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Catholic and Creationist?

September 15, 2010

Apparently, Christine O’Donnell – the tea party candidate who won in the Delaware primary – is Catholic. Apparently, she also believes in creationism and is on record saying: “creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that”. Today, this fringe position is almost exclusively associated with American evangelicals. This is yet another small piece of evidence that on Catholic right, Catholic culture and Catholic sensibility are being overwhelmed by the Americanist-evangelical mindset.

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59 Comments
  1. September 15, 2010 10:30 am

    Theology FAIL.

    Or: Catholicism: UR doin it wrong.

  2. Rob Hays permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:01 am

    When I read the section in the catechism on creation, I don’t seem to find anything that is contradictory to her position. Now, you may feel this position is incorrect, but no catholic is bound to believe in evolution.

    Now, to be consistent, are you going to have a blog post taking Chris Coons to task for his pro-abortion views, which are clearly in opposition to catholic teaching?

    If you gave me the choice between having a senator who believes that Genesis is literal and having a senator who believes babies can legally be murdered…give me the creationist!

  3. September 15, 2010 11:24 am

    I did not say she was staking out a position that directly contradicted the Catholic faith. I am saying that she is thinking less as a Catholic – who would apply reason and end up with the same position as John Paul II – and more as a literalist American evangelical.

  4. phosphorious permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:29 am

    Plus, Galileo was wrong!

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/09/12/galileo-was-wrong–.html

  5. phosphorious permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:31 am

    When I read the section in the catechism on creation, I don’t seem to find anything that is contradictory to her position. Now, you may feel this position is incorrect, but no catholic is bound to believe in evolution.

    I disagree. Is there no obligation to be rational? Shall the truth no longer make us free?

  6. phosphorious permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:32 am

    Now, to be consistent, are you going to have a blog post taking Chris Coons to task for his pro-abortion views, which are clearly in opposition to catholic teaching?

    I see no need for such a post. . . since not a single person on the planet is unaware of the Church’s position on abortion.

    But if fideism is making a comeback, I want to know about it.

  7. Jeff permalink
    September 15, 2010 12:00 pm

    I agree 100% this is as serious a problem as being pro-abortion.

    If one is pro-truth, one is pro-life AND pro-scientific method.

    I don’t see any way around that.

  8. September 15, 2010 12:04 pm

    It might be useful to make a distinction between “creationism” and “young earth creationism.”

    Creationism is not necessarily opposed to evolution or other descriptive truths. Young earth creationism is irrational, absurd, and an awful mis-interpretation/representation of scripture.

    The problem with O’Donnell is not that she is a creationist, but that she seems to endorse the ideology of young earth creationism.

  9. Colin Gormley permalink
    September 15, 2010 12:05 pm

    Galileo WAS wrong. He believed that the sun was the center of the universe, as opposed to the geocentrism of the day.

    “Is there no obligation to be rational? Shall the truth no longer make us free?”

    No Catholic is obligated to believe in evolution. Period.

    “I am saying that she is thinking less as a Catholic – who would apply reason and end up with the same position as John Paul II – and more as a literalist American evangelical.”

    This is a presumption. JPII would approve of her right to believe in creationism, just as he approved of the right to believe in evolution.

  10. phosphorious permalink
    September 15, 2010 12:30 pm

    Neither one is proscribed by the Cathechism.

  11. David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
    September 15, 2010 12:41 pm

    I have been aware of Catholic Creationists (meaning either young earth creationists or “old earth” creationists you make human history conform to a literal reading of Genesis but accept that “day=age” reading of the first chapter) for some time. I recall reading a column years ago by Pat Buchanan mocking Darwinian evolution, and I have run across websites by conservative Catholics arguing that accepting Humani Generis (which they do) makes it impossible to believe in evolution. An example of the latter can be found at

    http://www.roman-catholic.com/Roman/Articles/Evolution.htm

    While I think that Morning’s Minion is on the right track in blaming this on the encroachment of American evangelical ideas on the Catholic right, I would like to see a more nuanced analysis: what leads to this rejection of modern science, especially given the strong statements by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI?

