1. Felicific Forest
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    02 Nov '08 00:06
    ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
    TO MEMBERS OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
    ON THE OCCASION OF THEIR PLENARY ASSEMBLY

    Clementine Hall
    Friday, 31 October 2008



    Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I am happy to greet you, the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, on the occasion of your Plenary Assembly, and I thank Professor Nicola Cabibbo for the words he has kindly addressed to me on your behalf.

    In choosing the topic Scientific Insight into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life, you seek to focus on an area of enquiry which elicits much interest. In fact, many of our contemporaries today wish to reflect upon the ultimate origin of beings, their cause and their end, and the meaning of human history and the universe.

    In this context, questions concerning the relationship between science’s reading of the world and the reading offered by Christian Revelation naturally arise. My predecessors Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II noted that there is no opposition between faith’s understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences. Philosophy in its early stages had proposed images to explain the origin of the cosmos on the basis of one or more elements of the material world. This genesis was not seen as a creation, but rather a mutation or transformation; it involved a somewhat horizontal interpretation of the origin of the world. A decisive advance in understanding the origin of the cosmos was the consideration of being qua being and the concern of metaphysics with the most basic question of the first or transcendent origin of participated being. In order to develop and evolve, the world must first be, and thus have come from nothing into being. It must be created, in other words, by the first Being who is such by essence.

    To state that the foundation of the cosmos and its developments is the provident wisdom of the Creator is not to say that creation has only to do with the beginning of the history of the world and of life. It implies, rather, that the Creator founds these developments and supports them, underpins them and sustains them continuously. Thomas Aquinas taught that the notion of creation must transcend the horizontal origin of the unfolding of events, which is history, and consequently all our purely naturalistic ways of thinking and speaking about the evolution of the world. Thomas observed that creation is neither a movement nor a mutation. It is instead the foundational and continuing relationship that links the creature to the Creator, for he is the cause of every being and all becoming (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q.45, a. 3).

    To “evolve” literally means “to unroll a scroll”, that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author. It is a book whose history, whose evolution, whose “writing” and meaning, we “read” according to the different approaches of the sciences, while all the time presupposing the foundational presence of the author who has wished to reveal himself therein. This image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos. Notwithstanding elements of the irrational, chaotic and the destructive in the long processes of change in the cosmos, matter as such is “legible”. It has an inbuilt “mathematics”. The human mind therefore can engage not only in a “cosmography” studying measurable phenomena but also in a “cosmology” discerning the visible inner logic of the cosmos. We may not at first be able to see the harmony both of the whole and of the relations of the individual parts, or their relationship to the whole. Yet, there always remains a broad range of intelligible events, and the process is rational in that it reveals an order of evident correspondences and undeniable finalities: in the inorganic world, between microstructure and macrostructure; in the organic and animal world, between structure and function; and in the spiritual world, between knowledge of the truth and the aspiration to freedom. Experimental and philosophical inquiry gradually discovers these orders; it perceives them working to maintain themselves in being, defending themselves against imbalances, and overcoming obstacles. And thanks to the natural sciences we have greatly increased our understanding of the uniqueness of humanity’s place in the cosmos.

    The distinction between a simple living being and a spiritual being that is capax Dei, points to the existence of the intellective soul of a free transcendent subject. Thus the Magisterium of the Church has constantly affirmed that “every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not ‘produced’ by the parents – and also that it is immortal” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 366). This points to the distinctiveness of anthropology, and invites exploration of it by modern thought.

    Distinguished Academicians, I wish to conclude by recalling the words addressed to you by my predecessor Pope John Paul II in November 2003: “scientific truth, which is itself a participation in divine Truth, can help philosophy and theology to understand ever more fully the human person and God’s Revelation about man, a Revelation that is completed and perfected in Jesus Christ. For this important mutual enrichment in the search for the truth and the benefit of mankind, I am, with the whole Church, profoundly grateful”.

    Upon you and your families, and all those associated with the work of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of wisdom and peace.




