Remember This Post 10 Years From Now

by Jimmy Akin

in Apologetics, Science

Lemaitre_University It may come in handy.

Here's why . . .

The gentleman on the left is Fr. Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest, physicist, and astronomer who happens to be "the father of the Big Bang." He was one of the first to publish in support of the idea of an expanding cosmos that took its start in a highly compressed state that Lemaitre referred to as a "primeval atom."

Einstein at first dismissed Lemaitre's hypothesis, which radically departed from the intuitions of physicists and cosmologists back then. But then Edwin Hubble's work backed up Lemaitre and Einstein reversed himself.


So why am I writing about this?


Partly just because I like science but also because there is an apologetic issue here.


Ever since the Big Bang theory has become widely accepted, it has been easy for Christians to point to the event as the start of everything and the moment of God's creation. It could be taken as a scientific validation of one part of the Kalaam cosmological argument for God's existence and thus as evidence for the Creator.


And maybe it is.


But maybe it's not.


For a time there was an alternative hypothesis that had a great deal of currency in scientific circles that maybe we lived in a gravitationally closed universe that oscillated between Big Bangs and Big Crunches and that the event that happened 13.5 billion years ago was just one of the cusps in an endless series of them, so that there was no ultimate beginning.


That view's stock fell precipitously a few years ago with the discovery that the universe is not just expanding but that it's expansion is accellerating due to what is now called dark energy, which actually makes up three quarters of all the mass-energy in the universe. 


Because the universal rate of expansion is increasing, it does not appear that gravity can close our universe and cause a Big Crunch, without which one leg of the oscillation cycle wouldn't be there.


Since the discovery of dark energy, Christian apologists have felt on particularly safe ground pointing to the Big Bang as the plausible moment of creation.


And even in the decades before we knew about dark energy, the idea of the Big Bang had so permeated modern Christian thought that it became very easy to read Genesis 1 and identify the Big Bang with the moment that God said, "Fiat Lux"–"Let There Be Light."


Though that's not actually the way Genesis depicts the beginning. 


Here's the way Genesis 1:1-3 reads:

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 
2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 
3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

See what I mean?

Light gets created in verse 3, but we already have a darkened universe–complete with waters–in verse 2. Then, as part of making the world a suitable place for habitation, God turns on the lights and starts making other changes, until everything is ready for man.

Either way, we shouldn't be too quick to try to fit the Big Bang into the framework of Genesis 1. As I've written before, Genesis 1 is best taken not as a chronological account of God's work but as a topical organization of God's work that structures the different categories of what God did around the framework of a week.

I think that's what the ancient author meant the original audience to understand by the text, as a careful reading of it shows.

But if we shouldn't try to fit the Big Bang into Genesis 1, can we at least point to it as the moment of creation from a scientific point of view?

T
here has certainly been a strong inclination on the part of many to do so. Pius XII had such an inclination, which caused Lemaitre to have kittens, afraid that the pontiff would try to do too much theologically with the concept. (
HERE and HERE.)

Hypothetically, we could identify the Big Bang as the moment of creation.

But hypotheses can have rival hypotheses, and we should try to test to see which hypotheses are more likely correct.

That's what the folks behind LISA are planning to do.

LISA–the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (INFO HERE)–is a set of satellites to be launched in the next decade or so. They will be placed in a massive triangular formation in space and connected by laser beams which will allow LISA to detect gravitational waves.

This will make LISA the largest gravitational wave detector in existence, powerful enough to detect events within a microscopically small fraction of a second after the Big Bang–far closer than we've been able to measure before.

Now here's the thing . . .

LISA is hypothetically able to find evidence that would allow scientists to distinguish between different pre-Big Bang cosmologies.

In other words, LISA may allow us to "look" beyond the Big Bang and "see" something there. For example, LISA might detect signs that the Big Bang occurred when two of the branes postulated by brane cosmology collided with each other. Or it might reveal evidence of a parallel universe that our universe budded off of.

Or it might reveal nothing of the kind, leaving the appearance that the Big Bang was, itself, Event One.

If the latter is the case then the apologetic use of the Big Bang will be strengthened, just like it was strengthened when dark energy was discovered, as competing hypotheses will be made less likely.

But the opposite could happen, too. The apologetic value of the Big Bang would be diminished if evidence emerges of a pre-Big Bang universe.

That's no threat to the Christian faith. The faith holds that God created the universe in the past but it does not require that the Big Bang represent the moment of creation. Christians held that there was a moment of creation for ages before the Big Bang emerged as a scientific hypothesis, and if it is later shown that the Big Bang was not the moment of creation then we can simply infer that the moment of creation was father back in time than that.

Christian faith is more than capable of surviving any such discovery.

However, in the short run it would shake some people up, just as it shook people up when modern paleontology and biology started to provide support for the theory of evolution.

It certainly helped, at that time, to point out that some authors had been writing about the compatibility of evolution and the Christian faith for quite a while. This wasn't a threat to the faith because it didn't contradict the faith.

The same thing is true for the idea that the Big Bang is not the moment of creation.

So remember this post ten or so years from now when LISA gets launched.

It may come in handy for someone you know.

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{ 168 comments }

Skygor April 26, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Though that’s not actually the way Genesis depicts the beginning.I wouldn’t consider that an issue since Genesis is composed of the Yahist and Elohists texts. There are two stories of Creation. The first two verses are part of the Elohist text, however they can be taken as a Creation story in of itself. Ancients are really big on introductions otherwise there wouldn’t be speeches on Berashith “created” or Menin “rage”. That little paragraph basically is a summary of the whole book of Genesis. Now toss in the Gospel of John’s intro Doxlogy and there is a forth story of Creation.

Michael April 26, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Despite the common atheist allegation that Catholic thought is proscribed, Catholics are in many ways intellectually freer than materialists. A Catholic can look at the Big Bang and entertain the possibility that there is or is not some material cause on the other side. A materialist atheist, however, must necessarily maintain that there is some material existence prior to the Big Bang, or else adopt the irrational position that something — or in this case, everything — comes from nothing. Of course, if he does that his whole faith in the veracity of science crumbles; and, moreover, he is merely the postponing of an inevitable conclusion. The seeming “constraints” of Catholic thought end up being ultimately freeing.

J.R. Stoodley April 26, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I’ve never heard of that the first two verses were from one source and the rest of Genesis 1 from another. Certainly I don’t see the implication that the rest of Genesis 1 being from the Yahwist as holding water as it uses “God” (I assume Elohim), rather than the Lord (YHWH).
In any case, I think meaning of the final, divinely inspired document should take priority over conclusions drawn from theories about the historical process by which it came about. The final product is the certain revelation of God that we have, with the Holy Spirit as it’s principle author. Reconstructions of documents that may have given rise to it through some process of editing or redaction is based on fallible human reason, and in any case the reconstructed documents are not what God gave to the world as public revelation by Apostolic times. That’s not to say we can’t learn anything heplful from that kind of scholarly study of the text, but the final form the text took must take precident in terms of faith.
Going with what the inspired text actually says in its final form, I think Jimmy’s right on the money with his interpretation of it as “a topical organization of God’s work that structures the different categories of what God did around the framework of a week.” We should not attempt to correlate the stages of creation in Genesis 1 with actual phases of the history of the universe. If we did so, even apart from considerations of the first three verses, it would suggest that there were for example plants before the sun and birds before reptiles.
Concerning the science, this is all really cool stuff. I agree we should be open to both possibilities, that the Big Bang was the true origin of the universe or that it had some material cause.
The one place I would differ substantially from Jimmy is his statement “if it is later shown that the Big Bang was not the moment of creation then we can simply infer that the moment of creation was father back in time than that.”
I don’t know a lot about physics and scientific cosmology, but my impression is that it is uncontrovercial that time began with the Big Bang, as did space. If there were a material cause to the big bang it could not exist “further back” in time as we know it. Rather, it must be material causation somehow outside of time. That’s a difficult concept to get your head around, but I don’t think it’s impossible. We already have the precident of the Trinity for causation distinct from time, though obviously this is a very different case, involving the infinite Creator instead of finite creation. But even if we discover finite causation of the universe outside of time, the string of logical causation can not stretch back infinitely. The First Cause arguement would remain intact. Indeed, further, I can’t imagine (though maybe someone else can) anything other than some either complex or simply reality of physics “prior” to the big bang/begining of time, all its causation happening “simultaniously”, and this reality of physics would be what caused the singularity that exploded in the big bang. Whether human beings ever fully understand it, there must be some complete explanation of that complex (and therefore finite) reality of physics causing the singularity (if it existed/exists at all), which then leaves unanswered the question of what caused that reality of physics, or why is there anything instead of nothing.

J.R. Stoodley April 26, 2009 at 11:40 pm

As an aside, it makes me happy this blog is still around and maybe even picking up a bit, at least in terms of posts by Jimmy if not in absolute number of posts. I was afraid it was being phased out, but it seems to have stabilized into a new slower paced, three major bloggers mode of operation. Nice.

Tim J. April 27, 2009 at 5:29 am

“I wouldn’t consider that an issue since Genesis is composed of the Yahist and Elohists texts…”
The JEDP theory (or whatever they call it nowadays), though plausible, is as tenuous as the Big Bang theory. It’s a THEORY. It doesn’t help to assume that we know more than we do about the origins of Genesis.
There are two differing accounts of creation right off the bat in Genesis, but it has been in its presently known form for an awfully long time.
Those who compiled and edited it (to the extent it was compiled and edited) apparently saw no great contradiction in the differing creation accounts.

Howard April 27, 2009 at 5:30 am

St. Augustine dealt with this issue better than anyone else I’ve read. But whatever the “waters” were, remember that there were waters “above the firmament”, which itself includes the sun, moon, and stars.

SDG April 27, 2009 at 6:42 am

Balanced, clear, helpful analysis. Vintage JA.
More later.

Opey April 27, 2009 at 7:22 am

Can you clarify something regarding Einstein’s acceptance of this? It was written in This Rock, I will link if need to, that Einstein applauded his, Fr. Georges Lemaitre, explanation. Can you give us some background on this? Is the second explanation the one he, Einstein, applauded or what?
Thanks for this, btw.

Ed April 27, 2009 at 7:29 am

It should be noted that Pius XII (or XI? I think XII) was going to do exactly what you did: equate the big bang with the moment of creation. Lemaitre specifically requested that he not do this, offering that science and faith were trying to answer two different questions. (Plus, just imagine how quickly things were changing in physics back then!)
This is referenced in a recent issue of Homiletics and Pastoral Review. March or April, I believe.

Barbara April 27, 2009 at 8:04 am

St. Augustine dealt with this issue better than anyone else I’ve read.
Which of his writings address the issue of creation? I’d like to read more. Thanks!

The Masked Chicken April 27, 2009 at 8:13 am

Dear J. R. Stoodley,
You wrote:
I don’t know a lot about physics and scientific cosmology, but my impression is that it is uncontrovercial that time began with the Big Bang, as did space.
Actually, that is very controversial. Modern cosmology is very dependent on the particular structure of space/time that one assumes. Quantum theory uses a quantized version of space; string theory uses a topologically quantized version of space (actually, if I understand correctly, each string theory assumes a structure of space/time and then does the calculations by way of perturbation expansions); foam theory uses quantum foam to represent space, etc.
In the old days (when physics was simpler, sigh), it used to be understood that our physical theories broke down at what is called the Planck Time: 5.39124(27) x 10^-44 sec. This is the smallest possible time unit that can be measured if the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is correct. Thus, in a sense, we cannot know what happened in the interval between the supposed Big Bang and the first Planck Time. I do not know how String Theory gets past this limitation (not my area of Quantum Mechanics), so I cannot comment on it. If any physicist in the crowd wants to take a crack at explaining it, be my guest. At a meeting of astronomers in Rome back in the 1980′s (?), then Pope John Paul II warned physicists about possible hubris in looking into these matters. If someone wants a link, I will try to find one (I first read about this in a biography of Stephen Hawking).
Here is a link to a String Theory site (the Wikipedia article is too tedious to read) and there are many pro and con blogs in the current “String Wars,” between physicists.
What I want to know is if the LISA program will be followed up by a Holographic M-Brane Exploration Researcher or HOMER, d’oh…
The Chicken

Carolyn E. April 27, 2009 at 8:50 am

In my humble opinion, The Big Bang Theory and Theory of Evolution have been gateways for Catholics and other Christians to put more faith in science and less faith in God, the Creator. This is not to say that I disbelieve the merits of the theories; it is just my observation of the behavior of some people. The Truth is best known and appreciated with sincere prayer – and therein, perhaps, lays the problem – too little prayer and too much desire to be our own “god.”

Mike April 27, 2009 at 9:27 am

TMC,
Interesting, wouldn’t indeterminacy at Plank time refute the Kalaam argument since it is impossible to know what happens past time 5.39124(27) x 10^-44 sec?
It doesn’t really matter though, since there are many versions of the cosmological argument that don’t rely on temporal causation to prove the existence of God. Maybe the Kalaam version attempts to go too far in this respect.

The Masked Chicken April 27, 2009 at 9:47 am

Dear Mike,
Planck Time does not seem to contradict the Kaalam argument, since all it provides for is a gap in time from the Big Bang until the first measurable instant in time. There could be a beginning, but the particular structure of the universe does not allow us to trace time back to it. We run into a brick wall at the Planck Time, but that doesn’t mean there is a “something” (beginning) behind it.
The Chicken

J.R. Stoodley April 27, 2009 at 10:58 am

Chicken,
I’m too stupid to understand string theory, so bear with me. I’m just a humble biology student, and get lost below the molecule scale or beyond the biosphere.
Are you saying there could be time before the big bang, which was the idea I was criticizing, or is your issue that time should be considered to have a starting point in some sense “after” the big bang, such as one Planck Time after the Big Bang (I don’t understand how this would be the starting point of time though, just the first moment in time that can be spoken of as happening after another moment, but the first moment in that sequence would properly speaking be the begining of the time sequence, that point which all history exists after and none before, right?) Or is it a question of whether time should be considered to have a starting point at all?
Also I’m afraid I don’t understand how different hypothetical structures of space-time effect this issue.

Tim J. April 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

This is probably chasing rabbits unnecessarily, and please excuse my ignorance, but…
I’m sure lots of people have already thought of this, but how are we certain that the red shift associated with astronomical (deep space) objects is caused by movement away from us?
I know that movement causes shifts in the spectrum (it would have to, because of the way the light spectrum works), but I guess what I’m asking is, though movement (of an object moving away from us) might always cause red shift, does red shift necessarily always have to indicate movement?
Could the red shift be caused by… I don’t know, some kind of temporal distortion that increases with distance?
In other words… what if the universe is not expanding in the way we think?
Perhaps someone could explain why this is dopey without being too unkind (use small words)… :-)

Dan April 27, 2009 at 11:42 am

Jimmy,
Have you read this: Two Against the Big Bang
It’s about Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge and the Steady State model of the Universe… it’s a couple years old now, but it’s stuck with me… Burbidge was never a “Big Bang” advocate and believes that dark matter is just another nail in the Big Bang coffin — in other words, Big Bang doesn’t fit the observations and scientists are creating things that don’t exist (dark matter) to make it fit.
It’s a nice article about scientific consensus, as well…
- Dan

Rick DeLano April 27, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Hi Jimmy!
I will certainly remember your post, especially since WMAP has already provided us with strong evidence that your Big Bang is the myth, at least as presently constituted, even with all of its inflation/MACHO/WIMP/Dark Matter/Dark Energy epicyclical folderol attached.
A cursory glance reveals your inclusion of several of these pseudo-entities, which have not been shown to exist anywhere apart from the blackboards and/or digital computers of theorists relentlessly attempting to save the appearances of today’s Ptolemaic contraption (just to remind folks that all of these notions which are tossed around so self-assuredly are in reality nothing but mathematical fudge factors):
1. “an expanding cosmos”
2. “a primeval atom.”
3. ” the event that happened 13.5 billion years ago”
4. “it’s expansion is accellerating due to what is now called….”
5. “dark energy, which actually makes up three quarters of all the mass-energy in the universe”
6. “the discovery of dark energy” (LOL! There has never been any such “discovery”, James)
7. “gravitational waves”
You say:
“Though that’s not actually the way Genesis depicts the beginning.
Here’s the way Genesis 1:1-3 reads:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
See what I mean?”
Oh, I do I do I do, James, and it’s even worse for you, once the truly clever reader notices that the Earth is created before the stars.
In ten years, WMAP will have blown the entirety of “Inflationary Big Bang” cosmology apart (it has actually done so already, it’s just that folks have a right to look at data as shocking as WMAP for a few years before admitting they got the whole thing wrong).
Anyway, if you don’t like any aspect of modern cosmology, James, stick around and in ten years they will have an entirely new one for you.
Eventually we will see that the Author of Genesis had it right, and you had it wrong :-)

bill912 April 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm

What authority can you cite to shore that *your* interpretation of Genesis is right, and all others wrong?

Jimmy Akin April 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Who is this “James” you keep referring to?
BTW, please reference RULE 1.

The Masked Chicken April 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Dear J. R. Stoodley,
You wrote:
Are you saying there could be time before the big bang, which was the idea I was criticizing, or is your issue that time should be considered to have a starting point in some sense “after” the big bang, such as one Planck Time after the Big Bang (I don’t understand how this would be the starting point of time though, just the first moment in time that can be spoken of as happening after another moment, but the first moment in that sequence would properly speaking be the begining of the time sequence, that point which all history exists after and none before, right?) Or is it a question of whether time should be considered to have a starting point at all?
Yes, there could be time before the Planck time, but not before the Big Bang (if there were one), since time would be marked from that point. Planck Time governs when the ability of physics to make measurements breaks down. Time may still exit for that microsecond after the Big Bang, but we would not be able to measure it.
Now, if the Big Bang is encapsulated within a secondary process (Brane-Brane interaction or oscillatory steady-state theories, for example), then time could exist independently of the Big Bang. This quickly gets into philosophical deep waters and I have to get to class, so maybe, I will pick this up, later.
Tim J.,
Red shift is related to a general property of wave behavior – the Doppler shift. Yes it does mean the object is moving away (must be careful to define the reference system correctly). More, later.
By the way, Fred Hoyle was the biggest proponent of the steady-state theory of cosmology. If I am not mistaken, he became heavily Christian in later life (no time to check…someone correct, please).
The Chicken

SDG April 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Oh, I do I do I do, James, and it’s even worse for you, once the truly clever reader notices that the Earth is created before the stars.

Not to mention day and night, morning and evening, before the sun.
But the fact that you think that achronological details somehow tell against Jimmy’s reading shows that in your eagerness to pounce you haven’t taken the time to understand Jimmy’s favored interpretation, which is precisely that Genesis isn’t trying to set forth a chronological account.

Mary April 27, 2009 at 12:59 pm

St. Augustine dealt with this issue better than anyone else I’ve read.
Which of his writings address the issue of creation? I’d like to read more. Thanks!

The concluding chapters of Confessions talk about Genesis.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 27, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Tim Jones wrote:
>
> I’m sure lots of people have already thought of this, but how are we
> certain that the red shift associated with astronomical (deep space)
> objects is caused by movement away from us?
On the one hand, if a scientific theory can be ruled out but never ruled
in, then the certainty to which you allude would seem to be forever out
of reach.
On the other hand, even if we cannot ever know any scientific theory to
be the true description of reality, a good scientific theory, whose
predictions are consistent with new observations over a long period of
time or within a certain range of experiments, can be a very useful tool
for organizing a conception of the universe.
In any event, the short of it is that the supernova data look quite
compelling. A Type Ia supernova is bright enough to detect from the
edge of the observable universe and seems always to have the same
intrinsic brightness. The relationship between the apparent brightness
and the redshift of Type Ia supernovae fits very nicely a curve that one
would predict from a standard hot big-bang model with a nonzero
cosmological constant (dark energy) term.
> I know that movement causes shifts in the spectrum (it would have to,
> because of the way the light spectrum works), but I guess what I’m
> asking is, though movement (of an object moving away from us) might
> always cause red shift, does red shift necessarily always have to
> indicate movement?
This is an interesting question.
In a standard hot big bang model, the systematic increase of redshift
with distance is not due to any motion of galaxies through space. The
redshift is rather due to the expansion of space itself, as if new space
were being created between every pair of objects, and the amount of new
space being created per unit time were proportional to the separation
distance between them at a given time.
It is common knowledge that, according to Einstein’s special theory of
relativity, an object cannot travel through space faster than the speed
of light; in fact, an object with nonzero mass cannot even achieve the
speed of light.
This is still the case in the general theory of relativity, which is a
theory of gravity. That is, in general relativity, in each local region
of space, two objects with mass cannot have a relative velocity equal to
or greater than the speed of light. When applied to the universe as a
whole, and with beautifully simple starting assumptions, general
relativity provides the various big-bang models. In these big-bang
models, however, two distantly separated galaxies can recede from one
another at what, in some sense, amounts to a speed much greater than the
speed of light. In a big-bang model, the apparent recession speed is
essentially proportional to the distance, and one can easily consider
the sphere whose radius is large enough so that everything on the
surface of the sphere is receding from the center of the sphere at the
speed of light. This is known as a Hubble sphere.
For the Hubble sphere centered on the Earth, light traveling in our
direction from a galaxy on the surface of the sphere is not coming any
closer to us because that light is keeping the same distance while
swimming upstream against the Hubble flow of the expansion. For
galaxies farther away than the surface of the Hubble sphere, light that
is trying to travel toward us is actually receding from us because the
Hubble flow is faster than the speed of light. What’s going on in the
model is that, while the increase in distance per unit time between two
galaxies might amount to a number faster than the speed of light, every
galaxy’s motion through local space is much slower than the speed of
light. Both effects (the expansion of space and a galaxy’s motion
through space) contribute to the observed redshift.
One might notice that, in a big-bang model, this talk of moving through
space might imply that there is an absolute standard of motion. There
is. At each point in space, an object can be considered stationary when
from that object’s point of view the temperature of the cosmic microwave
background (CMB) is the same in every direction. (Of course, there are
small-scale features on the CMB, but you could define a stationary frame
by a zero dipole moment on the CMB.) As the Earth orbits the Sun, for
example, there is a seasonal variation in the dipole moment of the
temperature across the sky in the microwave background.
> Could the red shift be caused by… I don’t know, some kind of
> temporal distortion that increases with distance?
One can consider such hypotheses, but every such hypothesis has
consequences in what it predicts we ought to see in different
experiments. So far as I am aware, certain variations on the standard
hot big-bang model are the simplest models that agree with all of the
observations.
> In other words… what if the universe is not expanding in the way we
> think?
Oh, we’ll never know everything about the universe. It will forever be
different from what we think it is.
> Perhaps someone could explain why this is dopey without being too
> unkind (use small words)… :-)
Your remarks are most certainly not dopey, at least not from my point of
view. :^)

Rick DeLano April 27, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Chicken says:
“But the fact that you think that achronological details somehow tell against Jimmy’s reading shows that in your eagerness to pounce you haven’t taken the time to understand Jimmy’s favored interpretation, which is precisely that Genesis isn’t trying to set forth a chronological account.”
Jimmy can interpret as he likes, I am interested in what the Author of Genesis asserts. The Author of Genesis asserts that “In the beginning”……..that would be, before what happens AFTER the beginning, yes? God created the heavens and the Earth.
Since the Author of Genesis asserts that God created other things- indeed, the Author asserts that these things were created after that beginning, it seems that so novel an “interpretation” as one which asserts that Genesis isn’t setting forth a chronological account-despite the Author’s choice of language that necessarily involves, precisely, a chronological account (“in the beginning”….”and there was evening and there was morning, Day One….Day Two”)- so novel an “interpretation”, I say, ought either bring with it:
1. Solid affirmation from Scriupture, Tradition, the Fathers, and the Councils of the Church of All Ages, or
2. Irrefutable scientific proof.
I submit that Jimmy is bereft of both, and hence his interpretation is….well. Perhaps not as solid as the Catholic would prefer :-)

John April 27, 2009 at 3:10 pm

One utterly important thing, especially for Catholics:
There can be no scientific proof which could contradict unanimous teaching of The Fathers (which is teaching of The Church) or any dogma or any condemnation of false teaching since that would mean that The Church, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), erred.
And since The Church is always led by The Holy Spirit it would be a blasphemy implying that The Holy Spirit erred.
So The Church (the following doesn’t hold true for some of its members!) never errs and it is a dogma of Catholic faith.
For practical questions regarding inerrancy of The Church read about the rule of St. Vincent of Lerins on e.g. New Advent web-site.

Michael April 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Masked Chicken,
Hoyle never became Christian. He did end up rather critical of Darwinism, however, and supported the theory of panspermia, suggesting that life on Earth was the creation of some other intelligent life form(s) in the universe.

The Masked Chicken April 27, 2009 at 6:24 pm

I did not make the remarks you referenced to me. That was SDG.
Thomas Vaughn,
You wrote:
(Quoting Tim J.) Could the red shift be caused by… I don’t know, some kind of
temporal distortion that increases with distance?(End Tim J. Quote)
One can consider such hypotheses, but every such hypothesis has
consequences in what it predicts we ought to see in different
experiments. So far as I am aware, certain variations on the standard
hot big-bang model are the simplest models that agree with all of the
observations.

One of the more intriguing suggestions is that the speed of light is not a constant, but actually changes as a result of distance. That would sort of be what Tim J. is getting at, I think. I don’t know of any experiments aimed at testing the theory, however.
I have a question. You wrote:
The redshift is rather due to the expansion of space itself, as if new space
were being created between every pair of objects, and the amount of new
space being created per unit time were proportional to the separation
distance between them at a given time.

