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Is the Catholic Rejection of Theistic Evolution a “Conspiracy Theory?”

Is the Catholic Rejection of Theistic Evolution a “Conspiracy Theory?”

In a recent article in the University of Notre Dame Church Life Journal, Dr. Brett Salkeld, the theologian for the Archdiocese of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, argues that Catholics who reject theistic evolution—the idea that God used billions of years of the same kinds of material processes going on now to produce all of the different kinds of living organisms, up to and including the human body—are “conspiracy theorists.”[1]  In this article we will elaborate on our previous response to Dr. Salkeld’s articles in defense of theistic evolution and answer his charge.  In the process, we will show that the real “conspiracy theory” is the one that holds that molecules-to-man evolution is compatible with the Church’s Sacred Tradition and authoritative Magisterial teaching.

What is a “Conspiracy Theory”?

“Conspiracy theory” is defined by brittanica.com as:

an attempt to explain harmful or tragic events as the result of the actions of a small, powerful group. Such explanations reject the accepted narrative surrounding those events; indeed, the official version may be seen as further proof of the conspiracy.[2]

Before responding to Dr. Salkeld’s specific allegation, it is worth noting that many hypotheses that were long dismissed as “conspiracy theories” because they challenged the “accepted narrative” were eventually proved “correct.”  No doubt the rumor that the Emperor Galerius set fire to Diocletian’s palace in Nicomedia and blamed the Christians was dismissed as “a conspiracy theory” by many in positions of authority, as was the “conspiracy theory” that the NAZI’s themselves set fire to the Reichstag in 1933.[3]  But let us take a more relevant example of a “conspiracy theory” that questioned the “accepted narrative” on one of the most influential fossil finds in modern history—Piltdown Man.

There is no doubt about the “accepted narrative” in regard to the Piltdown Man from the day in 1912 when its discoverers announced that they had found a definite missing link between apes and humans.  The New York Times launched the “accepted narrative” on Piltdown Man with the modest headline, “”Darwin Theory is Proved True”—not “supported,” “substantiated,” or even “confirmed”—but “proved true”!  No wonder Clarence Darrow’s defense team brought a plaster cast of the “proof” of man’s descent from the apes to the infamous Scopes Trial in 1925.  In 1931, The New York Times underscored the all but universal acceptance of this “proof” of Darwin’s theory with an article on one of the most famous paleontologists of his age, Henry Fairfield Osborn (1857-1935), who pontificated from his positions at Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History that humans had evolved in Europe, and, specifically, in England! From 1934 until 1952, two-thirds of all biology textbooks in the United States hailed “Piltdown Man” as fossil proof of man’s evolution from a one-celled organism through hundreds of millions of years of “struggle for existence.”  It was only in 1953 that a careful examination of the Piltdown man skull revealed that it was a fraud.[4]

We might do well to ponder the response of Pope St. Pius X to the news of Piltdown Man, if it reached him—as it probably did—in Rome in 1912.  Since he had mandated the teaching of the Roman Catechism as the gold standard for teaching the Faith, we have no doubt that he rejected the bogus claim that Darwin’s theory had been “proven true”—not because he had examined the claim in detail, but because he knew from Divine Revelation that the first human beings had been created supernaturally, body and soul, as Pope Leo XIII, his predecessor, had taught so beautifully in his encyclical Arcanum on Holy Marriage a generation before.

We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. [5]

For Pope St. Pius X and Pope Leo XIII—as for all of their predecessors back to St. Peter—and for all of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church—the question of man’s origin was not a proper subject for natural science but for historical theology.  Thus, no forensic evidence, no matter how impressive it might appear to someone operating within a uniformitarian naturalistic framework, could ever prompt them to doubt the truth of man’s supernatural origin by special creation.  Yet, to the intellectual elite of the early twentieth century—those who already controlled the secular universities and were gradually taking control of Catholic universities and seminaries—to question Piltdown Man and other fossil evidence for human evolution was most definitely to indulge in “conspiracy theory.”  That is why as early as 1922 the American Association for the Advancement of Science passed a resolution that “the evidences in favor of the evolution of man are sufficient to convince every scientist of note in the world.”[6]

