Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mel Gibson and Evolution

Mel Gibson evidently believes in evolution as much as his father believed in the Holocaust. PZ Myers reports here, citing an interview with Playboy magazine (July 1995, p 51).

PLAYBOY: Do you believe in Darwin's theory of evolution or that God created man in his image?

GIBSON: The latter.

PLAYBOY: So you can't accept that we descended from monkeys and apes?

GIBSON: No, I think it's bullshit. If it isn't, why are they still around? How come apes aren't people yet?

Gibson is known for going by what "comes from the papal chair". What's curious is that Catholic acceptance of evolution well predates Vatican II. The arch-conservative Pius XII stated there was no opposition between evolution and Catholic faith, albeit grudgingly (Humani Generis, 1950). And John Paul II strongly reaffirmed this less than a decade ago, saying that evolution is factual ("Truth Cannot Contradict Truth", 1996). The late Stephen Jay Gould wrote a wonderful article about these papal decrees. Gould states:
"Pius XII had grudgingly admitted evolution as a legitimate hypothesis that he regarded as only tentatively supported and potentially (as I suspect he hoped) untrue. John Paul II, nearly fifty years later, reaffirms the legitimacy of evolution —no news here—but then adds that additional data and theory have placed the factuality of evolution beyond reasonable doubt. Sincere Christians must now accept evolution not merely as a plausible possibility but also as an effectively proven fact. In other words, official Catholic opinion on evolution has moved from 'say it ain't so, but we can deal with it if we have to' (Pius's grudging view of 1950) to John Paul's entirely welcoming 'it has been proven true; we always celebrate nature's factuality, and we look forward to interesting discussions of theological implications.'" (1996). (Natural History, March '97, pp 16-22)
Whatever secessionist breed of Catholicism Gibson adheres to, it's pretty extreme to call forth waffling over the Holocaust and denying evolution. But he seems to enjoy sleeping with the fundies. Funny though, as ignorant he is -- and a lame actor, too -- Gibson is a good filmmaker. I actually liked Passion of the Christ.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the first to bite on this particular provocative bit of bait. I take issue with Playboy on a lot of things but I find the either "evolution" or "divine creation" rather simplistic -- it just ain't [sic] that simple. Though certainly some of the more radical "Darwinists" do prefer to phrase the question that way (Daniel Dennet jumps to mind). As the papal thinking shows, there may be no innate conflict between the process of evolution and the assertion that a divine creator guided the process. Where the friction arises is when a devotee of evolution takes the parsimonius step of saying that if random mutation and natural selection are sufficient to explain the process, why is it necessary to invoke the idea of a divine creator?
I humbly also disagree that evolution is a proven fact -- it seems to be a useful concept for organizing knowledge but certainly does not have the "proof" that would make it an undisputed fact. Perhaps that's the greatest victim in this entire debate -- acceptance of Darwinian evolution has ceased to be a question for scientific inquiry and become a sort of litmus test for being able to call yourself "scientifically literate."
It certainly increases my admiration for people like Scott Behe and Phillip Johnson who are brave enough to question this "sacred cow" within the academy.

Anonymous steph said...

How come apes aren't people yet? asks Gibson. His existence itself is a pretty good argument in favour of evolution: he's still a complete ape, aping the pithy rhetoric of others...and as for the rest of that interview -!!!!

Oh well, have a nice day Loren. I hope the sun is shining where you are too.

Anonymous John McBryde said...

Hello Loren,

Thanks for a year of enjoyable blog reading. Your posts have been consistently interesting and I love the book reviews. Keep up the good work.

John McBryde
Ps. Just for the record, I'm a Catholic and I believe in Evolution.

Blogger Loren Rosson III said...

You're welcome, John. Thanks for your interest.

Blogger Ron Cox said...

Loren, regarding Gibson - is it possible that he is just being flippant in his remarks about evolution? He's been flippant once or twice before. I don't care myself - I don't have a pony in that race (I am not Catholic and I am not a young earther). Second, because Gibson doesn't speak ill of his father, I am not sure I would make his own belief system to invovle a denial of the Holocaust.

Finally, and most importantly, I posted regarding Narnia and Allegory and would be interested in your thoughts (if you are so inclined).

Anonymous petter said...

have you seen mel´s blog (at least, I think it is his blog) melgibsonsblog.

There is also this site:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This thinking is all so depressingly deprived.


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