As the atheist ideologue Richard Dawkins famously observed in his oxymoronically entitled The Blind Watchmaker, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Darwinian and neo-Darwinian evolution provide the atheist with a substitute for God, concealing the insuperable problem noted by Hume (as quoted by Dawkins): “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one (emphasis mine).”
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a scientific mediocrity who knew almost nothing of the emerging science of genetics being developed by the Augustinian friar, Gregor Mendel (1822-1884). Genetics would expose the naiveté of Darwin’s primitive hypotheses, leading to the more sophisticated but equally unbelievable neo-Darwinian “synthesis.” Given the theory’s provenance in the intellectual crudities of 19th-century skepticism and materialism, one would think that Catholics would view it with the incredulity it deserves, holding it to the rigorous standards of proof that are supposed to apply to the sciences.
With the rise of Modernism in the Church, however, came the rise of evolutionary thinking in theology, led by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, neo-Modernism’s preeminent evolutionary mountebank (implicated in the Piltdown Man hoax). Despite all protestations of orthodoxy, the attempted reconciliation of the Faith with the putative “discoveries” of evolutionists has inevitably eroded confidence in the de fide teaching on Creation, the basic elements of historical truth indispensable to the integrity of the Genesis account, and thus the foundation of the dogma of Original Sin.
As we shall see here, the constituency in the Church we call neo-Catholic has joined the neo-Modernists in pronouncing the death of the traditional account of the Fall. Bereft of the guidance of the Magisterium for an alternative account, they devise their own versions of how, in a world in which men evolved from ape-like ancestors, Original Sin could have been transmitted to the entire human race by one man, and how all humanity could have descended from two first parents.
Unproven, untestable, unrepeatable, unverifiable and therefore unscientific, yet uncontainable in its pretensions, neo-Darwinism is another Trojan Horse in the City of God. But our neo-Catholic brethren, always eager to disparage “Catholic fundamentalism,” have not hesitated to open the horse’s belly and invite what is inside to wreak havoc in the Church. They aid and abet the conquering march of a pseudoscience with no claim on reason because it is contrary to reason—indeed laughable in many of its preposterous contentions.
It is long past time for Catholics to unite in opposing a materialist superstition masquerading as an empirical science. Let this essay, and others in a contemplated series, be a modest contribution to that effort.
The Evolutionary Superstition
The essence of the textbook theory of evolution is that the infinite variety of life is the result of fortuitous and unguided incremental changes in matter over vast amounts of time, beginning with lifeless molecules. The proposed mechanism for the evolutionary progress of molecules to men is itself constantly evolving to avoid falsification.
The innumerable transitional forms preceding emerging new species that Darwin expected the fossil record to show were never forthcoming, even though evolution by small mutations conserved by natural selection would logically produce vastly more transitional than terminal forms. Quite to the contrary, the “Cambrian explosion,” in which the basic body plans of the animal phyla appear abruptly in the fossil record without prior incipient stages, confounds evolutionists to this day, despite their flimsy attempts to explain away this massive embarrassment for their beloved theory.
Pierre-Paul Grassé, the eminent French evolutionary zoologist and a member of the French Academy of Sciences, admitted in 1977 that:
The lack of concrete evidence relative to the ‘heyday’ of evolution [the Cambrian explosion] seriously impairs any transformist theory… a shadow is cast over the genesis [!] of the fundamental structural plans and we are unable to eliminate it…. The lack of direct evidence leads to the formulation of pure conjectures as to the genesis of the phyla; we do not even have a basis to determine the extent to which these opinions are correct [emphasis mine].” Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, pp. 17, 31.Concerning the Cambrian explosion, the Chinese paleontologist Jun-Yuan Chen, an expert in the Cambrian shales at Chengjiang, China, remarked: “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government; in America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.” The same is true within the post-conciliar Church: all are free to engage in “higher criticism” of Sacred Scripture with voluptuous abandon, but thunderous mockery and objurgation greet those few hardy souls who dare to utter a peep against Sacred Evolution.
Yet as neo-Catholics kowtow to neo-Darwinism’s “synthetic model” of “natural selection” conserving a gradual accumulation of random genetic changes, that model is under increasing pressure from revisionists within the evolution establishment who know a loser when they see one. In 1980 the late Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard, then the world’s most renowned evolutionist, reluctantly conceded that it would seem that model “as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy.” (Gould, “Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?” Paleobiology, 6, 1980, p. 120). It was Gould who posed an obvious question “fundamentalist” critics of evolution have been asking for decades: “Of what possible use are the imperfect incipient stages of useful structures? What good is half a jaw or half a wing?” (Gould, “The Return of the Hopeful Monsters.”) And it was he who famously admitted what was always evident: “the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt.”