  12. phosphorious permalink
    September 15, 2010 1:09 pm

    Galileo WAS wrong. He believed that the sun was the center of the universe, as opposed to the geocentrism of the day.

    Yes, yes. . . Galileo was wrong because space is very different than what he believed it to be, according to further scientific observations.

    But saying he was wrong for that reason is very different than saying he was wrong because he contradicted the Genesis account of creation. Creationism isn’t even wrong.

    And Catholics are obligated to be rational.

  13. David Nickol permalink
    September 15, 2010 1:41 pm

    Galileo WAS wrong. He believed that the sun was the center of the universe, as opposed to the geocentrism of the day.

    Surely you are not limiting his errors to just that. He was totally wrong. See Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right by Robert A. Sungenis, Ph.D., president of Catholic Apologetics International, and Robert J. Bennett, Ph.D.

    Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatise that demonstrates from the scientific evidence that heliocentrism (the concept that the Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun) is an unproven scientific theory; and that geocentrism (the view that the Earth is in the center of the universe and does not move by either rotation or revolution) is not only supported by the scientific evidence but is admitted to be a logical and viable cosmology by many of the world’s top scientists, including Albert Einstein, Ernst Mach, Edwin Hubble, Fred Hoyle and many more.

  14. brettsalkeld permalink*
    September 15, 2010 1:53 pm

    As much as no Catholic is prevented from being a young-earth creationist by the catechism, it is certainly the case that all the resources for young-earth creationism that these fringe elements use are derived from communities that they consider wildly and irresponsibly heretical on questions much more central to the faith.

    It is odd to trust an evangelical mechanical engineer about plate tectonics because his take “agrees with the Bible” when one simultaneously believes that the said engineer has no way of ensuring his reading of Scripture is consistent with the Christian tradition due to his lack of docility to the Magisterium of the Church.

  15. David Nickol permalink
    September 15, 2010 2:14 pm

    The Catholic Church, as far as I can see, is comfortable with contemporary scientific views on the origins of the universe (except for the views of Stephen Hawking!) and the origins of life on earth. The problem lies in its views on human origins. The Catechism holds to the idea that the although the story of Adam and Eve is told in figurative language, the human race is descended from two and only two people — a mother and a father — who did something gravely wrong (Original Sin) which has tainted the whole human race. This is in line with Pius XII’s Humani Generis, who also seemed to me to take the “only a theory” approach to evolution.

    More recently, the International Theological Commission’s Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God is viewed by some as quietly abandoning the “descent from two parents” position. Also, John Paul II pretty much dropped the “only a theory” stance toward evolution.

    What the dogma of Original Sin means one the idea of descent from two parents is dropped is a major question that I don’t think anyone has an answer to.

  16. Colin Gormley permalink
    September 15, 2010 2:54 pm

    “I agree 100% this is as serious a problem as being pro-abortion.”

    Funny I missed the part where young creationists muder unborn children. I think you may have to elaborate.

  17. September 15, 2010 3:48 pm

    While I can generally win “I can scorn creationism more than you can” contests, and I think O’Donnell a bit of a nut, I don’t know that one can entirely point to American Protestantism as the source of young earth creationism in American Catholic culture. A number of cradle Catholics whom I have known, now in their 80s or 90s, have expressed disbelief in evolution and insisted that “the nuns taught us” that the world and all life on it was created in seven days. My dad used to tell me that a few of the older nuns refused to teach evolution in Catholic schools are recently as the 50s, and a number of the Catholic elementary and high school textbooks I’ve seen which were originally written in the 30s through the 50s are at best hesitant about the subject. Mostly I see Catholic history textbooks relaying fairly literal creation and a very literal version of OT history, while science books talking a bit about the age of the earth but still mentioning Adam and Eve.

