Creation and Evolution I – Hugh Owen's Response

Hugh Owen took the time to write a lengthy response to my first critique of his account of contradiction between the theory of evolution and the divinely revealed account of genesis. (Original post: Evolution and Creation I – Scripture and Tradition). I'm posting it here.

The affirmations in question that are stated by Hugh Owen are the following:

Theistic evolutionists and defenders of the traditional doctrine of creation both agree that the literal historical interpretation of Genesis was upheld by all of the Fathers, Doctors, and magisterial pronouncements of the Catholic Church for more than 1800 years. According to this common doctrine: (emphasis added)

1. God created all of the different kinds of creatures ex nihilo in six days or less. etc.

I emphasize the term "interpretation" because the real issue is not what the fathers believed to be an actual fact, but what they believed to be divinely revealed through the Scriptures.

To the first point about creating all the different kinds of creatures in six days or less I responded, (1) that "species" or "kinds" are fixed in such a way that new kinds could not develop after creation is not common patristic or magisterial teaching; (2) Irenaeus allows that the sixth day could be a thousand years, in accordance with the text "a day of the Lord is as a thousand years," and Justin Martyr makes the same interpretation. Origen and Augustine do not take the six days as a narrative of the historical order of creation at all, but as a manner of revealing God's creation of the world.

[Hugh Owen's response]

You wrote: God created all of the different kinds of creatures [that is, plants, animals, fish, etc.–that "species" or "kinds" are fixed in such a way that new kinds could not develop after creation is not common patristic or magisterial teaching] ex nihilo in six days or less. [Irenaeus allows that the sixth day could be a thousand years, in accordance with the text "a day of the Lord is as a thousand years," and Justin Martyr makes the same interpretation. Origen and Augustine do not take the six days as a narrative of the historical order of creation at all, but as a manner of revealing God's creation of the world.]

I Reply: The Fathers are unanimous in holding that the prototypes of creatures that reproduce sexually, like humans, whales, and wolves, were specially created by God in the beginning and that all of the different kinds of sexually reproducing creatures are descended from those specially created prototypes. This is entirely consistent with what we observe in nature. Here are two good examples of the patristic teaching:

St. Basil the Great writes:

The nature of existing objects set in motion by one command, passes through creation without change, by generation and destruction, preserving the succession of kinds by resemblance, until it reaches the very end. It begets a horse as the successor of a horse, a lion of a lion, and an eagle of an eagle; and it continues to preserve each of the animals by uninterrupted successions until the consummation of the universe. No length of time causes the specific characteristics of the animals to be corrupted or extinct, but, as if established just recently, ever fresh, moves along with time. (St. Basil the Great, Hexaemeron, 9:2)

St. Ambrose writes:

The Word of God permeates every creature in the constitution of the world. Hence, as God had ordained, all kinds of living creatures were quickly produced from the earth. In compliance with a fixed law they all succeed each other from age to age according to their aspect and kind. The lion generates a lion; the tiger, a tiger; the ox, an ox; the swan, a swan; and the eagle, an eagle. What was once enjoined became in nature a habit for all time. Hence the earth has not ceased to offer the homage of her service. The original species of living creatures is reproduced for future ages by successive generations of its kind. (Hexaemeron, 3:16

These statements are perfectly in harmony with what 21th century natural science observes: adaptation and devolution of the original kinds of creatures, rather than mutation and natural selection of new organs and functions evolving new kinds of creatures, like birds from reptiles or whales from land mammals. The patristic understanding is perfectly compatible with speciation (which is devolutionary) but not with evolutionary transformations like reptiles changing into birds.

I strongly recommend that you read Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome by the famous Cornell University geneticist Dr. John Sanford (The first review on the Amazon web page for his book provides an excellent summary of the book.) Dr. Sanford shows that twenty-first century genetics not only contradicts the primary axiom of the Neo-Darwinian Theory that is taught in virtually all mainstream schools and universities (i.e. mutations + natural selection = evolution). He actually shows that most so-called “neutral” mutations are actually slightly deleterious and that these slightly-negative mutations accumulate in the genome of every kind of organism fast enough so that every kind of organism on earth is not evolving but devolving. In fact, Sanford shows that, in light of current research, the human genome likely cannot be more than thousands–not tens of thousands–of years old, because if it had been accumulating mutations at the current rate for more than 10,000 years we would be extinct! In short, 21st century genetics indicates that all genomes are devolving from an original state of integrity and that this process of devolution cannot have been going on for more than thousands of years. (I refer you to the first review of the book on the Amazon web page for details.) Dr. Sanford also shows that the declining ages of the patriarchs recorded in Genesis 1-11 agree perfectly with the findings of 21st century genetics.

St. Irenaeus does not say that the sixth day could be a thousand years. In fact, he makes quite clear that the days of creation are natural days consisting of “an evening and a morning.” Moreover, he calls the sixth day when Adam sinned the day preceding the Sabbath, thus confirming that the sixth day is a normal day. Irenaeus does say that Adam’s lifespan could be interpreted as lasting a thousand years in keeping with the saying, “A thousand years are as one day.” But that has nothing to do with the length of the creation period. Here is the pertinent passage from Against Heresies

Thus, then, in the day that they ate, in the same did they die, and became death's debtors, since it was one day of the creation. For it is said, There was made in the evening, and there was made in the morning, one day. Now in this same day that they ate, in that also did they die. But according to the cycle and progress of the days, after which one is termed first, another second, and another third, if anybody seeks diligently to learn upon what day out of the seven it was that Adam died, he will find it by examining the dispensation of the Lord. For by summing up in Himself the whole human race from the beginning to the end, He has also summed up its death. From this it is clear that the Lord suffered death, in obedience to His Father, upon that day on which Adam died while he disobeyed God. Now he died on the same day in which he ate. For God said, In that day on which you shall eat of it, you shall die by death. The Lord, therefore, recapitulating in Himself this day, underwent His sufferings upon the day preceding the Sabbath, that is, the sixth day of the creation, on which day man was created; thus granting him a second creation by means of His passion, which is that [creation] out of death. And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since a day of the Lord is as a thousand years, 2 Peter 3:8 he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin. Whether, therefore, with respect to disobedience, which is death; whether [we consider] that, on account of that, they were delivered over to death, and made debtors to it; whether with respect to [the fact that on] one and the same day on which they ate they also died (for it is one day of the creation) ; whether [we regard this point], that, with respect to this cycle of days, they died on the day in which they did also eat, that is, the day of the preparation, which is termed the pure supper, that is, the sixth day of the feast, which the Lord also exhibited when He suffered on that day; or whether [we reflect] that he (Adam) did not overstep the thousand years, but died within their limit—it follows that, in regard to all these significations, God is indeed true. For they died who tasted of the tree; and the serpent is proved a liar and a murderer, as the Lord said of him: For he is a murderer from the beginning, and the truth is not in him. John 8:44 (Book V, Chapter 23, 2; Against Heresies)

