AFTER DARWIN: Responses to Darwinism from Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions (21-23 July)

This looks good! You might like to go along if you are in Melbourne in July.

AFTER DARWIN: Responses to Darwinism from Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions (21-23 July)

Sponsors: Trinity College at The University of Melbourne, Melbourne College of Divinity, Australasian Theological Forum

After Darwin presents responses to Darwinism from Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions. While some consider religion and Darwinism to offer opposed accounts of the kind of world we live in, there have always been those who espoused both. The oppositional stories are widely treated as the dominant stories about religion and Darwinism. The conference draws attention to issues involved in holding religious traditions with integrity and publically espousing Darwinism.

Participants are also invited to explore the difference a positive engagement between Darwinism and religion can make to the ways in which we understand our lives, compared to only espousing one of these. What difference, for example, do such positive engagements make to understanding our lives in a more than human context, both ecologically and theologically?

Tuesday 21st July
Wood Theatre University of Melbourne

7.30pm “Clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low and horridly cruel”: Darwinian nature and its challenge to theodicy.”
Christopher Southgate, Department of Theology, Exeter University.

Wednesday 22nd July
Centre for Theology and Ministry, 1 Morrison Place Parkville

9.30am A Christian Response to Darwinism
Philip Batterham, Professor of Genetics, The University of Melbourne
11.30am Darwin in his Day
David Young, Principal Fellow in Zoology, The University of Melbourne
2.00pm Islamic Responses to Darwinism
Muhammad Kamal, Senior Lecturer, Islamic Studies, Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne
4.00pm Electives
5.00pm Finish

Thursday 23rd July
Centre for Theology and Ministry, 1Morrison Place Parkville

9.30am Jewish Responses to Darwinism
Steven Prawer, Professor of Physics, The University of Melbourne
11.30am Darwin and Emergent Probability: Lonergan’s ‘Foray into Evolution’
Robin Koning SJ, Lecturer in Systematic Theology, The United Faculty of Theology, Parkville.
2.00pm Why would God use Darwinian evolution to bring life into existence? Is this a fair question? If so, is there a fair answer?
Stephen Ames, Lecturer, History and Philosophy of Science, The University of Melbourne.
3. 45pm Plenary Discussion by participants: “What I will do with what the conference has offered?”/ “Important questions on Darwinism and Religion evoked by the conference?”/ What difference do positive engagements make to understanding our lives in a more than human context, both ecologically and theologically?
4.30pm Finish

Registration for After Darwin

Full Registration (incl. all morning and afternoon teas and lunches) $150, students/non-waged $75
Mail or email registration forms to Kirstie Robertson c/o Trinity College, Royal Parade, Parkville 3052; email: kirobert@trinity.unimelb.edu.au

Inquiries: contact Rev. Dr. Stephen Ames, ph. 0425 765 467, email: sames@unimelb.edu.au

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26 Responses to AFTER DARWIN: Responses to Darwinism from Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions (21-23 July)

  1. Well, for my part, and if anyone’s interested in discussing it: I really don’t see how it’s possible to reconcile Darwinism and Christianity. When we speak of the original unity of the human race, we don’t just mean that mankind descended from the one set of parents, but that also, in that set of parents, the woman was formed from matter taken from the man (just as the Second Adam was formed from matter taken from the Second Eve). So we must necessarily admit the special creation of at least the first Eve, since clearly she could not have been formed from the matter of a male creature other than Adam and a female creature (I say ‘creatures’ since presumably, for Darwinist Christians, Adam’s and Eve’s respective parents would have had to have been non-human hominids). But this is clearly a departure from the Darwinist account of man’s origins, and so if we must admit the special creation of Eve, then why not of Adam too?

    • Schütz says:

      I think you are wrong, Cardinal, to say that the teaching of the Catholic Faith requires us to believe that “woman was formed from matter taken from the man”. The Scripture tells us a story that Eve was made from a rib taken from Adams side. What the Faith requires us to believe about that story is another matter entirely.

      • Schütz says:

        And I could add that I think we can distinguish between a science that attempts to actually describe the origin of species and an ideology called “Darwinism”. I agree with you that Christainity and the latter are irreconcilable, but not Christianity and the former.

      • “What the Faith requires us to believe about that story is another matter entirely.”

        But the Faith requires us to believe that the first man was the head and source of the entire human race, does it not?