Expansion according to some power law, obviously. The Wikipedia articles on the FLRM solution to Einstein’s equations is sketchy, at best,
My question: doesn’t this solution run into quantum mechanical problems near the beginning of the evolution of the universe? It assumes no quantum fluctuations immediately after the Big Bang (hence an isotropic universe). Is the slight anisotropy in the COBE measurements due to this initial quantum fluctuation?
The really nice quote by Lemaitre when he was appointed to be on the birth control panel at Vatican II (!!):
However, as he could not travel to Rome because of his health (he had suffered a heart attack in December 1964), he demurred, expressing his surprise that he was even chosen, at the time telling a Dominican colleague, P. Henri de Riedmatten, that he thought it was dangerous for a mathematician to venture outside of his specialty.
Would that scientists felt this way, today.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken April 27, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Dear Rick DeLano,
My comment to you got cut off, above.
I am not the author of the remarks you referenced to me. That was SDG.
The Chicken

J.R. Stoodley April 27, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Rick,
First of all, as you may realize by now, Jimmy’s real name is currently Jimmy, not James. See the permapost (link on the left-hand side of this page) entitled “Jimmy vs. James” for the whole story.
Regarding Genesis, I really don’t see how a totally literalistic view of time duration is necessary to interpret the story. Really, such an interpretation would be impossible to maintain for both the first and second creation stories, at least without extremely convoluted interpretation. For example, Genesis 2 says Adam was created before any shrub or grass had sprouted, while Genesis 1 gives plant life being created before Adam. One could propose something like God created the first seeds of the plants before Adam but didn’t have them germinate until after Adam, but to me that seems to be trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
Here’s my thoughts. First, remember that God ultimately acts outside of time. A given action may apply to one point in time or another, but for God it’s all equally present “at once”. Therefore any “order” of actions for God can perhaps better be conceived of in terms of logical order rather than temporal order. To take an example from the inner life of God (theologia) rather than his external actions (oikonomia), we can speak of the Father “first” existing of his own nature, “then” the Son being begotten by the Father, “and then” the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, but in reality all three divine persons are coeternal. The order of procession is merely a logical one.
The “order” of Creation given in Genesis may be seen somewhat analogously. First, before any language in terms of days, we have simply the creation of the universe, with the image of watery chaos current in that culture to express the simple fact of the existence of the universe, apart from any order in that existence.
Next, we have a series of dichotomies or realms introduced, three in number. First, light vs. dark. Second, sky vs. what is under the sky. And finally, the land vs. sea dichotomy is introduced, but since the second day’s dichotomy was already expressed in terms of water this third day’s dichotomy is expressed in terms of the creation of land, or indeed of the entire terrestrial landscape including plants.
Then we have the individual creatures characteristic of each dichotomy given, admittedly a bit roughly. First, corresponding to the light vs. dark dichotomy, are made the sun and moon to “rule” the day and the night, as well as the stars. Second, corresponding to sky/under the sky dichotomy, are the birds and fish. Finally, corresponding to the addition of land into the picture, the land animals are added, including humans.
Did the original human authors or the hypothetical redactor(s) fully understand the theology about God’s actions being outside of time, probably not. But that does not mean that either author or redactor intended to attribute a specific historical, temporal series actions to God. The use of clearly non-literal language of days and evenings and mornings before the creation of the sun and the redactor’s apparent lack of concern for seeming contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 is enough to strongly suggest some level of abstract thought on the part of the people responsible for the current text. What is most clear is that the author is asserting that God is the creator of the universe in it’s totality through his sheer all powerful word, both its general realms or dichotomies of reality and of its individual creatures, and also the true bringer of order out of chaos (as opposed to Baal Hadad, whom the Canaanites believed had defeated Yam, the sea serpent representing primeval chaos).
That’s not as clear or developed as I’d like it to be, but it will have to do for now.
As for your rigorist criteria, I think they are unnecessary and would stifle the honest pursuit of truth. At least one major Father, St. Augustine, did not take the six days literally, seeing them all as referring to a single instantaneous action. His interpretation was not exactly what I have laid out above, but it helps support the possibility and orthodoxy of that general sort of approach. It’s only in the last century or two that scientific knowledge has advanced to the point that overly literalistic readings of Genesis are demonstrated to be untenable, hence the shift towards more abstract interpretations.
This is an advancement of theology brought about by new secular knowledge and the new challenges and questions that knowledge has caused to arise. It is a refinement, in light of these new challenges and the legitimate conclusions of science, of how we interpret and represent the unchanging deposit of faith which, a refinement that does not depart from that deposit but rather clarifies it. The kind of absolute “proof” you seem to require to accept the conclusions of science are impossible to give by the scientific method, while unanimous and clear, uncontrovercial support from Scripture and all ecclesial sources of authority are not to be expected in the case of any legitimate theological development at the time it is arising. What we should expect if a theological development is legitimate is a positive or at least tolerant attitude towards it by the living Magisterium, and the shift towards less historically literal interpretations of Genesis definitely seems to have tremendous (though non-binding) support by the bishops of the Church including all recent Popes, from even before Vatican II.

J.R. Stoodley April 27, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Chicken,
Thanks for the clarification.

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 12:34 am

Chicken says:
Rick,
First of all, as you may realize by now, Jimmy’s real name is currently Jimmy, not James. See the permapost (link on the left-hand side of this page) entitled “Jimmy vs. James” for the whole story.
>>Sincerely, no disrespect intended. Jimmy it is.
C: Regarding Genesis, I really don’t see how a totally literalistic view of time duration is necessary to interpret the story.
>>I am interested only in what the Author asserts. With respect, opinions are all, insofar as they are opinions, equally worthless. The Church received a Revelation from God, and it interprets that Revelation not according to the best opinions of the most recent scientific theories, but according to what has been believed always, everywhere, and by everyone.
I note first that it has always been believed by everyone, everywhere, that Genesis was a straightforward, chronological, and more-or-less literal recounting of the acts of God in creation.
It is only in the post-Relativiity era that Catholic commentators have found themselves re-interpreting Genesis to fit the scientific consensus.
I submit that said scientific consensus- the Big Bang- is wrong, or at the very very least highly questionable. Therefore it seems to me that we have no reason at all to abandon the interpretation of Genesis that has been believed always, everywhere, and by everyone since the beginning of the Church.
That interpretation is, overwhelmingly, literal and chronological.
C: Really, such an interpretation would be impossible to maintain for both the first and second creation stories,
>>There are not two creation stories. There is one Toledeth at Genesis 2:4, which concludes the generations of the heavens and the earth. There is a second Toledoth at Genesis 5:2, which concludes the generations of Adam.
The notion of “two creation stories” is a consequence of botched modern Scripture scholars who neglected to adequately grasp the custom in clay-tablet writings of the ancient Middle East to CONCLUDE, rather than introduce, a genealogy with a Toledoth.
The alternative to the above is the heretical notion that Scripture contradicts itself. No Catholic would ever swallow such a notion, not even if it were advanced by heretics enjoying many initials after their names and prestigious positions at putatively Catholic institutions (may God have mercy on their Bishops).
C:at least without extremely convoluted interpretation.
>>What is extremely convoluted, is the interpretation that God contradicted Himself in the first two chapters of His Holy Scriptures. Once the principle of the Toledoths of Genesis (please google) is grasped, the Csatholic solution to the modern, prideful, anti-Catholic Scripture “scholarship” can be readily grasped.
Trust me, if some academic tells you Scripture contains two contradictory creation stories, know for a fact that the academic is wrong.
We know this because God is the Author of Genesis, and academics, unlike God, are capable of six errors before breakfast.
C:For example, Genesis 2 says Adam was created before any shrub or grass had sprouted, while Genesis 1 gives plant life being created before Adam.
>>No. Genesis One recounts the creation of the heavens and the earth (See the toledoth at 2:4). It is the seeds which are created in Genesis 1. The subsequent blossoming forth of those seeds is first reported in Genesis 1 in the context of the “heavens and the earth”, and in Genesis 2 is recounted in the context of the creation of Adam.
There is no contradiction whatever.
C:One could propose something like God created the first seeds of the plants before Adam but didn’t have them germinate until after Adam, but to me that seems to be trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
>>With all due respect, what “seems to you” is a matter of perfect indifference to the Catholic, when presented with a choice between the alternatives that:
1. Chicken doesn’t correctly understand the structure of Genesis, or else
2.God contradicts Himself in the first two chapters of Genesis.
The Catholic has no difficulty at all in selecting the first alternative, and prays sincerely for those who do not, especially since these are imposing a contradiction on Scripture which does not in fact exist.
C:Here’s my thoughts.
>To the extent that they are Catholic, I am delighted to receive them. To the extent they are not, I am delighted to refute them in charity.
C:First, remember that God ultimately acts outside of time.
>>Bunk. “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son.” This gift occurred in time, at a specific time in fact, and this Act of God is most certainly NOT “outside of time”.
C:A given action may apply to one point in time or another, but for God it’s all equally present “at once”.
>>Nevertheless, it is present IN time AT ONE TIME. Christ’s birth is not “present at all moments of time”. Christ’s birth occurs at precisely ONE moment of time.
C:Therefore any “order” of actions for God can perhaps better be conceived of in terms of logical order rather than temporal order.
>>With respect, this is balderdash. God did not create Christ before Adam, since it would “logically” have seemed better to prevent the consequences of Adam’s sin. Christ enters the world temporally, not merely logically, after Adam.
C:To take an example from the inner life of God (theologia) rather than his external actions (oikonomia), we can speak of the Father “first” existing of his own nature, “then” the Son being begotten by the Father, “and then” the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, but in reality all three divine persons are coeternal. The order of procession is merely a logical one.
>>Alas for your hypothesis, the birth of Christ is a temporal, not merely a logical, event, and hence your entire argument falls apart.
C:The “order” of Creation given in Genesis may be seen somewhat analogously.
>>>Since your analogy is already disproved above, it holds no water here.
CL:First, before any language in terms of days, we have simply the creation of the universe, with the image of watery chaos current in that culture to express the simple fact of the existence of the universe, apart from any order in that existence.
>>God chose those words, Chicken, and they express precisely what they say: The Earth was without form and void.
C:Next, we have a series of dichotomies or realms introduced, three in number. First, light vs. dark. Second, sky vs. what is under the sky. And finally, the land vs. sea dichotomy is introduced, but since the second day’s dichotomy was already expressed in terms of water this third day’s dichotomy is expressed in terms of the creation of land, or indeed of the entire terrestrial landscape including plants.
>>So? All of this is temporal, and there is no evidence whatsoever that it refers to anything “outside of time”. Apart, of course, from the perceived need of the Big Bang Theorist to artificially harmonize Scripture with a dying scientific theory.
C:Then we have the individual creatures characteristic of each dichotomy given, admittedly a bit roughly.
>>Imagine that. God, I am sure Chicken will forgive You for having inspired Your author so roughly. I am sure Chicken will not hold this roughness against You, since Chicken has some way to make it all smooth outside of time, or something…….
C: First, corresponding to the light vs. dark dichotomy, are made the sun and moon to “rule” the day and the night, as well as the stars. Second, corresponding to sky/under the sky dichotomy, are the birds and fish. Finally, corresponding to the addition of land into the picture, the land animals are added, including humans.
>>No, C. God is telling you exactly what He did. You simply have a terrible time believing Him. This is not God’s problem, as we have seen above in your allegation of a contradiction in Genesis.
It is your problem.
C:Did the original human authors or the hypothetical redactor(s) fully understand the theology about God’s actions being outside of time, probably not.
>>Certainly not. They, unlike you, were inspired in what they wrote and hence utterly free of elementary errors such as yours above, regarding God acting “entirely outside of time”.
C:But that does not mean that either author or redactor intended to attribute a specific historical, temporal series actions to God.
>>C, God is the Author of Scripture. It will help you a great deal to internalize this dogma.
The use of clearly non-literal language of days and evenings and mornings before the creation of the sun
>>The only thing clear above, is your predisposition to ascribe to Scripture your own prejudices. The Church knows nothing whatsoever of your novelties here, and indeed how could she? Your notions are clearly erroneous and predicated upon an inability of God to inspire His human authors with precisely what He wanted said.
The Catholic can only pray for you to receive divine Faith in this regard.
C: and the redactor’s apparent lack of concern for seeming contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 is enough to strongly suggest some level of abstract thought on the part of the people responsible for the current text.
>>Either that, or a determination on your part to find contradictions where none exist, so as to open the door to your fantastic notions about Scripture and God, notions unknown to the Fathers, the Doctors, the Councils, or the Popes of all ages.

John April 28, 2009 at 5:00 am

It is a heresy to insist on interpretation of The Holy Scripture other than The Fathers of The Church have interpreted it through all ages.
Such a person is not a Catholic i.e. member of The Church even if he is convinced he is.

The Masked Chicken April 28, 2009 at 5:02 am

Dear Rick DeLano,
The author of the post is below the post. I have not written either of the two posts you attributed to me. PLEASE, BE MORE CAREFUL. I realize this is your first few visits to Jimmy’s site, but I can’t answer (nor should I) for things I haven’t written. Would others, here, point this out to him if it happens, again? Thanks.
The Chicken

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 7:29 am

I am sorry for my repeated inaccurate attributions to Masked Chicken! How incredibly frustrating it would be to have someone repeatedly misidentify me on a website……while I know of no way to correct this, I do apologize to Masked Chicken and render assurances that even I now get it.

Tim J. April 28, 2009 at 7:44 am

“I note first that it has always been believed by everyone, everywhere, that Genesis was a straightforward, chronological, and more-or-less literal recounting of the acts of God in creation.”
That is just false. As an article at This Rock points out (which you can find here… http://www.catholic.com/library/Creation_and_Genesis.asp);
“The writings of the Fathers, who were much closer than we are in time and culture to the original audience of Genesis, show that this was not the case. There was wide variation of opinion on how long creation took.”
Origen had this to say;
“I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance and not literally”
And Cyprian;
“The first seven days in the divine arrangement contain seven thousand years”
So, the non-literal interpretation of Genesis has been around as long as the Church (longer, actually). Catholics are not required to believe that the writer of Genesis is asserting what you seem to think he is asserting.

pseudomodo April 28, 2009 at 8:47 am

Jimmy,
I came upon an interesting book by Dr. Gerald Schroeder who is an M.I.T. trained physicist now living in Israel. He has a jewish take on the sciences as referenced in Scripture; ie the age of the universe. His obvious position is that in Genesis, religion and science are not necessarily in conflict.
http://www.geraldschroeder.com/age.html
It is a relativly short read and I would appreciate your comments.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 8:59 am

The Chicken wrote:
>
> My question: doesn’t [the FLRW] solution run into quantum
> mechanical problems near the beginning of the evolution of the
> universe?
Of course. A model based on the FLRW metric is an expression of
classical general relativity.
> It assumes no quantum fluctuations immediately after the Big
> Bang (hence an isotropic universe). Is the slight anisotropy in
> the COBE measurements due to this initial quantum fluctuation?
Presumably, every anisotropy in the CMB (except for the dipole
moment anisotropy) is due to quantum fluctuations in the early
universe. At least, with the theory that we have, that seems a
good way to account for them.
The FLRW metric derives from only the simplest assumption: that,
at any time in the evolution of the model universe, the density
of matter and energy is the same at every point in space. Such a
model in the early 20th century predicted a uniform microwave
background, which was observed in the late 1960s by Penzias and
Wilson.
The model would apply to the universe as we see it today at the
largest scales, even though there are observed substantial
deviations from homogeneity on scales at least as large as 100
megaparsecs. (The Earth, for example is a lot denser than
interplanetary space in the Solar System.) The idea is that, if
one were to take a sufficiently large box, say a gigaparsec on a
side, and place it at several different random locations in the
universe, and if, at each location, one were to measure the mean
density of matter and energy in the box, then the standard
deviation of those measurements would be small.
Observations of the microwave background imply that the standard
deviation of those gedanken measurements would approach one part
in a hundred thousand of the mean value as the box grows to the
scale of the last-scattering surface, from which the image of the
microwave background presumably originates.
In any event, it is remarkable that so many things come together
in such a simple model. The large-scale behavior is described by
classical GR. Density fluctions are set up in the earliest
universe due to QM, but those fluctuations cannot grow until the
universe cools enough.
Before decoupling of the radiation from the matter (around
100,000 to a million years after the beginning) when the
primordial hydrogen and helium (that was formed by nuclear fusion
by about three minutes after the beginning) were still ionized,
density fluctuations propagated like undamped sound waves.
After decoupling, when the universe more or less simultaneously
became transparent as the temperature cooled to allow all of the
electrons to combine with hydrogen and helium nuclei, the density
fluctuations began to collapse locally via gravity into
structures (galaxies and stars) that we see around us today.
The standard-candle behavior of the Type Ia supernovae is very
nicely described by the classical GR model based on the FLRW
metric.

Mrs. Rene O'Riordan April 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

When Jesus turned water into wine is it not correct to say He made something that had to have a number of years in it. It was the “best” wine therefore it had to have been matured – by time. So Jesus kinda created something old. Time is a created thing so the Creator can create something old. – Blessings – Rene

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 10:45 am

The Chicken wrote:
>
> One of the more intriguing suggestions is that the speed of light is
> not a constant, but actually changes as a result of distance. That
> would sort of be what Tim J. is getting at, I think. I don’t know of
> any experiments aimed at testing the theory, however.
As I understand it (though it’s been a few years since I’ve read in
detail about it), the problem with this has to do with fine-tuning. It
is well known that the fundamental physical constants appear to be very
finely tuned, so that if one of them (such as the speed of light) were
to change by only a tiny amount, then the universe would look quite
unlike what we see and, in particular, would be incapable of supporting
life as we know it. Strange things like that main-sequence stars would
not be able to form or not have long, stable lifetimes. Or that
molecules would all be unstable, etc.
I seem to recall that there are fairly tight observational limits on how
much the fine-structure constant has changed over the last several
billion years, but I’m not up on that literature. (In fact, I’m not
really up on any literature. :^) One can get at the fine-structure
constant by looking at spectral lines in the light from galaxies at high
redshift.
I suppose that there might be a set of constants that could all change
together in concert, in a very finely controlled way, in order to give
the effect of the apparently cosmological redshift and without also
messing up other things that we see, but I’m not aware of it.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

Mrs. Rene O’Riordan wrote:
>
> When Jesus turned water into wine is it not correct to say He made
> something that had to have a number of years in it.
That is a fascinating question.
When tasted at the wedding, the best wine would at least *seem* to have
existed for much longer than for the few minutes that had passed since
the Lord brought it into being. A miracle like this is not an ordinary
process. In fact, a miracle *presupposes* the ordinary processes of
nature against which the miracle stands, specifically so that the
extraordinary can be the occasion for the revelation of truth to the
mind of man, who is designed to be surprised by the extraordinary.
> Time is a created thing so the Creator can create something old.
That’s a very interesting comment.
On the one hand, if God creates something old, then it really is old.
So if God creates the universe to be old, then it really is. As you
noted, even time is a creature, and so there is a sense in which
creation of the universe applies equally to all times. It seems likely,
from the observational evidence and our theories that fit the evidence,
that God is right now creating an old universe, sustaining it in being,
and it really is old.
On the other hand, certainly the Creator can create something that
merely *appears* to be old. However, if this appearance applied to the
universe as a whole, then it would not be extraordinary. In fact, it
would be a deception, but God neither deceives nor can be deceived. A
miracle is not a deception because the way in which it obviously stands
out from the ordinary makes clear that something interesting has
happened.
If the entire history of the universe appeared by the observational
evidence to have proceeded in a way completely other than what actually
happened, then that would seem not to be a miracle but to be a
deception. God certainly could have created everything only starting
yesterday, with all of our memories of our childhoods already fully
formed. But God is Truth, and there is plenty of revealed Truth in
Genesis, even quite apart from interpretations in which the words are
taken to indicate sequences in time. For example, we learn from Genesis
1 that there is a Creator who is all good and creates only good things.
In the next chapter, we learn that evil comes into the physical world
not because God created evil but because Adam and Eve sinned in their
physical bodies.

Tim J. April 28, 2009 at 11:54 am

Indulge my ignorance once more, please…
“One of the more intriguing suggestions is that the speed of light is not a constant, but actually changes as a result of distance. That would sort of be what Tim J. is getting at, I think.”
I don’t think I was really thinking of the speed of light actually changing, only that our perception of the spectrum (and maybe other things) might be distorted by (for lack of a better term) the curvature of space, so that as objects get further away from us, they appear to be “rolling downhill” (as it were) and so appear to be speeding away from us even though they really are not.
Not that I have ANY IDEA how or why this might be so!

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Tim Jones wrote:
>
> I don’t think I was really thinking of the speed of light actually
> changing, only that our perception of the spectrum (and maybe other
> things) might be distorted by (for lack of a better term) the
> curvature of space, so that as objects get further away from us, they
> appear to be “rolling downhill” (as it were) and so appear to be
> speeding away from us even though they really are not.
Well, a model for redshifting (and blueshifting) is that some process
stretches out (or compresses) an electromagnetic wave. According to
special relativity, if an object that emits a light wave is receding,
then the relative motion of the object and the observer causes the wave
to become stretched. According to general relativity applied to the
whole spacetime that is initially uniform in its matter and energy
density, if an object and the observer are stationary with respect to
the CMB but are far enough apart, then the expansion of the universe
stretches the wave enough to be detected.
Since Hubble’s observations of 1929, many a person has tried to come up
with a theory by which Hubble’s redshift-distance law could be explained
by some mechanism other than expansion of the universe. A famous
attempt is the theory of “tired light”. There have also been
alternative theories of gravity put forth; that is, alternatives to
general relativity. The problem is that each of these alternative ideas
can always (so far as I have seen) be ruled out by some observations
that are inconsistent with the theory.
It is useful to note that general relativity has so far no observations
to rule it out. Moreover, it makes accurate predictions of the results
of a wide range of different experiments: from the appearance of the
location of a star when it is close to the Sun on the sky, to the rate
at which the orbit of a binary neutron star system decays, to the
precession of the perihelion of Mercury, to the observed redshift law
for distant galaxies. The list goes on. If you try to invoke a theory
that solves the redshift problem in some other way, then what will you
do about the other things so well described by GR?

The Masked Chicken April 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Dear Tim J.,
I did not mean to put words in your mouth. I was just trying to get a handle on what you meant.
It is interesting to think of how GR and QM (quantum mechanics) might be reconciled in the future, but alas, I probably won’t be around to see it. We have been living off of the capital from the early 20th-century in physics for almost 100 years (the nucleus was discovered in 1911 and the Bohr Atom in 1912). I keep telling my students that both quantum mechanics and general relativity were worked out with slide rules! We have become somewhat spoiled by the success of physics and more recently, biology. We sometimes forget just how ingenious those guys back then really were.
The Chicken

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm

To Tim J:
Thanks for bringing up Origen, since I think this great man of God presents a very apt historical personification of the same kind of difficulty the Church presently faces in the “New Theology”, particularly as this applies to the interpretation of Scripture.
First off, let it be recalled that Origen is not a Doctor of the Church. Origen is not a Father of the Church. Origen is not a saint. And yet, at the time of his earthly life, Origen was a giant among the Greek Fathers. No one in the Church was more respected or beloved. His erudition was simply unmatched.
Yet, not a Father, not a Doctor, not a Saint.
Why?
Then as now, the Church was confronted with an awesomely beautiful, powerful, and persuasive system of thought, one which had been deeply embedded in the cultural matrix of the Greek world, and one which presented the Catholic with both challenges and opportunities with regard to evangelization.
Origen was a brilliant Platonist, and his love for that system led him, alas, to choose Platonism over the literal meaning of Scripture in, apparently, at least one crucially important controversy- the question of the eternity of Hell and the eternity of the punishment of the damned.
For Origen, such a notion was incompatible with his Platonic orientation, and hence he advanced the idea that, in the end, all rational souls, having shared the same beginning, would share the same end, i.e. they would be saved.
Note well, he was WRONG.
It was not until several centuries after his death that the Church formally condemned this notion (and since this and similar Platonist-influenced heresies were condemned under the broad term “Origenism”, we begin to see why Origen is not the fellow you want to lead off with when attempting to establish the orthodoxy of a given point of doctrine).
It is true that Origen was not a formal heretic.
It is also true that Origen held and aggressively defended an erroneous doctrine, and one which was ultimately condemned.
In much the same way, moderns often try to appeal to the fact that the Church has not formally condemned this or that novelty as evidence of said novelty’s validity.
Let us never forget that what has been believed always, everywhere, and by everyone can never be condemned.
Origen departed from this rule, convinced of his superior knowledge, and fell.
One might almost think of Origen as the Karl Rahner of his time, except Origen deserves much better than that.
Now. If you mean to argue that the Church has always entertained as a possible interpretation of Genesis, that it is non-chronological, and metaphorical, and doesn’t really express the literal truth of God’s act of Creation, then you are simply wrong, and the fact that you can only evince Origen in your defense is clear evidence of just how wrong.
Your citation of Cyprian is, alas, laughable. Cyprian is not saying that the Six Days of Genesis took six thousand years. He is saying that the pattern of Six Days of Creation has an analogous pattern in six subsequent thousand-year periods of history.
So.
If you believe Genesis to be some non-chronological metaphor of arranging of pairs of dichotomies, be good enough to admit that your interpretation is a modern novelty, utterly without precedent or support in Tradition, and that it is advanced precisely because one accepts a later, scientific theory as being superior in reliability to what the Church has always and everywhere believed.
Sort of like Origen.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm

The Chicken wrote:
>
> We have been living off of the capital from the early 20th-century in
> physics for almost 100 years (the nucleus was discovered in 1911 and
> the Bohr Atom in 1912).
Many (but not all) of the theoretical advances in the early 20th century
were prompted by the fact that the results of experiments were not
predicted by the best theories. Fundamentally new theories were
required to explain phenomena that were otherwise completely
inexplicable. The ultraviolet catastrophe of the blackbody radiation
curve comes to mind. As does the double-slit experiment for electrons.
Part of the reason for our lack of fundamentally new theories for a
hundred years is, it seems to me, that our current theories are so very
good at predicting the results of experiments. Instead of having to
produce fundamentally new theories, we can get by most of the time by
zeroing in on values for adjustable parameters (like the dark-energy
cosmological constant) in the current theories.
Of course, there have been some really fundamental advancements, as in
the electroweak theory that unifies electricity, magnetism, and the weak
nuclear force. There is also the standard model of particle physics,
which, I think, was not well established with its quantum chromodynamics
until the 1970s.
The apparent discovery of the mass of the neutrinos and the theory of
neutrino mixing are perhaps not fundamental, but they really tie in
nicely, strangely enough, with boosting confidence in models of stellar
interiors; after all, the observed neutrino flux from the core of the
Sun now seems well understood, I think.
Similarly, the detection of neutrinos from Supernova 1987a is, in my
opinion, one of the most amazing scientific observations in the
twentieth century. It’s up there, in my mind, with the detonation of
the first atomic bomb and the observation of GR’s predicted deflection
of the image of a star near the Sun on the sky. Models of core collapse
in a giant star predicted a burst of neutrinos as the solar-mass iron
core collapses to a kilometer-sized ball of neutrons as dense as the
nucleus of an atom, and such a burst appears to have been detected
simultaneously by two different groups on Earth, from a supernova that
exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It is just absolutely a triumph
of theoretical astrophysics.
Anyway, I think that you are right, but it is very hard to improve on
what already works.

