Intelligent Design

Evaluating the Pope’s encyclical, Part One: Each living creature is designed by God

Spread the love

I have been spending the past few hours reading Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato si’, alongside a document called An Ecomodernist Manifesto (sympathetically reviewed here), which was written by a group of prominent environmental thinkers and development specialists such as Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, many of whom are affiliated with a think-tank called The Breakthrough Institute. Both documents make for fascinating reading.

I had expected the encyclical to be written in that very high-flown, profound but impenetrable style that some wags have dubbed “Vaticanese” – which is the main reason by most Catholics never read papal encyclicals: they just can’t get through them. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Pope’s encyclical actually reads quite well. I have a feeling that many Catholics might actually peruse this one, quite carefully.

I hadn’t gone very far in my reading, though, when I noticed something that quite shocked me. I had assumed from my reading that the Pope, who originally trained as a chemist, was a fairly orthodox evolutionist, apart from his insistence that God had to have created the human soul. But over and over again in his encyclical, the Pope proclaimed that each and every species on Earth was personally designed by God. I’ll say more about that below – as we’ll see, it is precisely this belief which explains why species conservation is so important to the Pope.

The skinny: what does Pope Francis actually say on environmental issues?

For the benefit of those readers who are curious, I’ll be discussing the scientific, economic and moral aspects of Pope Francis’ encyclical in my next post. In that post, I’ll also be contrasting the Pope’s vision for the future of humanity with that of the Ecomodernist Manifesto. In today’s post, however, I’ll keep my remarks on environmental issues very brief. Here are the highlights (all bolding in the quotes below is mine – VJT):

(1) Pope Francis’ remarks on global warming are more cautious than I expected. He writes that “a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity” (paragraph 24), and after alluding to how warming can create a vicious cycle, causing a loss of biodiversity, the melting of polar ice-caps, the build-up of methane in the atmosphere and ocean acidification, the Pope adds: “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us” (para. 25). Pope Francis also points out that poor countries – especially in Africa – bear the brunt of the effects of global warming.

(2) Perhaps the most tendentious scientific statement in the Pope’s encyclical relates to species extinctions: “Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity” (para. 33). The Pope’s reference to “thousands” of species going extinct each year seems somewhat exaggerated: according to the most recent and authoritative estimate by Stuart Pimm et al. (Science 30 May 2014: Vol. 344 no. 6187), the current extinction rate of species is actually 100 out of every million species, per year – which means that if there are five to ten million species on Earth, about 500 to 1,000 species are going extinct every year. That’s high, but it’s not catastrophic. And even Pimm’s estimate of species extinction rates may be too high.

(3) Pope Francis forthrightly declares that we have no right to destroy living species (para. 33) – even species of microorganisms (para. 34), since they are all part of a divinely established natural equilibrium. The Pope approvingly quotes (Orthodox) Patriarch Bartholomew’s remarks on “sins against creation”: “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins” (para. 8). The Pope does not qualify his remarks here: from what I can tell, he appears to regard the intentional destruction of a species as intrinsically wrong.

(4) The Pope praises solar energy and calls for “the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources” (para. 172), but thankfully, he doesn’t condemn nuclear energy, and he wisely refrains from endorsing any specific solution to the problem of global warming. As he puts it: “On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views” (para. 61).

(5) Pope Francis seems to endorse a reduction in car usage: “Many cars, used by one or more people, circulate in cities, causing traffic congestion, raising the level of pollution, and consuming enormous quantities of non-renewable energy. This makes it necessary to build more roads and parking areas which spoil the urban landscape. Many specialists agree on the need to give priority to public transportation” (para. 153).

(6) Remarkably, the Pope says nothing in his encyclical about cutting down on meat-eating – which is odd, as the ecological footprint of meat-eaters is considerably larger than that of people who eat vegetables and fish instead. However, the Pope condemns the wastefulness of modern fishing methods, and expresses his concern that the Earth’s oceans are being over-fished.

(7) Pope Francis appears genuinely conflicted regarding genetically modified organisms (paras. 133-134), acknowledging on the one hand that they have contributed to economic growth in some regions, and that no proof exists that they are harmful. At the same time, he expresses concern that cultivation of GMOs tends to concentrate farming land in the hands of a wealthy few, impoverishing small-scale farmers, and he adds that the expansion of land devoted to GMOs places local ecosystems at risk.

