Thursday, December 9, 2010

What if science contradicts scripture? What about evolution?

Question I was reading in your blog and you said that St. Augustine said that if science contradicts scripture then we need to re-interpret scripture. How can this be? What then is the Catholic Church's teaching on evolution? If everytime there is a new scientific discovery we have to re-interpret scripture, it seems to me like it won't be very long and scientific "proofs" (like in the 1960s how black people were scientifically proven to be dumber than white people because of their head shape) will contradict the entire bible, and then what?

Answer Evolution is the perfect example.

Evolution is science- not faith and morals. The Church- and indeed, even scripture- purport to be authorities on faith and morals, but not on science or history, or these other things which can be known without the dirrect inspiration of God. So if science were to 'prove' that evolution happened, then the Church would have no problem with that since it is very easy (in fact easier) to inrterpret the creation story in Genesis as poetry than as science or history.

Read Genesis 1, and you will quickly discover that it is written in a very poetic style, complete with repetion and timing, etc. A literal interpretation begs someimportant questions. If we were meant to believe that each day was a 24 hour time period, then how do we know this when there were no people to measure the time, and no sun to rise and set? If God told Moses that that is what happened, (which is what most literalists believe), well scripture also says that to God one day is like a thousand years, so who is to say that it was literally one day?

There are Christians, and even Catholics, who believe that the world is literally 6 thousand years old, and was created in 6 days. They have to account for things like dinosaurs and the extreme ages that people lived before thf flood, by what is generally considered to be 'pseudo science'- and claims that maybe dinosaurs were mostly killed off by the flood, but of course some God on tha ark (2 of each kind), but when the flood receded climate had changed so drastically that they couldn't survive, as the iceage was now started, so most dinosaus died out, but maybe the occaisional ones survived in Africa or Peru, where the Ice Age didn't effect the climate as much. Then some of Noahs decendents went to cold places, like England and America,
and became Cave Men, where as other people went to warm places where farming was possible, like Egypt and India and Babylon, and built great civilizations, so that these great civilizatioons and cave men lived on Earth at the same time. It is a facinating discussion, which I do not have time to delve into here. (Note the picture of the human riding a dinosaur, purportedly a 500 year old image from Peru)

Evolutionary scientists have a different bias. They want to explain the existence of everything, but cannot use anything imeasurable (science only deals with measurable things) so anything which is pure spirit, like God, is outside the realm of science. So they try to explain how everything got here but they absolutely cannot entertain the idea of God- so evolution is really the only theory that works.

So, literalists have to believe that everything in the bible is literal. Athiestic evolutionists have to account for the universe without the possibility of God. Catholics have the advantages of both schools of thought, without the dissadvantages. We are not required to believe that everything in the Bible was even meant top be taken literally, much less that it should be. the first 12 chapters of Genesis are generally considered to be possibly more myth than literal history. However, discerning what should be requires mature and honest inspection. If you read Lukes account of the story of Jesus, it is very obvious that it was meant to betaken literally, and as Catholics we obviously do take it literally. You can't lump the whole Bible into one genre of literature.

In short the Church does not have a teaching on evolution, excpet that it is a possible and highly respectable idea, because the Church is not and does not claim to be an authority on science. Incidentally, there were many who though a heliocentric (sun at the center) universe was contrary to scripture, and this is what caused some of the problems for Galileo. (The Pope he had a conflict with, though, just said he should present his views ballanced with the traditional view that Earth is at the center. Galileo refused, and effectively printed documents where the pope was being called a simpleton. The Pope was a worldly authority, so had him arrested. Galileo was never tortured, that's a myth.)

Science cannot possibly 'disprove' matters of faith and morals, simply because faith and morals are about things which are immeasurable, which science cannot deal with. So science and theology are 2 completely seperate disciplines, but they both lead us to truth. That is the Catholic standpoint- if it is the domain of science, listen to science, if it is the domain of faith and morals, listen to the Church. That way you get the fullness of truth!

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