Creation Rediscovered, by Gerard J. Keane

Introduction

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Creation/Evolution

Since the first edition of Creation Rediscovered was published in 1991, an extensive number of fascinating developments have arisen - and so it is timely once again to survey the Origins [1] debate for these reasons:

  • To present a Christian overview of matters relating to Origins - without attempting to address every aspect, and concentrating especially on the situation within the Catholic Church.
  • To show that the concept of Special Creation is truly scientific and provides a better explanation of the data than evolution theories.
  • To demonstrate how belief in Evolution has had a marked effect upon the consciousness of mankind and upon Christian beliefs.
  • To draw attention to the need for clarification of various senses in Genesis by the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

While Catholicism is primarily addressed in this book, the book is not intended only for Catholics, for the Origins controversy is important to all those who consider themselves Christians. For Catholics generally, Origins has become something of a "forgotten" issue. Few see the need to study it fully, apparently because it is considered irrelevant. Not surprisingly, it seems clear that there is now much confusion concerning the doctrine of Original Sin. (Some information is presented here of what has been pronounced in papal encyclicals and in Catholic Tradition regarding Origins.)

The controversy surrounding the Origins debate still remains all about beliefs and only secondarily about empirical science. For those who are concerned about the widespread, on-going collapse of religious practice among Catholics, which erupted openly in the 1960s, it is hoped that this book will contribute towards genuine restoration within the Catholic Church. (The writer is not a scientist or theologian, but a layman interested in conceptual problems affecting doctrinal beliefs.)

A strong case can be made that something has been amiss, affecting beliefs within the Catholic Church, since the early 19th century. The rise of pluralist democracies effectively brought an erosion of belief in Christianity. Many came to believe that promotion of Catholic doctrine in society, amidst a multitude of competing beliefs, was an undemocratic and unfair imposition of one's views upon others. But something also went astray within the Catholic Church concerning the comprehension and dissemination of matters relating to Origins.

A clear picture of the Origins controversy has taken about 200 years gradually to emerge. For example, the discovery of multitudes of fossils took many years to uncover, and information gained via molecular biology has only come to light in the last few decades. In many respects, therefore, the Origins debate is still very new, and its relevance to the crisis within Catholicism still is not widely understood.

The devastating collapse of faith within the Catholic Church since the 1960s was no doubt influenced by many factors, but in the opinion of the writer, the collapse is not fully explicable unless seen in the historical context of the last 500 years. Nor is the seeming enigma of many "conservatives" who, by not accepting that Genesis is primarily historical, may now be functioning as unwitting "carriers" of Modernism while yet being strongly opposed to its overall cancerous effects. (See Appendix B for a brief summary of Modernism.) The historical factors involved can be briefly described in various stages and aspects:

  • The transformation within Humanism by the late 15th century, and its manifestation in the Renaissance era, helped establish the now common idea that man is no mere creature of God, but rather is an unfinished being capable of "creating" himself apart from God.
  • The advent of heliocentrism in the 16th century set in train a certain revolution about man's place in the cosmos which helped give rise to philosophical Idealism: "I think, therefore I am" became a benchmark for separating subjective inner beliefs from objective reality outside of man's mind, following the speculations of René Descartes (1596-1650) and later of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).
  • The late 18th century humanist Enlightenment sought to place man before God in the conduct of society. Liberal democracies would be governed primarily by the collective wishes of the people (or, more realistically, by whichever group could wield dominant power within the system at any point in time). The Kingship of Christ would not be deferred to when framing laws.
  • The early 19th century assumptions of uniformitarianism brought doubts upon the idea of rapid catastrophism, thus making the Genesis account of Creation days and of the Flood of Noah seem unbelievable and in need of revision.
  • The mid-19th century impact of rationalist Higher Criticism, emanating from liberal German Protestants, influenced by belief in uniformitarianism and Evolution, radically challenged the literal-as-given understanding of the Genesis account of Creation.
  • The mid-19th century rise of Darwinism appeared to give a plausible evolutionary explanation of the descent of species by natural processes. Many assumed that it also provided an explanation for the origin of life, on the false ground that God was not required.
  • The late 19th century rise of Modernism, influenced by all the above aspects, constituted a form of religion which by definition is completely opposed to, and tries to supplant, the Christian religion as taught by Christ and handed down for 2,000 years. Almost 100 years after Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914) moved to condemn Modernism, its revisionist impact has undergone a virile rebirth within the Catholic Church since Vatican Council II.
  • A revolution in consciousness occurred in the Church as a result of these influencing factors, challenging the very meaning of long-held religious beliefs and practices. In particular, the overturning of the Latin rite of Mass in 1969 had the unfortunate effect of much crucial Catholic culture being lost to many individuals, resulting in alienation from authentic Catholicism.

