Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

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Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby dannyno » Fri May 20, 2011 3:34 pm

I thought I would draw attention to this interesting piece.

It's highly relevant to some recent discussions here, since Ruse has noticed what I noticed about the Pope's recent statement. Sadly those discussions are, I find, now all closed. So to make sure this is on record, I post it here anew.

Michael Ruse: Evolution and Catholic Theology
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-ruse/why-doesnt-the-pope-get-i_b_859123.html

as things stand at the moment, there is a flat-out contradiction between the claims of modern biological science and the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. And the fact is that the Pope, for all of his vaulted theological expertise, is either ignoring this fact or is glossing over it, probably because he has made the decision that, when push comes to shove, theology trumps science.


Ruse notes that the Pope needs humans not to be a product of chance. Therefore there needs to be an element of direction in evolution. But evolution allows for no direction and no design. The Pope says that "theology trumps science". Ruse says that the theology needs more work (he doesn't accept that any attempt to show that humans were a necessary product of evolution could be successful). He even has a helpful suggestion:

I have suggested that, since we have appeared, we could appear. Hence, God (being outside time and space) could simply go on creating universes until humans did appear. A bit of a waste admittedly but we have that already in our universe.


some solution needs to be found. At least, some solution needs to be found by Christians. Otherwise, the New Atheists are right, and science and religion cannot be reconciled. Hence, you must take your choice, and since science is right the appropriate conclusion follows at once.


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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Roger Stanyard » Fri May 20, 2011 5:53 pm

dannyno wrote:I thought I would draw attention to this interesting piece.

It's highly relevant to some recent discussions here, since Ruse has noticed what I noticed about the Pope's recent statement. Sadly those discussions are, I find, now all closed. So to make sure this is on record, I post it here anew.

Michael Ruse: Evolution and Catholic Theology
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-ruse/why-doesnt-the-pope-get-i_b_859123.html

as things stand at the moment, there is a flat-out contradiction between the claims of modern biological science and the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. And the fact is that the Pope, for all of his vaulted theological expertise, is either ignoring this fact or is glossing over it, probably because he has made the decision that, when push comes to shove, theology trumps science.


Ruse notes that the Pope needs humans not to be a product of chance. Therefore there needs to be an element of direction in evolution. But evolution allows for no direction and no design. The Pope says that "theology trumps science". Ruse says that the theology needs more work (he doesn't accept that any attempt to show that humans were a necessary product of evolution could be successful). He even has a helpful suggestion:

I have suggested that, since we have appeared, we could appear. Hence, God (being outside time and space) could simply go on creating universes until humans did appear. A bit of a waste admittedly but we have that already in our universe.


some solution needs to be found. At least, some solution needs to be found by Christians. Otherwise, the New Atheists are right, and science and religion cannot be reconciled. Hence, you must take your choice, and since science is right the appropriate conclusion follows at once.


Dan


It's still nit-picking. Look, the BCSE is not in the business of science v religion or whether science can be reconciled with religion; it's specifically against just two elements of fundamentalist religion, young earth creationism (almost entirely Protestant) and Intelligent Design (almost wholly Protestant as well). As long as the RCC does not introduce YECism or ID into science lessons in its schools in the UK, then the Pope's current position is basically irrelevant.

We are not calling for secularism in state schools. As has long been pointed out in our public forum here, the RCC has a lot less influence over what is taught in its schools than many presuppose; it's bound to the national curriculum and its schools are not exclusively for Catholics; it has to compete heavily amongst the non-Catholic population to fill its schools (as do Anglican schools).

Yes, the selection proceedures are not fair; they are not fair anywhere in the state funded education system, not least because education is free at the point of use. If you kick all religion out f schools, the selection proceedures will still be grossly unfair.

Moreover, I cannot recall any example of RCC state funded schools in Britain letting YECers/IDers onto their premises to undermine teaching of sound science.

To put it bluntly, your problem with the RCC isn't ours.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby dannyno » Sat May 21, 2011 8:38 pm

Um, well, I thought it was an interesting comment given Ruse's history and I thought it worth noting here, alongside many other discussions of a similar nature.