Tim J. April 28, 2009 at 2:24 pm

“If you mean to argue that the Church has always entertained as a possible interpretation of Genesis, that it is non-chronological, and metaphorical, and doesn’t really express the literal truth of God’s act of Creation, then you are simply wrong, and the fact that you can only evince Origen in your defense is clear evidence of just how wrong.”
I found the Catholic Answers article in about a minute. I’m sure other examples could be found throughout Church history. My point in presenting Origen’s statement was to demonstrate that your claim that a straight literal reading of Genesis has been “believed always, everywhere, and by everyone” in the Church is simply false, which it does prove.
May I point out that it is fallacious to implicitly condemn Origen’s opinion on the interpretation of Genesis based on another of his opinions on an unrelated subject (the eternity of hell)?

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Rick DeLano, this time it was not Tim J. but J.R. Stoodley.
By the way, are you familiar with St. Augustine’s interpretation of
Genesis 1:1? I’m under the impression that Augustine did not veer from
a certain sense of chronological interpretation but did at least stretch
the time out a bit.
It is also good to review at least the first couple of paragraphs at
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07310a.htm#meaning
if you haven’t already.
I am curious: Do you have any particular point to advance with respect
to the scientific theories advanced to explain what we see with
telescopes?

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Thomas Vaughn wrote:
“Presumably, every anisotropy in the CMB (except for the dipole
moment anisotropy) is due to quantum fluctuations in the early
universe. At least, with the theory that we have, that seems a
good way to account for them.”
Could you address how the quantum fluctuation knew to align the CMB in a dipole, quadropole, and octopole alignment with….ahem….what your team would call the “solar ecliptic”?
Longo (2007) provides some rather dauntingly low probabilities for this alignment to have been due to any random cause, certainly including a quantum fluctuation occurring before cosmic inflation.
In other words, it seems the CMB is oriented with respect to one specific, unique place in this Universe.
It is certainly interesting, is it not, that this one place happens to be the place Genesis says was created in the beginning, along with the heavens :-)
Remarkable indeed, if the quantum fluctuation would have known to orient the CMB with respect to something that allegedly would not come into existence until 9 billion years after the fact, I think.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Rick DeLano:
I meant in my last post to point out that the dichotomies were brought up by J.R. Stoodley, but you seemed to attribute them to Tim J.

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Tim J writes:
I found the Catholic Answers article in about a minute.
>>It is neither a Father, nor a Doctor, nor a Council, nor a Pope exercising his magisterial authority. I reiterate: you will find no Father, no Doctor, no Council, no Pope exercising his magisterial authority teaching that Genesis is a non-chronoligical, metaphorical pairing of dichotomies.
The reason for this is that no Father, no Doctor, no Council, no Pope ever believed it.
Therefore, if you wish to believe it, please be assured that what you believe is a novelty, unknown to the Church of all ages. My point about Origen is, that it is unwise to select a man who departed from the faith once received in order to embrace a system of worldly knowledge, as your exemplar of precedent for an interpretation of Genesis unknown to the Church.
It should probably be pointed out that your interpretation is unknown even to Origen, by the way :-)
TIM:I’m sure other examples could be found throughout Church history.
>>You might indeed be sure, but you are also wrong. I invite you to try and find one example of Genesis interpreted as non-chronological metaphorical pairing of dichotomies from any Father or Doctor or Council or Pope.
You won’t.
Tim: My point in presenting Origen’s statement was to demonstrate that your claim that a straight literal reading of Genesis has been “believed always, everywhere, and by everyone” in the Church is simply false, which it does prove.
>>Your choice of Origen, whose excessively-allegorizing Scriptural exegetical methods were formally condemned by a Council of the Catholic Church, as an example of your interpretation’s “validity”, proves rather a great deal more than I expect you were hoping it would.
What it certainly does not prove, is that your interpretation of Genesis has any support from any Father, Doctor, or Council or Pope.
That is because your interpretation in fact does not have any support from any Father, Doctor, Council, or Pope.
TIM:May I point out that it is fallacious to implicitly condemn Origen’s opinion on the interpretation of Genesis based on another of his opinions on an unrelated subject (the eternity of hell)?
How about based on the formal condemnation of Scriptural allegorizing known as “Origenism”? Would that work for you?

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm

To Thomas Vaughan:
Augustine was all over the map on Genesis. As a good Catholic, he strove mightily to find a literal interpretation, and like many other good Catholics, he foundered upon some point or other (for Augustine, it was the creation of the angels).
But never did he attempt to propose an interpretation over and against the mind of the Church, and his interpretation is utterly inconsistent with the modern “it is a non-chronological metaphorical pairing of dichotomies” gambit.
I am very familiar with the decrees touched upon in the newadvent piece. I do not, obviously, declare anyone a heretic for disbelieving a literal six day creation. I merely point out that the literal six day creation is overwhelmingly attested to by Scripture, the Fathers, the Doctors, the Councils, and the Popes.
It is, therefore, a heavy burden of proof that the would-be “updater” must bear.
I intend to do my best to see that it is in fact borne :-)
Needless to say, I am not at all persuaded by the “non-chronological metaphor pairing of dichotomies” interpretation being retailed here.
As for the earlier reference to the CMB, I merely point out that the CMB is not isotropic, as Big Bang theorists initially predicted it would be.
I also point out that the anisotropies are not random, but are specifically aligned with respect to one, unique position in the cosmos.
That position happens to be, remarkably enough, Earth (or, for all you good Copernicans, “the plane of the solar ecliptic”).
These facts are so shocking to the astrophysics community, that papers concerning this anomaly are regularly published at arxiv.org, referencing the phenomenon as the “Axis of Evil”.

John April 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm

If there are new issues like Big-Bang thus not decided by The Church (either by definitions, condemnations or constant and unanimous (or virtually unanimous) teaching of men led by The Holy Spirit – The Fathers, The Doctors, The Saints) then one is free to have his own opinion as long as the matter is not decided.
But when it is decided one can choose to accept the decision of The Church and keep the faith or to accept it not and become a heretic i.e. stranger to The Church as heathens are (Matthew 18:17). Unlike Big-Bang theory, chronology or not of Genesis 1 has long been decided on.
So, it is very shameful to see such a discussion regarding chronology of Genesis 1 when there is infallible decision of The Church available.
It could be that we have non-Catholics who intentionally provoke contentions regarding chronology of Genesis 1 thus scandalizing all readers as if Catholics contended each other like heretics do.
If Catholics are doing this it is inevitable that they will pay even greater price than non-Catholics for scandalizing readers with their private and erroneous opinions not caring what The Church has always unanimously (or virtually unanimously) and thus infallibly taught on the subject by The Holy Spirit working in holy men.
This warning holds true for everything else related to Catholic faith and teachings of The Church.
Rick follows teaching of The Church i.e. of Christ when defending chronology of Genesis 1 and, of course, deserves praise and reward for that.
People who oppose him do not oppose him but oppose The Church and The Christ he follows and deserve the opposite.

Michael April 28, 2009 at 3:47 pm
Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> Could you address how the quantum fluctuation knew to align the CMB in
> a dipole, quadropole, and octopole alignment with….ahem….what your
> team would call the “solar ecliptic”?
First of all, I am not a member of any team studying cosmology. I do
have a Ph.D. in astrophysics, and I did study cosmology in graduate
school, but I have for some years worked in the aerospace industry. So
I’m not up on all of the latest stuff.
Second, my reference to the dipole moment in the temperature
distribution on the CMB involves only the idea that there is a rest
frame in which the dipole moment is zero. In any event, there is always
some locally inertial frame in which the dipole moment is zero. :^)
Third, I’m not aware of any substantial alignment of the CMB
fluctuations with the ecliptic. One might expect some systematic error
component of survey data in the ecliptic, just because there’s a lot of
local material there. Similarly, microwave surveys will be hampered by
systematic effects due to the plane of the Galaxy.
Fourth, there is some evidence, apparently, for an axis in the CMB
fluctuations; moreover, there is some evidence that galaxies have spin
alignments that correlate with this axis substantially. There are some
interesting theories that explain this, but these observations don’t rule
out the standard hot big bang model.

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm

While the above link is defective, one can access it by inputting the title into Google.
One sentence leaps right out at one :-)
“Catholic creationists often claim that Catholics who seek to be faithful to the Catholic tradition need to interpret the six-day creation account of Genesis in its “literal and obvious sense” as most of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church had done.”
Now, I have much more respect for those modernists who openly and honestly acknowledge the inescapable truth that the overwhelming witness of the Fathers and the Doctors is to read Genesis in its “literal and obvious sense”.
In doing so, they provide the Catholic with a very clear warning that what they are about to propose DOES IN FACT represent a DEPARTURE from the faith once received.
I highly recommend both the article referenced, and this brilliant refutation by that mighty slayer of the Dual Covenant heresy, Dr. Robert Sungenis:
http://www.catholicintl.com/catholicissues/austraico-print.htm

Michael April 28, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Thomas:
I think the “team” Rick refers to is those of us who disagree with Ptolemy. He’s right about the axis of the CMB being aligned with the solar ecliptic. My bet is observational interference, but its so far unexplained. See here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernican_principle
Rick:
At the very least, it refutes your assertion that no popes have supported a non-literalistic reading of Genesis. No popes have insisted that Genesis cannot be read literalistically, sure, but Benedict XVI’s and John Paul II’s personal statements (e.g. “evolution is more than an hypothesis”) seem to indicate a preference for the non-literalist reading. If its good enough for the Pope, its good enough for me.
The Fathers’ theological points are spot-on and consistent. Their scientific interpretations of scripture, on the other hand, are based on the knowledge they had at hand, which has since been updated. Remember, it was the Augustine’s “scientific” discussions of ensoulment that got Pelosi in over her head. The Father’s theological points about abortion are solid, but their understanding of embryology was just plain wrong. But the point is, on matters of the Faith, their scientific errors don’t affect their theological authority, as long as you don’t confuse science and theology. Ten years from now, if the seeming alignment of the CMB turns out just to be an observational artifact, will you admit that you were making a argument about scripture on the basis of science that has since been disproved? Why can’t we do the same with them? The science has, and will, change. Interpreting scripture scientifically, then, either in support of or against a literal Genesis cosmology, is bound to be a dangerous effort.

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Thomas E. Vaughan writes:
First of all, I am not a member of any team studying cosmology. I do
have a Ph.D. in astrophysics, and I did study cosmology in graduate
school, but I have for some years worked in the aerospace industry. So
I’m not up on all of the latest stuff.
>>Well, I am a tenth grade dropout , but I will try to keep up. :-)
Second, my reference to the dipole moment in the temperature
distribution on the CMB involves only the idea that there is a rest
frame in which the dipole moment is zero.
>>It would be a lovely thing to be able to prove such an hypothesis. Obviously, since there is no dipole moment of zero observable from this particular location, nor from any sensor reporting to this location, your theory remains exactly that.
TV:In any event, there is always
some locally inertial frame in which the dipole moment is zero. :^)
>>Assuming the dipole is a result of motion, we can confidently assert that it is either the result of our motion with respect to the CMB at absolute rest, or else the CMB’s motion with respect to us at absolute rest.
Given the shocking alignments of the CMB- not just the dipole, but the quadrapole and octopole- with respect to Earth, do not be surprised to see a very marked increase in the fortunes of the latter hypothesis over the coming decade. Or two.
TEV:Third, I’m not aware of any substantial alignment of the CMB
fluctuations with the ecliptic.
>>You are now:
Longo, University of Michigan, 2007:
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0707/0707.3793.pdf
Excerpt:
“The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) studied the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation (G. Hinshaw et al. 2006). Their results for the angular power spectra
have been analyzed by Schwarz et al. (2004) and many others. Schwarz et al. show that: (1) the
quadrupole plane and the three octopole planes are aligned, (2) three of these are orthogonal to
the ecliptic, (3) the normals to these planes are aligned with the direction of the cosmological
dipole and with the equinoxes. The respective probabilities that these alignments could happen
by chance are 0.1%, 0.9%, and 0.4%. This alignment is considered to be so bizarre that it has
been referred to as “the axis of evil” (AE) by K. Land and J. Magueijo (2005). Their nominal
AE is at (l, b) ≈ (–100°, 60°), corresponding to (RA, ä) = (173°, 4°). The alignment with the
ecliptic and equinoxes is especially problematic because this would suggest a serious bias in theWMAP data that is related to the direction of the Earth’s spin axis, which is highly unlikely. ”
TEV:One might expect some systematic error
component of survey data in the ecliptic, just because there’s a lot of
local material there. Similarly, microwave surveys will be hampered by
systematic effects due to the plane of the Galaxy.
>>A perfectly reasonable initial response, one which was immediately advanced, and which has been very patiently, calmly, and effectively refuted. The “Axis of Evil” is, first, not the result of local moving structures:
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/0510/0510137v1.pdf
Did WMAP see Moving Local Structures?
Asantha Cooray, Naoki Seto
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, CA 92617
October 5, 2005The study you cite is specifically addressed, and shown to be unable to account for the observed anisotropy. The authors conclude:
“While the local anisotropy contribution peaks at low multipoles, for reasonable
models of the mass and velocity distributions associated with local super structures
we find that the amplitude of temperature anisotropies is at most at a level of 10-2
μK and is substantially smaller than primordial fluctuations. It is extremely unlikely
that the momentum density of local mass concentrations is responsible for any of the
large angular scale anomalies in WMAP data.”
Second, it is not the result of foreground contamination:
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0707/0707.3793.pdf
“The approximate agreement of the spin alignment axis with the WMAP quadrupole/ octopole
axes reinforces the finding of an asymmetry in spiral galaxy handedness and suggests that
this special axis spans the universe. The fact that the spin asymmetry appears to be independent of redshift suggests that it is not connected to local structure. On the other hand, the spiral galaxy handedness represents a unique and completely independent confirmation that the AE [Axis of Evil] is not an artifact in the WMAP data due to foreground contamination.”
TAE:Fourth, there is some evidence, apparently, for an axis in the CMB
fluctuations; moreover, there is some evidence that galaxies have spin
alignments that correlate with this axis substantially. There are some
interesting theories that explain this, but these observations don’t rule
out the standard hot big bang model.
>>But of course they do, once adequately confirmed. Big Bang Relativity is predicated upon homogeneity and isotropy, that is, no preferred direction or axis of either EM propagation or matter distribution. The Axis of Evil is, precisely, a preferred direction.

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Hi Michael!
M: Thomas:
I think the “team” Rick refers to is those of us who disagree with Ptolemy.
>>Actually, both Ptolemy and Copernicus wanted to learn about ellipses from Kepler, and so it is more accurately Tycho Brahe, suitably Keplerized, who captains your obedient servant’s team :-)
M:He’s right about the axis of the CMB being aligned with the solar ecliptic. My bet is observational interference, but its so far unexplained. See here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernican_principle
>>Not observational interference, please see arxiv.org links in response to Thomas above.
M:Rick:
At the very least, it refutes your assertion that no popes have supported a non-literalistic reading of Genesis.
>>No, it doesn’t. First, it reports the opinions of a Cardinal, not a Pope, and second, no statement of a Cardinal becomes magisterial upon that Cardinal’s election to the Papacy. It is about the grace of state. No Cardinal possesses the personal charism of infallibility. Every Pope does.
So, your above assertion is simply wrong.
M:No popes have insisted that Genesis cannot be read literalistically, sure, but Benedict XVI’s and John Paul II’s personal statements (e.g. “evolution is more than an hypothesis”) seem to indicate a preference for the non-literalist reading. If its good enough for the Pope, its good enough for me.
>>Since Pope Benedict and John Paul II expressly avoided making any such statements in documents with magisterial authority, it is rather important to pay attention instead to the pains which Pope Benedict, for example, took to explicitly DENY any magisterial authority to his recent book “Jesus of Nazareth”. I leave aside the question of whether it is good for Popes to explicitly renounce such authority. The fact is, no Pope’s opinion is EVER adequate to establish a dogma, or to overturn any doctrine of the supreme or ordinary magisterium. ONLY the Pope’s exercise of his magisterial charism can do that.
I repeat: No Pope has ever taught the Church any interpretation of Genesis involving notions about babylonian myth-refutation.
M: The Fathers’ theological points are spot-on and consistent. Their scientific interpretations of scripture, on the other hand, are based on the knowledge they had at hand, which has since been updated.
>>Umm, excuse me, there is NO scientific evidence which renders the literal obvious meaning of Genesis untenable. Therefore, it were highly inadvisable to surrender the faith once delivered everytime somebody comes up with a new cosmology, since this is done every century or less.
M:Remember, it was the Augustine’s “scientific” discussions of ensoulment that got Pelosi in over her head.
>>Quite to the contrary. It was Pelosi’s obdurate, decades-long public and obstinate rejection of Catholic dogma that got her in over her head. May God grant her repentance and conversion. Augustine never rejected Catholic dogma, and hence never got in over his head :-)
M:The Father’s theological points about abortion are solid, but their understanding of embryology was just plain wrong.
>>As is Barack Obama’s. The difference is, the Fathers had the Faith to keep them from the mortal sin of advocating the satanic murder of unborn children, apart from whatever their scientific understanding might have been.
Barack Obama lacks this, to his very great hurt. May God grant him conversion.
M:But the point is, on matters of the Faith, their scientific errors don’t affect their theological authority, as long as you don’t confuse science and theology.
>>It remains an open question as to which of us is confusing science and theology. I say that Scripture is inerrant in all that it asserts. If it asserts on matters touching science, it is inerrant in those as well. If you deny this, please be prepared for some heavy artillery :-)
M:Ten years from now, if the seeming alignment of the CMB turns out just to be an observational artifact, will you admit that you were making a argument about scripture on the basis of science that has since been disproved?
>>Why would I? My arguments about the CMB have not been in any way “based on” Scripture. They have been based on WMAP. Let me turn the tables: if in ten years WMAP is confirmed, will you admit that Galileo was wrong and Bellarmine was right :-) ?
M:Why can’t we do the same with them? The science has, and will, change. Interpreting scripture scientifically, then, either in support of or against a literal Genesis cosmology, is bound to be a dangerous effort.
>>The dangerous effort, Michael, is ALWAYS to surrender the Faith in light of the always-contingent hypotheses of natural philosophy.

Michael April 28, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Rick –
Thanks for the reply.
Yes, I was going to point out that nobody is a true Copernican even more, even helocentrists.
You’re right that no pope has made any dogmatic statement about reading Genesis as a cosmology, one way or the other. But the fact that recent popes haven’t done so is also telling. Clearly they were comfortable with non-literalistic readings of Genesis as compatible with orthodox faith.
Umm, excuse me, there is NO scientific evidence which renders the literal obvious meaning of Genesis untenable. Therefore, it were highly inadvisable to surrender the faith once delivered everytime somebody comes up with a new cosmology, since this is done every century or less.
Literal meaning, yes, I agree. Literalistic meaning, on the other hand, is possible only with scientific gymnastics and a cherry-picking of data which would make a yoga master gape. But that’s beside the point. Many of the Fathers’ scientific ideas are based on facts that are now known to be wrong, and they used those facts to interpret scripture. Who can blame them? Creation is the dogma the Scriptures and the Fathers taught, we agree on that. Literal, six-day creation is not.
As is Barack Obama’s. The difference is, the Fathers had the Faith to keep them from the mortal sin of advocating the satanic murder of unborn children, apart from whatever their scientific understanding might have been.
Of course, and that’s the point. Their authority is on matters of faith, not science. They were misinformed about the scientific nitty-gritty of embryology, though they had a true understanding of its essence. Might they not also be in the same boat about cosmology?
May God grant him conversion.
Amen.
(cont.)

Michael April 28, 2009 at 7:17 pm

(part 2)
Let me turn the tables: if in ten years WMAP is confirmed, will you admit that Galileo was wrong and Bellarmine was right.
No, because there are any number of explanations of the CMB axis that are compatible with Big Bang cosmology (even if not with the Standard Model), and it has absolutely nothing to do with Galileo’s thesis whatsoever.
I say that Scripture is inerrant in all that it asserts. If it asserts on matters touching science, it is inerrant in those as well. If you deny this, please be prepared for some heavy artillery.
I believe that scripture is inerrant too. I’m not lying when I say that I can see the sun setting outside my window now, but I am not making any scientific statements about it, even though I believe that scientifically it’s the earth’s motion, not the sun’s, that creates that phenomenon. The youth in 1 Kings 18:44 must have had awfully good eyesight to see out at sea a cloud “as small as a man’s hand.” I probably also ought to reinforce my roof since the Psalms say the earth is the Lord’s footstool. Or, maybe he was speaking about how it looked rather than scientifically describing its size, and the psalms are discussing God’s majesty, not his furniture. Scriptural statements are literally true, meaning, everybody gets the meaning, but the youth was not making a literalistic scientific statement about cloud dimensions, nor David about God’s ottoman.
Now these are the arguments with which you are undoubtedly familiar, and I would probably have to leave the rebuttals to those with more expertise than I, as I am not a scriptural scholar. It is clear, however, that the larger number of Catholic scriptural scholars, loyal to the magisterium, do not agree with your interpretation, popes included.
Augustine prefaces his writing on Genesis with this:
“It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.”
That kind of humility shows me that Augustine would be the first to amend an interpretation based on a faulty scientific understanding. What he would not abandon, and what none of us should abandon, is the beautiful scriptural truth of Creation of the universe by God and man’s place in it.
Thanks for the comments, God bless.

Tim J. April 28, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Rick DeLano,
You seem to think that I am advancing or defending some “non-chronological metaphor pairing of dichotomies” interpretation of Genesis.
I am not. I am not promoting any particular interpretation at all. I am only demonstrating that a straight, literalistic, six (24 hour) day, young earth interpretation is not now and has not been the only view of Genesis permitted by Church teaching.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> Now, I have much more respect for those modernists who openly and
> honestly acknowledge the inescapable truth that the overwhelming
> witness of the Fathers and the Doctors is to read Genesis in its
> “literal and obvious sense”.
I am not sufficiently familiar with the Fathers in general to dispute
this, but it is clear at least that St. Augustine admitted the
possibility of a very long period of time for the evolution of the human
body. In any event, such an admission is not the heresy of modernism,
for such an admission contains no denial of an essential teaching of the
Church.
> In doing so, they provide the Catholic with a very clear warning that
> what they are about to propose DOES IN FACT represent a DEPARTURE from
> the faith once received.
The departure from a common opinion of the Fathers, where it falls
outside the sphere of the Church’s magisterial competence (faith and
morals), is not a departure from the Faith. See, for example, the
beginning of Section 2 of Book 2 in Ott’s _Fundamentals of Catholic
Dogma_:
The Divine Work of Creation
CHAPTER 1: Revealed Doctrine concerning Material Things, i.e.,
Christian Cosmology
SS 11. The Biblical Hexahemeron (This Six Days of Creation)
1. General Principles
In order to solve the difficulties deriving from the apparent
contradiction between the results of natural science and the Biblical
narrative of the Creation, the following general principles are to be
observed:
a) Even though all Holy Writ is inspired and is the Word of God,
still, following St. Thomas (Sent. II d. 12 q. I a. 2), a distinction
must be made between that which is inspired per se, and that which is
inspired per accidens. As the truths of Revelation laid down in Holy
Writ are designed to serve the end of religious and moral teaching,
inspiration per se extends only to the religious and moral truths.
The profane facts of natural science and history contained in Holy
Writ are not inspred per se, but only per accidens, that is, by
virtue of their relation to the religious-moral truths. The data
inspired per accidens is also the Word of God, and consequently
without error. However, as the hagiographers in profane things make
use of a popular, that is, a non-scientific form of exposition
suitable to the mental perception of their times, a more liberal
interpretation is possible here. The Church gives no positive
decisions in regard to purely scientific questions, but limits itself
to rejecting errors which which endanger the faith. Further, in
these scientific matters there is no value in a consensus of the
Fathers since they are not here acting as witnesses of the Faith, but
merely as private scientists.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> Well, I am a tenth grade dropout, but I will try to keep up. :-)
Well, I am obviously the one trying to keep up. I hope that you will be
charitable. :^)
> Obviously, since there is no dipole moment of zero observable from
> this particular location, nor from any sensor reporting to this
> location, your theory remains exactly that.
The theory according to which the CMB’s dipole moment would be zero in
some reference frame is none other than special relativity, which
applies in every local region of a space described by general
relativity. According to special relativity, any motion with respect to
a background thermal radiation field will superimpose a dipole moment on
the temperature of the measured field. For the observed CMB, one just
has to measure the dipole moment and then move in the direction that
cancels the dipole moment.
> Given the shocking alignments of the CMB- not just the dipole, but the
> quadrapole and octopole- with respect to Earth, do not be surprised to
> see a very marked increase in the fortunes of the latter hypothesis
> over the coming decade. Or two.
Surely the dipole moment of the CMB observed from earth is not aligned
perpendicular to the ecliptic. After all, I recall that it took about
ten years after the discovery of the CMB before anyone saw any
anisotropy at all. The dipole was observed first, in the late 1970s,
because it is the largest term, but even the dipole’s magnitude was
tiny, around one part in a thousand (or smaller) in terms of
temperature. I seem to recall that there was nothing particularly
alarming about the Earth’s derived velocity with respect to the CMB
frame. It must rather be that there is some way to define a
“cosmological dipole”, with relatively small magnitude comparable to the
other cosmological anisotropies, but it is not obvious to me what that
definition would be. Perhaps there is some independent way of
determining the velocity of the local Hubble flow with respect to
another universal rest frame.
> But of course they do, once adequately confirmed. Big Bang Relativity
> is predicated upon homogeneity and isotropy, that is, no preferred
> direction or axis of either EM propagation or matter distribution. The
> Axis of Evil is, precisely, a preferred direction.
This effect is a feature in small perturbations superimposed upon the
basic homogeneity. Remember that the anisotropies in the CMB are down
around one part in 100,000 or smaller. Most likely, something like
this, if it holds up, would be used to constrain models of the scale of
the presumed inflationary period.
The presence of small inhomogeneities in the CMB, regardless of whether
they are aligned with the Earth’s orbital axis, does not rule out FLRW
models of the universe, just as the presence of inhomogeneities in the
galaxy distribution does not rule out FLRW models.
In any event, the Axis of Evil is very interesting, and I shall now be
trying to keep up better with the research regarding it.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> Actually, both Ptolemy and Copernicus wanted to learn about ellipses
> from Kepler, and so it is more accurately Tycho Brahe, suitably
> Keplerized, who captains your obedient servant’s team :-)
I feel really dumb. I have no idea what you are talking about.
> Umm, excuse me, there is NO scientific evidence which renders the
> literal obvious meaning of Genesis untenable. Therefore, it were
> highly inadvisable to surrender the faith once delivered everytime
> somebody comes up with a new cosmology, since this is done every
> century or less.
Well, it depends on what you mean by “untenable”. God can do anything,
of course, but the question is whether God would try to fool us by
making the universe appear as A while telling us via revelation that it
is in fact B, not A. But we already know that God is not telling us
that the world is B because in this case B is a scientific assertion,
and the Church has no authority to make positive scientific assertions.
> I say that Scripture is inerrant in all that it asserts. If it asserts
> on matters touching science, it is inerrant in those as well. If you
> deny this, please be prepared for some heavy artillery :-)
This is where you appear to go wrong.
(I desire only to be in communion with the Church and to defend her
teaching. In the next few sentences, I try to build an idea that I
believe to be consistent with the teaching of the Church, but I am not
an expert. If a competent authority representing the Church
demonstrated my error, then I would submit to that authority:)
The Church is the ultimate authority for the proper interpretation of
scripture, but the Church has no authority to teach on matters of
science. She may rightly point out where a scientist oversteps his
legitimate sphere of expertise and ventures into the realm of bad
philosophy, but she has no competence to rule on matters of scientific
theory. So when the scripture speaks of a scientific matter, the Church
would seem unable authoritatively to endorse (or to deny) the scientific
sense of scripture, for to do so would be to step outside her sphere of
competence. Perhaps a better way to frame the idea is that scripture
does not actually assert any scientific truths, even if, according to a
literalistic view, scripture would appear to do so.

