Richard Dawkins Writes Science Fiction, Says Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

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The former Pope has described the work of prominent atheist Richard Dawkins as “science fiction”.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made his comments in a letter published by Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper on Tuesday.

Benedict was responding to the book Dear Pope, I Write to You, by Piergiorgio Odifreddi, a member of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Odifreddi's 2011 book was his reaction to Benedict’s best-known tome Introduction to Christianity.

In his first public comments since he retired in February, Benedict thanks Odifreddi for his attempts to engage in an open dialogue with the Catholic faith.

The 86-year-old writes of his surprise that Oddifreddi viewed his book so worthy of such detailed discussion, given that he considers theology to be “science fiction”.

Written By: Sara C. Nelson
continue to source article at huffingtonpost.co.uk

68 COMMENTS

  1. What an arrogant old fart! He has not even a high-school understanding of genetics, yet he thinks he knows more about the topic than the most famous genetics scientist. He offers no evidence or even a detailed list of Dawkin’s supposed errors. He a con man and a liar.

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      What an arrogant old fart! He has not even a high-school understanding of genetics, yet he thinks he knows more about the topic than the most famous genetics scientist. He offers no evidence or even a detailed list of Dawkin’s supposed errors. He a con man and a liar.

      Here is at least part of what Ratzinger thinks is science fiction. Not that I agree with him at all. It’s from an article in the Telegraph.

      (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timstanley/100237766/hes-back-benedict-xvi-speaks-out-on-sex-abuse-and-calls-richard-dawkins-science-fiction/)

      There is, moreover, science fiction in a big way just even within the theory of evolution. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is a classic example of science fiction. The great Jacques Monod wrote the sentences that he has inserted in his work certainly just as science fiction. I quote: “The emergence of tetrapod vertebrates … draws its origin from the fact that a primitive fish” chose “to go and explore the land, on which, however, was unable to move except jumping clumsily and thus creating, as a result of a modification of behavior, the selective pressure due to which would have developed the sturdy limbs of tetrapods. Among the descendants of this bold explorer, Magellan of this evolution, some can run at a speed of over 70 miles per hour … “

    • In reply to #2 by Quine:

      “The Selfish Gene” as science fiction? Please, … Just a man ignorant in science who is at the end of his life, and wits.

      I think Benedict is being consistent to Catholic teaching. The Catholic Church does not embrace Darwinian evolution and never has. As you know they adhere to what might be called “theistic evolution”. That is not science. Unfortunately, the conventional wisdom in and out of academia appears to regard the RCC as a science friendly institution.

      This rather rare reference to a living scientist from a disgraced pope may provide an excellent opportunity to expose just how anti-scientific the RCC really is. That is my hope anyway.

      Mike

      • In reply to #58 by Sample:

        In reply to #2 by Quine:

        “The Selfish Gene” as science fiction? Please, … Just a man ignorant in science who is at the end of his life, and wits.

        I think Benedict is being consistent to Catholic teaching. The Catholic Church does not embrace Darwinian evolution and never has. As you know they a…

        Well, they want to have it both ways. They can’t fight the evidence of common descent, but don’t want to accept the unguided mechanism of Natural Selection. But even if they could justify divine selection, they still run into the basic problem of common descent embodied in the question, “Who in my line of ancestors is now enjoying a supernatural afterlife, while his or her parents are not?” Every generation of our ancestors is almost exactly identical in genes to their parents, yet, the claim of supernatural aspects necessitates a discontinuity, Darwin or not. You don’t need the full Theory of Evolution to pull the rug out from under the RCC, just the facts.

  2. That’s rich, coming from a scoundrel who hails from a long line of like minded villains who tortured and burnt innocent people ALIVE, because of a work of FICTION called the Bible.

    That’s rich,coming from a scoundrel who doubtless, enjoys the ease and comfort of travelling in aeroplanes, having expert medical care,being able to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world because of NONFICTION called the Scientific Method.

