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Creation and evolution back on the Pontiff’s agenda


Professor Ratzinger goes back to school. After Islam last year, Darwin topic this year

Evolution will be the focus of the upcoming seminar between the pope and his former students in Castel Gandolfo. Meanwhile, Jesuit scholar Christian W. Troll has updated his analysis of progressive Muslim thinkers

by Sandro Magister
ROMA, August 2, 2006 – This year’s Ratzinger-Schülerkreis seminar will focus on “Schöpfung und Evolution”, creation and evolution. The private meeting is set for Saturday, September 2, and Sunday, September 3, at the Pontifical Villa in the pope’s summer residence of Castel Gandolfo (see photo).

The Ratzinger-Schülerkreis, that is the ‘Ratzinger Students’ Circle’, brings together once a year the old theology professor, now pope Benedict XVI, and his former students to discuss a new topic every year.

The first such meeting was held when Joseph Ratzinger was still a professor in Regensburg. Once he became archbishop of Munich, his students asked him to continue and he accepted. When he moved to Rome to take up the post of prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the annual event continued. Typically, meetings were held at a monastery over a weekend. When the 2004 meeting ended, participants left already knowing the following year’s subject: the concept of God in Islam.

When in the spring of 2005, cardinal Ratzinger became pope, his former students thought that their annual tradition would stop, but were proved wrong. Thanks to Benedict XVI, the annual meeting was held last year and so it will this year.

Next September 2, professor Peter Schuster, president of the Österreichichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, the Austrian academy of sciences, and cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and theologian, will open the discussion on creation and evolution. Among the participants, there will also be Jesuit Paul Erbrich, professor of the philosophy of nature in Munich, and Robert Spaemann, professor of political philosophy and one of Germany’s foremost experts on modernity.

On July 7, 2005, “The New York Times” ran an article by cardinal Schönborn on the same topic which was read around the world.

But the subject is not foreign to Benedict XVI either. As pontiff he touched upon it last April 6 when he addressed young people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for World Youth Day. “Science,” he said in answering a question, “presupposes the trustworthy, intelligent structure of matter, the ‘design’ of creation.”

In preparation of the coming seminar, the members of the Ratzinger-Schülerkreis can also find insight in an article that appears in the latest issue of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” a Jesuit journal published in Rome under the control and with the authorization of the Vatican secretariat of state.

In his article “L’evoluzione dei viventi: il fatto e i meccanismi [The Evolution of Living Things: Facts and Mechanisms],” Jesuit Giuseppe De Rosa looks at the debate among scientists over Darwinism and neo-Darwinism. In his conclusion, he writes that “while most scientists accept natural selection and random genetic mutation as valid processes, others who also accept evolution deny that the mechanisms identified so far are sufficient to explain it.”

