Saturday, 20 August 2011

You are truly missed, happy birthday Ebitari Tekenah.

Ebitari, today would have been a happy day for you as it would have been your birthday. Instead, today has made me realize how much you are still missed. I have all these memories rushing back to me today and I realize that I would never pick up the phone to call and have our usual chat.
MEN!, Tari, I miss you alot and I would like to tell you Happy Birthday as you look down on us.

Happy Birthday Mate,

One Love Big Guy.

Friday, 5 August 2011

RE: The Vatican may be cosying up to science but it will never go all the way

I recently came across an article by Riazat Butt of the Guardian titled “The Vatican may be cosying up to science but it will never go all the way” on 23rd February, 2011. It was riddled with all sought of inaccuracies and misconceptions. It is important to stress ‘ab initio’ that, the Catholic Church is not a scientific body and as such need not be looked up to, to validate or invalidate any scientific theory. The Galileo experience, as she rightly pointed out, serves as a lesson. Now, it doesn’t prevent the  Church on the side, to actively seek to expand the frontier of knowledge even from the point of view of science in order to further her (she would say) understanding on the workings of God. That is why the Pope has an advisory body on science; The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, first formed in 1603 and whose members include non-Catholics such as its current president, Werner Arber and professor Stephen Hawking amongst others.
Having said that, let me first correct a false impression portrayed by the article, before I really address what I found quite disturbing about the piece as a whole. Riazat says;

“Alas, the much talked about collaboration between the Italian space agency and the Pontifical Lateran University has yet to launch. But the initiative is another sign that the Vatican wants to be taken (more) seriously on science.”

It is important to point out that this is actually not some thing new and that the Vatican has been interested in Astronomy since the 16th Century and in fact runs one of the oldest astronomical institutes (The Vatican Observatory) in the world.

None of these misconceptions surprised me more than her attempt to impose an official position on the church on the theory of evolution and suggest it is has ever opposed (or even endorsed it), going further to equate this to the church’s opposition to certain procedures based on ethical grounds (ethical as opposed to scientific theory is highlighted intentionally).
Let’s address the issue of the Evolution Theory; The Catholic Church has no official position on the theory of evolution. Now, unofficially she has said that she does not reject it as a possibility and that the theory in no way contradicts the teaching of the church on the source of creation and the dual composition of man (material and spiritual). You can refer to Pope Pius XII encyclical; Humani Generis article 36. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI even went further to describe it as a very sound scientific hypothesis in their speeches to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and a group of 400 priests respectively. They all did not go ahead to endorse it as a proven fact which is what I perceived the article wanted the church to do. Even the scientific community (religious and non religious) has not accorded it that kind of status; or else it seizes to be a theory.
This can also be said about the churches position on the concept of Intelligent Design and the Big Bang theory which funnily enough was once considered to be religious concept, largely due to the fact it was first proposed a catholic scientist making him to be derided and sometimes ridiculed by some of his peers. Well, today we know how billions is been spent trying to validate the big bang theory by the lager scientific community.
It then went on to suggest that Catholics should have no mind of their own and that any opinion offered by any Catholic is elevated to the status of an official position. This is preposterous and as such, to suggest that the analysis of Cardinal Schönborn tilts the official position of the Catholic Church towards intelligent design is false (and that’s putting it politely). This is because I can also point to an article in L'Osservatore Romano considered to be the official mouth piece of the Roman Curia, where Professor Fiorenzo Facchini dismissed Intelligent Design as a scientific theory. We won’t because of the analysis of the priest in the article elevate it, even in the slightest manner, to an official position of the church. In a nutshell, the church does not validate or invalidate scientific theories even if her members weigh in on the debate. Catholics are free to explore and indeed espouse their opinions on scientific matters but are called to unity of faith in truth and reason.
Now to go ahead to equate this debate within and between the church and the wider scientific community to its stance on the ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cell and the importance to uphold the sanctity of life at every stage of development is quite worrying. This concern drove me to write this.
FYI, while we are still on inaccuracies, the Catholic Church has not changed her stance on condom use, at least as far as Humanae Vitae and other church documents make me aware.