(8) Pope Francis declares that the world’s prosperous countries have acquired their wealth, in part, by fouling up the environments of poor countries: “A true ‘ecological debt’ exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time. The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining” (para. 51). He adds that multinational companies feel free to do in poor countries “what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world.” To remedy this problem, he writes: “The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development” (para. 52). “As the bishops of Bolivia have stated, ‘the countries which have benefited from a high degree of industrialization, at the cost of enormous emissions of greenhouse gases, have a greater responsibility for providing a solution to the problems they have caused'” (para. 170).

(9) The Pope categorically rejects attempts to pin the blame for poverty on overpopulation, arguing that “demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development” (para. 50), and he also vehemently condemns abortion (para. 120) and embryo experimentation (para. 136). Rather, he says, it is “extreme and selective consumerism” which is responsible for poverty. At the same time, the Pope distances himself from the rosy view, advocated by some economists, that the Earth’s resources are infinite – a view which, he says, results in the planet being “squeezed dry beyond every limit” (para. 106). He continues: “The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world” (para. 161).

(10) The Pope praises “small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing” (para. 129). However, Pope Francis condemns the much larger “economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector,” as they “end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops” (para. 129).

(11) The Pope calls for “an agreement on systems of governance for the whole range of so-called ‘global commons‘” (para. 174) – especially the Earth’s oceans, which are imperiled by over-fishing. At the same time, he says, we need to “keep in mind the principle of subsidiarity, which grants freedom to develop the capabilities present at every level of society, while also demanding a greater sense of responsibility for the common good from those who wield greater power” (para. 196). Human ecology is inseparable from the common good (para. 156) and the State has the right and duty to defend the common good (para. 157). The Pope adds: “In the present condition of global society, where injustices abound and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable, the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters” (para. 158).

(12) In his encyclical, Pope Francis explicitly endorses the Precautionary Principle: “If objective information suggests that serious and irreversible damage may result, a project should be halted or modified, even in the absence of indisputable proof. Here the burden of proof is effectively reversed, since in such cases objective and conclusive demonstrations will have to be brought forward to demonstrate that the proposed activity will not cause serious harm to the environment or to those who inhabit it” (para. 186).

(13) The Pope resoundingly affirms the uniqueness of human beings, who are made in the image and likeness of their Creator, and he condemns attempts to “put all living beings on the same level,” or to “deprive human beings of their unique worth and the tremendous responsibility it entails” (para. 90). On this point, Pope Francis makes a simple yet profound observation: “When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then ‘our overall sense of responsibility wanes'” (para. 118).

(14) The Pope also condemns biocentrism as morally flawed: “Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued” (para. 118). Pope Francis also attacks what he calls “a divinization of the earth which would prevent us from working on it and protecting it in its fragility” (para. 90). The Pope is evidently no friend of the cult of Gaia.

(15) Finally, and most importantly, Pope Francis continually reiterates throughout his encyclical that we cannot overcome the current ecological crisis without a fundamental change in our spiritual attitudes towards God’s creation, and a change of heart which inspires us to change our self-centered way of life. Technology alone won’t solve the problem – for the underlying problem is a spiritual one.

The Pope’s strong views on the design of each and every living species

What really struck me, though, when I read Pope Francis’ encyclical, was his strong belief that each and every kind of creature is designed by God, and that human beings were planned by God as the jewel of His earthly creation, being made in the image of their Maker. The Pope mentions evolution only in passing:

Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. (Para. 18)

By contrast, Pope Francis’ references to God’s design of each and every living species – and in particular, the human species – pervade his latest encyclical. I shall simply list them here, in order:

…Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). (Para. 12)

In the first creation account in the Book of Genesis, God’s plan includes creating humanity. After the creation of man and woman, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen 1:31). The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26)…
The Creator can say to each one of us: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jer 1:5). We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason “each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary“.[39] (Para. 65)

The Catechism clearly and forcefully criticizes a distorted anthropocentrism: “Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection… Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things”.[43] (Para. 69)

76. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. (Para. 76)

77. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6). This tells us that the world came about as the result of a decision, not from chaos or chance, and this exalts it all the more. The creating word expresses a free choice. (Para. 77)

The Spirit of God has filled the universe with possibilities and therefore, from the very heart of things, something new can always emerge: “Nature is nothing other than a certain kind of art, namely God’s art, impressed upon things, whereby those things are moved to a determinate end. It is as if a shipbuilder were able to give timbers the wherewithal to move themselves to take the form of a ship”.[52] (Para. 80)

The Pope’s quotation in the foregoing passage is taken from Aristotle’s Physics, Book II, lectio 14. Curiously, leading Intelligent Design advocate Dr. William Dembski discusses the very same passage in his 2001 online essay, ID as a theory of technological evolution, where he remarks that “at the heart of the current debate over intelligent design is whether biological systems exhibit some feature that cannot be ascribed to nature as such but in addition requires art or design to complete what, as Aristotle put it, ‘nature cannot bring to a finish,'” and he suggests that “specified complexity is a reliable empirical marker of actual design, and that specified complexity is instantiated in actual biological systems.”