In an attempt to keep Darwinism alive, neo-Darwinians have grafted various ad hoc hypotheses onto Darwin’s creaky old theory, including “genetic drift,” Gould-Eldredge’s “punctuated equilibrium” (abrupt mutational leaps, leaving no fossil intermediates), Gould-Lewontin’s “spandrels” hypothesis, and so forth. The basic idea, however, remains absurd: where once there was no life, blind natural processes have produced a world filled with millions of living species of staggering complexity even at their most elemental level.
Evolution’s credibility problem begins at the very beginning of evolutionary time: protein synthesis is impossible without the chromosomal DNA “code,” but DNA depends on proteins for its tightly coiled structure, self-repair, and the direction of protein synthesis itself—a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma. Worse, in a cell the DNA code imparts information to RNA for the assembly of proteins by a process called transcription. But how did DNA “evolve” this function without RNA already being present to serve as the transcript, and how did RNA arise without its DNA complement, especially in view of RNA’s highly unstable nature? Then there is the question how the DNA code, written in what Gould called “machine language,” was compiled in the first place. (Gould, “Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?” p. 121).
Mother Eve and young Cain (this is before he went all ape on his brother Abel)
Then there is the building block of animal life, the eukaryotic cell. Evolutionists have no credible explanation for how mindless processes could produce a biological world-within-a-world consisting of an outer membrane, cytoplasm, organelles, an intricate folded reticulum and a central nucleus, surrounded by its own membrane, packed with chromosomal DNA that imparts genetic instructions to RNA for protein assembly by ribosomes, which execute the RNA instructions and then protect the manufactured protein products with tiny vesicles transported to the Golgi apparatus for final processing. Mitochondria, organelles of incredible complexity with their own DNA, power cellular activity governed by complex and co-dependent chemical reactions.
Destroy or damage any of these interdependent components and a cell ceases to function properly or dies. This is not even to discuss the impossibly intricate process of cell division by meiosis (for sexual reproduction) and mitosis (for building up and repairing tissues) or the mind-boggling ability of cells to differentiate into specialized functions based on their locations in an organism.
As to the origin of the first cell, evolutionists—utterly stumped—offer feeble, indemonstrable and fantastical speculations, including magical self-assembly of cells atop crystals and the seeding of the planet with preexisting life delivered from outer space by meteoroids and asteroids. Yet, confronted with their inability to explain the emergence of even one functioning cell without a guided process¬—indeed even with a guided process under controlled laboratory conditions—evolutionists confidently assure us that they have explained a world filled with organisms composed of billions and trillions of cells interacting precisely as required for life. And in response to every objection evolutionists provide the same non-reply: that we cannot explain exactly how evolution happened does not mean it did not happen, for evolution is a fact and someday we will discover the evolutionary explanation. Meanwhile, “elegant ideas” fill the massive gaps.
A theory that can never be falsified because it simply concocts a new hypothesis to save itself is not science but superstition. The biochemist and Nobel laureate Ernst Chain, an Orthodox Jew, was thus openly contemptuous of Darwinian evolution: “I would rather believe in fairies than in such wild speculation.” His son Benjamin related that “There is no doubt that he did not like the theory of evolution by natural selection—and he disliked theories in general, and more especially when they assumed the form of dogma. He also felt that evolution was not really a part of science, since it was, for the most part, not amenable to experimentation…” (Clark, The Life of Ernst Chain, Kindle ed., 2775, 2788-2790).
Splitting the Difference with the Zeitgeist
Would that our neo-Catholic friends exhibited such healthy skepticism about evolution’s scientific pretensions. But the neo-Catholic mentality has never encountered a novelty in “mainstream” post-conciliar thinking it could not accept. Hence, confronted with the nonsensical claim that non-life gave rise to a world filled with living creatures through the blind operation of natural processes—the “Blind Watchmaker” of Dawkins’s manifesto—the neo-Catholic obligingly posits “theistic evolution,” by which God intervened at each stage to bring the “gradual development” of life to the next level.