    Honestly, it was no more intellectually respectable to believe in seven day creationism in the 30s and 40s than it is now, and yet it was clearly at least moderately common among Catholics in the US. (Not dealing with old Catholic textbooks in Europe or Latin America, I couldn’t speak for elsewhere.) And yet, given the cultural history of Catholicism in the US, I find it hard to credit the idea that this tendency of Catholicism towards creationism in the first half of this century in the US had anything to do with Catholics getting too friendly with Evangelicals in the conservative movement.

  18. brettsalkeld permalink*
    September 15, 2010 4:21 pm

    Of course, when a Tea Partier is thus inconsistent, it has no bearing on their Catholicism. Such inconsistency from other quarters will not be tolerated.

    Is it possible, for example, to be a Catholic in good standing and think that being wrong about abortion does not disqualify one from addressing a Catholic University?

    I’m not saying, mind you, that I support such a move in concreto. I am simply pointing out that people get called “fake Catholics” for all kinds of things that are not forbidden by the Catechism.

  19. phosphorious permalink
    September 15, 2010 4:38 pm

    Funny I missed the part where young creationists muder unborn children. I think you may have to elaborate.

    The question of how Scripture is to be read is more important than the question of whether abortion should be legal or not.

    The first question strikes closer to the heart of the faith.

  20. Fr. Patrick Mullen permalink
    September 15, 2010 5:40 pm

    I, for one, am glad the Church takes a step back out of the fray on evolution, not because I don’t find it the most persuasive theory of the moment, which it seems to be, but because that theory will inevitably be continuously refined, parts of it discarded and replaced with new and better formulations. The word “evolution,” itself, might well be replaced by some more refined and accurate term by the scientific community, just as Helio-centrism, the going wisdom till the late 19th Century, was replaced by a much larger cosmos than was earlier imagined. I’m glad the Church is not too wed to the scientific community’s vocabulary or theories of the moment. In the midst of that silence, some in the Catholic community will be more influenced by Evangelicals than Pope John Paul’s openness to “the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis” (address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996). And yes, they will do so thinking they are “orthodox.” The concern I have, which I think is more pertinent than whether Catholics believes in creationism or not, is for those who understand Genesis as a historical text. They are apparently uncognizant of the instruction of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Scriptures, Dei Verbum, that these texts should be read from the perspective of the inspired writers, not their presumed resemblance to modern historical narratives.

  21. September 15, 2010 5:50 pm

    David Nickol raises important points, about issues which have long flummoxed me, that, while only tangential to the post, are themselves of much greater significance and interest than the absurdities of American electoral politics.

    I have heard it said (and seen it written), for instance, that Pope Pius XII’s seeming condemnation of polygenism was really a call for a development of doctrine in that area: if we can demonstrate theologically how the doctrine of Original Sin is consistent with polygenism, then we would be free at least to entertain polygenism as an alternative to monogenism. As it stands, though, I don’t know of any persuasive theological treatments of Original Sin proceeding from the polygenist hypothesis. (I know, and reject, de Chardin’s theology here, because, however interesting it is, I am not sure how it does not imply that evil is a necessary part of creation, thus rejecting the distinguishing characteristic of Jewish creation myths vis-a-vis their Babylonian predecessors.)

    So does anyone know of any good scholarly works on this topic? Also, does anyone know of any recent treatments of the likelihood that monogenism is scientifically probable? (I recall the one-Eve hypothesis being all the rage a decade or so ago, but have not heard of any developments and/or criticisms of the theory).

  22. Adolfo permalink
    September 15, 2010 5:58 pm

    I know more than a few very intelligent, very rational, faithful Catholics who either: a) believe in a young earth creationism or b) at the very least have serious issues with evolution. Now, I disagree with them–strongly–but for anyone to say this matters as much as abortion or any other moral or doctrinal issue is silly.

  23. Gerald A. Naus permalink
    September 15, 2010 6:06 pm

    Only in America! Seriously. And the sun was created on day 4 :-P The authors of Genesis would be as amused as Revelations’ that dumb Westerners take them literally! (Jehovah’s Witnesses with their 144,000 in heaven (and a countdown on earth – wonder how many they have left now!)) I wonder what she makes of the second creation account in Genesis.