But I digress. Allow me to continue with my quotes on design from the Pope’s latest encyclical:

81. Human beings, even if we postulate a process of evolution, also possess a uniqueness which cannot be fully explained by the evolution of other open systems. Each of us has his or her own personal identity and is capable of entering into dialogue with others and with God himself. Our capacity to reason, to develop arguments, to be inventive, to interpret reality and to create art, along with other not yet discovered capacities, are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology. The sheer novelty involved in the emergence of a personal being within a material universe presupposes a direct action of God and a particular call to life and to relationship on the part of a “Thou” who addresses himself to another “thou”. The biblical accounts of creation invite us to see each human being as a subject who can never be reduced to the status of an object. (Para. 81)

“Even if we postulate a process of evolution”!!!! That’s a lukewarm endorsement if ever I heard one.

84. Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. (Para. 84)

85. God has written a precious book, “whose letters are the multitude of created things present in the universe”.[54] (Para. 85)

Lovely quote that one – enough to warm the cockles of any Intelligent Design theorist’s heart.

86. The universe as a whole, in all its manifold relationships, shows forth the inexhaustible riches of God. Saint Thomas Aquinas wisely noted that multiplicity and variety “come from the intention of the first agent” who willed that “what was wanting to one in the representation of the divine goodness might be supplied by another”,[60] inasmuch as God’s goodness “could not be represented fittingly by any one creature”.[61] Hence we need to grasp the variety of things in their multiple relationships.[62] We understand better the importance and meaning of each creature if we contemplate it within the entirety of God’s plan. As the Catechism teaches: “God wills the interdependence of creatures. The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other”.[63] (Para. 86)

When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes”.[96] (Para. 118)

Any legitimate intervention will act on nature only in order “to favour its development in its own line, that of creation, as intended by God“.[112] (Para. 132)

Just as the different aspects of the planet – physical, chemical and biological – are interrelated, so too living species are part of a network which we will never fully explore and understand. A good part of our genetic code is shared by many living beings. It follows that the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information can actually become a form of ignorance, unless they are integrated into a broader vision of reality. (Para. 138)

The Pope appears to believe that life is mysterious and inexhaustibly rich, and that we haven’t even scratched the surface of it yet.

To sum up: if I didn’t know better, I’d conclude that the Pope was an Intelligent Design sympathizer. He certainly doesn’t talk like any evolutionary scientist that I know of – certainly not like Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne or for that matter, Larry Moran, and not even like theistic evolutionists such as Kenneth Miller and Simon Conway. For while Drs. Miller and Conway hold is that while God designed the process of evolution to ultimately produce intelligent creatures, He did not design each and every species. The Pope, on the other hand, emphatically affirms that God did design each and every species – especially humans. There are no accidents; everything is planned.

Or as St. Augustine put it 1600 years ago in his City of God (v.11), in a passage that was later approvingly quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica I, q. 103, art. 5):

Not only heaven and earth, not only man and angel, even the bowels of the lowest animal, even the wing of the bird, the flower of the plant, the leaf of the tree, hath God endowed with every fitting detail of their nature.

Now we can understand why Pope Francis is so upset about species destruction: he thinks it’s an outrageous interference on our part with God’s plan for human beings and for the biosphere as a whole. God has explicitly willed the entire system of inter-dependencies which link us with other creatures. As such, species extinction constitutes a form of blasphemy on man’s part:

“Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things”.[43] (Para. 69)

84. Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. (Para. 84)

As the Catechism teaches: “God wills the interdependence of creatures. The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other”.[63] (Para. 86)

Each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself; the same is true of the harmonious ensemble of organisms existing in a defined space and functioning as a system. Although we are often not aware of it, we depend on these larger systems for our own existence. (Para. 140)

Is the Pope right in arguing that the destruction of species is intrinsically immoral? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s next exciting installment, to find out! In the meantime, the take-home point I’d like to make for today is that the kind of evolution endorsed by Pope Francis is one which would cause evolutionary scientists of any stripe – Darwinists, neutralists, mutationists (like Masatoshi Nei), “self-organizing” evolutionists (like James Shapiro), or even theistic evolutionists (like Miller and Conway) – to throw up their hands in horror. Only an Intelligent Design theorist could stomach it.