However, it's interesting to hear that as an organisation you are only interested in opposing young earth creationism and intelligent design and not - despite the name of your organisation - in other creationist attacks on the scientific approach to the evolution of species.

Catholic schools may indeed keep out ID and YEC. Do they keep out the Pope's "directed evolution" line? They should, shouldn't they?

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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby cathy » Sat May 21, 2011 10:02 pm

Catholic schools may indeed keep out ID and YEC. Do they keep out the Pope's "directed evolution" line? They should, shouldn't they?

None of the ones I'm aware of mention ID and YEC. non follow the popes directed evolution line, nor do any of the teachers I know that work in them. They don't really give a flying f@@@ what the pope says really, he is their figurehead, seen but largely ignored I'm afraid. Bit like our Queen or Prince Charles, nice for tourist, something to go look on masse if in the locality but nobody can really recall what they actually say. RC schools stick to old popes line, god as vague first cause. Not that they'd ever admit that or even realise it. To my knowledge all the openly creationist teachers uncovered by bcse have been in non faith schools. RC schools are no more nor less at risk than any other school. Plus the RC church does tend to 'do' science, mainly astrophysics, Dan Brown does throw the odd fact into his fiction. Plus as state schools they have to adhere to the national curriculum.

Can't see that changing in the near future either. Teachers tend to like working in 'nice' schools, tend to choose them over bad schools if they can (bad schools being fairly injurious to health-unless you've a ready supply of kevlar underwear and can get away with tasering kids which is unlikely). We all lose our ideals about making a difference where it matters pretty early on. Science teachers tend to be in an enviable position when it comes to choosing jobs. RC schools nowadays generally (with exceptions) tend to be 'nice' (nothing to do with faith more to do with parental choice and not for faith reasons-ask any teacher what makes a good school they'll say the parents) hence tend to have science (and maths and language) teachers. Science teachers aren't wild about nonsense science and a selling point of a lot of high schools is having science teachers with degrees in the relevant subject-so not going to risk losing them. Schools rely on filling with pupils. Parents don't choose poorly performing schools. Too much religion=poor performance=less pupils=less money and kudos.

Add in the fact that a hell of a lot of parents will be catholic in name only, atheists, agnostics and couldn't care lesses. As for RE, I'm the bcse member that knows least about scriputure (total ignorance if I'm honest) and I'm the one that attended very catholic RC schools from the age of 5 to 16. We'd far too many saints and rules to deal with to spend to much time on the bible. I don't think I saw much less opened one in all my childhood years though I knew it existed.

So you can say till you're blue in the face that they should, as you can say till you're blue in the face that christians should be creationists, but if they choose to not to the issue is just a lot of intellectual hot air. RC schools are unlikely to morph into creationist nutters overnight just cos you think they should actually know what the pope is saying. You have to go to the third world these days to see the RC church and pope have any real influence.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby dannyno » Sat May 21, 2011 11:11 pm

Right, well most of that was completely irrelevant to anything I was interested in. I think you agree that directed evolution should join ID and YEC on the list of religious doctrines which should not be taught as though they were scientific.

If you're right that Catholic schools will just ignore what the Pope says and get on with actual science, then we are all agreed that that is the correct thing for them to do, aren't we? Because even though the Pope's position is not ID or YEC, it still isn't a wholehearted acceptance of evolutionary science, and is clearly creationist, and therefore to be opposed by the BCSE.

I didn't say, here or anywhere, that "christians should be creationists". Since creationism is false, my actual position is of course that they shouldn't be creationists. I understand that this is your position too, is it not? I happen also to take the extra step of recognising that the scientific impossibility of creationism has theological implications which I take to be hard to overcome (but see Ruse), but that's a different point and not one I had raised in this thread.

You have to go to the third world these days to see the RC church and pope have any real influence.


Well, I think you overstate his unimportance in the West, but there's some truth in what you say. However, you appear to be misreading me. I just thought it was interesting that Ruse had identified the Pope's position as creationist, and wondered if anyone wanted to discuss the point, this being the BCSE discussion forum and all. I thought it was particularly interesting because of the way the BCSE blog had framed the Pope's statement about which Ruse is writing. I can understand BCSE want to focus on ID and YEC as the most urgent and extreme problem, but indulging Papal directed evolution, or presenting it as anti-creationist, is a mistake. It may not be a threat, but it's still unscientific.