    Want to get dizzy ? keep time the Jewish way :)
    “Many observances in Jewish law are performed at specific times during the day. The calculation of these halachic times, known as zmanim (Hebrew for “times”), depends on the various astronomical phenomena of the day for the specific locale. Sunrise, sunset, the amount of time between them, and the sun’s angular position before rising are all factors that determine the halachic times and “hours” of the day.”

    [The hour has special meaning in Jewish law. When we say that a certain mitzvah may be performed three hours into the day, this doesn’t mean at three in the morning, or three clock-hours after sunrise. Rather, an hour in halacha means 1/12th of the day. Thus, if the sun rises at 5 am and sets at 7:30 pm, one sha'ah zemanit, or proportional hour, will be 72.5 minutes, and all calculations will use that number.]

  24. brettsalkeld permalink*
    September 15, 2010 6:07 pm

    David,
    Two things. I think the Church doesn’t have a problem with Hawking’s scientific views, but with his philosophical ones. A ‘nothing’ that includes gravity is not much of a nothing.

    Second, most theological reflection on Original Sin in the last 30-40 years has been keenly aware of the challenge you mention and taken it into account. I, however, am not so familiar with the literature as to know which work is the best to recommend on this count. Has anyone read James Allison’s Joy of Being Wrong? My guess is that the theology of Original Sin in that work is not impaired if we have more than two parents.
    From my own reading, I know Rahner, at least, was aware of this when he wrote on Original Sin. And I would guess Ratzinger too.

  25. September 15, 2010 8:05 pm

    Here is an interesting article from the Vatican’s conference on Darwin:

    http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=11687

    The intelligent design people didn’t get treated very well — for better or for worst.

  26. phosphorious permalink
    September 15, 2010 8:06 pm

    I, for one, am glad the Church takes a step back out of the fray on evolution, not because I don’t find it the most persuasive theory of the moment, which it seems to be, but because that theory will inevitably be continuously refined, parts of it discarded and replaced with new and better formulations.

    I am not glad, because it cedes ground in a crucial dispute: the relation between faith and reason.

    Of course evolution will be refined, even discarded. . . but to discard it in favor of a literal reading of Genesis is irrational.

    The best current theory, based on the best current evidence deserves the support of all those who value human reason.

  27. September 15, 2010 8:21 pm

    Austin:

    There are normative, principled reasons for a leftist opposition to abortion.

    There are descriptive cases of it too. Like this manifesto “Rechazamos el Aborto Porque Somos de Izquierda” (We Reject Abortion Because We Are of the Left):

    http://www.solidaridad.net/articulo1660_enesp.htm

    You are right that the Democrats have abandoned this position at the platform level, but they have principles reasons to stand on — similar to those of feminists for life — if they wanted to actually be leftists and give up their corrupt liberalism.

  28. Fr. Patrick Mullen permalink
    September 15, 2010 10:53 pm

    “Of course evolution will be refined, even discarded. . . but to discard it in favor of a literal reading of Genesis is irrational.

    The best current theory, based on the best current evidence deserves the support of all those who value human reason.”

    Phosphorious, you suggest that we either embrace the current formulation of evolution or a literal reading of Genesis. This is obviously not the case. We have other options. Additionally, we can value human reason enough, as you so rightly desire, to recognize its patterns, including the development of scientific understanding, which is the very reason the Church ought not posit the unnecessary. It is every bit as confusing when the Church firmly proposes something that will later be corrected, as it is to deny something true, though only in part, as in the case of Galileo.

  29. phosphorious permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:04 pm

    Phosphorious, you suggest that we either embrace the current formulation of evolution or a literal reading of Genesis.

    Not at all. But “embracing evolution” means accepting it for what it is: a well corroborated theory. Rejecting would require evidence and experimentation.

    Obviously the Cathechism doesn’t mention any scientific theory by name. . . but Rob Hays seemed to take that to mean that the Church is indifferent between fideism and rationalism, or that the dispute is of less importance.

    That’s pernicious nonsense.

