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CANTALAMESSA-CREATION Mar-13-2009 (430 words) xxxi
Papal preacher says intelligent design is truth of faith, not science
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Affirming the reality of an intelligent design for the creation and development of the universe is not a scientific theory, but a statement of faith, said the preacher of the papal household.
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, offering a Lenten meditation to Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials March 13, said the controversy that has arisen between scientists supporting evolution and religious believers promoting creationism or intelligent design is due mainly to a confusion between scientific theory and the truths of faith.
The intelligent-design theory asserts that the development and evolution of life is such a hugely complex process that a supreme being, God, must be directly involved in it.
While some proponents of intelligent design claim that it is a scientifically valid theory, most scientists dismiss it as pseudoscience.
The arguments, Father Cantalamessa said, are due to the fact that, "in my opinion, there is not a clear enough distinction between intelligent design as a scientific theory and intelligent design as a truth of faith."
While science and evolution can explain part of the history of creation and how life exists, they cannot explain why, he said.
"Even those who eliminate the idea of God from the horizon don't eliminate the mystery," the preacher said.
"We know everything about the world, except how it started. The believer is convinced that the Bible furnishes precisely this missing first page. There, as on the title page of every book, is the name of the author and the title of the work," he said.
Father Cantalamessa's Lenten reflection focused on a verse from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans: "All creation is groaning in labor pains even until now."
The text, he said, is an indication that St. Paul believes that the entire cosmos -- not just humanity -- is waiting to be saved and restored to its original beauty by Christ.
The suffering of the cosmos "is not closed and definitive. There is hope for creation, not because creation is able to hope subjectively, but because God has a redemption in mind for it."
Christians contribute to keeping hope alive by respecting and defending nature, he said.
"For the Christian believer, environmentalism is not only a practical necessity for survival or a problem that is only political or economic; it has a theological foundation. Creation is the work of the Holy Spirit," he said.
Christians have an obligation to recognize that the moans of creation described by St. Paul "today are mixed with the cry of agony and death" because of "human sin and selfishness," he said.
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