Pope: God Not Able To Do Everything…editor
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not ‘a magician with a magic wand’
The theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real and God is not “a magician with a magic wand”, Pope Francis has declared.
Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the “pseudo theories” of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator – arguing instead that they “require it”.
“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Francis said. “The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.
“Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
The Catholic Church has long had a reputation for being anti-science – most famously when Galileo faced the inquisition and was forced to retract his “heretic” theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
But Pope Francis’s comments were more in keeping with the progressive work of Pope Pius XII, who opened the door to the idea of evolution and actively welcomed the Big Bang theory. In 1996, John Paul II went further and suggested evolution was “more than a hypothesis” and “effectively proven fact”.
Yet more recently, Benedict XVI and his close advisors have apparently endorsed the idea that intelligent design underpins evolution – the idea that natural selection on its own is insufficient to explain the complexity of the world. In 2005, his close associate Cardinal Schoenborn wrote an article saying “evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense – an unguided, unplanned process – is not”.
Giovanni Bignami, a professor and president of Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, told the Italian news agency Adnkronos: “The pope’s statement is significant. We are the direct descendents from the Big Bang that created the universe. Evolution came from creation.”
Giulio Giorello, professor of the philosophy of science at Milan’s University degli Studi, told reporters that he believed Francis was “trying to reduce the emotion of dispute or presumed disputes” with science.
Despite the huge gulf in theological stance between his tenure and that of his predecessor, Francis praised Benedict XVI as he unveiled a bronze bust of him at the academy’s headquarters in the Vatican Gardens.
“No one could ever say of him that study and science made him and his love for God and his neighbour wither,” Francis said, according to a translation by the Catholic News Service.
“On the contrary, knowledge, wisdom and prayer enlarged his heart and his spirit. Let us thank God for the gift that he gave the church and the world with the existence and the pontificate of Pope Benedict.” Source – Independent
You know, despite everything, I’m still inclined to allow Pope Francis the benefit of any doubt – maybe what he actually said was lost in translation, and he really didn’t mean to say that that “God [the Creator]…was not able to do everything…” Maybe he meant to highlight the Catholic position on evolution – which you can check out here – and just got tongue-tied… Or maybe he’s changed his mind since he first said that way back in 2014?
Yet, I can’t help wondering if the blogger over at the Independent site was onto something when he opined that Francis is “a closet atheist.” Surely not?
The Pope should stick to the teaching of the Church on everything, including creation, and he wouldn’t make such a fool of himself. St Augustine did teach that the creation could have taken periods of time, or “aeons” but not without God doing the creating. It’s my view that he was trying to explain that but did so very clumsily.
That Independent report is a bit odd, though, because it’s dated 2014, but the blog comments are timed “19 minutes ago”, “3 hours ago”, etc, That’s a long time to keep a discussion going, LOL!
I sort of agree with you. I don’t think the pope can possibly think that God can’t do anything, so he might have been misquoted or mistranslated.
I can’t understand people who believe in evolution – it’s sheer nonsense.
I agree about the Pope sticking to Church teaching to prevent making himself look foolish but I really do wonder about his level of human intelligence, no offence meant. It seems a particularly strange thing for a pope to say he doesn’t think God is able to do everything – that would make him NOT God, LOL!
I love the cartoon! LOL!
I’m glad this topic has come up as I find I am often caught up in conversations about evolution and I struggle a bit with it. I know we don’t have to take the creation stories literally but beyond that, I’m not totally sure, so I’m looking forward to what others say.
The Pope is just too off the wall to really know one way or the other if he really believes in God or not, at least the same God of the Church Fathers.
This book will help you to deal with conversations about evolution
We reviewed that book in the newsletter some time ago. Thank you for posting the link, now that it’s available to read online.
I loved the cartoon also! LOL!
I think everyone struggles with this topic because some people think you have to take the book of Genesis literally (day one, day two etc) while others argue that the Church allows the St Augustine belief that it may have taken long stretches of time for the world to come into being. I don’t mind either but I do think we have to accept the instant creation of man, Adam, as nothing else makes sense because human beings couldn’t have been created without a soul.