  30. September 16, 2010 4:40 am

    The irony of ironies is that I was taught that evolution and contemporary scientific theories on the age of the universe are perfectly acceptable in a Society of St. Pius X seminary in Argentina. So talk about, “you’re doing it wrong” when it comes to Catholics accepting vulgar creationism here. Heck, if you really want to do a micro-sociological study, just google “Solange Hertz” and “geocentrism”. Not only are there American Catholic traditionalists who oppose evolution, but some also oppose the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. “And yet it moves” indeed!

    I don’t think Ms. O’Donnell is Catholic, though. From an old MTV video of her talking about self-abuse, it seems that she is some sort of Prot fundie (at least from the worship service). She certainly talks like one.

  31. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 16, 2010 6:38 am

    Sam, you are posting this on the wrong thread.
    Austin

  32. Blackadder permalink
    September 16, 2010 7:26 am

    It was only a couple of years ago that Pope Benedict was saying that “the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.”

    Benedict, I would note, is not an American, and is a highly educated and theologically sophisticated man. If even he is tempted to such statements, perhaps we can cut Christine O’Donnell some slack?

  33. September 16, 2010 8:54 am

    Arturo, she absolutely talks and sounds like a “Prot fundie”. That is precisely my point. And yet some quick googles searches suggest she is Catholic.

  34. David Nickol permalink
    September 16, 2010 9:16 am

    It was only a couple of years ago that Pope Benedict was saying that “the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.”

    Blackadder,

    Could we have an example of a “complete, scientifically proven theory”? What are the scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution?

    Also, cutting O’Donnell some slack for one position might be reasonable if she had atypical views on only that one position, but it is difficult to cut her slack when you look at all of her positions.

  35. Jerms permalink
    September 16, 2010 9:17 am

    Colin -

    “JPII would approve of her right to believe in creationism, just as he approved of the right to believe in evolution.”

    In saying this, you appear to accept a typical American mistake: you suggest that normativity stops at rights.

    But normativity doesn’t stop at rights.

  36. Rob Hays permalink
    September 16, 2010 9:29 am

    Phosphorious,
    My point is not that O’Donnell’s position is correct…I happen to disagree with her…nor is it that the Church is indifferent betweeen fideism or rationalism (the Church makes it quite clear that faith and reason are 100% compatible)….my point is that her position is not explicitly condemned by the Church and she is free to hold it with good conscience. As I stated before, I would rather have someone in office that holds a position on evolution that I disagree with and may even find somewhat silly than a person who adamantly believes that abortion is a legitimate option.

  37. September 16, 2010 10:26 am

    Arturo, she absolutely talks and sounds like a “Prot fundie”. That is precisely my point. And yet some quick googles searches suggest she is Catholic.

    According to the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/16/us/politics/16odonnell.html?hp
    In the 1990s, Ms. O’Donnell, a Roman Catholic who for a time considered herself an evangelical, founded SALT (the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth”) and appeared on MTV’s “Sex in the Nineties” to explain the values of chastity.

    So she wasn’t a Catholic lured in by the trap of the evangelical right; she’s a Catholic who used to be (and grew up in) an evangelical setting, and therefore retains much of the rhetoric and some of the beliefs of that culture.

    Moving on…

  38. September 16, 2010 10:41 am

    Michael D – “a Roman Catholic who for a time considered herself an evangelical”. Very curious.

  39. Adolfo permalink
    September 16, 2010 10:46 am

    May I recommend the book, “Faith, Science, and Reason: Theology on the Cutting Edge” by Dr. Christopher Baglow? It is a fantastic resource on this very subject.

  40. Blackadder permalink
    September 16, 2010 10:47 am

    Blackadder,

    Could we have an example of a “complete, scientifically proven theory”? What are the scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution?

    There aren’t any scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution (and I would consider evolution to be scientifically proven).

