Separation of Church and Science

Someone I really respect has said Excluding science in the name of God isn’t salvation, it’s laziness.  And that’s true.  It’s also true that excluding God in the name of science isn’t reasoning, it’s mere arrogance.

Here’s Richard Dawkins, on the idea that evolution is “random chance”:

That’s ludicrous. That’s ridiculous. Mutation is random in the sense that it’s not anticipatory of what’s needed. Natural selection is anything but random. Natural selection is a guided process, guided not by any higher power, but simply by which genes survive and which genes don’t survive.

And about why some intelligent people are religious:

It’s certainly hard to know what to make of it. I think it’s a betrayal of science. I think they have a religious agenda which, for reasons best known to themselves, they elevate above science.

And on the realization that some people despair at the meaninglessness of natural selection and random mutation:

If it’s true that it causes people to feel despair, that’s tough. It’s still the truth. The universe doesn’t owe us condolence or consolation; it doesn’t owe us a nice warm feeling inside. If it’s true, it’s true, and you’d better live with it.

Emphasis, mine.  Don’t know about you, but I see arrogance in the words.  I’d quote Christopher Hitchens here if it more examples were needed.

It was about 400 years ago that there occured in Rome an historically momentus event – the Church, the “keeper of all truth” (and at the time, most knowledge), found it couldn’t contain within it’s walls one particular man with a particular idea and the means to prove it to be true.  The war between Galileo and the Catholic Church was less a war than a political power struggle, and it drew a bright line for all Europe to see between faith and reason, and between science and religion.

It’s too bad that these were seen as opposites and in conflict, because it didn’t have to be that way, and I don’t think they should be seen that way.

So guess who is making overtures to the other side in this great debate?

Four hundred years after it put Galileo on trial for heresy the Vatican is to complete its rehabilitation of the great scientist by erecting a statue of him inside the Vatican walls. The planned statue is to stand in the Vatican gardens near the apartment in which Galileo was incarcerated while awaiting trial in 1633 for advocating heliocentrism, the Copernican doctrine that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Nicola Cabibbo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and a nuclear physicist, said: “The Church wants to close the Galileo affair and reach a definitive understanding not only of his great legacy but also of the relationship between science and faith.”

You may not be aware that this rapprochement has been going on for awhile.  The main stream press isn’t covering it very well.

The Vatican’s repentance over its treatment of Galileo began in 1979, when John Paul II invited the Church to rethink the trial of Galileo.

And despite opposition, not from inside the Church, but from outside, it continues under Benedict XIV.

In January Pope Benedict XVI called off a visit to Sapienza University, Rome, after staff and students accused him of defending the Inquisition’s condemnation of Galileo. They cited a speech he made at La Sapienza in 1990, while still a cardinal, in which he quoted a description of the trial of Galileo as fair. The Vatican said that the Pope had been misquoted.

I guess they don’t think it’s all that important.

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