More on the Vatican evolution conference

There’s a report at Yahoo news (Cardinal says atheist’s theories “absurd”) with more information on the present Vatican conference I mentioned yesterday.  In a bizarre but typically tortuous statement,Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican‘s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said

the Catholic Church doesn’t stand in the way of scientific realities like evolution, saying there was a “wide spectrum of room” for belief in both the scientific basis for evolution and faith in God the creator.

“We believe that however creation has come about and evolved, ultimately God is the creator of all things,” he said on the sidelines of the conference.

But while the Vatican did not exclude any area of science, it did reject as “absurd” the atheist notion of biologist and author Richard Dawkins and others that evolution proves there is no God, he said.

I suspect that the phrase “creation has come about” is a bit of a giveaway, leading to the statement about a god being the creator of all things.  As The Freethinker has pointed out, the cardinal misrepresents Dawkins here.  Amusing, particularly with the next paragraph:

“Of course we think that’s absurd and not at all proven,” he said. “But other than that … the Vatican has recognized that it doesn’t stand in the way of scientific realities.”

This is a peculiar and irrational thing to say.  Proving a negative is after all rather difficult.  It seems to me that the evidence of proof lies not with those saying there is very unlikely to be any supernatural deities but with those that aver the existence of a deity.  What evidence does the Catholic church (or indeed any set of religious believers) have for the existence of their deity (or deities)?

Francis Ayala, one of the speakers and described as a former priest and professor of biological sciences and philosophy at the University of California, is reported to have made a firm statement that “Intelligent Design” is blasphemous to both science and religion:

“It is not only not compatible with Christian faith, it is just blasphemous because it predicates from the creator attributes that we don’t want to have from the creator,” he said.

Perhaps he’s been mis-cited by Yahoo News, but I don’t see how something can be blasphemous against science, and I don’t see that reference in the actual quotation used in the article.  And when phrased in that way, it doesn’t represent a particularly robust objection to ID.

I’ve never really wondered about the religious beliefs of scientists before starting this blog, but occasionally they are made apparent.  I’ve blogged recently about Simon Conway Morris, and I noted here the reference to Ayala as a former priest.  Are the other scientific speakers selected on the basis of their theist beliefs?

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