42 Replies to “Evaluating the Pope’s encyclical, Part One: Each living creature is designed by God

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    So is this the first Green Pope?

  2. 2
    buffalo says:

    The Pope agrees with IDvolution – God “breathed” the super language of DNA into the “kinds” in the creative act.

    This accounts for the diversity of life we see. The core makeup shared by all living things have the necessary complex information built in that facilitates rapid and responsive adaptation of features and variation while being able to preserve the “kind” that they began as. Life has been created with the creativity built in ready to respond to triggering events.
    Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on Earth have the same core, it is virtually certain that living organisms have been thought of AT ONCE by the One and the same Creator endowed with the super language we know as DNA that switched on the formation of the various kinds, the cattle, the swimming creatures, the flying creatures, etc.. in a pristine harmonious state and superb adaptability and responsiveness to their environment for the purpose of populating the earth that became subject to the ravages of corruption by the sin of one man (deleterious mutations).
    IDvolution considers the latest science and is consistent with the continuous teaching of the Church. http://idvolution.org

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Only an Intelligent Design theorist could stomach it.

    A word to the wise, some folk here get very touchy about careless use of the word “theory”. Multiverse is not a theory. But then, I suppose, neither is a multi-omni deity.

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    Thank you Dr V for your thoughts. Very helpful and insightful.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Not to ruffle too many Catholic feathers on UD, in fact I greatly respect the Catholics on UD, but I personally am not a Catholic, but I am a protestant born-again Christian.

    As such, I am not beholden to anything this, or any other, pope might say today, or might have said in the past.

    Justification by Faith
    “This one and firm rock, which we call the doctrine of justification,” insisted Luther, “is the chief article of the whole Christian doctrine, which comprehends the understanding of all godliness.”[1] Lutherans tend to follow Luther in this matter. For the Lutheran tradition, the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone for Christ’s sake alone is the material principle upon which all other teachings rest.[2]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Theology_of_Martin_Luther#Justification_by_Faith

    And seeing as I am not under the religious authority of Catholic popes, and do not hold popes to be infallible, but believe I am justified by Christ alone, I see even less reason to trust the current pope’s scientific convictions on Global warming.

    At the risk of ruffling even more Catholic feathers, for me the current pope’s convictions on global warming are not divine revelations. In fact, for me personally, Pope Francis, as kind and humble as he may be, is just another man stating his opinion. An opinion which I view with just as much skepticism as I do any other person’s opinion on man-made Global warming.

    The Life of Martin Luther (part 1)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56iHIhtGl4Q
    part 2
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyAwPdt48_w

  6. 6
    buffalo says:

    @bornagain77 – Encyclicals are papal letters and are not infallible.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    buffalo, so, seeing as it is not divine and is held to be ‘fallible’, exactly what authority is it suppose to carry?

  8. 8
    buffalo says:

    This encyclical is consistent with standard Catholic teaching and the Pope is reminding us to be good stewards of the gift of creation.

    Authority? It is written by the Pope so we should pay attention. He is calling attention to a current issue. Being Christian yourself there should be no real conflict. Global warming aside, we are still polluting the earth and should be concerned not to overdo it. Common sense as I see it.

    BTW, I do not believe the climate alarmists.

  9. 9
    buffalo says:

    @bornagain77 Infallibility only applies when the Pope is speaking on faith and morals. From the Catholic Catechism:

    891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,”419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

    892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent”422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

    Catholic teaching is dependent on Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. A three legged stool topples if any leg is taken away. In this wy the deposit of faith by Christ is protected from error.

    Over the entire life of the church there are very few infallible statements.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    “It is written by the Pope so we should pay attention,,”

    and

    “I do not believe the climate alarmists.”

    Yet, from my nose bleed seat of the whole situation, it seems the pope has joined the ‘alarmist’.
    At least that is how the liberal media seems to be reading his encyclical.

  11. 11
    buffalo says:

    A lesson I have learned, never listen to the liberal media about the Church or the Pope. Go right to the source and judge yourself. The liberal media will always spin it the way it suits them. Just look at the way they spun the “who am I to judge” statement.

