Introductory Note: There are two questions which have caused me uneasiness for some time, both involving little children and their education. In this article I hope to have provided the answer to these questions.
The first of these regards evolution. The culture of evolutionary belief is all-invasive in a child’s life. Creation scientists have done an admirable job of countering evolutionary theory in all the various branches of science involved in this question, but much of this science is beyond the average parents’ capabilities, and totally beyond those of a little child. How, therefore, do we protect our children from consciously and unconsciously falling prey to this virtually omnipresent culture of evolutionary thinking?
The second question, unfortunately, is intimately related to the first. Recent Popes have not only succumbed to physical evolutionary theory, but have destructively applied the implications of this theory, to one extent or another, to all of Catholic doctrine. How do we teach our children that recent Popes have been teaching and doing things that are very wrong? And, moreover, how do we transform this from what might be a scandal to little children into a deep form of charity and strength in their spiritual lives?
Receiving the Kingdom of God as a Little Child
“Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter into it.” (Mk 10:15)
“A simple, humble faith in the truth of my apparitions to you, my favored child, will be reserved for humble and fervent souls who are docile to the inspirations of grace, for our Heavenly Father communicates His secrets to the simple of heart, and not to those whose hearts are inflated with pride, pretending to know what they do not or infatuated with empty science.” (Our Lady of Good Success, in her Apparition of Feb 2, 1610)
It has been my contention in a number of articles that the primary, and most extensive, victims of the mental and spiritual disintegration produced by reductive modern science are children.
Within almost any educational system in the civilized world, children, at an early age (usually grades 4-5), are taught that all physical things in the universe are reducible to atoms, and their actions equally reducible to the interplay of these atomic realities. This produces a state of mind, heart, and spirit in our children which, at least implicitly, is a denial of the reality and goodness of God’s creation. They now learn that what is experienced as substantial to them with their senses and minds, is merely an illusion, or a semi-illusional effect, of the interplay of atomic realities upon one another and their senses. And since these atoms are constantly subject to change, there is no permanent “nature” to anything. In other words, such children have become epistemological schizophrenics – livng in, believing in, and loving a world which is fundamentally a chimera. In such a world, all absoluteness in regard to either Truth or Morality is destroyed.
Consequent upon this basic atomic reductionism, all aspects of human nature and personality are reduced to material causation. Such children discover that their minds and thoughts are reducible to neurological causation, their emotions to hormonal determination, and their moral and spiritual values to a causation which is determined from both within and without (environmental causation) by what must be seen as universal material determination. They are pawns in an endless chain of chemical interactions and unfolding evolutionary processes.
It is my belief that the only way that children can be protected from such reductionism, and its resultant state of spiritual schizophrenia, is through teaching them the basic principles of Thomistic metaphysics, and that this can indeed be done as early as fourth or fifth grade. It is not difficult, for instance, to lay out to any child the model of an atom with its essential construction of electrons spinning at relatively astronomic distance from the nucleus – the entire thing being comprised of 99.999999999% void (yes, this is a literal and accurate assessment), to show them the absurdity of scientific reduction. There is no way that any human mind, whether it be that of a child or that of a Nobel Prize Physicist, can make the connection between the world of atomic physics (or Quantum Theory) and what it fully perceives as being real in its daily experience. It then becomes easy to introduce them to the reality that what anything is as a substance is not reducible to any sort of physical analysis or measurement, but simply is what it is because God has created it so out of nothing. Here, the human mind is restored not only to intellectual sanity, but also spiritual childhood. Here it rests in God.
But there is another problem. The mistress of reductive, atomic science is evolution. What is deprived of substantive “nature” by the analysis of reductive physics, then only becomes meaningful in terms of endless becoming. Evolution allegedly supplies this meaning through an all-inclusive mental construct in which life is now to be viewed as a grand, almost endless, march towards a Teilhardian perfection. It is evolution, in other words, which has proved to be the most powerful tool for seducing the vast majority of peoples into what must be viewed as a “New-Age” Religion. Evolution replaces the descent of God (the Incarnation) with the ascent of man. It is the religion of Antichrist, despite the fact that it often attempts to co-opt Christ as being on the cutting edge of this ascent.
Recently, in conversation with my daughter-in-law who home-schools her children, I mentioned a plan I have long nourished to write a series of small books for children at different grade levels in order to counter the effects of reductive science at the various stages of their intellectual development. I mentioned to her that I thought fourth or fifth grade would be an appropriate point to start, since this is usually when they begin to learn about such things as molecules and atoms.
Her response to me was that this was not early enough. The threat comes much earlier. It comes in the form of evolutionary concepts, and it begins in what might first seem to be a very odd place – the concept of Time. In our modern world of invasive mass media, the child is, from the earliest years, assaulted by the concept that the material universe is virtually eternal, that our world is billions of years old, that simple life on earth is also billions of years old, and that human beings can trace their ancestry back through millions of years. Largely, this induces in the minds and hearts of these children the mental construct and ambience which says that they are inconsequential specks in an endless and impersonal process. As such, it makes a mockery of a personal and loving God.
Parents might at first think that it is an exaggeration to say that their five or six year old child is exposed to such things or, even less, understand them. In response, I would simply ask them if their children at such an age have ever been exposed to the modern culture of “dinosaur worship” through such things as TV, cartoons, videos, DVD’s, books, or even a comic book picked up at the dentist’s office. In popular conception, the existence of dinosaurs is inseparable from the concept of “millions of years ago.” (the earliest dinosaur fossil is now dated at 231.4 million years ago). And, of course, this is only one example. How many mothers, for instance, rely on the TV to babysit their children, and often surrender them to such things as the Discovery or National Geographic Channels (all those cute and interesting animals), which are incredibly effective sources of infusion of evolutionary concepts into modern minds. And even if a child is shielded from these media sources, they are almost certainly exposed in many other ways to such spiritual poison, especially through their not-so-carefully guarded peers for whom such things are daily bread.
