Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pope speak

Pope Francis made a speech recently at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, in it he declared that the big bang and evolution are true and that pseudo-science like "intelligent design" and creationism are false. I agree and he should have left it there but unfortunately he went on to spoil an otherwise sensible statement by saying that these scientific theories do not contradict the idea of a creator but "require it".

We only need unpack that last sentence a tiny wee bit to see that intelligent design is exactly what is being suggested here, albeit in a fuzzy, weasel-worded way. What Pope Francis is hinting at is "purpose" in evolution, some notion that although evolution happens it was directed by God. His view seems to be that God created the first protozoa and the rules of the game such that some master plan lead inevitably to Human Beings, souls, sin and redemption, i.e. all the unfalsifiable and specific cultural junk his organisation relies upon. Why would any creator rely on such a torturous route spanning 4.5 billion years and trillions upon trillions of random mutations and extinctions to arrive at something that he can apparently conceive of (in its entirety) right at the beginning anyway?

He gives the game away by claiming that "God created Human Beings", if this is true then evolution must have had a purpose and must therefore be guided by something, this is precisely what the intelligent design brigade say. The evidence that we see all around us confirms that this is not true, evolution is an unguided process, it has to be since it rests upon the random initiator of genetic mutation and populations are then sculpted by the non-random process of natural selection. It is extreme anthropomorphism (hyper-ego in other words) to think that our particular species of primate (Homo Sapiens) is the focus, indeed the purpose of the entire universe. Based on what we now know about the character and scale of the universe through the laws of physics it's is hard to think of a more ridiculous and conceited idea than this.

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