Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pope Probes the Nature of Simple Identity

Pope's speech during Easter vigil:

"If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life...might even be a chance of nature."

Assuming, as I think we must, that "chance of nature" means "random product of evolution" (and what's with this hopelessly outdated term "man"?  Wake up, man, this is 2011!), the Pope's claim amounts to the trivially true assertion that if human life is a random product of evolution, then human life is a random product of evolution.  That is, if A then A.  Well, if he's right, he's right!  Uttering tautologies is one way to avoid error, I guess.


  1. Welcome to Tautology Club, Pope Benedict XVI. We meet when we meet.

  2. The workings of the creationist mind will forever remain an "unsolved mystery" to me!

  3. I always wondered how it was that the Pope could be infallible when he (and they almost all seem to be guys, don't they?) spoke Ex Cathedra. Tautologies are at least infallibly true, even if they don't say much.

    But to be fair, the Catholic Church's position on evolution, since the previous pope's official concession fifteen or so years ago, is that such a process is compatible with divine creation, inasmuch as it could perfectly well be the means by which God does things. Never mind that the whole point of the theory of natural selection is that the presence, much less the interference, of a deity is quite unnecessary, hence an explanatory extravagance (see Ockham's Razor).

    But on the subject of Popes, I can't resist recalling Daniel Pinkwater's observation that, though for Catholics he may be a great spiritual leader, to the rest of us he's just another German guy in a dress. Not that there's anything wrong with that.