I do wish the popes would just repeat the teaching of the Church without wanting to seem so open-minded about it all. It seems like being a poser.
This short video clip is useful because it says in a nutshell that Darwinism and God are not compatible. I found it helpful, so I hope others do, as well.
I found the speaker in that video a little hard to follow. He kept dropping his voice at key points, but I got the gist of it and mean to study the website when I find time.
Regarding the opinion that Francis is a “closet atheist,” I’m reminded of that old episode of “Yes Prime Minister” someone posted years ago, in which the perfect definition of a Modernist was offered. That is, someone who no longer believes in God!
I’m not sure Francis really knows what or who he believes in. He is the perfect disciple of Luther, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx and Teilhard de Chardin. Which is to say, he is thoroughly confused…about truth, reality, the Catholic Faith, himself…..
But the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether he is really just a puppet of the schismatic German episcopate, and that somewhere behind those prison bars, there actually hides a vestige of the Catholic Faith. If there is, that might better explain the mystery of his efforts to regularize the SSPX. As Luke Skywalker once said to Darth Vader, “There is still good in you.”
He is very much the puppet of the German church, whose lavish lifestyle he does not dare to criticise.
Yet, he has talked about bishops and priests living simple lifestyles, so how can he make the German church an exception.
I do agree about Pope Francis’ confused state of mind. I think his crazy sayings, such as Our Lady thinking, at the foot of the cross, that she had been lied to, and now Christ being described as the devil, demonstrates that, as do his many ramblings – and let’s not forget Amoris Laetitia.
His determination, it seems, to regularise the SSPX even as he cracks down, by personal command, on the Franciscans of the Immaculate, is a puzzle, but may, as you suggest, hint at some level of good, some crumb of Catholicity in his soul.
We live in hope!
This Pope is simply out of his depth. Spectacularly so. Full stop.
I know not whether anyone else here has picked up on it, but just before Easter, in one of his morning homilies, he described Christ as Satan, obviously trying to go one better than St Paul and failing miserably in the process.
This is what happens when the mediocre are promoted beyond their natural capacities.
Yes, I saw that report where the Pope described Christ as Satan and – needless to say – I was heard breathing a “WOW!”
My own take on that (and other such ridiculous “insights” of Pope Francis) is that he is like a not terribly effective teacher who tries desperately to find analogies, examples, ideas, that will help drive home a point, and too often falls (metaphorically) on his face in the attempt. I suppose that’s a slight variation on your observation that Papa Francis is out of his depth.
As the early Church Father, Saint Irenaeus, once said: “Truth is always simple. It is error that is immense.”
If only Pope Francis would stick to preaching, in the simplest terms, the ancient teaching of the Church, he wouldn’t get into these predicaments, saying things that are pure theological nonsense.
Is Francis an athiest? No. However, the theological vision which he and the contemporary Society of Jesus espouse, which is basically Protestantism, certainly does lead to agnosticism and atheism. Of this I have no doubt.
Is Francis an atheist? No.
Well, he certainly does speak about God – even in his support for evolution – but IS this God, the same God of our Faith… the God of Christian revelation, or does he hold some other understanding of God?
His pet project – the “God of Surprises” – suggests that He does not believe in an unchanging, unchangeable God but a God who will accommodate the changing times.
Or am I misunderstanding his “God of Surprises”?
Christopher Ferrara recently opined that the “god of surprises” was Francis himself! But I think Francis has the fundamentalist Protestant conception of God – namely, that God Himself sits on Francis’ shoulder 24/7 and approves of everything he says and does. A sort of Walt Disney version of a guardian angel!
As for Francis referring to Christ as Satan, he exposes himself as a reader of the infamous Urs von Balthasar of “razing of the bastions” notoriety, whose writings frequently contain such blasphemies couched in poetic, rhapsodic language (in other words, in gibberish…). Ah yes, another esteemed pillar of Vatican II.
