Evolution
#61
What we see in this thread are examples of some people who's thinking must be kept so simplistic they cannot discern any position other than "evolutionist" (atheist) and "creationist" (theist).  Such childish thinking is antithetical for the deep respect for actual science (as well as simple facts) that the Catholic Church has always shown.

These people are unwilling to even discuss the matters at hand - the actual evidence and the teachings of the Church on these subjects (which are the opposite of what they're saying) - and so stoop to calling their opponents not Catholic and/or lacking in faith.  These are either honest ad hominem attacks designed to shift the focus from the actual matters under discussion or honest but misguided slanders, the owners of which simply cannot understand that "the Bible" doesn't simply say that the Earth is 6,000 years old and so conclude that anyone who accepts that must be lacking in faith!

Where it becomes more than a problem of understanding is the refusal to listen to the Church on the matter.  The Church has never made any ruling regarding the age of the universe and on the contrary has made many official and unofficial statements supporting both the general notion that specifics on the age of the universe are required for belief (see the Fourth Latern Council's declarations on creation) and that the findings of modern science that the universe likely began in a single creation event that can be traced backwards through time and which implies a long age to the universe are worthy of respect.

The general mindset that (natural) science is opposed to God - which is exactly what some in this thread are proposing, implicitly or explicitly - is irrational and has never been supported any any Father, saint, or Doctor of the Church.

I would urge casual readers of the thread to do their own research and not be influenced by the posters who confuse true Catholicism with a middle-ages level of knowledge about nature.  
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#62
(10-30-2010, 09:34 AM)The Catholic Thinker Wrote: ...with a middle-ages level of knowledge about nature.

Your bias is almost as remarkable as your need to appear respectable.

But perhaps it's better that I should shut up. After all, you're the "catholic thinker" here.
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#63
(10-30-2010, 09:34 AM)The Catholic Thinker Wrote: Where it becomes more than a problem of understanding is the refusal to listen to the Church on the matter.  The Church has never made any ruling regarding the age of the universe and on the contrary has made many official and unofficial statements supporting both the general notion that specifics on the age of the universe are required for belief (see the Fourth Latern Council's declarations on creation)
This goes both ways.

People who reject what you hold do so because they find it hinders their faith. You are too strongly against their thinking on the subject. There is nothing to gained.

Quote:I would urge casual readers of the thread to do their own research and not be influenced by the posters who confuse true Catholicism with a middle-ages level of knowledge about nature.  
I urge casual readers to have faith and realise the subject is not important.
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#64
(10-30-2010, 09:45 AM)Rosarium Wrote:
(10-30-2010, 09:34 AM)The Catholic Thinker Wrote: Where it becomes more than a problem of understanding is the refusal to listen to the Church on the matter.  The Church has never made any ruling regarding the age of the universe and on the contrary has made many official and unofficial statements supporting both the general notion that specifics on the age of the universe are required for belief (see the Fourth Latern Council's declarations on creation)
This goes both ways.

People who reject what you hold do so because they find it hinders their faith. You are too strongly against their thinking on the subject. There is nothing to gained.

No, what I'm describing does not go both ways, because neither I nor anyone here as told anyone that they must accept the evidence of an old universe, much less that it's a matter of faith that they do!  Never would I suggest such a thing.  It is not a matter of the faith as the Church Herself has declared.

But, on the other hand, I was literally just called "not Catholic" (or "Catholic" in quotation marks, meaning "a joke of a Catholic or some such thing) for proposing an old universe, something the Church Herself most certainly does not condemn and in fact could be said to embrace.  For simply using my God-given intellect to look at the evidence and think about the question; I honestly think that certain people are resentful of the fact that not everyone is content to simply bury their heads in the sand and yell "LA LA LA LA LA" rather than face facts that make them uncomfortable.  The silly thing is that there is actually no reason for them to make them uncomfortable. 

This sort of thing has dragged the conversation to level of idiocy (as YECs are quite prone to do), and I think I'm shaking the dust from my feet, at least for now.  Bye.
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#65
I've read the whole thread and Nic has nailed it down perfectly.

