"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin

Mar 4, 2009

Contrary to All Reason

Catholics embrace the science of evolution, but reject its method.

Miraculously, a Darwin-shaped figure appears inside the Holy Church.
Image: The Onion

Last year the Church of England personally apologized to Darwin for misunderstanding natural selection. Now the Catholic Church is following suit. The Vatican is sponsoring a five-day conference on Darwin to mark the 150th anniversary of The Origin of Species. In a statement on the opening day Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, said that Church doctrine does not conflict with evolution and that there is a "wide spectrum of room" to accept both.

According to the Associated Press:

"We believe that however creation has come about and evolved, ultimately God is the creator of all things," he said on the sidelines of the conference. But while the Vatican did not exclude any area of science, it did reject as "absurd" the atheist notion of biologist and author Richard Dawkins and others that evolution proves there is no God, he said. "Of course we think that's absurd and not at all proven," he said. "But other than that ... the Vatican has recognized that it doesn't stand in the way of scientific realities."

Of course, hearing the Catholic Church reject atheism is about as meaningful as listening to Newt Gingrich reject "European-style socialism" at CPAC. Both know what side their bread is buttered on. In 2002, according to former Church finance minister Edmund C. Szoka, the Catholic Church held at least $5 billion in assets and had seen their annual profits increase to $22 million. Now that we've entered a global recession they've even revived the old practice of granting indulgences to get yourself or a loved one out of purgatory. While official Church policy is that money is not required for a plenary indulgence, a donation could speed the process along. According to Rev. Chris Decker, pastor of St. Jude Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, LA:

When it comes to money, if people want to make an offering of thanksgiving, sometimes God moves us to action.
So Church officials aren't going to interupt the good thing they've got going, Darwin or no Darwin. But, because the scientific consensus is so strong, they're not able to appear serious any longer if they continue to deny that evolution is a scientific fact. This strategy to bring Darwin into the fold is merely an attempt to continue business as usual by attempting to rebrand natural selection as coming from divine origin. But I think the Catholic Church needs to better understand the definition of the word "absurd" if they're going to be flinging it about as they are.
ab·surd (adj.) utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false.

Consider the following: Jesus Christ was sent by God (his father, but also himself) in order to die on the cross for the forgiveness of mankind. This was the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the original sin that accrued when Adam and Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden (an act that is also the explanation for why women experience pain in childbirth). This is official Church doctrine accepted from the divine authority of Saint Paul the Apostle in Romans 5:15-21.

However, since human evolution completely negates the story of Adam and Eve, that means there was no original sin. So, in other words, the Catholic Church's official view is now that a supernatural entity descended from the sky so that he could be brutally tortured as a way to forgive people for something that never happened in the first place. And this is somehow less absurd than the idea that people invented these stories to help explain phenomena they weren't able to figure out at the time?

I have no doubt that Catholics will eventually figure out a way to explain away the inconsistencies in their ramshackle worldview. 376 years ago Galileo Galilei was condemned by the Pope for daring to say that the Earth moved around the Sun. Psalm 93:1 states explicitly that the Earth "cannot be moved," and it was feared that any claim otherwise would shake Catholic faith in the divine authority of the Bible. Well, the Earth moves and the Pope still wears his red Prada slippers. Catholics managed to read around that quote and they'll do so again, no matter how absurd their justifications may be.

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