Creation scientists have done an admirable job in refuting evolutionary concepts. But such arguments require extensive knowledge in all sorts of fields: geology, paleontology, sedimentary formation, radiometric dating, etc, much of which is not fully comprehensible even for the average college graduate. Even an educated person is never quite sure whether the arguments of creation scientists really quite destroy those of the enemy. Science is always changing, always coming up with new “evidence”, which is always around the corner waiting to open up new arguments, doubts, and defensiveness. And, of course, much of this science is not comprehensible to parents, and none of it to a young child.
It is therefore not sufficient for parents to just defend their children from being subject to such errors. What is most needed is an offense which will instill in the minds and hearts of their children something which will not allow such destructive ideas effective access to their spiritual, mental, and emotional lives.
There is an “Achilles heel” present within all evolutionary theory. It is the concept of “Time” mentioned above. There can be no evolution without vast amounts of seemingly interminable and “impersonal” time being postulated for the mutational processes and selection integral for such radical changes. Correspondingly, there can be no egress into the hearts of children of evolutionary theory if everything to do with “time” is made deeply personal and finite.
Catholic parents have always possessed an enormously effective tool for infusion of this reality into the depths of their children’s souls. It is the Bible. The problem is that most Catholic parents have largely surrendered the Bible to Modernism. They have done so because a myriad of “experts”, including recent Popes, have insistently identified belief in the truth of the historical accounts of the Old Testament with what has become a derogatory name or position with which no Catholic wishes to be labeled: Fundamentalism.
What is not realized, or fully taken into account, is that the Old Testament is a tremendous wellspring of historical facts establishing the extreme finitude of creation, and the history of Man. There have been many attempts to determine the precise number of years from the creation of Adam to the birth of Christ. All these attempts, at least by Roman Catholics and Protestants, closely converge on a period of 4,000 years. It is really quite an interesting study to follow the descent from Adam to Jesus through the genealogies presented in the books of the Old Testament. The descent from Adam to Abraham, for instance, is quite precise (1948 years) and can be traced in three chapters of Genesis: Genesis 5: 3 – 29), Genesis 7:6 (covering the period of the Flood), and Genesis 11: 10-26. We must realize, of course, that this “precision” is somewhat modified by the obvious fact that the period of time between generations is measured by how old a certain person was when a son was born, and this is always given in years. Absolute precision would require the addition of the months, weeks, and days beyond this particular person’s birthday. Such additions would obviously amount to a very small variance in our calculations.
The effect of all this precise genealogy and history, if it is taken seriously as part of the inspired word of God, is to absolutely destroy any contentions concerning human evolution. The Bible literally saturates the time period between Adam and Christ with the stories of persons who are as we are, who possess the same nature, created in the image of God as do we: subject to the effects of original sin, and yet possessing a nobility created in the image of God; fully human persons who are born, mature, love, sin, form friendships and enmities, grow in knowledge and wisdom or sink deeper into evil and tyranny, repent of their sins or harden their hearts, and who God ultimately looks upon with eyes towards salvation or judgment unto perdition. This history involves a fairly long time (approximately 4,000 years) by human estimation, but it is in no way a Time for evolution. A child who is gradually immersed in reading about this sacred history, and studying the lives of these very real people, is receiving the food that will preserve and protect him or her as a child of God from seemingly endless Time and Meaninglessness.
Much of this, and certainly the entire creation account, has been dismissed by Modernist Biblical scholars as myth or “popular history”. The problem is that it is impossible to do such a thing while at the same time believing in the reliability or Truth of God’s Revelation. In order to understand fully why this is so, we can do no better than quote passages from Pope Leo XIII’s magnificent encyclical Providentissimus Deus – On the Study of Sacred Scripture:
“But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred.
“For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit; and so far is it from being possible that any error can coexist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true.
“Hence, because the Holy Spirit employed men as his instruments, we cannot, therefore, say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write – He so assisted them when writing – that the things which he ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth.
“It follows that those who maintain that an error is possible in any genuine passage of the sacred writings either pervert the Catholic notion of inspiration or make God the author of such error.” (above quotes are all taken from section 3a).
It follows that anything that is presented in Scripture as simple historical fact necessarily has God, Who cannot error, as its author. In 1909, the Pontifical Biblical Commission published the following decree concerning the historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis (certainly the most contested chapters in the entire Bible as regards their containing genuine history):
“Notwithstanding the historical character and form of Genesis, the special connection of the first three chapters with one another and with the following chapters, the manifold testimonies of the Scriptures both of the Old and of the New Testaments, the almost unanimous opinion of the holy Fathers and the traditional view which the people of Israel also has handed on and the Church has always held, may it be taught that: the aforesaid three chapters of Genesis contain not accounts of actual events, accounts, that is, which correspond to objective reality and historical truth, but, either fables derived from the mythologies and cosmogonies of ancient peoples and accommodated by the sacred writer to monotheistic doctrine after the expurgation of any polytheistic error; or allegories and symbols without any foundation in objective reality proposed under the form of history to inculcate religious and philosophical truths; or finally legends in part historical and in part fictitious freely composed with a view to instruction and edification?
Answer: In the negative to both parts.”
The true, historical character of all the rest of Old Testament necessarily follows as a logical consequence.There is no way that what is presented as thousands of historical facts in the Old Testament can be some sort of “figure”, allegory, or myth. It is certainly true that scripture often speaks in different forms of figurative language, and this has been thoroughly explored and explained by Doctors and Fathers of the Church. But all of these Doctors and Fathers accepted matter-of-factly that in all this data, we are simply encountering what are historically true facts.