  12. 12
    mike1962 says:

    Why are you bringing up the Pope? Who cares?

  13. 13
    vjtorley says:

    Hi bornagain77,

    You are entirely correct when you write that “the current pope’s convictions on global warming are not divine revelations.” No Catholic would say that they were, and Pope Francis may well be mistaken on this point.

    Leading Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin says the same thing in a recent blog post here:

    11) Does the encyclical oblige Catholics to believe in manmade global warming?

    I’ll have more to say about this once the final, official, English version is out, but the short answer is no.

    The idea that the planet is getting warmer and the idea that we are responsible for that are both empirical propositions that belong to the domain of science.

    As a result, they are matters of science and not of faith…

    The Church has the responsibility to urge appropriate responses to what the best science available has to say on matters impacting mankind and the world under man’s care, and Pope Francis thinks that present science is sufficiently in favor of manmade global warming to urge cuts in greenhouse gasses, but if you think that the best science points in a different direction, you are not bound in faith to believe a particular scientific viewpoint.

    Hope that helps. By the way, here’s a book you might find interesting:

    http://johnthelutheran.tumblr......d-forms-of

  14. 14
    Mapou says:

    So now we have it for all to see in broad daylight. The Pope can now be clearly seen for what he is, a con artist of the worst kind, just like all the others before and after him. The Church of Rome is in bed with all the invisible a-holes and assorted powers in high places who rule the nations of the world and keep us at each other’s throats in ceaseless competition.

    My warning to the Pope is this. Some dude named Elijah or other is prophesied to come and restore all things. As Shakespeare would say, “I think he’ll be to Rome as is the osprey to the fish, who takes it by sovereignty of nature.”

    Just saying.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Torley, thanks for clarifying that. I’ll refrain from listing books that counter yours and will only point out that no man, or institution, especially the Catholic church, has a monopoly on dictating how Christ chooses to bestow salvation upon people.

    Verse:

    John 14:6
    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  16. 16
    EvilSnack says:

    Apparently Francis missed the part where Peter tells us that some of the wild beasts were made to be caught and destroyed. (2 Peter 2:12).

  17. 17
    computerist says:

    The Church of Rome is in bed with all the invisible a-holes and assorted powers in high places who rule the nations of the world and keep us at each other’s throats in ceaseless competition.

    There is no doubt that humans are slaves to the system.
    It’s astonishing to think about how world wars throughout history were started merely by a handful of crooked individuals concocting and propagandizing while deciding the fate of indispensable millions.
    The catholic church has been around for a while and has definitely done wrong doing (speaking as a catholic myself), but it’s nowhere near the evils of established systems such as the federal reserve or central banking systems, which ensure that we remain slaves to their system forever through whatever means including but not limited to controlling and manipulating the financial/market economy.
    IMO, we will never truly identify the “powers in high places”, the system is naturally too complex for anyone to truly decipher, in addition to the added designed layers meant to confuse and misdirect the masses.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT, I can pause a moment now that events have abated. Good work as usual. On Tech and sci transfer I favour the consideration of the ideas in the Global Village Construction set, as a point of departure. A sort of open source industrial revo 3.0, with then the elaboration of specifics on branched projects, some open some for profit on value added. Sort of like what happened with Linux etc. Later, KF

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT:

    May I pick up a point from above:

    he says, it is “extreme and selective consumerism” which is responsible for poverty

    I would echo my dad [who first discussed such with me] and others, that poverty and subsistence level existence are a more or less natural state, it is wealth and widespread prosperity that need to be explained and properly understood. Then, we need to see how to better and more fairly meet needs today; with due regard also to meeting needs tomorrow, in light of impacts on bio-physical, socio-cultural and economic contexts, resources, trends, potential shocks and hazards etc.

    (For those who did not spot it, I have here expanded the 1987 Bruntland/ WCED statement of the sustainable development principle. In turn that principle is patently ethical, tied to Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and onwards has links to the Golden Rule. This then speaks to issues of responsible, rational freedom and our being under moral government. With onwards worldviews import.)

    I think I should do some stuff on such themes for UD later {all of this comes together . . . ], DV, but for the moment let’s say that valuable and marketable ideas soundly executed by effective entrepreneurs, financiers and managers joined by capable work forces working on specialisation and division of labour, have much to contribute. For this, we need sound governance with good law, especially on property and on management of the community. Linked, monetary and fiscal policy through the macro-economy, have impacts for good and ill.

    I also think we are in a Kondratiev long wave pause, with implication that we are looking to a new generation of technology.

