Many people have been sending me links to the latest comments by our charming Catholic pontiff, and I don’t know, I’m just finding the old boy increasingly irrelevant as he continues his reactionary slide into medieval thinking. More and more it’s like hearing reports of what some random homeless man in a Philadelphia subway station ranted about — it’s amusing and appalling, but it’s hard to work up the outrage to care any more. Yes, you can argue that the Pope is influential, but even there, how many self-identified Catholics pay any attention at all to what he says about contraception, for instance? But alright, once more unto the breach, etc.
Pope Benedict warned Monday of the “seductive” powers of science that overpower man’s spirituality, reviving the science-versus-religion debate which recently forced him to cancel a speech after student protests.
“In an age when scientific developments attract and seduce with the possibilities they offer, it’s more important than ever to educate our contemporaries’ consciences so that science does not become the criterion for goodness,” he told scientists.
Yeah, this pope has a history of saying blithering nonsense about science, so I’m glad to see student protests at the waste of university resources in bringing this bozo to campus (random homeless men in Philadelphia subway stations are available, are less expensive, will be far more appreciative of the honorarium, and will be just as cogent.)
I don’t think anyone is arguing that science is a criterion for “goodness”. Many of us are adamant that religion is not a criterion for “goodness,” either, and that science is at least a criterion for accuracy. This is not a moral debate, although one could say that there is moral value in having some respect for the truth … not that the Catholic church has any interest at all in that, favoring instead the perpetuation of institutionalized nonsense.
Scientific investigation should be accompanied by “research into anthropology, philosophy and theology” to give insight into “man’s own mystery, because no science can say who man is, where he comes from or where he is going”, the Pope said.
“Man is not the fruit of chance or a bundle of convergences, determinisms or physical and chemical reactions,” he told a meeting of academics of different disciplines sponsored by the Paris Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Leave theology off the list of disciplines that are useful in this endeavor.
Science does say who man is; it’s pretty damn specific about what we are, an odd sub-branch of the primate clade in the chordate family tree, and it is full of specifics on anatomy, physiology, behavior, culture, etc. It also explains with considerable detail where we came from — that long lineage of 4 billion years of evolution — and also gives mechanisms. On where we’re going … well, he does have us there. Science isn’t soothsaying. Of course, theology doesn’t help there, either. Theology makes claims about where we’re going, but it’s always wrong and it always seems to be just pulling predictions out of its great hairy abstraction of a butt.
As for that last comment … show me what else Man is. I love how these faith-imbued gomers always belittle “mere” physical and chemical reactions, when there is nothing more grand and majestic than the natural processes that drive our universe. Yes, life is a great big elaborate chemical reaction — isn’t that wonderful? Why act as if this is a shameful possibility? Personally, I’ve long found the petty deified tyrant of the Christian religion to be an unsatisfyingly trivial explanation, with van der Waals forces alone being far more potent and glorious.
I won’t suggest that this silly old man ought to be consigned to a life of cadging handouts from commuters in Suburban Station in Philadelphia, but I really think he deserves to be shuffled off to a nice retirement home. He can still have fancy gold stitchwork done on his slippers and bathrobe, but really … his authority should be nonexistent.