        I’d be interested in discussing further the propositions that the Faith requires us to believe regarding the origin of man. How about the following list:

        The first man
        1. was created in the state of grace and innocence (and all his other endowments, listed next, were also gifts of grace, not nature).
        2. had integrity (perfect subjection of sense to reason).
        3.1 was immortal.
        3.2 would have passed, after his earthly life, into Heaven without dying.
        4. was impassible (immune from all pain and sorrow).
        5. had knowledge in keeping with his state.
        6. inhabited an earthly paradise.
        7. would have passed 1.-6. on to his descendants, conditional on his continued obedience.
        8. forfeited 1.-6. after commiting a sin of pride and grave disobedience at the tempting of the Devil (it could only have been at the tempting of some external agent, because of 2.).
        9. was promised by God a Redeemer.

        What would you (Mr. Schütz and readers) add to or remove from that list?

        • Schütz says:

          What an interesting list. I must say I haven’t thought of some of them ever before. It will be interersting to see what one’s I get “right” in my next few statements – as I am bound to step on some scholastic toes somewhere! I am also sure you got these out of a text book somewhere and that they are not just your own reflections on the scriptural tradition!

          The first man
          1. was created in the state of grace and innocence (and all his other endowments, listed next, were also gifts of grace, not nature).

          Yep. With you on that one.

          2. had integrity (perfect subjection of sense to reason).

          Interesting. If this is right, it seems that where everything fell down then was in the area subjection of his will to his integrity.

          3.1 was immortal.

          Hmm. Death is the punishment for sin, so I guess that is right. Only… Was he immortal by nature, or was he immortal because of the absence of death?

          3.2 would have passed, after his earthly life, into Heaven without dying.

          Umm. This seems weird. Why, if he was in paradise, would he need to “go to heaven”? Very odd. And when was this supposed to happen? Rather calls the whole “going to heaven” thing into question, I reckon.

          4. was impassible (immune from all pain and sorrow).

          Well, this is a little like the business of his “immortality”. If there was no death, he could not suffer it. Similarly, if there were no pain and sorrow, he could not suffer that either.

          5. had knowledge in keeping with his state.

          Yes…

          6. inhabited an earthly paradise.

          Ah, well, this is the thing, isn’t it? How much is about the story and how much is supposed to be literally and dogmatically true?

          7. would have passed 1.-6. on to his descendants, conditional on his continued obedience.

          Righto.

          8. forfeited 1.-6. after commiting a sin of pride and grave disobedience at the tempting of the Devil (it could only have been at the tempting of some external agent, because of 2.).

          Righto again.

          9. was promised by God a Redeemer

          Yes. After he had sinned.

          • Kiran says:

            3.2 is certainly not scholastic, if by going to heaven, you mean that the earthly happiness would have been completed by supernatural happiness. But on the other hand, I guess, on some level, I am beginning to think that an eternal perfect natural happiness is an extremely wierd thing.

            As far as what the Faith requires, I think Pope Benedict XVI covers the topic quite well in his book “In the Beginning”

            • Schütz says:

              Yes, great book. Together with Claus Westerman’s little book “Creation”, it forms my basic outlook on the first chapters of Genesis.

            • kiran says:

              I might add two things by Etienne Gilson, the chapter on Creation in The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, and From Aristotle to Darwin and Back, and the late Herbert McCabe’s essay on Creation in God Matters.

            • Mr. Schütz and Kiran, see my comment at the bottom of this page (the comments are moving too far to the left in these sub-threads).

  2. matthias says:

    a well thought out response cardinal. I look at Richard Dawkins ‘s underlying philosophy ,and it is scientific naturalism- a religion in itself- with darwinism being one of its creeds.
    I read Genesis chapter 1 verse 1 and in talking to a scholar in Hebrew and Ancient greek ,also a friend of my father’s,he indicated that there is a gap in time ,which could be one day,a millenium or millions of years between verse 1 and 2 of Genesis.
    I read a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith,published here in Australia,and in an appendix at the back, the editor-a Presbyterian minister of strong evangelical persuasion- made the comment that it could be argued that evolution was one of the processes that God used in Creation.Perhaps in our cellular structure ,where cells are formed ,mature and then degenerate,but that is cylical evolution. If we evolved from non human hominids,then we should be showing the beginnings of the next phase of evolution to a higher more perfect species. Wait we are ,we have become more educated,more technical,more moral.Yes,more wars,more assaults,more degenerate,more corrupt. Nothings changed ,unless there is a change of heart through faith in Christ.
    when i hear skeptics talk about the Bible and science as being paths apart ,i wonder if they have read the verse in jeremiah “He Who sits on the Circle of the earth,laughs at the inhabitants thereof”