Certainly, Papa Francis is FULL of
I’ve not had a chance to check for “Church news” today, but I always do so with bated breath and gritted teeth.
Try it. Not easy… 😀
I agree that Pope Francis is not an atheist, but a Protestantised Catholic. It’s really incredibly sad. I do, actually, feel sorry for him in a way.
I’m not sure where to post this, so since this is about Pope Francis, I’m choosing here – posters gone up around Rome praising him.
A “tolerance” group think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, LOL!
Thank you for that link. Hilarious! This takes the biscuit: Sponsored by The Global Tolerance Initiative, the posters referred to a website called “Love is Tolerance,” which explained that Pope Francis had been named by the organization as their “Global Champion of Tolerance Easter 2017.”
I mean, could one, COULD one, make this stuff up? Or,more grammatically, could one make up this stuff?! 😀
I’m willing to cede that he believes in a Creator, but whether this is the Blessed and Holy Trinity or Shiva or Allah or Zeus or Odin or the Great Architect of the Universe or any other is a question.
Maybe he believes in all of them at the same time as most post-Christians do. Remember, he has already trashed Our Lord’s miracles, so one does have to wonder whether he accepts that the Catholic religion is divinely revealed.
Essentially believing in nothing, these post-Christian “Christians” are willing to venerate all gods as emanations of that religious feeling that springs from within us – certainly not from outside.
Daylight Origins Society have a good Catholic resource website on Creation: http://www.daylightorigins.com
Yes, Daylight is a very good resource. I keep meaning to publish some of their excellent articles in the newsletter.
I am minded to think that the statement that “that is not so” refers solely to the image of God as a magician with a magic wand, and nothing more.
The Pope does, however, often speak in a way that too often leaves his words open to a broad interpretation. Possibly he should say less and only speak from a script and never extemporize.
A fair point (about the magician, wand being the object of the “not so”) and you give good advice, very good advice, to Papa Francis, which I wholeheartedly endorse.
What Pope Francis is effectively stating is that the Sacred Scriptures are not to be read literally; that Genesis is really just a bit of a fairy tale. Of course the problem the Pope runs into here is that Sacred Scripture speaks of God directly Creating the world and then Creating Adam and Eve in a state of perfection and placing them in a literal paradise on earth where He personally conversed with them, as with none of the rest of His Creation.
The other problem he runs into is that for evolution to be true the Biblical story recounting Eve’s creation from the side of Adam, a divine work that is reflected again in the opening of Our Lord’s side on the Cross that gave birth to Holy Mother Church, would have to give place to a new idea that Eve evolved individually of Adam, albeit simultaneously. What then becomes of the fall of our first parents? Could God justly judge and punish two people and their offspring for an act of disobedience which was merely a result of their evolving imperfection? The entire theory is riddled with heresy.
Truth be told, what Pope Francis is doing is laying the ground for a rejection of a literal interpretation of the infallible Biblical texts in favour of a theory which, once accepted, opens the way to the evolution of the Church’s doctrinal and moral teaching. Everything becomes relative to place and time, to the evolution of man and the world around him.
Here are a few of the condemned and proscribed assertions that the Church’s Magisterium highlighted as examples of the Modernist poison that Pope Francis himself now seem to be espousing to the great detriment of the Faith.
From Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors: “Divine Revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement of human reason (Science, my emphasis).” (Encyclical Qui Pluribus, 1846).
From St. Pius X’s Syllabus of Errors:
#1 “The Church’s interpretation of the Sacre Books is by no means to be rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of the exegetes.”
#2 Even by dogmatic definitions the Church’s Magisterium cannot determine the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.
#3 They display excessive simplicity or ignorance who believe that God is really the author of the Sacred Scriptures.
#4 Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scripture so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.
#5 If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the supernatural origin of the Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same way as any other merely human document.
#6 The “Church learning” and the “Church teaching” collaborate in such a way in defining truths that it remains only for the “Church teaching” to sanction the opinions of the “Church learning”.