    Scoundrels who shield other scoundrels because they are blind believers in the same harmful (and I might add, brain numbingly boring )
    FICTION, should be so ashamed of their questionable values and morals , that they should be crawling under rocks to hide from the well deserved wave of outrage breaking over their heads.

    The last thing such a scoundrel should do is label a man who has worked tirelessly in his field of endeavour and written books that inform, edify and illuminate as a fiction writer.Richard Dawkins can hold his head up high.All he has done is point out the fallacies of the ‘holy books’. And this makes him a ‘scoundrel’ in the eyes of the perverted frockwearers whose ‘slips’ are showing as never before.

  3. I’ve never seen a gene and so I have to rely on the word of geneticists that they exist.

    On the other hand I’ve never watched a mountain form but they exist.

    It’s all so very complicated.

    • In reply to #12 by Stafford Gordon:

      I’ve never seen a gene and so I have to rely on the word of geneticists that they exist.

      On the other hand I’ve never watched a mountain form but they exist.

      It’s all so very complicated.

      Y’know what I’ve never seen, a hydrophobic flying zombie Jew.

      • In reply to #13 by This Is Not A Meme:

        In reply to #12 by Stafford Gordon:I’ve never seen a gene and so I have to rely on the word of geneticists that they exist.On the other hand I’ve never watched a mountain form but they exist.It’s all so very complicated.Y’know what I’ve never seen, a hydrophobic flying zombie Jew.

        Well there’s funny thing; neither have I.

        S G

    • In reply to #12 by Stafford Gordon:

      I’ve never seen a gene and so I have to rely on the word of geneticists that they exist.

      DNA was discovered by X-ray diffraction.
      A CAT scan builds an image from X-ray images.
      In both cases the image we humans get to look at is created by considerable computation. When you “see” the final image, does that count as seeing? You could ask the same question about any image manipulated electronically, e.g. dental X-ray, electron microscope image, student optical microscope where you view on a computer screen…

      • In reply to #45 by Roedy:

        When you “see” the final image, does that count as seeing? You could ask the same question about any image manipulated electronically, e.g. dental X-ray, electron microscope image, student optical microscope where you view on a computer screen…

        Various assumptions about physics, all well-attested, are relied on when drawing conclusions after seeing such images. But the same is true when you see anything. Remember optics is part of the overlap between electromagnetism and quantum theory, and the same is true also of the theory required to understand how electron microscopes work. To my mind, the using-machines example isn’t really that different; we’re just evolutionarily accustomed to trust our eyes.

  4. Pope Emeritus inter alia ‘Filthy little shyster’. This uncle fester-stand-in has no particular wisdom in discerning fact from fiction. His only real encounter with mere reality was a dalliance with the ideals of Adolph Hitler. There is something quite interesting about being a member of the now defunct National Socialist Party and being a catholic priest. Both roles require you to stop thinking and do as you’re told and there is considerable menace for anyone who doesn’t.

    One of his predecessor’s Leo X was nearer the fact than fiction when he said ‘This myth of Christ has served us well’.

    Finally I thought the idea of hiding this cretinous arch villain in the Vatican was to keep him quiet and out of the reach of the law. Somebody is being remiss in their duty.

    • In reply to #16 by Sample:

      Well, it took five hundred years to apologize for being wrong about Galileo. How long will it take the Catholic Church to apologize for being wrong about the Selfish Gene?

      Mike

      That’s an interesting question and worth some investigation. Clearly describing The Selfish Gene as science fiction is a far less serious act than sentencing someone to life in prison, albeit commuted to house arrest for life, but does that mean, being a lesser offence, the apology will be forthcoming more quickly or more slowly. I’ve got nothing to do for the next 600 years so I’ll watch with interest, while being acutely aware that this one observation will mean nothing on its own. Maybe I should spend some of that time looking for other things this particular gang should apologise for and time how long apologies take to materialise. I’ll keep you posted.