  3. An Liaig says:

    Darwian evolution has always been more of a problem for Protestant Christians than for Catholics since they tend to take a literalist interpretation of the Bible. Catholics, if they are true to their tradition, do not do this. It was St. Augustine who noted, on the basis of literary analysis, that the first two chapters of Genesis could only be allegorical and that God made the things in the world in such a way that they could become what He intended them to be. The real problem with the literalist view is that it does a grave diservuice to the text. It ignores the message of the text in favour of some pseudo-scientific fantasy. They are beautiful and deeply spiritual texts which speak profoundl;y about the relationship between God and Man ( and between man and woman) and they deserve to be read that way.

  4. matthias says:

    So ,with greatest respect,the response about the first two chapters of Genesis,is also the response of Protestant liberals ,who cannot actually feel embarrasses that God could actually/possibly create out of nothing the World. Normally they do not start to accept Genesis until after the creation chapters. However St Augustine is also right in saying that God created the World in the way that He wanted them to be.
    I do get annoyed with protestant fundamentalists who make creationism a cause for salvation. But I also get annoyed at Christians who seem to levae their concept of faith out when it comes to discussing creation. I heard a UCA minister read the creation account and then as if to show his cultural relevancy he said “whatever that means”.

  5. matthias says:

    That should be ” who actually feel embarassed that
    God created the world”.

  6. An Liaig says:

    The question is not “Did God create the world out of nothing?” That is a given. Rather, the question is “What is the nature of these chapters of Genesis?” Are they a scientific account of process or are they something else. We must always consider the literary form when interpreting scripture. Strangely, both the literalists Christians and the militant atheists (Dawkins et co.) agree on the nature of this text – that it is simply a proposed recounting of process. The atheists then attack it as bad science and the literalists attack science as bad religion. I would contend that both are wrong. The question the pastor asked is an important one, although he may well not have known why. What do these chapters mean? If we do not understand these chapters then we will have no firm basis for understanding our relationships with God, with each other (particularly in regard to sexual relationships) and with the rest of creation. I would contend that this is what these texts are about. Nowhere do they mention process and the time scale is clearly symbolic. They are not scientific texts on planetary formation. They are inspired religious meditations on the nature of Man.

  7. Kiran says:

    Indeed! One notes also that Augustine made his comments on the rationes seminales in the course of a literal explication of Genesis. The real underlying problem in a sense, is that Darwin, and Huxley among others, began with the Deism of Paley (Darwin himself, much like Dawkins, had some kind of a conception of a Demiurge behind evolution. See, for instance, Sheridan Gilley’s article on Huxley), and ended up, on account of a variety of agendas, leaving God out of the picture.

    Also, Darwinism itself is not the unity that it seems to be in the English-speaking world. The French have an almost entirely different approach to it. I suppose at the end of the day, evolution, like the eternity of the world, or Newtonian Mechanics, is a scientific theory, or rather a disparate collection of such theories. It is sufficient, in a sense, that they provide rational explanations of the world, without necessarily being, in the bargain, true.

    That said though, like Cardinal Schonborn, or indeed Pius XII, or Cardinal Newman (who makes an enigmatic little note about the possibility of human evolution in December 1863, four years after Origin, and a long time before The Descent of Man), I can’t see that there is a contradiction between evolution (as opposed to particular ideas and theories as to how evolution proceeds), even evolution “in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter” and the Creation accounts in Genesis, provided one inserts the doctrinal caveats of Pius XII, and the moral and metaphysical caveats of Pius IX and the First Vatican Council.

    Another further caution might be against adopting too readily the Protestant equation between “literal” and “literalistic.” The literal meaning of the Scriptures is true, and as such, the foundation of all the others, but the literal meaning of scriptures isn’t always the literalistic one.

    Thank you, Schutz, for this post. I shall see if I can get there.

    • Schütz says:

      Yes, I have always liked to say that I believe in the “literary” truth of the bible – ie. If I were to say “such and such a text is literally saying that…” I would be using an hermeneutical approach which (among many other things) would be taking into account the literary context of the text. Someone who fails to do this is not reading the text “literally”.

