Monday, September 20, 2010

Pius XII, Teilhard and Ratzinger


Teilhard de Chardin's theory of the evolution of the cosmos towards the Omega Point. To what degree does this cosmology, which the Holy Office said 'offends Catholic doctrine',  influence our current pontiff's thought on the question of evolution?


In the 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, "On Human Origins," Pope Pius XII allows us, by way of concession, to believe in the possibility that the human body could have evolved from preexisting biological material, so long as we adhere to the immediate creation of the soul by God in our first parents.

I have never ben entirely comfortable with this concession and have always opted for a more traditional, creationist view of things (though that doesn't mean I am necessarily a "Young Earther"). As I was explaining Pius' concession to a Sacred Scripture class I teach for high schooler's this week, I noted, too, that many of them were uncomfortable with it because they felt it introduced too much duality into man's nature. 

I recalled that Cardinal Ratzinger had once expressed a similar reserve in a book he wrote back in 1973 entitled Dogma und Verkundigung. If you are wondering how I came across this essay, it is because Ignatius Press somewhat disingenuously reproduced it, along with a series of other essays, in a book called Credo for Today: What Christians Believe. I say it is disingenuous because the book, which is a collection of Ratzinger's essays dating from the 70's and 80's, is marketed as if it were the writings of Pope Benedict. The cover shows a picture of Benedict as pope (not as a professor at Regensburg) and says "Pope Benedict XVI" on the cover. Those who didn't know better would think the book's contents were the pope's current thought and writings; one has to go all the way to the appendix before you find out that these are actually essays written over twenty years ago, for the most part. Furthermore, despite the subtitle of the book saying "What Christians Believe," the book contains some of Ratzinger's most speculative theology, stuff that can hardly be said to be what most Christians believe.

Anyhow, back to evolution. I cite this book because both Ratzinger and I have difficulties with Pius XII's concession in Humani Generis, but whereas I go one way to get around the difficulty, Ratzinger goes another.

Ratzinger begins his essay on creation with the very important point that theologians cannot simply ignore the question of the origins of life and issues surrounding evolution - they have to be dealt with. As an example of how modern theology can ignore the question of the origin of man, he cites those who say that how man was created is superfluous anyway; those who, when confronted with alleged contradictions between Genesis and Darwin, will shrug and paraphrase Augustine: "The Bible is meant to tell us who made the heavens, not how the heavens were made." It is certainly true that the Scriptures are meant to lead us to salvation, but that does not in any way mean that everything else it says is superfluous, or that things like the creation narrative are not also ordered to our salvation in various ways.

Ratzinger says this position of "it doesn't really matter how we take Genesis 1" is especially disingenuous since only a little more than a century ago there were a good many theologians, and even regional synods, insisting that the fixity of species and a literal reading of Genesis 1 were de fide. Ratzinger condemns those who "make a dishonest compromise and for tactical reasons declare the terrain that has become untenable as superfluous anyway, after having so short a time before insisted loudly on situating it as an indispensable part of the faith" (pg. 34). Therefore, the issue of creation and evolution must be dealt with somehow.

Where I diverge from Ratzinger is in his automatic assumption that the traditional view is "untenable." I wish he would not have brushed it aside so easily. But in any case, he goes on to the compromise permitted by Pius XII in Humani Generis, that the body could be the product of evolution but the soul could not. I personally have always been uncomfortable with Pius's compromise; I know the pope allows Catholics to maintain this position, but it is only by way of concession, as if saying that accommodating evolution to creation is an exception, not the norm. I also thought that this idea introduced too much duality into the human person - to say that the physical part of man was the process of evolution but the soul infused by God at a later time, whenever the human anatomy had reached a sufficient stage of evolutionary growth. In this view, God basically took one of the advanced primates already in existence and ennobled it by the infusion of a soul, not unlike what God did when He granted Balaam's ass the powers of speech and reason momentarily.

Ratzinger, too, finds a problem with the Humani Generis compromise. He says;

"Now some have tried to get around the problem by saying that the human body may be a product of evolution, but the soul is not by any means: God himself created it, since spirit cannot emerge from matter. This answer seems to have in its favor the fact that spirit cannot be examined by the same scientific method with which one studies the history of organisms, but only at first glance is this a satisfactory answer. We have to continue the line of questioning: Can we divide man up in this way between theologians and scientists--the soul for the former, the body for the latter? Is that not intolerable for both? The natural scientist believes that he can see man as a whole gradually taking shape; he also finds an area of psychological transition in which human behavior slowly arises out of animal activity, without being able to draw a clear boundary...Conversely, the theologian is convinced that the soul gives form to the body as well, characterizing it through and through as a human body, so that a human being is spirit only as body and is body only as and in the spirit, then this division of man loses all meaning for him, too" (p. 38).

The compromise that Pius XII allowed by way of concession holds little value for Ratzinger, even though many eminent modern theologians hold precisely this opinion. But Ratzinger is an honest theologian and will not admit of a concept so dualistic and problematic as the theory of the evolutionary creation of the body from preexisting matter. At this point, however, instead of reverting to a more (in my opinion) traditional understanding of the immediate and special creation of man, Ratzinger instead opts to go in a direction even further in the line of evolutionary thought than the concession allowed in Humani Generis.

To Ratzinger it seems that it must be one or the other - spirit must evolve along with matter, or spirit and matter both must be created apart from evolution. Since Ratzinger has already found the non-evolutionary arguments to be "untenable," he now turns to none other than the condemned Jesuit modernist Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, he whose works the Holy Office declared "abound in such ambiguities and indeed even serious errors, as to offend Catholic doctrine" (source). From Teilhard Ratzinger takes the idea that the universe represents the "self-actuation" of the Logos in time and space - that "the world as a whole, as the Bible says, comes from the Logos, that is, from the creative mind and represents the temporal form of its self-actuation...the world of becoming as the self-actuation of creative thought" (p. 44). From this Teilhardian idea, Ratzinger will build up his conclusion that spirit can, in a sense, involve from matter, since the developments we witness in the unfolding of the cosmos should not be seen as unguided evolution but as the self-actuation in time of a timeless Logos.

Don't think I'm connecting dots between Ratzinger and Teilhard that aren't there; Ratzinger cites Teilhard by name a little further on in this passage, saying that Teilhard's idea of spirit as the "goal" of an evolutionary "process" is "ingenious" and "quite accurate" (pp. 44-45). He is very clearly, unapologetically and enthusiastically in debt to Teilhard for some of these ideas. I know that just because Teilhard's writings have been condemned does not mean he may not have some valuable things to say; we still quote Origen and Tertullian despite some of their issues. But, really, could not the man who would become the Prefect of the CDF find a  more weighty authority to cite other than Teilhard de Chardin? Ratzinger borrows more from Teilhard later in the book, adopting Teilhard's terminology of the end of history as an "omega point" in his essay on the Second Coming (p. 113)

Anyhow, back to matter and spirit. So, if the world is in a process of "self-actualization" in relation to the Logos, then the emergence of spirit into the world of matter can be seen as an inevitable part of this development. This leads Ratzinger to posit "matter as the prehistory of the spirit" and he formulates his idea of spirit emerging out of matter in Hegelian terms of matter as a "moment" in the development of spirit:

"It is clear that spirit is not a random product of material developments, but rather that matter signifies a moment in the history of spirit. This, however, is just another way of saying that spirit is created and is not the mere product of development, even though it comes to light by way of development" (p. 45).