It is also important to us to realize that when Scripture does use figurative language, it is done for very serious and necessary reasons – to impart truths in the moral or spiritual order. There are in fact several distinctions to be made as to the type of these “figures”. The best summary of these distinctions is to be found in the very beginning of the First Part of St. Thomas’ Summa Theologica.
For instance, Thomas writes, “It is befitting Holy Writ to put forward divine and spiritual truths by means of comparisons with material things [metaphors – analogies]. For God provides for everything according to the capacity of its nature. Now it is natural to man to attain to intellectual truths through sensible objects. Because all our knowledge originates from sense. Hence in Holy Writ spiritual truths are fittingly taught under the likeness of material things.” Thus when scripture speaks of “God’s arm”, it simply denotes his operative power. When it speaks of His “wrath”, it signifies such things as chastisement, punishment, and judgment. In other words, we need such “figures” in order to gain a real, but imperfect, knowledge of God.
St. Thomas delineates two basic senses of Holy Scripture – the historical/literal, and the spiritual (“which is based on the literal, and presupposes it”). The historical/literal is simply what it is – revealed, literal facts and truths, with God as their author. The spiritual sense has a threefold division: allegorical, tropological, and anagogical. Something is written allegorically in so far as “the things of the Old Law signify the things of the New Law” [think of the entire Song of Songs in this regard]. The tropological, or moral sense, indicates “that things done in Christ, or so far as the things which signify Christ, are types of what we ought to do”. And the third spiritual sense (anagogical) indicates things “in so far as they relate to eternal glory”. All these “senses” are involved in Biblical interpretation.
In other words, to try to demean someone as believing in “the literal meaning of scripture”, and then to oppose them to those persons (supposedly much more mature and sophisticated) who believe in the “spiritual meaning of scripture” is a cheap trick of the Modernist. There is a great deal of both literal and figurative meaning in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. However, while there certainly is no sin in not being able to understand all the metaphorical, figurative, and otherwise hidden depths of scripture, there is a great deal of malice towards both God and man in undermining or denying what is simply presented as literal and historical facts which are revealed truths, and have God as their author.
There is simply no way in which all the vast amount of genealogical, chronological, and historical facts present in the Old Testament can be reduced to some spiritual, metaphorical, figurative meaning, or to a “popular myth”, without either denying God’s authorship of the entirety of Holy Scripture, or subjecting Him to error or deception. Historical facts are not metaphors or allegories; they are either simply true or false. If any one of these facts is false, then God has simply erred, thus violating the most sacred truth about God, as laid down by Pope Leo XIII: “it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true”.
The “modern” Catholic is made to feel that the Catholic Church has never taken these facts literally, and that such foolishness and naivety is only to be found in fundamentalist sects. But the fact is that all faithful Catholics took them literally for almost 2,000 years. The Douay-Rheims Bible was in almost universal use by English-speaking Catholics for approximately 450 years, until the middle of the Twentieth Century. The 1899 Challoner edition of the Douay–Rheims which I possess contains a detailed “Historical and Chronological Index” [actually a Table] to the Old Testament. It begins with Adam and the “Creation of heaven and earth, and all things therein, in six days” at the beginning of year One. It then proceeds through a chronology listing very specific persons and dates, and ends with the birth of Joseph, foster-father of Jesus, during the High Priesthood of Hyrcanus (which succeed that of Alexander who became High Priest 3,934 years after the creation of Adam).
In other words, modern Catholics have largely been hoodwinked into denying, and being embarrassed by, what is obviously a huge part of God’s Divine Revelation. They have been overrun by a spiritual timidity and cowardice towards bogus science which places them in a continual posture of prostitution towards the modern world, and ever ready to take the next step backward as Satan whittles them down to little more than stumps of what was once considered integral and necessary to being a Christian.
We must turn this around if we are to preserve our children for Christ.
To ascent to the Truths revealed by God in the genealogies and history of the Old Testament utterly destroys any possibility of human evolution. This of course throws into chaos all of evolutionary theory. Evolutionists date fossils possessing fully- human anatomic characteristics to 200,000 years ago, and Homo species itself to 2.5 million years ago. These numbers are based on both the depth of geological strata in which these fossils are found, and radiometric dating of these strata. If this data is erroneous, the reliability of all such dating based on geological stratification or radiometric testing is profoundly undermined. Belief in Divine Revelation as present in the history of the Old Testament necessarily does just that.
It is the Flood, however, which administers the coup de grace to all such dating methods. It is admitted by both Creationists and Evolutionists alike that dating of fossils by both of the methods mentioned above is dependent upon the theory of geological “Uniformatism”. A Universal Flood destroys the reliability of these methods.
A critical question for any Catholic, therefore, is whether we are required by Faith to accept the Genesis account of the Flood as being literally true. As we have seen in relation to the rest of the Old Testament, the determining factor in answering this question is whether God, the author of all of Scripture, simply presents us with “literal” facts which must be judged as either true or false.
The history of the Flood and its aftermath is to be found in Genesis 6-10. It is quite detailed with historical facts.
We must first take into account that Noah, along with his son Sem, are in the line that leads from Adam directly to David, and consequently to Christ. They are listed at the very end of the complete chronology from Adam to Noah offered in Genesis 5. These are real, historical personalities. We must take all of the following seriously:
God, “seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times”, resolved to destroy all living things on the earth except Noah and his wife, his sons and their wives, one pair each of all the unclean beasts, seven pairs of the clean beasts and seven pairs of all fowls. God gives very detailed instructions for the building of the Ark in order to preserve them from the Flood which He is about to bring upon all the earth.
The details of the flood are also specific – it took 7 days to cover the whole earth, the rain fell for forty days and forty nights. The precise height of the water is given – fifteen feet above the highest mountain – and the number of days the waters “prevailed over the earth” – one hundred and fifty days.
