It's no surprise (at least if you have a Catholic background) that the latest Catholic salvo against intelligent design comes from a Jesuit. The Society of Jesus has been a hair across the arse of Catholic orthodoxy almost from the beginning, due to its obstinate insistence that its members think. That leads to variable results. All too often, the thought process only results in ingenious sophistry, defending social teachings that have long outlived their usefulness.
However, the Jesuit mind draws a sharp distinction between the subjectivities of social teaching and the measurable realities of empiricism. Ever since that business with Galileo, the teaching end of Catholicism has paid considerable attention to empiricism and its fruits. Anyone who thinks there is a single weak point in the position elegantly stated by Coyne has obviously never debated a Jesuit.
When I Googled the topic "Intelligent Design Vatican' I also found an interesting comment on slashdot. org, inspired by the first salvo. I liked this:
The Orthodox rabbis I've spoken find it amazingly amusing that people take the creation story as literal truth, rather then a story about YHWH's power.
I'd be very interested in hearing more about this argument from first comers in the field of Biblical interpretation. Orthodox Judaism appears to make higher intellectual demands on its believers than does American evangelism or pentecostalism. So, in truth, does Catholicism. That is why they have rabbis and priests, to explain the subtleties of revealed religion. It is why both have actual power within their religious communities. The evangelical minister seems more often to be part emcee, part political shill, and part choreographer. The weakness of Gnosticism is that the incoherent wanderings of an eight-year-old intellect residing in an adult have equal weight with those of a scholar with forty years' experience studying scripture. Intelligent design, like most of the corpus of evangelism, is meant to appeal to the former, not the latter. As such, it is more circus than theology, and has no more place in public policy than a clown car.
Wedge issues are the best defence against religious fanaticism, and this one is a rippah. A couple more of these, and Pat Robertson's going to sound more like Fred Phelps than Fred does. When that happens, even Rome will have to acknowledge that Landover Baptist's thoughts on Catholics are more reality than parody.