So the spirit is not simply infused into the ready biological material, as Pius XII allowed for, but neither is the human body created uniquely and infused with a soul. Rather, as the whole cosmos is tending towards a universal development towards spirit, the emergence of spirit into matter is something that is latent within the cosmos from the beginning, even if initially we see no traces of spirit. Spirit does not evolve out of matter, but is truly, in a sense, in potency with relation to matter, so that when matter has reached the proper developmental stage in its self-actuation, spirit is enabled to "emerge." Just as an acorn does not evolve into a tree, but rather, the tree is latent within the acorn; the emergence of the tree is the self-actualization of the acorn, not its evolution. He says:

"The appearance of spirit, according to the previous discussion, means rather that an advancing movement arrives at the goal that has been set for it" (p. 46).

It is this advancement that Ratzinger calls the "rise of the spirit." Thus, through this Teilhardian logic, we are able to at once affirm that spirit is not the product of evolution while maintaining that spirit can indeed emerge out of matter "by way of development" , as Ratzinger says. This is, says Ratzinger, how "the special creation of man can coexist with an evolutionary world view, or what form it must assume within an evolutionary world view" (p. 45).

So, how does this emergence of the spirit occur with reference to the human person, who would undoubtedly be the locus for the spirit's emergence? Having already discarded out of hand the traditional idea that God formed man immediately from dirt and infused him with life, as well as casting doubt on Pius XII's concession that God allowed man's body to evolve from preexisting matter, Ratzinger goes on to explain the emergence of spirit within man in the following terms:

"The clay became man at that moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought "God." The first "thou" that -- however stammeringly -- was said by human lips to god marks the moment in which spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed" (p. 46-47).

So, man becomes man as soon as man is capable of formulating the idea of God, "however stammeringly." Here we have Ratzinger's theory of the emergence of spirit out of matter and how non-human life forms crossed the ontological Rubicon from non-human into human existence.

On the one hand, Ratzinger is a much more intelligent person than I am, and so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt, keeping in mind as well that this essay was written in 1973 and obviously carries no papal authority nor even any magisterial authority. But on the other hand, I know when something smells fishy, espcially when Teilhard is invoked.

My first problem with Ratzinger's thesis is that, if we deny that spirit can develop from matter but admit that it arises out of matter by way of development, the fact is that it still evolves from matter. It is irrelevant whether the cause for the emergence of the spirit is extrinsic (somekind of random modification in biological matter that allows for the emergence of spirit), or intrinsic (an inherent principle of "elasticity" within matter that allows it to give way to spirit at a certain point, just as an acorn becomes a tree), the fact is we still have matter evolving into spirit. It doesn't matter (pun intended) whether the we say spirit evolved from matter or whether we say matter is a "moment" in the history of spirit. However you slice it, you still have spirit "emerging' out of matter, whether or not you say the change is blind evolution or a movement towards a goal. To me, this is still quite troubling.

Second, and more problematic, is the contrast between Ratzinger's conception of the first concept of God and Catholic theology on the state of our first parents before the Fall. Ratzinger states that spirit first enters the world at the moment that the first being, "however dimly" and "however stammeringly" uttered the word "God." This would coincide with the moment in the Genesis account when God breathes the breath of life into the nostrils of Adam and makes him a "living being."

However, is there not a problem here? According to the doctrine of Original Sin, man originally existed in a state of perfect justice and preternatural glory. Humani Generis reminds us that we must believe in the existence of two literal first parents who were created in grace but fell into sin. Thus, our first parents would have been brought forth in a state of natural perfection with their minds enlightened by grace and an infused knowledge of God; not simply of His existence, but of His perfections and of the fact that man is created to be in relation with Him. In short, our first parents had a very clear and unmistakable notion of God (otherwise how could have been guilty of sinning against Him?) - created fresh from His hands, enlightened in their intellect by grace and unmarred from sin, their understanding of Him in their perfected natural state was greater and clearer than most of us will ever experience. Can this vision of God which our first parents enjoyed prior to Original Sin be reconciled with Ratzinger's comments that the first conception of God emerged in the human species "dimly" and "stammeringly"? It seems to me that the first conception mankind ever had of God was a glorious vision, full of clarity and infused knowledge, that is unrivaled except by some of the holiest saints.

Well, Ratzinger wrote this stuff back in 73' and I haven't heard much on this by way of him since; for all I know, he may repudiate all this Teilhardian stuff. So don't accuse me of bashing "the Pope" or being a dissenter or anything; I can certainly voice my apprehensions about an essay written by Ratzinger twenty-five years before he ascended to the Chair of Peter. It bothers me that, when faced with dilemmas about reconciling evolution and creation, the tendency seems to be to grant more and more ground to evolutionary biology and relegate the creation story more and more to the realm of allegory, until it is, as Tolkien said, "tucked into a lumber-room of their mind as not very fashionable furniture, a bit ashamed to have it about the house, don't you know, when the bright clever young people called" (see here). If we are finding out, as Ratzinger did, that the concessions allowed by Pius XII in Humani Generis are too dualistic for Catholics to be comfortable with, then why not just go back to something more traditional instead of going further ahead into modernist evolutionary-theological hypotheses about "emergent spirit" "omega points" and the "Rubicon of anthropogenesis"? I don't know...I'm sure some will just say that I'm not a theologian and that I shouldn't try to apply my mind to these things. I don't deny that I am not a theologian. But like I said, I know when something stinks, and if I want to have a conversation about Creation and someone starts talking Teilhard, I definitely start to smell something.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Boniface,

You are right to disagree with Ratzinger on this.

No matter how you slice it--it's rank Teilhardism, and it is entirely characteristic of the school of nouvelle theologie of which Ratzinger was a leading member. (No clear cut real distinctions and no rigorous reasoning or analysis).

Apparently, Ratzinger never took a course in philosophical physics. He would then distinguish the proper matter of man--human flesh--which is only present when the soul informs the prime matter. (Human flesh is an intrinsic elevation/actuation of prime matter)

Immediate dispositive (or pre-dispositive) matter. In the generation of human infants today this would be the immediate "term from which" (a composite substance rather than the mere prime matter,--or even the mere flesh--of the embryo) of change--that subhuman embryo which is immediately prior to the creation and infusion of the human soul.

Remote matter. This can be any term-from-which in the past which "led up to" the immediate term-from-which: from which then came the concrete thing in question.

When Pius XII speaks of the body of Adam as *possibly* having an origin in "pre-existing living matter", I think that this is what he has in mind: Perhaps the slime of the earth into which the soul was infused was the transmuted/corrupted material remains of the body of some brute primate. The other alternative is that some living primate was the immediate matter (as composite term-from-which) into which God infused a human soul, which human soul immediately "displaced" (thereby annihilating) the soul of this beast-primate, thereby removing the status of "beast-flesh" in the prime matter, and thereby elevating the prime matter to the actuality-status of human flesh.

