Tag Archives: Catholicism

Evolution and What Catholics Should Teach Their Children about Adam and Eve

My name is Sarah Martinez, and I am a Catholic and an evolutionist.  Whew.  That felt good to say.

When I was 17, I found myself in a cultural anthropology college course.   And mostly, I hated it.  My professor was an insufferable woman with a bad dye job who routinely made over-the-shoulder swipes at Christianity, as she wrote about religious tolerance on the whiteboard;  who constructed a midterm so ridiculous, the entire class–the entire class— failed it.  (I spent the next quarter doing every ounce of extra credit listed on the syllabus,  and then wrote a paper summarizing the movie, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer and managed to get an A on my transcripts for that class.)

So, I hated that class and to this day,  I will tell you that I prefer sociology out of pure spite.  But I wasn’t asleep through it.  I did learn things.  And what I learned was that evolution, a concept I had seen “debunked” through a handful of documentaries and essays in high school and understood was the very apex of anti-Christian science, made sense.  A lot of sense, actually.  There was physical evidence in bones, genetic evidence in our DNA.  I was fascinated and taken by the way animal physiology (humans included) adapted to its environment.

What I didn’t understand was how this fit in with the Bible, exactly.   Taking the story of Adam and Eve and The Fall at face value, I couldn’t figure out how the pieces fit together.  I was, in a word, confused.  This shift in thinking, along with many other things, pushed me towards the moment when I said to my mom, “I don’t know if I believe in God anymore.”   I still went to church and tried to be good, and said my prayers, but my heart wasn’t in it.   It was awful.  Catholics are taught that the most terrible torment the souls in hell suffer is distance from God.  I believe that 100 percent.

I eventually recovered, though it took moving out of state where there was a church with more regular sacraments, and more available clergy.  I “got rid” of the origin problem by deciding that I would just take God’s word for it,  stop wondering,  and assume that evolution fit in with creation somehow.  Besides, if God created me, did the little details regarding “how” matter?    I put it in the back of my mind, and would content myself to just shift uncomfortably when someone mentioned evolution, unsure whether to agree or not.    But permeating all the time was the shadow of doubt that asked if I could not believe this part of  Scripture, what parts could I believe?  I was feeling perhaps like Lord Byron when he said,  “There is something pagan in me that I cannot shake off.  In short, I deny nothing, but doubt everything.”  I wondered what my Catholic friends would think if they knew I was at the very least an evolutionist “sympathizer.”

Then I read this. 

One article, that had  all the same pieces I had, but had the thing I didn’t: a way to string them together.  With the words of theological BFFs,  St. Thomas of Aquinas and St. Augustine about how Adam and Eve and The Fall fit in with the empirical evidence set forth to support evolution, (long before Darwin, by the way) I finally had a clear, crisp picture of how the Creation of Man really happened.  I read it half a dozen times yesterday and was practically bouncing in my office chair.  It seems silly to attribute so much joy of intellect to a single internet article, but there you go. Read the entire thing.  (I will be checking the stats, people.)

Now modern genetics does not falsify the Adam and Eve tale for the excellent reason that it does not address the same matter as the Adam and Eve tale.  One is about the origin of species; the other is about the origin of sin.  One may as well say that a painting of a meal falsifies haute cuisine.

But with the joy, came a little bit of disappointment; in fact, a little anger.  Anger at every Catholic teacher I ever had who couldn’t be bothered to do the minimal amount of research to figure out why evolution is a genetic, scientific fact, and either never found, or ignored, the words of two of the most well-quoted Saints of our religion who supported it.  They let me fall into the trap of learning science without the corresponding religion, and religion without the corresponding science, and I became discouraged and befuddled because I learned from neither how to reconcile the two, when they can be so easily reconciled.  I almost lost my faith because of it.  The fact that had I heard the simple arguments laid out in this one article two years ago,  I may have been saved from that brief, though hellish lapse in belief.

To a lesser degree, I once felt similarly aggrieved while reading a Catholic publication.  The well-intended, and surely virtuous articles were poorly written and strewn with logical fallacy.  I have heard sermons where priests throw incorrect dates and information, and don’t worry a whole lot about it because… well, you tell me.  I have sat through homilies cringing, and hoping that there are no newcomers in the room;  the Catholics here will understand, the hopeful agnostic sitting across the aisle from me, waiting for proof that Christians have intellectual reasons behind their faith may not be so impressed.

