Friday, March 13, 2009


Punishing the Righteous

Here's something you may have never thought about before: who preaches to the Pope? Apparently, it is Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household. That's right, even being the head of some 1 billion faithful doesn't mean you get to skip the boring sermon.

Father Cantalamessa at least recently had a more interesting subject than most sermons:

... offering a Lenten meditation to Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials March 13, [Fr. Cantalamessa] said the controversy that has arisen between scientists supporting evolution and religious believers promoting creationism or intelligent design is due mainly to a confusion between scientific theory and the truths of faith. ...

While some proponents of intelligent design claim that it is a scientifically valid theory, most scientists dismiss it as pseudoscience.

The arguments, Father Cantalamessa said, are due to the fact that, "in my opinion, there is not a clear enough distinction between intelligent design as a scientific theory and intelligent design as a truth of faith."

A bit of the difficulty in making the distinction might come from the fact that ID isn't scientific at all and is only a "truth" of faith.

But never fear, the Pope won't escape the vacuous metaphor and pious poetry that all the rest of the flock must endure:

Father Cantalamessa's Lenten reflection focused on a verse from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans: "All creation is groaning in labor pains even until now."

The text, he said, is an indication that St. Paul believes that the entire cosmos -- not just humanity -- is waiting to be saved and restored to its original beauty by Christ.

The suffering of the cosmos "is not closed and definitive. There is hope for creation, not because creation is able to hope subjectively, but because God has a redemption in mind for it."

But at least his conclusion is sound, no matter how torturous the route:

Christians contribute to keeping hope alive by respecting and defending nature, he said.

"For the Christian believer, environmentalism is not only a practical necessity for survival or a problem that is only political or economic; it has a theological foundation. Creation is the work of the Holy Spirit," he said.

Intelligent Design as a truth of faith?

Or is it not science, philosophy, or theology?

Tom S.
If you read the tea leaves of that conference going on in Rome and this sermon and project them as semi-official, the Vatican is leaning toward labeling ID as unscientific and bad philosophy and bad theology. Design is a "truth of faith" in that it is a matter of belief that God is responsible for the existence and nature of the universe but that is not something that can be reduced to an empiric claim.
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