Dear professor Benedito,
I confess that I was worried about your appointment to the presidency of Capes, one of the main bodies for promoting science in Brazil.
And it was not because of his position as a man of faith. At this point, I would like to believe that you and I have a lot in common, as evangelical and Catholic, respectively. (Gone are the days when Papists and Calvinists cut each other's throats because of theological quarrels, thank God – although there are people out there who would love to see those days return.)
What really worries me are two other things: your history of defending the so-called Smart Design —A revamped creationism— as an alternative to the theory of evolution and, what sounded even worse, the tone of the text published on the Capes website as soon as you took on your new assignments, under much criticism.
The text speaks, in his name, of the importance of “plurality of thought” and “freedom of professorship”. Who could be against these things, right? They say, however, that the Devil lives in the details – or, in this case, in the subtext of what is being said.
Plurality of thought is fine, but it is also the duty of the Christian (and of every human being) to seek Truth with a capital V. And that takes me to Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).
The Italian sage, in his dialogue (and, later, confrontation) with the religious authorities, refined the medieval metaphor of the two great Books that guide us – the Scriptures, on the one hand, and the Book of Nature, on the other. The premise behind this idea is that God is not a liar (we certainly agree, once again), nor is our reason when we seek to read both books with an open heart.
So, if the Books seem to be opposing, the problem is not in them, but in the human inability to interpret them. Well, the last few centuries of careful and selfless scientific work, done by both men of faith and non-believers, have shown two things:
1) The Scriptural accounts of the creation of the Universe and living beings are not precise manuals of cosmology, geology and biology (not least because they contradict each other), but they were composed to explain the meaning of the relationship between the Cosmos and man with God for the people of Israel;
2) Natural selection and other mechanisms convincingly explain how life forms emerged and diversified through natural laws;
3) It is perfectly possible to believe that such laws ultimately derive from the God that the ancient Israelites worshiped as the Creator. But this hypothesis is not subject to empirical testing: what our senses and reason can observe are natural laws. And they don't require an “engineer” God, who would have needed to insert nuts and bolts into the double helix of DNA for it to work.
It is your right to believe what you want, professor. But the defense of neocreationism seems to betray a certain inability to follow the evidence wherever it leads – that is to say, to believe in the veracity of the Book of Nature.
What disturbs me is that other evangelicals raised to positions of command by the current government seem to manifest the same problem. The Book of Nature is usually relentless with those who refuse to read it. The terrible words of Stephen in front of the crowd in Jerusalem come to mind: acting like that is the thing of "hard-necked men, uncircumcised in heart and ears". And that will be charged to them.
(tagsToTranslate) god (t) capes (t) leaf