But the relevance of Origins does not affect only Christian beliefs - the very cohesion of society is involved. If a higher, transcendent Authority is not recognized, society will continue to experience great strain:

If members of a civilized society considered themselves as the product of blind random chance mutations, they could hardly be expected to believe they were the special creation of God. It follows, quite logically, that they could not reasonably feel themselves subject to the commands of their Creator, if that creator was time, coupled with chemicals and natural selection. If nobody owns them, they are free to make their own rules. Without any absolute authority to guide their moral decisions, they are only constrained by a relative authority, that of the State, whose rules they influence by their vote. Those rules would usually be the result of consensus, and would reflect the wish of the majority. Without any Christian ethic to influence the State . . . laws against divorce, pornography, homosexuality, abortion and suicide would be expected to be removed from the statute book. To reduce pressure upon the health services, a limited movement towards euthanasia would take place. In fact, all the social and moral phenomena we see in society today would be expected. [2]

The importance which individuals place upon Origins beliefs can thus impact greatly upon society. In many countries, abortion on demand is now the de facto reality, and the world is surely in desperate need of rediscovery of the authority of God. (One wonders how long the abortion holocaust can continue with impunity - 4,000 surgical abortions each day in the USA alone!) But Protestant Christianity is poorly placed to satisfy decisively the latent yearning for true spiritual values or to counter the humanist lifestyle. Divided into thousands of splinter groups, many of which now accept abortion, and beset by liberal theology which denies the divinity of Christ, the quest within their ranks for social justice often seems to predominate over beliefs about doctrine handed down from Christ.

In the Catholic Church, there has been a marked loss of the sense of the sacred, and Mass attendance continues to fall, with little prospect of significant improvement. Modernist forces largely control the Church's institutions, and authentic doctrine tends to be poorly communicated. On the last page of The Desolate City, Anne Roche Muggeridge ends her disturbing book about the state of Catholicism with a plea:

Catholicism is dying. If the Church of Christ is to survive as a visible light to the world, there must be, there will be, a Catholic counter-revolution. In God's good time. May it be soon. [3]

The fact that evolutionary philosophy had an extremely bad impact upon Catholicism has been recognized by Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Addressing members of the European Doctrinal Commissions held near Vienna in May, 1989, he asked where the difficulties lay which people have with the Faith today, and he went on to discuss the roots of the problems.

He spoke of the almost complete disappearance of the doctrine of Creation and its replacement by a secularized philosophy of Evolution. The resultant decline also meant that the figure of Jesus Christ was reduced to a purely historical person. The Cardinal stressed his concern that a renewed Christianity could only be accomplished if the teaching on Creation is developed anew - "such an undertaking ought to be regarded as one of the most pressing tasks of theology today."

But what actually is "Evolution"? Because of widespread confusion about its true meaning, a definition of terms is important:

  • Evolution is a molecules-to-man natural transformation in which new, "higher" genetic information is gained which was not possessed by one's ancestors. However well or poorly grasped in detail, the idea of change to something vastly different (e.g., reptiles supposedly changing into birds) is the understanding now commonly held across society.
  • Natural Selection is not Evolution. New, higher genetic information is not gained, but instead tends to be lost; at best, Natural Selection only conserves existing genetic information in life forms.
  • Variety within kind is not Evolution. The wide variety found within each "kind" of creature or plant, due to reshuffling of genes (recombination), should not be confused with Evolution, because new, higher genetic information is not gained in the process giving rise to variety.
  • Change of an ecosystem is not Evolution. Changes of faunistic and floristic composition which occur either progressively (in succession) or after a catastrophe (e.g., a forest fire) do not involve evolutionary change.
  • Growth to maturity is not Evolution. The normal pattern of growth from conception to adult (e.g., seeds growing into mature plants or trees) involves an unfolding and change of shape and size, but new, higher genetic information is not gained in the process.
  • "Theistic Evolution" is not Evolution. Ironically, this concept is forced to abandon natural Evolution and resort instead to innumerable divine interventions. (It necessarily rejects the global Flood of Noah and holds that violent bloodshed and death were always part of the "good" Creation, irrespective of the sin of Adam.)