But if evolution would be impossible without such hidden divine interventions, why not simply accept what the fossil record shows and Genesis recounts: immediate divine creation of living things according to kind? The dictates of reason hardly compel us to do otherwise. On the contrary, the fossil evidence speaks against evolution, as Gould impliedly conceded.
Yet, having posited a multiplication of miracles to make evolution plausible, neo-Catholic evolutionists mock fellow Catholics for “fundamentalism” in rejecting “evolutionary science”—having just rejected it themselves by positing divine intervention! Here, as in so many other ways, the neo-Catholic tries to look reasonable by splitting the difference with the Zeitgeist, capitulating to corrupt modernity and Modernism in the Church.
Neo-Catholics have been cowed by a pseudoscience that employs certain scientific techniques, to be sure, but only to serve an absolutely non-negotiable a priori conclusion: there is no Creator. The ideological blinders must never come off. As Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, put it: “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” (Meyer Signature in the Cell, p. 20). In other words: don’t believe your lying eyes. And this, they tell us, is science.
In subsequent articles I will show just how absurd “evolutionary science” is shown to be when it attempts to explain the existence of particular living things in the real world as opposed to presenting animations narrated by pop science emcees like Neal deGrasse Tyson. For a good laugh, by the way, .
This does not mean a blind fideism that would deny the true data of reason. The Church has nothing to fear from authentic scientific discoveries because the Faith and right reason are never in conflict. The theory of evolution, however, is readily shown to be contrary to reason as well as the physical evidence. Its patently nonsensical claims do not require any reinterpretation of Genesis.
Here is what the Church teaches about the origin of species in light of Scripture and Sacred Tradition:
We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God… the creator of all things, visible and invisible, spiritual and corporeal, who by his almighty power from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing (ex nihilo), both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then the human creature, who, as it were, shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body. (DZ 800)Thus declared the Fourth Lateran Council (1213-1215) in a way that pertains to the infallible Magisterium. The creation of all things by God ex nihilo—out of nothing—is a dogma of the Faith, even if there is room for interpretation as to how many of the basic kinds of corporeal creatures God created while allowing variation or adaptation within kinds to provide the full diversity of life: “And God created… every living and moving creature… according to its kind (Gen. 1:21).” Creation ex nihilo cannot be reduced to an empty formula by supposing that God created only certain primordial conditions from which “every living and moving creature” arose through some natural process of evolution without further acts of divine creation.
Note: Commenters need not carp about “literal six-day creation” or the age of the Earth as the Magisterium permits the belief that the word “day” [yôm] in the Genesis account represents “a certain space of time” (temporis spatio). DZ 3519. Further, creation “at once” (simul) does not specify how long “a space of time” was involved in Creation. To say, for example, that “all the products were manufactured at once” is not to say that they were all manufactured instantaneously or in any particular amount of time.By the late 19th century Darwinism was on its conquering march in society, and by the turn of the 20th century it had wormed its way into Modernist theology. The Magisterium responded vigorously to the threat. In 1907, the Holy Office under Saint Pius X issued the landmark decree Lamentabili, enumerating and condemning the errors of Modernism, including the following condemned proposition:
Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be reformed. (DZ 3464)
Neo-Modernism, explains the late Father John A. Hardon, S.J. in his monumental Modern Catholic Dictionary, “attempts to reconcile modern science and philosophy at the expense of the integrity of the Catholic faith. It has its roots in the Modernism condemned by Pope St. Pius X.” As shown in the following discussion, neo-Catholics follow neo-Modernists in embracing the above-condemned proposition, arguing for a revision of the Church’s teaching on creation to accommodate evolution, ridiculing any opposition to the effort as “fundamentalism.”
In 1909, the Pontifical Biblical Commission, another arm of the Magisterium of St. Pius X, issued a decision answering NO to this question: “Is it possible… to call in question the literal and historical meaning [of the Genesis account] where there is question of facts narrated in these same chapters which pertain to the foundations of the Christian religion….” Among these facts, said the Commission, are “the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man (DZ 3514).”
Concerning the creation of Eve ex Adamo, which strictly precludes her prior evolution from “hominids,” as Father Brian Harrison has shown this is an infallible teaching of the universal ordinary Magisterium—a doctrine the Church has always held. Thus Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical on marriage, Arcanum (1880), declared as follows regarding “the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church” on the origin of marriage:
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.With good reason, then, did St. Pius X identify the special creation of Adam and the creation of Eve from Adam as facts at the foundations of the Faith. For one thing, to deny these facts leads naturally to polygenism, the claim that the human race is descended from a group of first humans who evolved from “hominids” (aka “hominims”). As shown below, polygenism cannot be reconciled with Genesis unless Genesis is reduced to a fable. As we will see, neo-Catholics embrace polygenism and scoff at the formation of Eve ex Adamo.
