Thursday, November 05, 2009

Creationism Is Not Catholic


This quarters issue of Mass of Ages, the LMS Magazine has a very good letter by Sergey Budaev, a parishioner of ours. He is Russian, a research scientist at Sussex University, a young father with three delightful children.
His letter deals with Creationism and Intelligent Design, in his letter he says that both these doctrines are essentially Protestant and are based on a fundamentalistic reading of scripture.
He repeats JPII by saying that Evolutionary Theory does not contradict the Magisterium.
He ends :

ET is not incomp[atable with the Magisterium, but it is incompatasble with the false theology of fundamentalist Protestants such as the impossibility of any creative of matter, of synergism between the Creator and the created (hence total depravity as a result of the Fall, sola fide salvation, predestination, sola scriptura and literal interpretation of Scripture, etc).
Do not allow these false doctrines to creep into Catholic teaching.

23 comments:

Michael Petek said...

Can't find the letter anywhere!

David Joyce said...

The trouble is that creationism is much more compatible with Church teaching than ET can ever be. It is very difficult to reconcile the initial state of perfect grace, to the introduction of sin and the need of a Redeemer, when everything evolved via random mutations to the situation we now find ourselves.

Father Brian Harrison has written many excellent and thoroughly researched articles, especially in terms of the formation of our first parents, in light of tradition and of the magisterium of the Church. Here are a few:

Early Vatican Responses To Evolutionist Theology
http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt93.html

Did Woman Evolve from the Beasts? - Part I
http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt97.html

Did Woman Evolve from the Beasts? - Part II
http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt98.html

gemoftheocean said...

Great pic! It's a keeper.

I wouldnt' think many catholics get sucked into creationism.

Eons ago in the early 70s our US History teacher (a *good* Jezzie) simply said it didnt' matter by what scientific path we got here, the only things we had to accept were that at some point God decided to infuse a soul, and we are all decended from that creature.

And IIRC all these studies of mitochondrial [sp?!] DNA seem to bear the latter out as well.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Can I ask David Joyce kindly to clarify whether he believes that the universe was created in 6 days, as portrayed in the Genesis account?

Red Maria said...

How interesting. Is Sergey Budaev a Catholic?

Thomas Windsor said...

Hmm, If we accept that God created everything, I do not see a problem as to why He could not create the world in the time given in the book of Genesis.

I also do not see any problem with Him creating the world and making any obtainable evidence appear that it took longer.

As a former Organic Synthetic Chemist at Sussex University, and now a Chemistry teacher, I have not seen any compelling evidence to show how the basic chemical building blocks of life could form by chance. All our chemical knowledge goes against the idea that simple compounds can form into more complex molecules, and then into the larger biological structures and systems with out some sort of intervention. I think I will stick with the solid science of the Entropy Law, rather than what is purely speculation (Evolution).

The major problems with the chemistry needed to form life on earth, according to the theory of evolution has led a worrying number of evolutionists (so called 'scientists') that life had to have come from outer space.

Genesis is not a scientific account , but the amount of real testable science in general evolutionary theory, makes it a good candidate for the fiction section in any bookshop.

Moretben said...

I have become increasingly depressed by the extent to which fundamentalist nonsense ("creationism" and the related idiotic fad for "geocentrism") is infecting "Traditionalist" Catholicism - imported, I suspect, by semi-converted American ex-Evangelicals who've simply switched party line. Fundamentalists are those who, having dispensed entirely with the Tradition, do not know what Scripture is, or how to read it. They therefore assume that the more flat and undifferentiating the reading, the more boldly "orthodox" it is. Having "converted" ideologically to Catholicism (of neo-Trad or neo-Con stripe)they then claim support for their false understanding by "proof-texting" the Fathers, in precisely the same way as they once "proof-texted" Scripture itself.

David - the trouble with your first paragraph is its narrow and exaggerated Augustinianism. This is not how the Fathers generally understand creation, fall and redemption.

Moretben said...

I meant to add: this is further evidence, in my opinion, of the widening estrangement of Catholic "Traditionalism" from Traditional Catholicism. The former appears more and more to be an ideological posture principally, a kind of anti-modern Swiss Army Knife; if there's a theosis tool there at all, it looks to be in mortal danger of rusting shut.

Titus 3:9

Moretben said...

ET is not incomp[atable with the Magisterium, but it is incompatasble with the false theology of fundamentalist Protestants such as the impossibility of any creative of matter, of synergism between the Creator and the created (hence total depravity as a result of the Fall, sola fide salvation, predestination, sola scriptura and literal interpretation of Scripture, etc).

