Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
One of the challenges we have faced since the very beginning of the Kolbe Center is the difficulty in finding opportunities to debate the champions of theistic evolution and progressive creation in an open forum. We have never refused a challenge, and we have a standing offer to go anywhere in the world to defend the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation at our own expense. In almost 25 years, we have only had three opportunities to debate Catholic defenders of theistic evolution or progressive creation. A few years ago, we were delighted when we were invited to participate in a Trialogue in writing on six questions about Genesis 1-11 with two Dominican priests, one of whom defends theistic evolution and identifies himself as a “Thomistic evolutionist,” the other of whom is a progressive creationist. But after we had only completed two of the six replies, the Thomistic evolutionist excused himself on the grounds that his schedule had gotten too busy for him to continue the trialogue. On another occasion, the head of a prominent Catholic organization agreed to arrange a debate between two of his colleagues and two of our members only to inform me after a year of fruitless attempts on our part to arrange a venue that he had decided to put the debate “on the back burner.”
More recently, Crisis magazine published a short article by Kennedy Hall entitled “Confessions of a Creationist” and followed up with a rebuttal by Dr. Douglas Darnowski defending theistic evolution. Since Dr. Darnowski’s article was almost twice as long as Mr. Hall’s and raised scientific and theological arguments that Kennedy Hall had not addressed, we hoped that the chief editor of Crisis would be willing to be the first editor of a mainstream Catholic journal to host a genuine origins debate between faithful Catholics. A number of our friends who know the editor-in-chief even appealed to him to publish Dr. Kevin Mark’s reply to Dr. Darnowski, but their appeals appear to have been made in vain.
I hope that all of our readers will read the articles by Kennedy Hall and Dr. Darnowski at the links I have provided as well as Dr. Kevin Mark’s reply to Dr. Darnowski which has been posted on the Kolbe website at this link. If you are so moved, you could then write to the editor-in-chief of Crisis at this email address email@example.com and urge him politely to invite Dr. Darnowski to have a public debate with Dr. Kevin Mark in the pages of Crisis. If this were done over a period of weeks or months, the Crisis readership would have a unique opportunity to weigh the arguments for and against theistic evolution. Unfortunately, even in Catholic universities ostensibly committed to liberal education, students are more often indoctrinated into theistic evolution than given the opportunity to weigh the arguments for and against the theistic evolutionist account of the origins of man and the universe.
One of the few members of our leadership team who has succeeded in organizing a debate for us is Dr. Robert Houston, who is a professor of Economics at Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Houston and Dr. Stephen Gedney, at that time a professor of electrical engineering at Kentucky State University, received permission from their local chancery to organize a debate in the hall of the diocesan Cathedral in Lexington, Kentucky, between Dr. Thomas Seiler and myself and two theistic evolutionists, a local diocesan priest and a former provost and professor of biology at the University of Kentucky. I would like to share a letter that Dr. Houston wrote about the debate in case any of our readers might be able to use it to organize a similar debate at another Catholic venue.
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Bob Houston and I am a Professor of Economics at Eastern Kentucky University and a member of Regina Pacis Parish in the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. I am writing this letter in support of the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation and to encourage chancery officials, university administrators, principals, and others who hold positions of responsibility in Catholic educational institutions to utilize the Kolbe Center to educate Catholics in the historical, scriptural and magisterial teaching on creation.
I first attended a Kolbe Center seminar at my parish church a few years ago with the encouragement of my pastor. I was overwhelmed by the quality of the presentation and the clarity with which the topic was presented. I attended a second seminar a year later at the University of Kentucky that was sponsored by the pro-life group on campus. It was after these seminars that I began to fully understand the connection between the evolutionary hypothesis and the culture of death. As a parent and educator, I have observed that most Catholic young people are simply indoctrinated into the view that God used hundreds of millions of years of death and mutation to evolve the bodies of the first human beings. Moreover, many of these young people are taught this “fact” by Catholic teachers in Catholic schools. They are taught that Genesis is a “myth,” that Adam and Eve were not historical individuals, and that the events recounted in Genesis 1-3 regarding the creation of man and the Fall are not to be taken literally. It seems that most Catholic students rarely have an opportunity to hear a coherent critique of the evolutionary hypothesis, or to hear any other account of origins besides theistic evolution.
In the spring of 2012 I invited Mr. Hugh Owen to give a lecture at Eastern Kentucky University entitled, “The Negative Impact of the Evolutionary Hypothesis on Scientific and Medical Research: A Retrospective Assessment.” The lecture was very well received and generated much thoughtful discussion on the topic. Although it is good that this type of discussion can take place on a secular campus, how much more important is it that our Catholic institutions do the same? In fact, the Church has asked this very thing of Catholic scholars and educators. The last authoritative Magisterial teaching on evolution, the encyclical Humani Generis of Pope Pius XII, asked that Catholic scholars examine the evidence for and against the evolutionary hypothesis and did NOT give permission for human evolution to be taught by Catholics.
It is apparent to me that this serious request by the Pope has largely not been obeyed. Our young people (and their parents) are being cheated of the opportunity to hear both sides of the controversy with regard to the Catholic doctrine of creation. The faithful have not been given the opportunity to attend presentations by Catholic experts in theology and natural science who defend the traditional Catholic doctrine of special creation while offering a detailed critique of the claims of the evolutionary hypothesis in its theistic as well as its atheistic forms.
In May of 2014, inspired by the request of Pius XII, I helped to organize a debate on the Catholic doctrine of origins at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington. I obtained permission from the local Church authorities to hold the public debate at our Catholic Cathedral. The formal debate proposition was as follows:
Be it resolved that the traditional Catholic doctrine of special creation—the fiat creation of all of the different kinds of creatures by God for man less than ten thousand years ago—is a much better explanation of all of the facts of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Magisterial teaching, and natural science than theistic evolution—the view that God used hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary processes to evolve the bodies of the first human beings.
The speakers defending the traditional doctrine of creation hailed from the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation. The theological speaker was Hugh Owen, Director of the Kolbe Center; the natural science speaker was Dr. Thomas Seiler, who has a Ph.D. in Physics from the Technical University of Munich in Germany. The speakers defending theistic evolution were a local diocesan priest and a former provost and professor of biology at the University of Kentucky. The event was attended by over two hundred people and covered by the diocesan newspaper. Judging from the audience’s response, the debate succeeded in generating a singularly open and thorough exchange of views on this fundamental topic, which enabled many to make a more clearly informed judgment in the matter.
I would greatly encourage Catholic educational institutions to organize similar events so that our Catholic young people can be educated rather than indoctrinated and thus arrive at a deeper understanding and appreciation of the “truth that will set us free.”
If anyone who reads this letter would like to communicate with me directly, please do not hesitate to write or call.
Robert G. Houston
Department of Economics
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY 40475
Please feel free to share this letter with any university administrator, pastor, Newman Club coordinator, or other Catholic leader who might be in a position to organize a debate for us along similar lines. Please also take note of the fact that it was Dr. Houston’s attendance at a Kolbe seminar in his Traditional Latin Mass Parish that opened his eyes to the truth of the traditional doctrine of creation. If you would like to organize a Kolbe talk or seminar in a parish or in another venue in the spring, summer or fall of 2023, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Through the prayers of the Mother of God and of all the Holy Angels and Saints, may the Holy Ghost lead us all into all the Truth!
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,