Abusing Freedom of Opinion
Neo-Catholic evolutionists rely heavily on the following passage from Venerable Pius XII’s encyclical Humani generis (1950):
For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.
First of all, even if the doctrines of the faith do not strictly preclude any conceivable notion of biological evolution per se (such as microevolution or variation within kinds), the issue is whether it would be unwise, rash and even dangerous to attempt to conform Scripture to the pseudoscience of neo-Darwinism. One can certainly argue that Pius XII’s prudential judgment permitting limited debate on the matter opened the floodgates to an uncontrollable deluge of outrageous and heretical speculations.
In fact, the future Pius XII practically admitted as much. In 1931, when he was still Msgr. Pacelli, the future Pope predicted that “evil forces” would use “my person, my acts, my writings… to deform the history of the Church.” (Roche, Pie XII: devant l’Histoire, pp. 52-53). Consider, for example, not only the opening to evolution in Humani generis, but the opening to the “historical-critical method” in Divino afflante Spiritu, the creation of the Commission for General Liturgical Restoration, the appointment of Bugnini as its Secretary, and the early liturgical reforms later cited to justify liturgical revolution.
That prophecy fulfilled was uttered in the context of Pacelli’s oft-quoted wider prophecy, in light of the Message of Fatima, that “this persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul.” (Ibid., p. 53)
At any rate, neo-Catholic polemicists have predictably ignored the strictures Pius XII imposed on discussions that were supposed to be limited to experts, not every Tom, Dick and Harry with an opinion. Wrote the Pope in Humani generis:
- “[T]his 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…”
- “Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, 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.”
As for what Pius XII called “facts which have been discovered up to now,” since his time the evidence of molecular biology and genetics has increasingly revealed the poverty of evolutionary theory. Yet neo-Catholics deride their brethren as “fundamentalists” for defending the Genesis account as true history, along with Saint Pius X, and for presenting scientific arguments against evolution, just as Pius XII counseled.
The real “fundamentalists,” then, would appear to be neo-Catholic evolutionists, staunchly defending evolutionary dogma while discarding traditional Scriptural exegesis. They “rashly transgress” a limited freedom of discussion in precisely in the manner described by Pius XII, presenting evolution as “fact” and abandoning all “moderation and caution” concerning “the sources of divine revelation.”
Now let us examine a case study of this development.
The Neo-Catholic Planet of the Apes
In order to guard the sources of revelation against the evolutionary speculations now rampant in the Church, in Humani generis Pius XII positively forbade the faithful to entertain polygenism—again, the opinion that man descended, not from two first parents, but from a certain number of early humans:
When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.
Today certain neo-Catholic spokesmen (by no means all) not only embrace the very opinion Pius XII forbade, but condemn their fellow Catholics as “fundamentalists” for rejecting it. Mark Shea, as always, provides a useful example of neo-Catholic novelty at its most obnoxious. Shea, billed as an “Apologetics Speaker” by the neo-Catholic flagship Catholic Answers, declares there is “increasingly strong evidence for polygenism” and that “[s]cience seems to have disproven the notion that humanity comes from a single solitary pair of humans made literally from a gob of clay and a rib…” He falsely asserts that Pius XII “left room for the possibility of polygenism”—the very opinion the Pope insisted Catholics “cannot embrace.”
Shea mocks opposition to polygenism as “fundamentalism,” assuring his followers that “I don’t think Catholic theology is in mortal danger—or indeed any danger—from the sciences, including the now very strong evidence for polygenism…”
What strong evidence? Shea does not explain, but the “evidence” involves manifestly dubious “computer simulation studies” of speculative gene “coalescence models” whose output is no better than the evolutionary presumptions behind the input. For example, there is the presumption that man and modern chimps are descended from a common ancestor—the very matter in dispute!—so that human population size at the presumed man-chimp genetic divergence from the presumed common ancestor can be “modeled” on a phylogenetic tree diagram based on analysis of existing human and chimp gene sequences. As the saying goes, a scientist sees what he finds, whereas an evolutionist finds what he sees.
