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If only the Catholic Church would become a thoroughly naturalist institution

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Peter/Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640

Scolds science writer John Farrell at Aeon:

The Vatican still refuses to endorse evolutionary theory- – setting a billion believers at odds with modern science

He; right, you know. We Catholics haven’t done near enough for the Other Billion — who belive in Darwin and in every a-crock-alypse going, especially the ones that prevent poor countries from getting where we are.  (Ifyou are even legally reading this, you are better off than most.)

More from Farrell:

Many in the Roman Catholic hierarchy agreed, but for different reasons. Teilhard incurred the particular displeasure of Rome because he suggested that the Bible’s account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and their Fall from grace as the ultimate origin and explanation for evil in the world, needed to be reinterpreted. Once you adopted an evolutionary perspective, Teilhard argued, evil can be considered a natural feature of the world – a sort of inevitable secondary effect of the creation process itself. As for the age-old belief in a founding couple and an act of disobedience that universally brought sin and death into the world? It was no longer necessary, or even credible, in his view.

Now, that point of view, intended so or not, makes clear that no individual is responsible for causing or promoting sin, any more than one is responsible for the recent viciously cold winters here in northeastern Ontario.

It is then not clear if anyone has free will at all. It is part of a broad movement to curtail human liberties, in favour of government management of a society where human beings are treated as agricultural animals.

Shocka: The oldest institution in human history doesn’t so far go along with it.

In 1950, five years before Teilhard’s death, Pope Pius XII issued the Vatican’s first – and to date, only – official comments on evolution. Here the pope reiterated the Church’s commitment to belief in a historical Adam as the unique father all of humanity, and the man responsible for transmitting sin to the entire species. He did accept, in a provisional sense, the legitimacy of scientific research into the material origins of the human body, but he rejected explicitly the ‘opinion’ that modern humans could have descended from a founding population rather than a single pair.

He reiterated that they were responsible, and so are we. Fun:

What is more, several leading proponents of the ‘intelligent design’ pseudo-science movement in the US are Catholics. This includes Bruce Chapman who heads the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based think tank that not only promotes intelligent design as a supposedly credible alternative to evolution, but repeatedly denigrates the scientific consensus in self-published books, articles and videos – and attacks the very methodology of modern science itself. Their writings are often cited and picked up by parish bulletins throughout the US (including churches in my home town, Newton, MA).

So Farrell thinks the Catholic Church would be better off to agree that there is no detectible design in nature? He quotes two individual Catholics whose opinions are probably at odds with any actual Catholic way of seeing the world, then primly announces,

None of Haught’s or Delio’s work is getting any official encouragement from the Church hierarchy. But neither are they being censured. Indeed, Delio believes that the Vatican is making a greater effort to listen, and she appreciates the work of Trafny’s office. ‘It will listen to all the latest scientific insights. It will bring in quantum physicists and astronomers; it’s done some wonderful publications.’

Why censure Haught or Delio when no one who should be a Catholic cares what they think anyway?

Evolution is different: biology is messy. The lines between species in the long extinction-ridden, trial-and-error aeons of evolution are much fuzzier than textbook diagrams of the ‘tree of life’ suggest. And the more we learn about the contingencies involved in the evolution of life, the less and less privileged the human species seems to be.

Really? When was the last chimpanzee moon landing? The chimp Mother Theresa?

How are such facts to be incorporated into the faith? How are they to be treated?

The point is, they are not facts. They are progressive talking points.

The faithful part of the Catholic Church knows that, as it always has known such things. It is why the Church took a strong stance against Darwinian eugenics.

When people decide they want to become Catholics, they look at the horror and ruin created everywhere by naturalism and progressivism, seeping into our homes, schools, and offices, and say, “I renounce it.” Others race on into the darkness, sustaining its attendant losses and deformities. Farrell adds,

Perhaps in the end, the Vatican cannot integrate evolutionary science because it really is too threatening. It would require a thoughtful reinterpretation of the Church’s understanding of the doctrine of original sin – the fundamental idea that Adam and Eve’s epic act of disobedience wounded human nature for all who came after. More.

We all know that human nature is wounded. Unlike animals, we do things we know we shouldn’t. The Church’s explanation is no worse than anyone else’s (and actually probably better) except for one thing: It is not naturalist and does not lead to the idea that government should replace philosophy and religion.