In our previous article in response to some of Dr. Salkeld’s writings in defense of theistic evolution we clearly explained the fundamental difference between the way that he and most modern theologians draw the boundary between theology and natural science and the way that we—following in the footsteps of St. Pius X and the Fathers and Doctors of the Church—draw that boundary.  After reading his most recent article accusing us of “conspiracy theorizing,” we have to wonder whether Dr. Salkeld bothered to read the previous article (which we sent him more than a month ago) because he does not even acknowledge that there is any other legitimate framework within which to discuss the origins of man and the universe than the Cartesian-Darwinian one which assumes that the same kinds of material processes that are going now have been operating in the same way since the very beginning of the universe and that, therefore, natural scientists are justified in extrapolating from presently-observed material processes all the way back to the beginning of the cosmos to explain how everything came to be.

To those of our readers (including Dr. Salkeld) who have not read our previous response to Dr. Salkeld, we would make a humble plea that you read that article at this link so that we do not need to repeat ourselves here on the fundamental issue of the two frameworks.  Then we can concentrate on explaining more fully from an historical perspective why our defense of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation is not “conspiracy theory” but rock-solid argumentation on the ground of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and authoritative Magisterial teaching.

Abusing St. Augustine

To set the stage for his “conspiracy theory” allegation, Dr. Salkeld quotes St Augustine in a famous passage wherein the Doctor of Grace counsels Catholics to beware of expressing false opinions about natural science that are not matters of faith as if they were, thus earning the scorn of well-informed pagan intellectuals who are thus turned away from the Faith.

Now it is quite disgraceful and disastrous, something one should be on one’s guard at all cost, that they [unbelievers] should ever hear Christians spouting what they claim our Christian literature has to say on these topics, and talking such nonsense that they can scarcely contain their laughter when they see them to be toto caelo, as the saying goes, wide of the mark.[7]

We wish we could have a dollar for every time that this passage has been quoted to us as an intended rebuke, because we would have pocketed quite a few of them over the years!  However, by examining the passage in context we realized long ago that theologians like Dr. Salkeld who use this quotation to refute our position merely show that they have not understood the most important point that needs to be understood by any Catholic who approaches the subject of Creation—the preeminent point that we made in our response to his two articles in defense of theistic evolution.  In short, what must be understood is that St. Augustine was not a Cartesian-Darwinian modernist, but a Church Father who drew the boundary between natural science and theology AFTER the entire work of creation had been finished, and not at the very first moment of creation.   Since St. Augustine considered the entire work of Creation to be supernatural, it was not a matter for natural science, and no Catholic who defended the fiat creation of all things at the beginning of time could ever be the object of the rebuke that he offers to Catholics who invoke the Bible to support a false hypothesis in natural science.

In our previous response to Dr. Salkeld, we referred him and our other readers to an article on the Kolbe website by Mr. Joseph Gedney where he explains why it is inappropriate to cite this quotation against Catholics who defend the traditional Catholic doctrine of the fiat creation of all things at the beginning of time.  As Mr. Gedney explains:

there is a huge problem with touting this [statement] as a proof that St. Augustine believed that all revelation, Holy Scripture, and the Faith itself must bow before the demands of natural science.  For if the people who make these claims actually read St. Augustine’s works instead of spouting whatever they have heard others say, they would see that exactly two paragraphs from St. Augustine’s previous statement, he directly attacks the principal error of all theistic evolutionists:

Some of the weaker brothers and sisters, however, are in danger of going astray more seriously when they hear these godless people holding forth expertly and fluently on the numbers of the heavenly bodies, or on any question you care to mention about the elements of this cosmos.  They wilt and lose heart, putting these pundits before themselves, and while regarding them as great authorities, they turn back with weary distaste to the books of salutary godliness, and scarcely bring themselves to touch the volumes they should be devouring with delight – shrinking from the roughness of the husks of the wheat and eagerly eyeing the flowers of the thistles (Lit. Mean. Gen. I, 40(20)).