    Where energy and money, two powerful cross cutting issues, are vital — these have played a major role in the crises of the 1930s, the 1970s and since 2007/8.

    Keep up the good work.

    Moretime

    KF

  20. 20
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Excellent work by VJT – thank you.

    We’ve had a few comments from people who don’t like the Catholic Church or Catholicism in general, but is there disagreement on what the Pope had to say?

    “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins” (para. 8).

    Aside from the species-destruction thing, much of what was said is not new. Catholic teaching has always forbidden wastefulness, destruction of the environment and lack of concern for the effect we have on others. As a loyal American, I can admit that there’s a lot of wastefulness and arrogance in American culture and that has caused misery for less wealthy nations.

    On this point, Pope Francis makes a simple yet profound observation: “When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then ‘our overall sense of responsibility wanes’” (para. 118).

    That sums up dozens of arguments we’ve had against materialism here on UD over the years. The only difference in Vatican teaching is that Pope Francis is a little more explicit in pointing out the obvious problems with Darwinism and materialism in general. That’s a pastoral change – in past decades, Church leaders tried to find some pathway to reconcile aspects of Darwinian-nihilism. But today’s cultural environment requires a more direct, less subtle teaching.

    “It is as if a shipbuilder were able to give timbers the wherewithal to move themselves to take the form of a ship”.

    Without the shipbuilder, they’re just timbers and there’s no ship.

    “Even if we postulate a process of evolution”!!!! That’s a lukewarm endorsement if ever I heard one.

    Catholic Darwinists are not going to be happy with that.

    if I didn’t know better, I’d conclude that the Pope was an Intelligent Design sympathizer. He certainly doesn’t talk like any evolutionary scientist that I know of

    Exactly. I saw quite a lot of positive support for the ID argument — all put forward in a very prominent document which will get a worldwide audience.

    It’s one of those ingenious devices that the Jesuits learned long ago — speak the language and issues of the current culture, and subtly embed within it the pure message of the Gospel.

    It’s a little unfortunate that some of my ID friends put more focus on animosity towards Catholics than on the ID message that this encyclical contains. I mean, if an atheist supported ID, would you first explain why you hate atheists? Or would you see it as an important endorsement?

  21. 21
    harry says:

    Kairofocus @19

    I would echo my dad [who first discussed such with me] and others, that poverty and subsistence level existence are a more or less natural state, it is wealth and widespread prosperity that need to be explained and properly understood.

    That is an interesting perspective. What then needs to be explained and properly understood is this: It seems that nothing has ever before in the history of the world brought more prosperity to more people than the combination of freedom of the press and people, representative government, the separation of powers in that government, a reasonably regulated free enterprise system, a healthy tension between capital and wage labor, and a basic morality maintained by the populace and supported by law.

    There is no recipe for utopia, at least not it this life, but it seems that Americans got something right there for a while. Things started falling apart when America developed an entrenched ruling class, a self-serving, godless oligarchy, which has been undermining the formula for overall prosperity for quite some time now. Currently, things aren’t looking too good.

    The main cause of poverty in the world is self-serving ruling classes, who misuse the coercive power of government, and abuse the legitimacy of government to further their own personal interests and to keep themselves in power instead of using governmental authority and power for the common good. Yeah, I know, talking about the “common good” is using foul language to some libertarians. ;o) But such libertarians, as much as they may have right — and they do get a lot right — are dead wrong when they deny that the government is obliged to protect and serve the “common good.”

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    H

    Waiting on a pickup.

    Absent the technology, liberty of reliable ownership and protection of property rights, stable means of exchange etc, we tend to revert to a natural state that reads a lot like Malthus suggested.

    Institutional arrangements connected to modern liberty and democracy, to tech progress, to sci progress etc are all relevant. And should be taken with balance and in light of the sorts of issues being put on the table today.

    Rapacity and abuses by the powerful, given our general moral struggle, are to be expected.

    That is a good slice of why I believe in constitutional, limited govt; democratic, accountable self-government.

    Also in responsible freedom and rationality.

    All of which are in the stakes in the debates that swirl in and around this blog.

    KF

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    SA, I make no excuse for what others may have said, but I did not say that I did not like the Catholic church. Nor did I say that I hate Catholics. In fact, I said the opposite of that and said that I greatly respect Catholics on UD.

    No animosity or hatred in that statement at all!

    What I did say is that I, as a Protestant Christian, am not under the authority of the Pope or the Catholic church in general.