At Pentecost, my own church will receive some people. Thousands meanwhile will fall away, pursuing naturalist aims, and will receive in their lives the outcomes of their choices. – O’Leary for News

More informative note: See Ann Gauger on that “founding population” stuff. Not what you may think: See Adam and Eve and Ann Gauger

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11 Replies to “If only the Catholic Church would become a thoroughly naturalist institution

  1. 1
    harry says:

    For the sake of clarity regarding the teaching of the Catholic Church for those who may not be familiar with it: It is a dogma of the Catholic Church that God “can be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason.”

    If the Universe and everything within it came into existence through the Word(1), and continues to exist through the Word(2), and His providential care of it is “concrete and immediate” right down to the very “least things,” including the activity of each and every subatomic particle, such that He has “absolute sovereignty over the course of events,”(3) including acting upon that which He brought into being not just indirectly through “secondary causes,” but sometimes in a direct way that demonstrates His personal “primacy and absolute Lordship” over it all(4), then Catholics ought to agree with atheist Richard Dawkins that “the doctrine of creation requires a Divine Tinkerer.” Although we wouldn’t put it quite that way, Dawkins’ point is well taken. God holds the Universe in existence from instant to instant and manages it in a “concrete and immediate” way that sometimes includes His direct, supernatural intervention.

    If atheists who are intelligent enough to investigate the world “have no excuse” for failing to find its Author, and failing to see that it is the work of a supremely intelligent Master Artificer(5), then Catholics ought to be able to explain why they find belief in God utterly reasonable. We should be a light to those with the “darkened” minds of which St. Paul spoke.(6) The Universe and the life within it shout to those who will but listen that that they were intelligently designed by the ultimate Master Craftsman and Artist Who reveals Himself to us through His works. This is the belief of orthodox Catholics.(7)(8)

    (1) … the Word was God. … Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him.
    — John 1:1,3

    (2) God created the universe and keeps it in existence by his Word, the Son “upholding the universe by his word of power” (Heb 1:3), and by his Creator Spirit, the giver of life.
    — Catechism of the Catholic Church, #320

    (3) The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God’s absolute sovereignty over the course of events …
    — Catechism of the Catholic Church, #303

    (4) And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes. This is not a “primitive mode of speech,” but a profound way of recalling God’s primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world …
    — Catechism of the Catholic Church, #304

    (5) Yes, naturally stupid are all who are unaware of God, and who, from good things seen, have not been able to discover Him-who-is, or, by studying the works, have not recognized the Artificer. … let them know how much the Master of these excels them, since He was the very source of beauty that created them. And if they have been impressed by their power and energy, let them deduce from these how much mightier is He that has formed them, since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author. … they have no excuse: if they are capable of acquiring enough knowledge to be able to investigate the world, how have they been so slow to find its Master?
    — Wisdom 13:1,3-5,8-9 (Jerusalem Bible)

    (6) For what can be known about God is perfectly plain to them, since God has made it plain to them: ever since the creation of the world, the invisible existence of God and his everlasting power have been clearly seen by the mind’s understanding of created things. And so these people have no excuse: they knew God and yet they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but their arguments became futile and their uncomprehending minds were darkened. While they claimed to be wise, in fact they were growing so stupid …
    — Romans 1:19-22 (Jerusalem Bible)

    (7) If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema.
    — Vatican Council I, can. 2 § I

    (8) … The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason … (Cf. Vatican Council I, can. 2 § I)
    — Catechism of the Catholic Church, #286

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Good thoughts News

    When people decide they want to become Catholics, they look at the horror and ruin created everywhere by naturalism and progressivism, seeping into our homes, schools, and offices, and say, “I renounce it.”

    So true. They don’t say “I want to be Catholic because someday the Catholic Church will eventually get rid of the teachings of Christ and be the place I want it to be”.

    People (like me – or I try to anyway) conform themselves to the Catholic teaching because they believe it to be true.

    People like Mr. Farrell offer threats that they’re going to “leave” if they don’t get what they want. Well, you “leave” by ceasing to believe.

    If only the Catholic Church would become a thoroughly naturalist institution

    LOL – that’s it. If only the Catholic Church would get rid of all of its teaching on sin, grace, redemption, judgement, heaven, hell, morality, communion of saints, the mystical body of Christ — and about 1,000 other things, it would be great!

    In Mr. Farrell’s logic, if the Catholic Church doesn’t destroy itself by discarding all its teachings, it will be destroyed by lack of interest.

    Why censure Haught or Delio when no one who should be a Catholic cares what they think anyway?

