• Strange Notions Strange Notions Strange Notions

What the Media Got Wrong about Pope Francis and Evolution

Pope Francis

Have you heard about Pope Francis’ recent comments about God, evolution, and Creation? If so, chances are you’ve heard wrong.

Here are four things you should know:
 

1. Pope Francis is Not an Atheist

Amazingly, the popular news site Independent Journal Review (IJ Review) ran — and as of this writing, is still running — the following headline:

Image1

“God is not a Divine Being”? We’re supposed to believe that the pope got up, denied that God was actually God, and that everything just went on as business as usual?

Obviously, this story is false. It’s the result of two things: bad translating, and atrocious journalism. What Pope Francis actually said that God wasn’t a “demiurge,” the pagan idea of a “god” who forms the world out of chaos. [The IJReview article relied upon an earlier Raw Story piece that originally ran the same bad translation; unlike IJReview, they've since corrected the record.]

In other words, God isn’t like a demiurge, forming the world out of chaotic raw materials. He’s infinitely bigger than that, creating the entire universe ex nihilio, from nothing. This is a ringing endorsement of God’s Deity, not a denial.

Here’s the original comment, in context, which makes it clear he neither said nor meant that God was less than Divine:

"God is not a demiurge or a conjurer, but the Creator who gives being to all things. The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a supreme Origin that creates out of love. The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of Creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve."

Does that sound like a denial of God’s deity? Even if you don’t know what the word “demiurge” — or the Italian word “demiurgo” — means, context and common sense should clue you in that Pope Francis isn’t announcing his newfound atheism in the middle of a speech he’s given in honor of the unveiling of a statue.

Given how absurd the IJReview headline is, you might think, “there’s no way anyone would fall for that.” But you’d be wrong: the IJReview piece currently has over 300,000 views and has been shared on Facebook 45,000 times.
 

2. Pope Benedict XVI Was Not a Fundamentalist Protestant

The IJReview headline was bizarre in how extreme (and obviously wrong) it was. What’s becoming all too routine, in contrast, are the articles breathlessly claiming that Pope Francis is making a radical break with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. There are countless examples of this, including this lede from The Independent (UK):

"Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the “pseudo theories” of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI."

Again, this is culpably ignorant journalism. Benedict has an entire book on the subject of how we should understand Genesis, creation, and evolution, taken from his essays and homilies. Nowhere does he take an opposite view of what Francis is saying here. In fact, he presents the argument for the compatibility of evolution and Creation in an arguably more provocative manner:

"Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called “creationism” and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God.
 
This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favor of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man?"

So Benedict is directly calling out the position the Independent accuses him of holding, calling it absurd. (Of course, the Independent doesn’t actually back up its claims about Benedict’s views; rather than referring to his countless public statements on Creation and evolution, they rely on nebulous and unnamed “experts,” “some” of whom claim this about him).

So Francis’ comments are anything but a radical break from Benedict XVI’s views on this matter. Again, an ounce of common sense should have clued reporters to this: Francis is giving these comments at the unveiling of a Benedict XVI bust at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. And they think that he’s going to choose this time and place to attack Benedict’s views on faith and science?

But the issue is broader than the opinions of Benedict and Francis. John Paul II said much the same thing on evolution, as have basically every pope since Pope Pius XII. It was Pius who issued the 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, explaining what Catholics could and couldn’t believe about our human origins (as the encyclical’s Latin title suggests). In that encyclical, he said,

"the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God."

This is also the position of the Catechism (CCC 283-84). There are certain things that Catholics must hold to, including that (a) God created the universe from nothing; (b) evolution isn’t just random and unguided [as if God created the universe and then abandoned it]; (c) the human soul didn’t “evolve,” even if the human body did; and (d) Adam and Eve existed. That leaves a lot of room for Catholics to hold to varying interpretations of Genesis 1-3 and of the scientific data.

So Catholics aren’t required to believe in evolution (contrary to the Independent’s claim that Francis “declared” evolution true), but they’re free to, as long as they also hold to the truths of the faith.
 

3. The Secular Media Isn’t a Reliable Source for Catholic News

To recap, Pope Francis is just reiterating the basic Catholic position on both God and evolution. This is a total non-story, other than media distortions that amount to out-and-out falsehoods. So why do stories like this exist? Here’s one possible clue:

Image2

Sometimes, fallacious and misleading news stories are based on innocent mistakes. Other times, they’re motivated by an ideological agenda (and certainly, the media has not been shy about trying to claim Francis as a liberal, and pitting him against Benedict and the entire pre-2013 Catholic Church). But it’s broader than that. The Independent is liberal, IJReview is conservative. But both are (a) more concerned about getting clicks than the truth, and (b) clueless on religion. Seriously, if you rely on secular news sources to get religious news (especially Catholic news) correct, you’re bound to get misled.
 

4. A Bonus...

The guy most scientists credit with formulating the Big Bang Theory? A Catholic priest.
 
 
Originally posted at ChurchPOP!. Used with permission.
(Image credit: CBS News)

Joe Heschmeyer

Written by

Until May 2012, Joe Heschmeyer was an attorney in Washington, D.C., specializing in litigation. These days, he is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, and can use all the prayers he can get. Follow Joe through his blog, Shameless Popery or contact him at joseph.heschmeyer@gmail.com.

Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.

  • Reuben Andrew Herrle

    Let's share THIS article on fb over 48,000 times!

  • Vicq Ruiz

    Joe:

    Let's take six things recorded in the Bible.

    (1) the creation of the earth before the sun and stars.
    (2) Eve's creation from a body part extracted from Adam
    (3) the great flood, with the highest point on earth under several meters of water, and every air-breathing creature killed except those riding in the ark
    (4) the destruction of the tower of Babel, and instantaneous creation of multiple languages
    (5) God's command to Israel to exterminate the Canaanites
    (6) Jesus' bodily resurrection from the tomb

    For which of these six does the biblical narrative accurately describe the historical facts?

    • Jim (hillclimber)

      If by, "accurately describe the historical facts", you mean, "describe the historical facts according to modern standards of writing history", then the answer is clearly: none of them.

      If by, "accurately describe the historical facts", you mean, "describe what happened without recourse to any figurative language", the answer, to my understanding, is still: none of them.

      If by, "accurately describe the historical facts", you mean, "the literary event corresponds to a real historical event, and the human experience of that historical event is accurately conveyed by the Biblical account", then I would vote for at least (6).

      • Mike O’Leary

        The problem with saying that a certain piece of scripture is figurative as opposed to literal is that it has to work in a figurative sense. Let's take Vicq Ruiz's first item where the Bible says the Earth was created before the sun and stars (as well as the moon). If we take the idea that their creation wasn't instantaneous and instead symbolizes the cosmological events that occurred some time after the Big Bang, we still have a problem.

        The Bible notes how important the order of those items' creation is. The Earth was created on the third day (according to Genesis 1). The sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day. There is no figurative meaning for the ordinals. Third and fourth denote a specified order. The authors of the Bible could have given us a creation story that was accurate in a figurative sense without adding in the very incorrect details about the order.

        To say something is figurative doesn't mean that we can ignore the parts that don't hold up in a figurative sense. It doesn't mean we can handwave the inaccuracies and still call it true in any sense of the word.