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Rick wrote:
> I say that Scripture is inerrant in all that it asserts. If it asserts
> on matters touching science, it is inerrant in those as well. If you
> deny this, please be prepared for some heavy artillery :-)
TEV replies: This is where you appear to go wrong.
>>I solemnly assure you I am right, and that to deny the inerrancy of Scripture in ALL that it asserts, INCLUDING its assertions touching upon scientific matters, is to deny an infallible dogma of the Catholic Faith.
TEV:(I desire only to be in communion with the Church and to defend her
teaching.
>>Thanks be to God, we can see that you are not a formal heretic.
In the next few sentences, I try to build an idea that I
believe to be consistent with the teaching of the Church, but I am not
an expert. If a competent authority representing the Church
demonstrated my error, then I would submit to that authority:)
>>May God grant that the fruit of this exchange will be perfect orthodoxy in the One True Faith.
TEV: The Church is the ultimate authority for the proper interpretation of
scripture, but the Church has no authority to teach on matters of
science.
>> Absolutely false. Scripture is inerrant in all that it asserts, including each and all of its assertions touching upon science. This is de fide definita.
TEV: She may rightly point out where a scientist oversteps his
legitimate sphere of expertise and ventures into the realm of bad
philosophy, but she has no competence to rule on matters of scientific
theory.
>>Absolutely false. The Church has perfect competence to rule on matters of scientific theory, and does so regularly. For example, the Church has ruled infallibly that the scientific theory that humanity descends from more than one original pair is false, and any Catholic who obstinately and with full knowledge denies this truth is an heretic. Where Revelation includes data pertaining to science, the Church may rule with infallible competence on all such data. In each and every case where science arrogates to itself an alleged proof in contradiction to Revelation, the Church can, does, and must infallibly refute the scientific theory in that specific regard.
TEV: So when the scripture speaks of a scientific matter, the Church
would seem unable authoritatively to endorse (or to deny) the scientific
sense of scripture, for to do so would be to step outside her sphere of
competence.
>>Alas, this is simply false, When Scripture asserts ANYTHING, it is infallibly true in that assertion. This is an inescapable THEOLOGICAL consequence of the Divine Authorship of Scripture. That which Scripture asserts, is infallibly true, by virtue of its Divine Authorship.
This is de fide definita, and to deny this is heresy.
TEV:Perhaps a better way to frame the idea is that scripture
does not actually assert any scientific truths, even if, according to a
literalistic view, scripture would appear to do so.
>>This is also heresy. Scripture asserts the scientific truth that God is the creator of all that exists. Any scientific theory which denies this truth is, without the slightest doubt,both false and heretical. Scripture asserts that all humans descend from one original pair. Any scientific theory which denies this is, without the slightest doubt, heretical and false.
I solemnly assure you that the above is de fide definita.
To deny this is to depart the Ark of salvation.
God be with you.

Rick DeLano April 28, 2009 at 11:58 pm

TEV: The theory according to which the CMB’s dipole moment would be zero in
some reference frame is none other than special relativity, which
applies in every local region of a space described by general
relativity.
>>Since both special and general relativity are theories susceptible of empirical disproof, it follows that any such empirical disproof would, of course, render such corollaries as “the CMB’s dipole moment would be zero in some reference frame” similarly susceptible of disproof. We have noted, for example, the existence of a preferred Axis extending across the entire observable Universe, in direct contradiction to the predictions of General Relativity. Similar, devastating empirical contradictions to Special Relativity have likewise recently arisen, most notably with regard to the shocking revelation that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory includes in its navigational software for GPS satellites, a correction which renders the speed of EM propagation constant not in all frames, but only in one- the Earth-based observer frame: a flat-out denial of the basic postulate of Special Relativity in a “rubber meets the road” scientific application. While these observations do not yet constitute the death knell for SR and GR, it is true that some say they can now clearly discern a fat lady warming up in the wings………………

Rick:> Given the shocking alignments of the CMB- not just the dipole, but the
> quadrapole and octopole- with respect to Earth, do not be surprised to
> see a very marked increase in the fortunes of the latter hypothesis
> over the coming decade. Or two.
Surely the dipole moment of the CMB observed from earth is not aligned
perpendicular to the ecliptic.
>>Mea culpa. Obviously, only the multipoles can define directions and planes. As we have seen, they do. The directions and planes are, shockingly, aligned with respect to an Earth alleged to have come into existence billions of years after the CMB.
If this doesn’t shock you, it should. It certainly shocks the cosmologists working on this.
TEV:After all, I recall that it took about
ten years after the discovery of the CMB before anyone saw any
anisotropy at all.
>>I believe it took humanity something like four thousand years to notice the divergence of planetary orbits from perfect circles. The size of the divergence, in some cases proportionally as small as the CMB anisotropies, was not at all related to the shatteringly massive implications for astrophysics. Similarly, the infinitesimal Planck length is not any the less devastating to the foundational (General Relativistic) assumptions of a continuum, merely because of its unimaginable smallness.
TEV:The dipole was observed first, in the late 1970s,
because it is the largest term, but even the dipole’s magnitude was
tiny, around one part in a thousand (or smaller) in terms of
temperature. I seem to recall that there was nothing particularly
alarming about the Earth’s derived velocity with respect to the CMB
frame.
>> Oh, I remember the cosmologists crowing about how the CMB “perfectly confirmed the predictions of Standard Theory”, and of course the obligatory magazine cover photo of the CMB under the headline “The Face of God”.
Bunk, of course.
But Popper has already shown those with eyes to see and ears to hear that all scientific theories share the same probability of being correct; that is, they all share a probability of zero.
TEV:It must rather be that there is some way to define a
“cosmological dipole”, with relatively small magnitude comparable to the
other cosmological anisotropies, but it is not obvious to me what that
definition would be. Perhaps there is some independent way of
determining the velocity of the local Hubble flow with respect to
another universal rest frame.
>>Another universal rest frame????? Why, you are beginning to sound like a geocentrist :-)
Rick wrote:> But of course they do, once adequately confirmed. Big Bang Relativity
> is predicated upon homogeneity and isotropy, that is, no preferred
> direction or axis of either EM propagation or matter distribution. The
> Axis of Evil is, precisely, a preferred direction.
TEV:This effect is a feature in small perturbations superimposed upon the
basic homogeneity.
>>> LOL! That reminds me of the daughter who told her Dad that she merely had a small perturbation imposed upon her basic non-pregnancy :-)
TEV:Remember that the anisotropies in the CMB are down
around one part in 100,000 or smaller. Most likely, something like
this, if it holds up, would be used to constrain models of the scale of
the presumed inflationary period.
>>If it holds up, and it certainly looks like it will, it means the fat lady is singing for General Relativity, and of course Special Relativity as well.
TEV:The presence of small inhomogeneities in the CMB, regardless of whether
they are aligned with the Earth’s orbital axis, does not rule out FLRW
models of the universe, just as the presence of inhomogeneities in the
galaxy distribution does not rule out FLRW models.
>>The presence of Universe-wide preferred spin axes for galaxies, aligned with Universe wide preferred multipoles for the CMB, combined with well-defined concentric distributions of redshifts around a central Earth, most certainly rules out the FLRW models.
That is why they call it the “Axis of Evil”, Thomas.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 12:06 am

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> Actually, both Ptolemy and Copernicus wanted to learn about ellipses
> from Kepler, and so it is more accurately Tycho Brahe, suitably
> Keplerized, who captains your obedient servant’s team :-)
TEV: I feel really dumb. I have no idea what you are talking about.
>>Not at all, it was an “inside” joke. Like, way too inside :-) . I merely point out that modern-day geocentrists do not hold to Ptolemy’s cosmology any more than modern day “heliocentrists” (actually a-centrists) hold to Copernicus’.
Both were altered along the way, first by Kepler’s astoundingly brilliant discovery of elliptical orbits.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 12:44 am

Michael writes:
I believe that scripture is inerrant too. I’m not lying when I say that I can see the sun setting outside my window now, but I am not making any scientific statements about it, even though I believe that scientifically it’s the earth’s motion, not the sun’s, that creates that phenomenon.
>>Charity requires that I point out that a binding magisterial act of Holy Mother Church, never rescinded, condemns the notion that the Sun is motionless at the center of the world as formally heretical, and the proposition that the Earth moves as “at least erroneous in faith”.
It is true that these binding acts of the Church are enforced with even less rigor today, than is the similarly binding magisterial pronouncement against contraception.
But both are binding acts, never rescinded, and that’s the plain truth.
Michael:The youth in 1 Kings 18:44 must have had awfully good eyesight to see out at sea a cloud “as small as a man’s hand.”
>>No similar magisterial act applies, probably since no one would, other than tendentiously, attempt to claim that Scripture is asserting anything other than the size as seen by the youth. If anyone did so tendentiously claim, and raise a sufficient ruckus, Holy Mpother Church would bind and loose on the question, just as she has done with Galileo’s heresy, and Charles Curran’s.
Whether she would be obeyed or even ignored is a different question.
Michael:
I probably also ought to reinforce my roof since the Psalms say the earth is the Lord’s footstool. Or, maybe he was speaking about how it looked rather than scientifically describing its size, and the psalms are discussing God’s majesty, not his furniture. Scriptural statements are literally true, meaning, everybody gets the meaning, but the youth was not making a literalistic scientific statement about cloud dimensions, nor David about God’s ottoman.
>>Scripture was, however, making a literal statement that the Sun is moving and the Earth is not, which is why the magisterium solemnly condemned contrary interpretations as heretical and erroneous in faith.
These condemnations have never been rescinded.
Michael:Now these are the arguments with which you are undoubtedly familiar, and I would probably have to leave the rebuttals to those with more expertise than I, as I am not a scriptural scholar. It is clear, however, that the larger number of Catholic scriptural scholars, loyal to the magisterium, do not agree with your interpretation, popes included.
>>There is no magisterial chaism of scripture scholars, and scripture scholars who ignore or reject a magisterial teaching are not vindicated merely because they get away with it.
Popes also do not establish or alter magisterial pronouncements by anything other than a subsequent magisterial pronouncement.
The mere fact that they do not enforce a given magisterial teaching is another question.
Disciplinary acts are not protected by the charism of infallibility.
Michael:Augustine prefaces his writing on Genesis with this:
“It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.”
>>If you think I am ever speaking idiotically, I invite you to demonstrate why. I will pay at least as close attention as Augustine :-)
As for me, the most idiotic thing imaginable is interpreting Genesis on the assumption that Relativity is true. The mere fact that most Catholics today either knoingly or unknowingly do exactly that, says nothing at all about whether they are wise to do so.
Thatn is precisely the point at issue.
Michael:That kind of humility shows me that Augustine would be the first to amend an interpretation based on a faulty scientific understanding. What he would not abandon, and what none of us should abandon, is the beautiful scriptural truth of Creation of the universe by God and man’s place in it.
>>What no Catholic ought ever abandon, is the serene and unshakeable certainty that that which has been believed always, everywhere, and by everyone, ought never be surrendered based upon the ever-shifting sands of contingent natural philosophy.
Michael:Thanks for the comments, God bless.
>>Likewise, God be with you.

Jake April 29, 2009 at 4:06 am

The other ‘competing’ theory, that of the perpetually Oscillating universe has little value and many problems.
1) No mechanism is known or even conceived that would “relaunch” a collapsed universe.
2) A perpetual oscillation would violate the laws of thermodynamics
3) One still must explain ‘where did the oscillating universe come from.
I highly encourage people to read Fr. Stanley Jaki’s (alas, he died a couple weeks ago) books. The most relevant one for this topic is “God and the Cosmologists”

The Masked Chicken April 29, 2009 at 5:25 am

Dear Rick DeLano,
Could you give a reference for your assertion of the “Axis of Evil?” Also, how do you know the science is correct or correctly interpreted. Just because the science seems to align with the geocentrict thesis doesn’t mean that the science is correct. It must be tested by multiple means.
Robert Sungenis holds similar ideas, although his geocentrism is based on the Mach Principle, as developed by Dennis Sciama (although I doubt he knows this).
I do not mean to sound contentious. I am just proceeding in gathering facts.
The Chicken

john di April 29, 2009 at 7:47 am

Fr. Stanley Jaki (who earned a PhD in astronomy) wrote an article on Genesis that ended with this admonition against a scientific defense of Genesis and an affirmation of its truth.
“…No theological defense of the strict createdness of all can, however, be made without a defense of Genesis 1. It should not be defended under any circumstances as a cosmogenesis, with any reference, indirect as it may be, to science. Its genuinely biblical meaning can, however, be fully defended by that reason whereby, as Genesis I tells us, man is created in the image of Almighty God…”
http://www.hprweb.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=58:genesis-1-a-cosmogenesis&catid=35:older-articles&Itemid=54

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 8:02 am

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> I solemnly assure you I am right,
Well, I require more than your solemn assurance. :^)
> and that to deny the inerrancy of Scripture in ALL that it asserts,
> INCLUDING its assertions touching upon scientific matters, is to deny
> an infallible dogma of the Catholic Faith.
Of course I admit the inerrancy of scripture in all that it asserts.
The question is, What does scripture assert? On this question, we must
refer to the authority of the Church. You appear to claim that the
Church makes positive scientific assertions, and so you would appear to
be in disagreement at least with Ludwig Ott, whose _Fundamentals of
Catholic Dogma_ has a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur.
> The Church has perfect competence to rule on matters of scientific
> theory, and does so regularly. For example, the Church has ruled
> infallibly that the scientific theory that humanity descends from more
> than one original pair is false, and any Catholic who obstinately and
> with full knowledge denies this truth is an heretic. Where Revelation
> includes data pertaining to science, the Church may rule with
> infallible competence on all such data. In each and every case where
> science arrogates to itself an alleged proof in contradiction to
> Revelation, the Church can, does, and must infallibly refute the
> scientific theory in that specific regard.
This is a good point that I overlooked in my previous post. As Ott
points out in my quote from him in an even earlier post,
“The Church gives no positive decisions in regard to purely scientific
questions, but limits itself to rejecting errors which which endanger
the faith.”
The Church never advances any particular scientific theory with the
weight of her authority, but she may, as you point out, identify a
scientific theory as incompatible with the Faith. My impression from
reading encyclicals of John Paul II is that the Church would likely find
herself ruling out only a scientific theory that directly and ill treats
the nature of the human person, as would a wrong hypothesis about
descent from the first persons. Even here, though, it is not clear to
me that an hypothesis violating the Church’s teaching on the descent of
every human person from the First Persons would even be a scientific
hypothesis, for science has no inkling of what a person is.
In any event, we need somehow to respect the Pope’s call for us to
recognize the legitimate autonomy of science and to recognize that the
Church, too, has a limited sphere of competence. Confusion and error
seem likely to appear whenever the one oversteps the boundaries of the
other.
> Scripture asserts the scientific truth that God is the creator of all
> that exists.
No, this is not a scientific truth. If God’s being the creator were a
scientific theory, then it would not be true. That there is a Creator
is rather a truth that can be known from philosophy, and it is indeed
also a revealed truth, but it is not scientific.
> Any scientific theory which denies this truth is, without the
> slightest doubt,both false and heretical.
This is nonsense. No denial of God’s being the Creator could be a
scientific denial. It would be a philosophical denial, regardless of
whether its atheistic expositor called it “scientific”.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 8:11 am

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> I solemnly assure you I am right,
Well, I require more than your solemn assurance. :^)
> and that to deny the inerrancy of Scripture in ALL that it asserts,
> INCLUDING its assertions touching upon scientific matters, is to deny
> an infallible dogma of the Catholic Faith.
Of course I admit the inerrancy of scripture in all that it asserts.
The question is,
What does scripture assert?
On this question, we must refer to the authority of the Church.
You appear to claim that the Church makes positive scientific
assertions, and so you would appear to be in disagreement at
least with Ludwig Ott, whose _Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma_ has
a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur.
> The Church has perfect competence to rule on matters of scientific
> theory, and does so regularly. For example, the Church has ruled
> infallibly that the scientific theory that humanity descends from more
> than one original pair is false, and any Catholic who obstinately and
> with full knowledge denies this truth is an heretic. Where Revelation
> includes data pertaining to science, the Church may rule with
> infallible competence on all such data. In each and every case where
> science arrogates to itself an alleged proof in contradiction to
> Revelation, the Church can, does, and must infallibly refute the
> scientific theory in that specific regard.
This is a good point that I overlooked in my previous post. As Ott
points out in my quote from him in an even earlier post,
“The Church gives no positive decisions in regard to purely scientific
questions, but limits itself to rejecting errors which which endanger
the faith.”
The Church never advances any particular scientific theory with the
weight of her authority, but she may, as you point out, identify a
scientific theory as incompatible with the Faith. My impression from
reading encyclicals of John Paul II is that the Church might find
herself ruling out a scientific theory that directly treats the nature
of the human person, as would a wrong hypothesis about descent from the
first persons. Even here, though, it is not clear to me that an
hypothesis violating the Church’s teaching on the descent of every human
person from the First Persons would even be a scientific hypothesis, for
science has no inkling of what a person is.
In any event, we need somehow to respect the Pope’s call for us to
recognize the legitimate autonomy of science and to recognize that the
Church, too, has a limited sphere of competence. Confusion and error
seem likely to appear whenever the one oversteps the boundaries of the
other.
> Scripture asserts the scientific truth that God is the creator of all
> that exists.
No, this is not a scientific truth. If God’s being the Creator
were a scientific theory, then it would not be true. That there
is a Creator is rather a truth that can be known from philosophy.
And it is indeed also a revealed truth, but it is not scientific.
> Any scientific theory which denies this truth is, without the
> slightest doubt,both false and heretical.
This is nonsense. No denial of God’s being the Creator could be a
scientific denial. It would be a philosophical denial, regardless of
whether its atheistic expositor called it “scientific”.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 8:13 am

Sorry for the multiple posts. I seem to be having trouble with the Web interface.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 9:21 am

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> We have noted, for example, the existence of a preferred Axis
> extending across the entire observable Universe, in direct
> contradiction to the predictions of General Relativity.
There are at least two problems with this assertion.
(1) We don’t know that a preferred axis actually exists. It might or it
might not, even if there be some evidence consistent with that
hypothesis.
(2) Even if there be solid evidence of a preferred axis spanning the
observable universe, it would not rule out GR. It would simply rule
out the hypothesis of uniformity to which GR is applied in the
making of the typical big-bang model.
Ruling out the hypothesis of uniformity wouldn’t be new, however,
because the fact that the Earth is denser than interplanetary space
already formally rules that out. But even if we have ruled out the
hypothesis of uniformity on some scale, we have not ruled out the
hypothesis that a model based on the assumption of uniformity well
describes the global evolution.
For example, when I was in graduate school, I was listed as
co-author on a paper considering the propagation of pencil-beams
of light through a so-called “swiss-cheese” universe. (I think
that I did not really do enough work to justify my name on the
paper, the work for which was done mostly by Ron Kantowski.)
Anyway, if memory serves, we use the Schartzschild metric in the
holes and the FLRW metric in the cheese. All of the mass that
would have been spread uniformly over a spherical swiss-cheese
hole is concentrated in a seed in the middle of the hole. There
are lots of these holes of various sizes distributed through the
swiss-cheese model. Despite these inhomogeneities, the swiss
cheese model evolves as a whole like a model with a homogeneous
distribution.
I’m not saying that a swiss-cheese model is a particularly good model,
but I am saying that there is at least one example in which the
departure from homogeneity is not a guarantor of the inability of the
homogeneous model well to describe the global evolution.
> But Popper has already shown those with eyes to see and ears to hear
> that all scientific theories share the same probability of being
> correct; that is, they all share a probability of zero.
It seems better to say that a scientific theory is not a proper
object of belief, for a scientific theory can never be known to
be a true description of nature. Even as an approximation valid
under certain experimental circumstances, one can still never
know with certainty precisely what those circumstances are.
Experimental surprises can happen.
> Another universal rest frame????? Why, you are beginning to sound like
> a geocentrist :-)
A universal rest frame in a big-bang model is just a frame in which the
dipole moment of the CMB is zero. There might be other ways to define a
universal rest frame in the standard model, but I don’t know what they
are.
Because geocentrism is a scientific theory, it is not a proper object of
belief. I am neither a geocentrist nor a heliocentrist nor believer in
the big bang, but it does seem to me that some form of big-bang model
best fits the observational evidence.
> The presence of Universe-wide preferred spin axes for galaxies,
> aligned with Universe wide preferred multipoles for the CMB, combined
> with well-defined concentric distributions of redshifts around a
> central Earth, most certainly rules out the FLRW models.
The so-called “fingers of God”, which are real observational phenomena,
would also rule out the FLRW models if they actually corresponded to
some real structural feature out in the world. But they are well
explained as the smearing of a radial red-shift distribution because of
the radial component of space velocities of galaxies. We have to wait
and see whether there is some analagous effect going on with respect to
the “axis of evil”. Not that it much matters to me in the end. It
would be interesting if there were some real, global anisotropy aligned
with the Earth’s orbital axis.

The Masked Chicken April 29, 2009 at 9:37 am

Here is a link to one article on the “Axis of Evil” that Rick DeLano mentioned, above.
David Spergel, one of the authors of the WIMP study suggests, however, that the AOE is an artifact of the measuring process (from PhysicsForum.com):
arlyne
Dec6-06, 02:00 AM
I attended a colloquium today (err, yesterday) given by one of the primary WMAP authors (David Spergel); and he addressed the question of the Axis of Evil. His claim on the matter is that it most likely arises from artifacts of the method used to remove microwave sources in the galactic plane from the data. If you look at an image of the WMAP data (such as this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:WMAP.jpg)), you’ll notice that there’s a particularly dark spot near the center of the image and a particularly bright spot a bit to its right. On these maps the horizontal is the galactic plane; so both of these regions are subject to whatever uncertainties there were in removing the galaxy. What Spergel pointed out was that if those two regions are removed from the analysis, the axis of evil disappears.
Garth
Anyone want to comment? I am just seeking information. I am not up on current cosmology. Has the Church ever made a judgment on the Big Bang?
The Chicken

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 9:43 am

Rick DeLano wrote:
>
> As for me, the most idiotic thing imaginable is interpreting
> Genesis on the assumption that Relativity is true.
That would indeed be a wrong thing to do.
But, at least at the moment, it is perfectly reasonable to
interpret Genesis on the assumption that GR is a possibile
explanation that can save appearances.
Just as the Inquisition rightly instructed Galileo that he should
entertain the Copernican view only as a possibility, and not as a
certain truth, so should we entertain every not-yet-ruled-out
scientific theory as merely a possibility, never as a certain
truth.
What seems contrary to Church teaching, however, is to assert
that everyone must hold the literal meaning of Gen 1 as true.
The Church certainly allows one to do this, just as the Church
allows one to commit oneself to nonviolence. But the Church
doesn’t impose these things on everyone.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 9:59 am

The Chicken wrote:
>
> Has the Church ever made a judgment on the Big Bang?
From
‘http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp’,
which appears to carry both a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur:
Concerning cosmological evolution, the Church has infallibly
defined that the universe was specially created out of nothing.
Vatican I solemnly defined that everyone must “confess the world
and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and
material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by
God from nothing” (Canons on God the Creator of All Things, canon
5).
The Church does not have an official position on whether the
stars, nebulae, and planets we see today were created at that
time or whether they developed over time (for example, in the
aftermath of the Big Bang that modern cosmologists discuss).
However, the Church would maintain that, if the stars and planets
did develop over time, this still ultimately must be attributed
to God and his plan, for Scripture records: “By the word of the
Lord the heavens were made, and all their host [stars, nebulae,
planets] by the breath of his mouth” (Ps. 33:6).