Ratzinger can't seem to think clearly. For him you are either a spiritualist (a la descartes), or a materialist (a la contemporary "science"), or you believe in the intrinsic morphing of matter into spirit.

He seems to opt for the latter.

But there is a fourth alternative.

It involves the traditional teaching that all material things have a form as well as a matter. (all material things, as actual subsistent things (a wolf, a grain of sand) have a *non-material* perfecting component distinct from the matter). Soul itself is a high grade of form, and the intellectual soul is the highest grade of form. Form is related to matter as received to receiver, perfecting principle to what is (or is to be) perfected. (There are forms of course which have no relation to matter whatsoever).

anyway--sorry to drag on. You have a great site Boniface and you are doing God's work. You have provided further evidence of the bad effects of Ratzinger's rejection of Scholasticism.

Sincerely,

Chris

BONIFACE said...

Thanks, Chris. I think your fourth, traditional alternative, makes the most sense.

Just for the record, I do like Ratzinger and think he is overall doing a good job. He may have since repudiated this position, but I'm not sure...with the modern hierarchy, there is always a subtle element of mistrust as to their fidelity to tradition. But, you are right, it demonstrates the danger of adopting imprecise language.

I like Benedict, but I hate Teilhard's theology and I wish the hierarchy would just drop their illicit back-alley fascination with him.

samurfer said...

You might want to see what St. Augustine had to say about "rationes seminales", especially in Ratzinger's Doctoral Dissertation, "The Theology of History" (about St. Bonaventure's eschatology, available from Ignatius Press). Teilhard might be the guy he mentions here, but a desire to be true to scientific knowledge about reality combined with St. Augustine and St. Bonaventure is what lies behind his views, I think.

BONIFACE said...

Samurfer-

Being true to scientific knowledge is fine...of course, there are those who debate whether or not evolution is keeping with true scientific knowledge.

I have no doubt that Ratzinger has other influences here, but when he mentioned Teilhard by name, praises his thought on the matter and uses Teilhard's terminology, it is difficult to not at least assume a connection.

Anonymous said...

"Just for the record, I do like Ratzinger and think he is overall doing a good job. He may have since repudiated this position, but I'm not sure...with the modern hierarchy, there is always a subtle element of mistrust as to their fidelity to tradition. But, you are right, it demonstrates the danger of adopting imprecise language."--Boniface

I agree, Benedict is basically doing a good job, and he seems to have modified a lot of his earlier enthusiasms. At least he's stressing the theme of continuity with the past. It looks as though the charism of the papacy is influencing him in many good directions. (By the way, I want to thank you and Athanasius for leading me away from sedevacantism).

The two most encouraging things are, of course, the full restoration of the 1962 missal and perhaps *the beatification of Cardinal Newman.*

I think Cardinal Newman is a bridge figure between traditionalists and moderate reformers. His prayers may help us to draw out of the whole Vatican II experience a truly catholic and holy reform agenda.

Peace,

Chris

samurfer said...

"Being true to scientific knowledge is fine...of course, there are those who debate whether or not evolution is keeping with true scientific knowledge."

Yes, I was raised on a straight diet of "Creation Science" and am quite familiar with all the arguments, pro and con. The simple fact is, life on Earth evolved, period, and we have to deal with that reality, not stick our heads in the ground like an ostrich in order to "save the appearances". The Galileo affair was multi-layered, and it was not the "Church vs. Science" hulabuloo people make it out to be these days, but it is a pertinent example. When faced with the reality of the physical world, citing theological opinions as a counter does little good and perhaps much evil, as St. Augustine so aptly pointed out.

Pope Pius XII made a go of it, but that is hardly the final word. St. Augustine's "Rational Seeds" seem to be what Pope Benedict is going with as a possible explanation, and that seems to work pretty well in an Augustinian/Bonaventruan framework (as opposed to Thomistic), which allows for multiple forms in a being, and for "seed" forms to rise and fall over time. And, as you yourself said, just because Teilhard was crazy doesn't mean there can't be any useful ideas, just as with Origen.

BONIFACE said...

I'm not a strict Creationist, either, so I agree that we shouldn't "stick our heads in the sand." But I also don't think that conventional theories of evolution have been subjected to enough objective scientific scrutiny.

Ben G said...

Boniface,

You write: "In this view, God basically took one of the advanced primates already in existence and ennobled it by the infusion of a soul, not unlike what God did when He granted Balaam's ass the powers of speech and reason momentarily."

We have to remember that the soul is the immaterial principle of life; therefore, even goats and caterpillars have souls, because wherever there is life there is soul. That's why they're different from rocks or water. So it would seem that a pre-human ape would already have a soul.

It seems possible to me, if one is intent on believing the evolution hypothesis, that two pre-human animals mated, and God infused a rational human soul at the moment of fertilisation. Thus, God would have by an act of special creation formed a new species of animal--Adam. While he would take animal DNA (flesh) from his parents, he would be capable of the spiritual and intellectual things which we know man can do. This would match Humani Generis.

On the other hand, the parallel between the first and second Adams makes it more likely that Adam was created miraculously directly from soil, just as Christ was conceived miraculously in our Lady. Whether the lower forms of life are the product of evolution is a secondary question in comparison to this. It might be that while God used evolution to form all the living things on the planet, the importance of man meant a special act of creation.

Ratzinger has always had certain modernist tendencies, as James Larson documents at length on his website (waragainstbeing.com).

Nick said...

Here are some recent comments I made elsewhere:
---
The problem today is that real, unbiased science doesn't exist - and yet everyone thinks it does. The truth is, everything is agenda driven. This is why if any Scientist or professor even question evolution, their job is on the line. This is why they can't stop experimenting on human embryos or define when life really begins. The examples can be multiplied. So where is the intellectual freedom? Where is the true science?

Evolution is a sort of dogmatic litmus test - and Catholics not wanting (or fearing) to sound "dumb" before the "experts" readily bow down and accept evolution as if it were Gospel truth. (it's quite amazing to see how borderline dogmatic the issue is pressed with Catholics who accept evolution). The charge happens all the time, one is stamped with the title "stupid" if they don't accept evolution - but what ever happened to true free thinking, where someone holds a more or less agnostic view unless and until they see compelling evidence to accept something? The overwhelming majority of "believers" in evolution are simply accepting on blind faith what the "experts" in the textbook say, without stopping to think. These are the same folks who have faith that either the Republicans or the Democrats will "fix America" when the Senators routinely vote on bills they haven't even read and don't really understand.

---
Science is being dogmatized in areas where it's speculation (at most). To claim the earth is X billion years old is a leap of faith more than anything; there's no way to verify it in any fair and safe manner. But where the real problem comes in is when folks take that X-billion-years-stick and use it to beat people over the head as "stupid" for not accepting.

Evolution rose to it's dogmatic prominence as a way to beat Christians down and mock tenets of the faith. A panel of these scientists would laugh an evolution believing Catholic out of the room for holding monogenism out as a viable option since evolution doesn't point in that direction - but at that point the Catholic is trapped, since he's already bowed to their original demands.