        • Mike

          All True Mike. However, I'm not expecting the Genesis account to be a scientific one. All I take away from it is that God is the creator (seen and unseen according to the creed).
          I mean the Bible doesn't mention calculus either, but neither of us expect it to. I don't expect it to be scientific in any meaningful sense.

          • Mike O’Leary

            The catechism says that the Bible teaches without error, although it can use "other forms of literary expression". If the book says God did A then B then C, and someone wants to say that A, B, and C are figurative I'll take it. But it's more than that in this case. Because the order is completely wrong it fails utterly as a literal statement and it fails utterly as a figurative statement. The days are there to explain why the Sabbath exists and does so at the expense of truth and knowledge. It's not just a minor error but an error on the magnitude of billions of years. If the details as to the order of creation was added knowingly then it's a lie on top of it being an error.

            I wouldn't expect a figurative story to include calculus either, but I also wouldn't expect it to focus such attention on such verifiably false details either. Either the catechism is wrong in stating the Bible is without error, or the post Big Bang cosmology is wrong in stating the stars came before the planets and moons.

          • Mike

            Once again you assume that the Bible should be a science book. Science didn't come exist as we understood it until 3500 years after genesis was written. I'm not expecting it to be a scientific account of creation. I think if believers and non-believers stopped treating the Bible as a science book we'd be a lot better off. Science is great, but it's unrealistic to expect that the Bible would be scientific.

          • Mike O’Leary

            The idea of things being in an order isn't science. It's merely the basic definition of a concept we use daily and has been used repeatedly in the Bible (e.g. the first born son versus the second born son). "First" has a distinct meaning, as do "second", "third", and so on. Even when describing things figuratively those words mean something. Those words as used in Genesis 1 are wrong in a scientific application, a figurative application, or an ordinary application. They are wrong.

            We then have to ask what is the bright line that separates a figuratively true tale from one that is false. Does 80% of the tale half to have some figurative undrstanding? Can we get by with 50%? How much do these false portions of the story hinder our understanding of this figurative description of creation?

          • Caravelle

            So you wouldn't say anymore that Evolution confirms the Bible in the "made from dust" thing?

          • Mike

            I don't know, Neil Degrass Tyson reminds humanity that we're made from star dust all the time :)

            I wouldn't see scientific mechanistic details in genesis, merely that God created what we see, that's it that's all.

          • Caravelle

            If Genesis isn't about mechanistic details then it cannot confirm, or be confirmed by, the theory of evolution or any other scientific theory about such mechanistic details. Correct?

          • Mike

            Absolutely. I'm not looking for science to confirm the Biblical account of creation. Such a thing seems absurd to me.

          • Caravelle

            Then no similarity or difference between Genesis and evolutionary history can be evidence for or against Christianity, right?

          • Mike

            Yeah. I just don't see God as a science question, therefore God can't have a science answer. We do our best as scientists to explain the natural world, the mechanistic details specifically. Science changes based on new evidence, whereas if God exists by his/her nature he/she can't change. I think it's foolish to say that Genesis supports our current level of understanding of evolution. I think it's just as foolish to say that any discrepancies deny God. As far as I can see Science is (at it's best) neutral on God. Now some on both sides want to claim science for or against God, but I'm not one. Thoughts?

          • Caravelle

            So you've changed your mind from last week, when Peter argued that Christianity's belief that the world had a beginning even when others thought it was eternal constituted a historical argument for God, and you chimed in with "And evolution where genesis describes us as being created from the dust of the earth"?

          • Mike

            So there are apparently two "Mikes" who post using the same username. I posted more actively 60 months ago or so. Since then there has been a second Mike whose become accustomed to posting here. It's confusing, but I'm too lazy to change my usename. Feel free to click on my name in the upper lefthand corner to see my previous posts. I think I've been consistent.

            I try to be even handed in chastizing both believers and non-believers for trying to make God a science question.

          • Caravelle

            Oh dear ^^ I'm sorry for the confusion and doubting your consistency !

          • Mike

            No Problem. Now that we're talking can I ask what you think about the topic. Am I correct in asserting that science, at it's best, should neither be pro or anti-God, but rather agnostic on the topic?

          • Caravelle

            No, I think that science at its best should follow the evidence wherever it can and draw whatever conclusions are appropriate from that. Whether this involves confirming, disconfirming, or remaining agnostic on God, that's what it should do.

          • Mike

            ok. I think we're actually in agreement, can I clarify what I'm claiming. Is God a science question? God who if he exists is outside space and time. I can't forsee any way for science to probe such a possibility. God would rather be a philisophical inquiry. If God isn't a science question, then God can't have a science answer. Just like science can't say what actions (if any) are moral or immoral. Morality isn't a science question, and therefore can't have a science answer either. The concept of God that the Catholic church professes (ground of being itself, which has been done to death here, so I don't want to revisit it) is not one that is subject to scientific inquiry. Better?

          • Caravelle

            You're talking about "God" as if it were a single well-defined entity, but that's not the case. Some aspects of some conceptions of God are outside of our ability to infer from the evidence; some others aren't. Whatever "ground of being itself" means, it isn't the only thing the Catholic church professes, and everyone has different ideas about what God does or doesn't do. I don't think separating "God" out as something that can't be investigated by science is useful*, or representative of the variety of beliefs people have about God.

            *from an epistemological point of view at least. From a pragmatic or diplomatic one it can be another matter.

        • Jim (hillclimber)

          I was really only staking out a position on how to interpret the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection. I think most of the scholarship suggests that these accounts were intended to be interpreted as accounts of real historical events. My point was that that doesn't rule out the use of figurative language. For example, we read that "the veil was torn" in the moments surrounding the death of Jesus. I have a hard time reading this literally, since I can't imagine that the Jesus fans of the day were privy to anything going on near the Holy of Holies in those moments. Nonetheless, I have no problem saying that it is an accurate account, in figurative language, of what actually happened. In other words, I think that was a historical moment when there was literally no separation between God and man.

          As for Genesis, isn't it at least possible (I'm just speculating a bit, as I really don't know that much about the scholarship around Genesis), that the ordinals refer to ontological primacy, as opposed to chronological order?

          • Mike O’Leary

            I'm not necessarily ruling out figurative language either but when it contains elements that are assuredly false even when used figuratively then it outright fails and can't be claimed as figurative language.

            As far as ontological primacy we have light/darkness, evening/morning/firmament, earth/plants, stars/sun/moon, sea creatures/birds, man/land animals/fruits. Of those light, darkness, and man (or at least his soul) are eternal. The concept is interesting, but why would man have a lower primacy than the moon or fish?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Again, I am speculating without too much knowledge of the scholarship and exegesis around the story (though, on the other hand, maybe I am plagiarizing something that I have learned and nearly forgotten), but it looks to me like the last act of creation was the creation of humans. The creation of plants actually seems not significant enough to appear in the highlight reels. After God has created humans, He calls attention to already-existing plants, but it is more of a "Hey, look over here at this other stuff that I made for you (at some point not really worth mentioning)".

            What comes first is not necessarily the most important. The piece de resistance (sorry, I am too lazy for html diacritics right now) is often understood to come last.

      • Doug Shaver

        If by, "accurately describe the historical facts", you mean, "the literary event corresponds to a real historical event, and the human experience of that historical event is accurately conveyed by the Biblical account", then I would vote for at least (6).

        OK. If I don't believe that the literary events about the resurrection correspond to any real historical event, what mistake do you think I'm making?