    Exactly. They have nothing to say. If I want atheism, I will get it from real atheists. If I want the Catholic faith, I will get it from people who have it, understand it and can communicate it.

  3. 3
    StephenB says:

    The faithful part of the Catholic Church knows that, as it always has known such things. It is why the Church took a strong stance against Darwinian eugenics.”

    Thank you, Denyse, for making that important distinction. The Catholics who recognize the official teachings of the Church are not the same ones who celebrated Darwin’s birthday at the Vatican. It wasn’t the “faithful part” that told ID friendly Catholics like Bruce Gordon, Michael Behe and Jay Richards to stay home.

  4. 4
    StephenB says:

    harry,

    Silver Asiatic,

    Excellent points–thank you.

  5. 5
    eigenstate says:

    There’s no conflict between a clear-eyed understanding of our scientific knowledge, and theistic beliefs or superstitions about God in general. A God may exist who created a clock-work universe and has decided to remain hidden, etc.

    Science just undermines Catholic doctrine. Science can’t (and doesn’t try to) disprove God’s existence. It can (and does) show that the idea of a historical Adam and Eve as the single pair ancestors of all human kind is totally untenable, to name one example. If you are going to believe in a historical Adam & Eve, you might was well believe the earth is 6000 years old and just be Biblically consistent, because science has been thrown out the window if you believe in a historical Adam & Eve.

    And this is devastating for Catholicism and Christianity in general. This is a science-enabled rational basis, and a compelling one to abandon Christianty in general as hopelessly untenable. And moreover, it’s more compelling the more theologically informed you are, because the implications are that much clearer when you realize that Adam & Eve are not historical figures, and can’t be, genetically, physically, as required by that theology.

    If there is no real Adam & Eve as the “parents of all mankind”, then there is no actual Original Sin, or the Fall, as described in Genesis. These would at best be mythical sins committed by mythical characters. Thus no need for salvation, thus no need for Christ, or any sacrifice.

    The soteriology of Christian completely collapses if one just excepts the otherwise matter-of-fact witness of science, that there was not and cannot have been, in terms of genetics, any mating pair of humans who were the “single common ancestor pair” of all humans.

    Catholicism (and Christianity, more broadly) would have allegorize the Adam & Eve story. There was no historical Adam & Eve, but they are symbolic of some group or tribe of humans that God found to be disobedient of his commands, and thus the culprits in the “real Original Sin”, whatever that was. At some point God “baptized” a group of hominids and invested them with a soul, the imago dei and “elevated” to “humans”, hominids with immortal souls, immaterial libertarian free will, etc. And these poor bastards screwed up by going against their Creator’s will, and there’s hell to pay, and you know the rest of the story.

    Which is just an exercise in desperation for the Christian. That was definitely one source of deep dissonance for me as a Christian. The science just left no plausible room for any historical Adam & Eve. So I rationalized, in the footsteps of many others before, along the lines of the above, in a futile attempt to rescue the fundamental soteriology of Christianity without a real Adam & Eve. It was, and is, farcical.

    So you either abandon Christianity, or go to war against science. I chose to abandon Christianity (for this among other reasons). This is why the Church maintains — de fide — that Adam & Eve were actual humans, “in the literal, historical sense”, to use the phrase I recall being invoked on this. The Church understands that the mythologizing or allegorization of Adam & Eve erodes the fundamental basis for the Church itself.

    But while Christianity has the unfortunate position of making many fundamental claims that get undermined and invalidated by science, science and naturalism doesn’t squeeze out theism in a general way. A deity may still exist and be Intelligent Designer, undetectable though it may be. It’s just not the Christian God if

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    eigenstate

    The soteriology of Christian completely collapses if one just excepts the otherwise matter-of-fact witness of science, that there was not and cannot have been, in terms of genetics, any mating pair of humans who were the “single common ancestor pair” of all humans.

    But you’re overlooking a major problem here. Science has not, and in the Christian view, cannot even define what a human person is. So far, we have the difference between human and chimp as a 99% degree similarity – thus 1% has to explain consciousness among many other uniquely human attributes.
    Evolution says nothing about that. In evolutionary terms, there really is no humanity and no rationality. There’s no rational basis for anything really. You choose that over Christianity because you believe ambiguous notions of the ’emergence’ of humans? It doesn’t seem consistent to me. You’re far to strong a supporter of evolution to really have that kind of objective skepticism (in my opinion) — was there something else in Christianity you didn’t like?

