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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Controversial Catholic Cardinal writes on evolution and purpose

Christoph, Cardinal Schoenborn, the highranking cleric who created a flap by pointing out that the Catholic Church does not in fact support purposeless evolution, has now written a book, Chance or Purpose?: Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith (Ignatius Press):

It is endorsed both by Michael Behe and Owen Gingerich:
Michael Behe, Author, Darwin's Black Box:
"Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn's 2005 essay in the New York Times, which seemingly condemned Darwin's scientific theory of evolution, ignited a firestorm of controversy. Yet the hasty responses did not look deeply enough into the Cardinal's words. Rather than the science of Darwin, it is the philosophical claims made in its name that the prelate upbraided. Science cannot speak of ultimate purpose, and scientists who do so are outside of their authority. In Chance or Purpose? the Cardinal shows that the data of biology, when properly examined by reason and philosophy, strongly point to a purposeful world."

Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and History of Science, Harvard University. Author of "God's Universe":
"Cardinal Schoenborn writes with masterful simplicity on profound theological issues. I, as a scientist and Christian outside the Catholic tradition, welcome his wisdom. He argues effectively that there are multiple approaches to reality, and he states clearly that while intelligent design is worthy of human reflection, from a scientific perspective the evolutionary model is the true story."

The above division of opinion suggests that the Cardinal is steering his way through a minefield. The book's sales are respectable.

Incidentally, I wonder what Gingerich means by "the evolutionary model is the true story"? What evolutionary model in particular? That is, does he agree with Dawkins that evolution is without purpose or with John Paul II (and Schoenborn) that it has purpose?

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