  41. September 16, 2010 10:54 am

    MM:

    Indeed. I looked up some more and found this : http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/09/christine_odonnells_sexual_evolution.php

    In it, it says she had a lax Catholic upbringing and that she in college the alcohol and promiscuity got to her, and she became an evangelical Christian (hence why she was so involved in the abstinence stuff-she had suffered the effects of promiscuity). However, she converted back to Catholicism after reading “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women” by JPII. It doesn’t give an exact date when she converted.

    That seems to me to a fairly common conversion path-lax catholic, saved by evangelicals, then does more research and embraces the fullness of the Church.

  42. phosphorious permalink
    September 16, 2010 10:56 am

    As I stated before, I would rather have someone in office that holds a position on evolution that I disagree with and may even find somewhat silly than a person who adamantly believes that abortion is a legitimate option.

    I disagree. The relationship between faith and reason is of primary importance. Someone who has rejected rationality as a basis for action. . . can’t be reasoned with. They may happen to agree with you on certain issues, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    You overlook her irrationality because she “does the right thing.” But how long can an irrational person be trusted to do the right thing, and what do you do when they choose the wrong thing, as so many Christians did with torture?

    Right action requires sound reasoning. Right action is by definition the product of sound reasoning.

  43. September 16, 2010 11:18 am

    Well I don’t think anyone should be trying to steal the truth.

  44. Pinky permalink
    September 16, 2010 1:44 pm

    The article that MM pointed to refers to a debate in 1996. Was she even a practicing Catholic back then? What are her views now?

  45. Gregory permalink
    September 16, 2010 4:13 pm

    If she is a Catholic, faithful to the Pope and to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That’s all that matters.

    …[W]hen we love the Pope, we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing, or seek to know where the strict obligation of obedience lies, or in what matter we must obey; when we love the Pope we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly — as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear, and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and public documents as well. Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not the Pope who is commanding, but some one in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of other persons — no matter how learned — who differ from the Pope. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy, for where there is holiness there cannot be disagreement with the Pope.’

    Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us.

  46. phosphorious permalink
    September 16, 2010 5:02 pm

    If she is a Catholic, faithful to the Pope and to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That’s all that matters.

    But this is exactly the question, isn’t it?

    I would have said that fideism. . . of which creationism is only the latest variety. . . is contrary to the Catholic tradition. If O’Donnell is a creationist, then is she “faithful to the cathechism?”

  47. David Nickol permalink
    September 16, 2010 5:14 pm

    As far as I can determine, the quote Gregory give above is from Pope Pius X. I wonder how the Saint Pius X Society feels about it!

  48. Colin Gormley permalink
    September 16, 2010 5:26 pm

    “Right action requires sound reasoning. Right action is by definition the product of sound reasoning.”

    But this presumes that evolution is the product of right thinking. She may have a distrust of the scientific community, who knows? Her motivations for beliving in young earth creationism have yet to be examined.

    Simply adhereing to scientific concensus is not proof of rationality.

  49. phosphorious permalink
    September 16, 2010 8:26 pm

    But this presumes that evolution is the product of right thinking. She may have a distrust of the scientific community, who knows? Her motivations for believing in young earth creationism have yet to be examined.

    Simply adhering to scientific consensus is not proof of rationality.

    It is rational to defer to competent authority and irrational to depart from competent authority. Especially when the question is a matter of fact, not morals or even action. Evolutionary theory says nothing about what a person ought to do, as that is not a scientific question.

    I assume she has “distrust of the scientific community,” (does anybody want to bet that she doesn’t believe in Global Warming?) but I don’t see that as exculpatory.

    And she does claim that there is “just as much evidence” for young Earth creationism as there is for evolution.

    The phrase “pernicious nonsense” keeps popping into my head.

  50. Colin Gormley permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:44 am

    “It is rational to defer to competent authority and irrational to depart from competent authority.”

    But how does one judge who is competent? She places her trust in a different authority.

    “And she does claim that there is “just as much evidence” for young Earth creationism as there is for evolution.”

    Link? According to the article she bases this off of the much-maligned carbon dating issues. By that standard she is right. In fact depending on the definition of scientific evidence she has a case.