    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/october/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20081031_academy-sciences_en.html
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    02 Nov '08 09:101 edit
    This thread is not about discussing various details of particular sciences themselves but rather it is about discussing the religious perception of them.
    For that reason, I think you should have put this in the spirituality forum and not the science forum
    -too late 🙂
  3. Felicific Forest
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    02 Nov '08 16:024 edits
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    This thread is not about discussing various details of particular sciences themselves but rather it is about discussing the religious perception of them.
    For that reason, I think you should have put this in the spirituality forum and not the science forum
    -too late 🙂
    This thread is absolutely not about "religious perception" of particular sciences. It is about the relationship between Faith and Reason and therefore it surely belongs in the Science forum. The Pope's speech was adressed at the members of an Academy of Sciences.

    The Roman Catholic Church stating that the facts science has found regarding the evolution of the universe in general and mankind in particular are not in contradiction to the Christian Faith are of great importance regarding the debate going on in the US between the creationists and the evolutionists.

    Therefore, the reason why this thread should have a place in the Science forum is the fact that this thread has nothing to do with the usual subjects in the "Spiritual Forum" but rather with the numerous threads going on in the Science forum about evolution vs creationism.

    Moving this thread to the Spiritualty Forum is not an encouragement for evolution vs creationism debaters to leave their trenches and look at things from a new and different perspective.

    Both creationists and evolutionists should be interested in the fact that a serious Christian Church, representing 1,000,000 Christians, has accepted the theory of evolution as a serious scientific theory.
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    02 Nov '08 16:311 edit
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    This thread is absolutely not about "religious perception" of particular sciences. It is about the relationship between Faith and Reason and therefore it surely belongs in the Science forum. The Pope's speech was adressed at the members of an Academy of [b]Sciences.

    The Roman Catholic Church stating that the facts science has found regarding the evol 000 Christians, has accepted the theory of evolution as a serious scientific theory.[/b]
    …but rather with the numerous threads going on in the Science forum about evolution vs creationism. …

    Unfortunately, non of those evolution verses creationism threads should have been put in the science forum either! Sadly the science forum is being regularly abused that way.

    ….Moving this thread to the Spirituality Forum…

    Who moved it here? Was it you ? -I mean, did you request it? It certainly wasn’t me -I didn’t request it.
    If it was you than I congratulate you 🙂

    I wish all the evolution verses creationism threads would also be moved out of the science forum and into another more appropriate one.

    It has just occurred to me that we really need to resolve this longstanding issue of religion being brought to the science forum is to have a new forum called “science verses religion” or maybe “science and religion” and then we could request the moderator to move all of the “science verses religion” or “science and religion” kind of threads over there to stay. I would personally be happy to debate in such a forum. -I will take this idea to the “site ideas” forum now.

    …a serious Christian Church, representing 1,000,000 Christians, has accepted the theory of evolution as a serious scientific theory..…

    I was aware.
  5. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    02 Nov '08 16:43
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    “[b]scientific truth, which is itself a participation in divine Truth, can help philosophy and theology to understand ever more fully the human person and God’s Revelation about man, a Revelation that is completed and perfected in Jesus Christ. ”.[/b]
    But isn't it a scientific truth that a man cannot live inside of a live fish for several days?
  6. Donationrwingett
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    02 Nov '08 16:45
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    This thread is absolutely not about "religious perception" of particular sciences. It is about the relationship between Faith and Reason and therefore it surely belongs in the Science forum. The Pope's speech was adressed at the members of an Academy of [b]Sciences.

    The Roman Catholic Church stating that the facts science has found regarding the evol ...[text shortened]... 000 Christians, has accepted the theory of evolution as a serious scientific theory.[/b]
    Given that Catholics do not always adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church, I wonder what percentage of American Catholics accept evolution?
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    02 Nov '08 17:44
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Given that Catholics do not always adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church, I wonder what percentage of American Catholics accept evolution?
    Nor Christans to the teachings of Christ. Concerning what Christ taught, regarding creation, consider these verses,

    And Pharisees came up to him, intent on tempting him and saying: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on every sort of ground?” In reply he said: “Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? - Mathew 19:3

    quite clearly, Christ himself upheld the Biblical account of Genesis as being true and not only believed this himself but taught others to view it as such, as is clearly evident from this passage. others, have tried to adopt an interpretation of Christs words, however, what is there to interpret ?, he uses a direct quotation from the book of genesis, genesis chapter 1 verse 27 and genesis chapter 5 verse 2 to be precise.

