Kolbe Report 1/13/24

Debate Updates

Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,

Christ is baptized!  In the Jordan!

Readers of this newsletter know that it has been difficult for us to find Catholic theistic evolutionists or progressive creationists willing to debate us in a public forum, but we are always ready and willing to accept an invitation to debate.  On December 13, I was pleased to have the opportunity to debate a biology teacher at a Chesterton Academy in Spokane, Washington, on the proposition that “Theistic evolution is tenable for the Catholic mind.”  The moderator of the debate invited the attendees to vote on the debate resolution before and after the debate so that he could see if anyone changed his mind.  When he sent me the debate video at this link, he gave me this additional information:

Unfortunately, we didn't get enough votes either before the debate or after to get anything close to an accurate measure. Here's what I can tell you: 

Pre-Debate (21 votes) 

66.67% - disagree with the proposition [that theistic evolution is tenable for Catholics] 33.33% - agree with the proposition 

Post-Debate (10 votes) 

70% - disagree with the proposition
30% - agree with the proposition 

The Chesterton Academy where the debate was held TEACHES theistic evolution, so it is encouraging that since my talk there last year and after the debate this year, the overwhelming majority of attendees at the debate rejected theistic evolution--in spite of the fact that the school teaches it.

My partner in the debate claimed that Part I, Question 73, of the Summa Theologica proves that I misrepresented the Angelic Doctor’s teaching on creation.  However, Question 73 confirms that I represented him faithfully. It distinguishes between the “first perfection of the universe” which St. Thomas defines as “the completeness of the universe at its first founding” and the “final perfection of the universe” when all the just have been sanctified.  The “completeness of the universe” signifies ALL of the different kinds of creatures, each one perfect according to its nature, all of them existing together, with man and for man, at the foundation of the world.  Any new organism that came into existence through secondary causes after the six days of creation had to be present in the genetic potential that God implanted in the “first perfection of the universe.”  The Angelic Doctor gives the example of a mule that results from the union of “an ass and a mare”; but no new functional biological information was produced by that union.  Such novelties do not provide any evidence for molecules to man evolution, because that kind of evolution requires a natural mechanism whereby non-living matter could come alive and turn into the body of an evolved sub-human primate without any supernatural divine creative action.

Ryan Grant interview

On the morning of the same day when the Chesterton Academy debate took place, I had the pleasure of recording a conversation with Ryan Grant in nearby Post Falls, Idaho.  If you listen to our conversation, I think you will agree that it provided a much better opportunity for me to defend the traditional Catholic reading of Genesis 1-11 than the debate forum, because we were not rushed and Ryan was genuinely interested in establishing the truth in regard to the matters we discussed.  By contrasting the two venues, I believe that one can understand why we always prefer to give seminars where we can present our arguments at length.  In a debate, we are always constrained by severe time limits which make it almost impossible to do justice to the arguments we are trying to make.  The main reason why we will never refuse an invitation to a debate is that there are some people who will watch or listen to a debate who will not take the time to watch or listen to one of our seminars.   Nevertheless, for those who are serious about learning the truth about the origins of man and the universe, I would recommend studying the written debates in the “Replies to Critics” section of our website where both sides have sufficient time to develop their arguments.  If anyone reading this newsletter can find a venue anywhere in the U.S. (or the world) where we can offer one of our seminars, please let me know.

In the meantime, through the efforts of our friend Matthew Piwko, another Kolbe debate will take place in cyberspace on January 20.  You are all invited to spread the word and join the audience:

Cosmic Evolution Debate on Zoom: On Saturday, January 20th at 2:00p ET please join us for a virtual debate between Fr. Robert Boyd, FSSP (PhD, Princeton) and Dr. Thomas Seiler, PhD on whether the Big Bang Theory constitutes a sound explanation for the origins of our universe given current scientific research. Please use this link to join the debate.

Poll on the Anti-Culture of Death

I was recently invited to write an article on creation and evolution for the magazine The Bellowing Ox, so I wrote the article at this link:

All the comments I have received have been positive, but one of the readers told me that I ought to stick to Pope St. John Paul II’s phrase “the culture of death” because the phrase “anti-culture of death” was confusing.  I wrote back to her and explained:

We think that "anti-culture of death" is more accurate than "culture of death," because a culture, to the extent that it is an authentic culture, is rooted in nature, and the "anti-culture of death," by its contempt for nature and for life, is indeed an anti-culture.

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines "culture" first and foremost as "a way of life":

The etymology of "culture" as explained below shows that it derives from the act of cultivation:

culture (n.)
mid-15c., "the tilling of land, act of preparing the earth for crops," from Latin cultura "a cultivating, agriculture," figuratively "care, culture, an honoring," from past participle stem of colere "to tend, guard; to till, cultivate" (see colony). Meaning "the cultivation or rearing of a crop, act of promoting growth in plants" (1620s) was transferred to fish, oysters, etc., by 1796, then to "production of bacteria or other microorganisms in a suitable environment" (1880), then "product of such a culture" (1884).

From our perspective, to call the anti-culture of death a "culture of death" does not do justice to the horror of the anti-life agenda that shows utter contempt for nature and life.

I hope this helps to explain why we use that terminology.

My correspondent wrote back and suggested that I take a poll to see if our readers agree with our preference for the phrase “anti-culture of death” or agree with our correspondent that we should stick with Pope St. John Paul II’s phrase “culture of death.”  I would be grateful if you would email me at and let me know your thoughts.

Kolbe 2024 Leadership Retreat

We have decided to hold this year’s leadership retreat once again at the Apostolate for Family Consecration’s Retreat Center in Bloomingdale, Ohio, from August 25 to August 31.  The purpose of the retreat is to equip a new company of leaders to defend and proclaim the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation within their spheres of influence, as the foundation of our Faith and as the only firm foundation for a culture of life.  For more information or to register, please email me at

Through the prayers of the Mother of God, may the Holy Ghost guide us all into all the Truth!

In Domino,

Hugh Owen

P.S.  If any of our readers plan to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on January 19, and would be willing to distribute our pamphlet “Evolution and the Culture of Death” to other marchers, please email me at right away so that I can send you a bundle.  (We drafted the original pamphlet before we decided to switch from “culture of death” to “anti-culture of death”!)

P.P.S.  As the Christmas season draws to a close, we would like to invite you to listen to this wonderful concert of Christmas music by Harpa Dei:  The family singers’ love for God radiates through their heavenly music which they draw from the numerous traditions of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.

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