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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby psiloiordinary » Sun May 22, 2011 3:06 am

Dan,

I do realise that you simply ignore anything inconvenient to your own views but I post this again for anyone else still wading through your long posts.

Declaring by personal fiat the definition of theistic evolution and choosing to define it as creationism so you can start a war to make all schools secular is not the role of BCSE.

http://bcseweb.blogspot.com/2010/11/how ... esign.html

I pointed this out before. I presume you will just ignore it again but for anyone else put there who accepts all the scientific evidence for evolution and the age of the earth but thinks that there are reasons why replaying the tape of life could/will lead to sentience, who also happens to be religious and so chooses to believe this is down to your deity then rest assured the BCSE does NOT call you a creationist.

Dan can choose to call the pope, the archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Conway Morris, Ken, Michael Reiss, and the theologians who signed the Crisis letter with us including Ekklesia all "creationists" if he wants.

For your next trick I suppose you will start arguing with your self?
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby psiloiordinary » Sun May 22, 2011 3:13 am

Does anyone know how to present a comment from popedom that creationism is wrong as being creationist then please let me know and I'll stop "framing"* it as being anti-creationist.

* quoting the AP story in full.

Correcting so much bias and deliberate misrepresentation is luckily something I have had some practise with from my dealings with creationists.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby cathy » Sun May 22, 2011 8:27 am

Thanks Psi for clearing things up.

Dannyno you raised the point that RC schools should avoid (or not avoid it was unclear) the popes line. So my point was not irrelevant it was poiniting out whatever the pope says won't efffect RC schools. Since they started having to compete in the marketplace like other schools for parents who, though catholic in name, are no different to any other group of parents they've had to become academic schools. The days when RC parents sent their kids to RC schools cos they were RC are long gone. The other point I was making that was pertinent to above is that RC schools do actually have science specialists teaching science-not as common as you think in education. So if the pope decides the moon is made of cheese it is unlikely to get past the science dept.

You're wasting your time if you're looking for threats to secularism and science from the RC church in the UK-it is declining and fairly toothless. The threat is from the new fundamentalist sects. They are the ones growing (within a framework of religion in general declining), they punch way above their weight in terms of being vocal and obnoxious and they are the ones that attract and nurture the real nasties in religion (creationism etc). They're the ones running the successful youth clubs that are cheap, safe and stretch way beyond the kids of their congregations. The kids from those are going into all schools, including secular ones, and pushing the creationist line to their peers. Check your local secular high schools for Christian Unions, nearly every school round here has one. My money is on the fundies and creationists targetting those in future. They are largely student led (with a teacher to sort of oversee) and really free to operate as they wish as long as they don't offend or become overbearing. Thats the real danger.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Roger Stanyard » Sun May 22, 2011 11:46 am

dannyno wrote:Um, well, I thought it was an interesting comment given Ruse's history and I thought it worth noting here, alongside many other discussions of a similar nature.

However, it's interesting to hear that as an organisation you are only interested in opposing young earth creationism and intelligent design and not - despite the name of your organisation - in other creationist attacks on the scientific approach to the evolution of species.



THE BCSE is and always has been an anti-creationist/anti-ID organisation. We've never claimed otherwise.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Roger Stanyard » Sun May 22, 2011 12:43 pm

dannyno wrote:Um, well, I thought it was an interesting comment given Ruse's history and I thought it worth noting here, alongside many other discussions of a similar nature.

However, it's interesting to hear that as an organisation you are only interested in opposing young earth creationism and intelligent design and not - despite the name of your organisation - in other creationist attacks on the scientific approach to the evolution of species.

Catholic schools may indeed keep out ID and YEC. Do they keep out the Pope's "directed evolution" line? They should, shouldn't they?

Dan


Let me again spell it out in simple terms. All the Abrahamic religions and their followers are creationists in some form or other.

The British Centre for Science Education is simply not the "British Centre for Science" arguing the cause of science v religion. It's a single issue organisation in the business of public relations.