      For instance, in the story of the six day creation, we are supposed to understand literally six 24 hour days – what other sort of “day” is there when we are talking about the cycle of “evening and morning”. It would be like saying that in the story of the three little pigs, we were not supposed to take “house of straw” literally…

      The point is that both the “house of straw” and the “six 24 hour days” are in stories (albeit wildly differing stories of wildly differing import). And it is the story as a whole that is crying out to be read according to its literary genre – not the parts of it. (Actually, there is a time honoured system for reading parts of a story metaphorically even if meant literally in the story itself: we call it allegory).

      • Kiran says:

        I do like “literary” (I’m in Melbourne by the way!)

        Another point needs to be made here: History, prior to, say, Thucydides, is far less “realistic” (as we might say) than we are used to expecting. This raises the question (which might apply just as well to the whole Colenso affair): What was the Jewish conception of history? Agreeing (and I do) that the Pentateuch is historic, what sort of history does it tell?

        Not to respond to anything you said, but I believe, as I think Matthew points out above, that a lot of Jewish commentators make a case starting from “To your eyes a thousand years are like yesterday.”

        Again, unrelatedly, one of my professional colleagues once (quite unintentionally) gave a great argument for Catholicism, which ran along the lines of “A lot of fundamentalism derives from the idea that the Bible cannot [in the sense of need not] be interpreted. If you believed that [the Bible needed to be interpreted] then you might as well be Catholic.”

  8. “It will be interersting to see what one’s I get “right” in my next few statements”

    I’m not trying to put you to the test here, Mr. Schütz; I really am just interested to discuss what we need to believe in these matters.

    “I am also sure you got these out of a text book somewhere and that they are not just your own reflections on the scriptural tradition!”

    No, they’re not from any textbook; they’re just what I recalled, from memory, based on the Roman Catechism, the Catechism of St. Pius X, St. Thomas Aquinas’s Shorter Summa, Denzinger, and, yes, my own reflections on the relevant Scripture sections (not that my private speculation counts for anything, though).

    “Interesting. If this is right, it seems that where everything fell down then was in the area subjection of his will to his integrity.”

    No, integrity disintegrated when he had willed to disobey God, rather than the loss of integrity causing his fall from the state of grace.

    “Only… Was he immortal by nature, or was he immortal because of the absence of death?”

    Immortal by grace—his immortality, as with his other supernatural endowments, was a gratuitous gift of grace, not something owed to him by nature.

    “Umm. This seems weird. Why, if he was in paradise, would he need to “go to heaven”? Very odd. And when was this supposed to happen? Rather calls the whole “going to heaven” thing into question, I reckon.”

    I have to say I’m very surprised that two intelligent, educated, mature converts such as yourself and Kiran were not familiar with this. Is this not dealt with at all in the New Catechism? It is stated clearly in the Catechism of St. Pius X:

    “39 Q. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, would they have bee [sic] exempt from death?
    A. If Adam and Eve had not sinned and if they had remained faithful to God, they would, after a happy and tranquil sojourn here on earth, and without dying, have been transferred by God into Heaven, to enjoy a life of unending glory.”
    [http://www.catecheticsonline.com/Catechetical_stpiusx.php]

    I think I read this somewhere else, too, possibly in Denzinger. It is also implicit in Pius XII not explicitly saying whether or not Our Lady died before her Assumption when he definined the Assumption ex Cathedra—whether she went to Heaven body and soul (which, of course, she did) is one thing, but whether or not her body and soul were separated first is another thing, and one which His late Holiness decided not to resolve at the time.

    “Well, this is a little like the business of his “immortality”. If there was no death, he could not suffer it. Similarly, if there were no pain and sorrow, he could not suffer that either.”

    So, if I understand you correctly, here’s an example to illustrate what you mean: you’re asking: is it that if someone punched Adam in the head he would not have been pained by it, or is it just that no-one would ever have punched Adam in the head, and therefore there would be no pain, inasmuch as no-one or no thing would have brought the cause of the pain in the first place. I think (but am not totally sure) that the answer is that if, per impossible, someone had inflicted injury on Adam while still in the state of innocence, he would have ‘felt’ the pain only in such a way that it would merely alert him to the fact that harm was being done to him, and the motions of pain would have remained entirely subordinate to his intellect (by my 2.). Likewise, when it would be time for him to eat, he would have felt hunger, but just the kind of hunger that alerts him to the need to eat, while remaining subject to reason. I can’t remember where I read this; I’m sure I read the hunger example somewhere, though. Give me time and it might come back to me.

    Kiran, you said that

    “3.2 is certainly not scholastic, if by going to heaven, you mean that the earthly happiness would have been completed by supernatural happiness.”

