Proponents of so called intelligent design have been hoping for support from the Catholic Church in the wake of the Pope's recent seminar about evolution. In looking for updates about this, I found an interesting report in Catholic News that deals with recent discussion in the Vatican's Pontifical Academy about the limits of science.
In the article, Father Jean-Michael Maldame is quoted as saying the following about Intelligent Design:
While God is the source of all creation, he does not alter "the course of natural phenomena" but "allows for the autonomy of his creatures and the play of nature's laws," he said.
Intelligent design supporters have created a "god of the gaps," meaning an unnamed intelligence or divine intervention to fill in or erase the uncertainties in science, he said.
Not only is this bad science, Father Maldame said, it is poor theology, since if and when science does come up with an explanation, God is then made unnecessary and disposed of as an incorrect hypothesis.
By not "giving ready-made answers to human research," he said, God "underscores the importance of man's freedom."
I couldn't have said it better.
I was somewhat less thrilled by the comments of another philosopher, Jurgen Mittelstrass who argued that the big questions about the nature of reality and what we can know about it are questions for philosophers and theologians to debate, not scientists. Hello!! Dr. Mittelstrass have you heard about quantum mechanics or cosmology or for that matter neurobiology? Have you not paid any attention to scientific debates on these very topics?
Now granted philosophers can help out here with their logical training, but these questions hardly belong just in their court for debate. As for theologians, well if they want to talk about God and the nature of God, fine. But once they stray into the nature of reality then they are going to but heads with science again especially if they use outmoded non empirical essentialist or typological thinking.
The Pontifical Academy will next take up evolution. Hopefully they invite some real scientists. If they want to invite a philosopher how about Daniel Dennett? Wouldn't that be fun to watch!
Pope Benedict's Remarks to the Pontifical Academy