But this is exactly what we are experiencing in the Church today!  The mass exodus of youth out of the Church is not taking place because unbelievers are laughing at us for being “unscientific”–although they do laugh at our pathetic attempts to reconcile Genesis 1-11 and the writings of Church Fathers, like St. Augustine, with evolution.  No, the Catholic Faith is fading because we exalt “pundits” like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and Lawrence Krauss above God and the Magisterium of His Church.  So now we, and the world at large, “turn back with weary distaste to the books of salutary godliness and scarcely bring” ourselves “to touch the volumes” we “should be devouring with delight”—volumes such as Genesis, and the works of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers in their authoritative teaching.

If we had a fraction of the love and devotion that St. Augustine had for Genesis, the Church would not be undergoing her current crisis of faith.  For as St. Augustine so beautifully put it: “…[T]he authority of this text of scripture, surely, overrides anything that human ingenuity is capable of thinking up” (Lit. Mean. Gen. II, 9(5)).  Indeed, ever since we began to deny the truth of the historical narrative of Genesis, we have surely been “shrinking from the roughness of the husks of the wheat and eagerly eyeing the flowers of the thistles.”[8]

Here Mr. Gedney lays bare the crux of the matter.  Theologians like Dr. Salkeld who invoke St. Augustine to support an account of the origins of man and the universe that treats the subject as a topic in natural science completely miss the point.  St. Augustine would consider their framework false and misguided.  In the paragraph quoted against us, St. Augustine is talking about Catholics who claim support from Sacred Scripture for erroneous opinions in the realm of natural science—and in that respect the Catholic scientists who promote theistic evolution and whom Dr. Salkeld cites as authorities in his articles are the appropriate contemporary targets of St. Augustine’s rebuke, not the Catholic clergy and laity who defend the traditional creation theology of the Church.

Before answering Dr. Salkeld’s “conspiracy theory” charge from an historical perspective, it will be good to show how another of Dr. Salkeld’s favorite criticisms of the traditional Catholic interpretation of Genesis and its accompanying chronology flows from his (seemingly) unquestioning acceptance of the Cartesian-Darwinian framework.  Commenting on his reasons for rejecting his father’s belief in the traditional Biblical chronology as a young man, he writes:

there is an obvious difficulty for young-earth creationists with the fact that we can see light from stars that are more than 10,000 light years away if creation is less than 10,000 years old. This was resolved, variously, by claiming either that

    1. God created the light itself in transit (i.e., that he had made creation look older than it was—this same logic was sometimes applied to geology and the fossil record as well), or that

    2. the speed of light was much greater in the past.

These were not things I could disprove. But they strained credulity. Indeed, the first is not the kind of thing that could be disproved. It is not a scientific claim at all, but a post hoc rationalization. I did not have that language as a teenager, but I knew something was not right.

No one in his right mind would question Dr. Salkeld’s reasoning here within the context of a naturalistic uniformitarian framework, but when one uses the framework of the Fathers and Doctors, a totally different picture emerges.  In his classic work on creation theology, In the Beginning, Fr. Peter Fehlner, FI, formerly professor of dogmatic theology at the Angelicum, explains why the distant starlight objection against the traditional chronology of the world derived from Genesis flows from a misunderstanding of the distinction between the work of creation–which was supernatural–and the natural order of Providence which only began after the entire work of creation (what St. Thomas calls “the first perfection of the universe”) was finished.  He writes:

In the work of creation, the six days of Genesis, the Church has always understood God to be the principal Agent, although each of His actions during that period may not have been creative in the strictest sense, but only in the broader sense of miraculous. He may have used instruments already created, or acted Himself on pre-existent matter as in the case of Adam’s body “from the slime of the earth.” In any case, although individual creatures once created may have acted before the end of the sixth day when God “rested,” they did so directly under the creative power of God, and only after completion of the entire work did the world begin to function with a relative autonomy in the sense of secondary, principal causality.

