Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Science more dangerous than pedophiles, implies Pope

Pope warns of 'seductive' science

January 28, 2008 at 12:34 PM EST

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict warned Monday of the "seductive" powers of science that overpower man's spirituality, reviving the science-versus-religion debate which recently forced him to cancel a speech after student protests.

"In an age when scientific developments attract and seduce with the possibilities they offer, it's more important than ever to educate our contemporaries' consciences so that science does not become the criterion for goodness," he told scientists.

Scientific investigation should be accompanied by "research into anthropology, philosophy and theology" to give insight into "man's own mystery, because no science can say who man is, where he comes from or where he is going", the Pope said.

"Man is not the fruit of chance or a bundle of convergences, determinisms or physical and chemical reactions," he told a meeting of academics of different disciplines sponsored by the Paris Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The Pope reiterated a plea, made in many speeches since his election in 2005, for mankind to be "respected as the centre of creation" and not relegated by more short-term interests.

The conservative German-born Pope's public stand on issues such as abortion and embryonic stem-cell research has led critics to accuse him of holding antiquated views on science.

Students and teachers at Rome's La Sapienza university – which was founded by a pope more than 700 years ago – cited such views when they protested so loudly during a papal speech scheduled for Jan. 17 that it had to be cancelled.

In particular, they criticized his views on science, saying a speech he gave in 1990 showed he would have favoured the church's 17th-century heresy trial against Galileo.

The Vatican said the protesters misunderstood that speech, made about 17 years ago when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

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