Field of Science

Vatican conference proves worthless

Robert J. Russell, founder and director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, CA had a few things to say at the end of the Vatican conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University (that I really wanted to go to, but they told me they did not have funds to cover my travel costs).

He defends evolution, but attacks scientism - the use of science beyond its proper sphere of investigating physical nature. I do wonder what he thinks the proper sphere of science is. Anything that scripture does not address? Because lots of scripture deals with the 'physical nature'.

He's taking the stand - like catholics mostly do these days - that both creationists who attack science (especially evolution), and atheists who attack religion using evolution are both wrong in thinking that there is any overlap between the respective spheres.
Unfortunately, he aid, intelligent design and creationist proponents are not addressing the real problem evolution poses, which is how to explain the existence of suffering, disease, death and extinction before the historical event of the creation and fall of man. (...) But evolution demonstrates that suffering and death are not the consequence of the fall, but were part of life "far before humanity came onto the scene and is in fact a part of how we got here," he said.
Right. I do agree that science, and not just evolution, poses a great deal of questions that must be explained to continue to believe in scripture. Cdesign proponensists don't do that, he says, but then who does? The Catholics? Here's what he says about that:
How to account for the problem of why God would allow all his creatures to suffer is "the really hard challenge of evolution," he said.

One response is that pain and suffering are a consequence of freedom, he said.

But while the father of a child lets her be free to run, fall and scrape her knee, if she were to pick up a gun and start playing with it, "I'd take that gun away," he said.

How then does the heavenly Father allow the extent and horrendousness of suffering seen throughout the world and in history? he asked.
No answer to this is given. And, if they do give an answer, it will have nothing to do with evolution. They needn't invite scientists to answer such questions. They needed the scientists for publicity.

It really should come as no surprise whatsoever that the conference would never contribute anything of worth. Nothing was learned by anyone, I trust. I can't say that with certainty, but I'd love to hear from anyone who has contrary evidence. Seems like a total waste of money, though a waste that I would have enjoyed taking part of.


  1. Heh, I noticed that one too. Their definition of scientism is certainly question-begging.

  2. I have a strong feeling that those who use the term would not like to define it, but rather keep it to use whenever they think they can get away with it. Before Galileo's time it would be scientism to talk about the heliocentric system, before Darwin, it would be scientism to talk about human origins, and today it is scientism to talk about a natural emergence of mind, consciousness, and morality. So, scientism seems to be the limit where it's at, and as long as that edge keeps moving as scientists push it further, I can live with it.


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