With regard to Justin Martyr, the place where he is alleged to have said that the seventh day had no end does not support your thesis at all. Here is the passage:

And the fact that it was not said of the seventh day equally with the other days, And there was evening, and there was morning, is a distinct indication of the consummation which is to take place in it before it is finished, as the fathers declare, especially St. Clement, and Irenæus, and Justin the martyr and philosopher, who, commenting with exceeding wisdom on the number six of the sixth day, affirms that the intelligent soul of man and his five susceptible senses were the six works of the sixth day. Whence also, having discoursed at length on the number six, he declares that all things which have been framed by God are divided into six classes—viz., into things intelligent and immortal, such as are the angels; into things reasonable and mortal, such as mankind; into things sensitive and irrational, such as cattle, and birds, and fishes; into things that can advance, and move, and are insensible, such as the winds, and the clouds, and the waters, and the stars; into things which increase and are immoveable, such as the trees; and into things which are insensible and immoveable, such as the mountains, the earth, and such like. For all the creatures of God, in heaven and on earth, fall under one or other of these divisions, and are circumscribed by them.— Justin Martyr, From the writings of Anastasius.

In the first place, the fact that Justin refers to the days of creation as days with “evening and morning” proves that he understands them to be 24 hour days. In contrast, the seventh day, in his interpretation, has no end, because it refers to the period of providence that began after the creation period, when all of the different kinds of creatures will fulfill the purpose for which they were created in the beginning. There is another passage in Justin’s First Apology where he says of the Holy Eucharist:

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world (First Apology, Chapter 67).

Here again, Justin refers to Sunday as “the first day,” the day on which God created light, thus underscoring his conviction that the days of creation were natural days. This is precisely the same understanding that we find in the other Fathers and in the Sacred Liturgy, as in the writings of St. Gregory the Theologian, fourth century Patriarch of Constantinople:

Just as the creation begins with Sunday (and this is evident from the fact that the seventh day after it is Saturday, because it is the day of repose from works) so also the second creation begins again with the same day [i.e. the day of the Resurrection] (bold added). According to the 1994 Catechism, the Syriac Office of Antioch includes the following prayer:

When we ponder, O Christ, the marvels accomplished on this day, the Sunday of your holy Resurrection, we say: “Blessed is Sunday, for on it began creation” (emphasis added) (Fanquith, The Syriac Office of Antioch, vol. VI, first part of Summer, 193 B. (CCC, 1167).

With regard to Origen and St. Augustine, I did not say that they regarded the six days as a record of the order of creation, I wrote that all of the Fathers held that the creation period was six natural days (the overwhelming majority view) or an instant (the minority view held by Origen and St. Augustine). According to Origen:

the Mosaic account of creation … teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that (Against Celsus, 1:19) (emphasis added).

The specific points which are clearly handed down by the apostolic preaching are these: First, that there is one God who created and arranged all things, and who, when nothing existed, called all things into existence (The Fundamental Doctrines, 1, preface, 4)

Origen also emphasizes that the creation was completed at the beginning of the world, and that the sabbath rest of the Lord continues to this day.

For he [Celsus] knows nothing of the day of the Sabbath and rest of God, which follows the completion of the world's creation, and which lasts during the duration of the world, and in which all those will keep festival with God who have done all their works in their six days, and who, because they have omitted none of their duties, will ascend to the contemplation [of celestial things], and to the assembly of righteous and blessed beings (Against Celsus, Book vi. chap. 1xi.) (emphasis added).

From all of this we can deduce the following:

Origen's creation is instantaneous. We can be sure of this because Origen says that the Mosaic account gives much less than ten thousand years since the creation of the world. This is only possible if he considers the Genesis genealogies as beginning at creation. Otherwise, he would have no way of determining the age of the world. But if the Genesis genealogies begin at creation and give us the time that has elapsed since the beginning of the world, then there cannot be any time taken up with the creation itself. This interpretation of Origen's words is strengthened by the fact that he confidently asserts that the entire world is much less than ten thousand years old. This view is also supported by the fact that Origen speaks of "all things" being called into existence at once out of nothing–a statement which does not allow for any lapse of time or evolutionary development. Lest we entertain any doubt on this point, he insists that the sabbath rest of the Lord–which continues to this day–began after creation was completed in the beginning. Finally, there is the following statement from Against Celsus

And since he [the pagan Celsus] makes the statements about the 'days of creation' ground of accusation–as if he understood them clearly and correctly, some of which elapsed before the creation of light and heaven, the sun and moon and stars, and some of them after the creation of these we shall only make this observation, that Moses must have forgotten that he had said a little before 'that in six days the creation of the world had been finished' and that in consequence of this act of forgetfulness he subjoins to these words the following: 'This is the book of the creation of man in the day when God made the heaven and the earth [Gen. 2:4]'" Against Celsus 6:51).

From this passage we can see that Origen regards the six days as one day and appeals to Genesis 2:4 as his proof text. When we set this passage alongside the other passages quoted above, we can see that Origen belongs in the ranks of the minority among the Fathers who held that God created all things instantaneously, a view that St. Augustine championed in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Therefore, the Kolbe Center is quite justified in saying that all of the Fathers held that God created all things in six days or less.

It is noteworthy that even the allegorically-minded Origen believed that Genesis contained an accurate chronology of the world from creation to the historical period of Abraham and the later patriarchs. His "very much under" ten thousand years is right in the same ballpark as the chronologies of the rest of the Fathers who taught that there had been less than 6000 years from creation to the Incarnation, in contrast to the pagan intellectuals of the patristic era many of whom believed in long ages and who mocked the Fathers for their faith in the Hebrew chronology. For example, St. Augustine, commenting on this topic in the City of God, wrote:

They [pagans] are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents that profess to give the history of [man as] many thousands of years, though reckoning by the sacred writings we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed (bold added) (St. Augustine, City of God, 12:10).

And St. Theophilus of Antioch wrote in a similar vein:

If even a chronological error has been committed by us, for example, of fifty or 100 or even 200 years, yet [there have] not [been] the thousands and tens of thousands, as Plato and Apollonius and other mendacious authors have hitherto written (bold added) (To Autolycus 3:28-29 [A.D. 181]).

In short, the writings of the Fathers that you cite in contradiction to my argument do not support your thesis.

St. Gregory Nazianzen, Homily 44, “On the New Week, Spring, and the Commemoration of the Martyr Mamas,” quoted in Fr. Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation, and Early Man (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2000), p. 402.

[My response] Regarding the Fathers and the permanence of species, I repeat again, the issue is not what the Fathers thought to be the natural facts about the world on the basis of the natural history and science available to them (facts which of course they will make use of also in commentaries on scripture, just as someone will make use of facts about lilies when commenting on a passage on lilies), but what they thought to be the divine teaching of Scripture.

