Evolution and Creation VI – Sabbath rest

From Hugh Owens The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation:

Comments are in red.

6. Theistic evolutionism breeds indifference to the Lord’s Day and a wrong view of natural science. The Traditional doctrine of creation fosters appreciation and reverence for the Lord’s Day and a correct view of natural science.

Theistic evolutionism denies the primordial institution of the Sabbath “in the beginning.” For the theistic evolutionist, the seven day week is something that developed [a strange choice of words… is this meant to imply that one who holds to theistic evolution necessarily holds that the seven day week was developed gradually by man, rather than instituted by God?] after man’s emergence from the apes. It was not something instituted by God for man from the very beginning of creation. [Is God limited in his power to institute a seven day week, so that the only way he can do so is by "doing" something different on each of seven days?] This view contradicts the universal belief of the Church Fathers in the divine institution of the Sabbath and of the seven day week in the beginning of creation. The theistic evolutionist view also contradicts the very words of Our Lord who said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Indeed, implicit in these words is the idea that the Sabbath was “made” by God, for man—not just for the Hebrews—and must therefore have been made for him from the beginning. [If I read the argument correctly, it is: according to theistic evolution, the sabbath was not made by God; according to Christ, the sabbath was made by God. No argument whatsoever is given that for the implicit assertion that theistic evolution means that God did not make the sabbath. Two possible arguments occur to me, but each of them dependents on a problematic view of God. One argument would be that if God didn't institute the Sabbath in the beginning, then he didn't institute it at all, suggesting that after the work of creation God stepped back and didn't have anything more to do with the world–giving a deistic view of God. Another argument would be that theistic evolutionists, following the analogy of God working through natural causes, would also hold that the seven day week and the sabbath were developed through human culture. But this does not imply that they are not from God, unless we simply deny that God is the author of human nature, and can manifest his will through men.] This same understanding is reflected in the ancient liturgies which speak of Sunday, “the first day of the week,” as the “first day of creation.”

The first public apparition of Our Lady in modern times with a message for the whole Church took place at La Salette, France, in 1846. Profanation of the Sabbath was one of the two main sins that Our Lady lamented at La Salette and she identified them as the cause of a severe famine and a terrible plague. Yet today the Sabbath is trampled upon everywhere and rarely, if ever, is mention made of this sacrilege from the pulpit.

Is it a coincidence that the sharp decline in Catholic Sunday observance coincided with the rise of theistic evolutionism in the Church? [Yes and no. Both have certain connections with a scientific mentality, and in this way are connected with each other, but there is not much direct connection.] Consider this: Who is more likely to observe a strict day of rest from business, money-making and shopping, a Catholic who believes that God “rested” from his labor of creating new kinds of creatures on a literal seventh day, or a theistic evolutionist who believes that the seven day week was a man-made idea [the straw man again!] that arose after the evolution of the human body from inorganic matter through billions of years of death, disease, and random mutations? By analogy, would the practice of abstinence or some other kind of mortification on Friday increase or decrease if “scholars” succeeded in convincing the faithful that Jesus did not really die for us on a Friday? [It would probably not be affected, as long as Friday remained the liturgical commemoration of Christ's death (and would definitely not be affected for those with sound liturgical sense). The practice of mortification on Friday has suffered and declined a lot more than the observance of Sunday, which in many ways still remains, without people being convinced, or even particularly inclined to believe that Jesus did not really die on a Friday. This analogy in fact shows the weakness for a causal connection between Sunday observance and belief in evolution.]

Unfortunately, the consequences of the theistic evolutionist denial of a divinely-instituted Sabbath extend far beyond a failure to “keep the Lord’s Day holy.” Theistic evolutionists also reject the notion—shared by all of the Fathers and Doctors without exception—that there was a clearly defined creation period after which God ceased to create new kinds of creatures and allowed secondary causality to operate within the framework of natural laws. Consequently, the theistic evolutionist empties the notion of the Sabbath rest of the Lord of all of its meaning. [Actually, it is the notion of God's "rest" as a negation, as no longer being at work, which empties the Sabbath rest of it's real meaning. Consideration of Christ's words, "My Father is still working, and I am working," might be in order.] According to the traditional understanding of Genesis, the Sabbath marked the end of the creation period, after which God ceased creating new kinds of creatures.

Abolishing the distinction between the creation period and the period of divine providence has led to major confusion about the limitations of natural science and the proper relationship between theology and the natural sciences. This in turn has led to a colossal waste of time, money, and energy on the part of governments and academic institutions which have tried to extrapolate from presently-observed natural processes all the way back to the moment of creation. [This claim doesn't pertain so much to faith, theology, or spiritual life, but one significant remark regarding this, is that whatever one thinks is the content of the Christian faith regarding the manner of creation, one cannot really expect this to influence governments research in natural science, unless those governments are explicitly Christian, and recognize the faith as a principle for guiding their own decisions… which was true of many in the past, but of very few today.]

3 thoughts on “Evolution and Creation VI – Sabbath rest”

  1. Just a quick thought – the Sabbath – a day of rest – is the most important thing that we can do for ourselves. Don’t neglect it and be true to it. You should take a day – weekly – where you have NOTHING to do with work – I know, it may seem like fantasy for an entrepreneur but it is the best thing that you can do for your business to keep you fresh.

  2. The bible in Genesis 2:2,3 says "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." Three times the seventh day is mentioned and that is the day God sanctified or set a part to make it holy. If God blessed that day and sanctified it, that is the day that I should set a part to worship not a day that man chooses.

  3. Well done, an excellent article. Just to say, one of the Popes said you take the Bible literally unless it goes against reason. With regards the first 11 chapters of Genesis (Sacred History), yes you can take it literally. Why? Because Macro Evolution has never been observed (Micro Evolution has, dogs coming from wolves). There is no fossil record to show we came from Apes. If there is, put up the links. For example, 'Lucy', the so called missing link, has been shown to be an ape. Science tells us that evolution is impossible. Catholics, who desire to be Saints, start studying Biology, Chemistry etc. It shows God's power!!!!

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