Use your "God-given intellect" to consider what he has said instead of pretending there are no arguments from the other side and playing the victim. I suppose respectability in the eyes of the world must be more important to you and your "God-given intellect". Just dismiss those who don't subscribe to the Old Earth theory as quacks, or perhaps rehash old scientist trumps against the Church to label your opponents: fanatics, medievalists, etc.  I'm sure that makes you look good amongst your enlightened peers.
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#66
(10-30-2010, 09:21 AM)The Catholic Thinker Wrote: Apparently INPEFESS's words went over your head as well.

My point was not to profess a subscription to the evolution theory; my point (< hyperlink. Note: the underlined words are hyperlinks as well) was only to defend Pope Pius XII's statement that it has not been found to contradict the faith. This is not to say that it hasn't been used by some atheists to do so, but the theory itself, treating nothing of the creation of the world, for Darwin himself professed a belief closer to agnosticism toward the end of his life, can be reconciled with a non-literal fast-forward version of the history of the world in Genesis if it were found to be true via evidence. This is why I am no too concerned about whether or not it is true. I think that there is evidence that some aspects of it could be true, and I think some of them undoubtedly are (i.e. micro-evolution), but there is a lot of "evidence" that is pure speculation-- and some "evidence" which is downright false--that is being presented as fact to substantiate a theory that of itself does not have the evidence necessary to support it.
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#67
(10-30-2010, 11:45 AM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(10-30-2010, 09:21 AM)The Catholic Thinker Wrote: Apparently INPEFESS's words went over your head as well.

My point was not to profess a subscription to the evolution theory; my point (< hyperlink. Note: the underlined words are hyperlinks as well) was only to defend Pope Pius XII's statement that it has not been found to contradict the faith. This is not to say that it hasn't been used by some atheists to do so, but the theory itself, treating nothing of the creation of the world, for Darwin himself professed a belief closer to agnosticism toward the end of his life, can be reconciled if it were found to be true via evidence. This is why I am no too concerned about whether or not it is true. I think that there is evidence that some aspects of it could be true, but there is a lot of "evidence" that is pure speculation-- and some "evidence" which is downright false--that is being presented as fact.

Oh, it was quite clear you were not endorsing any evolution theory.  I did not imply that.  I have also made it clear - although apparently there can be no such thing as clear enough for some - that I do not believe in neo-Darwin evolution, or any form of theistic (macro) evolution either as it is commonly presented. 

As you point out, even if I did accept theistic macro-evolution, I would not be contradicting the faith, as long as the restrictions regarding Catholic dogma (monogenism) were respected.

Your position is entirely reasonable and entirely suitable for any Catholic, I think.  However, I must say that upon studying Darwin closely several years ago I did have to conclude that his theory, the way he eventually came to see it, leaves little room for a Creator in the sense we mean it, because natural selection is entirely random and senseless as he sees it.  (That is the difference "theistic evolution" makes - it is guided, and not random.)  In other word, Darwin interpreted his own theory at least eventually to essentially rule out the role of any Creator in creating actual species.  And he also credited the theory for the loss of his Christian faith.  And modern Darwinists, when pressed, will generally admit that they associate it with atheism.

The theistic evolutionist will object that none of that necessarily has to be so.  And it does not, indeed.  But Darwinism in the sense of this larger philosophy, including social Darwinism, is indeed atheistic and altogether evil.

If macro-evolution did occur, it occurred with such Guidance - with direct intervention - that it no longer resembles the Darwinian process at all.  A thousand years to the Lord is as a day, and since this is allegorical and God is entirely outside of time, which He created, a million years can be said to be as an instant to Him as well.  Perhaps our "from the earth" creation really was over a vast span of time with intermediate steps.  As you note, it is not at all contrary to the faith to presume so.

However, the biggest problem is actually the monogenism: genetically, it looks highly improbably, and this is why modern Darwinists won't accept it.  As Dr. Bonnette points out, though, it is not impossible, and so there is no reason to rule it out even as a natural process. 

All in all the naturalists' attempts to eliminate God from creation suffer several blows, all of them fatal in my mind:

- Natural bio-genesis is unworkable: there is no way life came to be randomly.  As many point out, DNA is information; by its very nature, it cannot be said to be natural.  Information, by definition, is the product of a mind; it it were "natural" - meaning somehow defined by chemistry, etc., it would not actually be information at all.  And yet even the simplest life forms require vast, vast amounts of information and increasingly complex life forms more yet.