    But I think that I read that in St. Thomas Aquinas’s own shorter version of the Summa. In any case, 3.2 is proven in my earlier quotation from the Catechism of St. Pius X, and from the simple fact that Adam was created in the state of grace, not of glory, and glory is perfected grace, so the earthly happiness in Eden certainly awaited its completion in Heaven.

    As for the then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s In The Beginning, I have not read it, but from what I’ve heard, I don’t have a high opinion of it. See, for instance, the comment by Gerard — 12 June 2008 @ 7:58 pm here (though I don’t necessarily endorse the whole comment):

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2008/06/excommunicated-sspx-bp-williamson-speaks/

  9. Kiran says:

    CP, my quarrel is with calling it scholastic. As far as I understand it, the catechism is neither binding, nor infallible. I imagine for instance that you would quarrel with the current catechism on a number of grounds. The idea that Adam and Eve would have been transferred to heaven, had they not sinned is an assumption. I would like to see the basis for it. At any rate, I wouldn’t necessarily be troubled by it one way or another. I am increasingly leaning towards the position in its De Lubacian form. As Thomas Aquinas says however (ST, III, I, 3. ad 2) “The infinity of Divine power is shown in the mode of production of things from nothing. Again, it suffices for the perfection of the universe that the creature be ordained in a natural manner to God as to an end. But that a creature should be united to God in person exceeds the limits of the perfection of nature.” and further (Ibid, ad. 3): Reply to Objection 3. A double capability may be remarked in human nature: one, in respect of the order of natural power, and this is always fulfilled by God, Who apportions to each according to its natural capability; the other in respect to the order of the Divine power, which all creatures implicitly obey; and the capability we speak of pertains to this. But God does not fulfil all such capabilities, otherwise God could do only what He has done in creatures, and this is false, as stated above (I, 105, 6). But there is no reason why human nature should not have been raised to something greater after sin. For God allows evils to happen in order to bring a greater good therefrom; hence it is written (Romans 5:20): “Where sin abounded, grace did more abound.” Hence, too, in the blessing of the Paschal candle, we say: “O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!”

    There is no neccessity of glorification.

    One could quarrel with other things in that document. With St. Anselm, I have never bought the whole equation of freedom with the ability to do evil, as the Catechism assumes in its way of exemplifying liberty. Else, as Anselm points out, one would be in the dangerous position of minimizing the liberty of God and the angels.

    I remain unconvinced. I don’t want to elevate Cardinal Ratzinger’s or even Pope Benedict’s private thoughts into dogma, but I am yet to see something that would convince me that it is out of accord with the faith. Indeed, if anything, Pope Benedict, and Cardinal Schonborn simply seem to me to be restating Augustine on Creation.

  10. Kiran,

    You said that you

    “imagine for instance that [I] would quarrel with the current catechism on a number of grounds.”

    Yes. Keep in mind also that the Catechisms of St. Pius X and of Trent tried diligently to avoid ‘the opinions of the schools’, whereas the New Catechism is dense with all sorts of phenomenological/symbolist/&c. curiosities.

    “The idea that Adam and Eve would have been transferred to heaven, had they not sinned is an assumption. I would like to see the basis for it. At any rate, I wouldn’t necessarily be troubled by it one way or another.”

    I’ll see what I can come up with; let me get back to you. I really am surprised you’re contesting this though; I thought it was a basic, universally-accepted truth about original justice.

    “As Thomas Aquinas says however (ST, III, I, 3. ad 2) …”

    Your first quotation from St. Thomas does not seem relevant to me; it merely argues the unassailable point that God could, if He had wanted to, have created man as ordered towards Him naturally but never to attain Him supernaturally, cf. the condemned errors of Baius, e.g. ‘God could not have created from the beginning such a man as exists now’.

    “… and further (Ibid, ad. 3): …”

    This seems like elaboration on the previous point, though if I have time I might check out more of what St. Thomas has to say in that part of the Summa; at this point I still don’t see the relevance.

    “There is no neccessity of glorification.”

    But by giving man grace, God created man to tend towards Himself not just naturally, but supernaturally, so I say again: Adam was created in the state of grace, not of glory [nor just of nature], and glory is perfected grace, so the earthly happiness in Eden certainly awaited its completion in Heaven.