In regards to modern science on the issue of evolution, there are multiple problems with Dr. John Sanford's arguments. E.g., if the accumulation of mutations in men means that after a mere 10,000 years men would be extinct, then the accumulation of mutations in more rapidly reproducing creatures would mean that they would be extinct after some hundreds of years, which is not the case. In any case, my intent is not to address the empirical, modern scientific issues here, but the scriptural and theological issues.

Quoting a text of Irenaeus to which one might be presume I referred (and had read) is not going to be enough to convince me to change my interpretation. I won't here pursue the question of the interpretation of that passage, as it is disputed, and is unlikely to be resolved in an exchange of this sort.

The passage of Justin I was referring to is not where he speaks of the seventh day having no end, but of the day on which Adam lived as being one thousand years. "For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, ‘The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,’ is connected with this subject." (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 81;

My point in noting that Origen and Augustine do not take the six days as a narrative of the historical order of creation at all, is that it follows from this that they do not take them as teaching any particular historical length of time, whether an instant, six periods of 24 hours, or any other definite length.

In interpreting Origen, a false dichotomy is set up between an indefinitely long period of creation, and instantaneous creation. "Origen's creation is instantaneous. We can be sure of this because Origen says that the Mosaic account gives much less than ten thousand years since the creation of the world. This is only possible if he considers the Genesis genealogies as beginning at creation." In fact, Origen does not believe that everything in the world was created instantaneously (an illustrative text is below), and yet he is convinced that there are less than ten thousand years since the creation of the world. How is this possible? There are several things Origen may be thinking. First, the "ten thousand years" may refer to the end of the period of creation. Secondly, and more likely, Origen thinks that the period of creation was a relatively short one–e.g., in any case no more than the lifespan of a human being.

The claim that Origen sees creation as all happening instantaneously because of the affirmation of creation ex nihilo, he says God "when nothing existed, called all things into existence", rests on a misunderstanding of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. The point is that God did not use pre-existing matter for creation, not that there is no process of change through which the various elements of creation were formed.

What is the order of creation as Origen sees it? First, spiritual beings were created. Some of these sinned, and consequently were attached to matter and bodies, and in this process the concrete material universe was formed. But there is an order among these, e.g., the devil is the first. It was not all simultaneous.

90 …"The term 'beginning'… has multiple meanings even in divine discourse.'

91 One of these meanings refers to a commencement…

95. There is also a 'beginning' in the sense of coming into existence attested in 'In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth' (Gen. 1:1). I believe this sense is indicated even more clearly in Job where it says: 'This is the beginning of the Lord's fashioning, made as a sport for his angels' (Job 17:19 LXX).

96. Someone might assume that 'heaven and earth' were made 'in the beginning' of those things that existed when the world came to be, but it is better to say, as in our second citation, that of the many things that came to be in bodies, the first of those in the body was the so-called 'dragon,' also named somewhere 'great whale,' which the Lord subdued (see Job 3:8; 2 Pet. 2:4).

103…Third is the sense of 'beginning from which,' as in beginning from underlying matter. This is proposed by those who believe that matter is ingenerate, but not by us who believe that God made the things that are from things that are not, as the mother of the seven martyrs in Maccabees (2 Mac. 7:28) and as the angel of repentance in Shephard taught (Hermas, Mand. 1,1; Vis. 1.1.6).

Commentary on John, Book I. Translation from Origen (The Early Church Fathers) by Joseph W. Trigg.

Augustine, too, did not believe in an instantaneous creation, in the sense in which this would be incompatible with theistic evolution (though there are other senses in which he believed in an instantaneous creation–e.g., within the spiritual creation]). Augustine believed in continuous creation: God is the creator of everything that comes into being, both because he gave to creation the power from which they come into being, and because he actualizes this power.

Causaliter ergo tunc dictum est produxisse terram herbam et lignum, id est producendi accepisse uirtutem. In ea quippe iam tamquam in radicibus, ut ita dixerim, temporum facta erant, quae per tempora futura erant; nam utique postea plantauit deus paradisum iuxta orientem et eiecit ibi de terra omne lignum speciosum ad aspectum et bonum ad escam. … non solum tunc plantauit paradisum, sed etiam nunc omnia, quae nascuntur. Quis enim alius etiam nunc ista creat, nisi qui usque nunc operatur? Sed creat haec modo ex his, quae iam sunt; tunc autem ab illo, cum omnino nulla essent, creata sunt, cum factus et dies ille, qui etiam ipse omnino non erat, spiritalis uidelicet atque intellectualis creatura.

The earth is said to have produced plants and trees causally, i.e., it received the power to produce them. In it those temporal things that were to come to be in the future were made as in their roots, so to speak; for indeed God afterwards planted Paradise and drove up from the earth every tree beautiful to look at and good for food…. he planted not only the Paradise at that time, but also now all the things that are born. For who else creates those now, except he who works even now? But now he creates from things that already are, while then things were created when they had not been at all, when that day was made that had not been at all, namely the spiritual and intellectual creature. (On Genesis According to the Letter V, 4).

Note that if one is interpreting evolution in another way than as God bringing things actually into existence from the power he previously bestowed on creation, one is not speaking of theistic evolution, but of materialistic, hegelian, or some other interpretation of evolution.

Booklet On Evolution

The booklet on evolution I was writing, and mentioned in an earlier post, has now been published under the title Darwin and Evolution: from a Catholic Perspective, and is available from Catholic Truth Society in England. I've also had several copies shipped to the USA and arranged to resell them from there, which for one or two copies will be cheaper (and presumably quickly) than having them shipped from England. More information and selections from the book are available here.

Evolution and Creation VIII – Relationship to God

From Hugh Owen's The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation

My comments are in red.

8. The Traditional doctrine of creation fosters an intimate relationship between Christians and God, their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Theistic evolutionism erodes this intimacy.
According to the traditional understanding of creation, God created the entire universe for man at the very beginning of creation, about six thousand years ago. According to this interpretation of Genesis, there is nothing in the entire world that does not exist for man. [But there are many things that do not exist directly for man, but only indirectly, as parts of a whole. The various parts of the universe that man never sees or experiences directly (e.g., certain sections deep within the earth, or asteroids too small for man to observe), are only for man inasmuch as they are part of the whole universe, which is as a whole for the sake of man.] Man has always been at center stage. Moreover, in the beginning, God and man lived in such intimacy that there was perfect communication between them. Adam’s every thought, word, and deed, unfolded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Adam saw God in all things, and all things in God. From this perspective, it is easy to believe that every human life is worth more than the entire material universe, and that the whole purpose of the universe is to provide a place for intimate union between God and his human children. From this perspective, the most harmful effect of Original Sin was the alienation from God that it produced, and all of the evils of human life—death, disease, mutations, violence, and selfishness—stem from the original loss of intimacy between God and his children.