- Macro-evolution of species is unworkable due to problems like "local plateaus" (evolution is blind and can never "back-down" from minor gains that prohibit larger gains in the future) and its total lack of ability to create new information, which is required for new marco-structures.  Dr. Behe covers this territory very well in the book I referenced.

- The fossil evidence shows a total lack of transitional forms and yet Darwinism requires a smooth *continuum* of transition from one species to the next.  Darwinists point to a few isolation examples of creatures that are sort of between two species, when in reality what we must see is dozens, hundreds, or thousands of small steps for any new species evolution.  Darwin himself said that it would essentially kill his theory if it turned out that no transitional steps were found and that's basically the situation. 

I can't explain the other hominid species. 
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#68
Being an old-earther and NOT an evolutionist sounds like being a Catholic but not worshiping Jesus Christ - it just doesn't make sense.  No matter what you state, the long ages of the universe were devised by evolutionists to facilitate their theories, which include the "Big Bang" and parts of geological sciences including plate tectonics.  Before the turn of the 19th century, most scientists believed that the universe was only a few million years old.  By 1920, most scientists believed that the universe was 2 billion years old.  Today, most scientists state that the universe is over 12 billion years old.  Everything keeps getting older and older to facilitate their pet theories.  The fact that you believe in an old earth, some billions of years old, and NOT claiming macro evolution is just outright strange.  This represents a compromise between God and man, in my opinion.  You have been force-fed modern atheistic science for so long - but you have come to the knowledge along the way that macro evolution is not possible, but you didn't finish the journey.  You held on to the modern belief in an old earth while mixing or compromising with truth by forgoing macro evolutionism.  The question is, why continue to hold to such an old earth when there is 1) no scriptural reason to do so, which is truth that must be adhered to, and 2) cutting edge science shows more evidence of a MUCH younger earth (less than 10,000 years old) in many processes?

You may think that I am just some wacko young-earth creationist, but keep in mind that I was once an avid evolutionist who held strong to an old earth.  It was only LOTS of study and prayer that led me away from that idea and toward what I believe with all of my heart to be the truth - because it jives with both Scripture and Tradition, which are both inerrant truths that cannot lead astray.  Why not start there and build from that sturdy foundation?
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#69
The Catholic Thinker Wrote:However, I must say that upon studying Darwin closely several years ago I did have to conclude that his theory, the way he eventually came to see it, leaves little room for a Creator in the sense we mean it, because natural selection is entirely random and senseless as he sees it.  (That is the difference "theistic evolution" makes - it is guided, and not random.) 

Quote:If macro-evolution did occur, it occurred with such Guidance - with direct intervention - that it no longer resembles the Darwinian process at all. 


It's perhaps worth pointing out that natural selection, as described by the evolutionists, is "random" only in the sense that it is blind -- there is no direction towards a particular goal.  If one accepts that evolution has occurred, it would appear that the process has (broadly speaking) involved a development from the simple to the complex -- in the case of humanity, increasingly large brains which eventually reached a point where they somehow gave rise to language, art, ethics etc. But because evolution only occurs in response to environmental pressures, this increasing complexity is solely because environmental pressures have so far favoured increasing complexity -- there's no teleological 'ascent' or 'progress' going on here. Ergo, there is no reason why -- should environmental pressures demand it -- evolution might not go into reverse, so to speak, as simpler, stupider life-forms find themselves flourishing in the new conditions. In theory, some of us could be destined to devolve into shambling hominids chipping flints!

However, a theistic evolutionist needn't suppose that God was obliged to intervene periodically to "nudge" evolution down the desired path, as the proponents of ID apparently believe. Such supernatural interventions would be quite unnecessary since the Almighty could have set up these physical processes to follow their predetermined course, with their end in view from the very beginning.  In other words, they only appear blind from our worm's-eye view.  To borrow the analogy from  Asimov's short story "Darwinian Pool Room":  How would someone with no knowledge of snooker explain how all these brightly coloured balls came to be in the pockets of the snooker table? The creationist is the man who naively assumes someone placed all the snooker balls individually in their pockets. The evolutionist is the smart fellow who subjects the balls to minute forensic analysis, scrutinizes the layout of the table and correctly deduces that they ended up in the pockets after an elaborate sequence of ricochets. The appearance of deliberate "placing" after the close of the game is just that -- an appearance.  The theistic evolutionist accepts the sequence of ricochets. He just believes it was initiated by someone wielding a snooker cue.