From Pius XII’s Humani Generis: If anyone examines the state of affairs outside the Christian fold, he will easily discover the principal trends that not a few learned men are following. Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution. Communists gladly subscribe to this opinion so that, when the souls of men have been deprived of every idea of a personal God, they may the more efficaciously defend and propagate their dialectical materialism.
Such ficticious tenets of evolution which repudiate all that is absolute, firm and immutable have paved the way for the new erroneous philosophy which, rivaling idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, has assumed the name of existentialism, since it concerns itself only with existence of individual things and neglects all consideration of their immutable essences.
There is also a certain historicism which, attributing value only to the events of man’s life, overthrows the foundation of all truth and absolute law both in regard to philosophical speculations and especially to Christian dogmas.”
What Pius XII goes on to link to this foundational error of evolutionsm is the resultant error of Modernism arising from a despise of scholastic theology. This in turn clears the way for an embrace of doctrinal and moral relativism and the promotion of a false unity between the true Catholic religion and false religions.
We’ve had this discussion before about the interpretation of Sacred Scripture and the fact that there are various types of writing therein. I really thought our previous conversations had ironed out the Catholic position on “literal” interpretation of Scripture, which is a feature of Protestantism, not Catholicism. The quotes you have given must be viewed in the context of the landmark encyclical on the Study of Holy Scripture, by Pope Leo XIII. I’ve copied out some key passages, because we are not obliged to interpret everything in Scripture in the literal sense – Pope Leo XIII explains this below – which is why St Augustine is permitted to argue that the “days” of creation may be interpreted as aeons of time – not 24 hour days, although, obviously, God may choose either; Pope Leo XIII touches on the Catholic attitude to such things when it is something that we cannot, by definition, know as a fact, and is, therefore, outwith the realm of faith and dogma.
Holy Scripture and Theology; Interpretation; the Fathers
15. But he must not on that account consider that it is forbidden, when just cause exists, to push inquiry and exposition beyond what the Fathers have done; provided he carefully observes the rule so wisely laid down by St. Augustine-not to depart from the literal and obvious sense, except only where reason makes it untenable or necessity requires;(40) a rule to which it is the more necessary to adhere strictly in these times, when the thirst for novelty and unrestrained freedom of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate. Neither should those passages be neglected which the Fathers have understood in an allegorical or figurative sense, more especially when such interpretation is justified by the literal, and when it rests on the authority of many. For this method of interpretation has been received by the Church from the Apostles, and has been approved by her own practice, as the holy Liturgy attests; although it is true that the holy Fathers did not thereby pretend directly to demonstrate dogmas of faith, but used it as a means of promoting virtue and piety, such as, by their own experience, they knew to be most valuable…
The Authority of Holy Scripture; Modern Criticism; Physical Science
18. In the second place, we have to contend against those who, making an evil use of physical science, minutely scrutinize the Sacred Book in order to detect the writers in a mistake, and to take occasion to vilify its contents. Attacks of this kind, bearing as they do on matters of sensible experience, are peculiarly dangerous to the masses, and also to the young who are beginning their literary studies; for the young, if they lose their reverence for the Holy Scripture on one or more points, are easily led to give up believing in it altogether. It need not be pointed out how the nature of science, just as it is so admirably adapted to show forth the glory of the Great Creator, provided it be taught as it should be, so if it be perversely imparted to the youthful intelligence, it may prove most fatal in destroying the principles of true philosophy and in the corruption of morality. Hence to the Professor of Sacred Scripture a knowledge of natural science will be of very great assistance in detecting such attacks on the Sacred Books, and in refuting them. There can never, indeed, be any real discrepancy between the theologian and the physicist, as long as each confines himself within his own lines, and both are careful, as St. Augustine warns us, “not to make rash assertions, or to assert what is not known as known.”(51) If dissension should arise between them, here is the rule also laid down by St. Augustine, for the theologian: “Whatever they can really demonstrate to be true of physical nature, we must show to be capable of reconciliation with our Scriptures; and whatever they assert in their treatises which is contrary to these Scriptures of ours, that is to Catholic faith, we must either prove it as well as we can to be entirely false, or at all events we must, without the smallest hesitation, believe it to be so.”(52) To understand how just is the rule here formulated we must remember, first, that the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately, the Holy Ghost “Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things (that is to say, the essential nature of the things of the visible universe), things in no way profitable unto salvation.”(53) Hence they did not seek to penetrate the secrets of nature, but rather described and dealt with things in more or less figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even by the most eminent men of science. Ordinary speech primarily and properly describes what comes under the senses; and somewhat in the same way the sacred writers-as the Angelic Doctor also reminds us – `went by what sensibly appeared,”(54) or put down what God, speaking to men, signified, in the way men could understand and were accustomed to.