Doctrinaire atheist evolutionists like Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago cite these methodologically faulty studies, hedged with phrases like “best estimate” and “pretty good estimate,”best estimate” and “pretty good estimate,” in declaring triumphantly that “scientific evidence…. absolutely rebuts the Adam and Eve story” because there is supposedly too much diversity in the human genome to have originated
with one set of parents. The smallest possible past population “bottleneck” for human descent to the present world population, they assert, is no fewer than around 10,000 humans, according to their “pretty good estimate.”
Wowed by this “evidence,” which he clearly hasn’t bothered to question, Shea simply assumes the argument for polygenism is clinched and that there must have been at least 10,000 first humans. Curiously enough, the same neo-Catholics who posit a multiplication of miracles to make evolution possible cannot conceive of a miracle that would have allowed Adam and Eve to transmit sufficient genetic potential to the human race. No, says Shea, there must have been numerous first humans because “science” has disproved our descent from a literal Adam and Eve.
But Pius XII would disagree. As he declared in Humani generis: “Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion [polygenism] can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”
Shea, however, is pleased to inform his followers of another triumph over Catholic fundamentalism: “Polygenism is, to be sure, the death of simplistic fundamentalist and sola scriptura approaches to human origins, but that’s about it.” He never considers the impossibility of plausibly reconciling the fall of one man, Adam, with the existence of other men who did not fall. Rather, he quotes a fellow neo-Catholic blogger, one Michael Flynn—appropriately enough a science fiction writer—for his “noodling of the problem.” Flynn objects to the claim by the aforesaid Jerry Coyne that “polygenism spells doom for… the doctrine of the Fall.” Indeed, that is precisely why Pius XII forbade the opinion! Not at all, says Flynn in reply:
Dr. Coyne’s primary error seems to be a quantifier shift. He and his [evolutionary] fundamentalist bedfellows appear to hold that the statement:So, the neo-Catholic creation narrative presents many first men, among which Adam was merely the patrilineal forbear of present-day men, all the others having conveniently died leaving no lines of descent. The Bible contains no account of these lost tribes of Adam’s fellow men—an astonishing omission by the inspired writer of Genesis (Moses, by the way, as “principal inspired author”). But evolution requires polygenism, so the neo-Catholic Genesis account brings in a group of first humans to avoid a supposed falsification of the Bible by “science.” Those are pretty high stakes to wager on a pseudoscience.
A: “There is one man from whom all humans are descended” is equivalent to the statement:
B: “All humans are descended from [only] one man.”
But this logical fallacy hinges on an equivocation of “one,” failing to distinguish “one [out of many]” from “[only] one.” Traditional doctrine requires only A, not B: That all humans share a common ancestor, not that they have no other ancestors.
Yet if there were numerous first humans not guilty of Original Sin, why would God have allowed them to die out, and why is there no mention of them in Genesis? Here is the neo-Catholic answer: the first men were not true men, but rather humanoids without souls. Twisting Genesis 6, Flynn offers this invention: “Genesis tells us that the children of Adam and Eve found mates among the children of men, which would indicate that there were a number of other creatures out there with whom they could mate.”
Other creatures? So, as Shea-Flynn would have it, the alleged minimum requirement of at least 10,000 first “humans” is satisfied by having Adam and Eve’s children engage in bestiality with an original population of subhumans who, being soulless, lacked reason, free will or the capacity for speech. And then God blessed these bestial unions by endowing the resulting half-human spawn with rational souls, while the remaining legions of soulless humanoids conveniently disappeared from history or divine revelation. There! Problem solved.
Flynn indulges in the kind of verse twisting one would expect from a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness. What Genesis 6 actually says is that “the sons of God seeing the daughters of men, that they were fair, took to themselves wives all of which they chose (Gen. 6:2).” The traditional exegesis is that the “sons of God” are the virtuous descendants of Seth and Enos, whereas the “daughters of men” are not humanoids but women in the line of descent from the reprobate Cain who, as Father Haydock explains, “by their carnal affections lay groveling on the earth…” The bad outcomes of the noble bloodline marrying into the ignoble one on the basis of physical attraction “ought to be a warning to Christians to be very circumspect in their marriages; and not to suffer themselves to be determined in choice by their carnal passion, to the prejudice of virtue or religion.” (Douay Rheims Bible, Haydock Commentary, Genesis 6, Ver. 2).
