Apologists for Unintelligence (er, Stupidity)
Thomas A. Droleskey
Miracles. As Catholics, we believe in miracles.
A miracle occurred when Our Lady was preserved from all stain of Original and Actual Sin at the moment of her Immaculate Conception.
A miracle occurred when the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the very Word through Whom all things were made, became Incarnate, in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb.
A miracle occurred when Our Lord turned the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana.
Miracles occurred when Our Lord restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, mobility to the paralyzed, and physical life to the dead.
A miracle occurred when Our Lord was Transfigured on Mount Tabor in the sight of Saints Peter, James, and John.
A miracle occurred when Our Lord rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.
A miracle occurs when a soul that is the captive of the devil by means of Original Sin is regenerated in the baptismal font into the very inner life of the Blessed Trinity by means of sanctifying grace, thereby incorporating that soul as a member of the Catholic Church.
A miracle occurs when a soul that is dead to the life of sanctifying grace by means of Mortal Sin is resuscitated in the hospital of Divine Mercy that is the Sacrament of Penance.
A miracle occurs when a mere man is given power by the Holy Ghost to become an alter Christus at the moment of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood.
A miracle occurs each time that a priest offers the ineffable mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He, a mere man, utters mere words over the mere elements of this passing earth: Hoc Est Enim Corpus Meam. Hic Est Calix Sanguinis Mei, Novi et Aeterni Testamenti: Mysterium Fidei: Qui Pro Vobis et Pro Multis: Effundetur in Remissionem Peccatorum. God Himself become Incarnate under the appearances of bread and wine.
Yes, we believe in miracles. Why, then, is it so difficult for so many "sophisticated" Catholic intellectuals to believe that it was possible for God, Who suspends the laws of nature of which He is the Author when a miracle is performed, to have created the world exactly as is recorded in The Book of Genesis? Why is it so difficult for these intellectuals to believe that God, Who is pure Intelligence, to have willed into existence each of the species that exist in the world today exactly as we see them? Why is it the case that thes intellectuals doubt that God Himself willed into existence all of the laws of nature that He suspends when a miracle is performed in His Holy Name and by His power? Why is it the case that these intellectuals are so ready to subordinate Divinely Revealed truths to the precepts of a disproved thesis, namely, Darwinism and all of its variants?
The answer to those questions is simple: A loss of Faith. Yes, the essence of God is simplicity. His truths are simple. Complexity is of the devil. Prideful men, tempted by the devil to believe in their own ability to make complex that which is simple, cannot believe that the Omnipotent, Omniscient God created the world as is recorded in The Book of Genesis, thereby casting doubt on the Divinely-inspired nature of the very Scriptures in which God's own Word describes how He created the world. Prideful men must believe that the Origins of the world and of man are must more complex than the simple fact that God spoke the Word and created the component parts of the universe out of nothing.
Much good work has been done in the matter of Origins and Special Creation by authentically Catholic scholars. Biblical scholars faithful to the proper interpretation of Sacred Scripture have made it eminently clear that the Special Creation of man by God out of the slime of the earth is a matter of the infallible teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church from which no Catholic may legitimately dissent. Scholars in the various fields of the natural sciences (in particular, biology and geology) have debunked all theories of the evolution of the world and the species in it. There is simply no room for any Catholic to claim that it is possible to reconcile a disproved scientific thesis, evolutionism, with the Faith. Gerard Keane's excellent book, Creation Rediscovered (TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois), provides a cogent summary of the arguments, capped by an exhaustive bibliography of sources.
Father Peter Damian Fehlner of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculata in Massachusetts has been very careful to point out that a Catholic effort to "baptize" evolutionism under the aegis of "Theistic Evolution" is ultimately rooted in an acceptance of the notions of Teilhard de Chardin, thus subjecting God and His truths (and His Sacred Liturgy, it must be pointed out) to constant evolutionary change, one of the principal goals of Modernism.