19. The unshrinking defence of the Holy Scripture, however, does not require that we should equally uphold all the opinions which each of the Fathers or the more recent interpreters have put forth in explaining it; for it may be that, in commenting on passages where physical matters occur, they have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own times, and thus made statements which in these days have been abandoned as incorrect. Hence, in their interpretations, we must carefully note what they lay down as belonging to faith, or as intimately connected with faith-what they are unanimous in. For “in those things which do not come under the obligation of faith, the Saints were at liberty to hold divergent opinions, just as we ourselves are,”(55) according to the saying of St. Thomas. And in another place he says most admirably: “When philosophers are agreed upon a point, and it is not contrary to our faith, it is safer, in my opinion, neither to lay down such a point as a dogma of faith, even though it is perhaps so presented by the philosophers, nor to reject it as against faith, lest we thus give to the wise of this world an occasion of despising our faith.”(56) The Catholic interpreter, although he should show that those facts of natural science which investigators affirm to be now quite certain are not contrary to the Scripture rightly explained, must nevertheless always bear in mind, that much which has been held and proved as certain has afterwards been called in question and rejected…
Read Providentissimus Deus here
There is literal interpretation of divine revelation in Sacred Scripture and then there is literal interpretation of the human element used by God to convey it.
The former is not up for question or debate. The latter may be discussed by experts in their respective fields, though never to the extent of casting doubt on the former. That’s what Pope Leo XIII addressed in his Encyclical.
What Pope Francis has said appears to call into question the most fundamental belief of the Church, which is that God created the world, and Adam and Eve, in a state of original perfection. If the big bang evolutionary theory is to be given serious consideration, which it does not merit even in scientific terms, then everything changes. There would be no original state of perfection to be lost by our first parents and consequently no fall and no need for a Redeemer. Can you see now where I’m coming from, or rather where the Modernist mind is coming from? Read those Syllabi condemnations again in that context.
By the way, if literal interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures were, as you say, a Protestant error, then how do we explain wholesale Protestant acceptance of divorce and other moral deviations forbidden by God in the Biblical texts? Indeed, how do we explain the Protestant rejection of the Catholic Church built on the Rock of Peter? No, Protestantism does not advocate, much less live by, a literal interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures.
It is a mark of the confused Protestant state that they do NOT, as you indicate, interpret the entirety of Scripture, literally, but their general position is that by literal interpretation and private interpretation, they reach the truth. I have, many times, pointed out, to Protestant relatives and friends, the inconsistencies in their beliefs, asking them why they don’t literally accept John 6, for example, but never (naturally) receive a logical reply. And Evangelical Protestants will argue you to death about the Genesis story of Adam & Eve, for example, insisting that there was a serpent, a tree, a piece of fruit (usually an apple, favourite of artists, although there is no mention of an apple in the Genesis account). An educated (in the Faith) Catholic should know better. As Pope Leo XIII reminds us, there is allegory in Scripture, and the accounts of creation do contain allegory, which does not, remotely, affect divine revelation about the truths of the Faith. God created the world (perhaps in a short period of time – my own preference – or perhaps, as St Augustine taught, over a long period of time) and he directly created the first two human beings. That is what we are bound to believe. We are not bound to believe that this was achieved in 6/24 hour days.
