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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Updated!: Pope uses term "intelligent design" in talk on origin of universe, life

It appears, from a reliable source, that the Pope used words in Italian that mean "intelligent design" in a recent address. In other words, the functionally equivalent term that North American intelligent design advocates use. This means, in turn, that he appears unconcerned about the risks of being identified with them.

In that case, the Pope was signalling clearly that intelligent design of the universe and life is indeed the correct Catholic view. (That does not mean that the Catholic Church necessarily endorses any specific hypothesis about where the design is to be found, as in, for example, the motor-like bacterial flagellum).

Cardinal Schonborn, who first argued early in July in the New York Times that the Catholic Church could not support Darwinism is translating the Pope's term as "intelligent design" on his own Web site. (See below for link.)

Here's some spin that Catholic News Service fell for, according to which nothing has really happened. We live in interesting times, when media people - far from the usual accusation that we inflate stuff - actually go out of their way to persuade the public that nothing is happening. What that usually means is that the media are on the wrong side of the changes.

Also, Here's another take, this time from the Scientific American blog, signed by sci boffin John Rennie, assuring us that the Pope's decision to identify with the term "intelligent design" is no great matter, and advising us that the Pope is going to have to back down, otherwise Rennie will be "disappointed." The Pope, of course, has no higher authorities than SciAm boffins to consider.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

(Note: You might want to look at this, which ran early Friday, before my first source phoned.)


Why you read Blogs ....

While all this is happening in the real religious world, major US media are following holy moonbat Pat Robertson who has announced that hereafter the Almighty might not hear Dover, Pennsylvania's cries for help during a disaster because "You just rejected him from your city." Essentially, the town had turned out to defeat the eight Dover school board members who had involved the town in a lawsuit over the teaching of intelligent design. Those poor Dover ratepayers can't win for losing because if they hadn't turfed those councillors, I would myself have sicced the High Goddess of Fiscal Vengeance on them. See, anyone can play at Holy Moonbat, even me. Now back to the important religious story ...


My original source from yesterday afternoon told me by phone that, now that translations have been checked,
He apparently did use the term "intelligent design." Whoever was translating from the Italian had "intelligent plan" in one case and "intelligent project" in another. But he is standing right with Cardinal Schonborn and there are several photographs on the wire about their meeting that day and on the previous day. On the Cardinal’s Web site he specifically says that the Pope supports Cardinal Schonborn's positon. It says he spoke of "intelligenten plan" in German (and in parenthesis it says in English "intelligent design"). This has been confirmed by his office and and it's all over this Web site and the media have missed it. It was a talk of creation based on an analysis of the Psalms done by Pope Paul II. At the end of it, he speaks of being able to understand God’s creation through reason alone and then he refers to it as "intelligent plan", and "intelligent design" of the cosmos.

Cardinal Schonborn states on his Web site that the Pope supports him ("Pabst stützt Position Kardinal Schönborns"), and he helpfully offers that the German "intelligenten Plans" means "intelligent design".

If there is an English translation, I am not seeing it yet, but here's a picture of Benedict XVI and Schonborn in B16's study. It doesn't look like B16 thinks Schonborn has done anything wrong or bad.

Here's the German:

According to Schonborn,
Papst Benedikt XVI. unterstützt die Position von Kardinal Christoph Schönborn in der Auseinandersetzung um den Evolutionismus. International hat größte Beachtung gefunden, dass der Papst am Mittwoch, 9. November 2005, bei der Generalaudienz,- an der Kardinal Schönborn an der Spitze der sterreichischen Bischofskonferenz teilnahm, in seiner Meditation zum Psalm 135 ausdrücklich vom "intelligenten Plan" des Kosmos sprach. Der Begriff des "intelligenten Plans" ("intelligent design") hatte auch den Aufsehen erregenden Meinungskommentar des Wiener Erzbischofs in der "New York Times" vom 7. Juli 2005 geprägt.

My German's rusty, but it seems to mean
Pope Benedict XVI supported the position of Cardinal Christoph Schonborn in the explanation of evolution. It has met with great international attention that the Pope, on Wednesday, November 9, 2005, at a general audience, - at the close of the Austrian Bishops' conference, in which Cardinal Schonborn took part, in his mediation on Psalm 135 - spoke explicitly about the "intelligent design" [plan, project] of the cosmos. The idea of "intelligent design" ["intellegenten Plans"] had also resulted in a controversial op-ed by the Viennese Archbishop, published in the New York Times, July 7, 2005.

Fair enough for the German, but did the Italian really mean "intelligent design"?

One source I heard from Saturday afternoon comments:
"All'inizio la Parola creatrice - questa Parola che ha creato tutto, che ha creato questo *progetto intelligente* che è il cosmo - è anche amore".

"At the beginning, the originator Word, which created all things, which created this *intelligent design*, that cosmos is, it is love too".

IMHO, the best translation of the English term “design” is the Italian term "progetto".
There is another Italian term "disegno", but its meaning is quite "drawing", then it is *inappropriate* to translate "design" => "disegno".
Instead in English "design" and "project" are really synonyms (are they?). So you can choose to translate "progetto intelligente" as "intelligent design" or "intelligent project".