In contrast to this traditional doctrine of creation, theistic evolutionism denies that man has had any special place in the history of the universe. [Sounds more like atheistic evolutionism to me, though even an atheist could recognize a special place of man in the universe. Theistic evolution, in any case, does not deny man's special place.] According to the evolutionary time scale, for most of the world’s alleged 15 billion year history, man was nowhere to be found. Having evolved from the apes during the last 1 % of cosmic history, man is only a blip on the screen. [This is a very materialistic way of viewing things. Are we to judge of the importance of things by the amount of time spent on them? Is a person's wedding a scarcely significant event because it takes up less than 0.005% of his or her life? The duration of Christ's human life was a fraction of the duration of human history. Does that make it relatively unimportant?] Even then, he evolves into a state of nature characterized by violence, disease, mutations, natural disasters, and a relentless struggle for existence, all of it intended by God from the beginning to be part of man’s experience. Instead of a beautiful, perfectly harmonious universe, the first human beings awoke to—or evolved into—a world of bloodshed and misery. [This view of the perfection of the universe, as consisting in the absence of all natural evils such as pain, disease, and death, is not the traditional Catholic view. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the view that, e.g., creatures such as lions would not have harmed other animals, but would have, before the fall, lived on plants, and not on the flesh of other animals, is "completely unreasonable." The perfection of the universe consists in its order; this order consists especially in the various natures and goods found in it; but there are many bodily natures and goods that cannot naturally exist without other natural evils, as the lion cannot exist without the death of the animals it eats.] Moreover, God willed that man endure hundreds of thousands of years of violence, disease, crippling mutations, natural disasters, and a relentless struggle for existence, in the darkness of false beliefs, until God saw fit to reveal the rudiments of the natural and divine law to the Hebrews a few thousand years ago. [According to the Catholic tradition, the natural law is discernible in creation, and in this sense is revealed by God apart from the historical revelation, or Jewish revelation in particular "For the Fathers of the Church the "sequi naturam" and the "sequela Christi" are not opposed… To follow [reason] is to follow the personal Logos, the Word of God…. the doctrine of the natural law… allows one to illustrate why the pagans, independently of the biblical revelation, possess a positive moral conception" (International Theological Commission A Search for Universal Ethics: A New Look at the Natural Law, n. 26.)] According to this view, God preserved no accurate record of the vast bulk of human history, but simply inspired the Hebrews to re-fashion various pagan myths and legends into morally uplifting myths about 600 years before the Incarnation of Jesus. [The dating of the Scriptures is not directly connected with the question of evolution. They are possibly connected indirectly, inasmuch as there is historical evidence for each. I am not an expert on historical evidence for the dating of the Scriptures, however, so can't comment on that.]

Theistic evolutionism has spawned a host of novel interpretations of Genesis, most of which clash violently with the unanimous [more accurately, majority] interpretations of Genesis made by the Church Fathers. Perhaps the most popular of these novel theories is known as progressive creationism. According to its proponents, the absence of transitional fossils in the fossil record indicates that God created the prototypes of the various kinds of creatures by an act of creation at various points in geological history. However, through their unwillingness to challenge the evolutionist chronology of billions of years, the progressive creationists end by accepting all of the anomalies mentioned in the preceding paragraph—except that they believe that God shone a light in the darkness of geological ages by creating new kinds of creatures from time to time. According to progressive creationism, however, God did not perform these creative acts for the sake of man, who was not created until somewhere between 50,000 and 1,000,000 years ago, but for His own inscrutable purposes, which had nothing to do with creating a harmonious and welcoming home for his first human children. [God's providence is universal, and includes all time. In fact, everything in history that influence any individual man, was willed by God for that man. Much more was everything in the history of the world that has a bearing on the world, and thus on man, willed for the sake of man. (And obviously, on the view that we see the evidence of evolution in fossils and so on, this evolution is relevant for man inasmuch as man sees this evidence.)] Needless to say, such attempts to “reform” or “save” theistic evolutionism and to reconcile it with the Catholic Faith bear little if any resemblance to the Faith of the Apostles, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church.

Evolution and Creation VII – Spiritual Forces of Evil

From Hugh Owens The Traditional Doctrine of Creation

7. The Traditional doctrine of creation fosters a realistic understanding of the spiritual forces of evil and attributes the evils of the world to man’s cooperation with them. By denying the literal historical of Genesis 1-11, theistic evolutionism blinds its adherents to the supernatural dimension of life, reduces many of the supernatural actions of God, angels, and demons, to natural causes, and thus makes its disciples unfit for spiritual warfare.

In the first chapters of Genesis, all of the Apostles and Fathers read a realistic account of the spiritual seduction of our first parents by Satan, the Prince of Darkness. Without exception, they understood the Christian life as spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of darkness. They lived their everyday lives with a keen awareness of the supernatural world, and of the constant struggle between good and evil spirits that raged within them and around them. For the Fathers of the Church, the Genesis account of the temptation and the Fall was an endless source of meditation and instruction in spiritual combat, which kept them in a state of constant vigilance and readiness to resist the wiles of the devil. Like the Holy Fathers, those who now embrace the traditional interpretation of Genesis find themselves attuned to the supernatural dimension of life, forewarned and forearmed for the spiritual combat, and more capable not only of protecting themselves from spiritual harm, but also the souls entrusted to their care.

By denying the historical truth of the first chapters of Genesis, theistic evolutionism has fostered a preoccupation with natural causes almost to the exclusion of supernatural ones. By denying the several supernatural creative acts of God in Genesis, and by downplaying the importance of the supernatural activity of Satan, theistic evolutionists easily slip into a naturalistic mentality which seeks to explain everything in terms of natural causes. [This danger is to some extent real, but it is also to some extent unavoidable, and the opposite approach has its own danger. The more things that are explained in terms of natural causes, the more likely it is, other things being equal, that someone will think that all things can be explained in terms of natural causes alone. But should we try to bolster up our belief in spiritual beings such as angels, or divine miracles, by deliberately refraining from investigating the natural causes of things? On the other hand, the "all or nothing" approach has an even greater danger, that when it becomes evident that something which one believed to have only a spiritual cause, is shown to have some natural cause, one will reject all spirituality causality. Thus it happens that a person who believes that either evolution is true, or that God works in the world, may pass suddenly from belief in God to atheism, when he becomes persuaded that evolution is true] Once this mentality takes hold, it is easy for men to regard the concept of spiritual warfare as a holdover from the days of primitive superstition. Diabolical activity is reduced to material or psychological causes. The devil and his demons come to be seen as irrelevant. Soon “hell” joins the devil and his demons in the category of antiquated concepts. And the theistic evolutionist easily makes the fatal mistake of thinking that he has nothing more to fear from the devil and his angels.

