Dear Mr. Owen,
Thank you for all your work with the Kolbe Center. My wife and I are recent converts to the Catholic Church and we both believe strongly in the Traditional Catholic Doctrine of Creation, the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible, and the true literal meaning of Scripture. Please allow me to share my testimony with you.
I was raised in a very secular home, with very practical and down-to-earth parents. However, I always had a feeling that there was more to life than the mundane. Because my parents didn't believe in any one organized religion, they allowed me to look into almost any religion, as long as it wasn't "weird" or "occult."
I remember that one time my stepmother took my sister and me to a Sunday school class at an evangelical covenant church. Since I had already, by the age of ten become so indoctrinated with the old age of the earth and how the dinosaurs lived millions of years before man, I dismissed Christianity as a whole as superstitious myth.
In seventh grade biology, I learned about the various species depicted on one of the infamous "tree of life" illustrations in my science textbook. It all seemed very logical to me how life progressed from one creature to the next through mutations. I never really questioned evolution because it was presented as legitimate science.
As I grew a bit older, my interest in the supernatural had only grown, in spite of (or possibly because of) my materialistic formation. I tried many different religions, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Scientology, Machiavellianism, etc. I changed my religion with every book that I read. Looking back now I can see that though I started with the intention of seeking Truth, I ended with the search for the religion which would allow me to do what I wanted. I wanted a religion that would empower me to accomplish my dreams and eventually attain supernatural power.
After following this course for some time, I was challenged by some of my friends who were devout Christians. At this point, they introduced me to Pascal's Wager and the reality of Objective Truth. After trying to argue with all the new-age nonsense I had accumulated in my brain over the years, it became apparent that my arguments simply could not stand up in the face of Objective Truth. Also, a good friend said something that has stuck with me ever since. I had told him that the reason I didn't like Christianity was that Christians were closed-minded. He replied "If you aren't willing to try Christianity, you are just as closed minded as you say that I am." That really convicted me so I decided to investigate further. I also asked my friend, a devout Christian, about evolution and its contradiction of the Bible. He replied that the Bible has many different forms of literature and that the days of Genesis probably meant long eons of time, enough to allow for evolution. He then quoted a scripture which stated "A day to the Lord is a thousand years." That was good enough for me...at least for awhile.
I attended a few Bible studies, but I wasn't really convinced. I was still quite steeped at the time in my new age philosophy and tried to make what I learned about Christianity conform to my own views. In my mind, I had delusions of reforming Christianity to be more progressive, and more "new-age-like." After awhile I returned to my new-age beliefs, though I did manage to gain some respect for Christianity. There were certain questions that bothered me about Christianity. The most troubling were these: If evolution is still true and humanity will eventually evolve to become divine, why did I need a Savior? And if the accounts in Genesis were just figurative language, how could I count on Christ's Resurrection to be literally true? (or for that matter anything in the Bible which defies a natural explanation) Also, if the Bible wasn't meant to be taken literally about creation, maybe it wasn’t meant to be taken literally on moral issues either.
Because of my ignorance of the Truth and my confusion, I drifted even farther from God than I had been before. I was living with my girlfriend/fiancé at that time which because of my ignorance, I assumed to be totally fine. In my own mind, Christianity had been defeated by materialism, new-age spirituality, and even amoral Machiavellianism. "Why should I try to be a good Christian if the Bible is just a myth," I thought. During this dark period in my life I gave up on virtue for I considered virtue to be relative to one's own opinion. Because of the evil which reigned in my heart, I became even more addicted to pornography than I had previously been ( a sin which I inherited from my father ), I stole things, I started studying how to become a career criminal, and worst of all, I betrayed my fiancé; the one woman who loved me even when I was unlovable.
After I had sunken so low as to cheat on my future spouse, I even tried to lie to her about it. I had never been able to hide things from her before but this time, I looked her straight in the eye and lied to her. My conscience was so dead, that her tears didn't even affect me. Not long after this, we had an argument. My fiancé wanted to get married. I told her I wasn't ready yet which was true. I had lost all sense of certainty and was unsure if love even existed. During that argument, something unusual happened. In my mind's eye, a picture appeared. I was looking at my face as if in a mirror. Then all around my face flames appeared and my face began to burn. This whole vision only lasted about a second; barely long enough for a blink of an eye. I felt like I had been warned. Apparently, the parts of the Bible which tell about hell were in fact literally true and if I did not change my ways radically, that was how I was going to end up; burning in the flames of hell. Marriage it was.
