Croatia's New Science Minister Believes God Might Have Created the World

By 16 February 2016

A rather unusual evolutionary opinion from a science minister raises some eyebrows.

Croatia's New Minister of Science, Education and Sports Predrag Šustar believes that God is the designer of the world and that the question of evolution remains open. Croatian scientists claim that Šustar cannot stay as a minister. Interestingly, it seems that not even Vatican and the Church support Šustar's views, reports Index.hr on February 16, 2016.

In the article "Science and Religion of Ruđer Bošković", which he wrote for a theology magazine from Rijeka in October 2012, the minister states that the question of evolution remains open and that the God option (as the one who created the world) remains open. "It seems that so far the theory of evolution did not offer any definitive solutions, which still leaves room for God as the designer. In other words, that means that the God option is open (i.e. most likely)", wrote Minister Šustar in the article together with his colleague from the Faculty of Philosophy Aleksandra Golubović.

At the beginning of the article, they point out that "the aim of the article is to examine, on the basis of Bošković's text from the Theory of Natural Philosophy, whether it is possible to defend or justify the thesis that science and religion are not in conflict".

"Many scientists in modern times believe that the design can be perfectly explained by the theory of evolution and that God in this context is redundant. How can the organization of the universe be supported by the evolution? Evolution, it seems, is sufficient to explain the process of natural selection which results in adaptation of organisms to their environment. The only question is whether the theory of evolution can constitute the final explanation for the organization of the whole universe or whether it explains only one aspect, one segment? If the evolution cannot explain the whole of reality, and it seems that it cannot, than there is space for God", writes Šuštar.

"Theism, that is the view that God is the one who in an optimal way 'arranged' the interplay of forces seems like the best explanation for the fact that life in the universe is possible, because if the values ​​of forces were different (or if there was even a minimum deviation in their values), the likelihood of survival would be extremely low or even non-existent. This interpretation could be seen as the best explanation, which tells us that of all the solutions we should choose the one which has the highest probability. God, as the one who 'arranged' the forces in an optimal way, is according to theists the best explanation", the minister adds.

"The world is obviously designed and science cannot fully explain the design. Religion offers an explanation, citing, like Bošković did, God as a designer, but many scientists reject the theistic explanation. So we have a situation that either we do not have a definitive explanation (such is the case with the explanation of design in science) or we do not accept the explanation (since it comes from religion). At the beginning of his discussion of God, Bošković said that the world was orderly, purposeful and had goals, and that the designer was God. According to him, the world could not have arisen by chance, not by itself, but there is God who created and organized it as such to make life in it, especially for a man, possible", states the summary of the article.

These statements by the Croatian Minister of Science are at odds with what Pope Francis said two years ago. "The theory of evolution and the Big Bang are accurate, and God is not a magician with a magic wand", said Pope Francis and put an end to theories about God as the creator and designer of the world. The words of Pope Francis are a continuation of the policies of Pope Pius XII, who opened the door to the theory of evolution and the Big Bang in church circles. Pope John Paul II in 1996 declared that evolution was "more than a theory" and that is was an "effectively proven fact".

Ivica Puljak, a scientist and professor at the Split Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Shipbuilding, said that parts of the article in which Šustar leaves open the question of evolution and says that God is the most likely designer of the world, are absolutely unacceptable for any serious scholar. He added that Šustar is referring to Ruđer Bošković, but said that Bošković himself, if he were alive today, would change his mind given everything which science has proven in the meantime. "The article says that the issue of evolution is open, although we know that evolution has been proven, just like gravity. We can always discuss it, but evolution is not an open question."

"The strangest of all statements in the article is that the world has obviously been designed. I do not believe that someone could write something like that. Not a single serious religious person would say that. This is totally wrong because the world has not been designed. Science and religion have nothing in common. All that we know about nature and the universe we have learnt through science, and it will remain so in the future. I would like him to explain what he meant when he said that the question of evolution is open and that the world has been designed", said Puljak.

Dejan Vinković is a professor at the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Split and the director of the Institute of Synergy Between Science and Society. He was shocked by ministers words and went a step further and said that a person who does not accept biological evolution is not capable of heading a science and educational system of a country. "I have seen what the new Minister said in his 'scientific' article and I was shocked. To be perfectly clear: a person who does not accept biological evolution as a law of nature is not capable of leading a science and educational system of a country. This is the first time that we have a minister who publicly declares himself as a supporter of pseudoscience – the denial of the laws of biological evolution", said professor Vinković.

"Intelligent design is a milder version of creationism – a religious fundamentalist view of the creation of the world and people. Creationism advocates the view that the world is a few thousand years ago, and that God created everything as it stands now. These views are equivalent to those who believe that the Earth is flat", said Vinković.

"The Council of Europe has warned about the expansion of creationism in schools, but Croatia is making a step backwards by having an education minister who advocates a milder version of creationism. The only responsible thing would be for the minister to resign, or for the prime minister to dismiss him. Everything else would be putting the religious over the secular, pseudoscientific over the scientific. After all, one of the reforms that are needed in the system of science is that works such as the controversial one published by the minister should not be called 'scientific'", concluded Vinković.