    The science just left no plausible room for any historical Adam & Eve.

    Again, science cannot define what a human person is – therefore it cannot claim to know the origin of humans.

    So I rationalized, in the footsteps of many others before, along the lines of the above, in a futile attempt to rescue the fundamental soteriology of Christianity without a real Adam & Eve. It was, and is, farcical.

    If you don’t see the farcical nature of the Darwinian story I would conclude that your reasoning is biased.

    So you either abandon Christianity, or go to war against science.

    Just because people reject evolution doesn’t mean they’re at war with science. It’s an exaggeration to equate Darwinian claims with science – but that’s the kind of overstating arrogance that is characteristic of Darwinism: “If you reject our fairy tales, you’re at war with science”.

    I chose to abandon Christianity (for this among other reasons).

    Ok, as above — I suspected ‘other reasons’. Darwin himself used his ideas to distance himself from Christianity which he disliked for other reasons.

    The Church understands that the mythologizing or allegorization of Adam & Eve erodes the fundamental basis for the Church itself.

    Adam and eve are the first humans — that is, creatures identified by possessing an immaterial consciousness (thus moral knowledge, understanding of God, rationality).

    The materialist/gradualist view explains the difference between conscious and non-conscious as the possession/absence of a physical attribute. The difference between chimp and man is a number of mutations.

    But those mutations have to explain an infinite distance/difference between man and animal.

    There is nothing that shows gradualism between a conscious being and that which lacks consciousness. Science does not have an answer to the supposed physical source of self-consciousness. To then claim it knows how humans emerged is the definition of farcical.

    Science does not know what human nature is. Evolution would have humans as the result of blind, purposeless, accidental, unintelligent processes. But the existence of every human person – pointing to purpose, goodness, moral growth, destiny and the desire for happiness, love and fulfillment is an irrefutable argument against so-called science.

    With evolution, there’s nothing to go to war against. It’s just a mythology that gives a little temporary comfort to atheists. I don’t even think they take it seriously for the most part.

  7. 7
    Silver Asiatic says:

    StephenB – thanks, and agreed @ 3.

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Eigenstate #5

    ‘If you are going to believe in a historical Adam & Eve, you might was well believe the earth is 6000 years old and just be Biblically consistent, because science has been thrown out the window if you believe in a historical Adam & Eve.’

    ———————–

    Presumably in the light of findings of quantum mechanics, did not an atheist scientist remark with jocular dismissiveness that we don’t even know if our universe existed a fraction of a nanosecond ago, – never mind 6000 years or more?

    That scientists will sideline QM without any kind of acknowledgement of the primacy of its implications, seems never more apparent to me than when the matter under discussion is the age of the earth (or universe), instead of at least giving it a hat tip to it in their own minds, as the bedrock of utter mystery of our world and our very existence. The humility would be most therapeutic to the atheists of the various stamps.

  9. 9
    buffalo says:

    The Church has long held to Adam and Eve as historical.

    Dr Dennis Bonnette on Adam and Eve – http://idvolution.blogspot.com.....d-eve.html

    Adam and Eve: Defense of Their Literal Existence as the Primal Human Couple, by Catholic Philosopher, Dr. Dennis Bonnette – http://socrates58.blogspot.com.....nette.html

    DID WOMAN EVOLVE FROM THE BEASTS? – A DEFENCE OF TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC DOCTRINE – PART I – http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt97.html

    DID WOMAN EVOLVE FROM THE BEASTS? – A DEFENCE OF TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC DOCTRINE – PART II – http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt98.html

  10. 10
    harry says:

    eigenstate @5

    Science just undermines Catholic doctrine. … It can (and does) show that the idea of a historical Adam and Eve as the single pair ancestors of all human kind is totally untenable. … this is devastating for Catholicism …

    Catholics who are committed to remaining orthodox Catholics do not interpret the Scriptures in a way that is contrary to the unanimous agreement of the Church Fathers. This commitment to the traditional belief of the Fathers was always there and was explicitly taught as early as the 5th century by Vincent of Lerins. The prohibition of interpretation that is inconsistent with the unanimous belief of the Fathers was dogmatically declared at the council of Trent and the first Vatican council. Leo the XIII reminds us of this prohibition in his encyclical Providentissimus Deus. While remaining consistent with the unanimous agreement of the Fathers on the interpretation of Scripture is essential for remaining an orthodox Catholic, it also leaves Catholics much freedom in interpreting the Scriptures where the Fathers were not unanimous. They were not unanimous regarding the creation accounts of Genesis. Augustine was caustic in his criticism of insisting they be taken literally. So I think your announcement of the death of Catholicism, based as it is on your ignorance of both Scripture and Catholicism, is premature.

