Tuesday, 28 October 2014

When Popes Talk Science...

Still a theory, see?

It annoys me, even if the one saying it is a trained chemist.

There are things we can say with certainty as Catholics, that is with the certainty that God is trustworthy in what He has revealed.

Interesting as they are, the Faith of the Catholic Church does not rest on theories but upon a Person, Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word and so it annoys me when the Pope entertains theories, or places the Papal Seal of Approval upon theories which, when given a prominence and status they do not necessarily deserve, become so called 'facts' spoken of by a Pope.

I find it a little inconsistent to maintain that certain truths revealed and handed down to us from the most trustworthy of Sources can be challenged, or 'debated' but certain theories are given infallible status, first by the scientific community and now by the Pope. That which has been revealed by God (Who is Perfect), for many Jesuits, for example, simply 'cannot be known' but that which is revealed by man (who is imperfect), is somehow 'a given'.

I'm happy to hear the theories but at the end of the day, I'm content to say that, unlike Wisdom, I was not there, at play, before, during or after the Creation of all that is. I accept that all has been created by God 'out of nothing'.

And what really annoys me - especially when it is said by a Pope - is this little gem...

The development of each creature’s characteristics over millennia ‘does not contrast with the notion of creation because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve,’ he said. Reading Genesis we imagine that God is ‘a wizard with a magic wand’ capable of doing all things, he said. ‘But it is not so. He created life and let each creature develop according to the natural laws which he had given each one.’

'It is not so that God is capable of doing all things?' That is not what it says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Now, we can happily say that God is not a 'magician' with a 'magic wand' because to say that would be to attribute to Almighty God a purely human characteristic or even a human tendency towards charlatanism. Remember, magic tricks are not real. Magic tricks are usually performed through optical illusion and sleight of hand.

However, no matter the manner by which God brought all things that exist to be 'in the beginning', we would do well to believe that the Lord Who walked on water, turned water into wine, fed the five thousand, raised Lazarus, became Incarnate of the Virgin Mary, rose again on the Third Day, ascended into Heaven from whence He shall come again can do as He pleases, when He pleases and in such manner as He pleases because if God has one - just one - attribute to which we can ascribe to Him with great certainty, it is that He is God and is indeed 'capable of all things'. God is entirely free.

Because God is capable of all things - 'for with God all things are possible' - we should never wish to limit His Divine Power by assuming that such things as the Creation of the Universe and man simply must abide by our human theories - and they remain theories - because He is God. Incidentally, God alone knows!

God is not a magician, since unlike a magician He does not deceive, but if God wanted to create all things in seven 'days', be they literal or allegorical of 'thousands and thousands of years', it would serve His creatures better to believe that if God wanted to do it in seven literal days, He could. God spoke everything into being as He chose, above and beyond all human fathoming, or reasoning, because God is God and nothing is impossible or difficult for Him. Because I am a creature it would serve me better to believe that God is the Creator and that is that.

Yes, if anyone has Time on His Hands, it is God Almighty, since He exists outside of both time and space, but let us not fall into the trap of placing our faith in human philosophies and theories that simply do not do justice to even the concept of an Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent God. It is dangerous for us to think that God's power is somehow 'limited'.

God created natural laws but He does not have to abide by them. Created things and processes may reflect something of God, but they are not God. I dare say that theories rooted in naturalism are prevalent among many a Bishop in Rome today. After all, the Freemasons gave the World a heady concoction of these ideas in order to denigrate the Holy Faith of the Catholic Church. I guess its 'one small step for a Pope, one giant leap for mankind' to apply the principles of evolution to the Church's teachings, but no magic wand will do away with the words of Jesus Christ, Whose 'words will never pass away'.

When the Catholic Church investigates a Miracle science is its servant up to the point at which a Miracle as been objectively discerned or discovered. It would be worthwhile remembering that once evidence for a Miracle is discovered, the scientific line of enquiry has served its purpose and is rendered redundant since the Miracle itself is inexplicable. Such an event is beyond human reasoning. Do we really believe that Creation, no matter 'how' it was achieved, was not in some way in the order of the Miraculous? Therefore, what purpose does science have in its explanation? Just a thought. And if all that makes me a simpleton, well, I'd rather be a simpleton for Christ than a know it all because only God knows it all.

You would have thought that if anyone knew that, it would be the Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Catholic Church. I would very much like to hear His Holiness speak with such certainty on matters of doctrine.

Still a theory, see?


Anonymous said...

This guy, AKA pope or boR,as you prefere,always speaks without switching on the brain, he's got the foot in mouth desease, anyway yesterday he said that there's another way to define some christian people, the grey ones, who never know what and whose side they are. Very instructive, just another word to be added in the special book of Francis classifications. God bless+

gemoftheocean said...

When I was in Catholic high school, I was taught by a priest that evolution and faith need not at all be contradictory. ALL we were required, as Catholics was to believe that God created all the building blocks and started everything, and that at some point, He decided to infuse a soul into the creature. And that all of us were descended from that person. The rest is pretty irrelevant to our faith. So whether God chose to "zap" us here, or evolve, is irrelevant. BTW, Georges LeMaitre, a Catholic priest was the first one to come up with the big bang theory.