Much good work, both Biblical and scientific, on Origins and Special Creation has been done by the Kolbe Center for Creation Studies in Virginia. Sadly, that work has been ignored by the "experts" in the Vatican, many of whom insist on ignoring the impressive array of scientific data that disproves Darwinism and all other forms of evolutionism while indeed proving The Book of Genesis to be a very reliable record of how the world was created. There is a reason for this: men who are convinced that God Himself is subject to change, especially in the manner of how He is worshiped, have to convince themselves that human beings are themselves the product of evolutionary change. If this is so, however, then which one of these Vatican experts can prove that the human being is evolving into anything? Why did "evolution" stop with the human being? Indeed, as I have written on this site on several occasions in the past two years, a belief in the evolution of species leads logically and inexorably to a devolution of human behavior. Simply put, a belief that one is descended from apes leads to human beings acting like apes (and, indeed, speaking little better than apes).
All of this is necessary to review once again because of a truly stupid article, written by an "evolutionary biologist," Fiorenzo Facchini, who "teaches" at the University of Bologna, that appeared in L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, on the matter of "intelligent design" versus Darwinism. Facchini wrote that a Pennsylvania court decided correctly against the teaching of "intelligent design" alongside Darwinism in "public school" classrooms. Facchini said that the teaching of intelligent design "only creates confusion between the scientific and philosophical and religious planes." Here is the report carried in the January 19, 2006, edition of The New York Times:
ROME, Jan. 18 - The official Vatican newspaper published an article this week labeling as "correct" the recent decision by a judge in Pennsylvania that intelligent design should not be taught as a scientific alternative to evolution.
If the model proposed by Darwin is not considered sufficient, one should search for another," Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, wrote in the Jan. 16-17 edition of the paper, L'Osservatore Romano.
"But it is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science," he wrote, calling intelligent design unscientific. "It only creates confusion between the scientific plane and those that are philosophical or religious."
The article was not presented as an official church position. But in the subtle and purposely ambiguous world of the Vatican, the comments seemed notable, given their strength on a delicate question much debated under the new pope, Benedict XVI.
Advocates for teaching evolution hailed the article. "He is emphasizing that there is no need to see a contradiction between Catholic teachings and evolution," said Dr. Francisco J. Ayala, professor of biology at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Dominican priest. "Good for him."
But Robert L. Crowther, spokesman for the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle organization where researchers study and advocate intelligent design, dismissed the article and other recent statements from leading Catholics defending evolution. Drawing attention to them was little more than trying "to put words in the Vatican's mouth," he said.
L'Osservatore is the official newspaper of the Vatican and basically represents the Vatican's views. Not all its articles represent official Church policy. At the same time, it would not be expected to present an article that dissented deeply from that policy.
In July, Christoph Schönborn, an Austrian cardinal close to Benedict, seemed to call into question what has been official church teaching for years: that Catholicism and evolution are not necessarily at odds.
In an Op-Ed article in The New York Times, he played down a 1996 letter in which Pope John Paul II called evolution "more than a hypothesis." He wrote, "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not."
There is no credible scientific challenge to the idea that evolution explains the diversity of life on earth, but advocates for intelligent design posit that biological life is so complex that it must have been designed by an intelligent source.
At least twice, Pope Benedict has signaled concern about the issue, prompting questions about his views. In April, when he was formally installed as pope, he said human beings "are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution." In November, he called the creation of the universe an "intelligent project," wording welcomed by supporters of intelligent design.
Many Roman Catholic scientists have criticized intelligent design, among them the Rev. George Coyne, a Jesuit who is director of the Vatican Observatory. "Intelligent design isn't science, even though it pretends to be," he said in November, as quoted by the Italian news service ANSA. "Intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."
In October, Cardinal Schönborn sought to clarify his own remarks, saying he meant to question not the science of evolution but what he called evolutionism, an attempt to use the theory to refute the hand of God in creation.
"I see no difficulty in joining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, but under the prerequisite that the borders of scientific theory are maintained," he said in a speech.
To Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University and a Catholic, "That is my own view as well."
"As long as science does not pretend it can answer spiritual questions, it's O.K.," he said.
Dr. Miller, who testified for the plaintiffs in the recent suit in Dover, Pa., challenging the teaching of intelligent design, said Dr. Facchini, Father Coyne and Cardinal Schönborn (in his later statements) were confirming "traditional Catholic thinking." On Dec. 20, a federal district judge ruled that public schools could not present intelligent design as an alternative to evolutionary theory.