That the inspired author of Genesis makes no mention of Flynn’s Planet of the Apes fantasy does not deter Shea-Flynn in the least, nor does the warning of Pius XII that even among the experts who have a limited freedom to discuss evolution there must be “the greatest moderation and caution…”
And let it not be thought that Flynn’s fantasy is peculiar to him. It is the standard neo-Catholic, easy-peasy workaround for “reconciling” polygenism with the dogma of Original Sin. I have encountered the same totally extra-Biblical nonsense many times in private debates on this subject. The lay proponents of this ridiculous idea evidently think Pius XII and his theological consultants were not clever enough to see it when the Pope declared that it is “in no way apparent” how polygenism can be reconciled with “the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church....”
According to Flynn, moreover, Adam himself was little more than a clever brute. Flynn even provides a helpful illustration of Adam relaxing with his subhuman companions after a grueling day of hunting and gathering:
So much for the traditional Catholic teaching that Adam was the prefiguration of Christ, a man of perfect spiritual and physical integrity and happiness, without sin, gifted with bodily immortality, incapable of suffering, possessed of infused knowledge, free from all concupiscence, who enjoyed the most intimate relationship with God while possessing the fruits of Paradise together with Eve, who had all the same attributes of original human perfection. According to the neo-Catholic version of Genesis, God created a stressed-out meat-eater who had to survive by slaughtering bison with his brutish companions while suffering from a lack of rational companionship. And this was Adam’s life before the neo-Catholic remake of the Fall!
As for Adam’s loss of bodily immortality and integrity (no defects or maladies), Flynn, with Shea’s evident approval, explicitly denies the dogma of the donum immortalitatis. In The Book of Flynn, death came into the world after sin only in the sense that “Adam” became aware he would die, unlike animals, which have no death-awareness: “All of a sudden, he knew he had disobeyed the voice in his head… he knew that someday he would die. So death came into the world — not as fact, but as truth. Animals die in fact, but they do not know that they will…. (my emphasis).”
The infallible Magisterium begs to differ: “If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred… the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death… and that the entire Adam… was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Fifth Session, Decree Concerning Original Sin, n. 1).
If Shea-Flynn’s neo-Catholic exegesis were correct, there would have been no penalty in the flesh on account of Original Sin and the infallible Tridentine anathema would be in error. Contrary to Trent, the human condition would have improved after the Fall due to evolutionary and civilizational progress, there never having been any Paradise or bodily immortality.
Flynn continues with his evolution-driven addenda to Genesis:
Moreover, because “[e]volution proceeds through reproductive isolation,” says Flynn, it may be that Adam found other rational men and that “those he found like him started calling themselves ‘the Enlightened’ or ‘the Brights’ or even just ‘the Sapients’” and for this reason they were driven from a community of around 10,000 humanoids in a neo-Catholic version of the expulsion from a Paradise that wasn’t Paradise. But if these other “Sapients” did not commit the Original Sin, how did Adam transmit its effects to the whole human race? Easy-peasy! All the other “Sapients” died out, leaving no lines of descent or trace in the Bible. Now, why didn’t Pope Pius XII think of this?
the usual poetic trope or artistic image of one man and one woman alone in a Garden in Eden…” In classic neo-Catholic style Shea-Flynn ignore all of Tradition as defended by the teaching of the Pontifical Biblical Commission in the aforesaid 1909 decision. Besides the special creation of Adam and the creation of Eve from Adam, Saint Pius X enumerated these additional facts in the Genesis account, “pertaining to the foundations of the Christian religion”:
- “the original happiness of the first parents in a state of justice, integrity and immortality”
- “the command given by God to man to prove his obedience”
- “the transgression of the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent”
- “the fall of the first parents from a primitive state of innocence.” (DZ 3514).
The neo-Catholic answer to these questions is simple: it never happened. As for Saint Pius X’s quaint opinion to the contrary, well, that was the fundamentalist past and this is the evolutionary now.