According to Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist of Rome, there is a tremendous increase in diabolical activity and influence in the formerly Christian world. And yet most of the bishops of Europe no longer believe in the existence of evil spirits and many no longer have even a single exorcist in their dioceses. To the Fathers of the Church who believed in the truth of Genesis, this would be incredible. But in view of the almost universal acceptance of theistic evolution, it is hardly surprising.

[On the whole, there is not such a specific correlation between belief in evolution and a lack of belief in evil spirits. There is more of a connection at a more general level. The belief in evolution fits in well with a materialist empirical approach to the world, and this approach often ignores or denies the work of evil spirits. In this sense there is the possibility of someone finding confirmation of this "scientific" approach to the world in theistic evolution. More on this idea of two "worldviews" later.]

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.]

Evolution and Creation V – Hope or Despair

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

Comments are in red.

5. The traditional understanding offers hope for the future of mankind. Theistic evolutionism fosters either a false hope or a deep despair.

The traditional understanding of Genesis confers hope. It gives Christians confidence that the same beautiful harmony that existed throughout the whole universe “in the beginning” will be restored “in the end” through the working of the Holy Spirit. [That seems logical. If it was that way once, it can be again.] It also strengthens men’s faith in the credibility of the prophecies of numerous canonized saints who have foretold a future flowering of Christianity before the final judgment and the end of the world when many of the characteristics of the first created world will be restored. [Is this good or bad? Should men's faith in private revelation be based upon how plausible the content seems to them?] The Christian who comprehends and believes in the patristic understanding of creation also has the capacity to reconcile the occurrence of death-dealing natural disasters with the absolute goodness of God who wills no evil. [Is this the answer to the problem of evil? God really didn't want things this way, but it wasn't up to him…] In light of the traditional understanding of Genesis, the faithful know that destructive natural disasters do not reflect the natural order as it came forth from God’s hands. [If "destructive natural disasters" means disasters harmful to the human race to descend from Adam, this is true. If it means natural disasters harmful to other living beings, it needs qualification–perhaps that was a common opinion, but it doesn't seem that it was generally held as part of the meaning of the text. Also, though not stated, it seems to be suggested that it had to be this way, that God couldn't have a created a world in the state in which it is now. This is a misunderstanding of the fall. Fallen man is not nature minus something that belongs to nature. He is man in the state of nature, without the gifts of grace that were planned for him in Adam. The Church even condemned the position that "The integrity of the first creation was not an exaltion of human nature not due to it, but was its natural condition," (Denz. 1026), and taught that God could have created man in the same state in which he is now (Denz. 1055), subject to death, pain, etc.–in such a case it would not be fallen nature, since it wouldn't have been previously elevated.
with natural evil before sin, a position condemned in 1567 (Denz. 1055)]
Moreover, they understand that such disasters result directly or indirectly from the sins of mankind, and that they have a twofold purpose—first, to correct sinners, and, second, to bring them to repentance. [The supposition that such events belong to nature as such, and occurred before sin, does not remove them from God's providence. God is Lord of nature, and does use nature to correct sinners and bring them to repentance. To supppose that "natural disasters" have to be unnatural in order to be instruments of God's providence is to make a grave mistake.] According to the traditional doctrine of creation, the first created world operated in perfect harmony and subordination to Adam and Eve, so long as they in turn remained subordinated to the Divine Will. The course of nature as we know it today resulted from a curse imposed on nature by God after Adam’s fall. With this in mind, the traditional understanding inspires a fervent hope that each repentant sinner and divinized saint brings the world one step closer to the day when the wolf will lie down with the lamb. [The original claim has become stronger. Not only does it give confidence, but inspires a fervent hope. Our hope, though, is not primarily based upon a conviction about the original state, and the possibility of what already was, being once again, but upon God's promise of a new heaven and a new earth.]

Theistic evolutionism cannot conceive of an original harmonious state of the universe, and thus either dismisses prophecies of a future restoration of the world before the final judgment or misinterprets them as referring to some kind of Teilhardian evolution of consciousness. In general, theistic evolutionism leads its adherents to believe that God deliberately ordained a struggle for existence and a process of natural selection as his means for producing the human body through secondary causes. For the theistic evolutionist, man-harming natural disasters, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes, are just part of the ordinary course of nature as created by God from the beginning. [However the beginning was, such occurences are now part of the ordinary course of nature, according to the Catholic understanding, which again, does not mean they are outside providence.] Consequently, the theistic evolutionist does not see the connection between natural disasters and men’s sins, and thus fails to interpret “the signs of the times.” Faced with the painful reality of natural disasters, he either lives in a constant state of denial that God uses such events to accomplish his purposes without regard to human sin, or else he falls into despair at the contradiction between such a god and the God of love revealed in the Bible.

Evolution and Creation IV – Man and Nature

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

Comments are in red.

4. Theistic evolutionism perverts the relationship between man and nature. The traditional doctrine of creation fosters a right relationship between man and nature.

According to theistic evolution, all creatures, including the human body, have arisen out of lifeless matter through billions of years of natural processes. [(1). The theory of evolution does not necessarily entail life arising from lifeless matter. Self-replicating non-living beings can be subject to evolution, but the scientific theory of evolution itself doesn't as yet have much to say about whether life arose from such non-living self-replicators. It is true that quite a few scientists, because of naturalist suppositions, assume that this is the origin of life. But that is merely an hypothesis. (2). According to theistic evolution correctly understood, if living beings came from non-living beings, their life comes from God. Theistic evolution is, in fact, distinct from atheistic evolution, according to which, ultimately, potency produces actuality.] This perspective harmonizes very well with the popular pantheistic slogan, “The earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the earth.” [It is true that it harmonizes with pantheism, inasmuch as, if the individual components (atoms, proteins, or such things) that directly produced living beings were, as components, lifeless, and if life can only come from life (since a complete cause must be at least as perfect as its effect), then there has to be another cause of life than those individual components. This could be the whole earth, or the whole universe, but it could just as much, indeed even more be a separate divine being. Thus the view that life is derived from non-living matter harmonizes even better with theism… especially since according to the pantheistic view, life didn't really derive from non-living matter; rather, all matter is alive.] Such a slogan would have been anathema to the Apostles and to the Holy Fathers of the Church. Within the context of their understanding of Genesis, it would have been blasphemous to suggest that the earth in any sense gave man his existence. All of the Holy Fathers recognized the literal truth of the Genesis account of the special creation of man, in which God alone used material elements to form man’s body but fashioned that body and infused his soul by a supernatural act of his Divine Will. According to the traditional understanding of Genesis, God created the whole universe for man. All things in heaven and earth are entrusted by God to us, as the stewards of creation. [This last sentence is setting up a strawman. The earth's being "entrusted by God" to man is just as compatible with theistic evolution as with immediate creation.]