    I am not sure where you are coming from, eigenstate, but here on planet Earth mating within a given kind produces offspring of that kind. The deliberate assaults on Catholicism and Christianity by atheistic pseudo-science notwithstanding, it is still entirely reasonable to assume that at some point in the past the ancestry of contemporary humanity converges on two humanoid creatures, one male and one female, and that those two would be Adam and Eve.

    Atheistic pseudo-science is what is doomed by the discoveries of modern science.

    It turns out the Universe had a beginning. The Big Bang was a huge blow to atheistic psuedo-science; they hated the implications of that discovery for atheism.

    And then life turns out to be ultra-sophisticated, digital information based nanotechnology the functional complexity of which is light years beyond our own. If there were instances of significant functional complexity having come about mindlessly and accidentally, atheistic pseudo-science might have a leg to stand on, but there aren’t. Every other instance of significant functional complexity known to us is known to have come about via intelligent agency. So what atheistic pseudo-science has to do to maintain what’s left of its credibility, is to demonstrate that the most functionally complex nanotechnology known to us, even though it is in a class by itself it is so far beyond our own, came about mindlessly and accidentally. It would be easier to explain how a laptop PC might come about mindlessly and accidentally, because a laptop PC consists of crude technology relative to that of life, and would be far more likely to come about accidentally.

    Atheistic pseudo-science, maintaining a facade of supreme confidence while it proclaims the death of Catholicism, reminds me of the Black Knight sword fighting with King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. For those who haven’t seen it: The Black Knight continues to taunt and insult King Arthur even though he is being chopped to pieces. The scene ends with his decapitated head shouting challenges and insults. That is what the eventual demise of atheistic pseudo-science will look like.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    to add to:

    “Science just undermines Catholic doctrine. … It can (and does) show that the idea of a historical Adam and Eve as the single pair ancestors of all human kind is totally untenable. … this is devastating for Catholicism …”

    The only thing that statement devastatingly proves is how gullible the person saying it is. There is NO scientific evidence whatsoever that it is possible to trans-mutate one species into another species by mutations to DNA. And much evidence saying that it is impossible to do so by Darwinian processes.

    In fact, there is NO evidence that it is possible to change a protein of one function into a protein of a different function (Axe: Gauger), much less one creature into another creature.

    Thus, once again, the only thing that statement proves is how gullible the person is who said it and how desperately he wants to believe that he is not fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

    His own brain condemns him in his denial:

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    The Half-Truths of Materialist Evolution – DONALD DeMARCO – 02/06/2015
    Excerpt: but I would like to direct attention to the unsupportable notion that the human brain, to focus on a single phenomenon, could possibly have evolved by sheer chance. One of the great stumbling blocks for Darwin and other chance evolutionists is explaining how a multitude of factors simultaneously coalesce to form a unified, functioning system. The human brain could not have evolved as a result of the addition of one factor at a time. Its unity and phantasmagorical complexity defies any explanation that relies on pure chance. It would be an underestimation of the first magnitude to say that today’s neurophysiologists know more about the structure and workings of the brain than did Darwin and his associates.
    Scientists in the field of brain research now inform us that a single human brain contains more molecular-scale switches than all the computers, routers and Internet connections on the entire planet! According to Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the brain’s complexity is staggering, beyond anything his team of researchers had ever imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief. In the cerebral cortex alone, each neuron has between 1,000 to 10,000 synapses that result, roughly, in a total of 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies!
    A single synapse may contain 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A synapse, simply stated, is the place where a nerve impulse passes from one nerve cell to another.
    Phantasmagorical as this level of unified complexity is, it places us merely at the doorway of the brain’s even deeper mind-boggling organization. Glial cells in the brain assist in neuron speed. These cells outnumber neurons 10 times over, with 860 billion cells. All of this activity is monitored by microglia cells that not only clean up damaged cells but also prune dendrites, forming part of the learning process. The cortex alone contains 100,000 miles of myelin-covered, insulated nerve fibers.
    The process of mapping the brain would indeed be time-consuming. It would entail identifying every synaptic neuron. If it took a mere second to identify each neuron, it would require four billion years to complete the project.
    http://www.ncregister.com/dail.....evolution/

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 8, 2012
    Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

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