Last month, the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VRG) launched a new project, a website to present their theories, with the expressed mission of showing the world that “the Church and science can coexist.” A closer look shows that the Vatican project is challenged by the Biblical account of creation and comes very close to explicitly rejecting Genesis.
VRG: Supporting science or capitulating to secularism?
Established in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as the Vatican’s scientific institution, the VRG is currently headquartered in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and operates a telescope at the Mount Graham International Observatory in the United States. The mandate of the current VRG stated by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 was to “show the world that the Church supports science.”
In a 2002 interview for the Catholic Education Resource Center, George Coyne, a Jesuit who ran the VRG for over a quarter of a century until he retired in 2006, stated that the Vatican policy was to firmly embrace evolution, “both biological and cosmological,” as fact.
“Revelation teaches us that man was created in the image and likeness of God,” Coyne stated, citing Pope John Paul as the source.”New knowledge has led us to realize that the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis.”
“The Catholic church has long accepted a developmental worldview, complete with descent from apes and a Big Bang beginning,” Coyne said.
“To imagine a Creator twiddling with the constants of nature is a bit like thinking of God making a big pot of soup,” he declares with a rare flash of sarcasm. A bit more onion, a bit less salt, and hey presto the perfect gazpacho. “It’s a return to the old vision of a watchmaker God, only it’s even more fundamentalist.”
Coyne’s writings still serve as the basis for the Vatican’s website. In one paper, he rejects the validity of “intelligent design”, the assertion that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as random natural selection.
In this conflict between evolution and Biblical Creation, Coyne and the Vatican assert that evolution is the irrefutable truth. On the new website, Coyne states that “intelligent design movement lies outside [scientific] methodology.”
Leading Jewish scientist: “God working through nature is very much a Biblical concept.”
Intelligent design, espoused by many religious scientists, claims that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” This is the position of Orthodox Jew and scientist, Dr. Gerald Schroeder embodies the peaceful coexistence of science and faith in the Torah. Dr. Schroeder has a Ph.D. in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)and was a member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission.
“The problem is with the word evolution which does not appear in the Bible,” Dr. Schroeder said. “Development and God working through nature is very much a Biblical concept.”
Dr. Schroeder is careful to differentiate between the theory of evolution and the fact of evolution.
“The fact of evolution which is observable
“Evolution is a two-stage process,” he explained. “Random mutation leads to differences, with some progeny being weaker and others being stronger, which is not random. The challenge by nature is not random. If there ever was a phrase with circular reasoning, this is it. We define the fittest as those that survive. We could just as well have written survival of the survivors.
“There is absolutely no data for random mutation. If not random, then certain mutations are favored by nature, which would imply an inherent direction to the flow of life, which in turn would imply a Director.
Mutation happens in nature and appears in the Torah. In Leviticus, it is written that mutations of animals may not be brought as an offering. But they exist and they are even kosher for consumption. Kohanim who are mutated cannot perform the Temple service.”
“The Torah knows that mutations exist. The theory of evolution claims that mutation is random but most of the mathematics shows that mutations are not random and no data shows random mutation.
“Physicists claim the Big Bang produced energy. They must, therefore, also accept that this energy became consciousness, meaning the assumption is that random mutation led to consciousness. This is God working through nature which we clearly see in Genesis. The only name for God in the first chapter of Genesis is Elokim, God as made manifest in nature. We see this throughout the Torah. Recall that in the Exodus account, God used a force of nature, a strong east wind, to split the sea (Exodus 14:21).
“It seems at face value that this is an embarrassment. It took six days to create the world. That makes God look like a loser. A real winner of a God would have created the world instantaneously. The six days show that there is development in creation, from the simple to the complex. God works through nature and that is the basis of how he relates to us. We need to relate to him in kind and learn from this.