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm

The citation regarding observational errors as the cause of the Axis is dated 2006. Please be kind enough to notice that I have already posted, not some chatter from a chat room, but a scientific paper subjected to peer review on arxiv.org from UC physicists, that scientifically refutes this:
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/0510/0510137v1.pdf
Did WMAP see Moving Local Structures?
Asantha Cooray, Naoki Seto
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, CA 92617
October 5, 2005
The study you cite is specifically addressed, and shown to be unable to account for the observed anisotropy. The authors conclude:
“While the local anisotropy contribution peaks at low multipoles, for reasonable
models of the mass and velocity distributions associated with local super structures
we find that the amplitude of temperature anisotropies is at most at a level of 10-2
μK and is substantially smaller than primordial fluctuations. It is extremely unlikely
that the momentum density of local mass concentrations is responsible for any of the
large angular scale anomalies in WMAP data.”
unknown foreground contamination,
>>Debunked here:
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0707/0707.3793.pdf
“The approximate agreement of the spin alignment axis with the WMAP quadrupole/ octopole
axes reinforces the finding of an asymmetry in spiral galaxy handedness and suggests that
this special axis spans the universe. The fact that the spin asymmetry appears to be independent of redshift suggests that it is not connected to local structure. On the other hand, the spiral galaxy handedness represents a unique and completely independent confirmation that the AE [Axis of Evil] is not an artifact in the WMAP data due to foreground contamination.”

John April 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm

TEV: “What seems contrary to Church teaching, however, is to assert
that everyone must hold the literal meaning of Gen 1 as true.”
So, according to TEV, some are allowed, by The Church, to hold the literal meaning of Genesis as not true.
This is a heresy, Thomas E. Vaughan, and if you persevere in it you are not a Catholic i.e. member of The Church but a heretic under condemnation.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Thomas writes:
“This is nonsense. No denial of God’s being the Creator could be a
scientific denial. It would be a philosophical denial, regardless of
whether its atheistic expositor called it “scientific”.”
>>>While your objection above must, by virtue of its catholic precision, be acknowledged as strictly true, I plead mitigating circumstances, to wit:
If the one making the denial is named Stephen Hawking, and the denial is incorporated in a massive propaganda campaign tied to the scientific credentials of the hoaxster in question, then the bait-and-switch tactics so characteristic of the modern Scientific Atheism juggernaut might be recognized as lessening the personal culpability of the occasionally over-wrought and ill-considered Catholic undertaking a response in the heat of battle.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm

The Chicken wrote:
“Robert Sungenis holds similar ideas, although his geocentrism is based on the Mach Principle, as developed by Dennis Sciama (although I doubt he knows this).”
>>My dear sir. I ask how you come to doubt this. Have you read Dr. Sungenis’ monumental compendium on geocentrism, “Galileo Was Wrong?”
The reason I ask is, I rather suspect you haven’t, and I will provide the evidence for this suspicion presently.
I, on the other hand, have read it.
For this reason, I am able to tell you that Dennis Sciama is cited in numerous footnotes of the work, and Mach’s principle is given deliciously exhaustive treatment, including lengthy verbatim excerpts from such source documents as Thirring’s “On the Effect of Distant Rotating Masses…”.
Which leads us back to my original question.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm

John wrote:
>
> So, according to TEV, some are allowed, by The Church, to hold the
> literal meaning of Genesis as not true.
Almost.
First of all, I’m not making this up. I’m just referring to documents
officially sanctioned by the Church.
The Catholic must admit to the truth in the literal meaning so far as it
bears on the facts touching the foundations of the Christian religion.
For example, as mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia, it is certainly
and must be the literal truth that God is the Creator of the universe
and that man is created in the image and likeness of God.
> This is a heresy, Thomas E. Vaughan, and if you persevere in it you
> are not a Catholic i.e. member of The Church but a heretic under
> condemnation.
This is a serious charge, John. Moreover, you are not simply charging
me but also charging the authors of the texts below and the bishops who
approved them.
So far, the only authority that you have brought to bear on this is your
own. Can you do better?
I should happily admit that I am wrong if you could prove that the
belief in the absolute literal meaning of Gen 1 is necessary for all
Catholics.
The problem that you will have is that various documents sanctioned by
the Church at least with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat are against you.
For example, as pointed out above,
_Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma_ by Ott, and
‘http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp’.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 12:46 pm

John wrote:
>
> So, according to TEV, some are allowed, by The Church, to hold the
> literal meaning of Genesis as not true.
Almost.
First of all, I’m not making this up. I’m just referring to documents
officially sanctioned by the Church.
The Catholic must admit to the truth in the literal meaning so far as it
bears on the facts touching the foundations of the Christian religion.
For example, as mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia, it is certainly
and must be the literal truth that God is the Creator of the universe
and that man is created in the image and likeness of God.
> This is a heresy, Thomas E. Vaughan, and if you persevere in it you
> are not a Catholic i.e. member of The Church but a heretic under
> condemnation.
This is a serious charge, John. Moreover, you are not simply charging
me but also charging the authors of the texts below and the bishops who
approved them.
So far, the only authority that you have brought to bear on this is your
own. Can you do better?
I should happily admit that I am wrong if you could prove that the
belief in the absolute literal meaning of Gen 1 is necessary for all
Catholics.
The problem that you will have is that various documents sanctioned by
the Church at least with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat are against you.
For example, as pointed out above,
_Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma_ by Ott, and
‘http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp’.

Tim J. April 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

“What seems contrary to Church teaching, however, is to assert
that everyone must hold the literal meaning of Gen 1 as true.”
I would phrase it this way;
“What seems contrary to Church teaching, however, is to assert
that everyone must hold that Genesis 1 must be interpreted in a literal way (like an encyclopedia entry).”
Rick DeLano, do you also hold that all of Jesus’ parables are literally true?… that is, that they are all true accounts of historical events?

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Rats. My browser must be broken. Another double-posting.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Rick DeLano, do you also hold that all of Jesus’ parables are literally true?… that is, that they are all true accounts of historical events?
>>Thomas Vaughan, could you provide me with specifics? Some parables involve actual historical events, some do not.
For example, the “smallest seed” in the parable of the sower is often seized upon as an example of scientific error in Scripture, when in fact it is completely accurate.
Did you have any particularly knotty ones in mind?
I love all challenges in this regard :-)

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Ooops, last post ought to have been addressed to Tim J

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Rick, I can’t speak for Tim, but I imagine that he’s trying to
find out if you are advocating some kind of generally
literalistic approach. It seems to me that you are not.
Rather, you seem to be convinced that the creation account in
particular must be taken as literally true. John has indicated
that this is his opinion too, though he might have reasons that
are different from yours.
As to your reasons, you obviously favor the geocentric view, and
that is your prerogative, but like every other scientific theory,
a geocentric view cannot be proved true. It can, however, be
proved false, and it would seem to me to be proved false at least
by way of stellar parallax. But that is not my point.
My point is rather that geocentrism can’t be proved true, neither
by way of science because of its nature nor by way of the Church
because we are here dealing with a profane subject. According to
Ott, in _Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma_, even if the Fathers
were unanimous on a profane subject, this proves nothing, for the
Fathers would in this case be defending not the Faith but rather
their private views on a matter of natural philosophy.

Tim J. April 29, 2009 at 3:08 pm

“Did you have any particularly knotty ones in mind? ”
No, I had no single one in mind, and you didn’t answer my question.
I’m curious whether or not you believe that everything that is grammatically an “assertion” in scripture is in fact being asserted as literally true.
For instance, when Jesus begins a parable with the words “There was a man…” or “A certain man was preparing a great banquet…”, do you believe that since these are declarative statements that they must be literal assertions?
Human beings have been telling symbolic stories to illustrate ideas since human history began. I don’t think anyone would insist that such stories (like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, say) are necessarily either A) errors, or B) Lies.
I was just wondering whether in your estimation Jesus (being fully human) was also allowed to do this. Why or why not?

Tim J. April 29, 2009 at 3:12 pm

In other words, no one (at least no one at all familiar with our culture) after reading The lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe would insist that it must either be literally true, or else a mistake or a lie.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 3:33 pm

TimJ asks:
I’m curious whether or not you believe that everything that is grammatically an “assertion” in scripture is in fact being asserted as literally true.
>>Umm, Tim. Since Scripture asserts that Caiaphas, literally, accused our Lord of blasphemy, then it is absolutely inerrant in that assertion.
It would require a greatly developed stupidity-perhaps a stupidity only obtainable from an exhaustive course of studies in modern biblical scholarship?- to conclude from the above sentence, that Scripture therefore asserts Our Lord to be guilty of blasphemy.
Once upon a time we knew what the Bible said, because the Church held a clear, Apostolic Tradition as to its inerrancy.
Then along came:
1. Galileo
2. Venice’s usury-lending houses
and two dogmas of the faith were, gradually, over centuries- not surrendered, openly and honestly, since the Holy Spirit will not allow sinful men to besmirch the promises of Christ to Peter and his successors in Matthew 16 and to the Apostles and their successors in Matthew 18- but instead sort of fuzz-balled, sort of treated like the uncle nobody wants to talk about, sort of bomfogged into a Langolier-like twilight.
The consequences have been absolutely devastating, a ruinous loss of faith in the veracity of Scripture, an endless cottage industry of hair-splitting Pharisees employed in busy deconstructions of Holy Scripture so as to render it amenable to “interpretations” never known to Tradition, and the rampant, planetary metastasis of a greed-based usury economy which is now collapsing and threatening the starvation and immiseration of billions.
But thanks for asking.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 4:00 pm

TEV:Rick, I can’t speak for Tim, but I imagine that he’s trying to
find out if you are advocating some kind of generally
literalistic approach. It seems to me that you are not.
>>It is my sincere desire to interpret Scripture exactly as the Apostles, Fathers, Doctors, Councils, and Popes have done from the beginning. I am utterly uninterested in interpreting it in any new, improved, novel, up to date sort of “Nouvelle Theologie” way, please God.
It would be entirely accurate for one to conclude from the above that I hold virtually (VIRTUALLY!) all of the alleged “fruits” of “modern biblical scholarship” in a contempt so great that I sincerely apologize for being unable to adequately express it in words. God knows.
TEV:Rather, you seem to be convinced that the creation account in
particular must be taken as literally true.
The woeful effects of “modern biblical scholarship” have paralyzed our shepherds, who continue to reel before the onslaught of Endarkenment claims of having proved the Church to have erred in the Galileo case, or to have erred in outlawing usury.
Therefore it is not my place to accuse any Catholic of heresy, who is attempting in good faith to obey the magisterium, and who points to magisterial documents which, again in good faith, can reasonably be construed to provide liberty to depart from what has been believed always and everywhere. I believe the best phrase to describe this present, agonizingly awful period in the history of our beloved Holy Mother Church is:
diabolical disorientation.
That being said, I repeat: beware abandoning that which has always and everywhere been believed. Origen was not formally condemned, but Origen was formally wrong. Those who insisted upon their liberty to follow him, were deprived of the graces of holding the Catholic Faith spotless and pure, whatever subjective mitigations might have applied.
In a word: in times of terrible confusion, stick to the traditions we have received, do not embrace novelty, and remember charity in all things.
TEV:John has indicated
that this is his opinion too, though he might have reasons that
are different from yours.
>>>John might be right, objectively. I wouldn’t approach the question as he does, but one could never depart the Catholic Faith if one followed John’s advice. One could definitely depart the Catholic Faith by proceeding on the assumption that the only thing the Catholic Faith klnows is Revealed about Genesis is God created everything and there was an Adam and Eve, everything else is up for grabs unless and until it is formally condemned.
I think John is on much safer ground, for example, than you are, my friend, please do not be offended if I state my personal opinion (and that is all it is).
TEV:As to your reasons, you obviously favor the geocentric view, and
that is your prerogative, but like every other scientific theory,
a geocentric view cannot be proved true.
>>Geocentrism is, as you say, a theory. The proposition that the Sun is at rest is a formal heresy. The proposition that the Earth moves is erroneous in faith. A careful study of Tradition has taught me that the Fathers, Doctors, Councils, and Popes of the Church were geocentrists, and understood Scripture geocentrically.
I therefore hold geocentrism as the safest view of our cosmos, and I hold the notion of a motionless Sun to be formally heretical, and a moving Earth to be at least erroneous in faith.
Other than that, I find geocentrism is the best scientific answer to all the scientific evidence in hand, also.
TEV: It can, however, be
proved false, and it would seem to me to be proved false at least
by way of stellar parallax. But that is not my point.
>>It is absolutely false to allege that geocentrism cannot accomodate stellar parallax. Obviously, Realtivity itself would be dsiproven if such a preferred reference frame was so easily established. If you would like to see exactly how the geocentrist models the stellar parallax, please let me know, and I will cover it.
TEV:My point is rather that geocentrism can’t be proved true, neither
by way of science because of its nature nor by way of the Church
because we are here dealing with a profane subject.
>>Geocentrism is, like any other scientific theory, subject to empirical disproof. No such disproof has ever been forthcoming. I suggest that a very powerful disproof of acentrism is already in hand (the CMB dipole), and I am very confident that geocentrism will continue to gain scientific support now that we have deep space sensors in place.
TEV:According to
Ott, in _Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma_, even if the Fathers
were unanimous on a profane subject, this proves nothing, for the
Fathers would in this case be defending not the Faith but rather
their private views on a matter of natural philosophy.
Since ALL the Fathers accept the proposition that the Sun moves and the Earth doesn’t, and since the magisterium has formally bound Catholic conscience on these two points, it is rather difficult to see how one might construct a cosmology which accomodates those two data, apart from geocentrism, although I am all ears.

The Masked Chicken April 29, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Dear Rick DeLano,
You wrote:
My dear sir. I ask how you come to doubt this. Have you read Dr. Sungenis’ monumental compendium on geocentrism, “Galileo Was Wrong?”
I said I doubted it because I have been keeping track of Sungenis’s writings via his website for at least four or so years (and keeping track of his writings for longer). He gave a description on his website, a few years ago, of the Mach Principle quoted from a book he recommended, without, actually naming the hypothesis, thus, my expression of doubt that he knew of the origin of the Principle stated by the author he quoted. He may have updated his website, since.
After some Catholic apologists (not Jimmy, to my knowledge) started to mock Sungenis for his geocentrism, I was, in fact, sorely tempted to write them explaining why Sungenis had an arguable scientific basis for his beliefs, so don’t paint me with a quick, broad brush, assuming you know where I stand on this issue .
The second volume of, Galileo was Wrong, has just come out, if my quick scan of his web site is correct. It is co-authored with an engineer. I do not know which of them introduced Mach’s Principle, explicitly, into the book. I have not read the books (although I have other books of Sungenis and appreciated his work in those areas), but, then again, I don’t really have to, as I can do the research myself, should I have the time and inclination. I have, however, read Sciama’s book on the Mach Principle (based on his dissertation, probably) and I have read some of the primary literature beyond that. Unlike Sungenis, I do have a background in quantum mechanics and when I read the primary literature on the quantum mechanical tests of Mach’s Principle (an area in which it seems to be failing, at least, so far) I can make informed judgments.
Let me be clear, Sungenis may be smart and educated, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty and actually do something beyond read summaries. Dr. Sungenis simply doesn’t have that sort of background. There is a reason they have qualifying exams at the Ph.D level – one must prove that one has mastered the material according to rigorous testing. There is a reason that most doctoral students have to write a dissertation containing original research. This does not dis-qualify Sungenis’s points, don’t misunderstand me. It does mean that he has to be humble enough to present his arguments to reasonable men and correct them where they are wrong. Has he corrected any of his arguments? Has he humbly summited them to other learned men, not just friends, but friendly enemies? A man who is never wrong (except Christ) is not human.
His commentaries on Scripture and faith, for instance are, a priori, much more convincing, as he got his hand dirty looking at the primary literature and, as he was, at that time, if I remember correctly, in a doctoral program in Scripture study or some sort, I would assume that he had the requisite background to speak with some security.
Have you every tried to do GR? It isn’t easy. The equations are non-linear partial differential equations which no one knows how to solve exactly. The best we can do is make simplifying assumptions, such as Lemaitre made, and arrive at some relatively simple solutions. In fact, we do, I think (Thomas Vaughn can correct me), have some existence theorems for some aspects of GR, but how to arrive at the answers themselves is difficult. Most of the time, computers are used to solve the PDEs. Quantum Mechanics is even worse, as we know there is no closed form solution to some of the problems (such as the generalized n-electron atom) because of problems in the mathematics.
Does Dr. Sungenis sweep aside GR, totally? I do not know, as I have not read his books, but you might comment on that. All I am saying is that I would be more comfortable if Sungenis had co-authored his book with an astrophysicist rather than an engineer, unless both authors can show some mastery of the material.
I am not committing the genetic fallacy. I am trying to hold Sungenis to fairly reasonable academic standards, that is all.
Personally, I hope the science of the Big Bang is wrong. That would be a good thing, not because it would bolster the geocentric argument, but because it is the goal of all science to eventually be wrong. When I was an undergraduate, I had the good fortune of studying physics with one of Einstein’s colleagues. While we were studying special relativity, he turned to us and said (approximately), “You better hope this is wrong, because that is how we make progress in science”. If the Big Bang theory is wrong, so be it. Then scientists can rub their hands together with glee and start looking for a better theory. Perhaps, the Mach Principle is the “better theory,” but Sungenis or any other advocate had better be able to make predictions from it that can be tested. That is how science is done. Has he offered any tests of his ideas? You can fit data to many different models. Just because his selection of data fits his model does not make it correct.
God gave us the Scriptures, but he also gave us a comment via St. Paul that:
Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; [Rom 1:20, RSV]
Science is simply from the Latin word for knowledge, the clear perceiving of things that have been made. Properly done, science is a wonderful adjunct to faith. Improperly done, it can be disastrous to the faith. Too many people, today, are looking for science to provide answers to questions it was not designed to answer.
Here, then, is my question to you: what questions are science supposed to answer? How?
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken April 29, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Dear Rick DeLano (RD, hereafter, please?),
You wrote:
Once upon a time we knew what the Bible said, because the Church held a clear, Apostolic Tradition as to its inerrancy.
Then along came:
1. Galileo
2. Venice’s usury-lending houses

Galileo came along in the 16th/17th-century. That’s a long time to claim that the Church held a clear-headed view of Scripture and it gives Galileo way too much power over the fogginess of the Church’s interpretation of Scripture. You do know about the conflict between the Dominicans and the Franciscans four centuries earlier about the Immaculate Conception? Or the nearly two-thirds of the Church who were Arians about twelve centuries before that?
Yes, the Church will not be overcome, but to say that the Scriptures have been easily clear to the Church is not a fact of history. Clarity eventually triumphed, but sometimes the struggle was not easy.
Clarity will eventually triumph this time, as well. Let us both have the humility not to assume that it will, necessarily, be your clarity (or mine) that the Church sees in deciding these complex issues.
The Chicken

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Dear Rick DeLano,
You wrote:
My dear sir. I ask how you come to doubt this. Have you read Dr. Sungenis’ monumental compendium on geocentrism, “Galileo Was Wrong?”
C:I said I doubted it because I have been keeping track of Sungenis’s writings via his website for at least four or so years (and keeping track of his writings for longer).
>>If you had bothered to first read his book on the subject, you would have avoided the stupendous error of ignorantly ascribing to him, the ignorance you yourself empirically demonstrated via your allegation.
C:He gave a description on his website, a few years ago, of the Mach Principle quoted from a book he recommended, without, actually naming the hypothesis, thus, my expression of doubt that he knew of the origin of the Principle stated by the author he quoted. He may have updated his website, since.
>>He has done rather better than that, sir. He has since published the most complete treatment of the subject of geocentrism ever published. One which you might well profit from reading, if you intend to casually cast aspersions Dr. Sungenis’ way, at least when yours truly is around.
C:After some Catholic apologists (not Jimmy, to my knowledge) started to mock Sungenis for his geocentrism, I was, in fact, sorely tempted to write them explaining why Sungenis had an arguable scientific basis for his beliefs, so don’t paint me with a quick, broad brush, assuming you know where I stand on this issue .
>>I think it is had been very praiseworthy, had you actually done, what you report yourself to have been able to resist doing. I do not think it praiseworthy, on the other hand, to allege ignorance on the part of an author who has published a work containing references to the very author of whom you allege him to have been ignorant.
C:The second volume of, Galileo was Wrong, has just come out, if my quick scan of his web site is correct. It is co-authored with an engineer. I do not know which of them introduced Mach’s Principle, explicitly, into the book. I have not read the books (although I have other books of Sungenis and appreciated his work in those areas), but, then again, I don’t really have to, as I can do the research myself, should I have the time and inclination. I have, however, read Sciama’s book on the Mach Principle (based on his dissertation, probably) and I have read some of the primary literature beyond that. Unlike Sungenis, I do have a background in quantum mechanics and when I read the primary literature on the quantum mechanical tests of Mach’s Principle (an area in which it seems to be failing, at least, so far) I can make informed judgments.
>>Ahh. I see. You have not read the book, but you are therefore in a position to make informed judgements about its contents. Remarkable. May I ask what academic institution conferred your degree in quantum mechanics? I should very much appreciate having that information to hand in future encounters with any similarly qualified correspondents.
C:Let me be clear, Sungenis may be smart and educated, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty and actually do something beyond read summaries.
>>Like, for example, publish books which are acknowleged by specialists in the field to be the most thorough and exhaustiuve treatments of their subject yet published, maybe?
I am sure you will be able to provide us with examples of your accomplishments in this area that put poor Bob to shame, yes?
I await with baited breath.
Yawn.
C:Dr. Sungenis simply doesn’t have that sort of background.
>>It is absolutely true, that the “background” which you allege yourself to possess (still dying to know which academic institution conferred your quantum mechanics credentials, btw) does not include anything remotely comparable to the published works of Dr. Robert Sungenis, most especially including his monumental, state-of-the-subject landmark treatment of geocentrism, “Galileo Was Wrong”.
C: There is a reason they have qualifying exams at the Ph.D level – one must prove that one has mastered the material according to rigorous testing. There is a reason that most doctoral students have to write a dissertation containing original research. This does not dis-qualify Sungenis’s points, don’t misunderstand me.
>>Umm, it would certainly seem that it indeed does not disqualify Dr. Sungenis’ points, since “Galileo Was Wrong” was written, precisely, as a doctoral dissertation. Perhaps you might care to attempt to refute it? I would be willing to pay to watch Dr. Sungenis address your……points -)
C:It does mean that he has to be humble enough to present his arguments to reasonable men and correct them where they are wrong.
>>Reasonable like you, for example? A man who, having never read the doctoral dissertation, criticizes its author for not responding to his objections about it?
You are a real piece of work, aren;’t you, Chicken?
SNIP

The Masked Chicken April 29, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Dear RD,
I am tired (this is not ordinary fatigue) and it would be uncharitable of me to answer your comments in that state. I think you have been a little uncharitable in interpreting some of my comments in the long post, above. Perhaps, I came off as sounding smug, to you. I assure, you, that was not my intention. Few who reads this blog would ascribe that condition to me, I hope. I do, occasionally overstate myself in the heat of battle, but we all do, from time to time. I was also not attempting to make a character assassination of Dr. Sungenis, as you, perhaps, interpreted my remarks to be, nor do I appreciate the denigration of my character, either. Perhaps, I can clarify my post when I am better rested. Perhaps, you can be more civil in your responses (at least as they appears to me – I may be taking your points too severely, it is hard to tell). I am genuinely happy to have you responding in this blog on this topic. There have been many discussions on topics ranging from climate change to when life begins in these comboxes and this one has been informative, so far.
So, my apologies for giving a bad impression of my character. Hopefully, I will be able to do better tomorrow. There are some substantial points we can discuss, but my eye sight is getting blurry, so I will have to beg off.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken April 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Dear RD,
With further reflection, I do not think I will be able to engage you in humility and charity in this discussion at this point and rather than cause harm to my soul, I will bow out. I do apologize to you if I mis-characterized you in any way and apologize to Dr. Sungenis if I have mis-characterized him, as well.
The Chicken

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Rick wrote:
>
> and two dogmas of the faith were, gradually, over centuries- not
> surrendered, openly and honestly, since the Holy Spirit will not allow
> sinful men to besmirch the promises of Christ to Peter and his
> successors in Matthew 16 and to the Apostles and their successors in
> Matthew 18- but instead sort of fuzz-balled, sort of treated like the
> uncle nobody wants to talk about, sort of bomfogged into a
> Langolier-like twilight.
What an intensely bleak image! I had to look up “Langolier” to get
what I imagine is the full effect.
Of course, your thesis rests on the proposition that there exist actual
dogmas that are now “fuzz-balled”.
If you would be so charitable as to help me (and perhaps others here)
toward your thesis, then you might try doing the following:
(1) Please specify precisely what you take the fuzz-balled dogmas to be.
From your comments, I suspect that one has to do with the interpretation
of scripture, and the other has to do with the immobility of the Earth.
Anyway, please be clear and specific.
(2) Please substantiate the claim that your assertions are, in fact,
dogmas. Merely insisting that they are is not good enough. At least
according to Ott, in his discussion on grades of certainty, everything
that is de fide definita is to be found in a document of a council or in
a papal ex cathedra writing properly formulated. Please give references
that can be checked.
(3) Please examine any reference to the unanimous opinion of the
Fathers, on a particular matter of scriptural interpretation, in the
light of St. Thomas’s distinction between inspiration per se and
inspiration per accidens, or else argue why this distinction is
irrelevant.
(4) It would be nice to know where you stand on the subject of doctrinal
development, particularly with respect to Newman’s _Essay on the
Development of Christian Doctrine_. Some of the issues that have arisen
in this discussion seem to me at least tangentially related to issues of
doctrinal development. For example, the very idea of modern science,
which recent popes have acknowledged as having some legitimate autonomy,
was not developed until after St. Thomas; is it not possible that some
authentic development of doctrine within the Church might be required in
order properly to respond to authentic developments (like modern
science) outside the Church? Authentic doctrinal developments seem to
have usually occurred in Church history in response to heresies. The
Endarkenment with its heresies no doubt requires some authentic
doctrinal development as well.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 29, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Rick wrote:
>
> It is my sincere desire to interpret Scripture exactly as the
> Apostles, Fathers, Doctors, Councils, and Popes have done from the
> beginning. I am utterly uninterested in interpreting it in any new,
> improved, novel, up to date sort of “Nouvelle Theologie” way, please
> God.
>
> It would be entirely accurate for one to conclude from the above that
> I hold virtually (VIRTUALLY!) all of the alleged “fruits” of “modern
> biblical scholarship” in a contempt so great that I sincerely
> apologize for being unable to adequately express it in words. God
> knows.
I don’t know much about exegesis. I have to rely on the Church.
However, it would seem a bit rash to dismiss the possibility that there
could be improvement in exegesis over time.
> The woeful effects of “modern biblical scholarship” have paralyzed our
> shepherds, who continue to reel before the onslaught of Endarkenment
> claims of having proved the Church to have erred in the Galileo case,
I for one am of the opinion that Galileo was wrong on at least a couple
of important matters. First, Galileo thought that he could prove a
scientific theory (the Copernican model) true. The Inquisition rightly
chastised him for this. Also, Galileo, try as he might, couldn’t rule
out the geocentric model with observations available at the time, for
Tycho’s geocentric model was consistent with the observations. Finally,
Galileo seems to have ignored Kepler’s instruction that the orbits could
not be circular but seemed elliptical.
> The proposition that the Sun is at rest is a formal heresy. The
> proposition that the Earth moves is erroneous in faith.
You assert this, but can you reference a council document or papal ex
cathedra definition to support your claim?
> A careful study of Tradition has taught me that the Fathers, Doctors,
> Councils, and Popes of the Church were geocentrists, and understood
> Scripture geocentrically.
You have no doubt studied this matter more than I have, and so I
stipulate that the Fathers were uniformly geocentrists. How do you
answer Ott’s point about their geocentrism’s not being a matter of the
Faith but a matter of common opinion on a profane subject? No doubt
there were many profane matters on which the Fathers were unamimous, but
such agreement would not elevate those matters to the level of the
sacred.
> It is absolutely false to allege that geocentrism cannot accomodate
> stellar parallax. Obviously, Realtivity itself would be dsiproven if
> such a preferred reference frame was so easily established. If you
> would like to see exactly how the geocentrist models the stellar
> parallax, please let me know, and I will cover it.
It is certainly the case that no obvious, simple geocentric model that I
can formulate in a few minutes is consistent with the observation of
stellar parallax. But I imagine that a more subtle and complex
geocentric model could do it. I’d rather not dwell too much on the
details of geocentrism. I stipulate for the moment that some geocentric
model could save appearances. Although I remain dubious of this, I
think that a discussion of the merits of a geocentric model is a
distraction from more fundamental issues.
It is false to say that relativity would be disproven by observational
evidence of a preferred reference frame. With or without anisotropy in
the CMB, there is a preferred frame. At most what might be disproven
thereby is the hypothesis of homogeneity, which is combined with GR to
get a big-bang model.
> I suggest that a very powerful disproof of acentrism is already in
> hand (the CMB dipole),
I’m starting to feel really stupid. I just have no idea how the CMB
dipole could possibly disprove acentrism, and I studied this stuff
professionally for years.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 11:12 pm

