Monday, January 14, 2008

Scientests say Pope is Anti-Science

A group of scientists at an Italian University is raising a fuss over an upcoming visit from the Pope. They say that the Pope is anti-reason and anti-science, and should not be honored in an academic setting. (Full Article)

To bolster their position, the 67 protestors cite a 1990 speech in which then-Cardinal Ratzinger defended the Church's disciplinary action against Galileo in 1633. In that talk, the future Pope cited the verdict of the agnostic scholar Paul Feyerabend, who said: "The Church in the age of Galileo clung to reason more than Galileo himself did." He found that the heresy verdict against Galileo was, by the standards of the times, "rational and just."

Although he did not endorse Feyerabend's conclusion-- Pope John Paul II (bio - news) had already acknowledged that the Church erred in condemning Galileo-- Cardinal Ratzinger did stress that the Church was not hostile to science, and in fact Galileo continued his investigations, with support from the hierarchy, even after his trial.

It's Regensburg all over again. At least these scientists won't be blowing up Churches or burning the Pope in effigy. Why is it that they, who insist on "reason" being so important, can't even use a quotation properly? The author of the article gets it right:
The protests against the Pope's visit to La Sapienza have echoed that hostility toward religious faith, claiming that the Church today still suppresses scientific progress. Ironically, to protest that alleged restraint on free inquiry, the group asks university officials to prevent a speech by the Roman Pontiff. Vatican Radio, describing the protests as unworthy of academic life, questioned whether the professors were displaying the "tolerance" that they proclaimed.
This just emphasizes the fact that these scientists, like the militant atheists and the anti-Catholic fundamentalists, don't care to be reasoned, but prefer to just spout their opinions. I compare it to how the Catholic Church can be portrayed as "homophobic" for opposing the disordered lifestyles of that crowd of people, whereas these scientists (or anyone really) are "reasoned" or "enlightened" by opposing the Church, and what it teaches. The university will have an interesting response to the visit.
The dean of the university has said that he will not cancel the Pope's visit. But protests at the school are planned throughout the week, with critics posting anti-clerical slogans around the campus and organizing a "homo-cession"-- a parade of homosexuals and lesbians-- to protest Church teachings.
Of course, the good old "homo-cession". This makes the clearest statement about what this opposition to the visit is really about. It has nothing to do with the Pope's or the Church's supposed opposition to scientific progress. This is about the Church teaching what it has always taught. People still don't like the Church, Jesus promised that it would be that way.

Still, if the Pope told these scientists that they needed to stop doing this or another research, would they? I doubt it. This means he isn't a threat to them. And, there really is no denying that he is perhaps the foremost theologian in Europe right now, which makes him an academic. I'm not sure what the Pope will be talking about there, but it may well touch on the moral obligations of science, which these scientists need to hear.

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