The Flood came not only from above in the form of rain, but also from below – “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the flood gates of heaven were opened”. It seems that both earth and the “heavens” were constituted differently before the Flood. Many creation scientists have speculated that there was a vapor canopy around the earth which created a greenhouse effect, and consequent temperate climate over all the earth. This disappeared when the “flood gates of heaven were opened”. This would account for such phenomena as mammoths being found in Siberia, apparently rapidly frozen, with green vegetation in their stomachs. The destruction of such a canopy, and the consequent elimination of this greenhouse effect, would account for rapid freezing and preservation of these mammoths. It might also account, at least partially, for the fact that people lived much longer before the flood – such a vapor canopy would have blocked harmful cosmic radiation from space.
It is also speculated that such a vapor canopy would have increased gas pressures on the earth, causing a 50% higher concentration of oxygen. In 1987, Time Magazine reported that amber crystals (formed from the fossilization of tree sap) had been discovered with trapped air bubbles containing50% more oxygen than the current atmosphere (32% vs. 21%). Reduction of the oxygen content of the atmosphere after the Flood could very well account for the inability of dinosaurs to survive. The higher oxygen rates before the Flood could also account for longer life spans, healthier lives, larger fossils of all sorts found in the fossil record. I mention all this, not to presume to give any sort of extensive or exhaustive scientific arguments, but only to give the reader some small indication of the great number of possible ramifications, even beyond geological and radiometric dating, of Noah’s Flood.
To continue with the specifics facts concerning the Flood:
After the hundred and fifty days, God “brought a wind upon the earth, and the waters were abated”, and “the fountains also of the deep, and the flood gates of heaven were shut up, and the rain from heaven was restrained, and the waters returned from off the earth going and coming: and they began to be abated after a hundred and fifty days. And the ark rested in the seventh month, the seven and twentieth day of the month, upon the mountains of Armenia.” Further, “in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared”. The scripture then tells us that after forty more days, Noah opened the window of the ark, and sent forth a raven, which did not return. He then sent forth a dove which, “not finding where her foot might rest”, returned to the ark.
Finally, after waiting another seven days, Noah sent forth the same dove, which returned to him in the evening carrying “a bough of an olive tree, with green leaves, in her mouth”. Noah stayed in the ark yet another seven days, sent forth the dove again, which did not return.
The scripture continues: “Therefore in the six hundredth and first year [Noah was 600 years old at the beginning of the Flood – Genesis 7:6), the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were lessened upon the earth, and Noah, opening the covering of the ark, looked, and saw that the face of the earth was dried. In the second month, the seven and twentieth day of the month, the earth was dried. And God spoke to Noah, saying: Go out of the ark, thou and thy wife, they sons, and the wives of thy sons with thee. All living things that are with thee of all flesh, as well in fowls as in beasts, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, bring out with thee, and go ye upon the earth; increase and multiply upon it.” And, finally, Noah built an “altar unto the Lord”, “offered holocausts upon the altar”, and God established His “rainbow covenant” with man by which He promised never again to destroy all life on earth with water.
What is often overlooked in the account of the Flood and its aftermath is Chapter 10 of Genesis, which in its entirety is devoted to enumerating the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of Noah (all 71 of them), and the specific nations and areas of the world which they and their descendents re-populated. The final two sentences of this chapter read: “These are the families of Noe, according to their peoples and nations. By these were the nations divided on the earth after the flood.”
One of the more interesting facts revealed in all of this chronology is that Abraham was 58 years old when Noah (who lived for 950 years) died. It is tempting to consider the possibility that, in God’s providence, these two men of God might have exchanged a glass of wine and discussed what God might do next in order to try and straighten out sinful man (Abraham would not receive God’s calling for another 17 years, when he was 75). Such might be the stuff of imagination, but the very fact that it is conceivable illustrates the profound finitude and “personality” of time in God’s dealings with man and all of creation.
Let us address a young child:
Grandpa (or Great Grandpa) is 80 years old. That may seem a long time to you, but it is not really a very long time for Grandpa. Your life will seem much shorter as you grow older.
There are 25 (we might lay out 25 eggs as illustration) of Grandpa’s life going back to the time when Christ walked this earth. If we then use an apple to show the time of Christ until you were born, there are less than two apples, before Christ, back to the creation of Adam and the world.
I quote Pope Leo again: “It follows that those who maintain that an error is possible in any genuine passage of the sacred writings either pervert the Catholic notion of inspiration or make God the author of such error.”To claim that God would provide all this erroneous data in order to create some sort of metaphor or allegory is preposterous. This is either historical truth, or God has erred.
If God has not erred, then man has not evolved. The choice is simple for any Catholic.
We are now left with the Old Testament account of Creation itself. It is presented to us as occurring over a period of six days; the seventh day, God “rested” (the notion that God “rested”, obviously being a classic use of metaphor in Holy Scripture).
In his excellent work, The Doctrine of Genesis 1-11, Fr. Victor Warkulwiz, M.S.S., offers the following conclusions regarding the teaching of the Fathers of the Church in regard to the Six Day Creation account: “None of them professed belief that God took eons of time to create the world”, and “The great majority of the Fathers of the Church believed that God created the world in six natural days.” (p. 164). He offers the following examples of their thought on this matter:
From St. Ephrem the Syrian, he quotes the following passages:
“So, let no one think that there is anything allegorical in the works of the six days. No one can rightly say that the things pertaining to these days were symbolic, nor can anyone say that they were meaningless names or that things were symbolized for us by their names.”
“Although both the light and the clouds were created in the twinkling of an eye, still both the day and night of the First Day continued for twelve hours each.”
“Although the grasses were only a moment old at their creation, they appeared as if they were months old. Likewise, the trees, although only a day old when they sprouted forth, were nevertheless like trees years old as they were fully grown and fruits were already budding on their branches. The grass that would be required as food for the animals two days later was thus made ready. And the new corn that would be food for Adam and his descendants, who would be thrown out of paradise four days later, was thus prepared.”