TEV:
Rick wrote:
>
> and two dogmas of the faith were, gradually, over centuries- not
> surrendered, openly and honestly, since the Holy Spirit will not allow
> sinful men to besmirch the promises of Christ to Peter and his
> successors in Matthew 16 and to the Apostles and their successors in
> Matthew 18- but instead sort of fuzz-balled, sort of treated like the
> uncle nobody wants to talk about, sort of bomfogged into a
> Langolier-like twilight.
What an intensely bleak image! I had to look up “Langolier” to get
what I imagine is the full effect.
>>It is a bleak time for the Church, Thomas. If there ever was a bleaker, it was when 80% of the Bishops apostatized and became Arians in a program of ecumenical outreach to better seek common ground with the Emperor. But this is worse, because back then the laity kept the faith even if the cowardly and disgraceful bishops-overwhelmingly- didn’t.
Of course, your thesis rests on the proposition that there exist actual
dogmas that are now “fuzz-balled”.
>>Yes. I know of only two, in the entire history of the Church.
The two instances where I think it is fair to say the Church has- not reversed, but rather abandoned, defined dogmas infallible under the ordinary magisterium are:
1. The abandonment of the Council of Viennes and Florence’s formal anathematizations against usury.
2. The surrender of the formal condemnation of Galileo’s heresies (abandons the dogma that Scripture is never to be interpreted in opposition to the consensus of the Fathers, and supremely so when that consensus has been formally affirmed by a solemn act of the magisterium).
TEV: If you would be so charitable as to help me (and perhaps others here)
toward your thesis, then you might try doing the following:
(1) Please specify precisely what you take the fuzz-balled dogmas to be.
From your comments, I suspect that one has to do with the interpretation
of scripture, and the other has to do with the immobility of the Earth.
Anyway, please be clear and specific.
>>See above.
(2) Please substantiate the claim that your assertions are, in fact,
dogmas.
>> Usury was condemned, by formal anathema, at the Councils of Viennes and Florence. It is a dogma of the faith that a Council teaching in union with a Pope is infallible when defining matters of faith or morals. The subsequent abandonment of the formal anathematizations against usury, accomplished via a disciplinary decree of the Holy Office never officially so much as released to the general Church (not that any such decree could ever reverse a solemn definition of a Council even if it had been widely promulgated, btw) constitutes, precisely, a fuzz-balling relegation of an infallible dogmatic pronouncement of the Holy Catholic Church to the status of Langolier-like twilight, whence it has rested ever since.
2. The papal sentence against Galileo of 1633 affirms that the dogma of Scripture’s inerrancy includes, as an infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium, that it is formally heretical to maintain that the Sun is at rest at the center of the world. The same sentence declares that it is “at least erroneous in faith” to maintain that the Earth is in motion. The subsequent abandonment of this infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium was accomplished, not by recission of the sentence, or by dogmatic definition to the contrary by a Pope or Council, nor by any magisterial action of a Pope short of a dogmatic definition.
It was simply abandoned, quietly, and as a result of great subterfuge on the part of prelates committed to the proposition that science had proven the ordinary magisterium of the Church to have in fact erred in the sentence against Galileo.
Thus, the dogmatic truth of the Faith that Scripture can never be interpreted in opposition to the unanimous witness of the Fathers, especially when that witness is formally recognized in a solemn act of the magisterium, is abandoned, not by authentic acts of the magisterium, but instead, precisely, by a fuzz-balling relegation of an infallible dogmatic pronouncement of the Holy Catholic Church to the status of Langolier-like twilight, whence it has rested ever since.
TEV:Merely insisting that they are is not good enough. At least
according to Ott, in his discussion on grades of certainty, everything
that is de fide definita is to be found in a document of a council or in
a papal ex cathedra writing properly formulated. Please give references
that can be checked.
>>Once said, once done.
TEV:(3) Please examine any reference to the unanimous opinion of the
Fathers, on a particular matter of scriptural interpretation, in the
light of St. Thomas’s distinction between inspiration per se and
inspiration per accidens, or else argue why this distinction is
irrelevant.
>>The distinction is obviously completely irrelevant, since St.Thomas’ treatment (not in itself dogmatic or even magisterial) explicitly affirms that ALL that is asserted is INFALLIBLE. Therefore the distinction is utterly irrelevant, once it has been established that Holy Church has affirmed that the assertion is in fact present in Scriupture. Holy Church has so affirmed, in both cases, that the doctrines in question are infallble under the ordinary magisterium, precisely BECAUSE they are ASSERTED in Holy Scripture, and have been always and everywhere recognized, taught, and acknowledged to have been so asserted.
TEV:(4) It would be nice to know where you stand on the subject of doctrinal
development, particularly with respect to Newman’s _Essay on the
Development of Christian Doctrine_.
>>Any claim of a “development”, that is instead a “reversal”, is in truth an “heresy”.
TEV: Some of the issues that have arisen
in this discussion seem to me at least tangentially related to issues of
doctrinal development.
>> Not possible. The Church does not receive its doctrines from the ever-shifting, never-certain sands of contingent natural philosophy. Therefore it is impossible to say that a dogma “develops” in light of some scientific hypothesis, if the dogma is REVERSED, on the claim that some scientific doscovery disproves the dogma. If the Church defines something, that definition pertains to the Faith, and the Faith is superior, always, to science, but never in contradiction to true science.
The surrender on geocentrism was a dark day for the Catholic magisterium, which allowed itself to be persuaded that science had proven the Earth was in motion, which science had not demonstrated (and to this day has not demonstrated).
The result was a catastrophic, ongoing surrender of Traditional Scriptural interpreation to a nightmare fever-dream where every heretic in seminary or theology faculty can concoct some cockamamie idea that Genesis “really isn’t about what the Fathers believed”.
This in turn has had a ruinous, disastrous effect upon Catholic faith in Scriptural inerrancy.
The surrender of the dogma against usury has resulted in a gobalized usury-economy in present catastrophic collapse.
May God have mercy on us for so meekly surrendering to the world.
TEV: For example, the very idea of modern science,
which recent popes have acknowledged as having some legitimate autonomy,
was not developed until after St. Thomas;
>>Bunk. You tell me Eratosthenes did not know the scientific method when he measured the great meridian twenty six centuries before that meridian became an object of sense perception?
It is a typical condition of awful modernity that we imagine ourselves wiser than the ancients, or in this case the Fathers.
We are not.
TEV:is it not possible that some
authentic development of doctrine within the Church might be required in
order properly to respond to authentic developments (like modern
science) outside the Church?
>>Utterly impossible. This would allege that God taught us something wrong, that only scientists could straighten Him out about.
The precise opposite is the truth. When we finally recover that, we will finally recover the Faith, in all its resplendent power to retrieve this dying civilization from its appointment at Samarra.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 11:13 pm

To Chicken:
I have the most sincere admiration for any man humble enough to simply walk away from a situation where charity can not be present.
You have managed to pull of what I would have considered impossible, you have prevailed in our exchange.

Rick DeLano April 29, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Alas, two posts have failed to appear on this page, although my name appears in the posting section at the top.
Chicken, your humility utterly shuts me down in my tracks, and accomplishes what I never would have imagined possible after our earlier rounds today: you have prevailed in our exchange.
TEV: I am weary, having composed far too many posts and this last one having disappeared.
I will not walk away with yours unanswered, however, sine it is clearly what we have been tending toward throughout this exchange, and is, so to speak, for “all the marbles”.
I will retire and re-address tomorrow.
God be with you both.

Tim J. April 30, 2009 at 6:44 am

Rick DeLano -
“It would require a greatly developed stupidity-perhaps a stupidity only obtainable from an exhaustive course of studies in modern biblical scholarship?- to conclude from the above sentence, that Scripture therefore asserts Our Lord to be guilty of blasphemy.”
Yes, I was afraid my question was (composed on the fly, as it was) phrased too generally and would allow you too answer some objection I had not made, while avoiding the rather obvious objection that I really had made.
Let me clarify a little, then; any statement of scripture clearly presented *in context* as a lie (for instance, Satan’s statements to Adam and Eve) are obviously not scriptural “assertions”, and I don’t know *anyone* who would think otherwise. I hope you enjoyed beating that straw man, though.
Meanwhile, I await your answer to my question regarding Jesus’ parables.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 30, 2009 at 7:35 am

Rick wrote:
>
> The two instances where I think it is fair to say the Church
> has- not reversed, but rather abandoned, defined dogmas
> infallible under the ordinary magisterium are:
>
> 1. The abandonment of the Council of Viennes and Florence’s
> formal anathematizations against usury.
>
> 2. The surrender of the formal condemnation of Galileo’s
> heresies (abandons the dogma that Scripture is never to be
> interpreted in opposition to the consensus of the Fathers, and
> supremely so when that consensus has been formally affirmed by
> a solemn act of the magisterium).
Let us put aside the first and focus only on the second, which is
arguably more relevant to the topic that spawned this discussion.
Is it sufficient to state your assertion as “that Scripture is
never to be interpreted in opposition to the consensus of the
Fathers”? I’d like us to agree on the simplest form that
expresses precisely what you mean, so that we can most
conveniently and without any confusion have something concrete to
deal with.
> The papal sentence against Galileo of 1633 affirms that the
> dogma of Scripture’s inerrancy includes, as an infallible
> teaching of the ordinary magisterium, that it is formally
> heretical to maintain that the Sun is at rest at the center of
> the world. The same sentence declares that it is “at least
> erroneous in faith” to maintain that the Earth is in motion.
The sentence assumes these as facts without proof or reference to
the relevant definitions. It is curious that it is called the
“papal sentence”, for the pope did not sign it. This document
cannot be taken to present an ex cathedra definition, and it is
not a document of a council.
Anway, above you suggested that the neglected dogma has to do
with scriptural interpretation in opposition to the Fathers.
Although your assertion relates to the case of Galileo, it would
seem to have far more general application, and the alleged dogma
must formally have been established prior to the case of Galileo.
Yet you have still not provided any verifiable reference to the
definition of the alleged dogma.
> The distinction is obviously completely irrelevant, since
> St.Thomas’ treatment (not in itself dogmatic or even
> magisterial) explicitly affirms that ALL that is asserted is
> INFALLIBLE. Therefore the distinction is utterly irrelevant,
> once it has been established that Holy Church has affirmed that
> the assertion is in fact present in Scriupture.
To me, the distinction seems relevant because it goes right to
heart of figuring out what in fact is being asserted. If a
portion of scripture be inspired per accidens, then there is
quite a bit more latitude for entertaining various hypotheses
about what is actually being asserted. In fact, it seems
interesting to me to consider the possibility that much of the
controversy here is due to the misattribution—even by the
judges in 1633—the misattribution of inspiration per se to what
is actually inspired per accidens.
> Therefore it is impossible to say that a dogma “develops” in
> light of some scientific hypothesis, if the dogma is REVERSED,
> on the claim that some scientific doscovery disproves the
> dogma.
But I am not arguing this. You are completely and utterly
misreading me, if you think so.
Rather, I am simply suggesting that, because authentic doctrinal
development has historically occurred in response to the
appearance of heresy, the heresies of the Endarkenment might well
elicit corresponding authentic doctrinal developments in the
Church. And I think that a discussion of what those might be
*does* bear on the issue at hand.
> You tell me Eratosthenes did not know the scientific method
> when he measured the great meridian twenty six centuries before
> that meridian became an object of sense perception?
>
> It is a typical condition of awful modernity that we imagine
> ourselves wiser than the ancients, or in this case the Fathers.
>
> We are not.
In estimating the circumference of the Earth, Eratosthenes
achieved a triumph, to be sure. But is it likely that he had any
clear idea, for example, about the fact that a scientific theory
can only be proved false and never be proved true, or about what
we now call the principle of the uniformity of nature, or about
the problem of induction, etc.? I think that one could find
several developments in the philosophy of science that
Eratosthenes very much would wish that he had known.
I should be the last person to claim that we are now superior in
dignity to the ancients or to the Fathers. But to claim that we
are superior in no sense whatsoever would be to deny much of what
our ancestors struggled and hoped for. At the very least, we are
superior in our inheritance of the fruit of the good labor of
each generation. Let us not pretend that the generations over
the last 500 years have produced no good fruits, nor that the
Holy Spirit has failed to be fruitful in the Church. And let us
not throw out the good fruit along with the rotten.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 30, 2009 at 7:54 am

Tim and Rick,
I think that Tim’s is a good question, and I am curious to see
Rick’s response to it.
At the moment, it seems to me that Rick’s position is simply that
scripture should always be interpreted according to the opinion
of the Fathers wherever they are unanimous in that opinion.
In my mind, this view is basically right but still must be
reconciled with the nature of the subject of the unanimous
opinion, whether it be a sacred subject involving the inspiration
per se of the sacred author or a profane subject involving the
inspiration per accidens of the sacred author.
In the case of a sacred subject, there seems to be no question,
and Rick must be right. In the case of a profane subject,
however, there are some issues to work out, at least in my mind.
I don’t have any formal training in this matter.
I’m just trying to offer some due diligence.
I hope that I am doing more good than harm.

Rick DeLano April 30, 2009 at 10:01 am

Three of my posts have now disappeared. Am I being censored ex post facto?

Rick DeLano April 30, 2009 at 10:38 am

I must render in charity my dismay at the silencing of this debate. Having done so, I wish you well, and signing off remain, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Very Truly Yours,
Rick DeLano

David B. April 30, 2009 at 10:53 am

Rick DeLano,
Maybe the posts are exceeding the comment length limit?

Thomas E. Vaughan April 30, 2009 at 10:59 am

David,
I think that Rick doesn’t know to flip to the second page, and so he can’t even
see the last few posts that have succeeded.
I cross-posted insructions to the “A While Back Thread” in case he might look
there.
I also sent an e-mail to Jimmy Akin, but I don’t know if there is much that can
be done. Googling “Rick DeLano” has produced lots of hits but no e-mail
address that I could send to.

Tim J. April 30, 2009 at 11:06 am

Rick, you may not be familiar with the new comment format (not Jimmy’s idea, but a recent TypePad thing) wherein if there are more than 100 comments on a post, the comments are broken up into sequential pages, which are accessed by clicking on the >> symbol at the bottom of the page.
There are 111 comments on this thread, and you may be looking for your last few comments after the page break.
Jimmy has only very rarely shut down threads, and then only for repeated bad behavior. He is not interested in shutting down debate, and at any rate, he would certainly say something before resorting to any such drastic action.

Thomas E. Vaughan April 30, 2009 at 11:20 am

Tim,
I’m pretty sure that Rick won’t be able to see our instructions telling him how to
flip pages because he doesn’t know how to flip the page to see the instructions.
I did just discover that he signed up with a Huckabee for President meet-up
site. So I joined it just now and sent him an e-mail message through that
site. Maybe it will get to him. DeLano seems not to include his e-mail
address when he posts here, and so I’ve been trying to find some other way of
getting the news to him. I even cross-posted to the “A While Back” thread.
Maybe he’ll get the message somehow.

Mark Wyatt April 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm

A lot of these issues are discussed at http://www.geocentrism.com

Rick DeLano April 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Well, Eratosthenes may have been able to determine the polar meridian to within 1% accuracy twenty six centuries before it was perceived as an object of sense perception, but I was unable to figure out that you need to click the arrows to get to the posts.
Many thanks to Thomas Vaughan.
I am first able to provide for general edification some things from Dr. Sungenis, who was kind enough to address some questions concerning some of our topics on this thread.
I share these first, and later today hope to get back to some unanswered correspondence.
************
Rick,
I’m not one to declare something as officially “infallible” because I simply don’t have that authority. All I can say is that, from the:
1) Absolute consensus of the Fathers on geocentrism in the face of Greek heliocentrism (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch. 13)
2) The continuous belief of the Tradition in geocentrism from the partistics throught the medievals (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch 13-14)
3) The teaching of Scripture, as interpreted and officially endorsed by the 16-17th century Catholic magisterium (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch 12)
4) The declaration of the same Magisterium that geocentrism is a matter of “faith and morals” because it directly affects the veracity of inspired Scripture (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch 12, 14)
5) The canonical trial of Galileo in 1633 which called heliocentrism a “formal heresy” and which has never been officially rescinded, especially noted in the case of Joseph Lalande in 1765 (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch 14)
6) The illicit means by which Cardinal Olivieri made possible an imprimatur for Canon Settele in 1822, and the illicit and unsubstantiated reasons Galileo was taken off the Index in 1835 (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch 14)
7) The continual allegiance of Catholic editors to geocentrism by putting disclaimers on Newton’s Principia which promoted heliocentrism (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch. 14)
8) The Vatican’s support of geocentrism in 1850 by Mario Marini commissioned book (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch. 14)
9) The failure of Leo XIII’s Prov. Deus, Vatican II and John Paul II’s speech to the PAS to officially endorse heliocentrism and officially negate geocentrism (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch 14)
10) Vatican I’s teaching that the Ordinary Magisterium is infallible (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch 14).
11) Catholic doctrines that are considered infallible that have much less patristic, traditional or scriptural support than geocentrism. (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch 14)
12) The Vatican’s withdrawal of Pio Paschini’s 1941 book that exonerated Galileo and faulted the Catholic Church. (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch. 14)
13) The teaching of Lumen Gentium 12 that “the whole body of the faithful…cannot err in matters of belief,” geocentrism being a belief in Scriptural data that the Church has always believed and never rejected. (GWW, Vol. 2, Ch. 14)
14) The failure of popular science to prove helicentrism and disprove geocentrism, thus requiring the Church, according to Augustine’s and Leo XIII’s teaching, to hold to traditional beliefs unless science can “prove” its theories. (GWW, Vol. 1, Introduction)
…then the Church has everything it needs to officially declare geocentrism to an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church.
R. Sungenis
********
Dr. Sungenis also wanted me to correct an earlier correspondent who referred to the co-author of GWW as “an engineer”. The co-author, Dr. Robert Bennett, is a PhD. in physics, with emphasis in General Relativity.

Jimmy Akin April 30, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Rick,
The topic of this thread is not geocentrism but whether the Big Bang has to be the moment of creation. Please stick to that subject.
Thanks!

Rick DeLano April 30, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Well, that certainly settle things down, doesn’t it?
Thanks for the hospitality, Jimmy.
Nice meeting you all.

The Masked Chicken May 1, 2009 at 6:23 am

Rick DeLano wrote:
Well, that certainly settle[s] things down, doesn’t it?
As well it should. I apologize for my part in bringing geocentrism to the fore in the discussion and introducing other contentious topics, as well.
Getting back to the subject, I have a few questions that perhaps someone can answer:
In the Genesis account of creation, it says:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Question 1: a) If the earth was formless, then how can it be given name, since there is no form to point to, b) if something is formless, how can it be said to be created?
Question 2: a) If something is formless, how can it have a surface?
The word, “formless,” is, תהו = tohuw, in the original Hebrew and, perhaps, refers to empty space or a place of chaos (like a primordial atom?), instead of an actual place called Earth? Interestingly, the word, “deep,” is related to formless, etymologically: תהום = tĕhowm. Thus, we have formless, void, darkness, deep and yet, there is a surface.
b) If something is formless and void, how can it have water or even more, waters? Would that make it unvoid and with at least some rudimentary form?
This all sounds like a vacuum state, to me.
Here is a delightful website, called, The Astronomy Cafe, written by a NASA astronomer, that has a wealth of articles and questions answered within its links. The Big Bang, by the way, was neither Big, nor a Bang.
The Chicken

Thomas E. Vaughan May 1, 2009 at 9:07 am

1. Following the admirable Chicken, I too apologize for my part in
dragging things off topic.
2. Recently, however, I had been trying to develop the conversation in a
way that does seem relevant. Rick insisted at least once that the
unanimity of the Fathers on any matter of scriptural interpretation
renders the matter settled, or something like that. His particular
point was the supposed unanimity of the Fathers on the literal truth
of the Gen 1. It appears as though the motivation for the defense of
the geocentric view is this theory of scriptural interpretation.
However, because this theory bears on whether any non-literal view of
Gen 1 can be permitted, I think that this is decent matter for
discussion here.
3. Chicken, with regard to your questions, I have almost nothing to
offer in terms of exegetical skill or training, but I have read that
a large body of water is a symbol for chaos in the cultures of the
ancient Middle East. I don’t remember where I picked that up, but
made an impression and stuck with me.
Also, if you think about it, although water is tangible, it is also
formless in a certain sense. Or rather it seems to take the form of
its container but have no intrinsic form of its own.
From the point of view of a particular culture, water might symbolize
chaos, but everyone can see how water symbolizes a certain kind of
formlessness.

RJSciurus May 3, 2009 at 9:46 am

I have placed a calendar note in my iCal

John May 3, 2009 at 3:43 pm

TimJ: ” “What seems contrary to Church teaching, however, is to assert
that everyone must hold the literal meaning of Gen 1 as true.”
I would phrase it this way;
“What seems contrary to Church teaching, however, is to assert
that everyone must hold that Genesis 1 must be interpreted in a literal way (like an encyclopedia entry).” ”
Rephrasing was incorrectly done: the rephrased (first) statement is about truthfulness of the literal meaning while the rephrase (the second statement) is about kind of interpretation to be used and not about its truthfulness.
So heresy mentioned by TEV remains.
By the way, even the rephrase by TimJ is a falsity: yes, The Church has decided not only that the literal meaning of Genesis is true but also, what of necessity follows (or precedes), that Genesis must be interpreted in literal way.
Otherwise, how would The Holy Scripture literally tell that God created heaven and earth if at any time Genesis 1 has only a non-literal interpretation? TEV, TimJ?
It seems that TEV and TimJ don’t understand that truth always binds all and never only some.
Parables (from Jesus’ speeches) have nothing to do with Genesis 1 when truthfulness of literal meaning of Genesis 1 is the issue. So, this was also incorrectly done by TimJ.
TEV: If you knew Catholic faith (i.e. constant teachings of The Church from its beginning, as I explained above) well you would find as many instances of falsity as you like in books with imprimatur.
So imprimatur has never been an infallible guarantee of Catholic teachings but has always been taken in good faith that the men responsible for it have done their job correctly.
And what if they haven’t done their job correctly?

John May 3, 2009 at 3:44 pm

TimJ: ” “What seems contrary to Church teaching, however, is to assert
that everyone must hold the literal meaning of Gen 1 as true.”
I would phrase it this way;
“What seems contrary to Church teaching, however, is to assert
that everyone must hold that Genesis 1 must be interpreted in a literal way (like an encyclopedia entry).” ”
Rephrasing was incorrectly done: the rephrased (first) statement is about truthfulness of the literal meaning while the rephrase (the second statement) is about kind of interpretation to be used and not about its truthfulness.
So heresy mentioned by TEV remains.
By the way, even the rephrase by TimJ is a falsity: yes, The Church has decided not only that the literal meaning of Genesis is true but also, what of necessity follows (or precedes), that Genesis must be interpreted in literal way.
Otherwise, how would The Holy Scripture literally tell that God created heaven and earth if at any time Genesis 1 has only a non-literal interpretation? TEV, TimJ?
It seems that TEV and TimJ don’t understand that truth always binds all and never only some.
Parables (from Jesus’ speeches) have nothing to do with Genesis 1 when truthfulness of literal meaning of Genesis 1 is the issue. So, this was also incorrectly done by TimJ.
TEV: If you knew Catholic faith (i.e. constant teachings of The Church from its beginning, as I explained above) well you would find as many instances of falsity as you like in books with imprimatur.
So imprimatur has never been an infallible guarantee of Catholic teachings but has always been taken in good faith that the men responsible for it have done their job correctly.
And what if they haven’t done their job correctly?

bill912 May 3, 2009 at 4:41 pm

“…The Church has decided not only that the literal meaning of Genesis is true but also, what of necessity follows (or precedes), that Genesis *must* be interpreted in literal way.”
Evidence that the Church teaches this, please?

