Saturday, 28 September 2013

Emeritus Papal gymnastics: open mouth, insert 86-year-old foot

"He's back!", screams the headline in The Telegraph.
"We've heard very little from Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI since his retirement..." says Tim Stanley, the columnist here.
If only it had remained so.  If only we'd continued to hear little from Benedict (aka Ratzinger)
In his ill-thought out urge to take down science, Ratzinger quotes from Richard Dawkins' book "The Selfish Gene".
He has the gall to call it "science fiction":
"I quote", he says, "'The emergence of tetrapod vertebrates... draws its orgin from the fact that a primitive fish' chose 'to go and explore the land, on which, however, was unable to move except jumping clumsily and thus creating, as a result of a modification of behaviour, the selective pressure due to which would have developed sturdy limbs of tetrapods.  Among the descendants of this bold explorer, Magellan of this evolution, some can run at a speed of over 70 miles per hour'...".  
This, says the ex pontiff, is "... certainly... science fiction".
Whaaat??  Yet Tim Stanley, in an equally ill-thought out comment, excuses this nonsense on the grounds that it "... isn't an attack on the hard facts of evolution but rather  a gentle reminder that its translation into a speculative theory -- that a fish might choose to go for a jog -- demands some involvement of the imagination".
Well, perhaps so.  But if it didn't happen exactly as Dawkins imagines, it would have been something very similar and there is plenty of other evidence of evolution to make that small leap in imagination very likely.
For the basic fact of fish to tetrapod evolution is well understood and undisputed.  We are all, all we vertabrates, descended from fish which made a leap -- metaphorical or literal -- from the sea to land.
Ratzinger was the one who was in charge of discipline in the church before he got the top job.  And in that role did nothing to uncover the growing scandal of child abuse by Catholic clergy.  And when Pope, only did something when he was forced too -- and too little too late. Even now, he's prevaricating.
Let's hope Ratzinger is the first living example of evolution going backwards: from hands to fins.  Maybe then he'll no longer be able to burden us with such tripe.
Courtesy: Berkeley University