The Vatican’s chief astronomer said Friday that “intelligent design” isn’t science and doesn’t belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was “wrong” and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

“Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be,” the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. “If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.” (AP)

Hat tip to John Derbyshire.

Though it is hardly surprising that a leading Vatican scientist would find ID theory unscientific (it does not take a scientific genius to realise this), it is gratifying to see the learned gentleman make much the same argument that I made a few weeks back. In short, I said that ID is a philosophical and theological view, and one well grounded in the patristic and Western philosophical tradition, but that does not mean it has any place in the study of the natural sciences. It does not make claims that can be tested, and its chief virtue, so to speak, is that it cannot be disproven using empirical evidence. Importing ID theory into biology and physics classes would be like lecturing on Platonic body-soul dualism to neuroscience students. It might be interesting and edifying, but it has nothing directly to do with the study of neuroscience.

Metaphysics is the province of philosophers and theologians. It is precisely when evolutionists have attempted to make metaphysical claims from natural evidence that evolution takes on the aspect of a weapon against the Faith. Making the same fundamental error in attempting to rectify this arrogant presumption by muddling metaphysics and science is misguided and will only entrench philosophical materialism in our culture by providing materialists with easy targets for ridicule.