Getting married was an amazing experience of God's grace. For the first time in my life, I knew I was doing the right thing and that God was blessing me for it. After being married a few years and trying our share of churches, my wife got a singing job at our local Catholic cathedral and I had started teaching martial arts. Most of my students and their families were devout Christians and during this time they were a good influence on me. Among these was a man named Wade who let me borrow some Kent Hovind tapes. This Kent Hovind completely rocked my world. I couldn't stop watching his tapes. It all became clear to me and my eyes were truly opened. I had been duped. The fact that evolution never had any solid scientific evidence amazed me, frightened me, and gave me hope. I did not have to twist and manipulate the Bible to fit science because the Bible was completely true! It was fine just the way it was. After being exposed to creation science, I was able to look at God's Word with the simplicity and trusting heart of a child. It was all true. There were however some other mysteries to be solved.
Among these other mysteries was the fact that there were so many Christian churches. This didn't make any sense. After all they all worship the same God right? I asked my Evangelical pastor about this and why I should continue to go to his church rather than any other non-denominational church. The answer I received was not convincing at all. This made me want to find the Original Christian Church. Well, looking back, I can see that God was leading my wife and me to the Catholic Church. After all, my wife had been working at the Cathedral and we had both made some very close friends who just happened to be Catholic. One of these friends, a home schooling mother named Ginny, played a major part in leading my wife and me to the Catholic Church. Every time I had an objection or raised a question about the Faith, she had an intelligent answer. And, I really tested her, even to the point of trying to convert her to Evangelicalism at times, but no matter what I asked, whether it was about praying to the saints or the letters of the Pope’s title spelling out 666, Ginny either had an immediate answer for my questions or at times she would lend some books to me. Two of these were very helpful, Surprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid, and Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating. After reading these books, my wife and I had a serious talk and decided to inquire about becoming Catholics. This was not so different from my wife's childhood Lutheran faith so she was already feeling quite at home at the Cathedral. We were told to sign up for the RCIA course at the Cathedral.
RCIA was not an entirely positive experience. This is why. The director of religious education at the Cathedral whom I will not name seemed to be more interested in proclaiming her own opinions than in echoing back the Truth of Church teaching. There were many things that were taught in RCIA either by the director or by other catechists that were of no use if not detrimental to my faith. These are some of the themes that were taught in RCIA:
1) The Bible is only inerrant when it speaks on spiritual matters, since it wasn't meant to be a science or history textbook. Therefore, it is unintelligent to adhere to a literal interpretation of Genesis since there is so much "science" which proves evolution.
2) Catholics have no problem with evolution and don't believe in creationism because it is not taught in the Bible or in Sacred Tradition. (Sadly, this thought was also presented to me by our priest.)
3) The creation story is a later adaptation of the Babylonian creation story and the creation stories of other cultures of the time which was fudged a little to make it fit with the rest of the books that Moses wrote.
4) God gave the writers of the Bible inspiration on the spiritual matters but anything scientific or historical had about the same trustworthiness as a novel, newspaper editorial, or a comic strip.
5) Believing in the Bible doesn't really do a lot for your salvation. All you have to do is be a good person. All religions have a little bit of truth in them so all paths lead to God. And, if you believe in things like the literal interpretation of Scripture and Yong-Earth Creationism, you are some kind of wacky Catholic Fundamentalist and should be avoided.
Obviously, after watching so many hours of the hard-hitting Creation Science of Kent Hovind and many others like him, I was not going to listen or adhere to the weak, relativistic, humanistic, pseudo-religious themes which I had been exposed to throughout my RCIA experience. In fact, this nonsense in RCIA was so frustrating that I went through the course twice. Toward the end of the first course I stopped attending the classes for awhile because I was afraid of losing my faith. Since the course only ran once a year and people were only received into the Church at Easter, I had to start over the next fall. This was very frustrating because my wife and I were already attending the Cathedral for a couple of years, we had done our homework and were quite sure that we wanted to become Catholic. Though we deeply enjoyed participating at Mass, we longed to receive the Eucharist.