The importance of this distinction can be illustrated with the popular objection to the creation of the heavenly bodies in a single day of 24 hours. It is claimed in the objection that the formation of these bodies would have postulated a duration of enormous length, since such is the time required for light from these bodies to reach the earth at present, and that light was observed by the first man on his appearance (according to Genesis). The objection, however, begs the question. It assumes as certain what in fact the proponents of evolutionary theory should prove, that the processes now observed in the transmission of light from the heavenly bodies to earth – and the duration needed to traverse the distance between them – are the same by which they were made to shine initially. Where the Creator is the principal Cause, there is no reason why He cannot do all this without the aid of natural processes and with or without any duration pleasing Him and appropriate to His ends (24 hours as Genesis tells us). Nor should it be said that the appearance of long “light-years” is a deception. Appearances are deceptive only where no key to their interpretation is provided. Thus what looks like bread and smells like wine is bread and wine except where those elements have been “transubstantiated” into the Body and Blood of Christ by the consecratory action of a priest. There the appearances of bread and wine, real enough, indicate not bread and wine, but the Body and Blood of the Savior. This is known because God has told us so, that such power has been given to an ordained priest. So too in this case, the Creator, being the only witness to what happened in the beginning, has told us He made the stars and made them shine within a period of 24 hours, thus providing a key to the interpretation of the appearances “in the beginning.”

Thus, the divine creative act is distinguished from His conservative act, both of which though identical in God with His power, have different terms outside God. The second conserving act presupposes the completion of the “founding” of the world, and is directed to its relatively autonomous operation. The first is a reflection of what Catholic theologians subsequently called God’s absolute powers, by which He not only made the world, but can destroy it, modify it, or temporarily interrupt its ordinary rhythms, as in the case of a miracle. The full extent of this power we cannot know simply from what He has already done, for He can always do something more. The second reflects His ordered power and is known from nature and the laws of nature discerned in creation.[9]

If Dr. Salkeld would seriously meditate on Fr. Fehlner’s exposition of the traditional Creation-Providence framework and on our elaboration of its importance in our previous response to his articles in defense of theistic evolution, we are confident that he would see that it is not we who are “moving goalposts.”  It is those who follow in the footsteps of Rene’ Descartes and the uniformitarian naturalist philosophers of the so-called Enlightenment who “moved the goalposts” by shifting the boundary between the Supernatural work of Creation and the Natural Order of Providence from the “sabbath rest of the Lord” at the end of the entire work of creation –where it had been drawn by all of the Apostles, Fathers and Doctors of the Church—to “the very beginning of Creation,” as prophesied by our first supreme Pontiff in his second Epistle:

In the last days there shall come deceitful scoffers, walking after their own lusts, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the time that the fathers slept all things have continued as they are from the beginning of creation.” For this they are willfully ignorant of, that the heavens were before, and the earth out of water, and through water, consisting by the Word of God (emphasis added) (2 Peter 3:3-5).

Collective Amnesia in the Church: An Historical Perspective

One of the reasons why so many learned Catholics, like Dr. Salkeld, cannot imagine that the sacred history of Genesis should be taken literally as historical narrative, as all of the Fathers and Doctors did, is that it has been so long since most of those appointed to teach the Faith have upheld the traditional interpretation. This leads most people to think that the “new” teaching must be correct because it has been accepted for so long and has become so firmly established as “the norm” that any dissent from the norm must be a “conspiracy theory.”   But this is yet another example of how faith in evolution leads the believer to denigrate the lessons of the past because of his unverified assumption that evolution has occurred and that we have progressed beyond the “primitive” understanding of our ancestors in regard to theological and philosophical matters, as well as natural science.  It also overlooks the crucial fact that none of the recent Popes who have favored molecules-to-man evolution as an hypothesis in natural science ever taught it as a doctrine of faith or morals contained in the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles—or abrogated the mountain of authoritative Magisterial teaching that taught special creation as part of the Deposit of Faith.  (Dr. Salkeld denies that this mountain of authoritative teaching exists, but we will prove that he is mistaken in the following pages.)

