This article addresses the laudable contributions of the articles published by The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, “Creation and Time” and “If You Believed Moses, Would You Believe Me“, whose reading I highly recommend. At the same time, I bring my own reflection on the correct interpretation of the encyclical Humani Generis, and its influence on the theology of Creation.
I think that the problem of the encyclical “Humani Generis” is precisely in these words: “-for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are created by God Immediately.“.
I do not know if the authors are aware of it, but they themselves omitted these words in the article “Creation and Time“. They say exactly those words that precede and continue that sentence.
The authors say (p. 25): “It is in this context—and ONLY in this context—that Pope Pius XII’s permission to inquire “into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter” can and should be understood.”, and, after this sentence, the following quote:
“freedom of discussion, acting as if the origin of the human body from previously existing and living matter, were already certain and demonstrated from certain already discovered indications, and deduced by reasoning, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this thinking (DZ, 2327)”.
The words they quote, do not present a problem (nevertheless, I think it might have been more critical of evolution). And, if explained well, they can do much good. It’s good that Catholics engage in experimental sciences and defend their faith, denouncing errors and false propaganda.
But, the problem, very big problem, is in these words: “”-for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are created by God Immediately.”.
- When the Catholic Church has said that only the souls are created directly by God?
Answer: never. Whenever the Church talks about the creation of the soul, also it speaks about the creation of the body.
2. Is it true that the Church does not speak about the direct creation of the body?
Answer: The authors can check and ask how all the Popes and saints doctors and Fathers before the twentieth century understood the creation of man. (And even in the twentieth century. Honestly, I’m not sure regarding the personal views of Pius XII and later.)
3. This statement by Pius XII implies that perhaps the body can be “created” from the pre-existing living matter.
The authors say: “It is in this context—and ONLY in this context—that Pope Pius XII’s permission to inquire “into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter” can and should be understood.”
Sorry, but I interpret the words of Pius XII from themselves. They can be interpreted in that context, if they do not contradict the same idea. Therefore, the difficulty is whether a statement contrary to the faith can be deduced from the words of Pius XII.
Again, the words that H. Owen, D. Tassot and P. Wilders quote do not create a bigger problem. The problem is precisely in these words (omitted ones by the authors!): “-for the Catholic faith Obliges us to hold that souls are created by God Immediately.”
If I am against evolution and if I defend special creation, according to Pius XII, I must perform disputes in the following matter:
“…this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church…”
But hasn’t the Church already ruled on this matter? This is another problematic passage. It seems that it can be understood in the following way: Basically, saying that “-for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are created by God Immediately” is in direct relation with the latter consideration, namely: “and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church…”. That is, as in the pro and anti-evolution controversy the Church has not declared yet, you cannot be antievolutionist categorically, as if it were such a position of the Church. That is, you cannot state categorically that the fiat creation (also of the body) is the doctrine of the Church.
Does Pius XII this say? Strictly speaking, no. Not positively.
We can also ask the following question: Does Pius XII say that the Church has already ruled on this? Again, no. He does not say so positively. If he said it, he wuld contradict the Lateran IV, and he did not do it.
It is also true that the warning that “Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion,” focuses (but we could also ask if the question if mainly toward them) to (theistic) evolutionists, “when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question”.
Does Pius XII say that the Catholic faith obliges us to believe that God created directly only the soul? Again, no. Does he claim anything in the sense that the human body even could have been created in a way other than a fiat creation, from a pre-existing living matter? Again, no. It is why he says these words: “as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved”?
In that sense, and being critical and impartial with respect to the mentioned text of Pius XII, analyzing the same from the same text, as it were a literary and semantic analysis and regardless of our Catholic belief; as if we were some aseptic literary critics, we can conclude that, formally, Pius XII does not contradict the Lateran IV (or the Vatican I, that is, the two dogmatic statements).
However, if it is said: “ for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are created by God Immediately …” but the same is not said about the body, although it does not mean that the Church does not command also hold that bodies are created by God immediately … that (wrong!) interpretation – it is to say: only souls are created by God immediately – can easy be deduced. Because if is omitted to say that about something there are a clear indication, this indication – in the practice- will not be taken into account.
Whereupon, after analyzing even semantically Pius XII’s claims, we can say the following:
1) Pius XII does not contradict either Lateran IV or Vatican I.