        • Jim (hillclimber)

          I don't know. Do you not believe it because you think that the NT authors consciously made it all up? Or do you not believe it because you think they were trying to tell the truth, but they were delusional? Or do you not believe it because you think the accounts were meant to be understood metaphorically, or something like that?

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't believe that the resurrection stories correspond to any real event because (a) I judge the stories, as told, to be prima facie implausible and (b) since I have no idea who the authors were, I have no basis on which to believe that their credibility is such as to overturn my prima facie judgment.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            In that case I don't think that you have made any gross methodological errors. You and I have just come to different judgements as to what is plausible and as to who can be trusted. Perhaps we also imagine the stories as relating somewhat different things.

          • Doug Shaver

            You and I have just come to different judgements as to what is plausible and as to who can be trusted.

            Yes, I have no quarrel with that observation.

    • Mike

      Lets take the first two. You seem to think that the Bible is a science book. The Bible was compiled 1800 years ago, and written between 1900 and 3000 years ago. At best Science as we would currently understand it has existed for 500 years (being generous). Why would any rational person treat the Bible as a science book?

      It's like saying the Psalms are wrong because they aren't Shakespearean sonnets.

      • David Nickol

        Why would any rational person treat the Bible as a science book?

        On the one hand, I know (and largely agree) with all the possible Catholic responses to Vicq Ruiz's implied points. But on the other hand, why would it not have been possible for a book divinely inspired by God to avoid all of the problems we see with the Bible? It seems to me it would not be difficult to rewrite Genesis to make it considerably more compatible with what we know about the origins of the universe and life without making it at all technical or "scientific."

        And certainly it would have been possible for God, inspiring the writers of the Old Testament, to have avoided embarrassments like having it appear he ordered genocide.

        It seems to me Catholics need to outline a better and more detailed theory of divine inspiration than what I am aware of. There seems to be a desire to "have it both ways." Everything in the Old Testament (and the New Testament) is "true," and it must be true, because it is God's word. But on the other hand, it sometimes requires a great deal of very "interpretation" to arrive at what the "real" truth is and avoid taking unpleasant occurrences at face value.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          it would not be difficult to rewrite Genesis to make it considerably more compatible with what we know

          Yeah, but then it would be incompatible with what we know 500 years from now.

          • Caravelle

            http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

            Thousands of years ago we knew the Earth was flat, 500 years ago we knew it was round, then we knew it was an elliptical spheroid... That doesn't mean that 500 years from now we'll know it's a cube. Every scientific revolution, however paradigm-shifting, still needs to explain the same evidence that older theories did.

            Our understanding of the history of the world will surely be very different 500 years from now but it won't negate the basics of what we know now, especially if those basics are described in a very vague way. A bare-bones mythical story that's generally consistent with our current understanding, something like "In the beginning God created the void, and from the void he brought forth the stars of the sky, the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. But the Earth was barren and desolate so God said "let there be life", and life spread across the Earth, becoming the fishes in the sea and all creatures that crawl on land and the birds in the air, and God saw this was good", would still be compatible with our understanding 500 years from now. Unless we discover by then that the Earth is a tetrahedron or something.

          • Lu

            Greek mathematicians determined the earth to not be flat before Christ was born. Educated people have known the earth to not be flat ever since. Columbus knew the earth to be round, he just underestimated the size.

          • Caravelle

            When I said "thousands" I didn't mean specifically "two thousand". And when I said we knew the Earth was round 500 years ago that's exactly what I meant : 500 years ago (Columbus' time btw), we knew the Earth was round. I didn't say anything about when we started knowing that.

          • David Nickol

            Are you saying a divinely inspired writer couldn't have written a timeless creation account? Doesn't that put limitations on God?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Only limitations on human understanding. You seem to have an odd notion of what "inspired" means. It does not mean dictated word-for-word as is claimed of Holy Qur'an; and it doesn't mean inspired on any and every matter beyond the moral. As Fr. Georges Lemaître, the formulator of the Big Bang theory, wrote:

            "The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less - some more than others - on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or as ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors of historic or scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if errors relate to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them.

            The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all."

          • David Nickol

            You seem to have an odd notion of what "inspired" means.

            I think the meaning and interpretation of inspired has changed within Catholicism over many centuries and will no doubt continue to change. One important feature of any current theory of inspiration is that what can be shown to be contradictory or false within scripture is attributable to the human authors, and what cannot is attributable to the Holy Spirit. And over the past several hundred years, a lot more has come to be attributed to the human authors than formerly, and a lot less to the Holy Spirit.

            The divine inspiration of scripture is totally and complete a matter of religious faith. There is no way to prove—or even make a reasonable argument based on citing scripture itself—that any text in the Bible is divinely inspired. And of course while it may be claimed that the Bible is inerrant when dealing with truths necessary for salvation, different Christian denominations differ in exactly what those truths are. This is, of course, why the Catholic Church claims to be the final authority on what the Bible really "says"—because divine inspiration apparently wasn't capable of making a text that could stand on its own.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            I think the meaning and interpretation of inspired has changed within Catholicism over many centuries....

            When and where?

            One important feature of any current theory of inspiration is that what can be shown to be contradictory or false within scripture is attributable to the human authors, and what cannot is attributable to the Holy Spirit.

            How "current" is Augustine of Hippo or the other Fathers of the Church?
            Basically, all of it is due to human authors and
            all of it is inspired. But "inspired" doesn't mean that anything involving mundane matters is necessarily accurate.

            You seem to think that the Orthodox and the Catholics find their Faith in the Bible, when in fact they found their Bible in the Faith. The Orthodox state that they are founded on the Holy Traditions; the Catholics state that they base their faith on "the Bible and Tradition". But since the books of the Bible are part of the Traditions, that's just saying the same thing.

            There is no way to prove—or even make a reasonable argument based on citing scripture itself—that any text in the Bible is divinely inspired.

            That's why it's so weird when folks like yourself try to make a big deal about it.

            Christian denominations differ in exactly what those truths are.

            So, Bill and Ted's Excellent Bible Shack ginned up their own sect last Thursday by breaking away from a two thousand year consensus. Why is this a big deal?

            This is, of course, why the Catholic Church claims to be the final authority on what the Bible really "says"

            No, she claims to be the repository of faith "handed down from the apostles." She is not a sola scriptura-style Protestant sect.

            —because divine inspiration apparently
            wasn't capable of making a text that could stand on its own.

            You still seem to think that the faith is hidden in the text and the Bible must be decoded like some sort of DaVinci Code.

          • David Nickol

            You seem to have an odd notion of what "inspired" means.

            It is axiomatic that anyone who doubts Catholic teaching has misunderstood it. :P

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            That does seem to be often the case. Why do you constantly overlook the Orthodox?

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't have any notion of my own what "inspired" means. I leave it to the people who believe that the Bible is inspired to tell me what they mean when they say so. And among those people, there does not appear to be any consensus.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Not sure why a concept like "inspired" should be held hostage to the least knowledgeable splinter group. It might perhaps make sense to consult those who came up with the notion in the first place -- and did so long before most of those you claim to have different opinions ever even existed. Who cares if Bill and Ted's Excellent Bible Shack has a different opinion? Do we care if creationists have a different definition of "evolution"?

          • Doug Shaver

            What those who invented the notion might have meant is of some historical interest. When people I encounter nowadays tell me that I should the Bible was inspired, I need to know what they mean now by "inspired." If they will tell me that, then I can critique whatever reasons they offer me for believing that the Bible is inspired.