What information does the Book of Genesis convey if read as poetic shorthand? That God brought the universe into being out of nothing. That He brought plants, animals and then man into being out of the raw stuff of matter. That He imparted an immortal spirit and rational intellect to the first man, who then fell from spiritual grace under the prompting of an evil spirit. None of of that seems to contradict the various theories of evolution from Darwin's day to our own.  The Bible doesn't specify whether God created man by an immediate act or through a gradual unfolding of physical processes. To reconcile the biblical account of man's formation from "the slime of the earth" with evolutionary theory, one merely presumes that the human form was not created immediately and directly from the earth.

Whether all this is compatible with Catholic orthodoxy is another question.  I was under the impression that the Church's position on Darwinism has been  prudently non-committal. As has already been pointed out, Humani Generis delineates what is non-negotiable in Catholic teaching -- the immediate creation of the individual immortal soul and the rejection of polygenism. The 1909 statements by the Pontifical Biblical Commission seem to say (albeit with serious qualifications) that Catholics are free to read certain passages in the Book of Genesis in a mythopoeic rather than a 'scientific' sense:

I: Do the various exegetical systems excogitated and defended under the guise of science to exclude the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis rest on a solid foundation?

Answer: In the negative.

II: Notwithstanding the historical character and form of Genesis, the special connection of the first three chapters with one another and with the following chapters, the manifold testimonies of the Scriptures both of the Old and of the New Testaments, the almost unanimous opinion of the holy Fathers and the traditional view which the people of Israel also has handed on and the Church has always held, may it be taught that: the aforesaid three chapters of Genesis Contain not accounts of actual events, accounts, that is, which correspond to objective reality and historical truth, but, either fables derived from the mythologies and cosmogonies of ancient peoples and accommodated by the sacred writer to monotheistic doctrine after the expurgation of any polytheistic error; or allegories and symbols without any foundation in objective reality proposed under the form of history to inculcate religious and philosophical truths; or finally legends in part historical and in part fictitious freely composed with a view to instruction and edification?

Answer: In the negative to both parts.

III: In particular may the literal historical sense be called in doubt in the case of facts narrated in the same chapters which touch the foundations of the Christian religion: as are, among others, the creation of all things by God in the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the unity of the human race; the original felicity of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the command given by God to man to test his obedience; the transgression of the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent; the degradation of our first parents from that primeval state of innocence; and the promise of a future Redeemer?

Answer: In the negative.

IV: In the interpretation of those passages in these chapters which the Fathers and Doctors understood in different manners without proposing anything certain and definite, is it lawful, without prejudice to the judgement of the Church and with attention to the analogy of faith, to follow and defend the opinion that commends itself to each one?

Answer: In the affirmative.

V: Must each and every word and phrase occurring in the aforesaid chapters always and necessarily be understood in its literal sense, so that it is never lawful to deviate from it, even when it appears obvious that the diction is employed in an applied sense, either metaphorical or anthropomorphical, and either reason forbids the retention or necessity imposes the abandonment of the literal sense?

Answer: In the negative.

VI: Provided that the literal and historical sense is presupposed, may certain passages in the same chapters, in the light of the example of the holy Fathers and of the Church itself, be wisely and profitably interpreted in an allegorical and prophetic sense?

Answer: In the affirmative.

VII: As it was not the mind of the sacred author in the composition of the first chapter of Genesis to give scientific teaching about the internal Constitution of visible things and the entire order of creation, but rather to communicate to his people a popular notion in accord with the current speech of the time and suited to the understanding and capacity of men, must the exactness of scientific language be always meticulously sought for in the interpretation of these matters?

Answer: In the negative.

VIII : In the designation and distinction of the six days mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis may the word Yom (day) be taken either in the literal sense for the natural day or in an applied sense for a certain space of time, and may this question be the subject of free discussion among exegetes?

Answer: In the affirmative.


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#70
Catholic Thinker,

You clearly state that you don't hold to molecules-to-man macro evolution, and you also clearly state that you hold to an old earth, some billions of years old.  My only conclusion from your remarks is that you believe that God created man, as he is today, some billions of years ago.  Here is a little article I would like you to read.  Note that this is from a Creationist VS Evolutionist point of view, which evolutionists believe that man evolved to his current state 500,000 years ago.  You seem to hold that man has existed as is for millions upon millions of years, so the numbers for your belief structure would even be more inflated:



A Tale of Two Scientists & World Population
by John Heffner

If an evolutionist and a creationist both went downtown to a major library to research world population in the past and calculate the average annual growth rates for each century, they would BOTH come away with the following facts:

    (1) There is reliable data on world population for only a few centuries back.