  5. Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke wrote science fiction.
    Most of their readers were sufficiently scientifically literate to know when they were writing fiction and when they were writing factual science papers or books.
    Believers in fairy stories, lack any such discriminatory skills!

  6. Another nasty little swipe from the “leering old villain” Holy Joe.

    No doubt some wise arse is going to tell us his words have been taken out of context, or been mis-translated or somesuch. I have to laugh that the old geezer equates reason with religion. A real example of “science fiction” there !

    • In reply to #19 by Mr DArcy:

      Another nasty little swipe from the “leering old villain” Holy Joe.

      No doubt some wise arse is going to tell us his words have been taken out of context, or been mis-translated or somesuch. I have to laugh that the old geezer equates reason with religion. A real example of “science fiction” there…

      Well considering the continual ‘nasty swipes’ personal and professional the former Pope has endured from Dawkins and his followers, whether you consider them justified or not, he is entitled to the right of reply. Not bad going for a retired 86 year old that he can whisper ‘Boo’ in the direction of his critics and still cause a stir. Way to go Benedict.

      • In reply to #21 by Lancshoop:

        Well considering the continual ‘nasty swipes’ personal and professional the former Pope has endured from Dawkins and his followers, whether you consider them justified or not,…

        That’s the difference, justified or not.. The truth is hardly a “nasty swipe” now is it? The comments made about the ex-Pope are justified. Unlesss you can show reasonable evidence to doubt the accusations. Can you?

        …he is entitled to the right of reply.

        Yes he is, but a reply to the accusations in his defence would be more like it, not the ignorant ramblings of a senile old pedophile purveyor and protector that has been put out to pasture. But like others have said here already, let the rotten old goatskin keep opening up his gob, he helps the RCC position not one jot.

        Not bad going for a retired 86 year old that he can whisper ‘Boo’ in the direction of his critics and still cause a stir.

        Retired? Really? You believe that God told the Pope to resign? Why? Perhaps it was the Devil in the guise of God, that’s the usual fucked up excuse we hear for the clerical failings. But really, the dogs on the street know why the old bastard resigned.

        “According to Italian media, Benedict’s decision to step down was influenced by the various scandals that blighted his eight-year papacy, including the arrest of his personal butler for leaking private documents alleging corruption in the Vatican.”

        No shit Sherlock!

        Not one of the Popes that “resigned” in the past did so under “normal” circumstances, Benedict was no different. But I was intrigued by one of those Popes from the past that did jump ship, Benny’s namesake…

        “Benedict IX easily had the most confusing pontificate in history. He served as pope three times: he was elected, ejected, returned, abdicated, deposed, returned again, ejected again, and eventually excommunicated. Presumably at least one of his resignations may have been canonically valid, possibly even two.”

        Way to go Benedict.

        Way to go Lancshoop…”stupid is as stupid does”~ Forrest Gump, 1994…in other words, a person’s intelligence may be judged by the wisdom of his or her actions.

        • In reply to #41 by Ignorant Amos:

          In reply to #21 by Lancshoop:

          Well considering the continual ‘nasty swipes’ personal and professional the former Pope has endured from Dawkins and his followers, whether you consider them justified or not,…

          That’s the difference, justified or not.. The truth is hardly a “nasty swipe” now is it?…

          And what is the truth ?

          senile old pedophile purveyor,
          rotten old goatskin

          I would class these derogatory remarks as nasty swipes but at the same time it shows a weakness in the ability to emphasize strength in the body of an argument if one has to resort to those sort of tactics.

          Retired? Really? You believe that God told the Pope to resign? Why?

          I never said that – why bring it up ?

          That’s all I have to say about that. – Forrest Gump 1994 ;-)

          • In reply to #44 by Lancshoop:

            And what is the truth ?

            The truth is that as Cardinal in charge of the CDF he was the man in charge of the clerical discipline and as a renowned micro manager he knew what was going on with the child abuse within his religions orders. As Pope he’d have known even more I’d suspect.