Moreover, the eclipse of God’s revelation in regard to Creation has occurred before in the history of salvation, most notably during the first millennium before Christ when the sacred history of Genesis, together with the rest of the Law of Moses, was almost completely forgotten, even in the holy city of Jerusalem, the very capital of God’s Chosen People, for 75 years – from around the time of the death of King Ahaz in 715 B.C. to the beginning of the reign of King Josiah in 640 B.C.  In light of Dr. Salkeld’s claim that rejection of theistic evolution constitutes a species of “conspiracy theory,” it will be helpful to draw some parallels between previous crises of faith and morals that flowed from a forgetfulness of the sacred history of Genesis and our current crisis of faith and morals which has resulted from a similar case of “collective amnesia.”

Darkness in Judah

The interval between the death of King Ahaz in 715 B.C. and the advent of King Josiah in 640 B.C. witnessed some of the worst abominations in the history of the Kingdom of Judah. Not surprisingly, forgetfulness of the sacred history of Genesis and of the first Table of the Law, led to widespread idolatry, as the people of Judah took to worshipping the creature instead of the Creator and began offering sacrifices to the gods of the pagans. These included human sacrifices, as many offered their children as burnt offerings to Moloch. Witches and mediums did a thriving business. Prostitution and homosexual vice also proliferated around the very Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. According to Calmet:

…[The Sodomites who dwelt near to the Temple] exposed their bodies to be abused contrary to nature, in honour of those filthy deities whom they worshipped. Their houses were near the temple, and the persons themselves were dedicated to impurity, and, that they might commit their abominations with the greater licentiousness, they had women appointed to make them tents, wherein they were wont to retire upon these detestable occasions.] [10]

Something similar to “rock music” seems to have thrived in this perverse atmosphere, as Dollinger adds, in his work ‘Jew and Gentile,’ vol. 1. pp. 430, 431, that the Galli or male prostitutes:

…[danced] to the exciting din of drums, flutes, and inspired songs [and] cut themselves on the arms; and the effect of this act, and of the music accompanying it, was so strong upon mere spectators, that all their bodily and mental powers were thrown into a tumult of excitement, and they too, seized by the desire to lacerate themselves, deprived themselves of their manhood by means of potsherds lying ready for the purpose. Thereupon they ran with the mutilated part through the city and received from the houses which they threw them into, a woman’s gear.

Jeremiah and other prophets had denounced these abominations, but almost all of the priests and scribes, whose job it was to uphold the Law of Moses, rejected him. King Johoiakim had even burned the Word of God that had come to Jeremiah, and which he had written on a scroll, before his eyes, prompting him to ask the king’s priests and scribes, rhetorically:

How do ye say, “We are wise, and the Law of the Lord is with us”? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes hath wrought falsely (Jeremiah 8:8).

King Josiah and the Reformation of Judah

This was the abominable state of the Kingdom of Judah when the young King Josiah resolved at the age of eighteen to begin a reformation.   According to 2 Kings:

…[King Josiah] ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem – those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people. He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.(2 Kings 4:7) . . . [Then] he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech (2 Kings 23:10).

These acts of righteousness set the stage for the rediscovery of the original copy of the Law of Moses which Moses himself had ordered to be kept next to the Ark of the Covenant, as it was written in the Book of Deuteronomy:

And the LORD commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.”  When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you” (Deut 31:23-26).

After supervising the renovation of the Temple, the priest Hilkiah either stumbled upon or retrieved the Book of the Law of Moses. According to 2 Chronicles:

Now when they carried out the money that had been brought into the temple of the Lord, [Hilkiah] the priest found the book of the law of the Lord, by the hand of Moses. DR, 2 Chronicles, 34:14)

The Douai Rheims Bible gives a faithful translation of St Jerome’s Vulgate which, in turn, faithfully translates the Septuagint’s rendering of this verse. Both make clear that this version of the Law was not a copy but the very “law of the Lord by the hand of Moses.”[11]

King Josiah proceeded to call an assembly and read the Law out loud to the people. In this way, they were reminded that God alone had created the heavens, the Earth, the seas and all they contain, and they heard again the commandment to observe the Sabbath rest as a physical reminder of the fact that God had ceased creating new kinds of creatures after He had created Adam and Eve on the sixth day of creation:

Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it (Exodus 20:8-11).

