RE: Science and Religion living happily together

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Tue Feb 21 2006 - 14:06:24 EST

I believe the word religion is often used to reject some worldviews as religious while accepting others, which are on equal footing, as nonreligious and, therefore, rational and scientific. The word "religion" is used as terms like homophobic, bigot, racist, anti-Semitic, etc. are at times used to discredit legitimate stands in opposing sides.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Pim van Meurs
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 1:25 PM
Subject: Science and Religion living happily together

    Alliance Mission Statement

The mission of the Alliance for Science is to heighten public
understanding and support for science and to preserve the distinctions
between science and religion in the public sphere. We bring together
scientists, teachers and science-related companies with the many
religious bodies that have found no conflict between religion and
science. Together we work to reawaken America's love of science, and to
restore our competitive edge in science and technology.

and *Father Coyne on Catholics and science*

Father George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, presented the
following speech <url
Does Not Need God, or Does It?</url> A Catholic Scientist Looks at
Evolution," at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla.,
Jan. 31:

<quote author="Father George Coyne"><b>Abstract</b>

I would essentially like to share with you two convictions in this
presentation: (1) that the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, while
evoking a God of power and might, a designer God, actually belittles
God, makes her/him too small and paltry; (2) that our scientific
understanding of the universe, untainted by religious considerations,
provides for those who believe in God a marvelous opportunity to reflect
upon their beliefs. Please note carefully that I distinguish, and will
continue to do so in this presentation, that science and religion are
totally separate human pursuits. Science is completely neutral with
respect to theistic or atheistic implications which may be drawn from
scientific results. </quote>

George Coyne also addresses what he sees as a tragic moment in the
relationship of the Catholic church to science: namely the errors in
Cardinal Schönborn's comments in the New York Times.

    <quote>The most recent episode in the relationship of the Catholic
    Church to science, a tragic one as I see it, is the affirmation by
    Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in his article in the New York Times, 7
    July 2005, that neo-Darwinian evolution is not compatible with
    Catholic doctrine and he opts for Intelligent Design. To my
    estimation, the cardinal is in error on at least five fundamental
    issues, among others: (1) the scientific theory of evolution, as all
    scientific theories, is completely neutral with respect to religious
    thinking; (2) the message of John Paul II, which I have just
    referred to and which is dismissed by the cardinal as "rather vague
    and unimportant," is a fundamental church teaching which
    significantly advances the evolution debate; (3) neo-Darwinian
    evolution is not in the words of the cardinal: "an unguided,
    unplanned process of random variation and natural selection;" (4)
    the apparent directionality seen by science in the evolutionary
    process does not require a designer; (5) Intelligent Design is not
    science despite the cardinal's statement that "neo-Darwinism and the
    multi-verse hypothesis in cosmology [were] invented to avoid the
    overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern

Father Coyne expressed his concerns earlier in this <url

    <quote>So why does there seem to be a persistent retreat in the
    Church from attempts to establish a dialogue with the community of
    scientists, religious believers or otherwise? There appears to exist
    a nagging fear in the Church that a universe, which science has
    established as evolving for 13.7 x 1 billion years since the Big
    Bang and in which life, beginning in its most primitive forms at
    about 12 x 1 billion years from the Big Bang, evolved through a
    process of random genetic mutations and natural selection, escapes
    God's dominion. That fear is groundless. Science is completely
    neutral with respect to philosophical or theological implications
    that may be drawn from its conclusions. Those conclusions are always
    subject to improvement. That is why science is such an interesting
    adventure and scientists curiously interesting creatures. But for
    someone to deny the best of today's science on religious grounds is
    to live in that groundless fear just mentioned</quote>

Father Coyne's position on "Intelligent Design" is <url

    <quote>The director of the Vatican Observatory has lashed out at
    proponents of the theory of Intelligent Design, the Italian news
    service ANSA reports.

    "Intelligent design isn't science, even if it pretends to be," said
    Father George Coyne. He said that if the theory is introduced in
    schools, it should be taught in religion classes, not science
    classes. ANSA reported that the Jesuit priest made his remarks at a
    conference in Florence. </quote>

Fortunately, Father Coyne does not stand alone in his opinion, a Vatican

    <quote> After months of mixed messages from Pope Benedict XVI and
    his aides, the Vatican directly addressed the issue in the Tuesday
    (Jan. 17) edition of L'Osservatore Romano by reaffirming Catholic
    support for the science behind Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

    In an editorial by Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary
    biology at the University of Bologna, Italy, the newspaper said
    proponents of intelligent design improperly blurred the lines
    between science and faith to make their case that certain forms of
    biological life are too complex to have evolved through Charles
    Darwin's theory of evolution.

    "If the model proposed by Darwin is held to be inadequate, one
    should look for another model. But it is not correct methodology to
    stray from the field of science pretending to do science," Facchini

    Views expressed in L'Osservatore do not affect church doctrine, but
    the newspaper is thought to reflect Vatican thinking because its
    content is published with official approval.</quote>

Even Schonborn has <url
href="">shifted (or
clarified)</url> his position

    <quote>In a recent interview with Beliefnet in the Austrian capital,
    Schönborn set out his sometimes misunderstood views, clearly
    distinguishing between evolution and what he calls "evolutionism."
    He explained that while he believes that God is the intelligent
    designer of the universe, his position on evolution springs from a
    philosophical rather than a scientific standpoint. His main concern,
    he said, was not to denigrate evolution as a natural process but to
    criticize atheistic materialism [the idea that only matter, not
    spirit, exists] as the dominant philosophy of today's secular
    societies. </quote>

And Keith B Mille, Professor of Biology at Brown University and the
author of 'Finding Darwin's God.', <url

    <quote> The theory of evolution is not inherently atheistic. A
    random natural process can fall within God's plan for creation.</quote>
Received on Tue Feb 21 14:06:57 2006

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