When it comes to creation, man is God's highest by far, and the Incarnation reflects this as well. It seems incongruent to me that God would take billions of years for man to come on the scene, and then take only a few years for man to Fall, be Rescued, and then Armageddon. If you do the math, Adam came around at most 10,000 years ago, and it's not a stretch to say the world wont last 10,000 more years, so 20,000 years out of 4 billion years means less than 1% of created history was of any real significance. The rest of that "dead space" (99.999% of Created History) was spent in an endless series of evolutions and extinctions. When someone takes on that view, as dogma, it's no wonder they don't believe in God or any significance in man, since the record would show man is extremely 'new' to a situation that's been independent of man for virtually all it's existence.

The "method" behind this is nothing more than abusing the principle of extrapoloation: saying a change of X occurred over 1 day, and a change of Y occurred over 2 days, and from that a trend line is created extending back to infinity, and when a specimen is found and placed on that "graph," the astronomical numbers appear because "that's what the math says". Science has to be done within reference points, and once you leave those points it becomes speculation. Saying this or that has a halflife in the millions is unverifiable and ultimately an assumption and akin to a Protestant starting off with the assumption Sola Scriptura is true.

---
Here is what a leading "expert" in science recently said:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-yx5WN4efo

And these folks hold the minds of millions in their grip

Nick said...

Also, a note to blog owner(s): Blogger has created a new Spam blocker for COMMENTS which causes many genuine comments to be held un-posted as spam. These must be manually released by going to Settings, Comments, Spam.

BONIFACE said...

Nick-

Thank you thank you thank you. My point exactly.

samurfer said...

Nick - you ever actually talk to a Christian who happens to be a scientist? They tend to neither feel a contradiction between orthodox belief and evolutionary science, nor to feel pressured to believe in the age of the cosmos and evolutionary biology. It's simply not problematic for most actual scientists, or even theologians these days.

As to the creation of man - perhaps a more accurate analogy than the the Incarnation would be the immaculate Conception. Joachim and Anna were subject to Original Sin, but due to a special action of God, the Blessed Virgin was elevated above them in stature. What happened in the origins of the human race is not really knowable to science, but could have happened as much as two million years ago - rational souls do not fossilize, so who knows? Monergism is neither compatible nor incompatible with science, like the Immaculate Conception.

Anonymous said...

God has the power to use whatever matter (or to speak more exactly the corporeal composite of form and matter) he wishes as the term- from-which of a coming into being.

If he wants to use a stone, he can do so ("God can make Sons of Abraham out of these stones"!). If he wants to use "slime of the earth" he can do so. If he wants to use a primate, or the embryo of a primate, he can do so. The question is what matter did he use in the creation of the first man. Scripture seems to say he forme man out "of the slime (dust) of the earth (ground)". But this could have many meanings. It could refer to the proximate, intermediate or remote matter of Adam. (It cannot refer to the proper matter of Adam--which is human flesh, since human flesh arises only when the soul has been infused.).

Is it possible that God took the slime of the earth and "processed" it through a succession of living substances, by successively educing several substantial forms, before reaching some penultimate form, whereby it was "ready" for the infusion of a rational soul?

It's possible--but the common sense interpretation of how *de facto it was done*--is that it was the unique privilege of the first man to be formed immediately from the slime of the earth and that this (possibly instantaneous) change was brought to completion by the infusion of the rational soul..."and man *became* a living being". In other words no living being preceeded him as a term from which. Or at least it looks that way to me...

And Pius XII and Humani Generis? He merely permitted speculative investigations concerning the possibility that man's bodily origins *in some way* might derive from "prior organic life"

If you read the encyclical as a whole it is not very encouraging to those sympathetic to evolution. It was JP2 and Ratzinger who have taken Pius XII mere allowance for speculation and run with that to the point where they treat of Evolution as some nearly certain well founded hypothesis.

Atheistic "Darwinian" evolution is an absurdity. Teilhardian evolutionism, which involves the intrinsic morphing of matter into spirit, and nature to supernature is also absurd. Creative evolution, even if philosophically coherent, has not been proven.

And all evolutionary doctrines (I am not speaking of the "evolutionary" process which takes place in the womb) are and have been intellectually overrated.

--Chris

samurfer said...

"Or at least it looks that way to me..."

And your credentials are...? (for the record, I am a Philosophy/Theology graduate student learning from the Dominicans, good orthodox ones)

"they treat of Evolution as some nearly certain well founded hypothesis."

Funny thing, that.

"Atheistic "Darwinian" evolution is an absurdity."

The Holy Father, last time I checked, was not an atheist.

"Teilhardian evolutionism, which involves the intrinsic morphing of matter into spirit, and nature to supernature is also absurd."

Pure Teilhard is quite insane, but that does not mean that he is unusable. See also, Origen, Tertullian, even Eckhart von Hochheim is not worthless.

"Creative evolution, even if philosophically coherent, has not been proven."

So what? It certainly hasn't been disproven, and almost all contemporary orthodox thinkers are untroubled on the matter, whether theologians or scientists.

"And all evolutionary doctrines (I am not speaking of the "evolutionary" process which takes place in the womb) are and have been intellectually overrated."

Is it? Why?

Anonymous said...

Dear Samurfer:

1) My credentials? Well, since you ask: I have a Ph. D. in Philosophy. Moreover, I too have studied under good orthodox Dominicans including one of the world's leading experts in both Philosophical Physics and Philosophy of Sicence: Father William Wallace, O.P.

2) Yes, it is a "funny thing", and it does not speak well for their reasoning powers.

3) When did I say that Benedict was an Atheist?

4) Fine, then make a moderate intelligent usage of *elements* of Teilhard's thought. Is that what Benedict/Ratinger has done in this case? Moreover, if one merely makes use of *truthful elements* of Teilhard's thought is one making use of *Teilhardism*?

5) It is always important to accurately characterize a philosophical/scientific doctrine as to its truth status, its level of certitude, its reasonability, its possibility, etc. This is especially so when were are dealing with doctrines concerning so grave an issue as the creation of the world and the coming into being of man. It is never a "so what" issue; but particularly in this case, where creative evolution seems to contradict the sense of scripture. Great care must be taken in this matter. If there are theologians and philosophers who are "untroubled" by this issue, this does not speak well for them.

6) All evolutionary doctrines are indeed overrated. This can be been by looking at the incredible respect accorded them by the popular, scientific, philosophical, and theological communities. *Evolutionary doctrines are treated as absolutely and certaintly true. This is a high level of respect, a high rating accorded them by these communities.* But then you must look at the actual probative value of these teachings (and the arguments contained therein). Their actual probative value is very low. Hence, these evolutionary doctrines are indeed "overrated".

Yours in Christ,

Chris

BONIFACE said...

While I don't have a PhD (only a BA in History), I can say that I think Chris is right on here. The fact that so many philosophers and theologians are "untroubled" by the issue does in fact trouble me!

One interesting point - surveys taken among ex-Christians who lost their faith (of whatever denomination)reveal that by far the number one cause that Christians lose faith is because of issues relating to evolution. Now, we might say that this is because they have a too simplistic theological worldview and if they only were more educated they would also be "untroubled" like so many of our philosophers and theologians; but, I think in this case, we must revert to the maxim of Chesterton that the common Christian, using plain common sense, is smelling a rat that theologian does not. If the man-in-the-pew is so troubled by this, should we perhaps conclude that toying around with these sorts of ideas, even if they might have some sort of validity (for the sake of argument), is dangerous to souls because of the scandal it causes?

samurfer said...