    Mind you I think the young earth thing is a crock theory. I’m not defending her theory per se. Just her space to hold it as a Catholic.

  51. Colin Gormley permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:46 am

    “Especially when the question is a matter of fact, not morals or even action.”

    Forgot one. Fact is highly dubious. Until we get to lab testing evolution will remain a theory by science’s own standard (despite the best efforts of the community to ignore its own standards).

  52. phosphorious permalink
    September 17, 2010 11:14 am

    Colin Gormley,

    The link is in the original post.

    You, and O’Donnell, betray a basic misunderstanding of what a “scientific theory” is. You act as if someday, evolution, or the theory of relativity, or the theory of gravity, might be proven beyond all doubt, and thereby be transformed from “theory” to “fact.” And until that day, any belief is as good as any other.

    This is simply not the case.

    You seem to think it does no damage to the Church when Catholics openly reject reason and defend nonsense.

    If only Catholics would defend the Truth the way they defend the unborn. . .

  53. Colin Gormley permalink
    September 17, 2010 11:26 am

    “You act as if someday, evolution, or the theory of relativity, or the theory of gravity, might be proven beyond all doubt, and thereby be transformed from “theory” to “fact.” And until that day, any belief is as good as any other.”

    I said nothing of the kind. What I said was that under O’Donnell’s perspective she had a point. I think you misunderstand her point.

    As I said before I’m not defending the theory. Simply attempting to understand her thinking.

    “If only Catholics would defend the Truth the way they defend the unborn.”

    Would that Catholics understood that life is sacred is a dogma, and evolution is not. A few more O’Donnells and maybe the womb would become a safe place for the unborn again.

  54. phosphorious permalink
    September 17, 2010 1:27 pm

    I said nothing of the kind. What I said was that under O’Donnell’s perspective she had a point. I think you misunderstand her point.

    You speak as if the fact that there are some questions that evolution hasn’t answered means that it is “just a theory” and that its being “just a theory” means that there is good reason for dismissing it. This is a woeful misunderstanding of scientific method. And you strongly imply that scientists who support evolution are acting dishonestly by overlooking the fact that it is “only a theory.”

    You are doing more than “trying to see things from O’Donnell’s side.” You are defending fideism.

    Good luck with that.

  55. phosphorious permalink
    September 17, 2010 1:34 pm

    Would that Catholics understood that life is sacred is a dogma, and evolution is not. A few more O’Donnells and maybe the womb would become a safe place for the unborn again.

    The womb is a perfectly safe place; the law does not require women to abort their children against their will.

    But how long do you think you can defend life when you are so willing to betray truth? The question of abortion has been settled once and for all. . . but the question of how Scripture should be read is still up for grabs?

    Creationism represents a greater threat to the faith than abortion does.

  56. alex martin permalink
    September 18, 2010 12:55 pm

    “Creationism represents a greater threat to the faith than abortion does.”

    This is insanity and I would venture to guess that no saint nor pope in the Church’s history would agree with you.

  57. phosphorious permalink
    September 19, 2010 6:41 pm

    In all seriousness, I would be willing to bet that more saints and popes spoke about the importance of defending the truth than who spoke against abortion.

    Or even murder.

  58. September 19, 2010 10:01 pm

    But defending the point that abortion is in fact murder is also a matter of defending truth — and certainly we must admit that there are some aspect of truth that it is more important to defent than others.

    On such a ranking, I would assume that it’s more disturbing for someone to dispute the truth that the that taking of innocent life is wrong, than the truth of what is the current best theory as to what happened millions of years ago.

    After all, one could spend one’s life defending the truth of the question of whether there are curbs in the sky, but as Thurber pointed out, this would not necessarily make you a better person for the endeaour.

  59. phosphorious permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:17 pm

    Curbs in the sky, or angels dancing on the head of a pin, or whether the Son is the same as the Father or similar. . .

    All silly metaphysical speculation that pale in comparison to the mighty work of keeping abortion illegal.

    The damage to the faith has already been done, apparently.

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