The problem, I have felt for a long time is this:  Most Catholics in authority to instruct, do not take their role as teacher seriously.   For all their warnings of the world’s dangers, they do not seem to truly understand that lay people are barraged daily by a world that wants them to doubt;  that wants to kill God and smite religion. And that the world will use science, of which God Himself is the author,  and our rational minds, which He gave us to understand it, to do so. They still make modern science an enemy, just as modern science makes religion the enemy.  As if you cannot be both an evolutionist and also believe that an Almighty God created the means for the world to evolve.

I’m going to link to another Marc Barnes post again on Catholics using their talents to be the best, and where he quotes C.S. Lewis,

“‘Great works’ (of art) and “good works” (of charity) had better also be Good Work. Let choirs sing well or not at all…”

I’ll even link Marc a second time where he advises us to “Be Awesome.

Am I saying you have to be a good writer to write? No! Am I saying that God is only appreciative of well-written work? No! Am I saying that if you are writing for a Catholic publication you should realize that you are, in a very real sense, an ambassador for the Church, and that as such it your duty to excel in your craft, to make it the best that it can be so that the truth and beauty of Church’s teaching will be revealed through it, not hindered by it? Yes.

Here’s another great article on why it is necessary for Christians to believe in evolution.

Anyway,  when I have children,  I’ll read them Genesis, and they’ll have picture books with Adam and Eve in a paradise, and a little snake in a tree for the sake of illustration.   But then I’ll bring out a stack of works by Aquinas and Augustine and a modern science book, and explain what all of it really means.

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Leila Was Robbed

Surprisingly, I have so many ideas for posts that I actually had to write them down so as to not forget them. I wasn’t intending to write another Sedevacantist post so soon after the last, but this post Leila, author of Little Catholic Bubble, has her story of “reversion” called, “I Was Robbedthat I thought was worth sharing. The thing is, I agree with her 100% on every single accusation and observation she has made regarding post-Vatican II Catholicism. And because I went to a Novus Ordo Catholic school as a youngster before being pulled out and home schooled, some of the things she talks about are things I witnessed firsthand.

I agree with her, but I guess I take it a step further by rejecting the entire institution that produced this generation of Catholic clergy that are driving people out of the Church. [As I say that, a little voice in my head nods and says, “Mm. Matt 7:16.”] I have a hard time understanding the people who see the problems, and yet stand behind the men who, if not entirely condoning it, do not entirely reject it, and do little to stop such heinous errors.

At any rate, and no matter where I believe her conclusion that, in my mind falls somewhat short of the mark, her story made me go, “Yes! Exactly. Now, why don’t you come visit my Latin Mass?”

UPDATE:

I thought I should mention, especially so as to not scandalize any sedevacantist readers that at one point, she does say:

Catholics — be they priests, bishops, religious, theologians or laymen — who do not profess loyalty to the Holy Father and the Magisterium should have the integrity to identify themselves as Protestants, for that is what they are, i.e. they exist in a state of protest against the Roman Catholic Church.

I suspect that she is referring to the liberals, but I thought I’d throw it out there that, in case she is referring to Sedevacantists, or if anyone thinks that that is applicable to us, that we are still not in protest against the Roman Catholic Church. We are in protest against what many believe is the Roman Catholic Church, and we will certainly profess loyalty to the Holy Father, if ever one is once again seated in the Chair of St. Peter.

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Blogging for the “Catacomb Rebellion”

I always feel unsatisfied when bloggers blog about blogging, and yet, that is probably what the first of my posts will be.

Catholic blogging, for me, always seemed like something I could never do.   As it is, Catholics are low on the radar, with only barely a voice in mainstream media.  Sure, I guess we have  Stephen Colbert (have you ever watched his Catholic Bender?  Hilarious!) but he helped get Obama in office, so c’mon. 