The patristic understanding of Genesis fosters a deep reverence for the sacredness and mystery of life, including each particular kind of life. The traditional understanding of Genesis recoils at the thought of tinkering with the DNA of any kind of living thing, except to repair a known abnormality or genetic defect. [This premise is at the least overstated, if not simply inaccurate. According to this argument, breeding plants to improve their yield, nutritional value, or flavor, or breeding animals to improve their strength, life expectancy, or health would also be wrong. The difference between selecting plants or animals for a given trait, and giving them it directly by altering the DNA consists in (1) the speed with which the change is made, and (2) the fact that our knowledge of DNA and what it produces is quite imperfect. The speed doesn't really matter; our degree of knowledge does. So at most, a belief that each kind of being was separately created, would lead us to be caution or to hold off on altering DNA directly, until we understood it well enough to do so within the limits suitable to each kind of living being. It would not in the least forbid it simply speaking.]

The traditional understanding fosters a profound skepticism in regard to the safety of genetically modified foods, mindful of the purposeful God-given design of plant foods and the grave dangers inherent in tinkering with that design, especially when the genetically modified substances are ingested by human beings without rigorous testing in advance of the interaction between the GMF’s and the human body. [It does not follow from the premise that each kind of living being was separately created, that human tinkering with the design is dangerous, anymore than the premise that God created the earth implies that it is dangerous to dig caves or build hills. Nor, on the contrary, does the theory of evolution imply that tinkering with DNA is safe.]
Whether there is grave danger or not is such "tinkering" ]

[Granting that the theory of evolution and the belief in special creation necessarily, or at least in fact lead to these different attitudes regarding genetically modified foods and altering the DNA of animals, we might ask, what about it? The author of the article seems to take it as evident that the attitude of "profound skepticism" is the right attitude (since "the difference it makes" has always been showing how belief in creation leads to better attitudes than belief in evolution). But this is far from evident, and indeed is probably false. Caution is surely in order, but not "profound skepticism."]

According to theistic evolutionism, billions of years of death, destruction, mutations, and disease, have been the very means God has used to create the various kinds of creatures. To theistic evolutionists it is not at all unthinkable that man create clones, chimeras, or GMF’s, since, in their view, man is just imitating his “Father” who used random mutations and natural selection to “create” the first human body from the bodies of countless generations of ape-like creatures. [Turning the argument around, does this mean that to special creationists it is not at all unthinkable that man build up a man from non-living elements, since he is just imitating his Father who formed the first human body from non-living matter? It would seem to be equally valid. In fact both are inequally invalid. The sin of pride is said to be a certain wanting "to be like God". The fact that God did something does not mean that humans can rightly do it. It is because of human dignity that human cloning is wrong, not because of the historical manner in which God brought man into existence. Again, as regards GMF's, should they be "unthinkable"? No.]

[The next part deals with natural evils in the world, and God's love, and it was particularly that part which led me to begin writing this series.]

Evolution and Creation III – Sexuality

This post continues the series on theological, moral and spiritual issues related (really or supposedly) to the theory of evolution. James Chastek, at the Just Thomism blog, has been doing a number of posts on philosophical issues related to evolution, which readers of this blog may also be interested in reading.

From Hugh Owen's The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation:

My comments are in red.

3. Theistic Evolutionism confuses and undermines the distinct divinely-instituted roles of men and women and indirectly contributes to the confusion of sexual roles. The traditional understanding of Genesis defines and strengthens the God-given roles of men and women and protects the dignity of both sexes and the leadership role of men.

According to the patristic understanding of Genesis, human sexuality is a gift from above, a reflection of the Trinitarian mystery. [The principal analogate of marriage for the Fathers is not immediately the Trinity, but Christ and the Church.] According to this traditional understanding of human sexuality, contraception, homosexuality, masturbation, and bestiality are all sacrilegious sins, in that they defile the life-giving reflection of Trinitarian divine love and render it sterile. According to theistic evolution, however, human sexuality came up from the apes. [But according to theistic evolution, the particularly human aspect of sexuality is not common to men and apes, nor do men receive it from apes–it is rooted in the rational soul.] Homosexuals even argue that homosexuality is “natural” since certain species of apes and baboons practice homosexual play. [It is important to distinguish two senses of "natural"; in one sense, that which in any way follows upon nature is called natural; in another sense, only that which nature is directly ordered to is called natural; in the first sense, death, disease, and monstrous births are natural to all animals; in the second sense, they are not. The relevant sense of "natural" when discussing whether homosexuality is good or bad, is the second sense. Homosexuality of the sort where an animal is infertile for its whole life could be natural in the first sense, but it's hard to see how it could be in the second. Occasional homosexuality might in some animals be natural in the second sense, be somehow good for them. That would have to be seen by study; it can't be ruled out in advance.] Since man’s body evolved from animals of this kind, they argue, it is foolish to argue that homosexuality is against our nature. [It is indeed foolish to argue that an individual act of homosexuality is a moral evil without taking into consideration man's rational nature, which is presupposed to morality properly speaking. Because man has not a merely animal nature, but a spiritual and rational nature, which is capable of grasping universal truths and seeking good universally, an individual human act can be naturally apt to express the full meaning of human sexuality, which includes relationship to procreation. Hence, considering nature alone, without arguing from revelation, an argument for homosexuality would have to be based on anthropology (just like arguments against homosexuality); arguments from other animals cannot prove the case–we may find some kinds of animals for whom a certain amount of "stealing", "killing", "cheating", etc., is natural and good, but that in no way indicates that these are natural and good for man.]

The identification of the priesthood with masculinity after the pattern of the first Adam and of Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, led the Church Fathers to strongly condemn effeminacy and homosexuality in priests and monks. For the Holy Fathers, the identification of the priesthood with manhood was so strong that priests and monks were expected to be more manly, more courageous, and more ascetical than laymen. Not surprisingly, the rise of theistic evolutionism has coincided with a dramatic increase in homosexuality and effeminacy among the Catholic clergy along with a relentless feminization of the liturgy characterized by such things as female altar servers and inclusive language. [This argument scarcely needs comment. Theistic evolution does not in the least do away with the difference between masculinity and feminity. See the previous post for more on this. The causes of the minimalization of the difference between what is masculine and feminine are quite different–in part a perception that the feminine was as such made inferior to what is masculine, with the consequent desire of doing away with the difference between the two, in order to promote the equal dignity of man and woman.]

… Is it conceivable that homosexuality and clerical sexual abuse could have spread as widely as they have done in an atmosphere charged with faith in the literal historical truth of Genesis? [Yes. In fact, it may actually have been just as common in the early Eastern Church as it is now. Basil thinks it appropriate to forbid young monks from ever being together alone, because of the danger that they will be led to homosexual desires and acts. That's apparently indicative of a common inclination for young (and old) men to perceive young men as feminine, and thus be inclined to sexual intercourse with them. And this to a greater degree than present.]