2) However, (this is my thesis), he does not clearly show the truth about creation. In this sense we must remember that papal infallibility is a guarantee against any error, it is so-called negative protection; it protect from error. It does not cause inspiration or move the Pope to act in the most prudent manner at all times.
Imagine a danger sign at the beginning of a road several kilometers long. If this sign is not repeated, drivers will tend to think that the danger no longer exists, or just forget it. And it is the same with any other warning or information. If you do not remember, at a practical level, it will be just as if nothing had been said.
I think that the teaching about creation in seminars after Humani Generis confirms what I just said. Everything indicates that either those words are understood allowing the teaching of evolution (albeit theist), or at least until the Magisterium has made a definitive pronouncement on this issue, it may be taught in this way in the seminars. Look back at theology manuals from those years to see if what I say is true.
However, here we come to the next point. Based on the words (for me not the most appropriate) of Pius XII, some Catholics wrongly deduced that we do not know how God created man’s body. That is, ultimately we do not know if it was a special creation. Trying to see perfection in the text of Pius XII, they contradicted the traditional teaching on Creation.
Instead, in the Kolbe Center the perfect interpretation is given: we must understand the words of Pius XII ONLY in the context of the traditional teaching of the Church about it.
[Astronomy and much of the theoretical physics of the last century rests on the work of Albert Einstein. But these jobs have no empirical consistency, damage the common sense; it is irrationally dressed by mathematical equations that collides with the basic requirements of the scientific method.
Reputable scientists have denounced this inconsistency, but their criticism was censured and forgotten.
Nikola Tesla, a true physicist and inventor, said about Einstein’s theory:
He announced that the theory of relativity is “a mass of error and deceptive ideas and opposed to common sense,” and that “not e single one of the relativity propositions has been proved.”
Herbert Dingle, an English physicist and natural philosopher, who served as president of the Royal Astronomic Society from 1951 to 1953, said (SCIENCE At the Crossroads, 19):
“…so the argument is circular: the observation proves the physical truth of the Lorentz transformation only if we first accept a theory which itself requires that transformation to be physically true.”
Einstein and Lorentz
“An experimental test of this requirement of the special relativity theory is therefore at present impracticable, and the claims often advanced that such a test has been made are spurious. But surely, one does not need an experiment to prove that one clock cannot at the same time work both faster and slower than another. And this brings me to the most serious aspect of this whole matter. How is it possible that such an obvious absurdity should not only have ever been believed but should have been maintained and made the basis of almost the whole of modern physics for more than half a century; and that, even when pointed out, its recognition should have been universally and strenuously resisted,…?”
“I am really more of a philosopher than a physicist.” (Einstein’s words to Leopold Infeld, Quest – An Autobiography, Chelsea, New York, 1980, p. 258)
Of course, you’re right. But more than a philosopher or physicist, Einstein was a myth:
In 1952, after the death of the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion offered to Albert Einstein the Presidency. The legendary philosopher refused.]
And I would add: because such understanding is possible, the Pius XII’s words permit it!
Yes, and that’s my thesis: but not the best way!
The aforementioned Catholics make a very singular error. They say, “it is the Pope who explains the council, or dogma (in this case of the declarations of Lateran IV or Vatican I)”. (Or: “The Pope is ultimately the one to clarify what a council means.”) The error is because of: that council or dogma, is explained! You cannot understand or explain a dogma differently from how it was explained. The Vatican Council declares dogmatically:
“If anyone says that it is possible that to the dogmas declared by the Church a meaning must sometimes be attributed according to the progress of science, different from that which the Church has understood and understands, let him be anathema” (Faith and reason – canon 3).
(The authors of Creation and Time, are clarifying: By the phrase “progress of science,” the canon means the development of science, which may be good or bad from a Catholic perspective. The Church welcomes genuine growth in scientific understanding, which can never contradict Catholic doctrine.)
Therefore, the explanation of a council or dogmatic statement by any Pope, essentially must be the same as that which was given by the council’s Fathers (of course, the Pope included). There cannot be contradictions in these interpretations! And, if something (in the future) has not been commented in the best way (which does not mean error, as we have already clarified), we cannot to start only from this precise point, but from that given by all the teaching of the Church on the matter (Creation and Time: Is it possible that the Patriarchs, Apostles, Church Fathers, Doctors and Popes, not having the benefit of the nineteenth century geological hypothesis of long ages, were allowed by God to teach error for centuries? Might it not be more likely that the Church representatives were right and the geologists wrong?), especially that contained in the dogmatic statements.