You just don't seem to grasp it, do you?
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby dannyno » Sun May 22, 2011 7:04 pm

Public relations, Roger? :lol:

Psiloiordinary once again accuses me of "ignoring" things. He's made that allegation before and couldn't stack it up then either, seems he just slips into all-purpose abuse mode, for some reason, regardless of what I've actually said. It is, frankly, a bit rubbish.

Perhaps you're so used to dealing with creationists that you've forgotten how to engage normally with interested people.

Then we get the rather bizarre statement that:

Declaring by personal fiat the definition of theistic evolution and choosing to define it as creationism so you can start a war to make all schools secular is not the role of BCSE.


This bears about as much relation to this little exchange as intelligent design does to reality. All I've done here is post something that Michael Ruse said, because it was interesting. Roger then posted about Catholic schools, which was a of a surprise since I hadn't even mentioned Catholic schools.

I do happen to think all schools should be secular, but that isn't what I posted Ruse's thoughts to talk about, and I certainly don't expect the BCSE to be campaigning about it.

Psiloiordinary then says, to directed evolutionists :

then rest assured the BCSE does NOT call you a creationist.


and

Dan can choose to call the pope, the archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Conway Morris, Ken, Michael Reiss, and the theologians who signed the Crisis letter with us including Ekklesia all "creationists" if he wants.


I refer Psiloiordinary to Roger Stanyard, the BCSE's public relations supremo, who just said, in this exact thread:

All the Abrahamic religions and their followers are creationists in some form or other.


:?

Cathy said

Dannyno you raised the point that RC schools should avoid (or not avoid it was unclear) the popes line.


Well, not quite. Roger was the first person to mention RC schools in this thread and I merely replied to him.

You're wasting your time if you're looking for threats to secularism and science from the RC church in the UK-it is declining and fairly toothless.


So you keep saying. I don't even necessarily completely disagree. But I say again: I haven't said anything along these lines anyway.

The threat is from the new fundamentalist sects.


Again, you keep saying this, and I keep agreeing.



You know, I look at the way this thread has turned out, plus the others I've tried to participate in, and I just hope you're not as bad at dealing with creationists as you are at dealing with someone who is basically an interested sympathiser. :cry:

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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Roger Stanyard » Sun May 22, 2011 7:12 pm

dannyno wrote:Public relations, Roger? :lol:


What on earth do you think lobbying or trying to influence public policy is?
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby cathy » Sun May 22, 2011 8:58 pm

dannyno wrote: So you keep saying. I don't even necessarily completely disagree. But I say again: I haven't said anything along these lines anyway.

Just trying to put things in perspective for you. None of the problems we see where I work stem from the pope, never seen an RC kid question any science at all, nor a muslim one. I don't understand the obsession with the pope in this context.

someone who is basically an interested sympathiser.

Good, the more the merrier, it is becoming a real problem believe me. The biggest problem is not really the pope.

Well, not quite. Roger was the first person to mention RC schools in this thread and I merely replied to him.

And I merely replied to your question about what they should or shouldn't teach by pointing out what they do and probably will continue to teach with justifications. You posed the question I answered it. I didn't realise it was for Roger only.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby psiloiordinary » Mon May 23, 2011 6:34 am

I think Dan is trolling.

He has demonstrated little understanding of the issues. Rc schools, creationists claims, the aim of the BCSE, the very meaning of the terms under discussion Yet pronounces on them. He doesn't like complicated answers and wastes no time in characterising the complex as the in consistent. The fact that a word has more than one meaning is too difficult a concept apparently. Context also seems to mean little.

I see niI evidence at all of anytning like any kind of any support from him.
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Re: Michael Ruse on evolution and Catholicism

Postby Michael » Mon May 23, 2011 8:16 am

Whatever else one may say about the Pope's views he totally accepts the whole of geological and astronomical time i.e $.6 billion years and some kind of evolution for all life.

His view is more of intelligent design (lower case) than Intelligent Design (upper case where some divine agent blunders in from time to time) (This distinction is from Owen Gingerich of Harvard) As Ruse says this is similar to Asa Gray in 1859 and I would say most Christians lean towards it. I would say that Keith Ward and Conway Morris also has this idea in a different form. Whether it is right or not it makes no difference to the practice or teaching of science.

I will go back to sleep :)
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