    You said that you

    “have never bought the whole equation of freedom with the ability to do evil, as the Catechism assumes in its way of exemplifying liberty”

    What?! This is a striking non sequitur! How does giving one thing as an example of another imply the equation of the two? The Catechism clearly says that liberty is a matter of being able to do one thing or another or nothing at all, and evil-doing is, as you yourself note, an example; the Catechism could just have easily illustrated the principle with a good act. See also

    “9 Q. Did Jesus Christ possess free will?
    A. Yes, Jesus Christ possessed free will, but He could not do evil, since to be able to do evil is a defect, and not a perfection, of liberty.”
    [http://www.catecheticsonline.com/Catechetical_stpiusx.php]

    ” I don’t want to elevate Cardinal Ratzinger’s or even Pope Benedict’s private thoughts into dogma …”

    Are you saying that Cardinal Ratzinger disputed, in In The Beginning, that Adam and Eve had a right to Heaven before the Fall? As I said, I have not read the book myself.

    • Schütz says:

      I actually stand with Kiran on the idea that there is “no neccessity of glorification”. In the words of the old Camelot song (admittedly, not belonging to the magisterium!) if Adam and Eve had not sinned “we’d be in Eden still”! That Glorification has entered our future destiny is a result of the “happy fault” of Adam and the redemptive work of Christ.

    • Schütz says:

      And, BTW, may I recommend you “read the book” yourself? It isn’t long.

      • I might well read In The Beginning one day, but for now, could someone just tell me precisely what Cardinal Ratzinger said in it regarding whether or not he thought that man in the state of original justice would have gone to Heaven?

        P.S. see below here.

        • Schütz says:

          To be perfectly honest, I have no recollection that he even mentioned the subject. I would have been very surprised if he had. It would have been at odds with his entire exegisis.

  11. Mr. Schütz and Kiran, I’ve asked the readers at the Angelqueen forum if they could help provide any sources or proofs for what I said in 3.2. You may view my post here:

    http://angelqueen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=26550

  12. Kiran says:

    I agree with Schutz. It would indeed be at odds with his entire exegesis if he did say something about it.

    Firstly, a mea culpa. I note that St. Thomas’ view is even more complicated. He argues (I, 102, 4) that man was created, and then placed in “paradise”, a view which is perfectly compatible with Ratzinger’s reading of the creation of man.

    I can’t see any reason, however, for holding the whole “transfer to heaven” idea.my point is that there is no reason to assume that people would have gone to heaven, had there not been a fall. I am in point of fact, quite surprised to have learnt that the Catechism of Pius X asserts it, and indeed that Thomas asserts something like it. I made no comment thereby regarding the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s views on the matter, just my own.

    As a theological opinion, I am quite comfortable with the De Lubacian idea (or the De Lubac thesis as I understand it) that an eternal perfect natural happiness is a little like having you foot in the air to climb a step and never putting it down. On several grounds though, I am keeping my mind open on this one. But at any rate, I think this is a side issue.

    I think what makes me uncomfortable about this whole line of thought is that it makes a big deal of a counterfactual speculation, and every philosophical instinct in me revolts against the idea that Counterfactuals can be granted some kind of ontological status. I don’t even grant that we can make statements about “what would have been had not Adam and Eve fallen” let alone that such statements can be matters of faith. I note with a degree of relief that the late Elizabeth Anscombe experienced similar hesitations prior to her entry into the faith, and was told that the existence of counterfactuals was a matter controverted between the Jesuits and the Dominicans, with the latter taking the negative position.

    As for Catechisms, my original point remains that they are not binding. I apologize for the leap of logic from exemplification to equation. It is more that something is a private bugbear of mine, and I thought “Aha! That must be where it comes from.”

    Now, I might add at the root of all of this that, particular things are not matters of faith, and that one can legitimately, and traditionally people have, taken different positions on them. If they were matters of faith, however, and defined as such, then one would take them on the word of the Revealer, regardless of what one’s own private inclinations on the matter were. I note in this regard that St. Thomas didn’t think the creation of the world in time could be rationally proved, and said so over and over again.

    A scientific theory is a reasonable, mathematically consistent explanation of observed phenomena that has predictive ability. It doesn’t necessarily have to be true. See in this regard the position taken by Cardinal Bellarmine on Copernicanism. Evolutionary theories, in their variety, are just such scientific theories. I am content, then, to stand with Cardinal Newman, seeing where they are headed. Like Newman, I tend to think that evolution itself, the mutation of species is a fact (and a fact which played a large role in biology a long time prior to Darwin), but either way, I am not fussed.

    In this matter, I think it is also important to avoid giving scandal, whatever one holds on the matter privately. Humani Generis lays out the lines along which one might proceed in this regard.

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