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Pope says science too narrow to explain creation
by Norman Voss
Pope Benedict, elaborating his views on evolution for the first time as Pontiff, says science has narrowed the way life's origins are understood and Christians should take a broader approach to the question. The Pope also says the Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory. But Benedict, whose remarks were published on Wednesday in Germany in the book "Schoepfung und Evolution" (Creation and Evolution), praised scientific progress and did not endorse creationist or "intelligent design" views about life's origins. Those arguments, proposed mostly by conservative Protestants and derided by scientists, have stoked recurring battles over the teaching of evolution in the United States. Some European Christians and Turkish Muslims have recently echoed these views. "Science has opened up large dimensions of reason ... and thus brought us new insights," Benedict, a former theology professor, said at the closed-door seminar with his former doctoral students last September that the book documents.
Read the complete article here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070411/sc_nm/pope_evolution_dc
Many Preterist have recognized that the world was created by God to go on unendingly as far as we can contemplate. Therefore it goes to reason that there is no serious rationale to deny that the beginning is not unlike the ending. If we can determine by examination that the world is potentially without end in all practical matters then we may need to come to grips with the idea that what the witness of the physical earth is revealing is that it has already been in place for incomprehensible amounts of time in becoming the “good earth” which God has created for His purpose.
Theistic Evolution can be considered to encompass the intelligent design paradigm position of Godly intervention. In looking at the complexity of biological life ranging from the macro to the smallest micro cellular design we see intelligence written all over the process. The fruit of this process is what we see as having blossomed into humanity as we know it. We logically deduce from this intelligence apparatus that evolutionary capabilities whatever they may be arise from this insertion into even the smallest arenas of life to bring forth the story of man and by so doing bring glory to God in our relationships with him. All life has been created good and all the physical realm that underlies it has also been declared good.
Many scientist that are open minded enough to set aside their anti God positions and look at evolution through fresh eyes have recognized the Irreducible Complexity of that design. What many scientists fail to recognize is that the probabilities of their theory acting alone from absolute nothingness becomes improbable even with unlimited time. One observation is that starting with the physical design of the universe we see intelligence even in that realm pointing to a system that allows and incubates life itself. This is the life that we see that manifest itself in the beautiful array upon the good earth.
Scientist have had problems dealing with the unexpected explosion of life upon earth and have themselves contemplated special naturalist mechanisms to explain this so called explosion. Stephen Jay Gould is the most prominent of scientist to have developed a system of explanation which he labeled Punctuated equilibrium. He ran into sharp criticism from other scientist who believed he had opened Pandora’s Box to the insertion by religious advocates for intelligent design. His most severe critic was none other than the arch atheist scientist Richard Dawkins. The reason that this theory was put forth was in response to large wholesale changes in speciation that seemingly could not be accounted for by naturalistic evolution itself with out some special mechanism. This especially comes to light in the discussion concerning what we call the “Cambrian explosion” of life. “The Cambrian explosion is the geologically sudden appearance in the fossil record of the ancestors of familiar animals, starting about 542 million years ago”… from Wikipedia.
("The fossil record had caused Darwin more grief than joy. Nothing distressed him more than the Cambrian explosion, the coincident appearance of almost all complex organic designs..." Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb, 1980, pp. 238-239).
“Scientists have also long been puzzled by its abruptness and the apparent lack of obvious predecessors to the Cambrian fauna…from Wikipedia”
The big issue for a naturalist explanation is the realization that there was not enough time for the theory of naturalistic evolution to be solely the answer to this issue. Thus we have Gould’s response with the Punctuated Equilibrium theory.
Those in the Old Earth religious movement have recognized the importance of this issue. Following is a quote from Hugh Ross’s web site http://www.reasons.org/.
“The Cambrian “Explosion” is a dramatic event in life’s history taking place around 540 million years ago. Over the course of perhaps less than 2-3 million years, nearly every animal phylum (over 70) ever to exist on earth appeared. Since that time no new animal phyla have been introduced.2,3 Phyla are the categories in the biological classification hierarchy that refer to an organism’s body plan, or architectural design.”.. By Fuz Rana, Ph.D.” New Insight into the Ecology of the Cambrian Fauna: Evidence for Creation Mounts.”
It highlights the explosive appearance of significant varieties of life forms that cannot be explained in an evaluation of statistical probabilities that make any sense, thus you have those biologist such as Stephen J. Gould coming up with unusual naturalistic models to explain this “miraculous” explosion of life at times.
One of the ways we can contemplate this time frame is to look at recent evolutionary trends, as we look at just the subtle changes within modern man we see very slow and sleight changes during the past 100,000 years. If one was to extend this period of time even to 1, 2 or 3 million years the changes due to natural mutational effects coupled with environmental shaping cannot begin to answer the questions we find abounding in the Cambrian explosion era timeline. There just isn’t enough time for such a multitude of life forms to seemly appear so quickly. My discussion here though is just a simple example of the subject and is by no means meant to imply these points are locked in concrete as far as science is concerned. Scientist are aware of these issues and are working on them but my personal faith says that whatever answers they find will still allow for the dynamic allowance of Gods intelligent design and fine tuning for the creation of “Adam”.