            So far as I'm aware, the first person to make a claim for divine inspiration of scripture was the author of II Timothy. He neither explained what he meant nor offered a reason for believing it. He simply said it was so.

          • Kevin Mark

            Pope Pius XII, the Council of Trent, and Vatican I trump Georges Lemaitre (a man in the same notorious category as Pierre Tielhard de Chardin) any day of the week. Here is an excerpt from Pope Pius XII's Divino Afflante Spiritu:
            "In more recent Times New Roman, however, since the divine origin and the correct interpretation of the Sacred Writings have been very specially called in question, the Church has with even greater zeal and care undertaken their defense and protection. The sacred Council of Trent ordained by solemn decree that "the entire books with all their parts, as they have been wont to be read in the Catholic Church and are contained in the old vulgate Latin edition, are to be held sacred and canonical." In our own time the Vatican Council, with the object of condemning false doctrines regarding inspiration, declared that these same books were to be regarded by the Church as sacred and canonical "not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority, nor merely because they contain revelation without error, but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God for their author, and as such were handed down to the Church herself." When, subsequently, some Catholic writers, in spite of this solemn definition of Catholic doctrine, by which such divine authority is claimed for the "entire books with all their parts" as to secure freedom from any error whatsoever, ventured to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture solely to matters of faith and morals, and to regard other matters, whether in the domain of physical science or history, as "obiter dicta" and - as they contended - in no wise connected with faith, Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII in the Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus, published on November 18 in the year 1893, justly and rightly condemned these errors and safe-guarded the studies of the Divine Books by most wise precepts and rules."

            To interpret the above as anything but the simple fact that the Holy Scriptures are absolutely inerrant (barring translation or copying errors), is to deny truth and reality and to be a relativist and a modernist. May God have mercy on your soul.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            So you suppose that the Bible is more like Holy Qur'an?

            Then, we have St. Augustine of Hippo, who has often been held to speak authoritatively on such matters, such as in "On Christian Doctrine," and elsewhere.

            In all the sacred books, we should consider the eternal truths that are taught, the facts that are narrated, the future events that are predicted, and the precepts or counsels that are given. In the case of a narrative of events, the question arises as to whether everything must be taken according to the figurative sense only, or whether it must be expounded and defended also as a faithful record of what happened. No Christian will dare say that the narrative must not be taken in a figurative sense. ... If, then, Scripture is to be explained under both aspects, what meaning other than the allegorical have the words....
            -- On the literal meaning of Genesis

            And again;

            Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?
            -- On the literal meaning of Genesis

            And Thomas Aquinas, riffing off of Augustine:

            In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to observed, as Augustine teaches (Gen. ad lit. i, 18). The first is, to hold the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation, only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.
            -- Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica I Q68 Art 1, respondeo

          • Kevin Mark

            Firstly, you seem to ignore rule #1: Hold to Scripture without wavering. Secondly, you seem to be ignoring the words, "...if it be proved false." Never has it been proved false; in fact, archaeological and historical evidence validate the authenticity of the Holy Scriptures. Finally, it is wrong to paint Augustine and Aquinas as if they did not venerate the Holy Scriptures as truly inerrant, because they did.
            Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE): He supported absolute inerrancy in a letter to St. Jerome. He wrote:
            "On my own part I confess to your charity that it is only to those books of Scripture which are now called canonical that I have learned to pay such honor and reverence as to believe most firmly that none of their writers has fallen into any error. And if in these books I meet anything which seems contrary to truth, I shall not hesitate to conclude either that the text is faulty, or that the translator has not expressed the meaning of the passage, or that I myself do not understand. ..."

            He emphasizes that inerrancy only applies to the original autograph copy as written in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek:
            "For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it." (from ReligiousTolerance... I do not recommend this site, but it has some valid information).

            Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of the medieval period also minced no words in expressing his view on the inerrancy of Scripture. In his magnum opus, Summa Theologica, he wrote, “I firmly believe that none of their authors have erred in composing them” and that “nothing false can underlie the literal sense of Scripture.” In his commentary on Job, Aquinas stated, “It is heretical to say that any falsehood whatsoever is contained either in the gospels or in any canonical Scripture.”

            Finally, it is shameful to all of Catholicism that muslims venerate their 'holy' book to a higher degree than many Catholic venerate the Holy Bible.

          • Valence

            Maybe you are just interpreting scripture wrong. Pope Francis claims that evolution is compatible with scripture. Who are you to question the Pope? I see you make a big deal about what Popes say only when they support your interpretation. If this isn't the sin of pride, I don't know what is.

            https://www.liberty.edu/champion/2014/11/pope-affirms-evolution/

          • Kevin Mark

            Since it is a fact that Popes err and history has shown us that some Popes have been wickedly sinful and even heretical, it is absurd to suggest that the Pope's non-infallible words or actions can never be questioned. While all priests and bishops (and most certainly the Holy Father) need to be respected and honoured, when they depart from Sacred Tradition, it is our duty as Catholics (who also hold a certain priesthood as believers) to stand up for Christ and His Church. It is extremely easy to verify the simple fact that the Holy Scriptures mean what they say and that all of you theistic evolutionists venerate "science" (falsely so-called) to a higher level than you do Holy Scripture.

            James Barr, Hebrew Oriel Professor of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford in England (who does NOT believe Genesis) wrote:
            "... probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguished all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know. The only thing I would say to qualify this is that most such professors may avoid much involvement in that sort of argument and so may not say much explicitly about it one way or the other."

            Since one of the most basic exegetical principles is to not depart from the intended meaning of the text, it is only possible to believe in evolution whilst being Catholic if you abandon this primary principle of hermeneutics or if you abandon all logic. Clearly, you are convinced by the atheistic/agnostic/modernist scientists (not the Church or the Scriptures), but you have ignored the plethora of scientific evidence (and metaphysical arguments) which absolutely refute evolution. See Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, Creation ministries, Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, etc.

          • Valence

            It is extremely easy to verify the simple fact that the Holy Scriptures mean what they say and that all of you theistic evolutionists venerate "science" (falsely so-called) to a higher level than you do Holy Scripture.

            How do you do verify the simple fact that the Holy Scriptures mean what they say? Couldn't they mean what they say but mean it figuratively, for the purpose of teaching moral lessons? This is typical of religious teaching, actually.
            Do you have an argument showing that Sacred Tradition can't be in error. The fact that it claims it can't error doesn't mean that such is true.

            James Barr, Hebrew Oriel Professor of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford in England (who does NOT believe Genesis) wrote:
            "... probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) t

            This simply isn't true:
            http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/the-genesis-of-everything-part-3-the-purpose-of-genesis-1

            Can you point to a reference where James Barr says this, I hope you don't mind if I don't take your word for it. I was raised by Protestant Creationists who told me all kinds of lies and completely misrepresented evolution. I really don't like being lied to for obvious reason. Here is some excellent documentation as to direct deception on the part of creationists.

            http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/44-reasons-creationists-are-deceptive/

            If you want to cast your lot with a bunch of liars, so be it, but don't pretend you defending God in the process. There is a different name for the father of lies.