Evolution and Creation II – Church and Family

From Hugh Owen's The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation

My comments are in red.

2. Theistic evolutionism fosters an anti-hierarchical vision of reality, including the Church and the family; the traditional doctrine of creation supports a hierarchical vision of reality, including the Church and the family.

The traditional understanding of Genesis conveys a hierarchical vision of reality, including a hierarchical understanding of the Church. Theistic evolutionism fosters an anti-hierarchical understanding of the Church. By envisioning the emergence of the first man and woman from ape-like parents, theistic evolution denies any kind of hierarchical relationship between Adam and Eve—although this flatly contradicts the traditional understanding of Genesis. According to patristic understanding, Adam was literally created before Eve. [Here I won't address the question of whether Eve was literally created from Adam's side, as I'm not familiar enough with the patristic texts on it. The theory of evolution does not, in any case, necessarily entail that Eve was the natural result of evolution, rather than miraculously formed from Adam. More importantly, the issue does not have the theological significance ascribed to it in this article. Literal historical fact or not, Eve's relationship to Adam does not depend on her coming from Adam insofar as it is (or is not) a historical fact, but insofar as it is symbolic. If God creates sons of Abraham from the stones, they are not more children of the stones than of Abraham because of a literal derivation from stones. There is a specific relationship between man and woman, found in human nature, which is expressed by the account of woman's creation in Genesis, and, if the creation from man's side is a literal historical fact, by this fact of the creation of woman from man's side. But this relationship is neither established by nor does it depend on a literal creation of woman from man; it is signified by it.]

As dogmatically decreed at the Ecumenical Council of Vienne, Eve was literally created from Adam’s side, forming a type of the creation of the Church from the side of Christ on the Cross. [This statement is misleading statement; the Council teaches that Adam, from whose side Eve was taken, is a type of Christ, from whose side (the blood and water flowing out) the Church was formed. It does not teach that Eve was literally created from Adam's side… nor in fact that the Church was literally created from Christ's side. It is a question what "literally" would mean in this case.]

In this way the creation of Eve mirrored the eternal generation of Christ by the Father. As Christ is “eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God . . . one in being with the Father,” so Eve was brought forth from the side of Adam, and shared the same nature as Adam. And just as the Holy Spirit is the endless living Love who proceeds from the Father through the Son, so the offspring of Adam and Eve were intended to be the fruit of their parents’ love, thus completing, in the human family, a perfect finite reflection of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. [This analogy doesn't have much patristic support, most likely because of the fact that Christ is the Son of the Father, while Eve is not the Son of Adam, and the Holy Spirit is not the Son of the Father and of the Word, while Seth (like Cain and Abel) is the Son of Adam and Eve.]

By denying the supernatural creation of Eve from Adam’s side, theistic evolutionism denies the Trinitarian and hierarchical nature of the human family. [The hierarchical nature of the family does not consist in a past fact, but is found in the nature of the family itself–as the Magisterium has frequently emphasized, the nature of the family is not something extrinsic and accessible only by revelation, but is rooted in human nature. Thus the "Trinitarian and hierarchical nature" of the human family does not depend on the manner of formation of the first family.] For the theistic evolutionist, Adam and Eve both arise from the lower animals by a process of natural evolution. The sexual act through which human children are propagated is thus reduced to an animal activity rather than a reflection of the Trinitarian mystery. [This claim is simply a concession to materialism… it assumes that if Adam and Eve were derived from lower animals, then they are essentially no different from those animals, nor does their sexual activity have any many other than that found in the lower animals. Of course evolution interpreted in a materialistic lens is contrary to the Christian faith… but then we are not talking about theistic evolution. This is a straw-man argument.]

According to the patristic understanding of Genesis, Adam was created to be Eve’s mediator, teacher, and protector. [For this reason the Hebrew words for “guard and to keep” connote the activities of a priest.] [More fundamentally, they denote the activities of a servant, as a priest also is. And these terms are used in reference to the guardian, not in reference to Eve.] Adam alone receives the divine command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the Fall does not take place until Adam—seeking to please his wife rather than God—joins her in disobedience to God’s command. [Genesis does not tell us why ]

By denying each human father’s God-given responsibility to teach, govern, and sanctify his family, theistic evolutionism has contributed much to the emasculation and degradation of Catholic men. No longer reminded of his duty to teach, discipline, and spiritually direct his wife and children, the Catholic father now cheerfully abdicates his most important responsibilities, leaving his wife and his children’s teachers to teach, discipline, and sanctify his sons and daughters. [If the Father does not see his duty towards his wife and children in his role as a man and as Father, there's a problem there, which won't be solved by an extrinsic reminder as such. Again, the creation account is significant inasmuch as it teaches something about the real nature of man, male and female, and family.] But—since no one can take the place of a father—this is a burden they cannot bear. And so his abdication sets in motion the total disintegration of society.

The effects of this deviation from Tradition extend far beyond the human family to the very Household of God. By denying the divine design for the human family, theistic evolutionism challenges the hierarchical structure and male character of Church leadership. If Adam was not created before Eve but evolved at the same time as she did from ape-like creatures, then he has no special role in relation to her. [No more true than it was before. This is just as invalid as saying that if a twin-brother and sister are conceived are born together, then the brother should relate to the sister exactly as she should relate to him, ignoring the real difference of male and female.] And, since the Church is the “household (or family) of God,” if there is no divinely-designed hierarchy in the family placing man at the head, then why should there be a hierarchy in the Church, and why should men hold any special role as priests of the Church, since men and women have both “evolved” from the apes through natural processes? Indeed, if man was not created by God to be a priest to his wife and children, then why should the Church insist on a male priesthood? Why should the leader of the Church be a “Holy Father” instead of a “Holy Mother”? [This argument is sufficiently answered by the fact that man and woman's role in God's creation and in the Church does not depend on the physical manner of their original creation. But also, I think this argument suggests a misunderstanding of why only men can be priests. There are lines of analogy connecting the natural relationship of man and woman, the spiritual relationship of God to his people as bridegroom to bride, of Christ, incarnate as a man, to the Church, and ministerial priests, who sacramentally take the role of Christ. But in terms of the theological exposition of the matter, the primary point of reference is Christ, who is the true high priest, and is a man. The reason why Christ is the high priest is not because he is the second Adam; rather, Adam's priesthood is a type of Christ's.]

Evolution and Creation I – Scripture and Tradition

From Hugh Owen's The
Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation

My comments are in red.

1. Theistic evolutionism fosters contempt for Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and undermines confidence in God and his Word. The traditional understanding of Genesis fosters a love and appreciation for Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and strengthens trust in God.