This came in late Friday night, from a priest and senior philosophy professor at a Vatican university in Rome; he has lived in Rome for more than 20 years and speaks fluent Italian:

An article of L’avvenire, Italian Catholic daily newspaper, published Sept. 29, 2005, says:

“Nove anni fa mosse le acque del dibattito sull'evoluzionismo con il suo Darwin's Black Box («La scatola nera di Darwin»). Da allora la teoria del «progetto» (o disegno, come ormai si traduce) «intelligente» (Intelligent Design, ID) ha fatto un salto di qualità e di popolarità, finendo con l'essere saldata (e spesso confusa) con le posizioni creazioniste del fondamentalismo riformato, che vuole bandire il darwinismo dalle scuole.”

This is exactly the kind of newspaper the Pope and his staff might read, although of course they probably also look at non Catholic press.

You can find the whole article online.

I also give you the whole text below.

An article published on ECplanet, that can be found at the address:

speaks about Discovery Institute. At a certain point it says:

“Così come l'orologio rivela nella sua struttura una composizione di parti atte ad un preciso scopo, ovvero il progetto del creatore, così anche la complessa struttura biologica della materia rivela un disegno.”

The site

Speaking about Card. Poupard, says at a certain point:

“E non è «creazionismo». Il vero nome della teoria è «intelligent design»: che non significa, come dicono i giornali, «disegno intelligente» bensì «progetto intelligente».
E questa teoria non dice, come ripetono i giornali e il cardinale Poupard, che il mondo vivente è così complesso, da richiedere di postulare un creatore di infinita intelligenza: questa è filosofia da bar Sport, non quello che dicono i sostenitori della nuova teoria.”

Other exemple, the site:

begins an article with:

“L'attacco alla cultura scientifica vorrebbe stabilire il primato morale della religione cattolica. La "teoria del progetto intelligente" mette sotto accusa le tesi evoluzioniste. Ma in gioco non vi è solo la scienza”

Last exemple:

“Si tratta del confronto, per ora quasi tutto americano, tra gli evoluzionisti, che credono alla selezione naturale come meccanismo di diversificazione delle specie, e i sostenitori del Progetto Intelligente (Intelligent Design, ID), che vedono in ogni essere vivente, così come è oggi, il risultato di un progetto intelligente riconducibile a una capacità intellettuale misteriosa e grandiosa.”

I think therefore that progetto intelligente can be considered a usual translation of intelligent design.

At least one worthy has already rushed into print to announce that this cannot possibly be true. Just as Stephen Jay Gould could not have been an indifferent Darwinist (as one of his friends thinks he was), so the Pope must somehow be a Darwinist. Apparently, everyone in the world is really a Darwinist, including those of us who have got past it.

An Italian-American priest comments:
I think if that has become the choice of words for the Italian media when describing the North American movement, it makes it far more likely that the Pope was attempting to help the cause.

Of course the question somewhat under scrutiny here, is whether or not the translator pulled a fast one.

More often than not, here in America, when they wanted to control the Popes' communication with the faithful, they resorted to simply leaving out what they didn't like rather than sabotaging what they did report.!

Papal translations in the major languages usually are done in Rome, and so the translator would be in a good position to know this.

These translations take more time and so often the media resort to other methods to get a timely version.

I don't know were that translation was done, it was not complete, but since it highlighted the parts of the address that would be of interest to this debate, and left out some less direct comments, he might very well have been trying to help.

It may also be relevant that the particular presentation that the Pope was making was tailor made to this current situation in another way, besides the specific choice of that word: namely that in the classic treatments that I have seen on this fairly common religious topic, they are usually framed in terms of the single word: "order", "orderer", or "governor", rather than the combination: "Intelligent design".

Yeah, well, for now, I am calling Schonborn as right and the US media as still trying to reach Rewrite (to rewrite the script so that the Pope really IS a Darwinist) - when they are not sighting holy moonbats.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Blog policy note: I have possibly figured out how to moderate comments before they appear, so am re-enabling comments on a trial basis. Regular readers may recall that for a while I disabled comments due to persistent problems with defamation and obscenity. One person, who is probably not in the running for Rocket Scientist of the Year, made a defamatory remark about an American attorney who has demonstrated his willingness to sue in cases of defamation! After that episode, a legal advisor strictly warned me to either permit no comments or else make no effort to moderate them - and advertise the fact that I don't. For a while I simply chose the first way and permitted no comments. I am risking this third way, now that I find I can do it more like a genuine Letters to the Editor column, and screen out material unsuitable for publication in advance. (I've been in the news business for nearly thirty-five years, so I think I can handle an LTE scenario.) So the person who enjoys writing obscene raps should realize that the delete key is the only thing that will ever see them. If this system does not work, I will go back to permitting no comments.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?
"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. See also the ruling on tax funds. Note the line that the “free speech” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Christoph, Cardinal Schonbon is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.

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