Monday, November 28, 2005

'Intelligent Design' debate flummoxes Vatican

The Vatican's chief astronomer Rev. George Coyne has said that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms. He asked for intelligent design to be taught alongwith history and culture, not science. Intelligent design supporters claim that the universe is too complex to have not been created by some higher power. Proponents of intelligent design are seeking to get public schools in the United States to teach it as part of the science curriculum. Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism, a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation, camouflaged in scientific language, and they say it does not belong in science curriculum. The Vatican, on its part, will face a tough time reconciling the image of God with its criticism of creationism.

Hopefuls who thought that this latest move on the part of the Vatican signals a change in its orthodox ways can delay popping the champagne a while. The Vatican has circulated a directive that deters gay men from joining the Order. Questions on why it is important to be heterosexual in orientation are being raised. Does God view gays differently? Can the Church, the fountainhead of love and equality, censure a community for its orientation? Such faith-based questions are bound to increase at a time when homosexuality is gaining wider social acceptance.

The problem lies also with the hierarchy. Pope Benedict XVI is a known hardliner with extreme views on abortion, women’s rights and homosexuality. If the Vatican intends to be relevant to the times, it must open a serious debate on its role in the current global order. This holds true as much for Christianity as for other faiths. The primary conflict of our age is one between tradition and modernity. Antediluvian mindsets garbed as cultural organizations must ask themselves if their so-called social concerns are not doing more harm than good.

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