But wait, there’s more! For the sake of evolution, Shea-Flynn have given us the cutting edge of neo-Catholic novelty. Racing ahead of even postconciliar neo-Modernist trends, they toss overboard even the new Catechism’s rather stripped-down account of the Fall. Shea notes only one ambiguous passage while failing to mention any of the following:
Revelation makes known to us the state of original holiness and justice of man and woman before sin: from their friendship with God flowed the happiness of their existence in paradise.In the neo-Catholic view, we need not believe any of the historical particulars mentioned in the new Catechism, including Cain’s murder of Abel, because that would require us to believe that there really was an originally sinless and perfect Eve who really lived with Adam in a place that really was a Paradise, that both Adam and Eve really did disobey a specific divine command, causing them to lose not only original holiness but also bodily immortality, and that Eve really did give birth to Cain, who really did murder Abel, so that the Genesis account really would involve true history. No, no, no. That would be fundamentalism.
Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.
Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image…
The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.
Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay.”… Death makes its entrance into human history.
After that first sin, the world is virtually inundated by sin. There is Cain’s murder of his brother Abel and the universal corruption which follows in the wake of sin….
CCC §§ 384, 390, 399-401.
As for Christ being the new Adam and Mary the new Eve, here too Shea-Flynn are at the cutting edge of novelty, dispensing with even the new Catechism’s reference to the Protoevangelium:
“The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the ‘New Adam’ who, because he ‘became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,’ makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam. Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the ‘new Eve.’…” CCC § 411.In sum, instead of being fundamentalists about the literal meaning of Genesis, like all those pre-Darwinian Fathers, Doctors, and Popes, Shea-Flynn would have us read Scripture the neo-Catholic way, conjuring up evolution-friendly versions of the Fall. We need only maintain that, somewhere along the line, some guy somewhere, who happens to be our common ancestor, sinned in some way. We can even call him Adam if we like.
We have arrived at the point where neo-Catholic “exegesis” has stripped the Genesis account of every historical fact, leaving us with no revelation of how and why our first parents fell from grace, in what condition of perfection they were made, or even who they were. That is exactly what Flynn maintains, falsely asserting that the Tridentine anathemas regarding Original Sin “do not require belief in a factual Genesis myth beyond the simple existence of a common ancestor.”
And Shea applauds “the brilliance of Michael Flynn.”
Surveying the Wreckage
Let us assess the destruction of the Genesis account resulting from the neo-Catholic attempt to conform it to the demands of neo-Darwinism:
- Adam had a quasi-human father and quasi-human ancestors, some or all of whom died before Adam sinned, so that death would have entered human history before Original Sin.
- Eve was not created from Adam but rather evolved from hominids like he did.
- Neither Adam nor Eve possessed the gifts of bodily immortality or freedom from bodily infirmity, so neither they nor humanity lost those gifts on account of Original Sin.
- Adam did not fall on account of the temptation to which Eve had first succumbed, but rather sinned in some other way never revealed.
- Adam and Eve were not expelled from Paradise together, with Eve to bear children in pain and suffering, because there was no Paradise.
- Adam's children committed bestiality by mating with members of a population of around 10,000 soulless humanoids at the beginning of the human race.
- The human condition improved only after the Fall on account of social and evolutionary development, there having been no Paradise, bodily immortality or freedom from illness, but only a primitive hunter-gatherer society of hominids from which Adam emerged.
- Death did not enter human history because of Original Sin, but only the human awareness of death.
- The Protoevangelium is not a real prophecy of the coming Redeemer.
- All Scriptural parallels between Christ and prelapsarian Adam or Mary and prelapsarian Eve are empty metaphors.
- Every event recounted in Genesis 2-10, at least, would arguably be just as devoid of historical fact as Genesis 1.
- Our Lord's references to the Genesis account are merely ironic.
- The reader can take it from there.
With Genesis reduced to a “poetic trope” to comply with the dictates of neo-Darwinian claptrap, the account of the Fall can be shaped by the hottest new developments in evolutionary guesswork, including the “strong evidence for polygenism” to which the Church’s traditional exegesis must conform itself as soon as the evolutionists’ computer simulations provide “a pretty good estimate” of how many first humans there really were.
Bye-Bye Original Sin
And finally, the conclusion of our case study: Given the neo-Catholic replacement of Genesis with Planet of the Apes, the dogma of Original Sin must come under review. Hence while paying lip service to the dogma, Shea praises an article by John Farrell in Forbes “grappling” with the “problem” of polygenism. Farrell, citing Coyne, rightly observes—without, of course, questioning the theory of evolution—that
the erosion of the idea that the human race descended from a single couple is something that is much more necessary to the theology of salvation in Christian tradition than is the issue of, say, whether God really made the sun stand still for Joshua and the Israelites…. The Council of Trenton the topic. Catholics are required to believe not only that Adam is the single father of the human race, but that Original Sin is passed on by physical generation from him to the entire human race. It’s not something symbolic or allegorical…
What to do, what to do. Farrell concludes that while there are “individual Catholic theologians out there mulling over how to handle the problem,” given the Vatican’s silence the only choice left to Catholics is “to fall back on the denialism of Evangelical leaders… or to keep their mouths shut.”
