Intelligent Design

Vatican Endorses Darwin – 1st Amendment Issue?

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The Vatican Newspaper published an article distancing itself from ID and (once again) embracing Darwinian Evolution.

So when should we expect some outrage from the folks at Panda’s Thumb that Darwinian Evolution is religion? They’re all over ID as unconstitutional because evangelical Christians are some of its most vocal supporters. Clearly, if they are consistent in their logic, they should now be all over Darwinian Evolution because it is supported by the Vatican. Can we expect consistent application of principles from the folks at Panda’s Thumb, the National Center for Selling Evolution Science Education, the ACLU, and other virtuous defenders of Separation of Church and State? I doubt it. Consistency has never been their strong suit.


Good comments but it got quite a bit off track over what the Catholic Church’s motivation is for taking a position on evolution. The salient point isn’t why they took a position but rather the fact they’re a church and took ANY position. Just because a religious group endorses a theory doesn’t poison that theory on establishment clause grounds. ID has been around since Aristotle. Contrary to popular belief it wasn’t invented by Jerry Falwell or Pat Roberson.

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20 Replies to “Vatican Endorses Darwin – 1st Amendment Issue?

  1. 1
    John Davison says:

    What do you expect from Time magazine? Actually the Vatican has not come out against Intelligent Design at all. A Professor from the University of Bologna, most probably a Darwinian, does not represent the Vatican. The Roman Church has been far more tolerant to alternative views on evolution than have any of its several Protestant offshoots, especially here in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Neither John Paul II nor Benedict XVI have in any way embraced Godless pointless Darwinism. Intelligent Design advocates would do well to separate themselves more completely from religious fundamentalism. I have managed and others can too.

    “The main source of the present-day conflicts between religion and science lies in the concept of a personal God.”
    Albert Einstein

  2. 2
    Tohu_wabohu says:

    From article:

    “Does all this mean the Church is divided on the controversy? Not necessarily. It may just be that Catholic leaders will conclude that intelligent design makes for bad biology, but great theology”.

    Not quite. Firstly not “catholic leaders” but evolutionary biology professor Fiorenzo Facchini plus guys from Vatican Observatory. At least few catholic leaders (probably includig pope) are ensure that in nature human mind can recognise God’s creation accordingly with catholic teaching and tradition from saint Augustin and Thomas. If I good remember Catechism of Cathlic Church (set of most important Catholic doctrines) also confirms it.

  3. 3
    lloydletta says:

    I agree – what Catholic church leaders say about the theory of evolution isn’t relevant to whether it’s a successful theory or not. I believe the point is most mainstream churches say that you don’t have to chose between science and faith. Dempski’s arguments say you do.

    The case in Dover clearly showed that the motives of the ID creationists were religious.

  4. 4
    Feederbottom says:

    DaveScot says: “Clearly, if they are consistent in their logic, they should now be all over Darwinian Evolution because it is supported by the Vatican.”

    Actually, their logic is consistent. They are against furthering ideas in science because of religious motivations. The Catholic church is not supporting Darwin’s theory for religious reasons, while many that are supporting ID are doing so because of religion. See the difference?

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:


    “The Catholic church is not supporting Darwin’s theory for religious reasons”

    Yes they are. Everything the Catholic Church does is for religious reasons.

  6. 6
    Feederbottom says:

    What is the religious motivation for the Catholics to support evolution?

  7. 7
    DaveScot says:

    It’s not merely Catholics but the Vatican. Every position the Vatican takes has a religious motivation. The salient question is why would they have any position on evolution if not for religious reasons? They have a position on abortion for religious reasons. They have a position on birth control for religious reasons. They have a position on the Iraq war for religious reasons. They don’t have a position on, for example, the quality of Ford cars and trucks because they have no religious reason to take a position on that.

  8. 8
    Kibitz says:

    None, Feederbottom. I don’t understand why this continues to be such an issue.

    The Catholic Church is not trying to paint “Darwinism” as a religion of some sort. There is no such thing in the sciences–like, there isn’t any part of physics that is “Einsteinianism” or “Planckianism”. People aren’t gods: they just discover things, and they make mistakes, and their graduate students tell them why they’re wrong, and they go on and do things better the next time. But there are no gods around. I mean, scientists do use terms like “Newtonianism” or “Darwinism”, but nobody thinks of those as doctrines that you’ve got to somehow be loyal to, and figure out what the Master thought, and what he would have said in this new circumstance and so on. That sort of thing is just completely alien to rational existence, and it’s not at all how science treats “Darwinism”.

    Why? Because that would be crazy. Darwin had some things to say, and some of them are right, and those were absorbed into later science, and some of them are wrong, and they were improved on. It’s not that Darwin wasn’t a great man–he made all kinds of great discoveries, some very smart mistakes, etc. And that’s how he is viewed by the scientific community. As soon as you set up the idea that there is a “Darwinism”, you’ve already made a huge mistake and pretty much abandoned rationality.

  9. 9
    John Davison says:

    The Catholic Church is not supporting Darwinism at all. Both John Paul II and Bendict XVI have spoken against the atheist materialism of the Darwinian paradigm. The Roman Church at least accepts evolution which is more than one can say for some of its Protestant offshoots inspired by that anti-papal anti-semitic heretic Martin Luther. Just because some Darwinian at the University of Bologna is railing against Intelligent Design doesn’t mean a damn thing to the Vatican.