Or how it is believed that St. Bellarmine, for example, understood Lateran IV? And not only he, but the plethora of Doctors, Church Fathers and Popes?
In the Kolbe Center they provide a shining example of how such a dogma, applied to the doctrine of marriage and family was understood. Although the subject of the encyclical Arcanum is not creation, it is assumed in order to explain the nature of marriage. Something that, moreover, is used by Our Lord, as Leo XIII also recalls. That is, this is how Genesis 1-3 was understood:
“We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time. And this union of man and woman, that it might answer more fittingly to the infinite wise counsels of God, even from the beginning manifested chiefly two most excellent properties–deeply sealed, as it were, and signed upon it–namely, unity and perpetuity (emphasis added) (Arcanum,5).”
[Recently, however, a study by (evolutionary scientists) Parsons et al. (1997) using the mtDNA rate of change of modern humans found a rate more than 20 times faster than the rate calculated from the fossil record ! According to Parsons:
…our observation of the substitution rate is roughly 20-fold higher than would be predicted from phylogenetic analyses. Using our empirical rate to calibrate the mtDNA molecular clock would result in an age of only ~6,500 y.a., clearly incompatible with the known age of modern humans. …. it remains implausible to explain the known geographic distribution of mtDNA sequence variation by human migration that occurred only in the last ~6,500 years (emphasis added). (J. Parsons, D.S. Muniec, K. Sullivan, N. Woodyatt, R. Alliston-Greiner, M.R. Wilson, D.L. Berry, K.A. Holland, V. W. Weedn, P. Gill, & M.M. Holland. “A high observed substitution rate in the human mitochondrial DNA control region.” Nature genetics 15 (1997): 363-368.)
On the other hand, the [“sacred history of Genesis”] 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 [results in] a world population of 6.5 billion (6.5 X 109) in 2000. . .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). . . John Heffner, “A Tale of Two Scientists and World Population.”]
Actually, this reinforces the theological explanation of the Kolbe Center. Leo XIII is speaking from the Church’s understanding of Revelation. So: “only and only in this context can understand the Pius XII’s words in HG”.
But, I am adding: those other words, whose reference is omitted by Mr. Owen, are those who have contributed – albeit materially without proper interpretation – the wide sleeve in teaching theistic evolution in the faculties of Catholic theology.
In turn, Pius XII delivered a speech at PAS, the year after Humani Generis, on November 22, 1951, entitled “The proofs for the existing of God in the light of modern nature science”. In this speech, without explicitly stating it, he was speaking “at first sight” with quite respect regarding modern concepts of millions (even billions) of years, or Big Bang theory:
“36. The examination of various spiral nebulae, especially as carried out by Edwin W. Hubble at the Mount Wilson Observatory, has led to the significant conclusion, presented with all due reservations, that these distant systems of galaxies tend to move away from one another with such velocity that, in the space of 1,300 million years, the distance between such spiral nebulae is doubled. If we look back into the past at the time required for this process of the “expanding universe,” it follows that, from one to ten billion years ago, the matter of the spiral nebulae was compressed into a relatively restricted space, at the time the cosmic processes had their beginning.”
[But Hubble also said in 1936: “if redshifts are not primarily due to
velocity shifts…there is no evidence of expansion,
no trace of curvature, no restriction of the time
scale.”, and: “…a central Earth…This hypothesis cannot
be disproved, but it is unwelcome and would
only be accepted as a last resort in order to
save the phenomena… such a favored position is intolerable” (Observational Approach to Cosmology, 1937; pp. 50, 51, 58. – cited by R. Sungenis, Galileo Was Wrong I)]
Or: “46. This notwithstanding, it is worthy of note that modern scholars in these fields regard the idea of the creation of the universe as entirely compatible with their scientific conceptions and that they are even led spontaneously to this conclusion by their scientific research. Just a few decades ago, any such “hypothesis” was rejected as entirely irreconcilable with the present state of science.”
Do not forget that Pius XII had as advisor a Jesuit priest and excellent mathematician Fr. Georges Lemaitre, known as the father of Big Bang.