Prior to the pro-Creation stance of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church (in which the word "evolution" was not specifically mentioned even once), the last major pronouncement made by the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church, affecting Origins, was in the encyclical Humani Generis, issued by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

Since then, scientific research has gained many new insights as a result of an immense amount of new discoveries in many disciplines - including biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, geology and astronomy. It is now known, with a high degree of certainty, that the Creator's design of DNA will not allow natural Evolution to occur.

The Catholic Church teaches that the rational souls of Adam and Eve were created by God in acts of special creation, but Pius XII (Humani Generis -1950) taught that Adam and Eve were real human beings, the first parents from whom all of mankind have descended; they are not symbolic representations of mankind. Most importantly, he did not ex cathedra declare Evolution as the official teaching of the Church. He did, however, allow discussion between specialists about the possible evolution of the body of Adam. The research has taken place, but full discussion within the Church has not yet occurred.

What is there to fear from truth? It is time for views other than those of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Biblical Commission to be heard.

The Catholic Church can never teach that Eve's body evolved, nor tamper with the doctrine of Original Sin. And yet, despite the instructions of Pius XII to the contrary, Evolution is being presented, one-sided, virtually as fact in many Catholic academic institutions. This censorship ensures that the vital doctrine of Original Sin is not imparted in all its rigor.

Since most textbooks and TV documentaries take for granted that Evolution definitely occurred, it is hardly surprising that many individuals accept Evolution without question. In reality, not only are the required intermediate forms between the various species absent from the fossil record, but also many such supposed forms are conceptually untenable. Evolution Theory now stands exposed as both the worst mistake made in science and the most enduring myth of modern times. Though many still believe that Evolution has been proved, the arguments in support of it have been shown to be untenable. Evolution is portrayed as a fact to be believed rather than as hypotheses to be tested, but its crucial mechanism continues to be ever-elusive. Ironically, if Evolution cannot occur, there is no mechanism to find!

(The notion of ongoing Creation, where parents are seen as co-partners with God in the creation of new human beings, is not at issue here. Nor are we trying to determine what God could have done. Rather, we seek to understand what He actually chose to do in implementing Creation. One profound reason why God would not use a method of naturalistic Evolution is that it could convey the mistaken idea that matter is eternal and thus there is no need for God.)

Evolution beliefs may have had little impact on the doctrinal beliefs of many people, but for many others belief in Evolution has led directly to a loss of Christian faith. If natural Evolution is accepted as historically true, this belief can lead to confusion about the Fall of mankind. There is now a widespread impression that the concept of Original Sin is only religious "myth," devoid of genuine historical reality, which has been exposed by theologians. Without the Fall, the idea of redemption and a Saviour makes little sense, and one's faith is undermined.

Contrary to the views of most naturalistic evolutionists, it is indeed fully scientific to deduce the existence of a transcendent Creator. But faith in the Creator-God is itself a mysterious gift from God, and so disbelief in Evolution will not necessarily result in conversion to Christianity. Nevertheless, a widespread recognition that Evolution is myth is important to achieve throughout secular society.

In addition to this, however, is the fact that the secular humanist beliefs which dominate modern society cannot be effectively countered unless the basics of doctrine are once again proclaimed in schools and from pulpits. A clear grasp of Origins is of crucial importance to both the recovery of nerve and the very teachings to be imparted.