Chris:

1) Impressive. What do you thinkj of Fr. Wallace's work forming a large part of the basis for current Thomistic evolutionary theories? This article from my own professor, Father Michael Dodds, O.P. might be of interest: http://www2.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/ti/dodds.htm

2) Really? The burden of proof rests with you, not them.

3) You were making an equivocation, equating all acceptance of evolutionary science as explicitly atheist, when the vast majority of people who accept the evolutionary paradigm are in fact religiously faithful and orthodox. Hence, my statement pointing out that the Pope is not an atheist.

4) I have better things to do with my time than read Teilhard; as I said, the man is insane and a heretic. But that doesn't mean someone else, such as the current Pope, cannot dig in there and try.

5) "Untroubled" was not the best choice of words. Not "untroubled" as in thoughtless on the topic, but that this is not a live issue of conflict. We have, as a Church, made our peace with evolution, there is no more conflict. The most orthodox people I know were able to do so at a relatively young age, not needing to bring in complex philosophical tools to reach a place of rest. The burden of proof is on the doubter, I'm sorry to tell you. You can't just repeat "I'm not convinced" and expect that to be taken seriously as a scientific opinion.

6) "This can be been by looking at the incredible respect accorded them by the popular, scientific, philosophical, and theological communities." This is a non-sequitur. Truth is truth, whether it is popular or not, but neither state is proof. And is to the probative value of evolution, the burden of proof is on the doubter, and I have yet to see an anti-evolution argument that is remotely compelling, and brother, I've seen 'em all. If you find it upsetting that the scientifically literate find your views fringe, well, saying that the problem is all theirs might not be the most healthy approach.

samurfer said...

Frankly, Boniface, I do think that anti-evolution rhetoric is to blame for a large part of that apostasy you cite. As an undergraduate at the University of California, former Catholics were a large part of the general population. Evolution was never cited as an issue: the Church's stance on homosexuality, woman's ordination, etc. These mattered to Catholics, they never saw a problem with evolution and God; most of them still believed in a creator God who used evolution, even. Now, the kids I grew up with who were fed a diet of "Creation Science" apostatized en masse when they started learning science, and thinking for themselves based on experiencing the world, though of course genital issues also factored in.

One of St. Augustine's issues with the Manichees, which drove him away, was that the priests insisted that their holy writings and priests could speak authoritatively on scientific matters (particularly, astronomy). When confronted with the fact that their dogma did not comport with observable facts, they continued to insist that they were right, and the wise men wrong. This is why St. Augustine pioneered a non-literal reading of Genesis, and was so aware of the potential of driving people away from the true Faith by insisting on certain literal interpretations.

Nick said...

Samurfer,

You're not looking at the whole picture when you speak of Catholics being scandalized and/or losing their faith.

For example, you said: "Evolution was never cited as an issue: the Church's stance on homosexuality, woman's ordination, etc. These mattered to Catholics, they never saw a problem with evolution and God"

Evolution was not cited as an issue because in this case it is a matter where to them and the world, the Church "caved in" to the "Truth" which only science/empericism could give (aka Modernism). These "well educated" folks "knew better" and that with all foundations for morality and doctrine obliterated by means of Scientism, they saw no grounds to oppose homosexuality and womens ordination.

And what is most astonishing is that these "well educated" folks have been thoroughly corrupted on the most basic level - natural law - which should cause alarm bells should go off in any alert Catholic's head, since that these folks have lost any grounds for us to take them seriously since the welfare of our soul trumps everything else.

The "big picture" here is that most of these Catholics who fall away have done so on the grounds their "institutions of higher learning" have wiped God and even basic morality out of the picture and replaced it with secularism (with even a component of anti-Catholicism). In place of Christianity, these "teachers" have erected very real idols in the form of evolution and hedonism as *dogma* and litmus test (which means they don't have to be spoken about day to day, what counts is that this is the foundation from which all day to day "teaching" builds from).

BONIFACE said...

From my experience and what I have read, women's ordination and homosexuality are issues that cause Catholics to leave the Church, but those I mentioned who were upset by evolution left Christianity altogether and became atheists.

Arturo Vasquez said...

I have to say that I feel this post's pain. Admittedly, I am probably not that great of a Catholic intellectually, but not for lack of learning. All the same, it appears strange that Catholics would so readily consign the opening of Genesis as a myth, when so many things seem to be riding on that myth. (I cannot think that sexual morality could be upheld theologically if matter is merely the afterthought of spirit). I think Pope John Paul II calls the Genesis creation account "a myth" in one of his theology of the body discourses, but the publisher includes a very long footnote saying that calling something "a myth" doesn't necessarily mean that it is false, etc. All the same, if I told a tall tale to my daughter saying that when I was a child I had to walk up hill to school in the snow both ways, it may have an edifying message (don't be lazy and don't complain), but the fact that I lived in a valley and it doesn't snow in costal California would seem to negate such a message. (Even if I did walk to school everyday: a half truth.)For something so major not to be "taken literally" (the origins of man and the universe) gives credence to the idea that other things should not be "taken literally": the passing injunctions in the New Testament against homosexuality, the physical resurrection of Christ, and so forth.

Which gets us to my next point about modern Catholicism in general: truth does not seem to rely on some external revelation, once given to the Apostles, but is rather an institutional process by which the collective "realizes and purifies" the past content of Revelation. Something is true because of who says it and because it is permissible, and not because it actually happened. I know that Plato purified the myths of the Greeks, but to say that Apollo never slew the Python at Delphi would probably never have crossed their mind, just as saying that the Virgin never appeared at Lourdes would dry up pilgrimages there tomorrow. We can try to build castles in the sky, and create metaphysical truths that have no basis in fact, but who are we kidding? It would be like making stuff up just to win an argument.

The reductio ad absurdum of all of this is that the only historical fact that actually had to have happened is Peter dying in Rome. For the ultimate arbiter of what can and can't be believed lies in the Magisterium that is always confirmed by the Papacy, and the Papacy is based on the fact that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and died there. If Peter was never in Rome, does that mean that the entire universe is sucked into a black hole of nothingness? Who then will tell us what Genesis really means, if God did not create the heavens and the earth in six days, or he created the first man directly from dust, or woman from one of his ribs, "as it is written"? All of that could never have happened (or only have happened in a symbolic way), but would it be far less problematic than Peter never having been in Rome, or only have been "symbolically" in Rome? I don't know.

I don't have the answers, but I know cheap solutions when I see them. To have such a non-chalant attitude about cosmogony but somehow be strict when it comes to passing moral injunctions doesn't seem to be very convincing to anyone other than those who makes these types of arguments.

Anonymous said...

Dear Samurfer:

“1)Impressive. What do you thinkj of Fr. Wallace's work forming a large part of the basis for current Thomistic evolutionary theories? This article from my own professor, Father Michael Dodds, O.P. might be of interest: http://www2.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/ti/dodds.htm”

Thank you for the compliment. I am aware that Father Wallace’s work has played a role in the formation of Thomistic evolutionary theories. I am not aware that Father Wallace has ascribed a demonstrative character to these teachings. (As I have already said—creative evolution, as expounded by philosophical physics (not by contemporary or Cartesian “science”) is philosophically coherent, “reasonable” (“probable” in the old meaning of the word)). I will read your prof’s article when I have the time.