          • Kevin Mark

            Genesis is clearly written as a historical narrative; even a child could discern this. Does it have figurative elements? Yes, of course, but this does not negate the truth of the obvious and literal sense that is clearly conveyed. For something to be wholly true, it cannot merely hold a smidgen of truth, but must be actually true in the plain and obvious sense in which the author intended it. And the James Barr quote shows the absurdity of the theistic evolution exegesis/hermeneutics.

            For the source of the damning James Barr quote, see below:
            http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/barrlett.html

            Sacred Traition stands with Sacred Scripture and has been preserved free from error by the Holy Spirit. The Church unanimously believed in the traditional, ancient view of creation until modernists began compromising with Darwinian hypotheses. Thus those who embrace these worldly concepts depart from Sacred Tradition. The proof that Holy Tradition cannot err is that Tradition is bound inseparably to the Church who is the bride of Christ, whom God promised the protection of Holy Spirit; for more information, please lookup the infallibility of the Church and specifically the part on proof in the following article:

            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm

            Regarding creationists; they may not be perfect in their arguements (who is?), but they can see the logical fallacies of evolution and after so can more and more people. If you are Catholic, I suggest you would win your parents to the true Church if you focussed on arguing for problems within protestantism and the solutions that the Catholic Church has. The traditional doctrine of creation has always been a Catholic one.
            Please visit:
            http://kolbecenter.org/

          • Valence

            Genesis is clearly written as a historical narrative; even a child could discern this.

            Just claiming this doesn't make it true. You have to provide an argument.

            The Church unanimously believed in the traditional, ancient view of creation until modernists began compromising with Darwinian hypotheses. Thus those who embrace these worldly concepts depart from Sacred Tradition. The proof that Holy Tradition cannot err is that Tradition is bound inseparably to the Church who is the bride of Christ, whom God promised the protection of Holy Spirit; for more information, please lookup the infallibility of the Church and specifically the part on proof in the following article:

            Lol, that isn't proof of anything. The Church could have easily just made all of that up. Do you understand what the word evidence or proof means?

            Regarding creationists; they may not be perfect in their arguements (who is?), but they can see the logical fallacies of evolution and after so can more and more people. If you are Catholic, I suggest you would win your parents to the true Church if you focussed on arguing for problems within protestantism and the solutions that the Catholic Church has. The traditional doctrine of creation has always been a Catholic one.

            That would never work with my parents just like it didn't work with the protestant reformation. Protestants just reject the fallacy of authority that is the supposed authority of the Catholic Church. You speak of logic, but there is no logical fallacies in evolution (please point to them specifically if there are) though there are some thing it can't yet explain.

            Your entire position does, in fact, rest on a known logical fallacy:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

            Oh, and I'm not Catholic or Christian, for the record. I suppose that will change how you respond to me, but that's fine. I think I've seen all I need to in these kinds of conversations...Christians have nothing concrete to support their positions, just claims of people (specifically the apostles and we don't even have good records of that). Eye witness testimony is incredibly unreliable as evidence:

            https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/

            Don't take this is a just science against you, lawyers are taking this into consideration to....do you also reject law?

            https://agora.stanford.edu/sjls/Issue%20One/fisher&tversky.htm

          • Kevin Mark

            I already provided the letter by James Barr that shows Genesis was always read and understood as a historical narrative:
            "...no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguished all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know."
            You have chosen to ignore the above facts, because to deal with it would cause you to question what appears to be your sacred cow, evolution.
            Unfortunately for you, the Christianity requires a certain amount of faith (not blind faith, however; faith based upon reason and evidence - and 2000 years of miracles in the Church including the resurrection and consistent answered prayers in my life and the lives of countless others (which of course will be dismissed by you, even though you have no basis to dismiss this other than to fall back on your preconceived belief that miracles don't happen - which you cannot prove and which itself is disproved by countless miracles through the Catholic Church which cannot be explained by science) ... however, naturalistic materialism also requires faith; you have chosen to put your faith in scientists who hate or dismiss God. I have chosen to put my faith in God, His word (the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition), and His Church. I linked you to an article that had proofs but of course the skeptic can always question the starting assumptions. Based upon my study of the evidence, I contend that God and His Church are a solid rock on which to base my view of reality, which I contend is true. You contend that modern atheistic/agnostic/deistic/heretical scientists are the ground on which to base your view of reality, which I contend is actually sinking sand.

            "You speak of logic, but there is no logical fallacies in evolution." This statement is absolutely false - evolution is built upon logical fallacies:

            https://www.jashow.org/articles/guests-and-authors/dr-john-ankerberg/evolution-and-logical-fallacies/

            http://darwins-god.blogspot.ca/2009/06/three-fallacies-of-evolution.html

            http://evolutionfacts.com/Ev-V3/3evlch38.htm

            Friend, the evolutionists are liars. Willfully ignorant liars. Jesus Christ said, " I am the way, the truth and the life. No one shall come to the Father except by me." Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of all history. You even measure time (the year) by his birth. Do not believe that everything came from nothing - that is the most absurd belief possible. Yet, evolutionists believe in the big bang - which is a starting point. Thus evolutionists DO NOT believe in an eternal universe. So what caused the big bang and what was before the big bang? All that exists to explain these questions are wild hypotheses. Do not base your life on wild hypotheses.
            Look, if I am right, then I have gained everything - eternal life. If I am wrong, I have lost nothing. If you are right, you have gained nothing. If you are wrong, then you have lost everything (eternal damnation). Please, friend, consider your life. I have a doctorate and have studied the evidence in depth. Do not throw your life away. Keep pressing for the truth. God will answer you if you ask him to, I promise you. Never stop seeking for the truth.

          • David Nickol

            I am not sure I understand your point about James Barr's position. As I understand him, he is saying the consensus is that the authors of Genesis believed themselves to be giving an historical account. However, Barr himself certainly doesn't believe Genesis to be an historical account, and I am sure the majority of biblical scholars would agree with him.

            And of course the modern historical consensus is that there are two creation accounts in Genesis, stitched together but with the seams still showing, that are not consistent with one another. So there are separate questions about what the original authors thought and what the compilers and editors thought.

          • Kevin Mark

            Catholic evolutionists suggest that they are not doing a disservice to the text of the Holy Scriptures (specifically Genesis), and that the original authors did not intend the early chapters of Genesis to be taken literally. These same Catholic evolutionists highly value the opinions of the experts. Barr's quote shows that it is entirely inconsistent to hold to the above view. The reason this is significant is because one of the most important principles of Scriptural exegesis/hermeneutics is interpreting the original intent of the author. To suggest that one is holding to the original intent of the author flies in the face of expert opinion. And thus one is forced to either reject expert opinion, reject Genesis (and the whole Catholic faith) as myth, or become a Catholic creationist. I assert that the last option is the most reasonable.

