It came this past week with a brief e-mail by James Stagg, a friend of this blog. He called our attention to mostly excellent interview with the Rev. George Coyne, a Jesuit priest and former director of the Vatican Observatory. Not without its issues, though. See below.
The Q&A-style interview, on Syracuse.com, has an adept triple news hook. For one, many people would be surprised that the Vatican even has an observatory. For another, as a priest and scientist, Coyne is chairman of religious philosophy at Le Moyne College, a Jesuit school. And the college is in Syracuse, providing a local angle for the interview.
Coyne also gives a “snappy interview,” in Stagg’s words. We’re treated to inside info such as:
* The Vatican has two big working telescopes, neither of them in Italy.
* All 15 staffers with the Vatican astronomers are Jesuits.
* A meteorite laboratory and a library are part of the Vatican Observatory.
Why was the interview “mostly” excellent, then? Because of a “major ghost”spotted by Stagg himself. In the second-to-last paragraph, we see Coyne saying:
I have been a vocal opponent of intelligent design. It is not science, although it pretends to be. I am concerned that fundamentalist religious beliefs might continue to influence the role of science in the modern decision-making process.
“The reporter missed a BIG discussion about why Father Coyne opposes ‘intelligent design,’ which, as a Catholic priest, he should support in some form,” Stagg writes. “What he is actually opposed to is probably the teaching of “creationism,” which is fundamentalist in belief. BIG hole; otherwise good article.”