Intelligent Design is not science, and has no place in science lessons, according to the Vatican's chief astronomer, the Rev. George Coyne. According to the Italian news agency, ANSA, Father Coyne was speaking informally at a conference in Florence when he said that intelligent design "isn't science, even though it pretends to be."
He argued that if it is to be taught in schools, then it should be taught in religion or cultural history classes, but that it should not be on the science curriculum.
Proponents of intelligent design argue that life on Earth is just too complex to have arisen without the aid of some kind of designer. ID's critics point out that its main tenets are highly unscientific and untestable, and say that it is merely creationism in disguise.
Father Coyne has consistently argued against regarding intelligent design as scientific. In June he wrote in Catholic magazine The Tablet:
"If they respect the results of modern science, and indeed the best of modern biblical research, religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God or a designer God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly."
God, he wrote, is not "continually intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves".
Meanwhile, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn has re-entered the debate, also arguing that the biblical story of creation is not a scientific theory.
However, he called for reason in a debate he says has become too ideological, and seemed to criticism those who would "believe" in evolution as a dogma. He argues that it should not be seen as "an offense to Darwin's dignity" for people to offer criticisms of evolutionary theory.
"The theory of evolution is a scientific theory," he said. "What I call evolutionism is an ideological view that says evolution can explain everything in the whole development of the cosmos, from the Big Bang to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony." ®