Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Will the real Cardinal Schöenborn please stand up?

Remember back in July, when Cardinal Schönborn (aka Schoenborn) of Austria, apparently with Pope Benedict's approval, launched a full-frontal attack on the Theory of Evolution? Well, now he's apparently requesting a mulligan, because he thinks Darwin's theory is actually quite nifty:
PARIS - A senior Roman Catholic cardinal seen as a champion of intelligent design against Darwin’s explanation of life has described the theory of evolution as “one of the very great works of intellectual history.”

Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said he could believe both in divine creation and in evolution because one was a question of religion and the other of science, two realms that complemented rather than contradicted each other.

Schönborn’s view, presented in a lecture published by his office on Tuesday, tempered earlier statements that seemed to ally the Roman Catholic Church with U.S. conservatives campaigning against the teaching of evolution in public schools.

I am stunned, shocked and flabberghasted (and my ghast doesn't flabber very easily these days). The Cardinal goes on to say “Maybe one did not express oneself clearly enough or thoughts were not clear enough” in explaining the apparent contradiction in his statements. So it's time to break out the champaign and start dancing in the streets, right? The Catholic Church has pulled back from the brink, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. Another story from Planet Ark, however, seems to cast Schönborn as retaining a degree of hostility towards science and evolution:
"I unfortunately know of enough cases of highly intolerant behaviour in the scientific community towards people who come from other disciplines and point out where the evolutionists overstep their bounds," Schönborn wrote in the September issue of his archdiocese's education newsletter.

He said "evolutionists" -- people convinced all life on Earth resulted strictly from random processes -- also reacted arrogantly towards "scientists who mention certain unsolved questions about the theory of evolution".

So which Cardinal Schönborn do we believe? The darling of the fundamentalists that dismissed Pope John Paul II's teachings on science and evolution, or this one, who seems willing to reconcile faith and science? I wish I had an answer. Context makes a great deal of difference in interpreting these statements, and I've no idea the particular agenda of any of the reporters or new organizations reporting on this. Stir up controversy? Calm the tempest down? I dunno. You can bet I'll be watching the inevitable spin on this one...

Now Playing: Billy Joel The Nylon Curtain

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me the Galileo fiasco taught the Catholic Church an important lesson which distinguishes it from the less sophisticated US evangelical protestant churches: it is neither necessary nor wise for religion to be steered into conflict with scientific inquiry. Let religion be religion and science be science.

    PS. That should be either Schönborn or Schoenborn, but not both.