Another thing that troubled me was that when our RCIA group would meet to discuss the readings at Mass, we would simply re-read them and the instructor would ask: "What do you think this passage means?" Apparently, it wasn't important to learn what the Church had to say.
We resolved to force ourselves through the RCIA classes and to endure the nonsense so that we could be accepted into the Church.
After I was confirmed, I felt the zeal of the Holy Spirit burn within my heart. I began studying more intensely than I ever had before. I read the whole Bible, the whole Catechism, and I studied many other books, articles and websites and I talked with and learned from many other Catholics. I also started praying the Rosary and going regularly to confession (which, by the way, is what cured my former addiction to pornography). I also talked with some friends of mine who are Traditional Sedevacantist Catholics. It fascinated me that they also believed in the literal meaning of Genesis. It also made me wonder if they were correct not to follow the Pope. I myself had a bad impression of John Paul II because of an article that one of my Protestant friends had given me about him giving credit to evolution. I considered joining the Sedevacantists but I believed too strongly in Christ's promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church and I didn't want to be a Protestant again. The Sedevacantists did have a good influence on me though when it comes to my faith in the literal creation in Genesis. Because they don't make any concession for evolution and they remain faithful to the Popes before Vatican II, it made me wonder what happened during Vatican II to make so many people believe that evolution and Catholicism are so compatible. I also had a strong suspicion that earlier Church Fathers and Popes may have been against evolution. This possibility gave me great hope. While searching for other Catholics who believe in Creationism, I found the Kolbe Center's website. It was and is a great help and inspiration to me. I ordered one of the conferences on Creation and was very pleased with what I heard the various speakers say. I even put some copies of the "What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Origins" tracts in the free reading materials stand at the Cathedral (though for some reason they were removed before all the tracts had been taken). Because of the Kolbe Center and other organizations like it, I now feel very confident in proclaiming the Traditional Doctrine of Creation, though I still yearn to know more about what the Church Fathers taught on the matter.
So, before I state some of the logical reasons I believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis, allow me to state the most important one. It was impossible for me to truly live in accordance with Biblical teaching until I actually believed what the Bible says. It was only when I had a true and uncompromising faith, that I was able to clean up my act and live the way God wants me to. When I was trying to make the Bible fit my own worldview, I didn't have enough faith to protect me from the fiery arrows of the evil one. However, when I started to conform my own views to the Word of God, He blessed me with the grace and strength necessary to follow Christ with my whole heart. Then, through the power of the Triune God, I was enabled to accomplish things that were impossible before. I was able to more fully accept God's grace and allow Him to work in and through me more effectively. For example, immediately after I had begun to believe in the literal six- day creation and after I was confirmed in the Church, I was able to:
1) Defeat my previous addiction to pornography, through the grace I received from the sacrament of Confession
2) Become an avid reader of the Bible and the Catechism and read them both from cover to cover
3) Give up teaching anything in my martial arts classes which compromised the Faith and found a Biblically-based system of martial arts which is now used as a vehicle to lead people to Jesus and His Church.
4) Pray much more than before including the Holy Rosary
5) and last but not least, to love my wife more faithfully than ever before
All of the great blessings described above were things that I had tried to accomplish before I accepted the fullness of the Truth. I had tried and failed many times to accomplish these things with my own will-power. This is the main reason that I believe so strongly in Creation and in the infallibility of God's Word: It works.
I do also have my own logical reasons for adhering to the literal interpretation of Genesis even when many of my other fellow Catholics, including most of the priests I know, think that it is not necessary.
First, holding to the belief that the days of Creation were long ages of time puts death before sin. Scripture and Tradition are very clear that until Adam and Eve sinned, there was no death. Now, having had many debates with some of my modernist and liberal friends about this, I know the objections they raise to this point. The most commonly held misconception is that the death that God warned Adam and Eve about was only a spiritual death. This is simply ridiculous. The book of Wisdom says that God didn't create death. Genesis says that when God had created everything there is, He saw that it was good. How can billions of years of misfits, suffering, and death be good? Or for that matter, why would anyone pray to a God who needed billions of years of death to evolve man? That doesn't sound all-powerful to me and the god of long ages cannot be the God of the Bible and the God of Tradition. After all, He created all there is out of nothing not out of pre-existing biological matter.