Leo XIII was very clear about being careful not to insist on a literal interpretation where this may not be necessary and even prove detrimental. I quote, again, from Providentissius Deus: 19. The unshrinking defence of the Holy Scripture, however, does not require that we should equally uphold all the opinions which each of the Fathers or the more recent interpreters have put forth in explaining it; for it may be that, in commenting on passages where physical matters occur, they have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own times, and thus made statements which in these days have been abandoned as incorrect. Hence, in their interpretations, we must carefully note what they lay down as belonging to faith, or as intimately connected with faith-what they are unanimous in. For “in those things which do not come under the obligation of faith, the Saints were at liberty to hold divergent opinions, just as we ourselves are,”(55)
I’m sure we are agreed on this – I just wanted to clarify the issues since it is always important, when speaking of “literal interpretation” of Scripture to make the necessary distinctions. We are not obliged to take every word in Scripture as literally true. There is need for correct interpretation, to ensure both that the literal meaning is understood and that a literal meaning is not imposed unnecessarily, as, for example, where allegorical language is employed.
There is nothing in Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical on the Study of Sacred Scripture. which risks the condemnations in the Syllabus of Errors, so I do think we are in agreement… Lord, be praised! .
While I do not accept that Protestants across the board insist on a literal interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures, a claim that would instantly destroy their argument for personal interpretation, I see that we are now singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak, in the matter of the distinction that must be made between what can and cannot be open to literal interpretation in Sacred Scripture.
Personally, I think it would be much better for Catholics in this dangerous age to lean a little more towards literal interpretation than open the door to even more confusion by promoting what one Pope thought in the matter. As has become evident since Vatican II, and even more especially now with Pope Francis, is that the resultant debate and confusion can very easily lead to wholesale error.
God is perfectly capable of creating all things in a matter of days if He so chooses. If the experts in their various fields wish to debate the finer, less important, points then that’s ok by me. But it’s a dangerous passtime for the unskilled and one that is not in the least beneficial to anyone. I wish someone would tell that to Pope Francis.
Protestants have a flawed understanding of the Bible as the “inspired” word of God, which is why they believe they have to take everything literally. I’ve already mentioned that they are inconsistent in this, but it is what they claim to believe, alongside private interpretation. I didn’t say it’s a logical position to hold, just that it’s the basic Protestant position. If you Google “Protestant literal interpretation” etc. I’m sure you will find confirmation of this from Protestant sources.
And allow me to stress that there should have been no question of there being anything misleading in any of my comments, since my comments were more or less a series of quotes from Pope Leo XIII, expounding the clear teaching of the Church and making the distinctions which you appeared not to accept in your original comment but now, do, thankfully, accept.
Clarifying further, what Pope Leo XIII says in Providentissimus Deus is NOT his personal view, or a one-off papal statement. It’s what the Church has always taught – check out St Augustine in the matter.
What Pope Leo writes is very important… We must not bring the Scriptures (and the Church) into disrepute by claiming that the Scriptures teach something that can be shown by science or other disciplines, not to be the case. I can never understand the mentality that wishes to think differently in this, as if the Church could possibly claim authority in the sphere of science, which she has never done. The Church is very clear on that point, and Providentissimus Deus spells it out in crystal clear fashion. It doesn’t take much intelligence (a dose of common sense, really) to work out that the ancient writers were recording their understanding of the creation of the world, so far back in history that nobody knows, for certain, the authorship of the Genesis Books, although attributed to Moses. If someone does wish to take it all literally, that’s fine, but they mustn’t claim that it is the teaching of the Church, because it’s not. Never has been. Cannot possibly be the teaching of the Church.
So, I wholly disagree that it is better for Catholics to lean more towards literal interpretation of the Genesis creation accounts, than adhering to the teaching of the Church. Now, more than ever, we need Catholics to be educated in all aspects of the Faith, to the best of our ability, and not be sloppy in our approach to Scripture, or anything else.