The reason for sharing this background is so that those who may not be familiar with the discussion that is going on in other religious arenas may comprehend the importance to American religious ideas that the Catholic Church is moving more strongly towards especially under this new Pope. Many of us here in America are isolated somewhat from any discussion outside the realm of evangelical circles but the religious world at large does not adhere to our regional dispensational view of origins. Especially when it comes to aligning with the YEC crowd, this is an American derived process that is not exclusive to the world by any means.
When we hear Catholic Cardinals espouse the following statement we wonder what planet he came from if we are traditional American evangelicals.
Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, published an article http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0060.html
"Intelligent design" (ID) argues that some forms of life are too complex to have evolved randomly, as Charles Darwin proposed in his 1859 book "The Origin of Species." It says a higher intelligence must have done this but does not name it as God.”
Or this quote from the Pope himself…"Just who is this 'nature' or 'evolution' as (an active) subject? It doesn't exist at all!" the Pope said.” “Benedict argued that evolution had a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain.”
"The process itself is rational despite the mistakes and confusion as it goes through a narrow corridor choosing a few positive mutations and using low probability," he said.”
Further quotes from Pope Benedict when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, take from this web site featuring his commentary on Genesis 1-3.
“We cannot say: creation or evolution, inasmuch as these two things respond to two different realities. The story of the dust of the earth and the breath of God, which we just heard, does not in fact explain how human persons come to be but rather what they are. It explains their inmost origin and casts light on the project that they are. And, vice versa, the theory of evolution seeks to understand and describe biological developments. But in so doing it cannot explain where the "project" of human persons comes from, nor their inner origin, nor their particular nature. To that extent we are faced here with two complementary -- rather than mutually exclusive -- realities.”
“It was a particular characteristic of the 19th century to appreciate the historicity of all things and the fact that they came into existence. It perceived that things that we used to consider as unchanging and immutable were the product of a long process of becoming. This was true not only in the realm of the human but also in that of nature. It became evident that the universe was not something like a huge box into which everything was put in a finished state, but that it was comparable instead to a living, growing tree that gradually lifts its branches higher and higher to the sky.”
The following quote needs to be verified further but illustrates the divide we are discussing.
“Unlike the fundamentalist Protestant churches in America, the Catholic church does not have a serious problem with the scientific theory of evolution," he said. "These are American problems we don't even enter into."
It’s easy to see from this article and from Pope Benedict’s past writings and his upcoming book that Catholics will be completely aligned against YEC views and will be strongly supporting scientific investigations of the age and origins of the earth.
We will start to see more and more a contrast building between Catholics in American and Evangelicals on these subjects just as we are seeing even here on PP the confrontation of YEC and OEC taking place on a limited arena. In reality it is not a Catholic or mainstream protestant groups against the evangelicals’ debate, it is the truth of God working itself out in this world of his dominion.
Just as it states in Revelation 11:15…The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever."
Therefore the quest for truth is going to be an ongoing desire and God will bring forth out of this quest for truth his desire.
One of the issues that Preterist need to come to understand is that God has not intervened in our world by and large for physical purposes. His miraculous WORKINGS have always been for our benefit to demonstrate that he is God. If we would notice that at the beginning and ending of sin death we have only an eye blink as the indicator of those two new spiritual realms occurring.
(Gen 3:7 NIV) Then the EYES OF BOTH of them WERE OPENED, and they realized they were naked;
(1 Cor 15:51 NIV) Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the TWINKLING OF AN EYE, at the last trumpet.
In the above two scriptures we have the change that Adam and Eve experienced by the spiritually opening of their eyes and in Paul’s letter we have only the twinkling of an eye to indicate these two covenant changes had occurred. One was the beginning of sin death and the other was the ending of sin death. There was no literal physical change at the “fall” nor was there one at the consummation of the ages.
If there is one thing that we need to keep reinforcing is that there is no physical demise of the end of the world and there were no physical changes at the beginning. Most of the problems we run into with futurist are their desire to have a physical destruction of God’s good creation; even with the moderate partial preterist they are still hung up on desiring this physical demise. The young earth crowd is the same way at the beginning; they cannot accept the “good earth” concept and have to demand its change at the fall or its destruction at the flood.
A good question to ask your friends who do not understand the Preterist position is “why do you believe that the “good” earth must end.” Most will answer because at the fall sin entered this world and it will need to be cleansed by destruction. You can then ask them why the physical creation which was declared “good” by God has to be destroyed or cleansed when it was man who introduced sin. Then you can explain to them more perfectly the plan of salvation of rescuing man from “sin” death and that the resurrection which they are looking forward to was enacted in the “twinkling of an eye” when the Temple and sacrificial system had been removed. Dan 12:1, 7. Just as in an eye blink Adam and Eve entered into the new world of sin and death so was it removed.
This is also why Preterist need to properly understand Genesis, because a continual bent toward literalizing that story will invariably confuse many. John demonstrates to us in Revelation the true nature of Genesis when he describes the serpent as Satan, the 1000 years as eternal life, the tree of life is brought into focus and the curse that Adam and Eve opened their eyes to have been removed so that we may walk with God again.
(1 Th 4:17 NRSV) Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage one another with these words.