And frankly, until relatively recently, anyway, I didn’t really enjoy Catholic blogs, myself.   I didn’t think that, were I a secularist, I’d come away from it any more informed on Catholic teaching, or more warmed to the religion that so many mistakenly think is harsh, judgmental, inscrutible and yet, paradoxically, for simpletons.  I was looking for something earthy and real, that made the Catholic Church look like the reasonable, rational, timeless Entity that it is.  The ones I found were jargon-happy, seemingly written for Catholics alone, who already had at least the basics down.  Which is fine.  Those have their place, but it wasn’t what I was looking for, which was something that would showcase the intellect behind our beliefs, and that yes, we really, really believe them with our minds, as well as our hearts. 

And those were mainstream Catholic blogs–as mainstream as anything Catholic gets– written by members of the Conciliar Church who wept with joy at JPII’s beatification.  I couldn’t imagine writing a blog that focused on what I believed as a Catholic and expect it to get much attention, except from the people who, though agreed with me at least as far as the Papacy was concerned, sometimes had other misinformed, small minded beliefs that embarrassed me.  I can remember the sputterings of protest that ensued when I called some of my friends’ attention to the fact that Jesus would have looked like a Middle Eastern man and not the fair-faced European of our Renaissance paintings.   

Now, there have been books– books!– explaining the Sedevacantist position.  I’ll hopefully get a chance to address some of them individually and more extensively in later posts, but I’ll try to summarize.  In short, and in layman’s terms, Sedevacantism–derived from the Latin for ‘The Seat is Vacant” in referrence to the Chair of Peter in Rome– is the belief that the popes and priests that practiced and spread the errors and heresies of the Second Vatican Council, and participated in the further abuses and heresies that it paved the path for, excommunicated themselves by default.  And if the pope excommunicated himself,  we were on our own, a Body without a visible Head.  In the eyes of the Conciliar Church (the Church that recognizes Benedict XVI and a few of his predecessors as popes), we are in schism. 

 The main difference, along with the endless list of satellite and effectual differences, is that Vatican II was in error when it made changes in the Mass, in spite of the fact that in 1570, Pope Pius V made the Mass as it was then, the standard, as it remained until the 1960s, when Vatican II went into effect.  Sedevacantists attend Mass in its old, Latin form, untouched as it was intended to be.

Ironically, I’ve found that non-Catholics are more willing to accept this explanation than practicing mainstream Catholics.  Due to the objectivity that comes from being an outsider, they can more readily say, “Of course, if it goes against your religion to change something as fundamental as the ceremony it revolves around, and the punishment for changing such a thing would be expulsion from said religion, well then your position makes perfect sense!”  

Our camp is small, and needy.  When I’m in a romantic mood, I feel I can identify a little bit with the Roman martyrs of the early Church, at least in the sense that they are quietly rebelling against the “norm,” hidden underground, misunderstood and marginally unpopular, if known of at all.  The Catholics who do know about us have a warped idea of what we believe, some viewing us as a cult, or opposed to the papacy as an institution.

One of the most–what’s the word I’m looking for?– edifying… conversations about my Faith, for me, was the first time I talked to Catholic columnist, Max Lindenman (now, happily, a friend, and one I will be citing occasionally) who writes for Patheos. He had heard of sedevacantism, but had probably never actually talked to a person who actually held the view, and had certainly never talked to one he believed had any sense.  One of the first questions he asked me upon finding out this little quirk of mine, was if I had a problem with his Jewish ethnicity.  When I laughed and revealed that I, myself, had Jewish roots, he was surprised as he had always believed sedevacantist were anti-Semitic.  After setting a few more nasty and misinformed rumors straight for him, he generously conceded my sanity and had interest in things about sedevacantism that I had been taking for granted for years. 

As I’ve explored more, I’ve found that I read more Catholic blogs nowadays than secular ones, and have found in them the down-to-earth intelligence I craved, at least in the most basic Truths of the Faith, and only sometimes do I have to skip over either a reference to one of the most recent “popes,” who now sit in Vatican City, or some new Novus Ordo-y practice that makes me wince.  While those blogs have made me realize what I have in common with Conciliar Catholics, they’ve also emphasized the silence coming from my side, a silence I hope to fill once in a while.

UPDATE

To any readers I may have or attain later on, I ardently urge you to ask me questions about Sedevacantism. It’s much easier to address things on a smaller scale than try to capture the whole scope.

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