"He believes there are gaps in evolution and [that] God acts in those gaps," says John Abelson, a molecular biologist at the University of California, Davis, who gave a talk at the meeting. This is a "nearly 19th century" view.It almost could have been one of those feel-good scientific meetings on the origins of life, the Universe and everything.
It was like many scientific conferences except that the pope showed up to bless the proceedings, and the first talk, titled "The Reflections of Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI on Evolution," was given by Schönborn, a theologian.Several of the scientists present obviously found the whole seance pseudoscientific, and had reservations about the value of the Vatican's role in the debate:
The sparks flew when the cardinal fielded questions. "He still expressed reservations about whether evolution can account for all aspects of biology," says Collins, including whether Darwinian evolution can account for the generation of species. "It was preposterous," says Abelson, who says that the meeting took " a step backwards" in the church's relationship with science. Wolters was disappointed, too: "Schönborn has the same intention as the pope has--to fight evolutionism," he says, but "he is just repeating this creationist gibberish" used by U.S. proponents of intelligent design. Wolters adds: "Fighting science in this way is a losing game."Evolutionism is used to describe the promotion of atheism through evolutionary biology. By its opponents, that is.
So, we can safely conclude that while the highest ranking Vatican officials don't really believe, they aren't officially going to announce that anytime soon. Of course. That would take away their very powerful and very profitable position as leaders of about a billion people.