Until I imbibed the resources listed below, I was absolutely on board with the Catholic position on evolution, which is that there can be no conflict between science and faith, because God created everything.
My faith in and love for God are based on the same kinds of things that my faith in and love for my husband are based on. This is not to say that I ignore my mind in matters of the heart. I most decidedly do not. I did a very serious, intense, intellectual pursuit of all my Big Questions about God before I ever got close enough to be able to meet Him in person. I also dated for years before I met Dearest and had made a long list of things I wanted and did not want in a life mate.
After becoming a Born Again Christian at the age of 17, I read the Bible a lot, visited all kinds of churches, and hung out with many varieties of Christian believers. After a year or so, I felt a need to settle down into a faith community, so I asked God, “Where do you want me to worship, pray, learn and fellowship?” His answer was clear that, for me, it was the Roman Catholic Church.
I’ve had my differences and a few times really, really wanted to leave. Each time, He made it clear that this was His choice for me, so I’ve stuck it out. I have no illusions about my church’s short-comings, particularly in my liberal diocese in my liberal nation. Our official support for the Pro-Life movement has been sickeningly anemic and, until recently, some of the homilies and adult education programs in my parish have been based more on Democrat talking points than Church teaching or Scripture.
My point here is that Catholicism does not teach Creationism.
Pius XII’s 1950 encyclical Humani Generis (36–37) says we need not be hostile to modern cosmology.
And the Catechism of the Catholic Church states,
“[M]any scientific studies . . . have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life forms, and the appearance of man. These studies invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator” (283).
I believe God gave us the Bible and it’s all true. But what kind of truth are we talking about? Consider, for example, that Catholics take literally what Jesus said about having to eat His Body, but most non-Catholic Christians do not.
With respect to the apparent conflict between the creation stories in Genesis and scientific evidence for things like dinosaurs and the Big Bang, I was taught that there is no conflict. Those chapters are not historical or scientific texts, but a specific type of literature called “mythic.” (And the Psalms and the Song of Songs are “poetry.”)
In this context, the word “myth” has a bigger, deeper meaning than the throw away use it gets in things like “urban myth.” In the latter, the point of the story is to convey some historical and/or scientific truth. Even here, the word “myth” doesn’t necessarily mean “false”, any more than “old wives tales” are always wrong.
Mythic literature is totally different. In this context, the historical and/or scientific elements of the story are not the point at all. It’s only the deeper philosophical, moral and/or theological messages that are meant to be taken as literally true. This kind of literature is what we get in Aesop’s Fables and other morality tales, including the Parables of Jesus.
Examples: Mythbusters could demonstrate scientifically that the quack of a duck does echo. But they could not disprove the moral of The Lion and the Mouse — “Even the weak and small may be of help to those much mightier than themselves” — by demonstrating that lions and mice cannot talk.
There are many creation myths out there, a number of them contemporaneous with our Genesis myth. They posit things like the existence of multiple gods or that the supernatural reality is impersonal or that only the spiritual is good, but the material is evil.
By contrast, our myth tells us that there is one and only one God who is personal, loving and all-good, that He created everything and made it all good, and that evil results from departing from His perfect will.
I’m not a Scripture scholar, so I really can’t go any further with this. If you believe differently, that’s fine with me. I’m not interested in proselytizing or arguing, only explaining what I believe, which so far as I know, is consistent with Catholic teaching.
My big point in belaboring the issue in this blog is to provide a context for why you can take my word that I had no stake whatsoever in the Darwin vs. Intelligent Design debate. I was perfectly comfortable with the Catholic position, “If Darwin is right, it’s because that is how God chose to do things.”
And it’s not just because I’m not a scientist. I have a very devout Catholic nephew who teaches Biology. He also has no problem with Darwin.
However, as much as I am not a scientist, I really enjoy anything about science, provided it is dumbed down enough for me to understand it. So, back when I was having my big epiphany about what a load of donkey doo most of my political assumptions were, I became intrigued by the Intelligent Design movement. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. My personal favorite resources on the SCIENCE of Intelligent Design are:
Unlocking the Mystery of Life DVD
The Privileged Planet DVD
Icons of Evolution, a SHORT book by Jonathan Wells
Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Design, a LONG book by Stephen C. Meyer
At this point, I have no question whatsoever that Darwin’s theories are headed the same way that Freud’s went. Real scientists are finding more and more evidence within nature that points to the existence of an intelligent designer. It’s very exciting stuff.
If you enjoyed this, you might also like https://polination.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/censored/