    (2) During the 'plague years', the growth rate was only .318% globally, but the other centuries were around .7% to 1.8% globally. (Today the US growth due to births alone is about 1.7% and third world countries is about 4%).

    (3) The AVERAGE annual growth rate (birth rate minus death rate) would come out slightly under one half of one percent throughout recorded history. The actual percent is ~ .456%. This is a scientific calculation from the data available from the approximately 400 years of recorded history on population.

Now both scientists go back to their offices to work with their data. First the evolutionist plugs in his data into the formula for human world population1: P = P0 ert. He puts into the formula a 2 for P0 which is for one man + one woman (the original Homo Sapiens 'couple'), 2.718 for e, the base of natural logarithms, and raise 2.718 to the product of "r" .456% (.00456 in the calculator) times "t" of 500,000 years. To his great amazement, he does not get the current world population of 6.5 billion (6.5 X 10 to the power of 9) people. We know this is the correct population due to census figures. Something must be wrong. He checks and rechecks his assumptions: One man / one woman, under one half of one percent growth rate, and a half a million years of Homo sapiens (Biology, by Raven and Johnson, p. 525). Still he gets the astronomical figure of 2.45 X 10 to the power of 990!!! Something is drastically wrong. This is more people than all the electrons that could be packed into the universe. He sets out to tweak the data so he can arrive at the known world population of 6.5 billion (6.5 X 10 to the power of 9). He can't reduce the initial population (one man / one woman), and his evolutionary commitment compels him to accept the 500,000 year figure, so there is only one element of the formula he can tweak: growth rate. After doing the math, he finds that he has to use an average annual growth rate that is ridiculously small (.00438%) which is virtually NO GROWTH at all for thousands and thousands of years and is also in direct violation of the rates he just calculated in the library which has a measured and scientific basis as opposed to imaginary speculation. With a growth rate of only .00438%, (.0000438 in the calculator), this couple would have had 10,000 anniversaries before they would have finally added a third human to the global population! In reality, extinction would have occurred! If the evolutionist starts with more than one couple, it only gets worse for him since his numbers already say there should be trillions times trillions more people on the planet than there REALLY are. He is depressed and decides to put it aside for another day.

On the other hand, the creationist takes his library data back to his office and plugs it into the same formula (which he knows is accurate based on research, calculations, and historical records). He knows that it would not be accurate to start at the time of creation since history records a massive death-event about 4500 years ago (the Flood of Noah's day) that reduced the human population to 8 people (Genesis 9:19). Starting with these 8 people for Po, .456% for the growth rate, r, and 4500 years for time, his computer prints out a world population of 6.5 billion (6.5 X 10 to the power of 9). He smiles and is thankful that the biblical record is easy to verify mathematically based on the REAL world of data that requires no fanciful mental gymnastics to come up with a growth rate NEVER OBSERVED in human history to make evolutionary assumptions 'work'. He has compassion for those who are shaping their world view based on erroneous assumptions and highly suspect figures. The only way 500,000 years can be made to 'arrive' at 6.5 billion people is to drastically reduce the growth rate to .00438% (.0000438 in the calculator). Evolutionists love vast amounts of time. Perhaps they believe they can hide obvious evolutionary problems behind the shield of time...."give it enough time and anything is possible" they often say.

The above figures remove this shield by showing how far the growth rate must go down to accommodate the time going up so high (500,000) years. My contention is that the average growth rate was never that low (for long) nor has the time for man been 500,000 years. On the other hand, the biblical record checks out just fine.


So, Catholic Thinker, if you do claim that man has been as he is for, let's say, 4 billion years, then there would have to have been nearly 900,000 different Deluge like catastrophes on this earth to make the population kinetic add up to the current world population.  That would be reducing the world's population from nearly 7 billion people to 8 people nearly 900,000 different times throughout your long history of man!  But let's say that you believe that man has existed as he is for only 1billion years.  That would be over 222,000 different Deluge like catastrophes that reduced the population from nearly 7 billion to 8 people.  There's something to think about...
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