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Saturday, November 22, 2008

First Things editor on Vatican evolution conference shutting out design theorists

In First Things (December 2008), editor Richard John Neuhaus comments on the decision not to invite intelligent design theorists like Michael Behe, author of Edge of Evolution to the Vatican conference next March:
So let's see now: The conference is strictly scientific. In that case, there would seem to be no reason for the Church to be sponsoring it, since there are numerous other institutions that attend to the strictly scientific. But then we are told the conference will also include philosophers and theologians, but only those who are rational - meaning, presumably, those who do not raise critical questions about the strictly scientific. We are told it will exclude scientific ideologues who reject that philosophers and theologians have to say about creation, history, teleology, and human nature, and will also exclude scientists who, on the basis of scientific evidence, contend, as the Catholic Church contends, for design and purpose in nature. The organizers seem to think they are being even-handed, but it is all quite confusing. One would not like to think that the purpose of the March conference is to secure for the Catholic Church a clean bill of health from Jeffrey Sachs and others who condemn any deviation from scientistic ideology as anti-intellectualism.
Actually, not inviting biochemist Michael Behe is scandalous. Behe, who happens to be a Catholic, is in no sense a philosopher; he is a biochemist, and the Darwin cult's howls of outrage against Edge are the best evidence that he is on to something and that his work should be seriously considered at such a conference.

However, I think the real purpose of the conference is precisely what Fr. Neuhaus hopes it isn't: Faith and science bores reassure each other that they are the clever ones - when they are merely the irrelevant ones.

Lots of faith and science bores are smart enough to read and understand Behe's Darwin's Black Box or Edge of Evolution (or for that matter Bill Dembski's Design Inference or No Free Lunch). But when talkng to me they they carefully avoid considering the arguments laid out therein, and utter instead some pious fatuity about God using evolution - like that was a new idea that had never occurred to anyone! And usually at considerable and entirely uncalled for length.

Come to think of it, Behe is a working biochemist, and the faith and science snooze fest might only be wasting his time.

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