We ought to know what we are talking about. It is tantamount to saying that if God did, as St Augustine believed, take aeons of time to bring the world together, then He really shouldn’t have done so! That’s ridiculous. Of course God could have created the world in 6 days or 6 minutes or even 6 seconds. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether the Church requires that we believe that God created the world in a particular span of time, and, of course, the Church requires no such thing. Surely, we want Catholics to know what they are talking about, to know enough about the nature of Sacred Scripture in order to avoid the error of the Evangelical Protestants which is to insist that God is bound by the ancient writers, who recorded their understanding of how the world came to be created. The only part of their understanding which we are bound to accept is that God created the world and human beings. HOW He chose to do so, is shrouded in mystery and is really, to us, irrelevant.
For the record, the Church’s teaching on this in no way supports the theory of evolution.
I suppose what I long for in these days of “education” is a return to the beauty of simple faith. There is much talk of eduction in our time, as though the divine gift itself depends on an endless acquisition of knowledge for it’s survival, yet we know that a sound education in the fundamental truths of the faith is all that’s required.
It is no accident that the great heresies that have afflicted the Church since her foundation, not least the Modernism of our own time, the “synthesis of all heresies”, have been the work of educated men driven more by the vanity of their intellect than a quest for greater virtue.
And in these days of higher education for all, is it not a fact that the greater part of mankind is now atheistic, secular science having convinced the majority, with theories it proposes as established truth, that God doesn’t really exist?
I seem to recall that the fall of our first parents began with the devil’s temptation that they should eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He offered them a pseudo religious/scientific insight that was beyond what they required to remain faithful to God and they fell for it. Hence the warning that a little education can be a dangerous thing.
Pope Leo XIII wrote his Encyclical primarily for men who specialise in the fields of science, theology and Sacred Scripture. He laid out guidlines for the proper study of secondary debates such as how God may have created all things, how this may have been achieved and how long it might have taken. The truth is that we will never fully attain these insights into the workings of God, though with true science certain aspects about the creation may be gleaned over time. Evolution will never be one of them and that’s why Pope Francis’ words, apparently lending credence to this dangerous fairy tale, are so scandalous.
My fear is that by introducing Pope Leo’s Encyclical into the conversation, together with an argument against literal interpretation of the Scriptures as “not Catholic”, some may wrongly conclude that it is therefore perfectly licit for Pope Francis and others to make public statements favouring evolution. I understand that this was not your intention, but it could be the undesired result.
For me, a condemnation of the heresy of evolution juxtaposed with a condemnation of literal interpretation of the Scriptures is more likely to confuse than clarify the issue under discussion.
You may think you covered that by adding the caveat “For the record, the Church’s teaching on this in no way supports the theory of evolution.” However, I believe Pope Francis and other theologians are in the process of muddying this teaching, and we all know how clever the Modernist is with words. Before long I fully expect Pope Leo’s Encyclical to be used as justification for not taking literally ANYTHING that Genesis says about the Creation.
For myself, in the absence of any scientific evidence contradicting what is written in Genesis, or at least clarifying the sacred text on the finer points, I’m sticking with what the Church has always believed and taught, which is basically that what we read in Sacred Scripture is more or less what happened. That’s simple innocent (not ignorant!) faith. I leave the deeper questions for the experts to ponder in healthier times.
I will of course accept any genuine Church-sanctioned scientific breakthrough that clarifies individual elements of the creation account in Genesis, but until that time comes I am perfectly content to go with a literal interpretation, since I assume this will be more pleasing to the divine author of the Scriptural texts.
I believe you share my opinion, as I’m sure all of our bloggers do. It’s up to modern secular science to prove any aspect of the Genesis account wrong or inaccurate, and I don’t envy the eggheads (or should that be boneheads?) in that monumental task!
I do understand what you are saying about the “beauty of simple faith” but really,the teaching of the Church about creation IS simple and here I have to say “mea culpa” for perhaps misleading bloggers. However, be clear that, while I may not always be right about everything, I’m never wrong 😀 Still, I have to confess to having possibly been… eh… incorrect… certainly careless in the use of language, so allow me to explain…
Somewhere above, I wrote:
“…God created the world (perhaps in a short period of time …or perhaps, as St Augustine taught, over a long period of time).”