“2) Really? The burden of proof rests with you, not them.”

We are all obliged to have a sufficient reason for any propositions we hold. If we publicly express them, and their truth is not immediately obvious, naturally people can request--if the time/situation permits--an argument to back it up. We can then examine that argument.

Certainly if a Catholic philosopher or theologian introduces, propounds, elevates, or defends a novel assertion emanating mainly from non-Catholic intellectual sources, it is especially incumbent on this philosopher/theologian at the outset to defend and explain/justify his assertions. We are then at liberty to critique it.

Our analysis might involve (a) proving the novel theory to be absurd. (As I have said, I do not claim to be able to prove creative evolution absurd. Properly expounded, a creative evolution which makes use of the doctrines of hylomorphism, the presence of God the providential creator and unmoved mover, is coherent and reasonable).

Or it might involve (b) showing that their conclusions are not necessary. Or it might involve (c) showing that their arguments are weak and their conclusions very dubious. I believe that the arguments which I have encountered thus far in favor of evolution have mainly fallen into (b) and (c).

For more on the burden of proof issue, please see 7) in the next post.

(end of part one)

Anonymous said...

(Note to Boniface--I think I overloaded the last post or two; so here is a more manageable series of excerpts).

Samurfer:
1)Thank you for the compliment. I am aware that Father Wallace’s work has played a role in the formation of Thomistic evolutionary theories. I am not aware that Father Wallace has ascribed a demonstrative character to these teachings. (As I have already said—creative evolution, as expounded by philosophical physics (not by contemporary or Cartesian “science”) is philosophically coherent and reasonable. I will read your prof’s article when I have the time.
2) We are all obliged to have a sufficient reason for any propositions we hold. If we publicly express them, and their truth is not immediately obvious, naturally people can request--if the time/situation permits--an argument to back it up. We can then examine that argument.
If a Catholic philosopher or theologian introduces, propounds, elevates, or defends a novel assertion emanating mainly from non-Catholic intellectual sources, it is especially incumbent on this philosopher/theologian from the outset to defend and explain/justify his assertions. We are then at liberty to critique it. Our analysis might involve (a) proving the novel theory to be absurd. (As I have said, I do not claim to be able to prove creative evolution absurd. Properly expounded, a creative evolution which makes use of the doctrines of hylomorphism, the presence of God the providential creator and unmoved mover, is coherent and reasonable). Or it might involve (b) showing that their conclusions are not necessary. Or it might involve (c) showing that their arguments are weak and their conclusions very dubious. I believe that the arguments which I have encountered thus far in favor of evolution have mainly fallen into (b) and (c).
For more on the burden of proof issue, please see 7) in a later post)

Anonymous said...

3) Equivocity --in the condemnable sense-- is taking one word, using it with multiple meanings in different parts of a syllogism--all the while refraining from explicitly manifesting those multiple meanings--in the hopes of getting away with an invalid inference. Re-read my last two posts and you will see that I clearly distinguished different theories of evolution. Where did I “[equate] all acceptance of evolutionary science as explicitly atheist”?

In any event what you are accusing me of is more of a forced univocity rather than an equivocity. (I think you are confusing the words “equivocating” and “equating”)

You should be more careful in your use of terms and your assertions.

4) My recommendation to “make a moderate usage” of Teilhard’s thought was not directed at you, but to anyone making use of (or thinking of making use of) his thought. I agree, it’s OK to “dig in and try”. But looking at the results of his “try”, Ratzinger seems to have, unwittingly, fallen into Teilhardian and Hegelian errors.

5) Re: your first point, I too don’t want to disturb the consciences of those who are at peace with the sort of evolutionism permitted by Humani Generis.
Re: the burden of proof issues.
From the theological standpoint: the burden of proof is on the defender of evolution, since the apparent meaning of scripture, plus the judgment of the majority of the Church fathers, weighs heavily in favor of the traditional teaching regarding the origin of the body of man.
From the philosophical standpoint: the burden is on equal on both sides to provide the best arguments which they can muster. (Or rather, everyone should employ good reasoning and follow the evidence as far as, and in whatever direction, it will lead them, since no one, as a philosopher, should have a pre-commitment to one side or the other.)

Anonymous said...

6) Sam—consider the meaning of the word “overrated”—of its very meaning it relates to the judgments and opinions of persons. I said that all evolutionary theories are overrated---meaning *de facto* they are overrated. It is an example of accidental predication. Theories and doctrines in themselves are more or less true or more or less false, more or less probative in their arguments. But they can also be overrated-- when they are praised and promoted more than they deserve. Take something the beauty of which is undeniable—like Beethoven’s third symphony—can’t it be overpraised? What if there were daily proclamations that it was the greatest piece of music ever written? At any rate, this is what has happened in the case of evolution—it is treated with greater respect than it merits.

A good example of an act of overrating evolution is from you yourself.

“The simple fact is, life on Earth evolved, period, and we have to deal with that reality, not stick our heads in the ground like an ostrich in order to "save the appearances".

Here you are treating evolution as if it were a known fact about reality—not a merely reasonable theory. You are overrating evolution.

Anonymous said...

7) This is to respond to the “burden of proof is on the doubter of evolution” motif.
Are you saying that I am philosophically obliged to show the absurdity of creative evolution? I have already said before that I cannot do that, since, properly understood, it unfolds and explains a rational sequence of causes and generations leading up to man. The question is whether it is the only way to explain what we presently and definitely know about man, his existence, and his origins.
Are you saying that I am philosophically obliged to show the non-necessity or the weakness of the (creative) evolutionist doctrine? I think that I can do this, but only on a case by basis--responding to each evolutionist argument as it arises.
Or are you saying, for some reason we must incline towards evolutionism as the *more probable* explanation… “until a better theory comes along”? ---Sort of like the way geocentrism was treated in the late Renaissance…since it seemed to be what sensation taught us. (Thus the traditional doctors then said to the heliocentrists “we have common sensation on our side”, so the burden of proof is on you to show why we must give up geocentrism”)
Why should we begin the investigation of the problem of the origin of man by assuming that creative evolution is the best theory to start with and so it is up to opposing theories to “dethrone” it? Here’s what the investigation begins with
a)Man is a distinct species from those of the brutes and those of the plants. His bodily structure is very different and so is his soul.
b)So far as we know, only a human generates a human (with the help of God and the Sun, as the Aristotelians might put it). Like generates like.
c)So far as the immediate material/virtual causes of a human generation are concerned these too are “human” realities (human egg, human sperm, human energies). As for the mediating forms, which arise successively in the womb—these seem to have a very temporary and even virtual function. They are mere ens viale, beings on the way.

Why should these facts incline us toward the view that evolution is the provisional "king" until it is "dethroned"? Is it because successive forms suggest a presentation of evolution in miniature, a presentation which we then make into the “big picture”? That’s not a bad way of arguing…but is it sufficient to give evolution pride of place until something else (a more probable theory) dethrones it? But then what about points a) and b)?—they seem to weight things in favor of generation within species, and the “unrelatedness” of man to brutes and plants.
Let’s begin, philosophically/scientifically speaking, with a pre-commitment to *neither theory.* Let’s begin with what we know and then reason as best we can, carefully distinguishing the necessary conclusions, the probable, and the possible, etc., etc.
Sincerely in Christ,
Chris

Arturo Vasquez said...