From a Christian perspective, should the Faith as handed down by the Apostles be retained, or should it be overturned to conform with the scientifically unsupportable evolutionary world-view? For the Catholic Church, there are two clearly incompatible alternatives at issue:

  • Evolution really did take place; the first books of the Old Testament contain errors and are only religious "stories"; Adam and Eve are symbolic terms for the many early evolving human beings; and Scripture is now open to radical revision, despite 2,000 years of consistently held beliefs handed down from Christ.
  • Evolution did not take place and was not part of the method chosen by God during His creation; the first books of the Old Testament contain a blending of both natural (i.e., true) history and religious truth, with no errors whatsoever; Adam and Eve were the first two human beings created by God, and interpretation of Scripture can never be open to radical revision.

Terms such as "evolutionist" and "creationist" are, of course, very simplified labels and their use can give rise to confusion. Like political labels, they are used out of convenience to categorize a range of personal views and general concepts broadly representative of a movement or a coalition of interests. As with political parties, individuals on all sides may differ substantially on a number of specific points while nevertheless sharing a broad overall position.

Evolutionists disagree substantially about the elusive yet-to-be-discovered mechanism of Evolution, but almost all of them agree on an age of billions of years for the Universe. On the other hand, those who believe in Special Creation agree that Evolution cannot occur, but they tend to disagree substantially about the age of the Universe. In the writer's opinion, the question of the age of the Universe cannot be left aside as though it is irrelevant.

  • The assumption of long ages is crucial to the insupportable idea of Evolution, and the growth in popularity of presumed eons of time has helped validate Evolution in the thinking of those who have not made a careful study of this theory.
  • This assumption of vast amounts of time involves concepts which ultimately challenge the teachings of the Catholic Church on death and secondary causes.
  • These inconceivable time-frames have to be read into Scripture against the majority opinion in Tradition from Church Fathers that the sacred writer(s) of Genesis (including God as the principal author) intended to assert a literal-as-given meaning for yom creation days of 24 hours.
  • Belief in an age of billions of years is, more than any other reason, the major factor preventing the truth of Origins from being taught rigorously in many Catholic educational institutions. This ensures that Genesis 1-11 remains widely regarded as virtually unbelievable mythology, explicable only by revisionist exegesis.

The question of "Age" should not be regarded as unimportant, nor should support for a "young" Universe be regarded as divisive. On the contrary, since Pope Leo XIII formally directed that the literal and obvious view must hold pride of place until rigorously disproved, those who support an age of billions of years have the onus of proof upon them to prove their case. Discussion of information on the question of "Age" is warranted and desirable within Catholic institutions. (Evolution has long been presented in the public arena as "fact" - even though the crucial mechanism of Evolution is missing - and so has the "fact" of a billions of years age for the Universe been presented as though beyond any credible doubt. Unchallenged acceptance of such "facts" has enabled some aspects of revisionist theology to appear credible to many in the Church.)

The Origins debate has often been portrayed wrongly as one between Christian "fundamentalism" and science à la the Scopes "Monkey Trial." Some perhaps do so in an attempt to control the debate agenda. [4] While atheists say that creationists' arguments are based on superstition, liberal Christians say they are based upon a simplistic, overly literal view of Scripture. Nevertheless, many highly qualified scientists, Christians and non-Christians, have pointed out fundamental flaws in Evolution Theory.

The concept of Special Creation holds that the elements and all living things were made by a Creator, who also revealed in Genesis a partial account - not a detailed scientific textbook - of the events of Creation. In addition to faith in God, scientists in their respective disciplines can investigate the empirical data and deduce that an intelligent Designer must have created the Universe.

Belief in Special Creation does not mean that Scriptural passages must be understood only in the literal-as-given meaning. Overall, however, the controversy over Genesis ought to be about which passages are not described by the sacred writer(s) in this literal sense.

There is much talk today about "myths" and "errors" in Scripture and much hostility to the idea that true history is described in Genesis. Many scholars, whether conservative or liberal, [5] tend to regard it almost exclusively in terms of supposed "salvation history" alone, with little or no place admitted for true history, and this attitude can easily result in acceptance of the idea that errors exist in Scripture. (The supposedly differing Creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 are not contradictory and indicative of errors, but are in fact complementary accounts.)

