That friend to the Discovery Institute and creationist advisor to the Vatican, Cardinal Schönborn, has a new book out, titled Chance or Purpose?. I haven’t read it, but Michael Behe has, and Zeno finds a particularly delicious Behe blurb:
Science cannot speak of ultimate purpose, and scientists who do so are outside of their authority. In Chance or Purpose? Cardinal Schöborn shows that the data of biology, when properly examined by reason and philosophy, strongly point to a purposeful world.
Why should science be incapable of addressing the questions of an ultimate purpose? I hear this all the time: science can’t give us meaning, science can’t explain love, science can’t do this or that. It’s usually said by some clueless git who has his own ideological axe to grind, and wants everyone to line up in support of his or her own dictated decrees about the truth, which are usually obtained by revelation (i.e., whim) or dogma, and which are challenged by a process that actually tries to examine reality in search of a truth. And those ideologies, such as Catholicism, have no legitimate claim for better understanding than any other traditional nonsense.
I say otherwise. We have no other, better tool. If we’re going to discover an ultimate purpose, it will be through the process of studying our universe — through science. The only thing these putative other ways of knowing affect our reach is by impeding us.
As Zeno notes, Behe’s quote is beautifully self-contradicting. He starts by declaring that science can’t tell us anything about our purpose, and then he goes on to immediately declare that the data of biology lead to an understanding of purpose. Behe is an incredibly muddled thinker — he’s got the background that values science, but at the same time he’s bogged down in these peculiar presuppositions that make a mess of his brain.
The data of biology do not point to purpose, but to a history of accidents shaped by short-term utility to replicators. Schönborn is unqualified to assess it — he’s a blithering theologian — and both Schönborn and Behe are blinded to the overwhelming dominance of chance in our biology by their ideological predispositions.