            The modern historical consensus is wrong regarding 'two creation accounts.... that are not consistent with one another." This is a modernist thought that is used by many to attempt to discredit the veracity of Genesis. The two accounts are absolutely reconcilable. The following link explains further (I am not endorsing the entire website, merely the following page):
            http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1131

          • Valence

            This article also discusses dishonesty on the part of creationists:

            Unfortunately, dishonest creationists have shown a willingness to take scientists' comments out of context to exaggerate and distort the disagreements. Anyone acquainted with the works of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University knows that in addition to co-authoring the punctuated-equilibrium model, Gould was one of the most eloquent defenders and articulators of evolution. (Punctuated equilibrium explains patterns in the fossil record by suggesting that most evolutionary changes occur within geologically brief intervals--which may nonetheless amount to hundreds of generations.) Yet creationists delight in dissecting out phrases from Gould's voluminous prose to make him sound as though he had doubted evolution, and they present punctuated equilibrium as though it allows new species to materialize overnight or birds to be born from reptile eggs.
            When confronted with a quotation from a scientific authority that seems to question evolution, insist on seeing the statement in context. Almost invariably, the attack on evolution will prove illusory.

            https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/15-answers-to-creationist/

            Even the quote you use is taken out of context, so I charge you with dishonesty:

            Well, not so fast. There is another portion of the letter that they “neglected” to quote where Barr clarifies his position:

            The only thing I would say to qualify this is that most professors may avoid much involvement in that sort of argument and so may not say much explicitly about it one way or the other. But I think what I say would represent their position correctly. However, you might find one or two people who would take the contrary point of view and are competent in the languages, in Assyriology, and so on: it’s really not so much a matter of technical linguistic competence, as of appreciation of the sort of text that Genesis is.

            Notice Barr says that the conclusion he drew upon was “not so much a matter of technical linguistic competence,” which by itself demolishes the argument that the YECs are making that their interpretation is demanded by the Hebrew text itself; not to mention he adds that most of the professors would tend to avoid this issue not saying anything on the topic on one side or the other. He then adds that he “thinks” he represents the position of the others in his field, but that indicates that he really doesn’t know. Ultimately, he ends up making several qualifications; as such, his letter cannot be cited as viable support for the young earth position.

            https://evolutionid.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/yecs-misquoting-hebrew-scholars-on-the-genesis-interpretation/

            The flood in Genesis comes from Sumerian mythology. It occurred, but was only a local flood:
            https://ncse.com/cej/8/2/flood-mesopotamian-archaeological-evidence

            The flood was around 2900 B.C. and the Sumerian myths describe it more accurately. These are facts that dishonest and intellectually repugnant creationists ignore, I believe intentionally. All of this goes beyond just an intellectual disagreement, in my mind YECs are actually morally repugnant because they are dishonest.
            Today many people reject Christianity because of evolution and the behavior of creationists like yourself. If your religion is true, you may find that you have a special place in the lake of fire, imagine that.

          • Kevin Mark

            "The flood was around 2900 B.C. and the Sumerian myths describe it more accurately. These are facts..." No, they are not facts; they are the speculations of men willing to grasp at anything that will allow them to further their careers, gain them fame, or discredit Christianity and the veracity of the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition. Your so-called facts are based upon assumptions due to the tinted glasses you wear that filter what you see through evolutionary lenses. The men who make these wild assertions - that Mesopotamian myths are in any way as reliable as the Holy Scriptures - are men who have no closeness to their Creator but who are avid speculators, willing to put forth their beliefs because they cannot believe in the truth the Catholic Church teaches - for if they did, they would be held accountable for their sins and they would rather hold to a worldview that allows them to be their own gods.
            In order to trick people into believing in Christ, why would I be willing to teach error and lies - the concept that everything came from nothing and that somehow, against all laws of physics and chemistry, humanity arose from non-directed natural processes?
            I can assure you, Christians who start believing in the myth of evolution often leave the faith, and people who start questioning evolution and believing in God's word, these are the ones who draw near to Christ - not the other way around.
            You accuse me of dishonesty? I am the one who gave you the link to where the article is from so you could read the whole letter for yourself! You did not find it on your own! You refuse to deal with the facts of the letter, namely that only a fool would think that the ancient Hebrews interpreted it any different than creationists do.

          • Valence

            The evidence in the article is hard evidence. I've asked God to show me the truth and it has become clear to me that Christianity can't be true and God leaves the big questions open for us to continue to work on. I know you think you have an inside track on what God thinks, but I find this be more human arrogance and hubris. Clearly this conversation is going no where so let's find something productive to do with our time like helping people who need it, or increasing human knowledge or wisdom :)

          • Kevin Mark

            Okay, but I ask you, please, do not give up on God. Keep praying and asking him for guidance. He responds to true humility, openness and repentance. These are hard things that we all struggle with. But He is faithful and He will show you the truth of Christ.

          • Will

            Lol, this comment shows why the Catholic Church is doomed. Arrogance and ignorance go hand in hand. Authorship of the books of the Bible is an interesting topic, and God didn't write the first one. To me, claiming God is the author is a lie. At least Ye Olde Statistician has a reasonable approach to such topics.

            Pope Pius XII, the Council of Trent, and Vatican I trump Georges Lemaitre (a man in the same notorious category as Pierre Tielhard de Chardin) any day of the week.

            Yep, and this foolish argument from authority is why there are essentially no more Catholic scientists. Pope Francis seems to be taking a different track, which is very positive in my view (I don't mind Catholicism as long as it doesn't display the ridiculous and unwarranted arrogance)

            https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/31/catholics-lutherans-joint-declaration-pope-francis-christian-sweden

            If Catholics and Lutherans are now on a joint path, Lutherans can be that wrong, 'eh?

          • Will

            This article discusses why there are no more Catholic scientists, thanks to arrogant, unloving and foolish Popes (in my opinion). They deserve the insults.

            Any serious answer, I believe, has to consider the chilling effect that two popes, one in the 19th century, and one in the early 20th, had on independent research.

            Popes Pius IX and Pius X.

            The latter, in particular, for all of his good-hearted pastoral care for the spiritual needs of Catholics, was also unapologetically anti-intellectual.

            And Pius X fully approved the Vatican’s harassment and public humiliation of Catholic scholars deemed even remotely unorthodox.

            In his recent book A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present, Jesuit historian John W. O’Malley writes that for Catholic scholars, the storm broke on July 3, 1907. The Holy Office issued a decree that condemned sixty-five propositions supposedly held by Modernists. Two months later, Pius came out with a long encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis (“Feeding the Lord’s Flock”), supporting the decree.

            But according to O’Malley:

            The definition of Modernism was so general, virtually equated with “any novelty,” that it could be applied to almost any work of any historical or philosophical school. A veritable purge followed, with excommunications, dismissals from office, and the banning of books reaching epidemic proportions. With more than a grain of truth it has been described as a reign of terror. No doubt, some of the tenets of the Modernists could not be reconciled with Christian belief no matter how broadly that belief was interpreted, but in the wake of the encyclical the innocent got stigmatized and in some cases their careers ruined. The papal actions dealt a heavy blow to Catholic theological life and to Catholic intellectual life more broadly, from which the Church suffered for two generations. But they could not utterly stamp out methods that had struck such deep roots in culture at large and that scholars saw as yielding new truths about old texts and old beliefs. (p. 268)

            One priest-scientist (conspicuously absent from the RealClear list) felt the worst effects of this crackdown:

            The French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnfarrell/2014/03/27/about-those-nine-great-priest-scientists/#518d62efb8f3

            If you are superstitious, and I'd guess you are, I have been blessed (if God exists) since I have begun to criticize the Catholic Church for it's arrogance and foolishness. God must be pleased. Besides, Catholics deserve better, as there are many good and thoughtful people in the Church and it has some interesting philosophy, even though I don't agree much of it.
            Lately Catholics have been losing more members than any other religion, and rightfully so. Continue on this arrogant path and eventually the religion will no longer exist. I suspect things will change first, however, as the Church no longer has the power or authority to afford this type of arrogance. People just leave and don't look back.

            http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

          • George

            To what degree?