    it is a great pity and nothing short of apostasy for a Christian to adopt a different teaching from the one which Christ himself adopted, and i urge any sincere atheist/agnostic to try to differentiate between the two, quite clearly Christ and his teachings are one thing, 'Christians', and their churches quite another - regards Robert.
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    03 Nov '08 00:12
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    But isn't it a scientific truth that a man cannot live inside of a live fish for several days?
    Interesting observation and totally relevant as to its application to the Biblical truth stated in Matthew 12. He likened Jonah's three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish to Jesus' similar length of time "in the bowels of the earth"...i.e. death. Bible scholars feel that Jonah did die and was brought back to life after the fish vomited him up on shore.
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    03 Nov '08 06:58
    Originally posted by ale1552
    Interesting observation and totally relevant as to its application to the Biblical truth stated in Matthew 12. He likened Jonah's three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish to Jesus' similar length of time "in the bowels of the earth"...i.e. death. Bible scholars feel that Jonah did die and was brought back to life after the fish vomited him up on shore.
    But isn't it a scientific truth that neither living in a whale nor resurrection are possible? The Jonah story and the Resurrection of Jesus story both contradict known science quite dramatically.
  10. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    03 Nov '08 07:16
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    But isn't it a scientific truth that neither living in a whale nor resurrection are possible? The Jonah story and the Resurrection of Jesus story both contradict known science quite dramatically.
    Suspension of disbelief is essential across the narrative spectrum from fairy-tales to theogonic allegory -- and beyond!

    The fish is an age-old symbol of transformation. A literal interpretation of Jonah misses the point; by the same token, a literary reading of the Gospels does far more for me than accepting them as literal truth, with all the mental gymnastics around contradictions that entails.
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    03 Nov '08 07:51
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Given that Catholics do not always adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church, I wonder what percentage of American Catholics accept evolution?
    Evolution is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. Any Catholic may choose to accept or reject it without damaging their standing in the Church.
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    03 Nov '08 09:56
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Suspension of disbelief is essential across the narrative spectrum from fairy-tales to theogonic allegory -- and beyond!

    The fish is an age-old symbol of transformation. A literal interpretation of Jonah misses the point; by the same token, a literary reading of the Gospels does far more for me than accepting them as literal truth, with all the mental gymnastics around contradictions that entails.
    I fully agree, though I wouldn't call it 'suspension of disbelief' but rather recognition that it is not intended to be a factual account. I do not for one moment believe that Red Riding Hoods grandmother could be swallowed whole by the wolf to be rescued live and well by the woodcutter.

    But most Christians do believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and that the event defied the known laws of physics. For some odd reason there are a lot of Christians who believe that yet will ridicule fellow Christians who believe in similar events such as Jonahs being swallowed or Noahs flood.
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    03 Nov '08 10:17
    Originally posted by Conrau K
    Evolution is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. Any Catholic may choose to accept or reject it without damaging their standing in the Church.
    True, ignorance is not a crime in the eyes of RCC.

    However, the Pope is clearly demarcating the RCC from those who believe that creationism is taught by the Gospel.
  14. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    03 Nov '08 11:12
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I fully agree, though I wouldn't call it 'suspension of disbelief' but rather recognition that it is not intended to be a factual account.
    Suspension of disbelief is required of those who already recognise that a story isn't factual: a fairy-tale isn't entertaining for someone who doesn't enter the fictional world in which wolves can talk, and a tale that doesn't engage attention (entertain) isn't effective. So story-telling involves the collaboration of audience and story-teller to that end.
  15. Standard memberPalynka
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    03 Nov '08 11:241 edit
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Suspension of disbelief is required of those who already recognise that a story isn't factual: a fairy-tale isn't entertaining for someone who doesn't enter the fictional world in which wolves can talk, and a tale that doesn't engage attention (entertain) isn't effective. So story-telling involves the collaboration of audience and story-teller to that end.
    Unrelated: What is the oldest known fictional work of literature that is factual (in the sense above)?
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