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Atheist Universe Excerpt 
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Actually Chris, I was referring to JP2's comments regarding evolution being more than a theory. I still think of JP2 as The Pope.But there isn't really a difference between the Benedict and JP2.

Anyway, this recent document probably best sums up the position of the current Pope.

www.vatican.va/roman_curi...ip_en.html

Now, it's a long document, so I'll quote certain relevant portions.

Quote:
63. According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the "Big Bang" and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5-4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo sapiens. With the development of the human brain, the nature and rate of evolution were permanently altered: with the introduction of the uniquely human factors of consciousness, intentionality, freedom and creativity, biological evolution was recast as social and cultural evolution.


Quote:
Pope John Paul II stated some years ago that "new knowledge leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge"("Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Evolution"1996). In continuity with previous twentieth century papal teaching on evolution (especially Pope Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis ), the Holy Father's message acknowledges that there are "several theories of evolution" that are "materialist, reductionist and spiritualist" and thus incompatible with the Catholic faith. It follows that the message of Pope John Paul II cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe. Mainly concerned with evolution as it "involves the question of man," however, Pope John Paul's message is specifically critical of materialistic theories of human origins and insists on the relevance of philosophy and theology for an adequate understanding of the "ontological leap" to the human which cannot be explained in purely scientific terms. The Church's interest in evolution thus focuses particularly on "the conception of man" who, as created in the image of God, "cannot be subordinated as a pure means or instrument either to the species or to society." As a person created in the image of God, he is capable of forming relationships of communion with other persons and with the triune God, as well as of exercising sovereignty and stewardship in the created universe. The implication of these remarks is that theories of evolution and of the origin of the universe possess particular theological interest when they touch on the doctrines of the creation ex nihilo and the creation of man in the image of God.



Quote:
67. With respect to the creatio ex nihilo, theologians can note that the Big Bang theory does not contradict this doctrine insofar as it can be said that the supposition of an absolute beginning is not scientifically inadmissible. Since the Big Bang theory does not in fact exclude the possibility of an antecedent stage of matter, it can be noted that the theory appears to provide merely indirect support for the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo which as such can only be known by faith.



Quote:
With respect to the evolution of conditions favorable to the emergence of life, Catholic tradition affirms that, as universal transcendent cause, God is the cause not only of existence but also the cause of causes. God's action does not displace or supplant the activity of creaturely causes, but enables them to act according to their natures and, nonetheless, to bring about the ends he intends. In freely willing to create and conserve the universe, God wills to activate and to sustain in act all those secondary causes whose activity contributes to the unfolding of the natural order which he intends to produce. Through the activity of natural causes, God causes to arise those conditions required for the emergence and support of living organisms, and, furthermore, for their reproduction and differentiation. Although there is scientific debate about the degree of purposiveness or design operative and empirically observable in these developments, they have de facto favored the emergence and flourishing of life. Catholic theologians can see in such reasoning support for the affirmation entailed by faith in divine creation and divine providence. In the providential design of creation, the triune God intended not only to make a place for human beings in the universe but also, and ultimately, to make room for them in his own trinitarian life. Furthermore, operating as real, though secondary causes, human beings contribute to the reshaping and transformation of the universe.



Quote:
it is important to note that, according to the Catholic understanding of divine causality, true contingency in the created order is not incompatible with a purposeful divine providence. Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God's providential plan for creation. According to St. Thomas Aquinas: "The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency" (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1). In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process



Sat Oct 14, 2006 7:55 am
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Post Re: !
I find this whole conversation to be frustrating. I'm not frustrated with you, Niall, but it is very disappointing to see mature adults back-pedal the way so many theists are back-pedaling on the evolution issue.

"God" has always been defined as "that which we do not understand." A few thousand years ago so much of what we observed in nature was attributed directly to God, but over the years we learned of the true natural origins of these phenomenon and we pushed God back further and further.

It disgusts me that theists cannot figure this one out. Why isn't it blatantly obvious that a God doesn't exist at all. Now we have even the Catholic Church admitting to biological evolution, with the only real exceptions being abiogenesis. So what happens when we have abiogenesis figured out? What will the Catholics and ID'ers say then? How will they then revise their definition of God?

If you don't get what I'm saying I believe it is because you're utterly brainwashed. This is a no-brainer. It is clear as hell that humans are grasping desperately to their myths, only letting go when it is completely ludicrous to cling any further.

The day will come when we fully understand how life emerged from non-life, but you and I am everyone reading this will be long dead. I feel a bit proud to be a part of the group that isn't misled by emotion, authority and dogma. Attack this if you will, but reality speaks loudly. As an advocate for methodological and philosophical naturalism I seem to ALWAYS be on the winning side. This tells me something. The religious are ALWAYS proven wrong literally 100% of the time when such proof is possible. I'm not sure why I find this trend meaningful while the devote brush it aside and keep retreating with their vague and untestable definition of their God.




Sat Oct 14, 2006 11:14 am
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Post Re: !
Maybe we should move this thread into the "Evolution vs. Creationism" forum, as Mad suggests, as our goal is to get that discussion up and running. In fact I am going to move it there now. Yes, the top post is about Atheist Universe, but the entire thread pertains to the topic of our current book.




