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Church in the World 14 April 2007

Science cant explain Creation, says Pope

Tom Heneghan

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Pope Benedict XVI uses the concept of the Logos to explain life's origins in the new book Schpfung und Evolution (Creation and Evolution) to which he has contributed and which has just been published in Germany. The book documents four lectures and an open discussion between the Pope and his former PhD students (the Ratzinger Schlerkreis) during a private seminar last September at Castel Gandolfo. The Schlerkreis discussed evolution because of a continuing debate on the subject, mostly in the United States, and because increasingly common arguments by atheists claim that Darwinism proves that God had no role in Creation. Benedict XVI's comments in the discussion were his first explanation as Pope of his views on evolution. He acknowledged evolution as a scientific theory but saw an inherent rationality in nature that pointed beyond scientifically verifiable causes. "Faith shows us the Logos, which is creative reason and incredibly was able at the same time to become flesh, die and rise from the dead," he said. This differentiated his views from the "intelligent design" (ID) position that says some life forms are too complex to have evolved randomly and must have been created by a higher power its defenders do not name. ID proponents insist that their view is scientific - a stand most scientists dispute. Critics have suggested that the Church was moving towards an ID position after Cardinal Christoph Schnborn, Archbishop of Vienna, published an article in the New York Times in 2005 that leaned in that direction. Pope Benedict said that science had limited the way that Creation is understood and Christians should go beyond its empirical approach to examine the question further. "The issue is reclaiming a dimension of reason we have lost," he said. "The great fundamental questions of philosophy stand before us in a new way - the question of where man and the world came from and where they are going." "Science has opened up large dimensions of reason ... and thus brought us new insights," he told his former doctoral students. But while the extent of scientific discoveries gave cause for much joy, science alone "tends to take away from us dimensions of reason that we still need", he wrote. "Their results lead to questions that go beyond their methodical canon and cannot be answered within them. These are questions that reason must ask and that cannot simply be left to religious feelings." "Popular and scientific texts about evolution often say nature' or evolution' has done this or that," Pope Benedict says in the book, which includes lectures from Cardinal Schnborn, two philosophers and a chemistry professor. "Just who is this nature' or evolution' as [an active] subject? It doesn't exist at all!" Instead, he said that reason - the concept central to his controversial Regensburg lecture delivered shortly after the evolution seminar - was evident in the most elementary matter and the way it has developed. "There is a rationality of matter itself. It has a mathematics of its own, it is rational, even if there are irrational, chaotic and destructive forces along the long road of evolution," he said. "The process as a whole has rationality." "This ... leads to a question that goes beyond science ... where did this rationality come from?" he asked. "There is rationality in nature, but it does not allow us to attain total insight into God's plan ... Here philosophy calls for more and faith shows us the Logos." Cardinal Schnborn, whose own book on evolution, Ziel oder Zufall? (Goal or Chance?), was published last month, said the scientific theory of evolution should be separated from "evolutionism", a materialist ideology based on Darwinism. "Let's not rush to show intelligent design everywhere, in an apologetic way," he said in his lecture. "We need a genuine theology of Creation that stands at the same intellectual level with the natural sciences."