Tim J. May 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm

“Parables (from Jesus’ speeches) have nothing to do with Genesis 1 when truthfulness of literal meaning of Genesis 1 is the issue. So, this was also incorrectly done by TimJ.”
You assert this without any evidence or explanation as to why it MUST be so. You’ll have to do better than that.
Is Jesus allowed to tell symbolic stories (according to this hyper-literal reading of scripture), or must all his parables be based on real accounts of historical people/events?
You don’t see any way this question could have any relevance to a discussion of Genesis 1?
Is there any way you could understand someone saying that Jesus’ parables were true (truth itself, in fact) and yet not necessarily true in a dry, literal, factual sense?

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2009 at 6:04 am

I wrote, above:
If the earth was formless.
That should be: If the earth were formless.
The Grammar Chicken

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2009 at 6:10 am

Just out of curiosity, does the topic of Biblical literacy meet Jimmy’s guidelines for discussion? If, so I would like to enter the discussion, but I am wary that this topic might bring us back to geocentrism. Comments?
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2009 at 6:12 am

That should be, “Biblical literalness.”
The Chicken

Tim J. May 4, 2009 at 7:34 am

“Just out of curiosity, does the topic of Biblical literacy meet Jimmy’s guidelines for discussion?”
See, I am not sure of that either, unless a literal reading of Genesis would (for some) rule out the idea of a Big Bang altogether.
That’s why I continued in that vein, even though it may be encouraging a drift away from the main topic. I can see how the general topic of “how to read Genesis” would dovetail with the main post, but it might also open the door to private theories and combox anathemas. If that is the case, I’d be happy to drop it.

Jimmy Akin May 4, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Feel free to talk in a general manner about how to interpret Genesis.
I just don’t want this thread to get taken over by a geocentrism debate since that’s not what it’s about. I may do a post at another time on geocentrism specifically and let people have at it on that subject.

John May 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm

bill912, TimJ etc. if you give us a reasonable reply to the key question: “Otherwise, how would The Holy Scripture literally tell that God created heaven and earth if at any time Genesis 1 has only a non-literal interpretation?” then you will prove me wrong and I will admit my unjust and rash accusation of you as holding a heretical opinion and apologize to you.
But if you don’t find a reasonable reply to that question then you will prove yourself as indeed holding a heretical opinion and will have to get rid of it if you want to be saved.
OFF TOPIC MATERIAL REMOVED.

bill912 May 4, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I didn’t expect him to show any evidence.
“…my unjust and rash accusation of you as holding a heretical opinion…”
What opinion? I haven’t expressed one.

John May 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

bill912: ” “…The Church has decided not only that the literal meaning of Genesis is true but also, what of necessity follows (or precedes), that Genesis *must* be interpreted in literal way.”
Evidence that the Church teaches this, please?”
Note that I didn’t write “*must* be interpreted” as bill912 “quoted” me but “must be interpreted”. If someone is quoted then there shouldn’t be any change in the quote without an explicit note stating it.
The truth is that this incorrect change in my text and the question following it made me think that bill912 doesn’t believe in mandatory literal interpretation of Genesis 1 but now I admit it could be my mistake.
If it was then I apologize to you, bill912.
Now, let’s go back to the question. Is there a reasonable answer to it?

bill912 May 4, 2009 at 1:42 pm

“…then you will prove me wrong…”
I never said you were wrong; I asked you to provide evidence to back up your statement “that Genesis *must* be interpreted in literal way.” I asked you to prove yourself right.

bill912 May 4, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I didn’t change the text, I highlighted a key word. But, since he still declines to show any evidence to back up what he said, I conclude that we are dealing with someone who is dishonest. I’m done.

John May 4, 2009 at 2:29 pm

bill912, the evidence that The Church has infallibly decided on mandatory literal interpretation of Genesis 1 is unanimous (or virtually unanimous) literal interpretation of Genesis 1 by The Fathers and Doctors of The Church which constitutes infallible teaching of The Church.
Because, if they are wrong then The Church is wrong and The Holy Spirit, Who leads The Church, is wrong. Two blasphemies.
bill912: “since he still declines to show any evidence to back up what he said, I conclude that we are dealing with someone who is dishonest. I’m done.”?
Why are you so impatient and nervous, bill912, if you are on the right side?
So, now when there is the evidence asked by bill 912 is there anyone who can give us a reasonable answer to the question?

Michael May 4, 2009 at 4:58 pm

The Church Fathers are not morally unanimous on the topic of a literalistic interpretation of Genesis. See here, as written by our own host, Jimmy Akin:
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0301bt.asp
“Though the majority of Church Fathers took the six days of creation as being six literal days, there was not moral unanimity among them on this question. In addition later Catholic authorities (e.g., Thomas Aquinas; see ST 1:74:2) recognized a diversity of permissible interpretations.
Though the magisterium also has not made any definitive claims regarding the interpretation of the six days, it has given some non-defined statements on this subject. In 1909, the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBe) issued a series of responses to questions on Genesis 1-3. Among these, the PBC answered the following questions:
“In the interpretation of those passages in the chapters [i.e., Gen. 13] which the Fathers and doctors understood in different manners without proposing anything certain and definite, is it lawful. . . to follow and defend the opinion that commends itself to one?” (Concerning the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis [June 30, 1909] 4).
“In the designation and distinction of the six days mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis may the word yom (day) be taken either in the literal sense for the natural day or in an applied sense for a certain space of time, and may this question be the subject of free discussion among exegetes?” (ibid., 8).
The PBC’s affirmative replies to both these questions established a significant measure of freedom for the interpretation of the six days. In particular, the answer to the latter question asserted room for the day-age hypothesis.
Further liberty on the question was granted when Pope Pius XII approved a reply from the PBC that effectively nullified the restrictive.aspects of the PBe’s 1909 replies, stating: “These replies are in no way a hindrance to further truly scientific examination of these problems in accordance with the results acquired in the last forty years” (Letter to Cardinal Suhard [1948]).

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Dear John,
The underlying question is: what is really meant by the literal sense of Scripture. If you want to be technical, since the literal sense has to do with the “signification of words in things” (St. Thomas Aquinas’s understanding), then the only proper words to use are exactly and only the original Hebrew and Semitic texts. Anything else involves transliterations and translations which might introduce corruptions into the signification of the words. We see this in such modern translations as the RSV and the NIV which use different words to stand for the original Greek and the words carry subtly different meanings in line with the theology of the transcribers. Thus, RSV translates paradosis in 2 Timothy 2:15, as tradition, but the NIV translates it as teachings. One translation is obviously closer to the Catholic sense than the other.
The Church Fathers used many different translations of Genesis. Some used Old Hebrew; some used the Massoretic text; some used the LXX; some used the Old Roman; some used the Vulgate. Are all of the words translated the same and are these translations the exact signification of the original text?
Also, there are passages of the Old Testament Hebrew which are unclear in the sense of the words (we have no way of translating them) or in the structure of the text (we don’t know why certain passages are repeated). I do not know if any of these passages are in Genesis, but the point is that to claim the literal sense of the text, one must know what the text says.
The issue of literalness of Scripture is a lot more subtle than you present it.
Here is a paper on St. Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of the literalness of Scripture. St. Thomas allows for the possibility that the same passage might allow for different interpretations, even in the literal sense. The literal sense does not mean the one and only sense. St. Thomas also holds metaphors to be contained in the literal sense, by the way.
Here is the relevant passage from the Summa Theologica, itself. It does not contain all of St. Thomas’s thoughts (see the other paper for a more complete citation), but it is a start.
In fact, St. Thomas points out the fact there is not uniformity among the various interpreters of Genesis in his discussion of the Six Days of Creation in the Summa:
Reply to Objection 1. The word earth is taken differently in this passage by Augustine, and by other writers. Augustine holds that by the words “earth” and “water,” in this passage. primary matter itself is signified on account of its being impossible for Moses to make the idea of such matter intelligible to an ignorant people, except under the similitude of well-known objects. Hence he uses a variety of figures in speaking of it, calling it not water only, nor earth only, lest they should think it to be in very truth water or earth. At the same time it has so far a likeness to earth, in that it is susceptible of form, and to water in its adaptability to a variety of forms. In this respect, then, the earth is said to be “void and empty,” or “invisible and shapeless,” that matter is known by means of form. Hence, considered in itself, it is called “invisible” or “void,” and its potentiality is completed by form; thus Plato says that matter is “place” [Timaeus, quoted by Aristotle, Phys. iv, text. 15. But other holy writers understand by earth the element of earth, and we have said (1) how, in this sense, the earth was, according to them, without form. [emphasis, mine]

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

My links and markups do not appear in my post? Anyone know why not?
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Hopefully, this will work (this might be a Typepad limitation)
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
from my post, above.

John May 5, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Michael: “The Church Fathers are not morally unanimous on the topic of a literalistic interpretation of Genesis. See here, as written by our own host, Jimmy Akin:
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0301bt.asp
“Though the majority of Church Fathers took the six days of creation as being six literal days, there was not moral unanimity among them on this question. In addition later Catholic authorities (e.g., Thomas Aquinas; see ST 1:74:2) recognized a diversity of permissible interpretations.
Though the magisterium also has not made any definitive claims regarding the interpretation of the six days, it has given some non-defined statements on this subject. In 1909, the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBe) issued a series of responses to questions on Genesis 1-3. Among these, the PBC answered the following questions:
“In the interpretation of those passages in the chapters [i.e., Gen. 13] which the Fathers and doctors understood in different manners without proposing anything certain and definite, is it lawful. . . to follow and defend the opinion that commends itself to one?” (Concerning the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis [June 30, 1909] 4).”
Literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1-3 is not equal to literalistic interpretation of some of its passages e.g. those mentioning the six days of creation.
The Fathers and Doctors are unanimous that Genesis 1 presents the order, in time, of God’s creation of everything. And that is precisely what literal meaning of Genesis gives.
Various interpretations of some words, expressions or passages of Genesis 1 don’t at all affect literal and historical meaning of Genesis 1.
This is the reason why nobody was, is or will be able to give a reasonable answer to the question I posed. Deny literal meaning of Genesis 1 and of necessity God’s creation, its order, its occurrence in time etc. is denied (made a fable) and with it Christian (=Catholic) faith.
Science must always go hand in hand with The Church: the former searches for the truth, the latter is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
If human efforts result in a contradiction to any teaching of The Church then it is a clear falsity and so in no way a scientific result which is always the truth (e.g. theory of evolution denies God’s creation and due to that false principle cannot anyhow be true).
As to translations and transliterations: generally speaking (not only regarding Genesis 1 but regarding The Bible) it is true that translations and transliterations are more or less imperfect or sometimes even intentionally wrong.
If they are imperfections then the sense is not destroyed but is only weakened.
But by aid of God’s grace even from a weakened perspective one can get what God intended that all men receive.
Thus, literal meaning of Genesis 1 can be captured even through imperfect translations and transliterations.
Hope that everybody of good will now understand what is meant by literal meaning (interpretation) of Genesis 1 and that its denial is nothing less than the loss of faith, membership in The Church and salvation.
This truth regarding interpretation of Genesis 1 and the consequences of contradicting The Church is applicable to all the other matters of faith or morals challenged by the world (especially world of “science”).
So, seeking The Church’s decision on an issue first is the only way to escape contradicting The Church and eternal, fiery and very painful problems due to that.

Thomas E. Vaughan May 5, 2009 at 3:09 pm

The Council of Trent puts it like this
(http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct04.html):

Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, [the Council]
decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall—in matters of
faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian
doctrine—wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to
interpret the said sacred Scripture
[a] contrary to that sense which holy mother Church—whose it is to
judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures—hath
held and doth hold; or even
[b] contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers;
even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time
published.

I have inserted three items in square brackets for clarity, and I have
inserted some line breaks also.
According to this, the “unanimous consent of the Fathers” bars any
contrary interpretation of Scripture “in matters of faith, and of morals
pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine”.
On the one hand, if the order in which things are created in the
Hexahemeron were such a matter of faith, then Trent would seem to agree
with John.
On the other hand, if the order in which things are created in the
Hexahemeron were *not* such a matter of faith, then Trent would seem
*not* to support John’s point.
Although I should be happy to change my mind if someone could
demonstrate that the Church teaches the necessity of the order for the
Catholic Faith, I frankly don’t see how the order of creation in the
Hexahemeron is a matter of faith.
The Fathers surely acted prudently, as everyone should, in admitting as
much as possible the truth of the literal sense and in assuming the
truth of the literal sense whenever there be no good reason to doubt it.
Moreover, regardless of the truth of the literal sense, one must
apprehend the literal sense in order to ascertain the non-literal
meanings in a passage.
However, when a reason to doubt the literal truth of some words in
Scripture arises on a profane subject, then we should be free at least
to admit the possibility that the literal sense is not a true sense. As
Ott writes in _Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma_, the Fathers when writing
about a profane subject in Scripture are not defending the Faith but
acting as private scientists. If there can be authentic developments in
science, then we should have some room to differ from the Fathers on
profane subjects in scripture, for the Fathers had no access to those
developments.

Michael May 5, 2009 at 3:59 pm

John,
The Catechism states:
“Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine “work,” concluded by the “rest” of the seventh day.” (CCC 337)
Moreover, paragraph 342 indicates that the “six days” symbolically express the hierarchy of creatures. So the six days as a chronology does not seem to be a required teaching of the Church.
You said: “So, seeking The Church’s decision on an issue first is the only way to escape contradicting The Church and eternal, fiery and very painful problems due to that.”
And that’s exactly what we are all trying to do — to determine the Church’s teaching on this subject. But we’re going to need more than your assertions. It seems that the Church does not teach what you seem to think it teaches.
The PBC statement says:
“328. 5. All and each of the parts of Genesis, namely, the single words and phrases, in these chapters must always and of necessity be interpreted in a proper literal sense, so that it is never lawful to deviate from it, even when expressions are manifestly used figuratively, that is, metaphorically or anthropomorphically, and when reason forbids us to hold, or necessity impels us to depart from, the proper literal sense.
Answer: No.

Many scientists believe that “necessity impels them” to accept the scientific evidence for Big Bang cosmology, and according to Church teaching on the interpretation of Genesis, there doesn’t seem to be any contradiction between that particular scientific theory and scriptural truth. In other words, one can accept the “literal and historical” interpretation of Genesis in the sense required by the Church and also Big Bang cosmology without contradiction.

Thomas E. Vaughan May 5, 2009 at 5:31 pm

One addendum to my previous post:
As the PBC and other sources prove, the Church teaches that each sacred
author of Scripture is inerrant in everything that he intended to
assert, not only on sacred matters but *also* on profane matters.
If an authentic scientific development were to raise doubt about the
literal truth of a Scriptural passage pertaining to a profane subject,
where the Fathers were all agreed on the truth of the literal sense of
the same passage, then for one to admit the possibility that the literal
sense is *not* a true sense is the same thing as for one to claim that
the Fathers misjudged the what the sacred author intended to assert.
(This is reminiscent of what Bellarmine wrote about the Galileo affair.)
That is, it would seem that there is room for an authentic development
in Scriptural interpretation, wherein on a profane matter we might
through reason and observation of the natural world be able over time to
rule out certain theories about the intent of the sacred author.
(Though, to be fair, Bellarmine was dubious about whether there would
ever be such an authentic scientific development.)
It seems to me that the crux of the present debate with John and Rick
has to do with whether a given passage concerns a profane subject. Even
Trent, which predates Galileo, indicates that there is a difference
between the sacred and the profane when it comes to the interpretation
of Scripture.
Is there a test that can be applied to ascertain whether a given passage
relates to a sacred subject?

John May 6, 2009 at 1:18 am

Michael, would you please cite us points 1, 2, 3 and 6 from the PBC’s statement regarding historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis?
Regarding Catechism: it lies that Mohammedans adore with us(!) the one and only God (point 841), The Trinity of course. No one intelligent believes a liar.
Six days with 24 days per day is not required but six “days” are required. Otherwise The Holy Scripture would lie. If you want to blaspheme that The Holy Scripture lies about six “days” then just do it.
TEV: “It seems to me that the crux of the present debate with John and Rick
has to do with whether a given passage concerns a profane subject.”
God’s creation to be a profane subject? This is a lie plain and simple and if you stick to it you are a liar, Thomas E. Vaughan. You shouldn’t have embarrassed yourself so much.

Thomas E. Vaughan May 6, 2009 at 6:45 am

John, it seems inevitable that I am embarrassing myself all over the
place. :^) I hope that you will be charitable.
What do you suppose is meant by “profane”? In this case it simply means
“not sacred”.
It certainly seems possible for one (without lying) to admit
(1) that for God to create things out of nothing is a sacred assertion
but
(2) that in the Hexahemeron many of the details of the order of His
creatures in time and space do not involve sacred assertions.
Even the second admission would allow one to admit that the *fact* of
God’s ordering the creatures is a sacred assertion, just not the details
of that ordering.
You appear to insist that even the particular ordering of creatures
within time and space, as indicated in the Hexahemeron, is a sacred
subject.
An alternative approach to the necessity of the truth of a literal sense
of the Hexahemeron would be to argue that, even if the subject be
profane, the sacred author intended to make detailed literal assertions
on the matter. Because the sacred author is inerrant in everything that
he intends to assert, we would then be bound to admit the truth of some
literal sense of the Hexahemeron.
So it would appear that, for one to admit the possibility that a literal
sense of the Hexahemeron is not a true sense, one must hold both
(a) that the Hexahemeron does not (at least not in its entirety) deal
with a sacred subject and
(b) that the sacred author did not intend to make literally true profane
assertions.

Inocencio May 6, 2009 at 8:00 am

John,

“Regarding Catechism: it lies that Mohammedans adore with us(!) the one and only God (point 841), The Trinity of course. No one intelligent believes a liar.”

Do you believe that you personally have the authority to define and declare what is and what is not Catholic teaching?
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

The Masked Chicken May 6, 2009 at 9:52 am

Dear John.
I certainly agree that the Church Fathers and Doctors have unanimously agreed that the literal sense of scripture should hold, but there is NO uniformity on what the literal sense means in certain cases, including the first chapter of Genesis. As St. Thomas Aquinas demonstrated, there can be legitimate and different interpretations of the literal sense of the text. He gave at least one example in the Summa commentary on Genesis. There are also many varied interpretations of certain passages in Genesis 1 that have been made by the Church Fathers. While the literal sense is true, there has been some difficulty in understanding what that sense is.
The literal sense of a text, according to St. Thomas, is the “signification of things in words.” Words must signify the thing. What the thing is is sometimes hard to represent in words.
Let me give you an interpretation of Genesis that is true to the literal sense, but supports the Big Bang (Jimmy’s original request):
First, there are no verb tenses in Hebrew. Hebrew verbs are not bound to time, they are bound to action. Hebrew has two “aspects”: perfect, for completed actions, and imperfect for continuing or unfinished actions.
Rats – I have to go. I have a class in ten minutes. I have to finish grading exams. More, later.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken May 6, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I’m back.
The first sentence in Genesis is:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The Hebrew is more telling:
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
[Transliterated, right to left]:
‘erets ‘eth shamayim ‘eth bara’ ‘elohiym re’shiyth
Now, the verb, bara’ is in the perfect aspect, which indicates a completed act. The first sentence really says: In the beginning of everything, it was God who finished the creation of Heaven and Earth. The totality of the creative act of making everything was done by God and is finished.
This is called, First Creation, in biblical analysis. The second sentence is part of it:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
This is interesting in that, once again, the verb aspect is perfect. This indicates a finished act that left something without form and void. Basically, when God first created the earth as a finished act, it was without form, but it was finished as the earth in this state. This could indicate a vacuum state which would eventually become the earth in potentia. So, the first two lines are a summary of the process of creation. God sets things up and finishes them.
Now, things change. Suddenly, with the next line and for the rest of Chapter One, the aspect of the verbs change almost entirely to the imperfect aspect – a work, suddenly in progress.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
This was a continuing light, an unfinished light. This is when creation starts to come into play as a process. Prior to this was a description of what God accomplished before he set things into motion. This could be the creation of a primordial atom or a brane or something else. The words are unclear.
Now God makes light. This could be the formation of electromagnetic forces after the Big Bang. Notice that it says that God called the light day and the darkness night – God, not man. This was his private description to himself that would eventually be adopted by man.
Next, God created a firmament in the midst of the waters. This could be the formation of matter. The waters could be the original vaccum state.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry [land] appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry [land] Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that [it was] good.
Dividing the waters from the waters could indicate the separation of matter and anti-matter.
The word Heaven does not mean Heaven, the place where God dwells, since presumably, that existed before creation, but rather a firm separator or dome. This could indicate some aspect of the separation of matter and anti-matter, such as charge separation.
Next, things coalesced into land. This could be the formation of matter in the solar system leading to the formation of the earth, proper. Then, water condensed.
My purpose here is not to say this is what happened. It is simply to point out that words like water and darkness mean something in the original, but do these mean the same as the common words? We don’t know. They could, but we do not know. Vacuum states exit in the laboratory. The Church fathers could not have known about them. If they had, would their analysis incorporated, them? Interesting question.
This is all hypothetical and just things to confuse the discussion :)
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken May 6, 2009 at 3:03 pm

My last two posts show just how silly, stupid, and prideful I can be when I put my mind to it. Sorry, all.
The Chicken

John May 6, 2009 at 3:19 pm

1. Thomas E. Vaughan:
Whatever is in The Holy Scripture is revealed by God i.e. is sacred no matter how profane it looks to you. If you deny that then you are heretic, outside The Church and salvation.
And, according to the faith and even ordinary human logic, it is absolutely forbidden to deal with sacred things in a profane way.
So, TEV, whenever The Holy Scripture is involved nothing can be profane.
Instead of giving up your unbelievable heresies (unbelievable since you err in basic things in which even the unlearned wouldn’t err) you try to justify yourself and so embarrass yourself more and more, falling deeper and deeper into abyss of sin.
Since medicines for grave diseases (as yours is) are almost always unpleasant so are my words.
Whole text of Genesis 1 must always have literal meaning (1) and literal meaning must always be its primary meaning(2).
Whether the whole text of Genesis 1 can also have a non-literal meaning as a secondary meaning is unimportant:
because (1) if at any time you are able to deny literal meaning to the whole text of Genesis 1 then of necessity at that time you CAN deny literal meaning to each and every particular thing in it.
And then “God’s creation” in Genesis 1 CAN in fact be not God’s creation but only a fable for the unlearned etc.
(2) If literal meaning of the whole text of Genesis 1 is not its primary meaning then the whole text of Genesis 1 becomes a sort of Jesus’ parable (which also has literal meaning but as secondary meaning) so that God’s creation as being the part of such a “parable” cannot be a matter of faith.
Vatican I defined God’s creation as a matter of faith so that literal meaning of the whole text of Genesis 1 cannot be its secondary meaning i.e. Genesis 1 cannot be a parable and is not a parable.
So I repeat, some particular things in Genesis 1 CAN have non-literal (but always sacred!) meaning but the whole text of Genesis 1 must always have sacred and literal meaning as its primary meaning.
Also, ask Michael to show us and you points 1, 2, 3 and 6 from PBC’s decision on historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis if you don’t understand what I wrote.

John May 6, 2009 at 3:23 pm

2. Inocencio:
“John,
“Regarding Catechism: it lies that Mohammedans adore with us(!) the one and only God (point 841), The Trinity of course. No one intelligent believes a liar.”
Do you believe that you personally have the authority to define and declare what is and what is not Catholic teaching?”
Catechisms should directly (by literal meaning of their content) teach the faith all kinds of people, learned and unlearned. Shouldn’t they, Inocencio?
Now, tell us, Inocencio, do Mohammedans believe in the one and only God, The Holy Trinity?
If they don’t believe in The Holy Trinity (as it is a fact) then how do they adore God in Whom they don’t believe, Inocencio?
And would you explain to us why then The Catechism falsely tells that they adore God Whom they even don’t know?
Would you explain to us how I defined and declared what is and what is not Catholic teaching by merely stating the obvious truth that there is the falsity in the Catechism?
Would you imply a blasphemy that Catholic teaching can be an obvious contradiction i.e. a falsity like this that Mohammedans adore God Whom they don’t know? Don’t you know that in each and every contradiction there is always a falsity (note: Do you see what is the problem when two opinions disagree? At least one opinion is certainly a falsity. Hence, pluralism of opinions should be allowed only when the truth is not available.)?
And would you explain to us why do you break two commandments of God:
(1) “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole MIND (note: emphasis mine).” (Matthew 22:37)
Who doesn’t know that Mohammedans don’t believe in The Holy Trinity? And you still dare to accept such a falsity without thinking? Is that loving of God by your whole mind?
(2) “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.” (Mark 13:37)
Is your acceptance of such an obvious falsity watching, Inocencio?

John May 6, 2009 at 3:28 pm

3. The Masked Chicken:
As long as interpretation of certain passages of Genesis 1 doesn’t contradict the literal interpretation of the whole text of Genesis 1 no Catholic should have anything against it, including me.
People should now that faith and The Church, due to being from God Who cannot lie nor can be lied, teach the truth i.e. what really is while all these theories, no matter how flamboyantly they look, teach either falsities (e.g. theory of evolution) or unproven and unknown speculations which could easily be false.
In courts, whatever has anything unknown in its principle or its essence is, in regular cases, never taken into account as a proof. Clearly reasonable since lie can have true part and the unknown part can be a false one.
In databases, when records are to be selected where their field has a value (by which a condition of selection becomes true i.e. satisfied) it is the law that whenever value in the field is unknown i.e. there is no value in the field the whole record is not selected as if the condition of selection became false i.e. unsatisfying. Clearly reasonable since condition of selection must be met and it cannot be met when value is unknown i.e. there is no value to be tested.
But theories founded on unknown and unproven hypoteses are taken as if they were known and proven i.e. laws. And that is called “science”. Clearly unreasonable since it can easily happen that what is spoken of as existent doesn’t exist and that would then be a sin of presumptuous lying. And if they in anything contradict The Church then there are also added sins of infidelity and of blasphemy as if The Holy Spirit and The Church taught a falsity.