            “…senile old pedophile purveyor, rotten old goatskin…”

            I would class these derogatory remarks as nasty swipes but at the same time it shows a weakness in the ability to emphasize strength in the body of an argument if one has to resort to those sort of tactics.

            There is no argument here to emphasize or strengthen…you didn’t make an argument either, other than to say for a good old boy of 86 he is entitled to his opinion, he is, even if his opinion as a load of doting shite.

            Now to my remark…

            The ex-Pope is alleged to have made a comment that makes him out to appear senile. He is 86, that constitutes as being old in human terms by my reckoning. As a “pedophile purveyor”…let me see…”An individual or group of individuals representing a program or practice who actively work with implementation sites to implement that practice or program with fidelity and good effect.”, yip, that fits perfectly. “Rotten”, as in “morally, socially, or politically corrupt”….that’ll do too. I’ll concede “goatskin”…it’s colloquial, in any case, I personally don’t owe the old goatskin any respect after what the suffering he has facilitated.

            Retired? Really? You believe that God told the Pope to resign? Why?

            I never said that – why bring it up ?

            Well that’s the excuse he gave for his resignation…I thought you knew that and would agree. Don’t you?

            That’s all I have to say about that. – Forrest Gump 1994 ;-)

            Somehow I doubt it Lancshoop.

  7. Not sure what the point of commenting is. I’ve gone back to the original Italian, and Ratzi says ” Il gene egoista di Richard Dawkins è un esempio classico di fantascienza.”

    He doesn’t say how or why he reaches this rather irrational conclusion. So I see no need to elaborate on the sighting of the flying pig that just went past my window, You’ll have to take it on trust.

    Or assume I’m a lunatic. Your choice.

    (A pedant might assume for the lack of capitalisation or quotation marks that he is referring to the selfish gene, and not “The Selfish Gene”. In which case, he has spectacularly missed the point.)

  8. The 86-year-old writes of his surprise that Oddifreddi [sic] viewed his book so worthy of such detailed discussion, given that he considers theology to be “science fiction”.

    I assume this means Ratzinger accuses Odifreddi of viewing theology that way, but in that case I’d like some proof that’s an accurate characterisation by Ratzinger of Odifreddi’s views, as Google offers nothing on Odifreddi viewing theology as sci-fi besides Ratzinger’s accusation being reported.

    An important function of theology is that of maintaining religion connected to reason and reason to religion. Both functions are of vital importance for humanity.

    Even if religion can be reasonable (it can’t because its claims aren’t supported by evidence), and theology were the right tool to effect this (the philosophy of religion is better as it abhors presuppositions), the “vital importance for humanity” of religion remains unevidenced, and indeed cannot exist as otherwise Scandinavia, Japan etc. would be in trouble.

    The Selfish Gene is a classic example of science fiction.

    Firstly, why does every single defence of religion mention Richard Dawkins disparagingly? This was a Ratzinger vs. Odifreddi discussion. Secondly, Ratzinger should either provide an example of sci-fi in TSG or retract this assertion. [David W quotes an alleged example from Monod, not Dawkins: that of hypothesising an evolutionary sequence that has since been confirmed in fossils. TSG does not conjecture then any such unconfirmed evolutionary sequences.]

    Benedict also used his letter to deny that he tried to cover up sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests.

    He’s literally the specific individual in the RCC who wrote the regulations demanding such cover-ups. Seriously, look it up.

    If it is not right to keep silent about the evil in the Church, one should not either hide the great luminous trail of goodness and purity that the Christian faith has traced down the centuries.

    Is Ratzinger seriously comparing not personally praising Christianity to covering up the sexual abuse of innumerable children worldwide for decades? Because here’s the difference: it’s a serious crime and violation of human rights to sexually abuse people and/or obstruct the abusers being brought to justice, whereas not providing Christianity succour in a yay-or-nay debate is, at worst, selectively defending one side in a debate. By Ratzinger’s own logic, he should be vilified as much for not critiquing Christianity as he is for his involvement in the cover-ups, which defeats the whole point of the equivocation he proposes.

