Vatican conference finds Darwin's theories compatible with faith

 Some of the world's top biologists, paleontologists and molecular geneticists have been meeting with theologians and philosophers for a five day seminar at the Pontifical Gregorian University, to mark the 150th anniversary of Darwin's 'The Origin of Species.'

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Cardinal William Levada who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said there was a "wide spectrum of room" for belief in both the scientific basis for evolution and faith in God the creator.

"We believe that however creation has come about and evolved, ultimately God is the creator of all things," he said.

But while the Vatican did not exclude any area of science, it did reject as "absurd" the atheist notion of biologist and author Richard Dawkins and others that evolution proves there is no God, he said.

"Of course we think that's absurd and not at all proven. But other than that ... the Vatican has recognised that it doesn't stand in the way of scientific realities."

Conference participant Fr John McDade SJ, who is principal of the University of London's Heythrop College and a lecturer in systematic theology said there were many ways science and religion are compatible.

He said: "Whatever someone like Darwin or any other scientist comes up with, that shows the complexity and the processes that work in the world, and is perfectly compatible with the Christian belief that the world is sustained by God....

"When Galileo was condemned in 1770, it was forbidden to teach Galilean theories in the area of astronomy and the Church observed that," he said.

"It went on teaching Galileo's theories in the area of natural philosophy because in the end the evidence spoke for itself and religion was simply wrong in all those areas.

"For religion to actually recognise the autonomy of science within its particular area is I think for the good of both disciplines."

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