    I recommend all read Thomas E. Woods Jr. book “How the Catholic Church built western civilization.” If it weren’t for the Catholic Church there might not even have been a western civilization. It was the monks in the monasteries of Europe that kept Greek science and culture alive when the pagan hordes were doing their best to destroy civilization, just as the Muslim extremists are still doing today. The Roman Church has always been the champion of real science from Galileo’s day right to the present. It remains today a voice of reason in a world torn asunder by the mindless intellectual conflict that still rages between the forces of religious fundamentalism and atheist Darwinian materialism. It will prevail in the future as it has in the past. They don’t call it the “one true faith” for nothing.

    “Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it stems from the same source… They are creatures that can’t hear the music of the spheres.”
    Albert Einstein

    If you don’t like that one try this one on for size from Thomas Henry Huxley:

    “Of all the senseless babble I have ever had occasion to read, the demonstrations of these philosophers who undertake to tell us all about the nature of God would be the worst, if they were not exceeded by the still greater absurdities of the philosophers who try to prove there is no God.”

    How do you like them stuffed avocados?

  10. 10
    Feederbottom says:

    DaveScot says: “Every position the Vatican takes has a religious motivation. The salient question is why would they have any position on evolution if not for religious reasons?”

    I’m asking you what that religious motivation actually is.

  11. 11
    DaveScot says:

    I’m afraid you’ll have to ask the Pope about that. I don’t know what the religious motivation is for them banning birth control devices either. But I’m certain the reason is indeed motivated by religion.

    Now, since I answered your question, you owe me an answer to mine.

    Why would they have any position on evolution if not for religious reasons?

  12. 12
    DaveScot says:

    puckSR is no longer with us. He was banned in December and snuck back in.

  13. 13
    DaveScot says:


    Do you think the Vatican isn’t motivated by religion in stem cell research?

    The Vatican does not take positions on issues that are not motivated by religious considerations. They are a church. The are concerned about issues relevant to their faith and interpretation of the holy scriptures. Write that down.

  14. 14
    PhilVaz says:

    DaveScott: “Clearly, if they are consistent in their logic, they should now be all over Darwinian Evolution because it is supported by the Vatican.”

    Analogy doesn’t hold. Evolution is supported by the Vatican since the Vatican supports good science and sees no necessary conflicts with faith and reason (Catechism 159, 283-284, also Vatican Council I). Except for a few hardcore atheists there, most of the Pandas’s Thumb people believe the same.

    Individual Catholics are free to accept good or bad science, whether evolution, ID, a young earth, geocentrism, or a universe created Last Thursday. Science is outside the domain of the Catholic magisterium or teaching authority of the Church, and cannot be defined by said magisterium.

    Depending how you read them, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, Cardinal Schonborn, et al can be seen supporting both evolution and “intelligent design” (lower case).

    Phil P

  15. 15
    Feederbottom says:

    DaveScot says: “I’m afraid you’ll have to ask the Pope about that. I don’t know what the religious motivation is for them banning birth control devices either. But I’m certain the reason is indeed motivated by religion.”

    So you’re asserting this without anything to back it up. I don’t see how you can be so adamant about it then. One reason contraceptives are not endorsed is because they believe that they lead to immoral behavior. It’s not so difficult to understand why they would choose such a stance.

    DaveScot asks: “Why would they have any position on evolution if not for religious reasons?”

    Because people keep bringing it up. And questions such as “How does the Church feel about evolution?” deserve answers. What I don’t understand is how you can claim that their endorsement of something that contradicts the Bible can be religously motivated.

  16. 16
    PhilVaz says:

    DaveScott: “Why would they have any position on evolution if not for religious reasons?”

    I agree with Dave that the Vatican takes a position on evolution since it seems to come into conflict with certain interpretations of Genesis, traditional Catholic doctrine about creation, original sin, evolution of man, Adam/Eve, etc, i.e. “religious reasons.”

    But a religious (or theological or philosophical) critique of evolution is irrelevant to the validity of the science and scientific data. And the Vatican accepts that as well (see the International Theological Commission statement from July 2004, paragraphs 62-70).

    Phil P

  17. 17
    Feederbottom says:

    Let me clarify what I mean.

    The Catholics are not trying to justify their religion by endorsing evolution.

    Many Fundamentalists ARE trying to use Intelligent Design to justify their religion.

  18. 18
    John Davison says:

    I just entered this forum and I have no intention of getting myself banned right off the bat. But I will say this.

    The Roman Church has always championed scientific inquiry and does to this day when the Protestant factions are denying evolution right and left. The Vatican supports organic evolution not for any religious reason but because they realize that there is no conflict between evolution and their faith. I am sick of seeing a great institution denigrated for no good reason. Those that do so are usually associated with some “off brand” sect founded by a “back slid” malcontent monk by the name of Martin Luther who is known primarily for his anal railings against the Roman Church wirh which he was once proudly associated.

    There’s no religious reason for the Roman Church to favor Ford over Chevy. And guess what, they don’t take a position on Ford vs. Chevy because there is no religious implication. On any issue with religious implication the Vatican takes a position. It’s just that simple. Evolution has religious implications, the Catholic Church talks about it because of that. This is self-evident.

    “When I pass wind in Wittenburg they can smell it in Rome.”

    He also hated Jews. So do some of his current followers as was recently demonstrated on national TV. He was a real class act don’t you know.

    Wasn’t he just precious?

  19. 19

    DaveScot Beats Up a Straw Man

    In a new post, Dembski’s faithful assistant Cato has built a perfectly inaccurate straw man and proceeded to beat the heck out of it while pretending to actually engage an argument being made by the anti-ID side. To wit: The…

  20. 20

    Can They Read?

    I am increasing concerned that the folks in the Intelligent Design creationist movement can’t read. Dave Scott on Uncommon Decent comments on the lack of reaction from the “Darwinian Evolution (sic)” community to an article in L’Osservatore Romano …

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