This law which had been written by the “finger of God” – and long ignored – demanded a literal interpretation, since it was understood by everyone, both high and low, that God had made a one to one correspondence between the six days of creation and the six work days of the week – between the literal seventh day of rest when God stopped creating new kinds of creatures, and the literal rest from servile labor on a literal (seventh) sabbath day, so that God’s people could acknowledge and worship their Creator in what became the central ritual of the Jewish people.   In the Church age, the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent would reaffirm the literal interpretation of the six days of creation as the foundation for the Church’s teaching on the Third Commandment and the Sabbath rest of the Lord.[12]

Unfortunately, King Josiah’s reformation was “too little, too late.” The Prophet Jeremiah had already warned the people of Judah that they would make up for their neglect of the Sabbath by spending seventy years in captivity away from the land:

at the destruction of the first temple the law concerning the sabbath, or rest, of the land had been neglected four hundred and thirty years, in which space were sixty nine sabbatical years; and, according to Maimonides . . . it was at the end of a sabbatic year that the city and temple were destroyed, and so just seventy years had been neglected, and the land was tilled in them as in other years, and now it had rest that exact number of years.[13]

When King Josiah asked the prophetess Huldah for her counsel, she told him that God would not relent in his punishment of Judah but that He had seen Josiah’s tears of repentance and would allow him to die before the chastisement.

Collective Amnesia after the Babylonian Captivity and in the Church Age

We have just seen that prior to the reign of King Josiah, the Jewish people largely “forgot” the Law of Moses, including the sacred history of Genesis, and that this period of collective amnesia lasted about 75 years and led to an epidemic of serious sin, especially in regard to Holy Marriage and sexual morality. But this was not the only time in salvation history when the Chosen People and their appointed leaders succumbed to “collective amnesia” in regard to the sacred history of Genesis.  A second period of “collective amnesia” occurred during the 70 years of the Babylonian Captivity after the destruction of the First Jerusalem Temple and only came to an end with the re-proclamation of the Law by Nehemiah and Ezra after the return of the exiles to Jerusalem. It arguably began before the seventy years of Babylonian Captivity and thus lasted even longer than the collective amnesia that came to an end during the reign of King Josiah.

Now that we have seen that God’s Chosen People through their own sinfulness can be permitted to forget God’s fundamental Revelation in regard to the origins of man and the universe, let us recall an epoch in the Church age when something similar was twice permitted to happen.  During the fourth century, when the Arian heretics denied the Divinity of Christ, one of the main arguments used to refute Arianism by St. Athanasius was that Christ was the Creator of all things and therefore completely divine.  In this way, St. Athanasius exposed the Arian heresy itself as a denial of the complete doctrine of creation.  Moreover, by interpreting the words of the Nicene Creed “through Him all things were made” to mean that God used a secondary cause (or causes) to complete His work of creation in the beginning,  Arianism fell into the same error in regard to Creation that theistic evolutionists embrace.  It denied that the entire work of creation—all of the different kinds of spiritual and corporeal creatures and, finally, man—was the work of the Most Holy Trinity, and not the work of productive secondary causes.

By denying that Our Lord Jesus Christ was “God from God” as well as the Word “through Whom all things were made,” the Arian heretics fostered the false notion that God was too exalted to be directly involved in the creation of all of the different kinds of corporeal creatures.  But this was never the doctrine of the Orthodox Fathers who held that Our Lord Jesus Christ was fully divine and that the Most Holy Trinity created all of the different kinds of creatures by fiat without the use of what Fr. Fehlner, quoted above, calls “productive secondary causes.”  (The use of the “slime of the Earth” in the creation of Adam’s body in no way violates this principle, as the “slime,” previously created ex nihilo, contributed nothing actively to the formation of Adam’s body, remaining totally passive under God’s creative action.)[14]

“The World Groaned and Found Itself Arian”

