We scientists had somehow managed to fool ourselves into believing that, since John Paul II said that evolution was "more than just a hypothesis", since they admitted some wrongdoing in the persecution of Galileo, that the Catholic Church was on the side of science.
Sadly, perhaps inevitably, we were wrong. In an Op-Ed in yesterday's New York Times, Christoph Schönborn, the cardinal archbishop of Vienna, writes:
Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.
Of course, this is completely backwards: the ideology lies in this tacit alliance with the (still crackpot, even with the imprimatur of the church) Intelligent Design movement and its lobbyists and pseudoscientists at the Discovery Institute, which, according to an article today in the Times, explicitly encouraged Schönborn to write the Op-Ed, in response to an article (reprinted here) by my fellow cosmologist Lawrence Krauss back in May. Krauss's article pointed out that, of course, there isn't any controversy at all: reputable scientists all agree -- because of evidence, not ideology -- that Darwinian evolution via random natural selection is responsible for all the fantastic variety of life we see around us.