I think Mr Budaev is right on the money with this. Whether or not he's a Catholic, his comment reflects criticisms the Eastern Church has consistently levelled at the western tradition - the recurrence of an incomplete and unbalanced understanding of Original Sin. Almost all the errors of the Protestants arose from grappling these characteristic tendencies to their bosoms, and running off a cliff with them.

David Joyce said...

To answer the question by Francis, the Biblical Commission of 1909 answered as follows (when it was an organ of the magisterium, which thankfully is no longer the case):

Question VIII: Whether in that designation and distinction of six days, with which the account of the first chapter of Genesis deals, the word (dies) can be assumed either in its proper sense as a natural day, or in the improper sense of a certain space of time; and whether with regard to such a question there can be free disagreement among exegetes? -- Reply: In the affirmative.

So you can believe the universe has been created in 6 (earth) days or longer, and remain a faithful Catholic. I don't have a definitive view on this as I don't believe we have enough information to be conclusive.

I really don't buy this notion that creationism is some sort of Protestant fundamentalist import. Take the Fourth Lateran Council:

"God... creator of all visible and invisible things, of the spiritual and of the corporal; who by
His own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from
nothing, spiritual and corporal, namely, angelic and mundane, and finally the human,
constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body" (Denz 428).

The Kolbe Centre has some excellent research on the writings of the Early Church Fathers:

http://www.kolbecenter.org/pdf/Keane_days_of_creation_150.pdf

[shorter version:]
http://www.kolbecenter.org/pdf/Keane_days_of_creaion_96.pdf

I really can't see why God, though, is constrained by our modern notion of change and time. He is almighty, so can create everything, in a mature state, in an instant, if He wishes.

Kneeling Catholic said...

Father,

A very interesting discussion! Here is something else to consider. As I understand it, Darwinism or Darwineanism is a materialistic theory. Again, as I understand it, materialism rejects the existence of the soul. I once heard it expressed by a biology teacher...'you are nothing but a bunch of electrons swirling around positively charged nuclei'

That appears to be its starting point. Hence it concludes that it is possible to 'assemble' a human being from scratch/non-living matter, whether by chance or by aliens or in a laboratory, and that human would be alive and human.

I don't think the Church can ever accept the above premise since it contradicts real 'creationism' of which I am a firm believer...i.e. God directly creates each human, spiritual, soul.

K. C.

santoeusebio said...

Can someone please define "intelligent design"?

I understand that if I pray to God for something it is possible for Him to intervene in this world to answer my prayer. Miracles being an example of this. So can he not also intervene in the evolutionary process by giving something a nudge from time to time?

As to "exaggerated Augustianism" did not St Augustine query the idea of a literal belief in the creation story - something about how could there have been a first day when night and day did not get created until later?

lizard said...

David Joyce said...
The trouble is that creationism is much more compatible with Church teaching ...It is very difficult to reconcile the initial state of perfect grace, ....

ET does not contradict the Genesis, if we consider a few details. First, the Garden of Eden, specially created by God. This may tell us that the Earth as "naturally" shaped by evolution may have been rather dangerous and hostile. So the initial state of perfect grace is really and truly supernatural - totally the gift of God. It also implies that all creation is intrinsically limited and imperfect, only God Himself is perfect in Himself and truly unlimited. Another implication is that God's Grace indeed does keep, maintain and sustain the World. However good, intelligent and perfect the creation may be, it tends to go to destruction and evil to the degree (perhaps even exponentially) it departs from God's Grace. So theologically, ET is not difficult to reconcile with the Catholic Doctrine.

lizard said...

David Joyce said...
To answer the question by Francis, the Biblical Commission of 1909..

ET does not contradict "global" creationism (a view that everything is ultimately created by God), it contradicts only a specific theory of "creationists" that seem to have monopolised the name (hence creating significant confusion). Because God sustains the whole world by His Grace at every moment, it can be said that every creature is created from nothing (i.g. God is the final cause of everything), yet, instrumental mechanisms can be different.

Miles said...

For a coherent, orthodox and highly readable account of contemporary Catholic thinking you may find the documents on the Faith website useful:

www.faith.org.uk

http://www.faith.org.uk/Shop/CatecheticsPamphlets.htm

I'm not overly sold on their adherence to Scotist thinking but the promotion of science and faith together makes excellent sense.

Moretben said...

I really can't see why God, though, is constrained by our modern notion of change and time. He is almighty, so can create everything, in a mature state, in an instant, if He wishes.

Quite so - but the cosmos, per Quem facta sunt and therefore to open to investigation by our God-given reason, tells us quite unambiguously that He didn't. Full stop.