    • Quanah

      Vicq, you're reading the first 11 chapters of Genesis in a way that the original ancient Israelite writers didn't even intend. Also, what is the point of this comment in relation to the article?

    • Dennis Bednarek

      You must remember that the Bible stories your referring to were where written down more than 2,000 years ago. While some may have been first hand accounts most were initially handed down through the generations through oral traditional teachings. Then you also must understand that when they were put in writing people knowledge was much simpler than what is today with no one understanding what an atom was, or world geography. For the individuals that lived in the period when it was put into writing it was more historically accurate than any other writing of the time and was divinely inspired.

      If you want a detailed accurate description of any of these event it would take a book much larger than the entire bible to accurately describer in detail what happened at just one of these events. This is not the purpose of the bible but instead to show us examples of the works of God and his interaction with man, in a moralistic and divine level.

    • Kevin Mark

      This is an astute comment. The correct answer is that the biblical narrative accurately describes all 6 of these, yet all these relativist modernists including those with the magesterium doubt the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures and are keen to throw away the clear consensus of the Church Fathers and Doctors - as the 12th ecumenical council, Lateran IV, declared:
      "God…creator of all visible and invisible things, of the spiritual and of the corporal; who by His own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual and corporal, namely, angelic and mundane, and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body" (D.428).
      A definitive ruling on a matter of faith from a valid ecumenical council cannot be ignored or overruled, and yet that is exactly what the relativist modernists are doing. Evolution is absolutely un-Catholic.

  • Horatio

    Great summary of what's wrong with running this story. I'm very tired of having to restate a similar argument to my friends and acquaintances whose #1 sources for news vis-a-vis the Vatican are The Guardian and Gawker ("So does this mean Catholics will start believing in evolution?"). In the interest of time, I usually just skip to #4.

  • Doug Shaver

    On matters of either religion or science, I never trust journalists to get their facts right. And I used to be a journalist.

    • Chad Eberhart

      I think sports is the only subject that as a journalist you had better have your facts right or else....

  • David Nickol

    As for God not being "a divine being or a magician," we were told here fairly recently that God was not a "being." I haven't spent a lot of time googling the coverage, but it seems to me "demiurge" is a much better translation than "divine being" for what I take the pope to have meant.

    It seems "the media" have a hard time understanding how relatively "progressive" the official Catholic Church is on modern cosmology and evolution, because in the eyes of many editors, reporters, and columnists, the Church's views on sexual and reproductive matters are centuries out of date. So when a pope shows himself to be comfortable with modern ideas such as evolution, "the media" tends to report it as remarkable.

    I put "the media" in quotes, because of course we get all of our information from "the media." For example, here is the beginning of a Time Magazine piece on the coverage of the pope's remarks:

    Sorry, But Media Coverage of Pope Francis is Papal Bull

    The "Pope Francis supports evolution" story is just the latest example of the press getting the Catholic Church completely wrong

    It is official: the media has gone bananas in its coverage of Pope Francis.

    The OMG-Pope-Francis-Supports-Evolution story of the past two days is just the latest example. Almost every news outlet, major and minor, has plastered Pope Francis’ name across the interwebs and proclaimed he has finally planted the Catholic Church in the evolution camp of the creation-evolution debate. The only problem? Almost every outlet has got the story wrong, proving once again that the mainstream media has nearly no understanding of the Church. And that madness shows no signs of stopping. . . .

    Time Magazine is just as much "the media" (if not more) than the Independent Journal Review (which I had never heard of before).

    So I agree, speaking very loosely, that there is a lot of inept coverage of religion in "the media," but that isn't a particularly helpful generalization, since the publications one would seek out for accurate coverage of religion are part of "the media."

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      the Church's views on sexual and reproductive matters are centuries out of date.

      which shows the media's grasp of history is also flawed. The best you could say, based on the record is that it is just over half a century out of date, among the elite class in the West.

      +++
      And yes, on that "a" being thingie; but that is a bit subtle for public discourse, and his not what the guy said in the first place.

  • John T. Benz

    "He’s infinitely bigger than that." I appreciate the effort, but it does not clarify anything to describe the infinite God as, "bigger" than something else.

  • Mike O’Leary

    I agree that journalists will often run to conclusions about the Pope, sometimes confusing his tone for action. For instance when he has talked about being kinder to homosexuals or the divorced, more than a few articles suggested this would lead to change in Vatican policy, even though that clearly wasn't the case.

    I would disagree somewhat with the third point in the article. That's not to say that non-Catholic media hasn't and won't continue to make errors regarding Catholic news items. No, I think it seems to be implying that non-Catholic media doesn't also make numerous errors regarding non-Catholic news stories.

    Regarding the fourth point, the nugget about Georges Lemaître will often come up sometimes out of nowhere when the topics of science and religion (especially Catholicism) collide. The church and its defenders will try to lay claim to his work as an example of the church's value to society simply because he was a priest. Yet when a catholic priest does something less than noble (for example, the numerous priests and nuns involved the baby trafficing in Spain) they don't want to claim any asociation with him, even if that priest has an equal connection to the church as Father Lemaître.

    • David Nickol

      For instance when he has talked about being kinder to homosexuals or the divorced, more than a few articles suggested this would lead to change in Vatican policy, even though that clearly wasn't the case.

      I think a change in policy is more than likely. But it will be a change in policy without any change in underlying doctrine, at least for the time being.

      • Mike O’Leary

        That's a very fair point, although some writers seem to take it as a given that policy change and/or doctrinal change is coming. You're quite likely right, but I would just caution those writing these articles about the church to assume nothing.

        I used to semi-frequent the Get Religion blog some years back. They are maddening because at times they point out errors in religious reporting (including stroies like the ones in this article), and other times they hunt for religious angles ("ghosts" as they call them) in stories where no such angles exist or they are so minor to the main thrust of the article.

    • Joseph Heschmeyer

      "I would disagree somewhat with the third point in the article. That's not to say that non-Catholic media hasn't and won't continue to make errors regarding Catholic news items. No, I think it seems to be implying that non-Catholic media doesn't also make numerous errors regarding non-Catholic news stories."

      You mentioned in the comment below this that you have a love-hate relationship with GetReligion, so I'm sure you're familiar with their frequent frustration: sports get covered by sports reporters, politics gets covered by political reporters, but religion gets covered by seemingly anybody. So while their are certainly mistakes and biases in other areas, the media tends to do religion particularly badly, because it's generally not taken seriously.

  • The guy most scientists credit with formulating the Big Bang Theory? A Catholic priest.

    Cool! It would've been cooler, however, if that had been due to his religion somehow. Georges Lemaître was a scientist who simply happened to be a priest. Science gets the credit, not Catholicism.

    (This is a small issue, but I toss it in as an aside.)

  • George

    something I want to know about George Lemaitre, maybe someone can help here:

    did he put his faith on the line?

    if he had inferred some different conclusion than cosmic inflation for whatever reason, would he have kept on believing in god and genesis or not? seems to me it would be pretty easy to say "well, the universe indeed appears stationary/eternal/anything-but-big-bang etc, but that just means that it's God's Will for the signs of His creation to not be available to us. I'm going to keep believing. Yeah, this is what the universe looks like, but God still did it."

    whatever the truth is of Lemaitre's attitude in that area, I'd like to ask catholic apologists of SN, what do they think the man SHOULD have done? what would they have wanted him to do? should George Lemaitre have remained a catholic no matter what he discovered?