When the first Council of Nicea condemned the Arian heresy and affirmed the divinity of Christ “through whom all things were made,” the Arians went underground only to re-surface after the death of the Emperor Constantine.  The leaders of the Arian party gained the support of Constantius, the Emperor of the West, and began a systematic persecution of the Orthodox Bishops.  In the middle of the fourth century,  one generation after the Council of Nicea had defined the divinity of Christ as “of the same substance as the Father,” a still larger council in Rimini approved a watered-down version of the Creed which styled Him only “of like substance with the Father.” Of this dark moment in Church history, St. Jerome wrote that “The world groaned and found itself Arian.”[15]

In his work The Arians of the Fourth Century, Blessed J. H. Newman observed that “the episcopate . . . did not, as a class or order of men, play a good part” in the Arian controversy; but “the laity did.” “Taking a wide view of the history,” he wrote, “we are obliged to say that the governing body of the Church came short, and the governed were preeminent in faith, zeal, courage and constancy.” Commenting on this “remarkable fact,” Newman concludes:

Perhaps it was permitted, in order to impress upon the Church at that very time passing out of her state of persecution to her long temporal ascendancy, the great evangelical lesson, that, not the wise and powerful, but the obscure, the unlearned, and the weak constitute her real strength.  It was mainly by the faithful people that Paganism was overthrown; it was by the faithful people, under the lead of Athanasius and the Egyptian bishops, and in some places supported by their Bishops or priests, that the worst of heresies was withstood and stamped out of the sacred territory.[16]

For more than 50 years the dogma of the Divinity of Christ and its accompanying doctrine of the creation of all things by Christ at the beginning of time suffered partial eclipse, not completely emerging from obscurity until the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.  In making his case that defenders of the traditional doctrine of creation are conspiracy theorists, Dr. Salkeld seems to lean heavily on the fact that the overwhelming majority of  Catholic theologians have promoted or at least accepted “theistic evolution” during the last 50 or 60 years.  In the current crisis of faith and morals, it is worth recalling the work of the renowned patristics expert Jurgens who determined that at the height of the Arian crisis (which lasted 50 or 60 years) 97% of the Catholic Bishops were in communion with the Arian heretics![17]  If we are indeed experiencing an “unprecedented crisis of the Church,” as Bishop Athanasius Schneider has affirmed,[18] should we be surprised if the underlying errors have been taught or tolerated for an even longer period of time?

Origen and the Special Creation of Corporeal Creatures

Arianism was not the last of the attacks on the orthodox doctrine of creation in the patristic era.  One of the tragic consequences of the widespread acceptance by Catholics of theistic evolution is that, having assumed what has never been proven – the evolution of a microbe into a human body through hundreds of millions of years of the same material processes that are going on now – they then presume (again, without proof) that we have “progressed” far beyond our “primitive forebears,” in knowledge as well as in technology, so that the study of history has little relevance for us at our advanced stage of evolution. In reality, the historical past contains the lessons that we need to face reality here and now, not the mythical past of a non-existent evolutionary history.

One of the crises in the history of the Church in which papal error played a part was the Origenist controversy of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries. Origen was a brilliant theologian and teacher in the city of Alexandria, one of the greatest Christian centers of the patristic era. Unfortunately, Origen’s fondness for Platonic philosophy led him to mix the doctrines of Christianity with the doctrines of Plato in a way that undermined some of the fundamental dogmas of the Faith. In particular, Origen held that God had originally only created spiritual beings and that the existence of material bodies was a consequence of the Fall. In his view – or, at least, in a view widely attributed to him – even inanimate creatures like the sun had once been spiritual beings, and the human body was itself the consequence of a primordial fall from grace. Many of the Church Fathers of the third and fourth centuries were strongly influenced by Origen and drew heavily from his multi-lingual edition of the Holy Scriptures and his voluminous exegesis of many parts of the Bible. However, by the end of the fourth century, St. Jerome and many other Church leaders began to speak out strongly against the errors in Origen’s work, especially in relation to creation, the Incarnation, and the place of spiritual and corporeal creatures in God’s plan for the universe.

