Una risposta dall’Austria a Schönborn
La lettera e’ stata pubblicata su Science, volume 309, fascicolo 5739, pp. 1324, 2005). Seguira’ a breve la traduzione in italiano. The recent statement of Viennese Cardinal Schönborn “clarifying” the Catholic position on evolution is disconcerting. Schönborn, who is a close ally of Pope Benedict XVI, declares that “evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense is not true” and that there is
La lettera e’ stata pubblicata su Science, volume 309, fascicolo 5739, pp. 1324, 2005). Seguira’ a breve la traduzione in italiano.
The recent statement of Viennese Cardinal Schönborn “clarifying” the Catholic position on evolution is disconcerting. Schönborn, who is a close ally of Pope Benedict XVI, declares that “evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense is not true” and that there is “overwhelming evidence for design in biology,” thus aligning the Catholic Church with the Intelligent Design movement. The strategy is familiar. The sophistication of evolutionary theory is misrepresented, and the process is cartooned as solely consisting of random mutation and natural selection, thus concocting a facile state of disbelief in the audience. Ample reference is made to Church documents, which declare that an unguided process of evolution outside the bounds of divine providence “simply cannot exist.” In this medieval logic, the existence of divine intentional design seems inevitable. Many processes in nature appear to be guided, such as a stretched rubber band becoming as short as it can despite none of its many parts “knowing” ahead of time what that configuration is. Similarly, the evolutionary process rests on the dynamics of molecular and developmental interactions that collectively shape the outcomes of random mutation and selection in a nonrandom way. This weaving together of evolution and developmental processes provides the modern experimental and theoretical framework, grounded in Darwinian thinking, for explaining the organization of living systems. Unlike a dogmatic Church, science offers an iterative method of observation and reason that has proven to be mankind’s most fruitful approach to truth. Cardinal Schönborn brands the scores of researchers that follow the scientific method of inquiry as ideologues, while proclaiming the Church as the “firm defender of reason.” This sounds like Galilei all over again, if it wasn’t for this last surreal move, which represents a sweeping attack on science in general at a time when so many domains of western society structurally depend on it. Herein we discern some intent that goes well beyond ignorance of scientific facts. Schönborn’s statement shows how fragile the relations between science and religion still are and how tempting it is to sacrifice dialogue for politics. The Catholic Church–indeed, any major religion–should be a partner in much-needed reflections about the societal implications of science. As Austrian evolutionary biologists, we stand against the statements expressed by the Austrian Cardinal and shall continue a dialogue with those who are not bent on fundamentalism. Manfred D. Laubichler / Gerd B. Müller / Walter Fontana / Günter P. Wagner