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ZenBuc

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: February 11, 2009, 10:07:41 AM

I typically just read the cove and stay out of posting on religious / political topics...but I thought some might find this interesting...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/11/vatican_on_darwin/
Vatican endorses Darwin, slights intelligent design
The Vatican gave the Creationist lobby a left right sign of the cross today, announcing it would stage a conference on Darwinism next month and declaring that it was one of the Fathers of the Church that thought up the idea in the first place.

At one point the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University wasn't going to give Creationism or Intelligent Design a hearing at all. But apparently the organisers have relented, and will consider Intelligent Design as a "cultural phenomenon" rather than as a valid scientific theory, giving US-based IDers the chance to be smirked at by a room full of Monseigneurs, Cardinals and Bishops.

Previewing the conference yesterday, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Church's Pontifical Council for Culture, conceded the Church had been hostile to Darwin on occasion. But, he said, the Church had never formally condemned Darwin, and he noted that in the last 50 years a number of Popes had accepted evolution as a valid scientific approach to human development.

Indeed, he said, evolution could be traced back through Scholastics such as St Thomas Aquinas to St Augustine in the fourth century, who had noted that "big fish eat smaller fish".

Augustine is probably more famous for praying "God, make me good - but not yet." Which also has some evolutionary overtones if you think about it.

Marc Leclerc, a natural philosopher at the University went further, saying Creationists were mistaken in arguing that that Darwinism was "totally incompatible with a religious vision of reality".

The conference, and the Church's endorsement of Darwin, represents another curve ball from the Holy See at other, arguably more fundamentalist, streams of Christianity. In December Pope Benedict tipped his hat to Galileo - who definitely was condemned by the Church - while simultaneously going all New Age by blethering on about the Solstice.

Last May, the Vatican astronomer really went out on a limb, claiming there was nothing incompatible between being a Catholic and believing in Aliens. He even suggested Aliens could be free of the stain of original sin, the stubborn blemish that has condemned humanity to a progressive decline from the Garden of Eden, through slavery, the dark ages, religious strife, atomic war, and now, the credit crunch and Simon Cowell.

But a wholesale worldview rejig this is not. Other branches of modern science get shorter shrift, with genetic manipulation fairly high on the Vatican's current don't-like list.



http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/14/vatican_aliens/
Vatican star watcher says aliens may be out there
The Catholic Church’s top astronomer has said there is no contradiction between the one true faith and believing in aliens.

The statement will surely spark speculation that the Church knows more than it’s letting on and is preparing the world for some pretty big revelations, or at least laying the groundwork for mass conversions of extra-terrestrials once we’ve tracked them down.

José Gabriel Funes, the director of the Vatican Observatory, admitted the possibility of extra-terrestrial life in an interview with the Papacy’s inhouse daily L'Osservatore Romano, titled “The Alien is my Brother”.

The paper quoted him saying: "It is possible, even if until now, we have no proof. But certainly in such a big universe this hypothesis cannot be excluded."

“This is not in contradiction with our faith, because we cannot establish limits to God's creative freedom,” Funes continued. “To say it with St Francis, if we can consider some earthly creatures as 'brothers' or 'sisters', why could we not speak of a 'brother alien'? He would also belong to the creation."

Funes even suggested that alien beings might be free of some of the earthly burdens that drag down we poor benighted humans. Not gravity, carnal pleasures or mortgages, of course, but good old original sin. “In that way, assuming that there would be other intelligent beings, we could not say that they need redemption. They could have remained in full friendship with the Creator."

But if aliens were sinners – and let’s face it, supposed visitors to this planet have pulled some pretty heinous stunts on earthly beings, from humans to cattle – Funes said they “in some way, would have the chance to enjoy God's mercy, just as it has happened with us human beings".

Thought-provoking stuff. Just as interesting will be the reaction of the Vatican proper to Funes’ comments. Popes have had a turbulent relationship with astronomers in the past. While John Paul II had a pretty indulgent attitude towards the Vatican observatory and science in general, the current incumbent on the throne of St Peter is thought to have a more reactionary attitude towards science and the like, to the extent of voicing support for intelligent design.

Whatever the current regime’s attitude towards astronomy, Funes mounted a solid defence of his discipline, telling the paper: "Astronomy has a profound human value. It is a science that opens the heart and the mind. It helps us to put our lives, our hopes, our problems in the right perspective.”


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/22/pope_galileo/
Pope praises Galileo, celebrates the Solstice
The Pope tipped his hat to long-time Vatican bugbear Galileo this weekend as he helped kick off the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.

Pope Benedict also gave some comfort to pagans by acknowledging the connection between the date of Christmas and the Winter Solstice.

Pope Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, formally apologised for the Church's hounding of Galileo for pointing out that the Earth - and therefore man - was not at the centre of the Universe, never mind the solar system. But the relationship between Benedict and the sciences in general and astronomy in particular, has been somewhat pricklier.

So, it might have seemed perverse that the pope this weekend decided to highlight Unesco's International Year of Astronomy, which marks 400 years since Galileo first used the telescope. Still, the occasionally surprising Benedict - he wears Prada after all - rose to the occasion, paying tribute to Galileo and his ilk for promoting further understanding of the laws of nature.

Of course, in the Vatican's world, it doesn't stop there. Understanding the laws of nature therefore stimulates an appreciation of God's work. This would normally be the point at which we kick off an unholy row by asking whether the pope is then saying the laws of nature were laid down by God, and are not independent of him, whether he exists or not.

But instead, we're going to marvel at how Benedict, after veering into science, then seems to have swerved into Dan Brown territory. After pointing how Christmas uncannily coincides with the Winter solstice, he gave an account of how astronomy, and the solstice, underlie the very architecture of the Vatican.

According to AsiaNews.it, Benedict pointed out that "not everyone knows that St Peter's Square is also a meridian: the obelisk, in fact, casts its shadow along a line that runs along the pavement toward the fountain under this window, and in these days the shadow is at its longest of the year.

"This reminds us of the function of astronomy in marking out the rhythm of prayer. The Angelus, for example, is recited in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, and with the meridian, which was used in ancient times to identify 'true noon', clocks were adjusted."

Of course, this is what the Pope wants you to think. As any good conspiracy theorist knows, he is clearly trying to distract attention from the fact that the obelisk naturally points to the grave of Mary Magdalene, who is interred with the Templar's gold, the Ark of the Covenant and the outline for Dan Brown's next novel.







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