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Creation and Evolution: A Conference With Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo Hardcover – May, 2008
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About the Author
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, is a renowned spiritual teacher and writer. He was a student of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and with him was co-editor of the monumental Catechism of the Catholic Church. He has authored numerous books including Jesus, the Divine Physician, Chance or Purpose?, Behold, God's Son, and Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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The participants during this conference were Pope Benedict XVI, Prof. Peter Schuster who is professor of chemisty at the University of Vienna, Prof. Robert Spacemann who is professor emeritus of philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany, Prof Paul Erbrichch who is professor emeritus in Muhich Germany,and Cardinal Schonborn who is the Archbishop of Vienna and author of the book titled CHANCE OR PURPOSE. These men wrote papers and debated differences with intelligence and clarity.
Prof. Schuster wrote a facinating paper re molecular biology, genetics, and develop of organisms from simple cell structure. This essay had some interesting points that cellular development appears to have purpose and some sort of design. Prof. Schuster used effective metaphors to explain mutations of cells which occur much faster than previously thought. One interesting metaphor was the competition between cells and viruses. Prof. Schuster explained that when viruses attack cells, cells mutate a genetic defense. Then the viruses mutate to overcome cellular defense while in turn cells develop (mutate) to face new challenges. Prof. Schuster called this continual "combat" and arms race between cells and viruses. Prof. Schuster did not offere a simple "creation" explanation, but he did explain that there was some underlying purpose which could imply Intelligent Design. Prof. Schuster wrote a clear explanation of how cells cooperate to form more complex organisms. Those cells,called renegrade cells, are rejected or combatted otherwise the organism is harmed. A good example of renegade cells is the formation of cancer cells. Prof. Schuster provided good color plates at the end of his paper to explain RNA, DNA, genetic history, etc.
Prof. Spaemann wrote the next essay in this book. His approach was both scientific and philosphical. He dealt with First Cause(what some may call God)as an explanation of design and development of life. His basic thesis was that must be a First Cause or what may be called a priori reasoning to explain the development and continuation of life. He did not dismiss evolutionary biology or modern scientific discoveries which was important to this essay and following discussions.
The following essay by Father Erbrich, S.J., was an interesing defense of Intelligent Design. Father Erbrich answered critics who argued that life forms are self organized. His question was self organized by what or Whom. He basically argued that there is a causality of life forms given their development and changes which could lead to the conclusion of what St. Thomas Aquinas called the First Cause or what Aristotle called The Unmoved Mover.
Cardinal Schonborn wrote the next essay in this book. He dealt with the "tough" questions such as cruelty in nature, apparent goals of life forms, etc. He is obviosuly a partisan of the Catholic Church and Catholic philosophy and theology. Yet, he is clear that such thought does not and should not discard scientific discoveries.
The discussions followed the essays, and the participants raised objections and answered these objections in a calm, intelligent manner. The participants all agreed that no one had the "final answer" and that continued developments in science and philosophy would offer "new frontiers" for further books and intelligent debate.
An earlier lecture by Prof. Spaemann concluded the book. Spaemann' view was that life forms have an apparent purpose to not only survive but to thrive and reproduce. He maintained that such obversations pointed to some ultimate cause or Aquinas' First Cause. This essay was a good conclusion to the book.
This reviewer's only criticism of the book is that there should have been papers on astronomy and geology which would obviously have enhanced the book and discussions. Readers should be aware that astronomical and geological events have shaped life forms on this planet. Yet, the essays that were presented were well written and interesing.
This book showed what intelligent men can achieve when they are not exposed to hysteria, religious literalism, and scientism as opposed to intelligent science. The essays were so well written that even those with limited knowledge of science or theology can benefit from the book. The book is also a welcomed relief from media hysteria and shallow popularity. The book is highly recommended.
Life is more than just physical matter. In our daily lives we need to make decisions that could impact and change our lives forever, for this reason, our brain isn't always at it's best therefore at this point we need some greater than ourselves guidance.
The opinion expressed in the book by some of the greatest scientific and theological minds will be a source of wisdom and intellectual wealth to any reader despite the scientific or theological point of view.
I am going to read the book again, because this is one of these books that you want to learn, remember and get the most out of it.