NOTE WELL: In the neo-Catholic view, questioning the theory of evolution is Protestant “denialism,” while questioning facts at the dogmatic foundation of the Catholic faith recounted in Genesis is merely to raise a “problem” to be “mulled over” by “individual theologians.” Our understanding of the sources of revelation must bow to Darwin’s theory. Behold the neo-Catholic mentality at work.
But Farrell need not worry, for Flynn has saved Original Sin from Darwin’s challenge. Writes Shea: “Flynn’s argument is an impressive tour of Thomistic thinking, and a fine example of a Catholic laboring to think with the Tradition.”
The reader may pause here for a moment of uproarious laughter.
Now, why should Catholics be “laboring to think with the Tradition” to accommodate the claims of a pseudoscience? Why not accept on faith what Trent and the entire Magisterium affirm about the Fall? The Genesis account does not offend reason. What offends reason is a fantasy world of self-organizing polymers and blind watchmakers, where Catholics find themselves seriously proposing that rational men bred with subhuman mates in the course of evolution even though sacred scripture has nothing to say about this.
Moreover, what about “laboring to think with the Tradition” by presenting logical and empirical arguments against evolution, as Pius XII expected Catholic discussants to do? Out of the question! That would be fundamentalism.
Does every neo-Catholic commentator adopt something like the Shea-Flynn version of Genesis? Certainly not. Many go only part of the way in that direction. But many others go all the way, and what we have just examined shows what can happen if one accepts the premise that Sacred Scripture should be interpreted in keeping with a pseudoscience serving the aims of atheist ideologues. As with any attempt to conform the truth to a lie, the result is a distortion of the truth—ultimately beyond all recognition, as Shea-Flynn demonstrate.
Yet, amazingly enough, having laid waste to the Genesis account to accommodate fake science, Flynn concludes by admitting the very reason he should not have attempted the exercise: “If it ain’t falsifiable, it ain’t science; so we must allow the possibility that what we think we know about evolution is all wrong. That is why it is not a good idea to get too chummy with science, since you never know when she’ll pack up her bags and leave you holding the bills (my emphasis).”
So, even for the sake of a theory that could be “all wrong,” amateur neo-Catholic exegetes are willing to reduce Genesis to a fable. But why? Because they view Genesis as a fable in the first place. Evolution is just another reason to show how enlightened they are concerning those nice Bible stores only “fundamentalists” still take seriously.
Here we encounter yet again the destructive work of the neo-Catholic constituency, aiding and abetting neo-Modernists in their attack on the foundations of the Faith. Having embraced and defended every other ruinous novelty of the past fifty years, neo-Catholics promote a neo-theology of the Fall that undermines the dogma of Original Sin. And this for the sake of a scientific fable promoted with, irony of ironies, fundamentalist zeal by the Church’s worst enemies—and by neo-Catholics themselves, for that matter.
As neo-Catholic leaders continue to assist the autodemolition of the Church, they present themselves as the voices of a sound and balanced orthodoxy. At the same time, in perfect synch with the Southern Poverty Law Center, they helpfully denounce faithful Catholics as fundamentalists, “hysterical reactionaries” and “radical traditionalists.”
We have tolerated this intolerable situation long enough. It has to end. Here and now. And we, the laity, have to end it—with the help of the few members of the hierarchy still swimming against the relentless floodtide of the neo-Modernist/neo-Catholic revolution.
For when we look to Rome we see that no help is on the way. Quite the contrary, the current occupants of the Vatican are humming like a beehive in preparation for Francis’s sellout to enviro-fascism, armed with its own pseudoscience. Observing a conspicuous silence about prior teaching on creation and the Fall they would never dare to overturn with any binding pronouncement, the Roman authorities will not even toss us a life preserver in the stormy sea. At this moment in Church history, we are on our own.
Our Lady of Fatima, intercede for us!
This essay is dedicated to the memory of my beloved friend, Father Nicholas Gruner (1942-2015). May the Perpetual Light shine upon him.