Thursday, April 19, 2007

Celibate German octagenarian unconvinced by evolutionary theory

I don't want to get into the habit of bitching about the Pope, but his holiness certainly says some dumb things for someone who is supposed to be an omniscient god's representative on Earth. Benedict and a bunch of his theologian mates have gotten together and written their reflections on life, the universe and everything in a book called Creation and Evolution. I haven't actually read the book because it's in German but I have read enough articles about it to suggest that the idea of the Pope and a group of theologians gathering to discuss the legitimacy of evolution would be the most pointless thing that has ever happened in the history of the world. Before I start ranting I think it's important to stress a point which seems to have escaped some people: there is no serious debate about whether or not evolution occurs, has occurred in the past and will occur in the future. Evolutionary theory is the central concept of all branches of biological science. Contrary to what the Pope believes, the theory of evolution is "a complete, scientifically verified theory". It is verified again and again over all disciplines of science from genetics to palaeontology to medicine to molecular biology. And before anyone starts defending the Pope's credibility as a debater note that he argues: "10,000 generations cannot be brought into the laboratory". Well, bugger me! Suddenly the foundations of evolutionary theory are coming crashing down around me! You can't bring a black hole into a laboratory either Benedict but I don't hear Catholics declaring that they're not real. You know what you can bring into a laboratory? Fossils of dinosaurs with feathers, fish with limbs and hominids with features of both humans and apes. I would have thought that the Pope and his team of crack theologians would have been aware of some of these basic facts when they decided to embark upon this venture. The thought of these people deliberating on evolution and creation is both hilarious and deeply depressing. Presumably all they were working out was exactly how much harm evolutionary thinking does to the first-century text that they live their lives by. They certainly weren't evaluating any scientific evidence (Do 'theologians' even know what scientific evidence is? What the hell do theologians do anyway?). The only people that are unconvinced by evolutionary theory are religious believers who are threatened by the thought that they weren't created by god breathing life into dust. There is no debate about the subject amongst the scientific community. The scariest thing is that the Pope actually sounds quite reasonable when compared to the beliefs of a large segment of Americans - results of a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 53% of Americans believe that god created man in our present form exactly the way the bible describes it. A Newsweek poll asked the question "Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community?" to which 39% of respondents said 'no'. Obviously, the scientific community needs to get out there and start really marketing evolution to the masses before we lose all our funding and start getting burnt at the stake by people who think that the entire universe was created around the time of the domestication of the dog. And christ knows we are not helped by a man who has a significant influence over millions of people world-wide declaring that he thinks the theory of evolution has significant gaps. "Not that I want to cram dear God in those gaps — he is too big to find enough space in those gaps," he said. How do we fill these gaps in our knowledge? Through diligent research, experiments and fieldwork done with an attitude of intellectual honesty, or by pouring through the bible and trying to find answers in a bronze-age book written by desert nomads who thought that the Earth was flat? I'll tell Pope Benedict where he can cram his dear god...

SBS World News article about Pope Benedict's opinion on evolution

3 comments:

Roger said...

Scientiststs (paleontogolists to be precise) found a fossilsed shoe once, thereby disproving a greater part of your "darwinist" beliefs.

Filthy darwinist.

What about the Australian Catholic archbishop or whatever he is rallying against the evidence for climate change? That's in a sense more embarrassing, I feel. You sort of expect backwards thinking from the Pope when it concerns the creation of the world and all living, &c.

hala said...

Hey i heard the popes giving away a coke and mars bar to his alter boys. If you ask me that dudes alright!

Hannah said...

Hmm... Pope is bribing altar boys now...

I'm with Roger on the climate change thing - not because it's more embarrassing but because the consequences are more frightening. It's probably more important to dwell on where it is we're going than where we came from, and while I'm not into anthropocentrism I definitely give a stuff about the whole planet self-combusting.