  • Peter

    Atheists are generally fighting a two-way battle, against creationism (including ID) on the one hand and theistic evolution (of both the universe and man) on the other. To fight creationism they have science, but to fight theistic evolution they only have hypotheses such as the multiverse to explain the fine-tuning.

    The Pope is essentially remarking on the fine-tuning of the universe and its long term evolution which brought us physically into existence. He is saying that God is responsible for that but, crucially, did not create it by waving a magic wand and conjuring it into existence. This implies that the unique early conditions of the universe, currently a mystery to us as to how they came about, are themselves the result of natural processes which we have yet to discover.

    This is a massive admission by the Church and a direct rebuttal of big bang creationism, the notion that God magicked a ready made early universe into existence complete with its perfectly configured early conditions. The Church is admitting that the big bang is not a miraculous event but a natural event waiting to be explained.

    What does this mean? It means that the Church is not averse to discoveries which would explain the big bang and its fine tuning, discoveries like the multiverse. What the Pope is effectively implying is that the Church is not afraid of the multiverse and would in fact welcome it as a scientific explanation.

    This has far-reaching implications for the current state of theoretical cosmology. Cosmologists such as Sean Carroll and others who propose a multiverse scenario as a naturalistic alternative to God have suddenly been disarmed. Instead of making God redundant which was their objective, these mutiverse scenarios are now welcomed by the Church as a possible explanation for the big bang and, crucially, as a greater insight into how God brings about creation.

    Carroll et al. are unwittingly doing the Church's work for her.

    • George

      What fine tuning?

      • Peter

        The unique conditions of the early universe leading to the increasing complexification of matter, the widespread building blocks of life and, in at least one case, to life itself which has evolved towards sentience.

        • George

          it also led to a whole lot of non-life, like rocks. maybe the universe was "fine tuned" for rocks. how would we know either way?

          • Peter

            Sooner or later rocks will be reabsorbed into stars and through nucleosynthesis produce even more complex elements.

  • Krzysztof

    "Adam and Eve existed". Really? "Adam" is used only in 5% of Hebrew "adam" that is a general name for humanity. Some parts of Catechism were written under the influence of too much Italian vine I see

    • Gray Striker

      "adam" that is a general name for humanity.

      Actually the word more properly understood means mankind or "humankind" to be politically correct.:-) Tell us something that all of us atheists, agnostics and Christians don't already know.

  • Krzysztof

    "for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God." What does it mean 'immediately" (non-immediately"? "To be created" means only to be related in existence to Primary Source (God); it has nothing to do with time ("immediately" or not-it). Human soul starts to exist 14 days after conception- the biological data+the definition of soul (Aristotle' form). What Hell with logic here? Logic as with absolute principles is "from" Absolute! No one knows St.Thomas Aquinas?

  • MNb

    "The guy most scientists credit with formulating the Big Bang Theory? A Catholic priest."
    Wrong and a fine example of catholic chauninism. The guy most scientists credit with formulating the Big Bang Theory was atheist Soviet commie Alexander Friedmann.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Friedmann

    A couple of years before Lemaitre.

    The catholic media isn't a reliable source of scientific information.

    • Joseph Heschmeyer

      No. Your very first link points out that Friedmann's dynamic cosmological model is consistent with both a Steady State and Big Bang model of the universe.

      Friedmann showed that the universe was expanding, and that was accepted by the time of Lemaître. But that's not the same as the Big Bang, since Steady State also supposed an expanding universe.

      As long as you're relying on Wikipedia, go read their entry on the Big Bang. Unless they're just prejudiced Catholic chauvinists, as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

      • MNb

        Sorry for you. It's not smart to debate physics with a teacher maths and physics if you haven't properly studied it yourself. And you haven't.
        Friedmann derived from the General Theory of Relativity (you know, Einstein) that the Universe had begun with a singularity (the name Big Bang was coined later by Fred Hoyle, the main spokesman of Steady State).
        Yet another source:

        http://www.maplesoft.com/applications/view.aspx?SID=142459&view=html

        "Friedmann was the first physicist who demonstrated that Albert Einstein's general relativity admits non-static solutions, and the universe can expand, oscillate, and be born in a singularity."
        Pay special attention to "non-static solutions" - that means inconsistent with Steady State.

        Friedmann only found one solution; Lemaitre the other two. Two other guys were involved as well, hence

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker_metric

        If you had cared to consult the other links and had read chapter 3 of Hawking's book you would have known that. If you had cared to read your own link you would have met "The governing equations were formulated by Alexander Friedmann, and similar solutions were worked on by Willem de Sitter.", which is a bit unfair to Lemaitre.

        Historical fact 1: Friedmann was the first.
        Fact 2: all physicists know it.

        Conclusion: point 4 is dead wrong.

        • Joseph Heschmeyer

          MNb,

          I'm afraid that you're still mistaken. You're saying that Lemaître wasn't the first to realize the expanding nature of the universe, or the first to question Steady State. But I didn't claim either of those things, and neither of those are the same thing as formulating the Big Bang theory. Credit for *that* typically goes to Lemaître. In saying that, I'm not denying the contributions of Friedmann or Hubble.

          Interestingly, Hoyle's objection to the Big Bang was grounded in no small part to its religious implications; as he said in a BBC interview, "The reason why scientists like the "big bang" is because they are overshadowed by the Book of Genesis. It is deep within the psyche of most scientists to believe in the first page of Genesis."

          P.S. Here's a lecture on Hoyle and Lemaître that gives more background to the history.

          • MNb

            You wrote: "The guy most scientists credit with formulating the Big Bang Theory? A Belgian priest."
            That's what you wrote. Most scientists credit Alexander Friedmann with the Big Bang Theory - assuming that you mean "the Universe started with a singularity, later mockingly coined by Fred Hoyle The Big Bang." They do for the reasons I gave above.
            What you wrote is dead wrong. Your defense here even isn't - it's irrelevant.

            Btw - your fourth point is not even relevant for what you try to argue (with which I largely agree btw - I'm aware of the fact that the RCC accepted evolution about 60 years ago). See, The Big Bang has exactly zero to do with evolution. Evolution Theory would be correct in a Steady State model as well. Here you make the same mistake as protestant fundies indeed.

          • MNb

            Yup, you do defend the Cosmological Argument!

            "Why should atheists believe P1 of the kalam argument, or why should they believe that “whatever begins to exist has a cause for its existence?”"

            Why should anyone believe it if Modern Physics is explicitely probabilistic, of which causality is a special and specific form (namely with correlation 0 or 1)?
            Either you reject Modern Physics or you reject the CA. Three examples: an instable radioactive atom doesn't have a cause to decay at moment X instead of moment Y. Electron-positron creation (not in the religious meaning of the word) doesn't need a cause either. These things happen by chance - not random chance, as we can influence its magnitude, but still chance.
            My favourite is this one: when you try to walk through a brick wall there is a very small chance you'll succeed (it's called Quantum Tunneling) - very, very small, but a bit larger than zero. Either that's impossible or the first basic assumption of the CA is wrong - causality.

            Hey, this is off topic and I never meant to hang around long anyway, so delete this comment if I just violated your moderating policy. Whether you'll reply or not won't make any difference; I won't read it as I've lost interest.
            Bye.