Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Catholic Creationist

From time to time in Catholic circles the name Dominque Tassot crops up as being an influence on Pope Benedict's thinking about evolution. John Allen at the National Catholic Reporter has a revealing interview with this behind the scenes player in the development of Benedict's thinking about evolution.

Key points:

1. Tassot is a creationist-he denies it saying that he is not a creationist because he is not "committed" to a literal interpretation of the Bible. But like many creationists he does not accept macroevolution claiming that there is no scientific basis for it or for the concept of geological time.

For instance, about the principle of Superposition Tassot says:

"But if you think about it, the question of what's on top and what's on bottom doesn't necessarilyhave anything to do with comparative ages. If you pour mercury, oil and water into a glass, the mercury will end up on the bottom, and not because it's older. Physical principles operate. Density is the causal factor that determines position; chronology has nothing to do with it. The same thing applies to the different strata of sedimentary remains. The strata have been deposited where they are, and it's not necessarily the case that the oldest material is on the bottom. That's akin to thinking that the sediments basically fell from the sky. "

2. Tassot defines macroevolution as "the appearence of an organ in the offspring that did not exist in the parent". Clearly he has absolutely no concept of how evolution operates, and his arguement sounds a lot like the old canard that evolution can't lead to novel structure, just expressed very badly.

3. He parts company with the intelligent design crowd by claiming that the designer can be known through religion, and so at least he doesn't pretend that ID is somehow scientific.

So Tassot is more akin to a young Earth creationist in that he doesn't accept the scientific basis for geological time and does not accept macro-evolution. He concludes the interview with a little speculation as to what the Pope will do. He thinks that the Pope will issue a statement about evolution basically through Cardinal Schonborn since they know each other well.

I just pray that the Pope get's exposed to someone who really understands evolution.

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