Kolbe Report 1/6/24

The Catholic Faith is a Symphony

Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,

Christ is baptized!  In the Jordan!

One of the ways that the Mosaic account of creation corresponds with our experience of created reality is by its symphonic character.   In the evolutionary account of origins, there is a linear development from one or a few one-celled organisms, spanning a period of hundreds of millions of years.  Yet this mythological account of human origins flies in the face of the symphonic character of the natural world.  For example, in evolutionary mythology, insects evolve tens of millions of years before birds.  However, six thousand years of human experience in the real world tell us that the vegetation necessary to support human life could not survive for a single year without birds—much less for the tens of millions of years of evolutionary mythology.

A recent article in Springer’s journal reported that:

Birds around the world eat 400 to 500 million metric tonnes of beetles, flies, ants, moths, aphids, grasshoppers, crickets and other anthropods per year. These numbers have been calculated in a study led by Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel in Switzerland. The research, published in Springer's journal The Science of Nature, highlights the important role birds play in keeping plant-eating insect populations under control.

Nyffeler and his colleagues based their figures on 103 studies that highlighted the volume of prey that insect-eating birds consume in seven of the world's major ecological communities known as biomes. According to their estimations, this amounts to between 400 and 500 million tonnes of insects per year but is most likely to be on the lower end of the range. Their calculations are supported by a large number of experimental studies conducted by many different research teams in a variety of habitats in different parts of the world.

According to the sacred history of Genesis, birds and insects were created on the same day—Day Five of the Hexameron.  That makes perfect sense, since from the beginning, God designed plants to be food for insects, animals and humans, while insects were designed to be food for birds and pollinators for plants.  Each of these groups of creatures depended on the others from the beginning.

But even within these different categories of creatures, we can see the symphonic nature of God’s design in creation.  This is nowhere more evident than in the honey bee community wherein we find a complex society of insects that could never have come into existence in a linear fashion, but only as a fully-functioning community.  As author Bruce Malone explains in Censored Science:

Bees are the only insects that produce large quantities of food eaten by man.  A hive of more than 40,000 honey bees must visit over two million flowers to produce a pound of honey, and a single bee visits an average of a thousand flowers a day—providing a critical transfer of pollen between flowers, resulting in seed formation.  To produce a pound of honey, the bees in a single hive travel the equivalent of two to three times around the entire globe.  The distinctive buzzing sound of the bee comes from the incredible 11,000 wing strokes per minute needed to hoist its heavy body into the air.  But one of the bee’s most amazing feats is its method of communicating to other bees.

Whenever a single honey bee finds a large source of nectar, it returns to the hive and performs a very specific dance to let the others know where to find the new field of flowering plants.  Bees dance in “figure 8” circles and wiggle their bodies in a very specific way to represent the distance and direction of the food source (relative to the sun).  The language of the dance is so distinctive that both bees and researchers watching dancing bees immediately move out from a hive and find the same source of flowering plants.

How do bees hatch with both the ability to perform this dance and the ability to understand its meaning?  How do their little bee brains allow them to find their way back to their hives after flying in what seems like aimless circles for hours?  How do they know what to do with the nectar and how much honey is needed to survive the winter? And how did the incredible relationship between bees and flowers develop?

Tanzanian Honey Bee

It is commonly taught that insects such as bees evolved thirty to ninety million years ago, whereas flowering plants appeared 130 to 160 million years ago.  (The actual timing is the subject of heated debate.)  According to evolutionary theory, flowers (which need bees to for proper pollination) and bees (which need flowers for food) somehow evolved independently and then just found each other.  Yet it has never been explained how a flower that needs bees and bees that need flowers developed by chance mutational changes in some “pre-flower” bee or some “pre-bee” plant [flower]. What did these pre-flower bees and pre-bee plants [flowers ] look like?  No one knows.  How could both organisms develop independently when they need each other to thrive.  No one knows.  Why is this development missing from the fossil record?  How did a single honey bee develop, when bees must live in a colony, which includes a queen who can  lay fertile eggs, workers who feed her and specialize in their labor, and drones whose only function is to mate?

Even more amazing is the design of certain plants which contain an inexhaustible number of contrivances [to ensure their pollination].For instance, the bucket orchard flower has a slippery lip,  causing a bee to fall into a bucket of liquid which is designed to allow exit through a narrow tunnel via the aid of steps within the interior of the flower.  Pollen sacs are placed so that they glue onto the bee’s back as it exits.  The next flower visited has a mechanism to remove the pollen from the bee’s back to complete pollination.  The entire design, including the bucket, slippery surface, exit tunnel, and pollen attachment/detachment mechanism, are specifically designed for the size, shape and ability of bees.  Surely the belief that bees are the result of blind mutational change is the only blindness actually involved.