    Is it hateful for me to question his claim, or the Catholic churches claim, of authority over me as a Christian?

    In fact, I am, if He will have me under his authority, under the authority of Christ alone! And am certainly not beholden to any man or institution for the gift of eternal life that is found in Christ alone!

    Moreover, I’m all for God spreading the message of Christ however He see fits. Whether it be by Catholic or Protestant means. Or whether it be by Christ Himself answering simple prayers for help. As he answered my simple prayer for help years ago and continues to answer those simple prayers to this day.

    In fact I much prefer that means of salvation, i.e. personal revelation through prayer, most of all over salvation by established religion (indeed if salvation is even possible apart from personal revelation?).

    With all that being said, although I’m all for good stewardship of the earth, (I did grow up in the sixties by the way), I question the pope’s claim that global warming is the result of human activity.

    “for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate”

    IMHO, the empirical science simply does not support his claim.

    Dr Don Easterbrook Exposes Climate Change Hoax – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LkMweOVOOI
    In no ordinary presentation, Dr. Easterbrook (Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University) bombards the committee with an overwhelming arsenal of data and observations contrary to the theory of anthropogenic global warming. As the Internet jargon goes, this is a “must listen.”

  24. 24
    harry says:

    Silver Asiatic @20

    It’s a little unfortunate that some of my ID friends put more focus on animosity towards Catholics than on the ID message that this encyclical contains. I mean, if an atheist supported ID, would you first explain why you hate atheists? Or would you see it as an important endorsement?

    I am reminded by your remark of Pro-Life activists from all denominations learning to be unified with each other for the sake of the cause. As for the Pro-Life movement: We all have the Spirit of Christ in common. That should be more than enough to allow us to work together. As for the ID movement: In its own way it is dealing with the same issue as the Pro-Life movement. And for the Christians among us, again, we have more than enough in common to continue working together. We know who it is who would ultimately be behind a “divide and conquer” strategy used against the ID movement. We would be stupid to fall for that.

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    in addition to the added designed layers lawyers meant to confuse and misdirect the masses.

    Fixed it fer ya!

  26. 26
    Silver Asiatic says:

    BA – I didn’t mean your comments. I was talking about Mapou who is over-the-top in his characterizations, and it seemed like there was some piling on. Hatred was too strong a word for it in any case. My mistake.

    There’s certainly room for respectful debate, on our denominations or climate change or other things.

    As harry mentions @24, and I hope to take it to heart, we should all work together to support ID and not let other things weaken the message.

  27. 27
    Silver Asiatic says:

    harry – very good point on the Pro-Life movement. Locally, I have seen so much success from that. Protestants and Catholics working together in a very friendly way – helping and volunteering in each other’s organizations and many things like that. It doesn’t mean that we agree theologically, but we just stay focused on the issue and that way we walk together in the same direction.

  28. 28
    harry says:

    @Silver Asiatic,

    I have had the same experience. No series of meetings among high-powered theologians from various denominations has ever accomplished anything close to the progress that has been made by Christian activists of various denominations in ecumenism, i.e., restoring the wholeness of the dismembered Body of Christ on Earth.

  29. 29
    Axel says:

    It is inconceivable that Francis – any rational Christian – would not believe in intelligent design, with initial capital and not. Inconceivable. Truly.

    It was only attention to detail required to monitor the life of a fruit fly or microbe that he seemed to baulk at earlier; wrongly, it seems to me. I don’t see why an infinite, omnipotent Creator should lack a kind of autonomic level of intelligence, such as tells us when to breathe an and out, etc., to make Him truly omniscient.

    As regards the wilful extinction of species being an offence against God’s beautiful, providential dispositions, this seems a similar theme to the proscription against the abortion of an individual human being – despite the providential exceptionalism of mankind as being made in the image of God.

    BA77: I have immense respect for the intelligence and wisdom of Francis, but I question everything in the least bit tendentious he says. In fact, that’s why I have inordinate respect for his views in a general way. Why not hold your animus towards the Catholic church at least in these kind of matters in abeyance, and judge the issues on a case by case basis, entirely on appraisal of their merits.

    You are puzzled why Popes are revered. Well I’m not a papal ‘groupie’, as I left the church in infancy and only returned to it in my twenties. However, despite my criticisms of the institutional church, which I suspect would be at least as vehement as yours, and much broader in scope, the plain fact of the matter is, that, although it has respected worldly intelligence far too much imo, it has produced many major intellectuals in the very history of thought, from the time of the early Fathers onwards.