Oops! Careless… Incorrect… In fact, God created the world in an instant (and out of nothing, of course).
That’s the key doctrine which makes the Church’s teaching distinctive from evolutionary theory, so worry not about that.
Whether, as St Augustine believed, God took long period of time to reveal His creative work, is the only matter of debate, really; whether he took a short while or aeons of time, to bring it all together, so to speak. I think I did say that somewhere, but I want to make sure I don’t mislead anyone, so clarifying here and now, instantaneously… Like God’s creative act when he brought the world into being. There was nothing random about God’s creative work, everything was there, and perfectly so, in an instant, “in the beginning”, so nobody can, in all honesty, use the teaching of the Church to push evolutionary theory, as I know some do – the so-called Faith movement for starters, with the modern(ists) popes in close second and third place!
I hope that is a bit clearer now. I can see why Augustine’s “aeons” of time might be used by the ignorant to argue for evolution, but it doesn’t work, when the Church’s teaching on creation is properly understood.
I knew what you were trying to say and that’s why I attempted to clarify, but I was also a little clumsy myself when I wrote about literal interpretation. Why can’t we just be perfect all the time instead of just some of the time!! Ha!
No argument there, Athanasius! If only!
I received a round robin email this morning that seems to fit this thread. It underlines the fact that even what we consider to be “settled science” is up for challenge.
This will come a surprise but here is a link to a pdf document showing that the scientific evidence we have at present, does not prove that the theory of Copernicus (that the Earth revolves around the Sun) is better than the Geocentric theory (that Sun the revolves around the Earth ). Either theory is equally credible given our present scientific knowledge. It mentions that all physicists like Einstein know that to be the case.
I visited that Google link and it leads to a list of links about a book called Galileo was Wrong, the Catholic Church was Right. But, my understanding is that the Church wasn’t taking up a position on science during the Galileo debate, but it was the scientific community who were against Galileo’s theory that the earth was still and the sun moved around the earth and the Church just held the position that was the common scientific position at the time. So, the title of the book puts me off.
I can’t say I studied any of the links, though, but I did look at the RationalWiki link and it totally rubbished the book, calling it a work of Satan and full of half-truths. I don’t know enough about the subject to really understand the rights and wrongs of it, but from what I do know, that the Church didn’t persecute Galileo at all, just sided with the scientists at the time against Galileo, I don’t see the point in getting too worked up about it.
Editor and Athanasius,
Thank you for that very interesting, to say the least, discussion. I wonder whether the entire question of evolution can be boiled down to its essential denial of Catholic teaching: God made creation and man (i.e. the whole point of Genesis) vs. creation and man = the eventual random result of the Big Bang, a process during which a lot of hydrogen molecules, after some dinner, dancing, and a few drinks, coalesced into various life forms, one of which was the ape prototype of man, who is still evolving towards some “Omega Point.” (If we reach the Omega Point, will we still need to take fish oil??)
So these clergy, including members of the hierarchy, who flirt with this false theory apparently have neither a basic understanding of the Faith, nor a basic understanding of the theory of evolution. Further, they fail to realize that not only does evolution openly contradict “God made man,” it also contradicts the fall from grace and Original Sin of our first parents.
Just as an aside, since the goal of the devil is to destroy the family, then it follows logically that any form of parenthood must also be destroyed, including our First Parenthood. Evolution does that in spades…..as well as in hearts, clubs and diamonds….
Thought you’d enjoy this…
LOL, guess I’d better start flapping! Or, as the old joke goes, “I just flew in from London, and boy, are my arms tired!”
I hope you checked the population of London when you were there… ?*!
“So these clergy, including members of the hierarchy, who flirt with this false theory apparently have neither a basic understanding of the Faith, nor a basic understanding of the theory of evolution.”
Absolutely right. Nor do they possess even a basic grasp of established scientific principles. The evolutionary theory is for people with a missing link!!
Is chromosome another name for the brain??
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