”There was evening and morning.” This means the space of a day and a night….”And there was evening and morning, one day.” Why did he say “one” and not “first”? [note: this is how it is erroneously translated in the New American Bible]….He said “one” because he was defining the measure of a day and night and combining the time of a night and a day, since the twenty-four hours fill up the interval of one day, if, of course, night is understood with day.”
“In notable fashion has Scripture spoken of a “day”, not the “first day”. Because a second, then a third, day, and finally the remaining days were to follow, a “first day” could have been mentioned, following in this way the natural order. But scripture established a law that twenty-four hours, including both day and night, should be given the name of day only, as if one were to say the length of one day is twenty-four hours in extent.”
Fr. Warkulwiz then proceeds to state that St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great also believed that God created the world successively in six natural days.
The one exception to this almost universal view held by the Church Fathers that the world was created in six simultaneous days was St. Augustine. St. Augustine believed that all things were created “simultaneously” on the first day, but that plants and animals were created in “seed” form (what he called rationes seminales – “rational seeds”), to be distinguished later. St. Thomas held a similar view, but was very careful to note that both his and St. Augustine’s view on this matter differed from the rest of the Church Fathers, and that it was only his personal opinion. It should also be carefully noted that the rationes seminales of Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas have nothing to do with evolution, and are diametrically opposed to it. Whatever “rational seeds” may be, they already are in possession of the substantial form of a particular “kind” of thing. In the teaching of St. Thomas, there can be no change of one “kind” of substance into another. The appearance of a new “kind” requires the corruption of the substantial form or essence of the former “kind” (in the case of living thing this entails its death). This absolutely negates the “evolution” of one substance into another, and entails that no living species could undergo any sort of mutation which would generate a different “kind”.
There is, in other words, no way in which Thomas can be used to endorse evolutionary theory. The “rational seeds” of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, if they could be said to exist, are just that – “rational”. They speak of the fact that all the “kinds” of both living and non-living thing are intelligently created, and have a created, intelligible “form” that makes them what they are. There is no intelligence in material causation itself, and there can therefore be no creation of new kinds through such material causation in itself. It is interesting that in Chapter One of Genesis the word, “kind” or “kinds” is used nine times in order to emphasize this fact. God’s Ways are not indefinite, interminable, or evolutionary. All the Church Fathers, being wise, and at the same time being the spiritual children of a Personal God, understood this.
As I have pointed out, it is in the very nature of evolutionary theory that in order for it to win over the human mind, interminable lengths of Time, with its consequent principle of Endless Becoming, must claim victory in our minds over substantial being, essence, and nature. In Thomistic metaphysics, time is one of the nine accidens of being. It exists only as a reality by inhering in substance. To “free” time from this inhering in something substantial – something with an inviolable nature – to make it interminable, vast beyond human comprehension, and something to which substantial being is subject for its very essence and fulfillment, amounts to a destruction of being. In regard to human substantiality – the nature of a human being – this entails the disintegration of human integrity and personality. The human mind and heart become “lost in time”, like an astronaut whose tether- line to his ship has been cut, and who now floats further and further away from any contact with what is real.
Pope Francis and Time:
Those who have read Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium may have been puzzled by the following paragraph #222, under the rather strange sub-heading, Time is Greater than Space:
“A constant tension exists between fullness and limitation. Fullness evokes the desire for complete possession, while limitation is a wall set before us. Broadly speaking, “time” has to do with fullness as an expression of the horizon which constantly opens before us, while each individual moment has to do with limitation as an expression of enclosure. People live poised between each individual moment and the greater, brighter horizon of the utopian future as the final cause which draws us to itself. Here we see a first principle for progress in building a people: time is greater than space.”
On the contrary, the Catholic Faith is not established upon a “horizon which constantly opens before us”, but upon what is within us now:
“Neither shall they say: Behold here, or behold there. For lo, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
It has nothing to do with a utopian future, but with the “now” of our response to God’s grace and truth:
“And we helping do exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain….Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:1-2).
It is this now which has been the crucial and saving moment for each individual soul from the creation of Adam down to the last man. It is this now which has been the source of all that is good in human history; for it is here that God’ Rule is either accepted or rejected, this in turn determining whether true love, peace, justice, compassion, and mercy are either accepted or rejected in societies and nations.
Pope Francis indeed seems to make “time” the very source of revelation and salvation. In his interview with Anthony Spadaro, he said the following:
“God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes. We must initiate processes, rather than occupy spaces.”
Space, for Pope Francis, is simply a euphemism for what we are in possession of now – in other words, what we traditional Catholics believe to be the fullness of God’s Immutable Revelation, Rules, Dogma, the Infallible Magisterium, and the reality that we each possess a substantial human nature and soul, requiring the same fundamental choice now as was true of the first man. Time is proposed as being greater than Space because “becoming” is more real than the Revealed Truths of God which image the fullness of that Being. It is therefore quite easy to see why, in the mind of Pope Francis, a bogus mercy trumps immutable dogma – why the divorced and remarried may receive Holy Communion, why we must be “inclusive” towards practicing homosexuals (who must certainly also be admitted to Sacramental Communion if such a “mercy” holds true), and why, in fact, we must be inclusive towards everyone (except the Mafia, and possibly Traditionalists). It is the Journey into the future which is everything. There can be no Now which demands conversion to any Absolutes, and such conversion cannot be a requisite for being included within the sacramental and supernatural life of Christ’s Mystical Body.
If Time triumphs over what we possess Now then we float, untethered, until the life of God’s Revelation is left behind. The world has for some time rejected all Absolutes, and prostrated itself before the goddesses of scientific change and progress. This world, of which Satan is the Prince, now has a friend within the Church in the person of Pope Francis.