Theistic evolutionists and defenders of the traditional doctrine of creation both agree that the literal historical interpretation of Genesis was upheld by all [Not true!] of the Fathers, Doctors, and magisterial pronouncements of the Catholic Church for more than 1800 years. According to this common doctrine:

  1. God created all of the different kinds of creatures [that is, plants, animals, fish, etc.–that "species" or "kinds" are fixed in such a way that new kinds could not develop after creation is not common patristic or magisterial teaching] ex nihilo in six days or less. [Irenaeus allows that the sixth day could be a thousand years, in accordance with the text "a day of the Lord is as a thousand years," and Justin Martyr makes the same interpretation. Origen and Augustine do not take the six days as a narrative of the historical order of creation at all, but as a manner of revealing God's creation of the world.]
  2. Adam was created before Eve who was formed from Adam’s side. [This is not necessarily contradicted by the theory of evolution. If someone interprets the formation of Eve from Adam's side figuratively, it will be primarily for exegetical reasons rather than scientific ones.]
  3. God created a perfectly harmonious world for Adam and Eve. There was no human sickness, death, disease, harmful mutations [nothing harmful for man, or nothing harmful for any living being? The latter cannot be affirmed as common doctrine in the same way as the former] or man-harming natural disasters prior to the Fall. ["Prior to the fall" can be taken as referring to the state of Adam and Eve before they fell, regardless of what preceded them, or as referring to the entire history of time before Adam and Eve's fall. The former account is sufficient for the doctrine of the introduction of evil into the world by the fall. Precisely speaking, the common doctrine is that the death and pain we experience is a result of the fall. But this does not imply that pain did not exist at all before Adam and Eve.]
  4. Prior to the Original Sin, all of nature was under the dominion of Adam and Eve and was subservient to them. [Yes, but it is not clear how this should be understood.]
  5. Original Sin brought human death, disease, harmful mutations, and man-harming natural disasters in the world. [Inasmuch as it withdraw God's special protection from man. Man is subject to death, disease, etc, according to his nature, and would only have been preserved from them by God's special gift and providence.]
  6. There was a global flood in Noah’s day which killed all of the people and animals on the earth except for those on Noah’s ark. [According to the Septuagint chronology, Methuselah lived a good fourteen years after the flood, which suggests that the flood is not understood as absolutely universal. (According to the Hebrew chronology, he died just aroung the time of the flood.) According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1912), Tostatus exempts the earthly Paradise, were Enoch was, from the flood. We might also note that the narrative is written as an eye-witness account, which would fit with a limited flood. The Fathers do teach "doctrine" is that Noah's ark is an image, a "type" of the Church, outside which no one can be saved–but this does not imply the actual death of all persons on earth.]
  7. Early man was physically and mentally, superior to modern man. The patriarchs lived to the long ages ascribed to them.
  8. All of the basic language-families complete with their unique grammars and modes of thought were instantaneously created by God during the Tower of the Babel incident. [As far as I am aware, this was never a magisterial doctrine, and in most cases the Fathers and Doctors do not intend it as doctrine of faith, either. The Fathers do not take up the question directly enough to affirm this as a common doctrine; in particular they do not address the narrative of Genesis 10 which indicates differences of language prior to Babel–which suggest that either there were some differences of language before, and that the unity was local (Gen 11:1 being then "the whole land" rather than "the whole earth" was of one language, or that the account of Babel is a figurative/spiritual description of God's providence.]

Only number 1 (and probably number 6) is contrary to the theory of evolution. Neither of these in fact pertain to the substance of the Christian doctrine of creation.

Like Jesus, who taught that the Scripture "cannot be broken," all the Apostles and Fathers of the Church taught and believed that Scripture was "God-breathed" and free from all error, and that the Holy Spirit moved the sacred authors to write exactly what He wanted them to say. Later, at several ecumenical councils, the Church recognized the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers as a certain rule of Scriptural interpretation. Without exception [not quite!], the Apostles and Fathers believed and proclaimed the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11, including all of the particular ideas mentioned above. [Misleading, since they don't all address all of these issues.]

Consequently, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, backed by the authority of an ecumenical council, authoritatively taught this interpretation of Genesis and interpreted the words of the Apostles Creed and the Fourth Lateran Council on creation in accord with that interpretation. [The Catechism of the Council of Trent does not have the authority of the Council of Trent. Moreover, it does not in fact teach this interpretation of Genesis, not because it teaches something different, but because it is more general. If we take the whole order it presents as definite sequence over time, we would have to say that man first existed (and was subject to pain, corruption, etc.) and then was granted the gift of original righteousness, by which his natural defects were removed.]

It follows that if theistic evolutionism is true then God permitted his one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church to teach authoritatively—if not in every instance dogmatically—a completely erroneous account of the creation and early history of the universe. Moreover, He willed that the correction of this error come not "from the contemplation and study of believers" and the teaching of the bishops—as Dei Verbum says that it should—but from the speculations of non-believers whose theories eventually fomented a revolution in the conventional wisdom within the Catholic Church. If this is true, who would trust such an incompetent, self-contradictory "god"? [The teaching was not completely erroneous, but was in its essential points correct, and only these essential points were definitely taught by the Church! (Lateran IV, for example, does not make any statement about "six days.")]

Theistic evolutionism not only proclaims an incompetent god who contradicts himself, but breeds contempt for any kind of wisdom handed down from the "primitive" past. Since theistic evolutionists believe that the world is in a state of continuous evolution, they hold that man’s knowledge is continually superseded by "new developments." [First, the theory of evolution in the natural order does not imply a continuous progression from imperfect to perfect. Secondly, evolution in the natural order does not imply evolution in knowledge. The theory that man's knowledge increases is also based on experience and evidence. Aristotle, seeing that man's knowledge had increased, but was not infinite, though he held that the universe was eternal, was led to posit indefinite cycles of knowledge lost and gained. Thirdly, that the premise that knowledge increases leads to contempt for wisdom handed down from the past applies only where present knowledge is independent of the past.]

[A not completely relevant anecdote removed.]

[Of course, if one thinks that what Scripture teaches is incompatible with the theory of evolution, then accepting the theory of evolution can lead to "contempt" for Sacred Scripture. But in fact, the actual teaching of Scripture is not incompatible witht the theory of evolution. Similarly, the actual teaching of Sacred Tradition is not incompatible with it. If we take an "all or nothing" approach to tradition (in a broader sense), thinking that either every traditional and common opinion in the Church is right, or that tradition is useless as a vehicle of revealed truth, then interpreting Genesis in a manner different from the traditional manner of interpretation can lead to contempt for tradition. But if we can distinguish what is taught as essential to the faith, and what is taught as an opinion, even when that opinion is a common one, then the fact that a mistaken view (as granted the theory of evolution, the view of six-day creation presented in this article is mistaken) was not declared definitively as part of the faith is even an indication of God's providence over tradition, and so far from leading to contempt for tradition, can lead to a greater confidence in it.]