If even one aspect of liberal theology is accepted (e.g., that there are errors in the Bible), on what grounds then are liberal theologians to be rejected when they attempt to demolish such beliefs as miracles, the divinity of Christ and the Resurrection? Where is the consistency in that reasoning which accepts one revisionist aspect but rejects others? Why insist, for example, upon belief that angels rolled the rock away from Christ's tomb, and yet deny the historical reality of the Flood?

The idea that errors exist in Scripture, which has arisen from revisionist theories of Higher Criticism, did enormous harm to doctrinal beliefs. Revisionism is itself erroneous, by definition, because God is the Principal Author of Scripture. God is by nature Truth Itself and is incompatible with error and chaos.

Also, how can one justify the idea that God intended Genesis to be understood only in terms of supposed "religious mythology?" Though the laws of nature were not revealed and had to be discovered by human endeavor, information about the Creation events had to be revealed by God. There were no human witnesses to the Creation events, except to some extent Adam and Eve, and thus only the partial revelation by God in Scripture could provide man with some idea of what took place. Let us not forget that the divine Creator-Redeemer is an absolutely reliable eye-witness, incapable of deception!

Pope Pius XII was quite firm in his teaching that true history is described in Genesis, though not recorded in the way of modern historians, and Catholic Tradition right from the time of Christ has always upheld the historicity of Genesis. But many "conservative" Catholics tend to disregard Tradition and may be compromised with elements of Modernism because they are content to consign Genesis to the status of mythology, rather than defend its true historicity and foundational importance to the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

This attitude - however unintended in its effect on beliefs - is thought appropriate to ensure that Genesis cannot conflict with discoveries of modern science. (The cry, "Remember Galileo!" echoes on and on.) In reality, this attitude only ensures that Modernists go mostly unchallenged in their suppression of crucial Origins doctrine in schools and institutions of higher education.

The confusion over Origins and the foundational importance of Genesis lies close to the heart of the many problems in the Catholic Church today, and hinders a complete diagnosis of what has been amiss for many years. Until such matters are addressed fully, the harm coming from Modernist theology seems likely to continue unabated, and appeals for adherence to Church authority will be ignored.

The concept of Special Creation has not been tried and found wanting within the Catholic Church. It has been misjudged as little more than a simplistic answer to complex problems, and thus thought irrelevant and not considered seriously. Nevertheless, we live in an era when the very distinctiveness of Catholic beliefs in the modern world has been profoundly eroded, and doctrinal unity within the Church is now in a lamentable state. By "rediscovering" Creation doctrine in all its many features, there is nothing to lose and much to gain, because truth has a liberating and enlightening effect upon the human mind.

Let us hope and pray that the Magisterium (following the pro-Creation stance of the 1992 Catechism) will see fit soon to re-examine comprehensively all aspects relating to Origins, and that an encyclical will be issued, further clarifying relevant doctrinal beliefs.

After all, the Church founded by Christ is commissioned to work for the salvation of souls, and to promote truth irrespective of popularity. Any attempt to bring God the Creator back to center stage and facilitate moral renewal within this troubled materialistic world can only have good fruits. In contrast to the culture of death and violence which pervades the modern world, the rediscovery of the true story of Creation offers a beneficial impact upon both Church and society.

[1]. For the purposes of this book the capitalized word, "Origins," is used to designate "the origins of life as we now know it" for the sake of brevity and conciseness of meaning.
[2]. Peter Wilders, "Evolution: End of the Story?" Christian Order, April, 1990, p. 235.
[3]. Anne Roche Muggeridge, The Desolate City: Revolution in the Catholic Church (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1990), p. 237.
[4]. For example, those who believe in naturalistic philosophy often try to frame the terms of debate by claiming in effect that only their views are scientific. Other views which recognize the existence of God, or simply deduce the existence of an unseen designer, are dismissed by them as religious in nature and thus unscientific by definition.
[5]. It is acknowledged by the writer that terms such as conservative and liberal are very imprecise and can be misleading and unfair, since a wide range of views tend to be grouped together under one label. However, in the interest of brevity the following definitions are used in this book: Conservatives are deemed to be those who hold that the meaning of Scripture cannot be radically revised, and Liberals are those who regard it as being open to radical revision.

Copyright © 1999 by Gerard J. Keane, Tan Books and Publishers

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