That Which Overcomes Science:
Possibly the most debilitating error of our time is the belief that, in the face of all the assaults of modern science and technology, we must prove our faith (very often to ourselves) by using science itself.
The past 50-100 years have seen a great many such efforts, mostly unsuccessful. We see this reality in the tragic struggle to end abortion – all those baby-models, employment of the science of genetics, ultra-sounds, etc. Despite all of this effective use of science, we plummet more deeply every day into the culture of death.
We see it in the attempts to use every form of the media to counteract the secularist agenda of those who were, in reality, the creators of Modern Media. Pope Pius XII, who was called the “Science Pope”, had great hopes for us in this contest (see his encyclical Miranda Prorsus –On the Communication Fields: Movies, Television, and Radio). His writings on this subject now seem redolent with naivety. The Mass Media is almost entirely in the hands of the Enemy.
And, of course, we see it in “Creation Science” – the effort to overcome the grip of evolutionary thinking upon the minds and hearts of modern men by using science itself. There are some (at least in America) who think that they make some progress in this direction, but this optimism is delusional. All statistics reveal a rapidly growing secularism – the rejection of God’s Rule – which runs on the rails of evolutionary thinking.
Everything in our cultures gives testimony to the fact that Modern Science and technology are much more effective weapons in the hands of Satan than they are, or ever will be, in ours.
The question then becomes: do we possess some other weapon which is more powerful than Science?
St. John provides a very definite answer to this question:
“For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world: and this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:4).
The problem is that, for centuries now, our faith has not been overcoming the world, but rather the opposite: the world, and especially the world of science, has been overcoming and destroying the faith of Catholics. We are therefore faced with drawing one of two conclusions: either God and His Word are wrong, and faith is really just a powder-puff in the face of the weapons of science; or, somehow an awful lot of people who claim to possess the faith, are in reality profoundly depreciated in their faith, or at least the full virility of that faith. Something therefore must be awfully wrong in their understanding and living of the grace of faith itself.
Vatican I defines faith as follows:
“Man being wholly dependent upon God, as upon his Creator and Lord, and created reason being absolutely subject to uncreated truth, we are bound to yield to God, by faith in His revelation, the full obedience of our intelligence and will. And the Catholic Church teaches that this faith, which is the beginning of man’s salvation, is a supernatural virtue, whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the things which He has revealed are true; not because the intrinsic truth of the things is plainly perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, Who reveals them, and Who can neither be deceived nor deceive. For faith, as the Apostle testifies, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” (Heb 11: 1).
Faith is a grace by which and through which we believe in things that “appear not”. It is, in itself, the “substance” and “evidence” for these things. The direct object of this faith is God’s Revelation. The immediate effect of our receiving and accepting this gift is the movement of our wills which causes our mind to surrender to these truths, not on basis of any evidence provided by our use of “the natural light of reason”, but on the authority of God Who is our Father. Faith, in other words, is the supreme expression of spiritual childhood.
Faith is weakened through a myriad of subtle devices by which we subject our child-like faith in God’s Revelation to conditional verification by the world and ourselves. It is certainly legitimate to fully assent to God’s Revelation, and then use every natural means at our disposal to support Revealed Truth. Such, for instance, is the role of philosophy as the “handmaid of theology”. But it is also true that it is very easy for us to begin to weaken and detract from this supernatural grace of faith by subtly beginning to make it conditional upon verification by “the natural light of reason” in one form or another, and especially in relation to science. Here, faith is profoundly weakened. Thus begins that slippery slope which eventually slides down into the darkness of disbelief.
This process – by which Catholic faith “gently” slides into disbelief – is most evident in regard to the rejection of the Book of Genesis as God’s Revelation, especially by members of the Catholic hierarchy. It reaches its apex in the theology of Joseph Ratzinger.
Joseph Ratzinger: The Man Who Destroyed Genesis:
“Being is time; it does not merely have time. Only in becoming does it exist and unfold into itself.”
The above quote is from the chapter titled “Creation” in Joseph Ratzinger’s book Credo For Today. The reader will note that it expresses the same, profoundly evolutionary metaphysical-theological orientation as that of Pope Francis.
It is one thing to recognize that human life involves potentiality and change. It is altogether another thing to equate being with time, and to declare that being itself is identifiable with becoming and “unfolding into itself” (this latter phrase is redolent with Teilhardian pantheism).
I have never read anything in which Pope Francis directly addresses the subject of evolution – his thinking is simply saturated with its implications: his belief in evolution would seem fully “natural” to him and therefore not in need of justification or explanation. But in order for victory of evolutionary thinking to have triumphed over the Catholic hierarchy, the theological and metaphysical field” of battle had first to be won to its service. The primary architect of this intellectual victory was Joseph Ratzinger.
I have dealt with Joseph Ratzinger’s evolutionary views in a number of articles (most noteworthy in The Quintessential Evolutionist), but I believe it necessary here to draw together all these strains of his evolutionary thought as they relate to the first three chapters of Genesis. If docility in receiving God’s Revelation in its entirety is reserved to the faith of God’s “little children”, we need a clear and complete understanding of what is entailed by becoming “old” in the faith to the point where we become like the man in St. James’ Epistle who after having once truly seen himself in a mirror, “went his own way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.” And even if this man is a Pope, we need to pray for him not just as one who suffers persecution from without, but as one who suffers and is deluded from within. And, most significantly, we need to expose and do battle with those forces, ideas, philosophies, theologies, and sciences which have imprisoned him in this delusion. If we dare not to do this, we will never reach down to the root of what is wrong with the Church in order to effect the necessary cure.