The Masked Chicken May 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Dear John,
We both agree that the literal sense of Scripture is correct. I believe that the Church has defined the literal sense of Genesis 1 for certain areas: the creation of the universe, ex nihilo, the orderliness of creation, God as the author of creation. I think you are on safe ground with these assertions. I am not sure that the Church has defined the literal sense, dogmatically, of some of the other parts, except that they must not contradict what has been dogmatically defined. I think we have some common ground, here.
My question is: what do you suggest that scientists and mathematicians do? Quit and go home? Is there no room for science in your theology? You wrote:
In courts, whatever has anything unknown in its principle or its essence is, in regular cases, never taken into account as a proof.
What is known in its principle or essence? Man is not known in his essence and yet we accept testimony from men as proof. We do not know the value of Pi in its essence, but we accept it in proofs. We can prove there are an infinity of prime numbers by assuming that there are not (something false) and showing a contradiction exists.
The difference between a court of law and is science that nature never lies, only men do. A court of law needs some additional safeguards that science doesn’t need.
I accept whatever is true, as defined by the Church, about Genesis 1. If science is wrong, it will eventually be proven so. The only people who might be scandalized are people who hold science as an absolute and not man’s poor clumsy striving to understand the universe God made.
The Chicken

Inocencio May 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm

John,
I will happily respond to your questions but ask the courtesy of an answer to mine first.
Do you believe that you personally have the authority to define and declare what is and what is not Catholic teaching?
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Michael May 6, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Anybody who wants to can read whichever points they want in the PBC statement here:
http://www.catholicscripture.net/enchiridion/genesis.html
It is not clear that the PBC means the same thing that John does when he insists on the “literal” meaning of the text, and, moreover, the Church’s position on Genesis has been clarified by further Church documents discussing Genesis in the century since the (non-infallible) 1909 PBC statement was issued.
Since John wants us to accept his personal views instead of the Church’s actual teaching, as evidenced by his dissent from the Church’s teaching documents such as the Catechism, he will have to provide his own interpretation and commentary.
As for me, I will stick with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and leave this discussion at that.

John May 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm

1. The Masked Chicken:
The Masked Chicken: “I believe that the Church has defined the literal sense of Genesis 1 for certain areas: the creation of the universe, ex nihilo, the orderliness of creation, God as the author of creation.”
No. As you can see from the PBC’s decision The Church has forever defined the literal sense for the whole Genesis 1. Please make sure to read the following reply on Michael’s comment since its has a lot to do with this issue.
The Masked Chicken: “I am not sure that the Church has defined the literal sense, dogmatically, of some of the other parts, except that they must not contradict what has been dogmatically defined. I think we have some common ground, here.”
Read the point 6 from the PBC’s decision and you’ll see that not only it must not contradict dogmatically defined truths but also the literal sense of the whole text of Genesis 1.
The Masked Chicken: “My question is: what do you suggest that scientists and mathematicians do? Quit and go home? Is there no room for science in your theology? You wrote:
In courts, whatever has anything unknown in its principle or its essence is, in regular cases, never taken into account as a proof.
What is known in its principle or essence? Man is not known in his essence and yet we accept testimony from men as proof. We do not know the value of Pi in its essence, but we accept it in proofs. We can prove there are an infinity of prime numbers by assuming that there are not (something false) and showing a contradiction exists.
The difference between a court of law and is science that nature never lies, only men do. A court of law needs some additional safeguards that science doesn’t need.
I accept whatever is true, as defined by the Church, about Genesis 1. If science is wrong, it will eventually be proven so. The only people who might be scandalized are people who hold science as an absolute and not man’s poor clumsy striving to understand the universe God made.”
According to St. Thomas Aquinas (see here: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3001.htm#article5)
“I answer that, All science is derived from self-evident and therefore “seen” principles” and “Because science is incompatible with opinion about the same object simply, for the reason that science demands that its object should be deemed impossible to be otherwise, whereas it is essential to opinion, that its object should be deemed possible to be otherwise.”
while in the question in which these statements are replies to the objections there is this definition of science (St. Thomas?): “Science is certain knowledge of a demonstrated conclusion through its demonstration”.
Now, The Masked Chicken, how those Bing-Bang and other famous theories based on undemonstrable and unproven hypoteses fit in with this clearest definition of science?
Therefore, all such theories are fallible opinions related to science but not science itself because they are uncertain due to being founded on hypoteses that are not self evident truths nor are conclusions correctly made from self-evident truths.
Of course, no one denies the right to scientists to have their opinions i.e. hypoteses.
But until they are not proven i.e. demonstrable from self-evident principles i.e. truths they are not science which binds by the truth but a mere private and thus in no way binding opinions.
The principle of a crime examined in court is “Who?”, “What?”, “Why?”, “When?” etc. Principle and esence are words normally used in ordinary speech. I admit the sentence should have been better made. I apologize to you and to others for it not being clear enough.
So, from what has been written so far it is evident that your opinion about science is not correct: science is always absolutely true, absolutely infallible and absolutely demonstrable because if not then it is not science but a fallible and thus in no way binding opinion.
So, what schools and media teach and preach is often false. Take care.
I am glad that you accept whatever The Church defined regarding Genesis 1. It just has to be proved by deeds (writing, speaking).
There is only one theology which is only Catholic as there is only one Gospel which is only Catholic. Everything else is not theology.
But as there is only one Gospel according to St. Matthew, St. Mark etc. there is only one theology according to numerous Catholic theologians. But since all truth is from The Truth – Jesus Christ no theologian preaches anything of his own but only what is Christ’s as Christ gave him.
This is about “my theology”, “your theology”, “St. Thomas Aquinas theology” etc.

John May 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm

2. Inocencio:
Of course I don’t have it.
But I am really curious to see what your question has to do with the abominable lie in the Catechism.

John May 7, 2009 at 2:58 pm

3. Michael:
Here is the excerpt of the text of “Praestantia Scripturae” motu proprio which you can read here in its entirety (note: capitalization is mine): http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10prasc.htm
“In so doing the Pontiff had in mind as an advantage most adapted for the promotion of study and for the time in which we live that in this Commission there should be the fullest freedom for proposing, examining and judging all opinions whatsoever, and that the Cardinals of the Commission were not to reach any DEFINITE DECISION, as described in the said apostolic letters, before they had examined the arguments in favor and against the question to be decided, omitting nothing which might serve to show in the clearest light the true and genuine state of the Biblical questions under discussion. Only after all this had been done were THE DECISIONS REACHED TO BE SUBMITTED FOR THE APPROVAL OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF and THEN PROMULGATED.
After mature examination and the most diligent deliberations the Pontifical Biblical Commission has happily given certain decisions of a very useful kind for the proper promotion and direction on safe lines of Biblical studies. But we observe that some persons, unduly prone to opinions and methods tainted by pernicious novelties and excessively devoted to the principle of false liberty, which is really immoderate license and in sacred studies proves itself to be a most insidious and a fruitful source of the worst evils against the purity of the faith, have not received and do not receive these decisions with the proper obedience.
Wherefore we find it necessary to declare and to expressly prescribe, and by this our act WE DO DECLARE AND DECREE that all are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Commission relating to doctrine, which have been given in the past and which shall be given in the future, in the same way as to the decrees of the Roman congregations approved by the Pontiff; nor can all those escape the note of disobedience or temerity, and consequently of GRAVE SIN, who in speech or writing contradict such decisions, and this besides the scandal they give and the other reasons for which they may be responsible before God for other temerities and errors which generally go with such contradictions.”
Definite decision regarding doctrine (faith), approved by the pope, promulgated, binding all faithful in conscience, mortal sin for contradicting it and Michael writes that the PBC’s decision on historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis is non-infallible and therefore non-binding.
So as you can see Michael preaches falsities and his own personal views and here is the infallible proof for that.
What is even worse, by defending the lie about Mohammedans in the Catechism he implies that The Church has an authority to turn a lie into the truth. This is a blasphemy worthy of special note.
And then after all his horrendous falsities and the blasphemy Michael accuses me for personal i.e. false views. If falsity is the truth then Michael’s accusation is the truth.
Unlike these definite and binding decisions of PBC, the entire Catechism itself has never been a BIG (few hundred pages) definite decision and so this essential element is lacking that the Catechism i.e. ITS WHOLE content be infallible (some statements in it can be infallible).
So the Catechism can contain falsities and as you can see indeed contains a huge one.
It seems that this, by many unnoticed/unknown difference, is what confuses lots of people and makes them swallow abominable lies in the Catechism (lies which obviously contradict reality: e.g. like the lie that Mohammedans believe in The Trinity while they most categorically and most clearly reject The Trinity.) as Catholic (The Church’s) teaching which of course they are not.

Michael May 7, 2009 at 3:57 pm

John,
I didn’t say the PBC was non-binding. I said it was not clear that it means what you think it means, but more importantly, that as a non-infallible statement it should be understood in the context of the continued teaching of the Catholic Church which clarifies the latitude Catholics have in this matter — continued magisterial teaching you prefer to ignore because of your private interpretations.
Your assertion that the Catechism errs in teaching that Muslims worship the same One God as we do is false, but I do not wish to take Jimmy’s thread off topic debating it.

The Masked Chicken May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Dear John,
You wrote:
Therefore, all such theories are fallible opinions related to science but not science itself because they are uncertain due to being founded on hypoteses that are not self evident truths nor are conclusions correctly made from self-evident truths.
John, I am a scientist. You are picking a definition to suit your purpose. You are, in fact, equivocating. Science, scientia, as St. Thomas called it, had a different meaning than it does in common parlance, today. Scientia means knowledge, in Latin, and St. Thomas simply used the prevailing definition of his day. Science, back then, meant, experimental science, only. Theory was assigned to philosophy.
My use of the term science is the modern sense – the gradual development of knowledge of the universe and its components by method of hypothesis formation and testing. That is the sense I used it in my last sentence. If you change my definition to your own, then we wind up talking about two different things and you wind up appearing to give me sentiments I did not state.
As I pointed out, I accept the literal sense of all of Genesis 1. Did you not understand this? Let me repeat: there are certain things which are infallibly defined by the Church (God created the universe, ex nihilo, for example) to be the definitive interpretation of the literal sense of the text and certain things which are not, such as whether or not Yom is to be interpreted as exactly one twenty-four hour day. The metaphorical sense of Yom is, is, is, at this point in history and until the Church should decide otherwise, an acceptable literal interpretation of the text. Is this not clear to you? I really do suspect that you do not know what the Church means when it says, “the literal sense of the text.” Please, read St. Thomas, again. I have provided a link, above.
Since you brought up the PBC’s document, let me quote from it in both the Latin and English so there will be no misunderstanding as to what it states. I will provide my emphasis in italics [sorry, Jimmy, for the long quote]:
Dubium IV.: Utrum in interpretandis illis horum capitum locis, quos Patres et Doctores diverso modo intellexerunt, quin certi quippiam definitique tradiderint, liceat salvo Ecclesiae iudicio servataque fidei analogia, eam, quam quisque prudenter probaverit, sequi tuerique sententiam? Resp.: Affirmative.
Question IV: Whether in interpreting those passages of these chapters, which the Fathers and Doctors have understood differently, but concerning which they have not taught anything certain and definite, it is permitted, while preserving the judgment of the Church and keeping the analogy of faith, to follow and defend that opinion which everyone has wisely approved? — Reply: In the affirmative.
Dubium V.: Utrum omnia et singula, verba videlicet et phrases, quae in praedictis capitibus occurrunt, semper et necessario accipienda sint sensu proprio, ita ut ab eo discedere numquam liceat, etiam cum locutiones ipsae manifesto appareant improprie, seu metaphorice vel anthropomorphice usurpatae, et sensum proprium vel ratio tenere prohibeat vel necessitas cogat dimittere? Resp.: Negative.
Question V: Whether all and everything, namely, words and phrases which occur in the aforementioned chapters, are always and necessarily to be accepted in a special sense, so that there may be no deviation from this, even when the expressions themselves manifestly appear to have been taken improperly, or metaphorically or anthropomorphically, and either reason prohibits holding the proper sense, or necessity forces its abandonment? — Reply: In the negative.
Dubium VI.: Utrum, praesupposito litterali et historico sensu, nonnullorum locorum eorundem capitum interpretatio allegorica et prophetica, praefulgente sanctorum Patrum et Ecclesiae ipsius exemplo, adhiberi sapienter et utiliter possit? Resp.: Affirmative.
Question VI: Whether, presupposing the literal and historical sense, the allegorical and prophetical interpretation of some passages of the same chapters, with the example of the Holy Fathers and the Church herself showing the way, can be wisely and profitably applied? — Reply: In the affirmative.
Dubium VII.: Utrum, cum in conscribendo primo Geneseos capite non fuerit sacri auctoris mens intimam adspectabilium rerum constitutionem ordinemque creationis completum scientifico more docere, sed potius suae genti tradere notitiam popularem, prout communis sermo per ea ferebat tempora, sensibus et captui hominum accommodatam, sit in horum interpretatione adamussim semperque investiganda scientifici sermonis proprietas? Resp.: Negative.
Question VII: Whether, since in writing the first chapter of Genesis it was not the mind of the sacred author to teach in a scientific manner the detailed constitution of visible things and the complete order of creation, but rather to give his people a popular notion, according as the common speech of the times went, accommodated to the understanding and capacity of men, the propriety of scientific language is to be investigated exactly and always in the interpretation of these? — Reply: In the negative.
Dubium VIII.: Utrum in illa sex dierum denominatione atque distinctione, de quibus in Geneseos capite primo, sumi possit vox Yôm (dies) sive sensu proprio pro die naturali, sive sensu improprio pro quodam temporis spatio, deque huiusmodi quaestione libere inter exegetas disceptare liceat? Resp.: Affirmative.
Question VIII: Whether in that designation and distinction of six days, with which the account of the first chapter of Genesis deals, the word (dies) can be assumed either in its proper sense as a natural day, or in the improper sense of a certain space of time; and whether with regard to such a question there can be free disagreement among exegetes? — Reply: In the affirmative.
I am sorry, John. My analysis is correct and it agrees with what the PBC states. I have cited words in their document which almost precisely match what I have written in my posts, above. I repeat, I suspect you do not understand what is meant by the term, “literal sense of Scripture,” as the Church defines it and this may be leading to some conclusions on your part that are too restrictive.
I know that you love the Church. It is not at all clear to me that the Church is as strict in its definitions of certain things to the point where you can properly correct a brother who also loves the Church in the manner in which you are doing. On abortion, the Church has spoken definitively and should you encounter a Catholic who holds a different position, go to it, but always with gentleness and charity. In matters relating to areas where the Church has allowed some leeways, as the document quoted above clearly allows, you err in unjustly condemning a person who uses that freedom.
Many people writing in these comboxes have suffered for the Faith (as I am sure you have) more than you will ever know. Please, treat them as brother and sisters, not enemy combatants. I have never, to my knowledge, shown you disrespect or cavalierly dismissed your points. I ask for the same respect for others. St. Paul did say:
1Pe 3:14 -15 But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;

John, if I am wrong in my arguments, rest assured, I am trying to follow what the Church teaches as best I am able to understand it. I think you are, too. I have presented my understanding as best I can in a spirit of kindness. If I am in error, I will gladly repent. I think, as I read the Church’s documents and history, however, at this time, that my interpretation is according to the mind of the Church. If you feel it is not, then instruct me, but you also have the moral obligation to seriously consider my points without jumping too quickly to reply or condemn. I am not your enemy, nor the enemy of the Church. If we both sincerely intend to hold to what the Church teaches, but our research leads us to different conclusion, do not start hurling anathema sit, but lead gently, when possible.
Let us conduct our exchanges in Christian charity. That, too, is a sign.
The Chicken

Rick DeLano May 8, 2009 at 10:11 am

Wow.
Sure is good to know that it was only Rick who was directed by the host to “stick to the subject” of the Big Bang.
I suppose that the host’s directive was subjected to sophisticated modern literary criticism techniques, and it was discovered to mean something quite different than a fundamentalist, overly-literalistic view might have suggested.
Cheers!

John May 8, 2009 at 3:42 pm

1. Michael:
As you can see from his reply Michael implies that The Church’s statement can be non-infallible i.e. fallible and yet be a definite decision on the matter of faith, confirmed by the pope, promulgated by solemn words (“we declare and decree”) and binding all in consience under penalty of mortal (grave) sin.
Michael has showed us who is his father. Just read John 8:44.
2. Inocencio:
Inocencio, you promised replies to the questions. Are they coming or you admit defeat without a battle?

John May 8, 2009 at 4:11 pm

3. The Masked Chicken:
“John, I am a scientist. You are picking a definition to suit your purpose. You are, in fact, equivocating. Science, scientia, as St. Thomas called it, had a different meaning than it does in common parlance, today. Scientia means knowledge, in Latin, and St. Thomas simply used the prevailing definition of his day. Science, back then, meant, experimental science, only. Theory was assigned to philosophy.
My use of the term science is the modern sense – the gradual development of knowledge of the universe and its components by method of hypothesis formation and testing. That is the sense I used it in my last sentence.”
You didn’t say anything new about science in the modern sense because you mentioned development of knowledge only and confirmed what I wrote: that scientists are free to use theories to come to the knowledge alone. Knowledge is always certain otherwise it is not knowledge but opinion (theory) which can fail and that’s precisely what St. Thomas Aquinas says.
Also, since St. Thomas Aquinas says philosophy is science (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm#article1, beginning of Objection 1) your statement that theory belonged to philosophy and not to science is a manifest error.
So it is manifest another error of yours which says that scientists in the age of St. Thomas didn’t test theories. They did test theories because philosophy is science and, as you said, philosophers had theories. Why would they have theories and, being scientists, not try to test them?
That in the age of St. Thomas theories were only found in philosophical science is a very brave and in no way self-evident statement. So until you present us a proof it can only be your opinion and not a fact. And until then (if it ever happens) your statement is worthless for this discussion.
If you want to assert that science is not all about knowledge only (note that “scientia” is Latin for “knowledge”) but is about knowledge and opinion then you should tell us all how then it is called that where there is word about knowledge only.
“As I pointed out, I accept the literal sense of all of Genesis 1. Did you not understand this?”
It is possible that I misunderstood you.
As you could see some people denied the literal sense of the whole text of Genesis 1 because of non-literal interpretation of some parts of it.
I was fighting only their huge and very dangerous error.
Obviously you were not among them although only in your last comment you clearly say (at least to me) that you accept the literal interpretation of the whole text of Genesis 1.
In general, one doesn’t have to know everything about something to know what that something is:
so that certain data (i.e. data from some parts of Genesis 1) are sufficient for knowledge of something (i.e. for knowledge of the literal meaning of the whole text of Genesis 1) so that the missing data (i.e. missing data about non-literal meaning of some parts of Genesis 1) don’t matter for the knowledge of that something (i.e. for the knowledge of that literal meaning of the whole text of Genesis 1).
Clearly The Church didn’t invent anything new: just applied this well known principle which has often been used, even among the children (Guess what has this? And this? And this? etc.).
It doesn’t look nice that you skipped over the first three points in the PBC’s decision regarding historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis.
Nevertheless point 6 says it all about the whole text of Genesis 1: “presupposing the literal and historical sense”.
“I repeat, I suspect you do not understand what is meant by the term, “literal sense of Scripture,” as the Church defines it and this may be leading to some conclusions on your part that are too restrictive.”
Too restrictive that one is not allowed to contradict The Church’s infallible and binding decision that the whole text of Genesis 1 does have literal and historical meaning?
Or you just didn’t understood some of my words? Could you please cite me?
“It is not at all clear to me that the Church is as strict in its definitions of certain things to the point where you can properly correct a brother who also loves the Church in the manner in which you are doing. On abortion, the Church has spoken definitively and should you encounter a Catholic who holds a different position, go to it, but always with gentleness and charity. In matters relating to areas where the Church has allowed some leeways, as the document quoted above clearly allows, you err in unjustly condemning a person who uses that freedom.”
As the PBC’s statement in the reply to Michael clearly proves these brothers and sisters or “brothers” and “sisters” contradict definite and binding-all decision of The Church and scandalize and endanger souls of other brothers and sisters by falsely stating that the whole text of Genesis 1 doesn’t have to be interpreted literally.
Now, when there is a danger nearing I don’t know anyone who would gently and soft-spokenly warn people against it. Who would listen to such a warning?
Therefore, charity obliges everyone that, when needed, acts loudly and/or forcefully. Didn’t The Church pronounced anathemas to protect the faith and the faithful from evil doctrines?
Regarding the literal interpretation of the whole text of Genesis 1 The Church allowed no leeway to anyone to avoid it so that your accusation that I unjustly condemn people is a falsity.
Sorry Chicken, Catholics i.e. Christians cannot behave like heretics and have contradictory conclusions when self-evident truths and/or definite (infallible) decisions of The Church are available. This is a huge scandal and you know or should know what Jesus said about those who scandalize others. And who is the father of lies and of those who stick to lies.

The Masked Chicken May 8, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Dear John,
You wrote:
Regarding the literal interpretation of the whole text of Genesis 1 The Church allowed no leeway to anyone to avoid it so that your accusation that I unjustly condemn people is a falsity.
I think I said that the Church held to the literal interpretation of Genesis 1. What we disagree on is what constitutes the literal interpretation. My reading of the PBC document leads me to believe that at least some of the ideas made in these discussion fall within that definition and there is room within the literal interpretation for different viewpoints, such as the Church fathers had and St. Thomas points out. Obviously, anything outside of the literal interpretation is against Church teaching.
The only thing we disagree on, in the main, is when someone has stepped outside of the permissible bounds of the literal interpretation. You take a much more restrictive view than I think the Church does with regards to Genesis 1, based upon the documents and history I have read. You would, then, be quicker to call someone a heretic than I. That is what I meant. If someone claimed that aliens created the universe, I would be standing right beside you in condemning their nonsense (not the person, obviously). If someone wanted to claim that the six days of creation were not twenty-four hour periods, I would have more difficulty in speaking, since the Church does allow for that hypothetical interpretation of the literal sense.
As far as medieval science, I said that their science was empirical. Obviously, they has theories in order to do testing, but they were, for the most part, practical theories, not philosophical theories. Theorizing about the nature of things was relegated to philosophy or natural philosophy (the precursor to modern “science”),as it developed.
Don’t get me wrong – when science excludes God as the author of nature, they are on dangerous ground. That certainly contradicts the literal sense of Genesis 1.

John May 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm

First of all, belied by clearly false theory of evolution which denies God’s creation and thus cannot be anything but a false opinion yesterday we both made a mistake by using the word “theories” as if it meant hypoteses (opinions):
e.g. “that scientists are free to use theories to come to the knowledge alone. Knowledge is always certain otherwise it is not knowledge but opinion (theory) which can fail and that’s precisely what St. Thomas Aquinas says.” (my statement)
and
“Obviously, they has theories in order to do testing” (your statement).
I checked dictionaries for the exact meaning of the word “theory” and got this: “Knowledge which is logical generalization of experience”. Thus theory is pure knowledge which is certain and cannot fail!
The shocking consequence of this discovery is, for example, that theory of evolution is not a theory at all but is only a hypotesis (opinion) and thus a pseudo-theory or quack-theory: its generalization ends up with clearly illogical conclusion that God didn’t create the universe and so it fails to satisfy the logical part of the condition for a theory.
But who would believe in that hypotesis if the truth were stated that it was only a hypotesis?
So it seems that this modern and improper use of terms like “theory” (used for hypotesis), “science” (also used for hypotesis) etc. serves to the purpose of fooling people into believing mere opinions or even falsities.
“As far as medieval science, I said that their science was empirical.”
Chicken, modern science is also empirical. Except theology science has always been founded on experience: practical or speculative experience.
What I forgot to point out yesterday is that omission of hypoteses by St. Thomas Aquinas from the definition of science (although scientists of his age certainly had hypoteses) proves that hypoteses don’t belong to science but are only directly related to it.
In sum, science is only about knowledge i.e. only about principles (self-evident truths, facts) and logical (true) conclusions drawn from them.
As to my sentence “Regarding the literal interpretation of the whole text of Genesis 1 The Church allowed no leeway to anyone to avoid it so that your accusation that I unjustly condemn people is a falsity.”:
if you read carefully this whole sentence you will see that it states that by The Church’s definite and infallible decision no one is allowed any leeway to depart only from the literal meaning of the whole text of Genesis 1.
“The only thing we disagree on, in the main, is when someone has stepped outside of the permissible bounds of the literal interpretation. You take a much more restrictive view than I think the Church does with regards to Genesis 1, based upon the documents and history I have read. You would, then, be quicker to call someone a heretic than I.”
This is your opinion. But on many places my comments prove that the only thing I battle is denial of obligatory literal meaning of the whole text of Genesis 1 and nothing else.
So I most firmly assert with The Church and with you that that there is a room for different views within the obligatory literal interpretation of the whole text of Genesis 1.
So the only true conclusion can be that your opinion about my alleged restrictiveness is, unfortunately, again false.
If one openly denies the obligatory literal interpretation of the whole text of Genesis 1 there is no doubt when and if he overstepped the limit regarding this doctrine of the faith.
It is clear that he did and I don’t see how can you be true to yourself and not see exactly the same thing as me: that he overstepped the limit in the matter of faith and thus stepped into a heresy.
And if you read carefully what I wrote you will see that it is written (the following is the sense, not the quote): if you persist in that heresy then you are a heretic.
So I don’t call people heretics just because they said or wrote a heresy as one could wrongly understand from your words.
“when science excludes God as the author of nature, they are on dangerous ground.”
That is not science any more because science must never fail and that failed by having something other than God as the author of nature in its teaching..
Chicken, I have nothing against anyone but have everything against any falsity.
And as you can see, unlike some, I correct myself and allow anyone to correct me by the truth.
But no one can scandalize others by accusing me, without anything else or by using a falsity, as a man who writes his private i.e. false views and expect that I will not defend the truth and myself with it.
Not to forget Inocencio: barring his permanent inability to write if he doesn’t show up with the replies it is clear that I was right regarding the falsity in the Catechism. You should really take care.

The Masked Chicken May 9, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Dear John,
You wrote:
So the only true conclusion can be that your opinion about my alleged restrictiveness is, unfortunately, again false.
Thank you for clarifying you position. I did not mean to offend or draw incorrect conclusions. One can only work with what one has to go on and that may be misunderstood. That is why discussion is important.
The Chicken

bill912 May 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Inocencio, if I may cut through all the stuff that is suitable for enriching lawns, the simple translation of his answer to your question is: Yes.
Chicken: Are you enjoying the jello-wrestling?

Tim May 16, 2009 at 5:45 am

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