    • In reply to #23 by Krasny:

      Here’s what he believes is true:

      God sacrificed himself to himself to persuade himself to forgive us for the only sin we did not commit.

      I forget who said that. But it wasn’t me.

      It sounds batshit crazy when you put it that way…

  9. Oddifreddi viewed his book so worthy of such detailed discussion, given that he considers theology to be “science fiction”.

    Richard Dawkins Writes Science Fiction

    yet another example of the classic “I know you are but what am I?” school of debate as practiced by religion for the past 2000 years.

    Every single attack at science and reason that is dressed up to look like it has some sort of acedemic merit is always, without fail, repeating something that has been leveled at religion.

    you cannot win against a mindset that actuallybelieves some words have magic powers.

    besides wtf is that old git doing speaking out? is the vatican a double act now?

    if so Ben & Jerry’s should sue for copyright infringement

  10. Here is a quote from Ratzinger’s letter:

    “That the power of evil penetrated so far into the interior world of the faith is a suffering that we must bear, but at the same time we must do everything to prevent it from repeating,”

    Suffering that we must bear, he says, referring to the church. What about the suffering of the children who were “penetrated”? I think he still doesn’t get it.

  11. The pope emeritus’s reputation is bad enough as it is without his making any more foolish public statements. If he knew anything about genetics, he might have something interesting to say; but that is a counterfactual. Having devoted his life to theology, where real evidence is not needed, he seems now unable to distinguish between fact and fiction. Hopefully, we will hear nothing more of him henceforth, except a few obituaries in due course. Let him preserve what dignity he has left in his old age and retirement.

  12. I find it a little bewildering that someone purported to be infallible should be so ignorant.

    Actually, I think his outburst is very encouraging, it shows the degree of desperation on the part of the RCC’s old guard.

    I hope it helps doubt and reason permeate the ranks.

  13. You know, after reading this, I feel that comparing this guy to Uncle Fester was unfair after all…. to Uncle Fester that is. Rat Zinger is way more creepy and just as ugly on the inside as he is on the outside.

    But like I said before, keep it up dear Catholic Popes and ex-Popes. The more you talk, the more you stretch the rope you will ultimately hang yourselves with. You are currently the biggest contributors to the downfall of your corrupt organization. And that’s fine by me.

  14. Who really cares what a deluded, geriatric “has been”has to say about a subject he knows nothing about? Why is he even been given an audience or opportunity to “air” his views to the public? jcw

  15. I love it!!!! The only pope in 600 years to walk away from his GOD ORDAINED DUTIES and he has the gall to comment on anything at all???? Hypocrite.

    If walking away from the Papacy doesn’t prove that the papacy, itself, is science fiction, I give up.

    He (the “pope emeritus” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) is a cartoon character; a caricature of a holy man, a sham, a farce, a charade.

    Hey “pope” your actions speak so loudly; I can’t hear your words.

  16. Oh, and connecting to a few other threads, why hasn’t he been excommunicated for abdicating? Isn’t this the ultimate slap to the church?

    So, let’s look at the scorecard so far…..
    Raping children? no excommunication….

    Resigning the papacy? no excommunication……

    Advocate for gays and women? EXCOMMUNICATION!!!!

    Great job, asshat. you’ve made my case for me.

  17. “I feel that comparing this guy to Uncle Fester was unfair after all…. to Uncle Fester that is.”

    I’ve always referred to him as “Pope Palpatine”. The resemblance is uncanny.

    • In reply to #48 by karen.sieradski:

      “I feel that comparing this guy to Uncle Fester was unfair after all…. to Uncle Fester that is.”

      I’ve always referred to him as “Pope Palpatine”. The resemblance is uncanny.

      OMG, I thought I was the only one that noticed. Absolutely!

