Oct 022008

The Vatican has announced it will host an “Evolution Congress” as a part of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s “Science, Technology and the Ontological Quest” project. This is to mark the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s landmark work, The Origin of Species.

Phillip Sloan, a professor at Notre Dame, told the press conference the evolution debate, “especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence … and the discourse has suffered accordingly.”

See? They’re here to help! And you can tell they’re serious because they are planning to exclude creationists and “intelligent design” advocates (but I repeat myself). After all, these religionists are intellectually respectable, unlike all those biblical literalists:

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers “wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific” and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.

He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite” supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

(Yes, it isn’t obvious how ID Creationism isn’t theological, being a product of religious dogma.) But here’s what should be catching everyone’s attention: they also said that “the other extreme of the evolution debate — proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection — also were not invited.”

Of course. We wouldn’t want our science to be too scientific at a “strictly scientific” conference, would we? What a charade.

It’s tragic that all the church has to do is invite the zillions of conflicted, disintegrated people who consider themselves to be both religious and scientific. Many would jump at the chance to help the church pretend to be intellectually respectable. And the church will absolutely hit the jackpot with any nonreligious scientist stupid or unprincipled enough to show up and wrap them in the mantle of reason and science.
But try as they might, there’s simply no getting around the fact that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible. Maybe some day the church will drop their fantasy of faith and reason being complementary means to knowledge, like the two wings of a bird.
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