I have to say that I feel this post's pain. Admittedly, I am probably not that great of a Catholic intellectually, but not for lack of learning. All the same, it appears strange that Catholics would so readily consign the opening of Genesis as a myth, when so many things seem to be riding on that myth. (I cannot think that sexual morality could be upheld theologically if matter is merely the afterthought of spirit). I think Pope John Paul II calls the Genesis creation account "a myth" in one of his theology of the body discourses, but the publisher includes a very long footnote saying that calling something "a myth" doesn't necessarily mean that it is false, etc. All the same, if I told a tall tale to my daughter saying that when I was a child I had to walk up hill to school in the snow both ways, it may have an edifying message (don't be lazy and don't complain), but the fact that I lived in a valley and it doesn't snow in costal California would seem to negate such a message. (Even if I did walk to school everyday: a half truth.)For something so major not to be "taken literally" (the origins of man and the universe) gives credence to the idea that other things should not be "taken literally": the passing injunctions in the New Testament against homosexuality, the physical resurrection of Christ, and so forth.

Which gets us to my next point about modern Catholicism in general: truth does not seem to rely on some external revelation, once given to the Apostles, but is rather an institutional process by which the collective "realizes and purifies" the past content of Revelation. Something is true because of who says it and because it is permissible, and not because it actually happened. I know that Plato purified the myths of the Greeks, but to say that Apollo never slew the Python at Delphi would probably never have crossed their mind, just as saying that the Virgin never appeared at Lourdes would dry up pilgrimages there tomorrow. We can try to build castles in the sky, and create metaphysical truths that have no basis in fact, but who are we kidding? It would be like making stuff up just to win an argument.

The reductio ad absurdum of all of this is that the only historical fact that actually had to have happened is Peter dying in Rome. For the ultimate arbiter of what can and can't be believed lies in the Magisterium that is always confirmed by the Papacy, and the Papacy is based on the fact that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and died there. If Peter was never in Rome, does that mean that the entire universe is sucked into a black hole of nothingness? Who then will tell us what Genesis really means, if God did not create the heavens and the earth in six days, or he created the first man directly from dust, or woman from one of his ribs, "as it is written"? All of that could never have happened (or only have happened in a symbolic way), but would it be far less problematic than Peter never having been in Rome, or only have been "symbolically" in Rome? I don't know.

I don't have the answers, but I know cheap solutions when I see them. To have such a non-chalant attitude about cosmogony but somehow be strict when it comes to passing moral injunctions doesn't seem to be very convincing to anyone other than those who makes these types of arguments.

arturovasquez said...

I have to say that I feel this post's pain. Admittedly, I am probably not that great of a Catholic intellectually, but not for lack of learning. All the same, it appears strange that Catholics would so readily consign the opening of Genesis as a myth, when so many things seem to be riding on that myth. (I cannot think that sexual morality could be upheld theologically if matter is merely the afterthought of spirit). I think Pope John Paul II calls the Genesis creation account "a myth" in one of his theology of the body discourses, but the publisher includes a very long footnote saying that calling something "a myth" doesn't necessarily mean that it is false, etc. All the same, if I told a tall tale to my daughter saying that when I was a child I had to walk up hill to school in the snow both ways, it may have an edifying message (don't be lazy and don't complain), but the fact that I lived in a valley and it doesn't snow in costal California would seem to negate such a message. (Even if I did walk to school everyday: a half truth.)For something so major not to be "taken literally" (the origins of man and the universe) gives credence to the idea that other things should not be "taken literally": the passing injunctions in the New Testament against homosexuality, the physical resurrection of Christ, and so forth.

Which gets us to my next point about modern Catholicism in general: truth does not seem to rely on some external revelation, once given to the Apostles, but is rather an institutional process by which the collective "realizes and purifies" the past content of Revelation. Something is true because of who says it and because it is permissible, and not because it actually happened. I know that Plato purified the myths of the Greeks, but to say that Apollo never slew the Python at Delphi would probably never have crossed their mind, just as saying that the Virgin never appeared at Lourdes would dry up pilgrimages there tomorrow. We can try to build castles in the sky, and create metaphysical truths that have no basis in fact, but who are we kidding? It would be like making stuff up just to win an argument.

The reductio ad absurdum of all of this is that the only historical fact that actually had to have happened is Peter dying in Rome. For the ultimate arbiter of what can and can't be believed lies in the Magisterium that is always confirmed by the Papacy, and the Papacy is based on the fact that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and died there. If Peter was never in Rome, does that mean that the entire universe is sucked into a black hole of nothingness? Who then will tell us what Genesis really means, if God did not create the heavens and the earth in six days, or he created the first man directly from dust, or woman from one of his ribs, "as it is written"? All of that could never have happened (or only have happened in a symbolic way), but would it be far less problematic than Peter never having been in Rome, or only have been "symbolically" in Rome? I don't know.

I don't have the answers, but I know cheap solutions when I see them. To have such a non-chalant attitude about cosmogony but somehow be strict when it comes to passing moral injunctions doesn't seem to be very convincing to anyone other than those who makes these types of arguments.

samurfer said...

Chris, I find it interesting that you bring up Geocentrism. I have a friend who is a convinced Geocentrist; he believes that NASA did put a man on the Moon, but that there is a massive conspiracy to cover up the truth of the celestial spheres. No joke.

The situation of evolution, as science, is not like that of Heliocentrism in the 16th century. There isn't really much of an argument about it any more; the main argument is between atheistic Neo-Darwinism and *evolutionary* Intelligent Design, such as the Discovery Institute think-tank, and those who fall somewhere in-between (they both make some fundamental Scientistic errors, but that is neither here nor there). Mainly, when evolution is challenged, it doesn't make people stop and think; it simply confuses them, like my friend telling me that the Sun orbits the Earth and meaning it.

samurfer said...

Arturo:

I don't think this has anything to do with the Pope, frankly, even if I appreciate the recent Popes' approach. I came to accept the synthesis of Christianity and an old, evolved cosmos when I was still an Evangelical. I don't even know if the current answer is cheap, so much as barely existent; whaddya gonna do? A literal reading of Genesis doesn't seem to work with actual reality; the Scholastics theorized that if the old scientific consensus on the eternity of the world was true, then Christianity was not nullified. How is evolution much different? And I can't see maintaining strictly literal interpretations as anything but an even cheaper answer, to avoid having to deal with reality.

Ben G said...

If anyone's interested, you can read the saintly Fr. Hardon's comment on these issues here, http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/God/God_011.htm

Father basically argues that Pius XII's teaching and divine Revelation, if we suppose that the human body came from a pre-existing animal (matter), would teach that the animal did not beget Adam, but God miraculously created Adam from the animal.

Aeurella said...

Hello.