    I nevertheless take my hat off to the Lutherans, as apparently does Francis, for their intellectual stature in terms of modern scientific discovery. Pity about Lemaitre, but you can’t win ’em all.

  30. 30
    Axel says:

    ‘I would echo my dad [who first discussed such with me] and others, that poverty and subsistence level existence are a more or less natural state, it is wealth and widespread prosperity that need to be explained and properly understood. Then, we need to see how to better and more fairly meet needs today; with due regard also to meeting needs tomorrow, in light of impacts on bio-physical, socio-cultural and economic contexts, resources, trends, potential shocks and hazards etc.’

    KF, this is an inversion of Christ’s priorities. Francis has it right. If the poor are not prioritized, not from sentimentality, but because they are special in God’s eyes (where your treasure is there your heart is). Jesus was murdered because in the eyes of the religious leaders, his concern for justice (while aimed for fruition in the long term, not revolution) threatened their own socio-economic standing.

    As Augustine remarked, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” The poor neither covet (in a purposeful sense), nor need, wealth any more than the rich need ever greater enrichment.

    But they are entitled to food, clothing and shelter, as a minimum. I would add: were this consumer kind of society to persist, a modicum of disposable income as well, if only for the economy to flourish, albeit within Christian constraints.

  31. 31
    Axel says:

    St Ambrose stated the matter this way:

    ‘It is not from your own possessions that you are bestowing aims on the poor, you are but restoring to them what is theirs by right. For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. Thus, far from giving lavishly, you are but paying part of your debt.’

    But here is a page on Catholic social teaching:

    http://www.catholicsocialteach.....poverty-2/

  32. 32
    computerist says:

    in addition to the added designed lawyers meant to confuse and misdirect the masses.

    Fixed it fer ya!

    Thanks, can’t argue with that.

  33. 33
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Nicely done, Axel. Wealth shouldn’t be hoarded — and one thing that caused a lot of revolution and war in the past, land shouldn’t be hoarded and closed off from future generations.

  34. 34
    Axel says:

    Thank you, SFox.

    Your last line sounds interesting:

    ‘….land shouldn’t be hoarded and closed off from future generations.’

    I’m not sure if I understand you that well, though. Do you mean, only sold leasehold?

    It may have been changing a little recently, I’m not sure, but for a long time there has been no land register in the UK. Vast tracts (relative to the size of the UK) of land owned by toffs, in particular have simply not been surveyed and registered, and I may have got this wrong, but I believe even their ownership is not open to public scrutiny. Seems/is really feudal.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    SA, I think all land should return to the original owner after seven years and all debt should be forgiven every 50th year.

  36. 36
    asauber says:

    As a practicing Catholic and someone who maintains respect for Pope Francis, I offer the following review after scanning Laudato Si:

    This encyclical is a dud. It’s almost like Papa just wanted to impress himself, and forgot to put in something to instruct the Faithfull spiritually. There is almost nothing in it of value. Some bits and pieces, maybe.

    Andrew

  37. 37
    Axel says:

    vjt, I wouldn’t discount the possibility that Francis might have been apprised of or personally noted the unequivocal, scientific evidence against Evolution, enunciated, point by point, by Cornelius and BA77.

  38. 38
    buffalo says:

    “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” Cardinal Newman.

  39. 39
    wallstreeter43 says:

    I’m absolutely delighted to finally see a pope speak this friendly (even if he doesn’t directly say ID) towards ID. Hopefully my fellow catholics can take notice and allow those doors to open further . I already planted the seeds of ID in the minds of my 2 nephews to the point where they are now stuck between theistic evolution and ID.

    Interesting how bland the pope is when speaking on evolution as well.

    I can see kenneth miller pulling his hair out , whatever hair he has left 😉

  40. 40
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Asauber, I’d say his writings on Life and how it was DESIGNED brings great value to people! especially our youth who are constantly bombarded with the secular view of evolution .

  41. 41
    asauber says:

    wallstreeter43,

    That’s why I was careful to say ‘almost nothing’. But the bulk of the encyclical is modernenviornmentalistspeak.

    Andrew

  42. 42
    buffalo says:

    Pope Benedict: Easter brings us to the side of reason, freedom and love “It is not the case that in the expanding universe, at a late stage, in some tiny corner of the cosmos, there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it. If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature. But no, Reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine Reason.” – http://idvolution.blogspot.com.....ative.html

Leave a Reply