January 19, 2006

"It is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science."

The official Vatican newspaper opposes teaching Intelligent Design as science:
"If the model proposed by Darwin is not considered sufficient, one should search for another," Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, wrote in the Jan. 16-17 edition of the paper, L'Osservatore Romano.

"But it is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science," he wrote, calling intelligent design unscientific. "It only creates confusion between the scientific plane and those that are philosophical or religious."


Ricardo said...

"It is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of representing God (pedophile scandals) while pretending to represent God."

Dave said...

Ricardo's point is a good one.

But re ID: who has accused the Catholic Church of supporting ID? So far as I am aware, the principal proponents of ID have been evangelical Christians, who share a decidedly different worldview than Catholics.

Henry said...

Good for the Vatican.

Ricardo's rephrasing of the Vatican's point is just rudimentary business analysis: focus on your core mission.

P. Froward said...

Ricardo, I've read your comment three times, and I can't for the life of me imagine what your point is. Are you saying that "Intelligent Design" is a good idea after all, as long as the Church has the pedophile problem? That's a non sequitur. Are you saying that professors of evolutionary biology are required to believe in ID if they happen to be members of an imperfect organization? That's not merely a non sequitur; it's also loony because all organizations are flawed.

Or are you just telling us you don't like the Church, just more or less for the heck of it.

I dislike broccoli intensely, by the way. Just so you're in the loop on that one.

sonicfrog said...

This case, where a class was offered teaching ID, has been getting some attention here in Fresno (Frazier Park is about 2 1/2 hours south of here). It doesn't indicate this in the article, but I thought the class was billed as a philosophy class instead of science to try to avoid this conflict. I guess that didn't work. I'm not sure how I feel on this one. If the class is an elective and doesn't replace the science class, I don't see a big problem. But I'm not sure how you can take a simple concept like "We don't understand everything, so that means God created it" and stretch it out over a four month term without teaching directly from the Bible. I do think you must have more latitude to teach about religions than the state gives. After all, how on Earth do you teach about history if you can't teach about religion. It has been the motivation behind so much of man's machinations. The key question is - how much control over curriculum should the state have vs local government?

Elizabeth said...

In New Orleans' local discussion groups, the topic is, not surprisingly, the mayor's remarks about a "chocolate" city. Lots of bigots have crept out of the woodwork, including the one who in all seriousness, informed us that after Cain killed his brother, he left for the land of Nod, where he mated with a gorilla and that made Africans.

This is what we're going to get with Intelligent Design in the classroom: stupid, self-serving, harebrained theories from people happy to be relieved of the rigors of science.

P. Froward said...


Lots of people have abused evolutionary theory for racist purposes.

And it's simply ridiculous to try to pretend that all ID-enthusiasts as cretinous white supremacists. They aren't. People can be wrong about one thing without being wrong about everything. You, for example, are wrong in your belief that the politics of fear is what this country needs most. Yet you're not wrong about evolution. See how that works?

Elizabeth said...

P., you make some astounding assumptions. I didn't say that all ID backers are racist. I offered an example of how pseudo-science is used to advance a foolish point of view. Giving ID credence will mean more of this type of thinking, from any number of points of view. That's not a politics of fear. You could argue that pointing to the flaw in any ideology is a politics of fear, but that would be the politics of silliness.

P. Froward said...

Elizabeth: Uhhh... Right.

If you take the most extreme case the human mind can conceive of, and you hold that up as an example of "what we're going to get" if something happens, that's called "scare-mongering". The polite thing to do when you give freakish edge-case examples is to disclaimer it with something like "obviously this is a freakish edge case and has no actual bearing on what I'm really talking about".

The attitude you appeared to have seems to be orthodox "common sense" in some circles. I'm glad to hear you don't see it like that, but the sad truth is that lots of people do.

I certainly agree ID has no place in schools, and you're may be right that it'll be liable to breed more nonsense in the same vein. Then again, a lot of scientifically illiterate people who do believe in evolution seem to think that talking about "science" in hushed and respectful tones makes them somehow "scientific" too — but the truth is that you can blindly accept orthodox scientific opinion about evolution and still believe an incredible amount of utter howling crap. Have you looked at the checkout-line magazines in a Whole Foods Market lately? Or the herbal remedy aisle? I rest my case. No wonder they get so hostile. To the limits of their understanding, it's just one incomprehensible orthodoxy against another. They should worry less: Objective reality's not going anywhere.


What a lot of people fail to grasp is that this debate is not about punishing ID people for being the "Other". It is about teaching real science accurately and engagingly. Hating these folks is useful for the former but not the latter.

Elizabeth said...

P., you won't face an argument from me that healing crystals are scientifically sound. I'm glad you live somewhere where the guy I cited is a freakish, on the edge example. He's not, unfortunately, here in the Deep South. Did you miss the news earlier this week where our mayor said God sent the hurricane to punish black people for the failures? IDs just another element of this infortunate tendency to make confident claims about metaphysical beliefs. I'm happy to see the Vatican highlight the line between science and fantasy.

AlaskaJack said...

Re:Elizabeth's meeting

Funny, I was at another meeting where a neo-Darwinist informed us that compassion for the weak is due to a regressive gene because it violates Darwin's law of the survivial of the fittest. In no uncertain terms, he told us that the lesson that we had all better learn from evolution is that justice is the will of the stronger.

Is this what we are going to get with neo-Darwinism in our schools?