What irritated me royally was that, assuming he was quoted correctly, the pope said that God "is not a divine being." EXCUSE ME? A rather heretical statement. It astonishes me he ever passed catechism in school, the fact that someone could be pope and utter such a statement is incomprehensible to me.

And you hit the nail on the head with that magician business.

Unknown said...

You referenced the feeding of the 5000---he claimed it was a "miracle" of sharing in a homily last summer. Since when is sharing a miracle?

Seattle Kim

Unknown said...

His brain's switched on and in gear. He knows just what he's saying.

Seattle Kim

Netmilsmom said...

PF says that "God is not a divine being"

"God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life," the pope said. "Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."


Savonarola said...

The whole point of scientific theories, what makes them scientific, is that they are not and do not claim to be infallibly true. What they do claim is that they have been tested against the available evidence and withstood the testing so far - and therefore are provisionally accepted as the best explanation yet of the way things are.
All other forms of knowledge, including religious beliefs, such as belief in the miracles of Christ, may be held with certainty, but are not empirically testable in the same way. Religious people do well to be aware of this critical distinction and not attribute to their beliefs anything like scientific "certainty." If religion sets itself against science, its future will be very much in question. This is why I welcome Pope Francis' sensible approach to scientific theories like the big bang and evolution.

Patricius said...

Before criticising Pope Francis might it not be wise to check your sources? The article linked-to has more than one error of fact to my certain knowledge. If the eejit writing the article can't get simple facts- which anyone can check- right, it is surely most unwise to trust her on what Pope Francis did or did not say.

johnf said...


I am not a big fan of Pope Francis, but I wonder in this instance whether there is something lost in the translation. Archbishop Chaput, recently warned people not to take things one reads in the press at face value. I wonder what the original Italian reads like - confuse an indicative with a subjunctive and the whole meaning is changed.

Yes, one could imagine that God with a snap of his divine fingers could create the Earth and all its prehistory, fossils etc. A Jewish friend of mine told be some time ago that that is how Jewish theologians reconciled scientific discoveries with Holy writ. (I don't know whether that his explanation was true or whether he assumed it was so). But surely he would be creating a lie if he did that.

But I feel that the theory of evolution, though attractive is incomplete (though it might be deemed heretical to say so). I would be more comfortable with the theory of evolution if/when scientists manage to create one self replicating life cell from inert matter in the laboratory in a repeatable experiment.

As a physicist I am glad I am not a biologist.

johnf said...

Correction : ..But surely God would be creating a lie if he did that...

Anonymous said...

There is no scientific evidence for evolution.

Православный физик said...

Normally, I'd be ready to rip him to shreds over this, but this time around, the ax is spared. (at least not for the science, as he's a chemist)

I too am a physicist and can echo what JohnF said.

But Gem is right on the whole God is not a divine being thing.

I'm hoping for papal duct tape to be added to things Pope Francis should have on his person at all times. 535

Liam Ronan said...

"Polygenesis" v "Monogenism" = Adams and Eves v Adam and Eve. I think Pope Pius XII had something to say about this evolutionary theological proposition.

LWC said...

Doctrine is not empirical science. That aside, where has Francis contradicted Christ?

Liam Ronan said...

'Original sin' of our first parents is what's at issue with the theological nuances of evolution.

Of course there are many more thorny nuances inextricably related to evolution.

Vincent said...

I'm a historian, so here's my take on it:

There are so many things wrong with the way modern people think. Theory: "a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained."

Let me define science: "the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment."

So why on earth do people talk about "scientific theory" as if that somehow makes it a 'super theory' or something.

Therefore, the first question about 'science' should always be "is it observable?" If not, it's ropey science. In fact, it's unobservable history.

Finally, it doesn't make any difference, or shouldn't, to our belief, whether or not the 'big bang' or evolution happened. My opinion is that the big bang probably did happen and evolution (at least, macro-evolution) doesn't. Is it observable? No, except in the notoriously hard to date layers of the Earth. Is the dating evidence right? Probably not.

I don't have a problem with people believing absolute tosh so long as they don't think it affects their Catholic Faith.

As regards the "God is not a divine being", I think that might be lazy translating. "demiurge" is the word you're looking for...

Anonymous said...

Matt here..
Most science 'theories' like the big bang and age of the universe comes from the mind of the satanic Kabalah system. I have done my research also as an additional note the antichrist will be half man half human - an abomination to God who created humanity with a spirit and mind with free will. As in the days of Noah when there was beasts and monsters walking around due to the fallen angels ..Scientists of today are already creating abominations in labs around the world with little or no oversight...

Unknown said...

If there were no Adam and Eve, then there was no original sin, and we don't need a Church --much less a pope.

Seattle Kim

Anonymous said...

There is no empirical science relating to evolution from one species to another.

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