The Fathers worked within the cosmology available to them. The "import from Fundamentalism" consists of the assertion that the cosmology is the point - that it's integrally bound up with the Faith and an authentic understanding of Scripture. It isn't. Not even those of Fathers susceptible of "proof-texting" in support of six-day-creationism (and they are remarkably few) would have insisted that it was.

Moretben said...

David

To answer the question by Francis, the Biblical Commission of 1909 answered as follows (when it was an organ of the magisterium, which thankfully is no longer the case)

Does this legalistic gobbledygook make any real sense? In your conscience, now...

nickbris said...

According to Lord Sacks the Chief Rabbi,Atheists & Secularists will destroy themselves by their selfishness,they are too selfish to invest in Children for the future of civilisation.They are only interested in themselves.

Moslems,Jews and Christians are having the larger families.

Unless the HEATHEN are allowed to take over our entire education system we have little to worry about.

We must always be alert to the fifth column of Comic Singers & Trick Cyclists and the likes of Neo Nazi's like UKIP must be kept OUT.

lizard said...

Thomas Windsor said...

I have not seen any compelling evidence to show how the basic chemical building blocks of life could form by chance. ... The major problems with the chemistry needed to form life on earth..


There are two distinct questions, (1) the origin of life and (2) evolution of the existing life by natural selection. Evolution is not chance.

David Joyce said...
...He is almighty, so can create everything, in a mature state, in an instant, if He wishes.


Almighty God can create anyone in the adult state in an instant if He wishes. Does He? What we now see on this planet points that the life was developing continuously during long geological epochs, unless we assume that physical laws and constants were (and are?) continuously changing.

johnf said...

Zenit last week reported a press release of a conference to be held at the Pius V University and the topic was disproving Darwin.

One of the papers being presented claims that the age of certain fossiliferous sedimentary rocks have been wildy overestimated. Instead of being 10,000,000 years old as stated by geologists, the authors claim an age of only 10,000 years.

As a scientist, I greet these claims with extreme scepticism. If they had been verified by other scientists, this would be world news.

I therefore question the wisdom of hosting this seminar at Pius V University. This will only serve to fuel the claims of the secularists that the Catholic Church is some obscurantist organisation.

Even the simple mathematics in the press release is wrong. 10,000 is 0.1% of 10,000,000 not 0.01% as stated. People will say that if you can't do simple mathematics...

David Joyce said...

Does this legalistic gobbledygook make any real sense? In your conscience, now...

In my conscience? Am I a modernist? No, I am a Catholic striving to be faithful to the magisterium, so if the Holy See issues a statement on Genesis, then I am bound to take note. It says there is freedom either way on this particular question, so I really don't have any hard and fast opinions on the matter.

However, there are certain things that we are not free to question as Catholics. An earlier question put to the same Pontifical Biblical Commission, and binding on Catholics, is as follows (this from 1909, well after the publication of "The Origin of the Species"):

"Whether, in particular, the literal historical sense (sensus litteralis historicus) may be called in question (vocari in dubium possit), where it is a question of facts narrated in these chapters (ubi agitur de factis in eisdem capitibus enarratis) which involve the foundations of the Christian religion (quae christianae religionis fundamenta attingunt), as are, among others, the creation of all things by God at the beginning of time; the special [or, particular] creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man (formatio primae mulieris ex primo homine); the unity of the human race; the original happiness of our first parents in a state of justice, integrity and immortality; the precept given by God to man in order to test his obedience; the transgression of the divine precept under the persuasion of the devil in the guise of a serpent; the fall of our first parents from the aforesaid primaeval state of innocence; and the promise of a future Saviour?

Response: In the negative (Negative)."

That does not tally very well with ET, at least in terms of the first man and woman.

Gustav said...

DJ,
Interestly the Pontifical Biblical Commission chooses to publish this question aimed at particular theological issues, not a broader question: Is the Genesis account of creation historical and literal fact.

John Kearney said...

I am afraid all the comments so far demonstrate that the Catholics need to look further into Evolution. Darwin did not invent evolution there were many theories around in the 19th century. Darwin invented Darwinism a theory which depends on `natural selection` and the elimination of God. It is really a load of nonsense and only atheistic bigotry keeps it going. Yes, God may well be the author of Evolution and will be found in Intellgient Design, but let us not sort of apologise and say well it is just another way of looking at Darwinism. Incidentally Darwinism with it survival of the fittest touched on the more advanced human moving forward by eliminating the less weak and able. This was ceased on in Germany and gave rise to the elimination of Gypsies, the handicapped, and the Jews. As I say it is time Catholics took Darwinism seriously.