The Symphony of Catholic Scriptural Exegesis

For many decades the consensus view in Catholic academia has been that Moses did not write or redact the sacred history of Genesis and that the text was cobbled together by scribes around the time of the Babylonian Captivity.  One of the many reasons why the Kolbe Center has never abandoned the patristic view that Moses was the author/redactor of Genesis is that Genesis contains a grammatical feature that cannot be found anywhere in the Old Testament except in the first five books of the Bible—the epicene personal pronoun.  This is a pronoun that has no gender so that the correct gender is determined by the verb—a feature that would surely be present in some other part of the Old Testament if the consensus view in Catholic academia were correct and the first five books of the Bible were produced one thousand years after the time of Moses.  One of the places where the epicene personal pronoun appears has a special significance for all Catholics but most especially for those who strive to defend the traditional reading of Genesis.  It is in Genesis 3:15, the protoevangelium, where God says to Satan, “I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed.” But should the next sentence read “He,” “She” or “It” “will crush your head”?

St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Readers of this newsletter know that St. Lawrence of Brindisi is the last Doctor of the Church to have written a detailed commentary on Genesis.  He knew the whole Bible by heart, knew all the Biblical languages and was familiar with all of the greatest commentators in Hebrew, Latin and Greek.  Readers also know that Cornelius a Lapide was commissioned by the Pope to devote his life to preparing a commentary on the Holy Bible.  He, too, mastered all the Biblical languages and was familiar with the greatest commentators on the Bible in Hebrew, Latin and Greek.  These two giants in the field of Biblical commentary agree that none of the three readings of the epicene personal pronoun in Genesis 3:15 should be rejected.  Lapide writes:

Note first that none of these three readings [of Genesis 3:15] is to be rejected. No, indeed: All [the masculine, the feminine and the neuter] are true readings. For in this verse, when God sets the two against each other as if they were opponents in a contest — the woman with her seed against the serpent with its seed — He consequently wishes to say that the woman with her seed will crush the head of the serpent, just as, on the other hand, the serpent lies in wait for the heel of both the woman and her seed. And therefore in this verse Moses seems to have mixed the masculine verb with the feminine pronoun, saying ישוף היא, hî’ yəšūp̄, she shall crush, in order to signify both the woman and her seed; or rather, the woman through her seed, namely through Christ, shall crush the head of the serpent.

It is interesting to note that St. Jerome in at least one of his writings took the view that “He”  and not “She” (“Ipsa,” as in the Latin Vulgate) was the correct translation of the pronoun in that verse.  However, He Who Is Truth Itself saw to it that the Vulgate became the official version of the Bible for the Church of Rome and that "ipsa" emerged as the primary reading in the Vulgate ("She" in the Douai-Rheims English translation of the Vulgate), even if that was not the original preference of St. Jerome himself.  The fact that the successor of St. Peter used this reading as part of the basis for the solemn definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception supports this view.

It is interesting that both protestant and orthodox polemicists against the Catholic Faith tend to defend one interpretation of Scripture as the correct one and to condemn all other interpretations as false.  But this has not been the modus operandi of the Catholic Church.  A very learned and holy priest gave me this striking example of a paradoxically symphonic interpretation of Scripture enshrined in the Breviary:

One example that comes to mind is Psalm 94, which is used in the Old Latin version as the invitatory at matins nearly every day of the year, but which on the Feast of the Epiphany is used as a psalm in one of the nocturns at matins in the Vulgate version. There are some interesting differences, e.g. in verse 10 the old Latin has 'for forty years I was close to this generation', while the Vulgate has 'for forty years I was offended by this generation'.  [These meanings] enrich each other: the 'offence' is more grievous because of the 'proximity', and the proximity is more generous because of the offence.

Is it not wonderful to see how the Catholic Faith and Catholic Tradition display the same symphonic character that pervades our Creator’s workmanship throughout the cosmos?

Yours in Christ through the Holy Theotokos in union with St. Joseph,

Hugh Owen

P.S. Today is a First Saturday. Please be sure to answer Our Lady’s appeal for the First Saturday devotions as described by the Fatima Center at this link.

P.P.S.  In early March the Kolbe Center has been invited to give presentations in Texas and Missouri.  If any of our readers can arrange a venue in, between, or anywhere near those two states, please let me know as soon as possible by emailing me at  For information or to register for our annual leadership retreat in Bloomingdale, Ohio, in the last week in August, please email me at the same email address.

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