Sat Oct 14, 2006 11:18 am
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Post --
Chris, it's hardly back pedaling. It's hardly a new idea. Even St. Augustine all those centuries ago suggested that all life evolved from a single cell and non-literal interpretations of genesis and the like have been common since pre-christian times. These aren't new explanations in reaction to evolutionary theory. Philo of Alexandria advocated non-literal interpretations in the first century along side evolution like theories.

Also, abiogenesis isn't really an exception. Only certain interpretations of what it means.

Battery dead.

Edited by: Niall001 at: 10/14/06 2:42 pm



Sat Oct 14, 2006 1:40 pm
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Post Re: --
Chris OConnor: ...but it is very disappointing to see mature adults back-pedal the way so many theists are back-pedaling on the evolution issue.

Why is it back-pedalling to revise your opinions in light of the accumulation of evidence?

"God" has always been defined as "that which we do not understand."

Not always. That's a relatively recent definition -- if you can even call it a definition -- arising, as I understand it, mostly from the Rabinnic school of Jewish theology. It may not be possible to settle on a single definition of God that embraces the full range of religious traditions without seriously distorting the way those traditions represent their gods. That diversity of representations is one reason that it's misguided to present evolution as an across the board challenge to all theism. For some traditions (Taoism or Buddhism, for instance) evolution may not present a theological problem at all. Even with the Abrahamic traditions, representations of God vary, and that's why we see, as Scott points out, more controversy coming from certain quandrants within Christianity than we see in other Abrahamic traditions. And the agreement that you find in the less antievolutionist Abrahamic traditions are not always the result of a revised concept of God; sometimes no change at all was necessary to make evolutionary theory compatible with religious doctrine.

Why isn't it blatantly obvious that a God doesn't exist at all.

Because evolution theory doesn't really address that question at all.




Sat Oct 14, 2006 2:04 pm
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Post Re: --
Chris,

I know that we've drifted off the original subject, but I notice that you offer bonuses, like free books, to those who recruit the most new members. If you'd like to use the new edition of Atheist Universe as a bonus, I'll be happy to donate three signed copies to booktalk.

Please let me know and, if you're interested, share a US postal address with me so I can ship them to you.

David




Sun Oct 15, 2006 6:07 pm


Post Re: !
I'm not ignoring the context, what this paragraph is is the typical "escape clause". It is the universal answer because it can fit any situation. This section is the why in the paper about what is acceptable to believe about evolution in the Catholic Church. And to me, the why proposed is a cop out answer. It's a very long winded way to say that even if we can explain all the natural aspects of every single thing, it doesn't disagree with god, because god made it that way. I'm not saying that this invalidates anything else said in the article or is a reason why Catholics should or shouldn't believe in evolution. I'm merely pointing out that the argument rests on a very old and often used concept.




Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:48 am
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Post Re: !
How exactly is it a cop out? I don't get it.

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Wed Oct 18, 2006 10:09 am
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Post Re: !
Because any and all findings can be explained by the same answer. Everything is the way it is because god wanted it that way. You can't prove this wrong, and by the same token you can't prove it right. For example, if by some astounding new discovery we were able to prove that Jesus was in fact not born of a virgin birth, it would not contradict this logic. You could simply say it's that way because god wanted it that way.

It's a cop-out because they are answering a complicated issue with a catch all we are right either way answer. If the evidence finds proof of miracles, hey we were right, if the evidence doesn't find any proof of miracles then, hey we were right.




Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:12 pm
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Post Re: !
Sound reasoning, Phiend.




Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:37 pm
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Post Re: !
I think I get you. You're wrong on the virgin birth though, but that's way too complicated to even try. Could be a virgin birth by natural means, but that's a totally different story.

Quote:
It's a cop-out because they are answering a complicated issue with a catch all we are right either way answer. If the evidence finds proof of miracles, hey we were right, if the evidence doesn't find any proof of miracles then, hey we were right.


But it isn't that we'd be right. That'd be a bit like saying that if we found proof that God exists, or proof that God didn't exist, then agnostics would be able to say that they were right. You can't be right about something that you don't have a position on. Catholicism has no position on the details of how we and the universe came to be, that's up to every Catholic to decide for themselves on whatever basis they want to.

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Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:39 pm
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Post Re: !
Ok...I see a tangential discussion here:

Mad, in response to Pheind says:
Quote:
It's good to remind ourselves (or one another) from time to time that only vigilence allows us to keep at hand the difference between a belief and the person who holds it.


So if someone has the belief that it is ok to hurt others in the name of their belief, we should strive to accept these people on some other basis?

Sorry...but I do indeed gauge the measure of a person based on their beliefs...especially those beliefs that control their actions.

How else are we to judge people then? Looks?

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Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:35 pm
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Post Re: !
Sometimes I just wanna give you a big bear hug Nick. You know....a hetero-style bear hug. ::124 ::124 ::124




Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:50 pm
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Post Re: !
By the way, Phiend, I am really loving your posts.




Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:51 pm
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Post Re: Atheist Universe Excerpt
The book is more or less just a misunderstanding of religion in general.

Furthermore, It doesn't use a mature understanding of God.




Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:14 pm
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