Moreover, it was apparently the same Lemaitre who advises Pius XII, after this speech, not to make “connections” between the Big Ban and faith. To Lemaitre, science and faith could not contradict – which is correct posture – but at the same time de facto de-linked Scripture (ie, faith and Revelation) from science (ie, annulling de facto the Thomist theology notion that theology is superior to the natural sciences). Whereupon, science was free for diverse conjectures that in a few decades will end in surreal concepts (but more than one takes them seriously) as the parallel universe, multiverse, etc.
If, as indicated in the foreword of Kolbe Center’s pamphlet “If You Believed Moses You Would Believe Me”, by Ph. D. Physics Jean de Pontcharra: “Theistic evolutionism entered Catholic seminaries and universities as early as the beginning of the XXth century with the book of Canon Henri de Dorlodot (1855-1929), geologist and theologian at Louvain University, Belgium, Le Darwinisme au point de vue de l’orthodoxie catholique (Bruxelles 1921), translated by Fr. Ernest C. Messenger with the title Evolution and Theology. The Problem of Man’s Origin (Macmillan, 1932). Since that time, in spite of several initiatives in defense of the traditional teaching of the Church, theistic evolution has gained the status of an unquestionable fact in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and in most major Catholic universities.”, these interventions of Pius XII have failed but to a significant boost to the teaching of theistic evolution in the institutions of the Church. I apply here, sadly, argument and warning of St. Thomas: “A small error in the beginning becomes a huge error in the end”.
*[Hundreds of millions of years, or just a few weeks after the Flood?]*
That’s it. Do we wonder then, that John Paul II, forty-five years later from this speech of Pios XIII, give another speech to the PAS, on October 22, 1996, which will be taken as a consecration and definitive boost to theistic evolution teaching in the faculties of theology?
This is another very important document that marks the guideline in teaching about Creation in the faculties of theology, so it is very important to look the same critically. Especially since this document as there is even a guess, apparently including testimonies that John Paul II really did not even read it; but although previously I had considered such a thesis, not now, because the speech has the signature of John Paul II. Whereupon said, is said by him. And if not, it must been changed.
There are several reasons for this, and very strong reasons. Actually, as the same text in question, there is a scandal. And if you take into account several translations, as we will show immediately, the scandal is huge.
In the English translation of the French original (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, AAS 89 (1997), pp. 186-190: “Pie XII avait souligné ce point essentiel: si le corps humain tient son origine de la matière vivante qui lui préexiste, l’âme spirituelle est immédiatement créée par Dieu (“animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides nos retinere iubet”.”), the John Paul II’s speech refers to Humani Generis’ quote in the following terms:
“Pius XII underlined the essential point: if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God (“animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides non retimere iubet”). (Humani Generis) (p. 5)”
That is, the conditional is used, otherwise falsely attributed to Pius XII. Simply I am emphasizing, despite the criticism of HG I am doing here – as it is not optimal, or just better terminology must be used to defend the doctrine of Creation -, that it is unacceptable to attribute to Pius XII some words which the Pontiff never had said – even in an encyclical! Under no circumstances could such an expression be used in the speech of John Paul II. It can not be assumed the “gradual creation” of the body – something what against precisely Pius XII warns not to take as proved – from the text of HG! Simple: this is something scandalous, shameful and insulting.
However, it seems very clear that this text was edited by people interested in giving this nuance, apart the fact that, as we said, some testify that this text even was not read by John Paul II … This thesis is confirmed by the wild translation in the Spanish version (which is still available on the vatican.va page!):
“Pío XII había destacado este punto esencial: el cuerpo humano tiene su origen en la materia viva que existe antes que él, pero el alma espiritual es creada inmediatamente por Dios.”
Obviously, the translators (which are also “theologians”!) have been so wins that they say what they thought, so could not hold on and put the same falsity in the text of the speech, provided that “record” as “an official statement” what really is their conviction and belief.
Something similar could be said, without looking for an even worse translation on the following passage:
“In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points. (p. 3)”
So, the following passage is a logical consequence of the above:
“Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory. (p. 4)”
But … the vagueness and lack of clarity in this text from HG about the issue, followed by a conciliatory tone towards “millions of years” of Pius XII’s speech to PAS in 1951, have predisposed the ground to the teaching of theistic evolution in chairs of Catholic universities. Those who defended the special creation at the beginning of time according to the traditional doctrine, if they dared to do, would be seen and presented little less than fundamentalist, influenced by the teachings of the most radical Protestant denominations.
