Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Catholic Cardinal Knocks A Straw Man Down--I Think

I will admit that I am one of few Atheists, it seems, who has not read anything written by Richard Dawkins. Sorry, Mr. Dawkins, but I just haven't gotten around to it. I think you'd just be preaching to the choir with me, so to speak, anyway. I did watch "The Root of All Evil", which is a Dawkins video, but I haven't touched the books. I think I've read enough books on evolution that I just have to keep up with the journals, and I'll be okay.

In any case, some Cardinal spoke on how evolutionary theory doesn't conflict with Catholicism, and he said something that floored me:

"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.

"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."

Now, wait a minute there, buddy. There's an "atheist notion" of biologist Richard Dawkins and others that evolution proves that your god doesn't exist? What?!?

Someone out there enlighten me, because I'm having trouble understanding why this Cardinal would say such a thing: did Richard Dawkins ever say that evolution proves that no god exists? I ask because I think he's setting up a straw man here. It would be absolutely absurd to say that evolutionary theory has anything to do with whether or not gods exist. It's not a question biologists would address when talking about evolution, and I seriously doubt Dawkins would ever say it.

Hey, maybe Dawkins did, though, but I'd have to hear his side of the story before I accept the word of someone who was part of the hierarchy in an institution involved in the biggest cover-up of child rape in the history of the world, as far as I know.

So anyway, great, the Catholic Church is all about the Darwin. So what? That's news? Did you really have to reiterate it after accepting evolution and teaching it in your schools for decades? That's right: I went to a Catholic high school in ninth grade, and we learned about evolution in that class. My teacher--and I'm sorry that I don't remember his name, because some of the things he said really stuck with me--said on the first day of class or close to it: "We will not be talking about creationism in this class. If you want to talk about creationism, go to the theology class down the hall. It does not belong in this classroom. You are here to learn about biology."

Mr....Ryan?...summed it up perfectly: biology should be taught in biology classrooms, not creationism. Creationism isn't science.

A couple other things I remember about Mr....oh, hell, I don't remember...was that he would say "Right there, in flashing green neon lights," while making flashing gestures with his hands. I also remember that he was the only teacher who noticed I was torn up inside when my mom had her brain tumor. He took me aside outside of the classroom and asked me what was going on, and I told him. My grades sunk the rest of that year in other classes, but at least I know he was on my side.

My friend Pete and I bought him this bowtie with little whales printed on it. He was a great sport; he wore the thing with a smile. Man, that guy was a good teacher and a good guy. I wish I could remember his name, because I'd thank him for teaching me evolution the right way the first time, and for being such a great teacher.

Anyway, the point is that evolution has been an accepted subject in Catholic school biology classrooms for at least twenty-three years, and I would suspect several more before that. Was there really confusion on how the Catholic Church stood on evolution as recently as Darwin's 200th birthday? And did the Cardinal who made this statement really have to bring Richard Dawkins into his statements? Of course the Catholic Church is going to think it's absurd that evolutionary theory disproves their god! Even if that were true, the Catholic Church would collapse virtually overnight, right? No god, no Catholicism. No more cover-ups of child rape.

I'm not just trying to make cheap shots at the Catholic Church by bringing up the pedophilia scandal. I am really, really angry that the Catholic Church not only didn't really do anything about the child rape, but also actively covered it up. Here's an institution that has missions that educate, feed, and clothe children around the world. Here's an institution that helped my dad's family to get to America when they were poor and struggling in a war-torn Germany. Here is an institution that has hospitals, including children's research hospitals. They have so much potential to do so much good, and they let something like child rape mar any chance they have at a decent reputation. I disagree with the Catholic belief system (and every theistic belief system), but I could tolerate Catholicism if they didn't cover up child rape--and if they didn't try to actively involve themselves in political decisions that affect people's private lives, but the child rape is a far more serious issue.

All they would have had to do about the child rape was to defrock the priest and turn them in. If they were so concerned about the doctrine regarding keeping confessions secret, they could have issued pennance that demanded that the offenders turn themselves in. There is just no excuse I'd accept. If they'll cover this sort of thing up, would they also cover it up if a priest went around stabbing children? I have to wonder.

1 comment:

xmasfish said...

Dawkin's never explicitly said it, but he implied it in his so called "central argument" of the God Delusion. The argument is as follows:

1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect, over the centuries has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.

2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.

3. The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.

4. The most ingenious and powerful crane (or explanation) so far discovered is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

5. We dont yet have an equivalent crane (or explanation) for physics.

6. We should not give up hope of a better crane (or explanation) arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.

7. Therefore God almost certainly doesn't exist

As we can see here, the supposide implications of Darwinian Evolution prove that God almost certainly doesn't exist.

How he managed to pull that conlcusion from those premises is a different question.