Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
While many traditional Catholic theologians recognize that the theology and the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas cannot be reconciled with theistic evolution, there are some who insist that the long ages associated with the molecules-to-man evolution hypothesis have been proven to be true beyond any reasonable doubt. According to the view known as “progressive creation,” God created all of the different kinds of creatures by fiat, but He did so by intervening periodically in the course of the 13.7 billion of years that began with the Big Bang. We are delighted to announce the publication of a new book entitled Worthy of Belief which masterfully defends the traditional Catholic reading of Genesis, with its chronology of four to five thousand years from Creation to the Incarnation, against the claims of the progressive creationist account of the origins of man and the universe.
In this newsletter I would like to share the first chapter of this new book with you, so that you can see how the author approaches his task. I hope that you will be moved to obtain the book for your own library and make the author’s arguments your own. Chapter One is entitled “Muddy Walls” and ends with a quotation from G. K. Chesterton in which he defines a “realist” as “One who throws enough mud until some of it sticks, especially to that unfortunate creature Man, who was originally made of mud.”
On the origin of the universe, theories and theorists abound. Those who believe in Creation point to revelation, and also to the observable world, explaining that it corroborates the Biblical account. Atheists reject God, arguing that the same world proves the contrary. Some promote a middle way, contending that God created the universe, but not as described in Genesis. And these say that compromise is necessary to save religion; which, they contend, cannot otherwise stand against the theories of modern scientists.
Disbelief, of course, is nothing new. The centuries have had many scoffers, grinding their atheistic axes with unproven theories. But there is something novel about modern disbelief. It’s not so much the substance of the modern theories, or even that the theories are taught by secular academics. What’s different today is the number of clerics and churchmen who accept those theories. Now, Catholic schools and seminaries commonly teach the principles of Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin as if true.
Indeed, despite the attempts of some previous popes to stop it, the trend has escalated to such a point that the Catholic hierarchy itself has become a leading scoffer. Pope Francis recently complained that, when thinking of the creation “story,” Catholics “risk imagining that God was a magician, with such a magic wand as to be able to do everything.” According to U.S. News, instead of the account in Genesis, Pope Francis expressly accepts “[t]he Big-Bang;” the theory that, he explains, “is placed today at the origin of the world.” Obviously, this amplifies the Big Bang’s impact in undermining belief in Creation as revealed by God through Moses in Genesis.
But Pope Francis’ view directly contradicts that held by previous popes, especially those preceding Pius XII. Consider the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, where (in 1893) he expressly reaffirmed that:
The books [of the Bible], all and entire, which the Church accepts as sacred and canonical, with all their parts, have been written at the dictation of the Holy Spirit; so far is it from the possibility of any error being present to divine inspiration, that it itself of itself not only excludes all error, but excludes it and rejects it as necessarily as it is necessary that God, the highest Truth, be the author of no error whatsoever.
This is the ancient and uniform faith of the Church, defined also by solemn opinion, at the Council of Florence and of Trent, finally confirmed and more expressly declared at the [first] Vatican Council, by which it was absolutely declared: ‘The books of the Old and New Testament . . . have God as their author.’ Therefore, it matters not at all that the Holy Spirit took men as instruments for the writing, as if anything false might have slipped, not indeed from the first Author, but from the inspired writers.
Clearly, it is well-settled dogma that the Scriptures cannot contain even the slightest error. It is likewise clear that the Big Bang Theory, which holds that the universe developed progressively over billions of years from a primeval atom, contradicts the historical account of Creation revealed in Genesis. This is the case even if God is ‘credited’ as having gotten the process started. The Big Bang also contradicts more than nineteen hundred years of Church tradition.
Pope St. Pius X also reaffirmed that “each and every part” of Sacred Scripture is protected against error. In adopting the report of his Biblical Commission, St. Pius X admonished against “the various exegetical systems” (systems of interpretation), “which have been proposed to exclude the literal sense of the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis.” In fact, he specifically rejected abandoning the literal meaning of Genesis with interpretations that “have been defended by the pretense of science.” St. Pius X expressly ruled that those interpretations of science are erroneous. He and the Commission explicitly rejected any teaching which suggested “that the three aforesaid chapters of Genesis do not contain the stories of events which really happened, that is, which correspond with objective reality and historical truth...”
If the universe is the result of billions of years of evolutionary—or progressive—development, then reason demands a re-evaluation of Genesis. And from that theory springs yet another concept: that discernment of truth itself is an evolutionary or progressive process, a process in which revealed truth is subject to qualification by scientific theorists. These ideas gave birth to the notion that truth may differ from age to age, that truths defined by the Apostles may have evolved to have different meanings or aspects for today’s truth. This is the essence of Modernism, which Pope St. Pius X, in his Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, dubbed “the synthesis of all heresies,”9 calling out the Modernists for proposing to “separate the theological and pastoral [interpretation of text and tradition] from the scientific and the historical.”10 Concerning this, he stated:
[The modernists,] on the principle that science in no wise depends on faith, when they are treating of philosophy, history, and criticism, . . . they display in every way a contempt for Catholic precepts, the Holy Fathers, the Ecumenical Synods, and the ecclesiastical magisterium; and if they are criticized for this, they complain that they are being deprived of their freedom. Finally, professing that faith must be made subject to science, they rebuke the Church generally and openly, because she refuses most resolutely to subject and accommodate her teachings to the opinions of philosophy; but they, repudiating the old theology for this purpose, endeavor to bring in the new, which follows the ravings of the philosophers.
St. Pius X warned that, ultimately, this “system means the destruction not of the Catholic religion alone but of all religion.” Thus, he says, “[w]ith good reason do the rationalists applaud [the modernists], for the most sincere and the frankest among the rationalists warmly welcome the modernists as their most valuable allies.” The aftermath of Vatican II has certainly vindicated St. Pius X’s warning, especially as to the Catholic faithful.