In the Osservatore article, Dr. Facchini wrote that scientists could not rule out a divine "superior design" to creation and the history of mankind. But he said Catholic thought did not preclude a design fashioned through an evolutionary process.
"God's project of creation can be carried out through secondary causes in the natural course of events, without having to think of miraculous interventions that point in this or that direction," he wrote.
Neither Dr. Facchini nor the editors of L'Osservatore could be reached for comment.
Lawrence M. Krauss, a professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, said Dr. Facchini's article was important because it made the case that people did not have to abandon religious faith in order to accept the theory of evolution.
"Science does not make that requirement," he said.
As can be seen from Pope Leo XIII's encyclical letter on Holy Matrimony, Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, in 1880:
What is the true origin of marriage? That, Venerable Brethren, is a matter of common knowledge. For although the detractors of the Christian faith shrink from acknowledging the Church's permanent doctrine on this matter, and persist in their long-standing efforts to erase the history of all nations and all ages, they have nonetheless been unable to extinguish, or even to weaken, the strength and light of the truth. We call to mind facts well-known to all and doubtful to no-one: after He formed man from the slime of the earth on the sixth day of creation, and breathed into his face the breath of life, God willed to give him a female companion, whom He drew forth wondrously from the man's side as he slept. In bringing this about, God, in His supreme Providence, willed that this spousal couple should be the natural origin of all men: in other words, that from this pair the human race should be propagated and preserved in every age by a succession of procreative acts which would never be interrupted. And so that this union of man and woman might correspond more aptly to the most wise counsels of God, it has manifested from that time onward, deeply impressed or engraved, as it were, within itself, two preeminent and most noble properties: unity and perpetuity.
Professor Facchini is just flat-out wrong when stating that "Catholic thought did not preclude a design fashioned through an evolutionary process." He is wrong theologically and biologically. Facchini's thesis, you see, presupposes an acceptance of Darwinism and that it is impossible to prove "intelligent design" scientifically. The professor's thesis, which does not represent "official" Church teaching (but does represent official confusion within the highest reaches of the Church in her human elements) also presupposes a dichotomy between Science and the Faith. There is no such dichotomy. While the Church permits her scholars the widest possible latitude to conduct investigations in the physical mysteries of the world created by God, she teaches us that there can never be any conflict between Faith and Science as God is the Author of all Truth.
Consider, for example, the words of Pope Pius XI in Divini Illius Magistri, 1929:
What is true of the State, is true also of science, scientific methods and scientific research; they have nothing to fear from the full and perfect mandate which the Church holds in the field of education. Our Catholic institutions, whatever their grade in the educational and scientific world, have no need of apology. The esteem they enjoy, the praise they receive, the learned works which they promote and produce in such abundance, and above all, the men, fully and splendidly equipped, whom they provide for the magistracy, for the professions, for the teaching career, in fact for every walk of life, more than sufficiently testify in their favour.
These facts moreover present a most striking confirmation of the Catholic doctrine defined by the Vatican Council:
Not only is it impossible for faith and reason to be at variance with each other, they are on the contrary of mutual help. For while right reason establishes the foundations of Faith, and, by the help of its light, develops a knowledge of the things of God, Faith on the other hand frees and preserves reason from error and enriches it with varied knowledge. The Church therefore, far from hindering the pursuit of the arts and sciences, fosters and promotes them in many ways. For she is neither ignorant nor unappreciative of the many advantages which flow from them to mankind. On the contrary she admits that just as they come from God, Lord of all knowledge, so too if rightly used, with the help of His grace they lead to God. Nor does she prevent the sciences, each in its own sphere, from making use of principles and methods of their own. Only while acknowledging the freedom due to them, she takes every precaution to prevent them from falling into error by opposition to divine doctrine, or from overstepping their proper limits, and thus invading and disturbing the domain of Faith.