SOURCE: http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=75381&eng=y

Ofro:"However, I doubt that your idea would pass an experimental test. Such a test is easily done, and therefore must have been done long ago: put the different finch species on the same diet and see what happens." Well, that's exactly the kind of experiment I had in mind. But, are Darwinists inclined to do these types of experiments? Probably not. It would be interesting to find out if they've done it (it should have been done). Ofro, you say a 'mutation' is likely. But that is a rather, let us say, 'convenient' mutation. And then it 'mutates' back. That's convenient, too. It makes more sense to me that some kind of signalling is taking place; that some kind of interactive mechanisms are at play between species and the environment. But, we'll see. Dr. Davison, remember that Goldschmidt found that the oddball moth in some Oriental 'cline' (coloration and pattern) was due to a different soil being present in the particular habitat of that oddball species. PaV
#9 PaV: Your idea of how food could influence beak size by manipulating CaM levels through what is present in the food, is a valid starting hypothesis. Calmodulin is a cellular protein that senses intracellular calcium levels, and a such is one signaling molecule in a chain of several or many components. However, I doubt that your idea would pass an experimental test. Such a test is easily done, and therefore must have been done long ago: put the different finch species on the same diet and see what happens. Rather, the suggestion from these experiments is that a mutation somewhere is changing the CaM levels and thus the signal strength that governs beak growth. Mind you, CaM is not the only factor that may control beak growth, since CaM only affected beak length but not width. ofro
Pav in comment 9 I don't beleve in the epigenetic implications as they are purely Lamarckian. More important, if such a situation were true it would have ben verified long ago by animal breeders. The proof would be in the pudding. If transmitted skeletal features can be modified through diet let us prove it experimentally. This Darwinians seem always loathe to do. There is a natural range of variation in beak size and the variations exhibited by Darwin's finches probably reflect the weather and its effect on the vegetation and the seeds on which these finches feed. In any event these transformations are phasic and reversible, something true evolution has never been so I dismiss the whole business as of no evolutionary significance. Compare the trivial differences in Darwin's finches with what can be demonstrated with dogs and goldfish. Those differences have nothing to do with evolution either. "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
If you want to know what the Pope will hear and see, look at this PDF of the 2005 presentation by Peter Schuster at http://www.tbi.univie.ac.at/~pks/Presentation/compiegne-05.pdf If you are able to contradict his presentation, then you may want to give the info to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn Archbishop of Vienna. THIS WILL BE AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT MEETING FOR ID. idnet.com.au
Dr. Davison: This is from the Aug 3rd issue of "Nature": "Our results indicate that local upregulation of the CaM-dependent pathway is likely to have been a component of the evolution of Darwin's finch species with elongated beak morphology and provide a mechanistic explanation for the independence of beak evolution along different axes. More generally, our results implicate the CaM-dependent pathway in the developmental regulation of craniofacial skeletal structures." So, for example, if CaM (Calmodulin--related to Ca++) levels are affected by the type, or amount, of seeds that are eaten, is this just some simple feedback mechanism at play, and not really RM+NS? PaV
I studied Peter Schuster's Power Point slides, (all 102 of them). He is convinced that RM+NS has been demonstrated in the lab to generate complexity. They use RNA polymerase and a starting RNA sequence and show that after many random changes there are "sub species" of RNA that differ in numbers and shape. This does not demonstrate what is claimed. It shows that sopme RNA sequences can be copied faster than other RNA sequences and that different RNA sequences fold in different ways. This is not RM+NS producing specified complexity. idnet.com.au
Doug They are no longer derisive of me at Panda's Pathetic Pollex. Elsberry has decreed that my name no longer be mentioned, much to my delight. Alan Fox actually admitted that he dare not mention my name there for fear of bannishment. Isn't that precious? As I used to say on my blog. I love it so! John A. Davison
I'm actually glad Dr. Davison is back on Uncommom. While they might be derisive towards him on PT I think he has more to add than most do. Doug
Dr. Davison: what is your opinion regarding environmental effects having a kind of 'epigenetic' effect as a 'replacement theory' for RM+NS? PaV
There is no question that Darwinian mechanims MAY be operating in the role of fine tuning species to minor environmental changes but they have played no role whatsoever in the origin of species, genera, orders, classes, phyla or kingdoms. All those transformations came from within the relatively few organisms that were capable of producing offspring progressively different from themselves. The entire Darwinian myth is based on the unfounded assumption that creative evolution had an exogenous, testable, verifiable cause. That cause cannot be demonstrated because it does not now and never has existed. "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
I hope the Pontiff's word helps the Catholics realize how important the question of origins is. Me being from a nation predominantly (nominal) Catholic, would love if the Creation/ID/Evolution debate was kindled in here. Mats
Is there any update from cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna that would give us a hint on what he will be saying? Professor Peter Schuster wrote the following Evolution in Simple Systems and the Emergence of Complexity Peter Schuster University of Vienna, Austria here http://www.comp.hkbu.edu.hk/IAT05/speaker/?index=speech Abstract Evolution, understood as the powerful interplay of reproduction, variation, and selection, represents an excellent tool for optimization in populations of simple and complex entities even under conditions where only limited information is available. The principle underlying this optimization heuristic was discovered and formulated already by Charles Darwin. In the nineteen-sixties evolutionary optimization became an intensively investigated topic. Experimental studies on evolution in the test-tube [1], mathematical analysis based on chemical reaction kinetics [2] as well as development of computer models and extensive simulations [3] provided detailed insight into the process on the molecular level: A repertoire of variants, called the molecular quasi-species, is created through error-prone reproduction and selection chooses among these variants those which have the highest reproductive success. A striking feature of the Darwinian optimization heuristic is its universal applicability. It is operative in ensembles of very simple systems like nucleic acid molecules and it is similarly successful in populations of highly complex entities, for example animal or human societies. The explanation of the success is straightforward: Selection at the population level is based exclusively on the mean numbers of fertile descendants in forthcoming generations, and therefore all mechanistic details of reproduction and variation are irrelevant for the survival of variants. idnet.com.au
This scientist accepts random mutation and natural selection as valid processes as well. Both are anti-evolutionary and entirely conservative, serving only to preserve the status quo, bring creative evolution to a standstill, and typically play a role in eventual extinction which is all that we now see. Without past extinction there could never have been evolution. Evolution is finished and has been for a very long time. "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison

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