  18. I expect that Richard’s reply to the ex-pope would be along the lines of “he has a right to his opinion, but his opinion is so at odds with the opinions of a majority of scientists and members of the science-literate public, it exposes the ex-pope for what he is, a man entering his dotage and severely handicapped by the lack of a scientific understanding of the world.”

  19. Lancshoop 21 :

    . Not bad going for a retired 86 year old that he can whisper ‘Boo’ in the direction of his critics and still cause a stir. Way to go Benedict.

    Yes he does have quite a talent for stirring things up in the non RCC world, doesn’t he ? If I didn’t know better, I would say he was the type of theologian who could pick an argument in an empty church.

  20. The best remedy that humanity has come up with so far to deal with major human rights violations is to test them in the world court in the Hague. That is the only sensible way to deal with people like ratzinger who seem to openly lie to millions of people by leading them to believe that what they say is true and compulsory for an afterlife etc when in fact it is shocking misrepresentation and fraud. Someone who has the necessary clout needs to lay a charge against ratzinger and the church at the World Court and publicly force them to produce evidence of their claimed divine right and show that it is all imaginary nonsense. It could be a turning point for humanity!
    Maybe that would be a test case for RDFRS to take on! The publicity generated would be phenomenal and the world wide precedent that would be set for all other religions would speed their extinction. It is revealing that countires are prepared to go to war (civil and other war) to defend their religions yet the validity of the religions themselves are never tested.

  21. Some Catholics are waking up to free thought. Consider the following cut and paste that, not long ago, would have meant a Catholic imposed death sentence to the writer (and for the Catholic deacon who allowed it to be posted):

    michael
    17 hours ago

    Last February we were told that Pope Benedict was totally exhausted and that he had no more strength to carry on the office of the papacy. We were also told that he was emaciated and may not have much longer to live. Some say he had a mystical experience which told him to spend the rest of his priestly life in prayer and seclusion. But since then, we find that he is daily playing the piano and writing scholarly things including this letter [denying abuse coverup to atheist in La Republica] and an encyclical called Lumen Fidei.

    This resignation and abdication of the throne of Peter is looking more fishy all the time. He is still quite competent. His health is as good as can be expected for a man in his 80s. He is writing a lot and confronting things and defending his actions in print. Why then did he resign? All this makes one wonder. Was he forced out? Did he want to change the papacy and make it like any other episcopal office as in a local diocese? Why is he writing encyclicals and wearing white? Why is he still staying at the Vatican? Why does he continue to keep his papal name once he rejected the throne of Peter? Why was he able to determine his future without first asking the new Holy Father, Pope Francis? Was that part of a deal Benedict worked out with others as part of a deal to resign? Again, something doesn’t smell right here.

    This is from a Catholic site I used to peruse. Nice to see people are starting to question. On another site which shall be nameless, they are already defending Pope Benedict’s science fiction remarks as saying he really didn’t dismiss evolution. 499.11 years to go until the Apologia I figure.

    Mike

  22. The Vatican has a strange way with the language — any language. By ‘science-fiction’ the ex-Pope appears to mean ‘speculation’. He equates scientific speculation with theology. Both, as he would have it, dealing with the unknown and equally valid.

  23. “If it is not right to keep silent about the evil in the Church, one should not either hide the great luminous trail of goodness and purity that the Christian faith has traced down the centuries.”

    Hum, yeah, right!

  24. so funny, an old man who believes in fairy tales calling dawkins’ work science fiction. it does remind me of children, fighting amongst themselves, where one says, “You’re ugly!”, and the other one replies, “, No, you’re ugly!” only, dawkins is right, and benedict should leave the playground.

    • In reply to #63 by Net:

      so funny, an old man who believes in fairy tales calling Dawkins’ work science fiction. it does remind me of children, fighting amongst themselves,

      Perhaps he should be put in an institution for mentally deluded geriatrics.

      Oh! – Wait a minute????

  25. Ratzinger says he was not involved in any child abuse cover ups. Here is a quote from the late Christopher Hitchens:

    The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church’s own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated “in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.

    I sounds like a cover up to me.

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