I have been skimming through your older posts on Evolution (with plans to go back and read more thoroughly when I get the chance), and was wondering if you ever read the book, The Doctrines of Genesis 1-11: A Compendium and Defense of Traditional Catholic Theology on Origins by Rev. Victor P. Warkulwiz, M.S.S. Its second printing was in 2009 and its title speaks for itself. A gem of information. It has a forward by Bishop Vasa of Baker, Oregon. The author has a PhD in Physics and was a career scientist before hearing a call to the priesthood. You can read about the book and the reviews here:

http://www.genesis1-11.org/index.html

This book is truly Catholic, and shows the reader that it was the Catholic Church who originally took God at His Word. Thanks to the Protestant Revolt and "Scripture As I See It" at one pole, and the blind acceptance of modern scientific hypotheses as factual, true science at the opposite pole, an "informed" Catholic believer can be toting quite a mixed bag when it comes to his/her view on just how to render Genesis.

This book changed that for me.

God bless you.

Anthony Puccetti said...

Boniface,

Cardinal Ratzinger did not mention Humani Generis in his chapter on Creation. He disagreed with those who say that the body could have evolved but not the soul,but Pope Pius did not say this in his encyclical. He wrote that it is allowable to research and discuss "the origin of the human body as COMING from pre-existent and living matter." I think he deliberately avoided saying "the evolution of the human body from pre-existent and living creatures". This is not really a concession to the theory of evolution. Our bodies do,in fact,originate from pre-existent and living matter - sperm and egg cells. And when Cardinal Ratzinger said that the traditional view of creation is untenable,he may have only meant that it is untenable for people who hold to the modern
scientific,naturalistic view of nature. In his books,he sometimes talks about false or misguided views as if they were true or partly true,for the sake of argument. He does this with the false opinions of liberal and dissident theologians,liberation theologians,skeptical Bible scholars.

BONIFACE said...

when Cardinal Ratzinger said that the traditional view of creation is untenable,he may have only meant that it is untenable for people who hold to the modern
scientific,naturalistic view of nature


If that is his meaning, it is sure not the way it comes across in his book. In his book, in the context of the passage quoted, he seems to be saying that, for Catholics, the traditional view is untenable, but he also rejects the concession of Pius XII (mind you, concession, not teaching) as being too dualistic. That is why he proposes the Teilhardian idea that matter as a "moment" in the "prehistory" of spirit.

I am familiar with how Ratzinger writes, and I think you are trying to force an orthodox position onto his book that it does not have. Since this is something he wrote years before he was pope, I do not think we have to go to such extremes to defend it, although it is troubling to think he may hold such views.

anthony022071 said...

"If that is his meaning, it is sure not the way it comes across in his book."

I agree,but that is how he writes about other modern,entrenched ideas he basically disagrees with. He tries to find common ground,rather than condemn outright. In the chapter on creation,his intention was to answer the question of how "the theological statement about the special creation man can coexist with an evolutionary world view or what form it must assume within an evolutionary world view."
(page 45) So he was not analyzing the specific claims of the theory of evolution,but was dealing with the world view that attends upon the theory. He does not bother to contradict the theory or the world view outright because it is entrenched,like ancient Greek philosophy and medieval literal exegesis were (see pages 40-41), and he does not want to contradict ideas that do not necessarily conflict with Catholic doctrine. I would argue that the theory of evolution does conflict with the doctrine of creation,because it contradicts reason and observation. God creates living things immediately as individual creatures,and species exist and come into existence as individual creatures. Cardinal Ratzinger touched upon the importance of belief in individual creation for the doctrine of creation (pages 37-39),but did not use it to argue against the idea that species evolved. Instead,he sought a way to reconcile the notion of a world of becoming with the idea of being and faith in creation.

anthony022071 said...

"In his book, in the context of the passage quoted, he seems to be saying that, for Catholics, the traditional view is untenable, but he also rejects the concession of Pius XII (mind you, concession, not teaching) as being too dualistic. That is why he proposes the Teilhardian idea that matter as a "moment" in the "prehistory" of spirit."

He didn't mention Pope Pius or what he said in Humani Generis. Pope Pius only said that it is allowable to research and discuss "the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter."
This is not a concession that the human body may have evolved from a prior species.

"I am familiar with how Ratzinger writes, and I think you are trying to force an orthodox position onto his book that it does not have. Since this is something he wrote years before he was pope, I do not think we have to go to such extremes to defend it, although it is troubling to think he may hold such views."

I wasn't saying that his views were orthodox. But I don't think he himself necessarily rejects the traditional view of creation as untenable. He believes in individual creation and that the soul or spirit of a living creature is created together with the body,and that the soul gives form to the body. He does not believe that macro-evolution happened,and so he cannot believe in the theory of evolution's account of the history of species.

http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/benedicts-thinking-creation-and-evolution

Interview with Dominique Tassot
PDF format
http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0oG7mwu_VpPFhoAFWtXNyoA?p=interview%20with%20dominique%20tassot&fr2=sb-top&fr=yfp-t-701

Alan Aversa said...

@Ben G: "We have to remember that the soul is the immaterial principle of life; therefore, even goats and caterpillars have souls, because wherever there is life there is soul. That's why they're different from rocks or water. So it would seem that a pre-human ape would already have a soul."

But it would not be a human soul.

From the 24 Thomistic Theses with Fr. Lumbreras, O.P.'s commentary:

Thesis XIV.

Vegetalis et sensilis ordinis animae nequaquam per se subsistunt, nec per se producuntur, sed sunt tantummodo ut principium quo vivens est et vivit, et cum a materia se totis dependeant, corrupto composito, eo ipso per accidens corrumpuntur.

Souls of the vegetative and sensitive order, properly speaking, do not subsist and are not produced, but merely exist and are produced as a principle whereby the living thing exists and lives. Since they depend entirely on matter, at the dissolution of the compound, they are indirectly destroyed.

Commentary: The substantial form does not subsist in the organic bodies of plants and irrational animals, because it has no operation independent of matter; it is but a principle of substance. A principle, however, that, in giving matter the complement wanted by matter for making up the compound—which properly exists and lives—is called the principle of existence and life. Its relation to production and destruction has been previously explained. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 75 a. 3 et q. 90 a. 2; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 80 et cap. 82]

Thesis XV.

Contra, per se subsistit anima humana, quae, cum subiecto sufficienter disposito potest infundi, a Deo creatur, et sua natura incorruptibilis est atque immortalis.

On the contrary, the human soul subsists by itself, and is created by God when it can be infused into a sufficiently disposed subject, and is incorruptible and immortal by nature.

Commentary: The human soul, independent of material conditions for some of its operations, is by itself a simple and complete substance. It is, then, produced from nothing, or created, and created by God, as we shall see. Naturally ordained to inform the human body, it is created when infused into the body. But, since the reception of any form presupposes a convenient disposition in the receiving matter, the infusion of the human soul implies a sufficient disposition of the human body. Such a disposition is not likely to be found in a body recently formed: vegetative and sensible souls would precede the human soul, as the servants precede the master for preparing a lodging worthy of him. Being simple, the human soul cannot be directly destroyed. Being subsisting, it can neither be destroyed indirectly upon the destruction of the compound. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 75 a. 2 et q. 90 et q. 118; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 83 ff.; De potentia, q. 3 a. 2; Sententia De anima, a. 14]