We Shouldn't Have Burned Galileo at the Stake for Teaching Evolution
The Bear thinks he may have mentioned the bestseller Darwin's Doubt and how it makes a compelling case against Darwinism. Darwin's Doubt is a fascinating book about paleontology, full of the wonder that science used to evoke, before it was just another stick to beat religion. Then there's the new kid on the block, epigenetics -- the passing on of traits by mechanisms other than DNA. You can forget the Copernican Principle after you read Privileged Planet. We may not be in the center of the universe, but there sure seem to be a lot of coincidences for us to be anywhere at all. The Big Bang is just the beginning of the story. The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Soul (and the more introductory Brain Wars by one of the same authors) land some solid blows against reductionist neuroscience.
The point is, the Catholic Church doesn't need to have an inferiority complex over science, if you look beyond the bogus Scientists Say articles. Yet it does. Why?
As everyone knows, the Church burnt Galileo at the stake because he claimed man descended from monkeys. This was a PR blunder that will likely last until we're all dead from global warming. Just like exterminating Islam in the Crusades, and helping Hitler round up Jews in WWII.
But, if we abase ourselves enough, perhaps everyone won't drag out poor old Galileo's charred bones to rattle at us.*
The Church has imbibed the Western poison of needing to be liked by everyone. Pathetic is the only word for it.
She Blinded Me With Science
You won't have read it in the news, but the jury is still out on Darwinism.** (Too many new little critters in too short a time, see Cambrian explosion, and that's just one problem.)
Thousands of very smart guys are beavering away in front of blackboards whose size is measured by the acre, doing their best to gnaw away at the Big Bang. They'll prop up String Theory, the Multiverse, or some other gimcrack, flavor-of-the-month idea; anything rather than that horrible Genesis 1:1 Big Bang. Yet the Big Bang still echoes.
Neuroscientists are parroting Gertrude Stein's comment that "there's no there there." Only they're saying there's no "you" to have a "you," and that consciousness and free will (not to mention the soul) are illusions. But there's a reason it's called "the hard problem of consciousness:" nobody has come close to solving it.
- science is more uncertain in many areas than we are led to believe
- Darwinism faces seemingly insurmountable challenges from paleontology and genetics
- the Big Bang may be the front runner among origin theories, but is not an article of faith
- there is evidence to suggest that the brain may mediate, not originate consciousness, and that consciousness may be non-local (wow)
- while Catholics have nothing to worry about from real science, unproven theories are being used as a beat stick against religion
The Bear thinks it is dangerous to link faith to any current scientific theory (e.g. Big Bang), lest they both be some day shipwrecked on the same rock. It is good, however, to educate yourself beyond the pop-science articles if your faith is troubled by our new secular religion of aggressive scientism. No matter what impression they want to create, science is not our enemy.
But that does not mean that miracles are, either.
What Does the Pope Mean? (Again)
After saying God is not a "magician," the Pope said: “evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
What does the Pope mean by "demiurge" as in "God is not" one (translated "a divine being" in English, which is bad enough)? Are the Gnostics a threat? Here's a good example of one of those Bergoglioisms that are just odd.
And what about God not being a magician who waves a magic wand and accomplishes things instantly? [Cue superior chuckles.] The Bear can't even guess, but it seems to be some sort of humorous contrast between clever people and the simple and superstitious. Are we supposed to drop a knowing chuckle at the idea of Jesus instantly changing the water into wine, too?
What does he mean by "evolution?" The Bear doesn't know, but he knows what reporters and editors think he means: Adam and Eve is just a myth, and, at best, God is carrying the water for Charles Darwin. They trot out the Aren't-Americans-In-Flyover-Country-Stupid poll showing 42% of us don't believe in evolution. Jolly good, Pope Francis! First homosexuality, now evolution! Once again we find you're one of us!
Does the Pope Believe in Adam and Eve?
Now, you wouldn't know it from the Pope, but it is at least theologically certain (to use the official term for those teachings near the top of the hierarchy of teachings) that two unique human beings, Adam and Eve, existed in time and place, and their transgression is the source of original sin. That means it is the teaching of the Church, should be believed, and is not subject to dispute. The proposition itself is not de fide (the very highest must-believe) but original sin is, and is hard to explain without an Adam.
Furthermore, the media cannot contain their joy over Pope Pius XII's provisional, non-absolute-rejection-in-principle mention of evolution in Humani Generis. (Finally, the press likes Pope Pius XII. Maybe he'll benefit from the Francis Effect as The Evolution Pope and finally be canonized.) First came the breathless, Francis Changes Church's Teaching on Evolution, followed by stories headlined: Shrug: Church Has Always Believed In Evolution. Both were equally ignorant.
Pius XII's 1950 encyclical could hardly be more cautious, and it reaffirmed the literal existence of Adam and Eve, from whom all humans have their beginning, while rejecting polygenism (human race came from many parents). To suggest that the Church "has always taught evolution" could not be more misleading. To the extent the Pope's statement suggests we "have outgrown" belief in Adam and Eve, it is flat wrong.
What does Pope Francis believe? Who cares as long as the press is eating it up! The Bear's most hopeful guess is he thinks God contrived to create the universe in an instant (Big Bang), very much like a magician with a magic wand. Then God twiddled his thumbs for several billion years because making a man (something even the Bear and his missus accomplished at regular intervals sometimes two at a time when we wished to show off) was beyond his "magic."
The main thing is that people like Pope Francis, and believe him to be a forward thinker very much like the reporters who write about him. His halo effect seems to best illuminate Pope Francis, though, rather than accomplish anything for the Church.
The Real Story
The Church formed an intellectual climate that fostered inquiry. Islam is said to have invented algebra in a spasm of uncharacteristic curiosity, but it was the Church that gave the scientific edge to the West. The occasional scientist or thinker, like Galileo, may have run into trouble, but, a little diplomacy could have saved Galileo a lot of trouble. We don't need to put the prestige of the Church behind paradigms that may not last the next generation. We certainly don't need to mislead people by omission about what the Church believes.
The Bear used to have issues with Adam and Eve. But if you're going to accept the Big Bang, everything else seems easy. God may not be a magician, but he is God, and can do things quickly as easily as he can do things slowly. We as Catholics hope that the Divine Magician will repeat his creation of Adam and Eve trick billions of times at the resurrection. The Bear doesn't know for sure, but has failed to be convinced by Darwinism. If some other mechanism, such as epigenetics, satisfies his questions, then, great. It's just not that important to him. What is important is that:
- Adam and Eve's existence and Original Sin is taught by the Church
- As a loyal son of the Church, he gives his assent, but doesn't think about it much
- The Pope should not deliberately mislead people about what the Church teaches
This is a Pope Francis story we are familiar with now. Some ambiguous comment wins the adulation of the press, and causes confusion to Catholics. From now on, let's call it The Franciscan Feint._________________
*As the Bear is sure his readers know, the Galileo controversy was a bit more complicated than most people think, and had nothing to do with evolution, nor was he burned at the stake. The Crusades were an episode in a long, long series of defensive wars against a militant Islam, and the Church did more to help Jews in WWII than any agency in the world, especially Pope Pius XII.
**Darwinism here means change from one type of animal to another by the mechanism of blind chance. It's what secular media mean by "evolution." It fails to explain the "Cambrian explosion," the fossil record, "specified complexity" and other problems with Darwin's theory.