This norm of a just freedom in things scientific, serves also as an inviolable norm of a just freedom in things didactic, or for rightly understood liberty in teaching; it should be observed therefore in whatever instruction is imparted to others. Its obligation is all the more binding in justice when there is question of instructing youth. For in this work the teacher, whether public or private, has no absolute right of his own, but only such as has been communicated to him by others. Besides every Christian child or youth has a strict right to instruction in harmony with the teaching of the Church, the pillar and ground of truth. And whoever disturbs the pupil's Faith in any way, does him grave wrong, inasmuch as he abuses the trust which children place in their teachers, and takes unfair advantage of their inexperience and of their natural craving for unrestrained liberty, at once illusory and false.
In fact it must never be forgotten that the subject of Christian education is man whole and entire, soul united to body in unity of nature, with all his faculties natural and supernatural, such as right reason and revelation show him to be; man, therefore, fallen from his original estate, but redeemed by Christ and restored to the supernatural condition of adopted son of God, though without the preternatural privileges of bodily immortality or perfect control of appetite. There remain therefore, in human nature the effects of original sin, the chief of which are weakness of will and disorderly inclinations.
"Theistic" evolutionists are indeed disturbing the Faith of more than the young. They are disturbing the Faith of all Catholics, placing into question the whole matter of Origins and the Special Creation of man by God. The deification of "pure science" leaves no room for the simple truth that science itself is merely a tool given us by God to discover some of the mysteries of the world He created out of nothing. Yes, science has its own laws and methods of inquiry. Those laws and methods of inquiry, however, must be in the service of Truth, which is indivisible and can never contradict itself. The discoveries of the physical sciences can never be used in any way to place into question anything contained in the Deposit of Faith, including the infallible record of the creation of the world and of man by God as recorded in The Book of Genesis.
The aforementioned Father Peter Damien Fehlner is quoted in Gerard Keane's Creation Rediscovered on this point as follows:
"Good arguments can actually be adduced in fact to show that evolution is simply not a scientific hypothesis. It is a dogma providing the context for all scientific endeavors. And it is just this assumption of evolutionism as the universal paradigm that directly conflicts with the teaching of the Church. . . . The doctrine of creation, in general and in all its detail, is intimately bound up with the mystery of salvation. That is why the Catholic may not call into question any aspect of the doctrine of creation which in fact the Church believes is related to the mystery of salvation without also doubting that latter mystery.”
No Special Creation of man by God, no Fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden. No Fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden, no necessity of our Redemption by the God-Man on the wood of the Holy Cross. No Fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden, no necessity of man to reform his life on a daily basis in cooperation with the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on Calvary. No knot of Eve's prideful disobedience, no perfect fiat of Our Lady at the Annunciation to untie that knot. In other words, a great deal of the minimization of sin and sinful behavior that we see among alleged Catholic "intellectuals" is the result of a very labored effort to reaffirm themselves and others in "contemporary" trends that emanate from the anti-Incarnational errors of Modernity, including Darwinian evolutionism and all of its biological and philosophical and theological mutations that have wreaked so much havoc in the Church in her human elements and in the world.
Evolutionism has helped to give momentum to the errors of Hegelianism, Marxism, Freudianism, Social Darwinism (and its variations in Capitalist theory), Utilitarianism, Relativism, Materialism, Positivism, Modernism, Nihilism, and many other false belief systems. Why should Catholics give any credence to something that has been of such an aid to the enemies of the Faith?
We believe in an Omnipotent, Omniscient God, Who specifically created all things and gave each of them a specific nature and ordained that specific laws govern the universe for all eternity. Those "sophisticates" who place into question the Received Teaching of the Church about Origins and Special Creation are in for quite a rude awakening at the moment of their Particular Judgments. They will see that the pure Intelligence Who is God did indeed will all things into existence, creating them out of nothing for His own greater honor and glory.
We must, for our part, adhere to the Catholic Doctrine of Origins and Special Creation, teaching our children that God created the world and everything in it as is recorded in The Book of Genesis. This is not Catholic "fundamentalism." This is simply the Catholic Faith. We must ignore the apologists for unintelligence (er, stupidity).
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Vincent the Deacon, pray for us.
Saint Anastasius, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Padre Pio, pray for us.