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FW: Catholic stand

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Chabria, Tammy [mailto:Tammy_Chabria@mcgraw-hill.com] Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 11:14 AM To: Steven A. Edinger; Science Education Subject:
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2005
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Chabria, Tammy [mailto:Tammy_Chabria@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 11:14 AM
      To: Steven A. Edinger; Science Education
      Subject: Catholic stand

      A good piece by Texas Catholic Online.

      Tammy Chabria

      Editor, Science


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      Columbus, OH 43240-4027


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      "Man did not make the web of life, he is just a part of it. What he does
      to the web, he does to himself." Chief Seattle

      Court should send 'Intelligent Design' back to Seattle


      'INTELLIGENT DESIGN Theory' is not science. To some people it gives an
      appearance of uniting faith and reason, but intellectually it respects
      neither. The hype of the words aloft a political agenda in recent years
      has now landed a school board in federal court, where a judge must
      decide the obvious. We are referring to the Pennsylvania case in the
      Federal District Court of Harrisburg, in which 11 parents of the Dover
      Area School District sued the school board for its decision to mandate
      the so-called "Intelligent Design Theory" in science classes as a
      construct in opposition to the Theory of Evolution. Some newscasters
      call it a Scopes Trial II, reminiscent of an episode of American history
      that most educated Americans thought was dealt with somewhere in the
      1920s. Even though John Scopes was found guilty of teaching modern
      science in violation of Tennessee law, the fundamentalist religious
      agenda was exposed then as it should be exposed now. Federal Judge John
      E. Jones III should find that "Intelligent Design" is not a scientific
      theory of any kind, but rather a thinly veiled conspiracy to slowly
      reintroduce religious fundamentalism into American public education.
      Reintroducing respect for God or religion in the public schools is not a
      bad thing, if it were simply that. However, in this case, it is a
      fundamentalist attack upon the study of legitimate science. The
      discussion about "Intelligent Design" on the Dover school board was
      first about "creationism" until its lawyers suggested the design wording
      might be a safer legal course. In at least 19 other states, "Intelligent
      Design" is also an issue before public school boards. Before we lay out
      our case against "Intelligent Design," let us make some clear points
      about our Catholic belief. One is that "we believe in God," as our creed
      says, "creator of heaven and earth." One may also call God the designer,
      as did Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl in a recent column. And, from a
      spiritual and personal perspective one may see the beauty and complexity
      of the world as God's creation. No problem. However, our Catholic faith
      does not pretend to know the mind of God but seeks understanding in
      light of divine revelation and human discovery. Paragraph 283 of the
      "Catechism of the Catholic Church" says, "The question about the origins
      of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies
      which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions
      of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man.
      These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the

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      greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his
      works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and
      researchers." Now, let's begin with a few historical facts about
      "Intelligent Design," which is postulated by some people as equivalent
      to science. The words are a relatively recent spin of the Discovery
      Institute established in Seattle in 1990. The words have replaced
      "creationism" as the most palatable term used by religious
      fundamentalists in their political action against science in America's
      cultural wars. Discovery Institute was founded by Bruce Chapman, a
      Republican politician who enjoys the financial support of the religious
      fundamentalists. Although it is not a religious organization, the
      Institute has a record of supporting fundamentalist religious causes,
      especially in the public arena. The Institute touts "intelligent design"
      as a scientific theory. It is not. No academy of science anywhere in the
      world recognizes the term as having any scientific basis. There is a
      handful, but only a handful of scientists, who embrace the idea that
      complexities in the natural world must be attributed to the direct
      intervention of a designer. There are always a few scientists on the
      wrong track about something. That happened not long ago with the cold
      water fusion "discoveries" that fizzled upon closer examination. The
      so-called "Intelligent Design Theory" does not exist in substance beyond
      words. Leading and respected scientists say the idea is overly
      simplistic and totally unverifiable. In the Dover, Pa., case, the
      science teachers themselves protested the school board's action. A
      theory in science is a well-formulated, observable and testable
      explanation for a phenomenon in nature. A theory in science does not
      mean just an opinion. A theory is the accepted and verifiable
      explanation. The nearly150-year-old Theory of Evolution is certainly a
      well documented, discussed, and continuously explored explanation that
      is broadly accepted by scientists. The theory is subject to every stage
      of the scientific process on a continual basis. There is nothing
      observable and testable about the "Intelligent Design Theory." While its
      spokesmen talk of "empirically detecting" evidence of intelligent
      design, none of their positions have been put to the science academies
      for rigorous examination on any scientific basis. The Discovery
      Institute spokesmen will not publicly say who they think the intelligent
      designer is. They claim they are agnostic in their thinking. We suspect
      that it is out of cleverness to protect the Institute's hidden and
      disingenuous agenda. Of course, all their friends know they are talking
      about God, not Martians. That's why some religious people like those on
      the Dover school board have become the Institute's most ardent
      supporters. They honestly admit their desire for the science classroom
      to become more God-focused. Other religious people have no need of that
      comfort zone and do not feel threatened by science. Most Catholics
      firmly embrace science and depart with scientists only when they argue
      that science has proven God does not exist or scientists take a course
      threatening to human life. In

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      certain philosophical circles, there are those who adapt the theory of
      physical evolution to a materialistic view of society that we reject. In
      the realm of science, men and women seek understanding and discovery of
      the natural law. In the realm of theology, a similar process comes from
      scholars of Holy Scripture and salvation history. Neither theologians
      nor scientists can disprove the other other but sometimes attempt to do
      so by venturing outside of their area of expertise. However, those in
      both fields should dialogue constantly in an amicable way so that the
      truth of human destiny is better understood through faith and reason.
      The "Intelligent Design Theory" is bad theology when people use it to
      preclude evolution. People of faith should not limit God through a
      narrow understanding of him. To postulate that God could not work
      through some forms of evolution, even random ones, is to deny the
      omnipotence of the Supreme Being. It is to hearken toward seeing God in
      human terms, which is called "anthropomorphocentrism." That's how
      humanity itself created warring deities or a god who condones slavery.
      That is how some people adopted the deistic God of Newtonian physics in
      the modern era. There is no conflict between faith and reason - both
      seek truth - unless some make it a conflict as the Discovery Institute
      and its supporters have done. That a few Catholics are involved in
      promoting the Institute's agenda should be seen as an embarrassment to
      the church. The Institute on one hand says it opposes teaching
      "Intelligent Design" in public schools and on the other hand encourages
      allied fundamentalists to get on with the cultural war. An
      intellectually honest stance would be that no science material that is
      not broadly accepted by scientists should be used in classrooms below
      the college level. Children have to first learn the basics of science
      before they can explore any weakness in scientific thought. To have it
      otherwise is to dumb down education. In summation, our church, which has
      founded many universities and educated many great scientists and
      theologians of the world, is committed to truth wherever it is

      - BLH

      From: Texas Catholic Online - Editorials


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