beliefs are somewhat similar to the Advaita Vedanta religion in India. Their concept of God is called Brahman. Brahman is an impersonal divine force of some unknowable ineffable variety e.g another "love" blob floating around.

The difference between Advaita Vedanta and Coyne and De Chardin is the idea of the evolving God/evolving universe towards an apotheosis in the future. The Advaita school has no such belief. They believe that Brahman is something which is beyond our comprehension until we reach enlightenment, and that the "world" is not evolving towards an apotheosis.

They believe people are evolving towards an apotheosis over many lives. Once reaching that apotheosis or "moksha" or "mukti", they teach that the individual soul will then realize his/her essential oneness with Brahman. At that stage the individual soul no longer indentifies with his body, his humaness, his identity as Mr. or Mrs Smith.

Upon elightenment they believe the soul leaves behind all tempory designations and conceptions and then merges or experiences the true eternal absolute oneness of the wholeness of eternal infinite divine joy which is self identification with the eternal divine Brahman.

Brahman is the totality, the unchanging infinite "divine" reality of the universe. After reaching that stage they believe that they willl transcend this world of mortality and attain to the same nature as Brahman. Essentially they view God as an impersonal divine force/substratum of the universe,  and they see our souls or consciousness as being of the same nature as Brahman. In our illusioned state of consciousness we identify this temporary existence we experience as all there is to our existence. We identify with our bodies, our egos, our minds, our families, our nations, our species, our planet etc. They teach that the nature of the "material world" is that of constant change and suffering,  contrasted to the nature of Brahman which is eternal, blissful, and changeless, like ourselves. Instead of their God being a love blob who is evolving along with the universe towards an apotheosis, they believe that God is a changeless love blob which is the  supramundane underlying matrix of our existence which we are destined to merge into in some ineffable divine manner for an eternity of unending ananda or bliss.

I don't subscribe to Advaita Vedanta, nor Christianity. Coynes views are closer to Advaita Vedanta then Christianity, with the addition of a little Kabbala thrown in and a few other bits and pieces from the so called "western mystery schools".

Just a few thoughts :D

When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmm, boy. Once my friend told me that he had found Jesus. I thought to myself, "WooHoo, we're rich!" It turns out he meant something different. -Jack Handey

  2 replies since Jan. 30 2006,08:38 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  


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