Finally, the day of the “consecration” of theistic evolution came with the speech of John Paul II. After the same, with the same logic as employed by some Catholics mentioned before, “the Pope is ultimately the one to clarify a council means” – when in fact a council or a dogma can not be explained in contradiction with the understanding that the Church had about the same – I think it would be the news that a professor of theology at a Catholic faculty teach the traditional doctrine of creation (the theology widely taught al least until well into the nineteenth century). So, the traditional theology comes knocking today even as the “pre-Galileo theology” without realizing that in this way it is assumed that in the Church there were two theologies.
On that we agree. Only, the latter itself is not the theology.
1) On August 12, 1953, by the back door, in the best case, of the British Museum it has been way warehouse, one of the biggest “scientists” fraud of all time: the manipulated skull of the “Piltdown man”. According to Nature and others magazines, in the fraud there been involved …
[Bodies of evidence: John Cooke’s 1915 painting of the Piltdown men]
*[Arthur Conan Doyle, the Jesuit philosopher, palaeontologist and alleged practical joker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Arthur Smith Woodward, the Natural History Museum scientist, who accepted Dawson’s finds as genuine and argued they belonged to a new species of early human; the anatomist Arthur Keith, who also passionately endorsed the discovery; and Martin Hinton, another museum scientist, whose initials were found, in the mid-70s, 10 years after his death, on an old canvas travelling trunk, hidden in a museum loft, that contained mammal teeth and bones stained and carved in the manner of the Piltdown fossils.]
[Rebuilt Piltdown man’s face. The only “science” that rest here is the science fiction.]
We dare to put the question: if the fraud had been discovered three years earlier, would it affect Humani Generis in the points referring to evolutionism? Would it affect the drafting of the speech to the PAS in 1951? I think this deception itself would be taken into account. Moreover, I think that if a theologians were embedded in the traditional doctrine of creation, these deceptions will not be caught by surprise, and on the other hand, you would have a very critical view of certain type of “scientific contributions.” At the end of the day, do not you also ask it for the scientific method itself?
2) The progressive abandonment of traditional doctrine of creation in many Catholic schools has contributed to the conviction of many Catholics today, as pointed out by H. Owen (If You believed Moses, you will believe me), that if previously it is taught in one way, and now another, that the biblical accounts of Genesis 1-3 are a simple metaphor and that the Bible can be interpreted according to the context of the times:
“Young people are not fools. If they are told by their own Catholic teachers that the Fathers and Doctors were all wrong in their interpretation of Genesis; that what Pope after Pope called “the sacred history of Genesis” is not true history after all; and that natural scientists and modern Scripture scholars are the most reliable guides to understanding the Bible, the logical conclusion for them to draw is that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God; that the Catholic Church is not an infallible teacher; and that, therefore, one might as well go elsewhere to seek ultimate truth and salvation. This is certainly the conclusion that most of our young people draw from their education and experience in the Church today, as Focus (09/01/15) tells us that only 15% of Catholic college students practice their faith when they leave home.”
Hence, today’s Catholics in general tend to take all indications of the Church with a unprecedented relativistic component. From there to widespread apostasy is a step.
3) The pressure of the novelties in the time of Pius XII was tremendous. In the Church, in their chairs of theology, there was a germ of a claim which put in question all the doctrine and life of the Church. In parallel to the doctrinal innovations (with taste of the old heresies), the liturgical reform that will lead to the incredible change in the sixties was brewing. Beneath the apparent strength of the earth’s crust, seething magma of change, ready to burst. The work of the liturgists Jungman and Bouyer circulated profusely. Annibale Bugnini already operating in those years (according to some testimonies, on more than one occasion without communicating its activities to the Holy See). The reform of the rubrics of Holy Week took place in the fifties … And the same Bugnini said that then tore his work on the liturgical reform, yet imperceptible.
In short, the phalanges advancing on all sides. Contained with difficulty, they are preparing the final assault.
In which they will do much harm, very much. The Church is indefectible, but more or less ruin of souls is not the same. And ultimately, as this is a demon’s assault, only with a weapon of integrity of the true faith, firmly hope and charity we will be able to resist: unconditionally loving the Church, staying in the same and unchanging faith of all times.