After Vatican II was implemented in the late 1960s, those adhering to tradition (in dogmas and liturgy) became known as traditional Catholics. Leaders of the traditional Catholic movement opposed the new theologies that contradicted the traditional account of Creation as revealed in Genesis. At the very least, they certainly never heralded the new theories. But that, too, has apparently changed. Anyway, it appears to have for the Society of St. Pius X, judging by its support of The Realist Guide to Religion & Science, a book written by one of its seminary professors, Fr. Paul Robinson.
Of course, one book by one priest does not a movement make. But the posture of the SSPX toward this book is tantamount to endorsement. Upon its release, the SSPX’s website officially promoted the book as being “written at [its] Holy Cross Seminary,” and applauded that it “takes a thesis of the late, great Fr. Stanley Jaki.” The book’s author taught theology and philosophy at the Society’s Holy Cross Seminary until 2019, when he took charge of one of the Society’s high schools in the United States. Additionally, the Society’s publisher, Angelus Press, not only sells the book but gives it accolades, having promoted it with an email push following its publication. Further, priories of the SSPX in the United States have promoted the book by hosting lectures with Fr. Robinson. And, finally, Fr. Robinson himself credits his formation at the SSPX seminary for instilling in him this “opposition” to the literal interpretation of Genesis, explaining it was there that:
...[he] was taught why Catholic exegetes reject [the idea of a young Earth, i.e., dating the Earth according to Scriptural history,] under the guidance of the Church. God willing, I was also given a Catholic intellectual balance in Scriptural matters which, in turn, I hope I communicate to my own students.
In The Realist Guide, Fr. Robinson announces: “Today, it is clear that Genesis 1 is not meant to provide a strict history of the universe.” Instead, he insists that the literal understanding of Genesis is incompatible with reality. This, he contends, results in “an apparent dilemma for believers.” According to Fr. Robinson, taking Genesis literally has “disastrous effects on souls,” often ending in apostasy. To emphasize this point, he narrates the following:
Jaki makes mention of a priest working in the slums of Paris who claimed that ‘the apparent conflict between science and the six-day-creation story was much more effective in promoting atheism among the poor and the relatively uneducated than were the social injustices that cut into their flesh and blood.’
To what “social injustices” this Parisian priest was referring is left undisclosed, but his disdain for the six-day-creation “story” is obvious. The answer to the “dilemma,” says Fr. Robinson, is to adopt “a middle ground” and compromise “between the strictly literal interpretation and the allegorical” reading of Genesis 1. He calls this middle ground “progressive creationism,” explaining “that Genesis 1 is not an exact, historical account of the unfolding of creation, yet at the same time, it does contain historical elements.” In explaining this notion, he declares that:
God did not create everything at once, but rather created some material beings in an initial instant and then progressively added material beings to the universe at later times. This did not happen in six periods of twenty-four hours, nor did it happen in the exact order indicated by Genesis 1.
According to Fr. Robinson’s reckoning, it is impossible for Creation to have happened within the time-frame calculated by Biblical scholars, which dates Creation at approximately 6,000 or so years ago. Instead, Fr. Robinson suggests that God initiated creation via the “Big Bang Theory,” starting with a “primeval atom” some 13.7 billions of years ago—an opinion he credits as having “probable certainty.” He opines that taking Genesis literally “advocates a picture of the Earth that is manifestly wrong” concerning its age, as well as the historical account of Creation over six days that he deems equally erroneous. Fr. Robinson also rejects the Genesis account of the Flood of Noah, contending it to be both scientifically and physically impossible. He concludes that the Flood could not have happened as described in Genesis and, thus, had to be merely local to that region.
Presenting what he purports to be scientific data, Fr. Robinson asserts that Reason is not to be ignored and, thus, insists we must reject Genesis as traditionally understood. It is true that “faith and reason can never come into conflict.” But the reasoning must be sound. The theories Fr. Robinson promotes do contradict the text of Genesis, and also the Church Fathers and Doctors. The problem, however, is not with the words of Moses and tradition, but with the theories The Realist Guide promotes.
On a positive note, Fr. Robinson is correct that words used solely for esthetic description are not to be taken literally. To use his example, a text that describes a morning “sunrise” conveys the present sense of what the writer sees, not movement of the sun. As Fr. Robinson correctly states, the Fathers of the Church adopted a “fundamental” rule for interpreting Biblical text, namely, that: “it is not lawful to depart from the obvious literal sense, unless reason prohibits it or some necessity forces us to leave it.” Fr. Robinson then explains that the Bible was not given as a physics or science manual. Fair enough. Brother Francis Maluf, M.I.C.M, Ph.D. (1913-2009), who was a great defender of the literal account of Genesis, explained that the more important focus is on man’s spiritual position rather than geometric location. But there is no error whatsoever in Scripture. The accounts of Creation and the Flood, as revealed in Genesis, are literally and historically true. These historical narratives are foundational first principles in Revelation and, therefore, central to the Faith. They either happened as revealed or they did not.
Through the prayers of the Mother of God and of all the Saints, may the Holy Ghost guide us all into all the Truth!
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,
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 the midst of the current worldwide diabolical disorientation, the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Holy Shroud of Turin reconnects us with Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, with our first father, St. Adam, and with Our Heavenly Father, because, as Our Lord said to St. Philip, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." Our Lord revealed to the French Carmelite Sister Mary of St. Peter that the Devotion to the Holy Face would be an antidote to the blasphemies of revolutionary men. Please consider purchasing a Holy Face flag at this link and displaying it on your front door or in another prominent place outside your home.