A recently published statement on current scientific knowledge on cosmic evolution and biological evolution from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences concludes: “The extraordinary progress in our understanding of evolution and the place of man in nature should be shared with everyone. … Furthermore, scientists have a clear responsibility to contribute to the quality of education, especially as regards the subject of evolution.” The statement appears in the proceedings of “Scientific Insights into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life,” a plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences held from October 31 to November 4, 2008.

Well, that about settles it then…

Nobel laureate Christian de Duve summarized the plenary session: “The participants unanimously accepted as indisputable the affirmation that the Universe, as well as life within it, are the products of long evolutionary histories,” noting that there was also wide agreement among the participants on the common ancestry of life on earth. “Evolution,” he added, “has acquired the status of established fact. In the words of His Holiness John Paul II, it is ‘more than a hypothesis’.” The centrality of natural selection to evolution was also recognized, although de Duve acknowledged “the need to refine some of the conceptual bases” of natural selection “in the light of recent findings.”

“On the other hand,” De Duve added, “no one, at least among the scientists, defended the recently advocated theory of ‘intelligent design’ … Several of the arguments cited in support of this theory were shown to ignore recent findings. In particular, the theory was rejected as intrinsically non-disprovable, resting, as it does, on the a priori contention, neither provable nor disprovable, that certain events cannot be naturally explained. These views did not satisfy some theologians who stressed the role of design in creation, an affirmation which, in turn, raised the questions of where and how design is manifested. The issue was not settled during the meeting.”

“Intelligent design” was also the topic of Maxine Singer’s contribution to the plenary session. Singer traced the history of the antievolution movement in the United States, from Scopes-era attempts to ban the teaching of evolution, through the McLean, Edwards, and Kitzmiller cases, to the present spate of “academic freedom” bills such as Louisiana’s, which “permits teachers to speak of evolution as ‘controversial’ and is an invitation to teachers to present alternative, nonscientific explanations.” She added, “The young governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, signed the bill, making it law although he had been a biology major at Brown University.”

“Intelligent design is one of the more recent subterfuges used to try to get creationist idea into school science curricula,” Singer explained. Its proponents “say their methods are scientific. But they do not describe experiments or systematic observations and do not publish in recognized, peer-reviewed journals.” In the face of resistance to evolution exemplified by “creation science” and “intelligent design,” Singer concluded, “we are unlikely to convince those who view their religious faith as in fundamental conflict with scientific evolution. … The most important task for scientists and the only one that has a chance to succeed is assuring that science and evolution are taught properly in school science classes.”

Click here for the vatican’s web page on this.

Source: NCSE


  1. #1 Virgil Samms
    October 9, 2009

    Meanwhile, off the reservation:

    Cardinal Pell Shares “Dangerous Ideas”
    (Cardinal George Pell) stated that although there are many people, including anti-theists and provocateurs, who regard God as an enemy, recent developments in physics and biology have strengthened the case for God, reported the Archdiocese of Sydney in a press statement.
    He noted, however, that despite the affirmations of science, God cannot be contained within that field’s framework since he is outside space and time…

  2. #2 Zeno
    October 9, 2009

    [God] is outside space and time

    And he can damned well stay there, thank you very much.

  3. #3 gruebait
    October 9, 2009

    the Universe is a product of “long evolutionary histories” ?
    It’s still a Universe

  4. #4 TomS
    October 10, 2009

    De Duve referred to “intelligent design” as a theory?

  5. #5 Arv Edgeworth
    October 10, 2009

    Does the Vatican still have a Bible that states “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”? I wonder if it also states: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is”? It probably also says: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,”

    I wonder what they think about Peter, who was supposed to be the first Pope, warning about those scoffers who would come along in the last days scoffing at the original creation, a great flood (which formed the rock layers and fossils), and a future coming judgment? But if the Vatican said it, it must be true.

  6. #6 David
    October 10, 2009

    I’m surprised at this, given that the current pope has been actively reactionary and seems to be trying to dismantle Vatican II piece by piece.

  7. #7 Jeff Knapp
    October 11, 2009

    Well, say what you will about the Catholic Church (and there is plenty to be said), at least in this regard, they seem to be accepting reality over fairy tales.

  8. #8 catgirl
    October 12, 2009

    For all the fundies out there, I wonder if they feel any shame at being worse than the Catholic church.