It is first necessary to understand that Joseph Ratzinger places himself in direct opposition to the decisions of the Pontifical Biblical Commission under Pope Pius X. In his presentation of the CDF document on The Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian (1990), Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:
“The text also presents the various forms of binding authority which correspond to the grades of the Magisterium. It states – perhaps for the first time with such candor – that there are magisterial decisions which cannot be the final word on a given matter as such but, despite the permanent value of their principles, are chiefly also a signal for pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional policy. Their kernel remains valid, but the particulars determined by circumstances can stand in need of correction. In this connection, one will probably call to mind both the pontifical statements of the last century regarding freedom of religion and the anti-Modernist decisions of the beginning of this century, especially the decisions of the then Biblical Commission….with respect to particular aspects of their content, they were superseded after having fulfilled their pastoral function in the situation of the time.” (The Nature and Mission of Theology, p.106).
This reduction of the decisions of the PBC under Pius X to being “provisional” would of course include Pius X’s condemnation of any efforts to detract from the true historicity of Genesis, and it would therefore also extend to Pope Leo XIII’s teaching on this subject. It would indeed seem an extraordinary act of hubris on Cardinal Ratzinger’s part to make such teachings regarding the very truth of scripture to be “provisional”. However, such would appear to be the necessary foundation for justifying what Joseph Ratzinger had been doing all of his priestly life – destroying the historical veracity of Genesis. This was perceived as a necessity in the face of what he saw as the absolute certainty of the reality of man’s evolution. Thus, the following from his essay Creation: Belief in Creation and the Theory of Evolution (published in his 2006 work Credo for Today: What Christians Believe, and taken from his 1972 work Dogma and Verkündung:
“…the pre-Darwinian idea of the invariability of the species had been justified in terms of the idea of creation [and, of course, by taking the Bible seriously as Revelation]; it regarded every individual species as a datum of creation that had existed since the beginning of the world through God’s creative work as something unique and different alongside the other species. It is clear that this form of belief in creation contradicts the idea of evolution and that this expression of the faith has become untenable today.”(p. 34)
“We have established that the first aspect, that is, the concrete form which the idea of creation had taken in practice, has been abolished by the idea of evolution; here the believer must allow himself to be taught by science that the way in which he had imagined creation was part of a pre-scientific world view that has become untenable.”(p.36).
We see here, as stated succinctly by Joseph Ratzinger, the necessity of submitting Revelation to the judgment of science. Pope Pius X, in Pascendi Dominici Gregis (On the Doctrine of the Modernists) makes such subjection of the Faith to science as being a primary tenet of Modernism, and then draws the following conclusion concerning this Modernist perversion:
“The Modernists completely invert the parts, and of them may be applied the words which another of Our predecessors Gregory IX, addressed to some theologians of his time: “Some among you, puffed up like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the meaning of the sacred text…to the philosophical teaching of the rationalists, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science…these men, led away by various and strange doctrines, turn the head into the tail and force the queen to serve the handmaid.” (#17
Joseph Ratzinger’s surrender to evolutionary theory not only necessitated the inversion of the proper relationship between faith and science, but also, as a necessary consequence, totally perverted his understanding of the nature of man as he was created by God. The following is taken from his 1970 work, Faith and the Future:
“The difficulty begins with the very first page of the Bible. The concept presented there of how the world came to be, is in direct contradiction of all that we know today about the origins of the universe….And the problem continues, almost page by page….in the very next chapter new problems emerge with the story of the Fall. How can one bring this into harmony with the knowledge that – on the evidence of natural science – man starts not from above, but from below, does not fall, but slowly rises, even now having only just accomplished the metamorphosis from animal to human being? And what of paradise? Long before man existed, pain and death were in the world. Thistles and thorns grew long before any man had set eyes on them. And another thing: the first man was scarcely self-conscious, knew only privation and the wearisome struggle to survive. He was far from possessing the full endowment of reason, which the old doctrine of paradise attributes to him. But once the picture of paradise and the Fall has been broken in pieces, the notion of original sin goes with it, to be followed logically, it would seem, by the notion of redemption as well.” (p. 5-7).
Once it is granted that man’s appearance in this world was a work of “gradual ascent” (and this is absolutely the position of Joseph Ratzinger), then it necessarily follows that at whatever stage we decide to designate man as man, he is indeed a primitive thing. This is perfectly expressed in the following passage from Credo for Today (p. 46-47):
“This would then lead to the insight that spirit does not enter the picture as something foreign, as a second substance, in addition to matter: 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….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.”
It should be obvious that the intellect and will of such a “stammering” Adam are not capable of morally responsible actions, and that such an “Adam” is not in possession of original justice and sanctifying grace. Original Sin and the Fall then also become mythological. Thus, in his 1995 book In the Beginning…A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, we encounter the following from Cardinal Ratzinger:
“In the story that we are considering [Ch. 3 of Genesis], still a further characteristic of sin is described. Sin is not spoken of in general as an abstract possibility but as a deed, as the sin of a particular person, Adam, who stands at the origin of humankind and with whom the history of sin begins. The account tells us that sin begets sin, and that therefore all the sins of history are interlinked. Theology refers to this state of affairs by the certainly misleading and imprecise term ‘original sin’. What does this mean? Nothing seems to us today to be stranger or, indeed, more absurd than to insist upon original sin, since, according to our way of thinking, guilt can only be something very personal, and since God does not run a concentration camp, in which one’s relative are imprisoned because he is a liberating God of love, who calls each one by name. What does original sin mean, then, when we interpret it correctly?
