Via Kevin Drum:
Philosophers, scientists and other intellectuals close to Pope Benedict will gather at his summer palace outside Rome this week for intensive discussions that could herald a fundamental shift in the Vatican's view of evolution.
There have been growing signs the Pope is considering aligning his church more closely with the theory of "intelligent design" taught in some US states. Advocates of the theory argue that some features of the universe and nature are so complex that they must have been designed by a higher intelligence. Critics say it is a disguise for creationism.
A prominent anti-evolutionist and Roman Catholic scientist, Dominique Tassot, told the US National Catholic Reporter that this week's meeting was "to give a broader extension to the debate. Even if [the Pope] knows where he wants to go, and I believe he does, it will take time. Most Catholic intellectuals today are convinced that evolution is obviously true because most scientists say so."
An interesting bait-and-switch. The point of course, is not that evolution is true because scientists say so, but that scientists have a methodology for investigating the nature of truth, and according to that methodology there is ample evidence for evolution and none for design.
Look, belief in a designer is perfectly acceptable as theology, but it's not good biology (Michael Behe notwithstanding), and it's not good probablility theory (Bill Dembski notwithstanding). From a theological perspective though, it makes more sense to me to recognize that evolutionary theory deals with a particular description of natural phenomona, while theology is an articulation of a particular faith-stance vis-a-vis the world. One can hold them both simultaneously, but the problems emerge when you try to reduce faith to a natural phenomenon (a la Daniel Dennet), or when you try to reduce science to an extension of religion (which is what the intelligent design folks do). They are different spheres in inquiry, and it's a mistake to try to reduce one to the other. Instead of trying to use bad science to make the case for a "designer," its more sensible to understand more fully what it means to worship a creator.