Second, Christ asks us to have the faith of a child. Where is the faith of a child; where is the trust in abandoning the obvious teaching of God’s Word in the face of any new scientific hypothesis dreamed up in order to deny God? I have been told that it is arrogant to assume that we know that the literal sense is what God wanted to convey in the book of Genesis. Really? Is it arrogant to assume that the Bible tells the truth about Jesus' resurrection? To me twisting and obscuring the obvious literal meaning of Genesis because it doesn't fit into our post-modern naturalistic worldview seems much more arrogant than trusting God to tell us about origins in a way that won't confuse the reader. After all, if God had decided to use long ages to create the world, don't you think He would have said so in a way that the common man could understand? Anyone reading the Bible without being pre-programmed by the government funded religion we know as Secular Humanism wouldn't come up with long ages for the days of Genesis. This is a forced interpretation and would lead us to either believe in some form of Gnosticism, thinking that there is secret knowledge for the intellectual elite and that only the elite could have the fullness of truth. Or it would lead us to believe that the Bible as a whole has no more historical truth or moral authority than an antique novel.
Third and last, some leaders of the Church may feel that it is necessary to abandon the literal meaning of Genesis in order to attract scientists or other highly educated people who believe in evolution to the Church. However, I think that this weak and apologetic abandonment is causing harm in two ways. Those who have a deeply rooted faith are missing out on the fullness of teaching that can only come from those who have a true understanding of Creation. And, the intelligentsia which might join the Church because of this perceived openness, are being lied to since the Traditional Doctrine of Creation will never change.
Also, doesn't the Catholic Church want to foster the return of our separated brethren to Holy Mother Church? Well, to most Protestants, this fondness for evolution and the denial of the literal meaning of Scripture doesn't appear to be wise and open-minded but is seen as foolish, weak, and compromising. After all, it was the literal understanding of the Bible which helped me to understand all the central Catholic teachings such as: Christ's real presence in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Confession, the authority of the Pope, Purgatory, the importance of Tradition, the unreliability of Sola Scriptura etc. All these things are put forth in Scripture in the literal sense. If a Protestant reads John 6 without any pre-conceived ideas, he would simply have to admit that Jesus' Body and Blood are truly present in the Eucharist. The literal interpretation of Scripture when taken in context is always the Catholic interpretation. Those who insist on compromising on the six-day creation, the literal sense of Scripture, or who seek to always present a naturalistic explanation of the miraculous events recorded in the Bible are not helping the Church or the rest of the world but causing harm. Ultimately, all the evil which affects the Church and the world at large is the result of a lack of faith in God. It bothers me that so many Catholics will speak out against the culture of death while completely ignoring the materialistic evolutionary world view which causes it. Our Church will never reach the holiness which God intended for us until we stop giving in to the compromises which weaken our faith.
So many wonder why there aren't as many miracles anymore or why the Church no longer resembles the Church of the book of Acts, or why there are priests who molest the innocent. The answer is simple but there are few who will listen. When Jesus visited His hometown, the faith of the people was weak so He did very few miracles there. Jesus, through Whom all things were created, also asks us," If you do not believe Me when I speak of earthly things, how will you believe Me when I speak of heavenly things." We live in a world that has lost its sense of mystery. The majority of mankind thinks that we already know almost all there is to know about the world around us. Contemporary atheists accuse creationists of believing in a "God of the Gaps," asking what will happen to our faith when we can explain everything naturally. This is only pride and arrogance. In reality, there is very little that we know about the world around us. We don't even know whether light is a particle or a wave. This is very similar to the arrogance and ignorance of Eve who thought she would actually know if God had lied about the forbidden fruit. All we need to do to see how little we know is to compare our highest form of technology, for instance a computer, to the human brain to see that God's ways are higher than ours.
In closing, I must remember to encourage and build up all those in the Church Militant, those brave warriors who fight to hold on to and spread the Traditional Catholic Doctrine of Creation. "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" so let us continue to fight the good fight of faith.
God Bless the Kolbe Center!