Finding an answer to this requires nothing less than trying to understand the human person better. It must once again be stressed that no human being is closed in upon himself or herself and that no one can live of or for himself or herself alone. We receive our life not only at the moment of birth but every day from without – from others who are not ourselves but who nonetheless somehow pertain to us. Human beings have their selves not only in themselves but also outside of themselves: they live in those whom they love and in those who love them and to whom they are ‘present.’ Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives – themselves – only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself. To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for. But sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship, then this event – sin – touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it. To the extent that this is true, when the network of human relationships is damaged from the very beginning, then every human being enters into a world that is marked by relational damage. At the very moment that a person begins human existence, which is a good, he or she is confronted by a sin- damaged world. Each of us enters into a situation in which relationality has been hurt. Consequently each person is, from the very start, damaged in relationships and does not engage in them as he or she ought. Sin pursues the human being, and he or she capitulates to it. (P. 71-73).”
What Joseph Ratzinger denies here, of course, is the Catholic concept of Original Sin as something which resulted in the Fall of man’s nature away from God’s grace, and the transmission of this fallen nature through generation. He in fact ridicules this concept by comparing it to a God Who is the Commandant of a concentration camp punishing people for the deeds of their relatives. This is an extraordinary act of hubris on his part in the face not only of the manifold witness of God’s Revelation in Holy Scripture, but also defined Catholic Dogma.
The long paragraph, quoted above, which follows Joseph Ratzinger’s rejection of the traditional explanation of original sin, is simply a way of “essentalizing” this doctrine in order to make it accord with man’s evolutionary beginnings, and the progression of his original primitive nature down through time.
The other-half of this subject is, of course, Joseph Ratzinger’s view of ultimate redemption. This I have covered in detail in my article A Living Host: Liturgy, and the Dynamics of Cosmic Evolution in the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Teilhard de Chardin. It involves the virtual total submission of the mind of Joseph Ratzinger to the bogus evolutionary-cosmological mysticism of Teilhard de Chardin. It begins with matter as the “pre-history of spirit”, sees spirit evolving through the “complexification” of matter, and this complexification further evolving towards a unity which reaches the Omega point of perfection which is Christ. I strongly recommend reading of the above-mentioned article for a proper understanding of the depths of Joseph Ratzinger’s evolutionary thinking.
Little Children and the Holy Father
One of the most difficult tasks for any parent is the task of teaching their children about the reality of sin and evil. We naturally want to shelter them, and thus we also tend to delay, or even omit, this teaching, especially when it concerns anything that has to do with the Church and its history. This is especially true in regard to our Popes. When such overly-protected children, formed in a “sanitized” education concerning the Church, mature, they are bound to encounter truths concerning Church history, the Popes, and even lives of the Saints which may cause deep crises in their faith. This is not at all necessary. Nor is it productive of true Catholic charity.
Just as children, rightly taught and formed, quite quickly become aware of their own sinfulness and limitations, so they can be taught that all the members of the Church are like themselves – a mixture of light and darkness, goodness and sinfulness, and always in need of conversion and prayer from others. Such also is the entire history of the Church, which is both profoundly divine and deeply human – the latter sometimes even to the point of great wickedness. What is needed to prevent such crises in the lives of our children is that, on the one hand, they be deeply formed from the beginning about all the Beauty, Goodness, and Truth of God and His Church, but also quite early become gradually admitted to knowledge of the reality of sin and ignorance within the Body of Christ. They must be awakened to the fact that they are involved in a great contest in which, by the grace of God, they have been called to wage spiritual warfare in both love and truth.
We have the extraordinary example of Fatima. During the Apparition of July 13, 1917, Our Lady showed the three Fatima children a vision of Hell. The following is Lucia’s description of that vision:
“We could see a vast sea of fire. Plunged in the flames were demons and lost souls, as if they were red-hot coals, transparent and black or bronze-coloured, in human form, which floated about in the conflagration, borne by the flames which issued from them, with clouds of smoke falling on all sides as sparks fall in a great conflagration without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of sorrow and despair that horrified us and caused us to tremble with fear. The devils could be distinguished by horrible and loathsome forms of animals, frightful and unknown, but transparent like black coals that have turned red-hot.”
Little Jacinta was only six years old when she received this vision. This does not at all mean that other children of her age should be fed such graphic images and details, but it certainly does indicate the fact that children must be taught something about sin and evil at an early age in order to pray and love rightly. Equally important, they must quickly come to understand that they have a very important role to play in overcoming sin in both the Church and the world.
It is during this same Apparition that the children were also told that “the Holy Father will have much to suffer”. Interestingly enough, it was little Jacinta who then appeared to become obsessed with praying for the Holy Father and his sufferings. It has been my contention for quite some time that the sufferings of the Pope prophesied by Our Lady, while certainly involving persecutions from without, primarily refer to sufferings stemming from within – to a “diabolical disorientation’” which has deeply affected the minds and hearts of recent Popes.
It is not necessary that we be overly specific with our young children as to why they must pray for the Pope, any more than we are specific in our admonitions to them that they must practice purity in their own lives. We might begin with the youngest by simply explaining that, like all men, the Holy Father is subject to confusion and to not thinking and acting as Christ would want him to think and act. Like Jacinta, they must therefore pray a great deal for him. A time will come later when more specific details become appropriate and beneficial.
If it is the faith of spiritual childhood that “overcometh the world”, we might consider that it would be of great merit before God that a world-wide prayer crusade of little children be instituted with something like the following intention: “For Our Holy Father, that he might not think and act like the world, and that he might do what is right to protect the Holy Sacrament of Marriage”. Imagine the effect on Pope Francis’ mind and heart if, instead of hundreds of thousands of letters and petitions from adults, he were to every day receive photographs of little children, in the shelter of their family, on their knees and praying the rosary for this intention. It would certainly be very difficult for him to show these pictures to the world and dismiss these children as Pharisaical, “Self-Absorbed, Promethian, Neopelagians”.
Let us not shelter our children from that battle for souls which is the substance of our love for one another in Christ. Let us not deprive ourselves of the merits of their faith, for of such is the Kingdom of God, and the hope of the world.