At the end of the fourth century, St. Jerome’s former friend Rufinus arrived in Rome with a translation of one of Origen’s works and received a letter of blessing from the Pope, St. Siricius, to speak about Origen’s writings. One of St. Jerome’s spiritual children, the laywoman St. Marcella (whose feast day is January 31), was living a consecrated life in Rome at the time, and when she learned of the errors that were being propagated from Origen’s writings, she protested to the Pope. St. Jerome, though hardly an unbiased commentator, describes what happened in this way:

the muddy feet of heretics fouled the clear waters of the faith of Rome. No wonder that in the streets and in the market places a soothsayer can strike fools on the back or, catching up his cudgel, shatter the teeth of such as carp at him; when such venomous and filthy teaching as this has found at Rome dupes whom it can lead astray. Next came the scandalous version of Origen’s book On First Principles, and that ‘fortunate’ disciple [a Roman Christian named Macarius] who would have been indeed fortunate had he never fallen in with such a master. Next followed the confutation set forth by my supporters, which destroyed the case of the Pharisees [i.e., the Roman clergy who sided with Rufinus] and threw them into confusion. It was then that the holy Marcella, who had long held back lest she should be thought to act from party motives, threw herself into the breach. Conscious that the faith of Rome – once praised by an apostle – was now in danger, and that this new heresy was drawing to itself not only priests and monks but also many of the laity besides imposing on the bishop [Pope St. Siricius, the successor of Pope St. Damasus] who fancied others as guileless as he was himself, she publicly withstood its teachers choosing to please God rather than men.[19]

In short, a mere lay woman dared to criticize the Pope and the Roman clergy for allowing Rufinus to spread a doctrine that contradicted the sacred history of Genesis as it had been understood in the Church, generally, up to that time. According to St. Jerome, Rufinus began to get the worst of it in the debates that flared up over Origen’s writings but asked and obtained letters of commendation from the Pope before leaving Rome for Aquileia. St. Siricius died in 398 A.D. without having withdrawn his permission for Rufinus to teach on the writings of Origen, but his successor, Pope St. Anastasius withdrew the permission and condemned them. St. Jerome asks rhetorically:

You will say, what has this to do with the praises of Marcella? I reply, She it was who originated the condemnation of the heretics. She it was who furnished witnesses first taught by them and then carried away by their heretical teaching. She it was who showed how large a number they had deceived and who brought up against them the impious books On First Principles, books which were passing from hand to hand after being ‘improved’ by the hand of the scorpion [Rufinus]. She it was lastly who called on the heretics in letter after letter to appear in their own defense. They did not indeed venture to come, for they were so conscience-stricken that they let the case go against them by default rather than face their accusers and be convicted by them.[20]

For a long, long time, men of great learning and virtue maintained a good opinion of Origen, focusing on what was good in his work and remaining in the dark about the serious errors in some of his writings. This, in turn, was aided and abetted by men like Rufinus who seem to have suppressed the blatantly erroneous parts of Origen’s writings while extolling other parts of them. However, this could not continue forever, and, with the condemnation of Pope St. Anastasius, the tide definitely began to turn. However, it took a long time for the serious errors in Origen’s work drawn from Platonic philosophy to be formally condemned and rejected by the whole Church at an Ecumenical Council. Indeed, this did not occur until the Sixth Ecumenical Council, the Third of Constantinople, in 553 A.D.

It is not hard to see many similarities between the case of Origen and that of Teilhard de Chardin. For a long time, men of learning and virtue, like Archbishop Fulton Sheen, maintained a good opinion of him, but this was largely the result of the efforts of Teilhard and his disciples to use “orthodox terminology” with a heterodox meaning. Like Rufinus in his day, they suppressed the blatantly erroneous parts of Teilhard’s evolutionary pseudo-science and spirituality, and even blasphemously promoted his false theology under the banner of the “primacy of Christ.” Indeed, we should take heart from the fact that it took more than 150 years for the Church of Christ to finally and definitively condemn the errors of Origen, so that subsequent authorities, like St. John of Damascus in his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, confidently condemned the “ravings of Origen” in regard to the origins of man and the universe.

Most of all, we should take heart from the example of St. Marcella, a mere lay-woman who organized an effective resistance against a false philosophy that threatened to corrupt the very foundations of Church teaching on the origins of man and the universe. In her day, there was no formal condemnation from a Pope to support her polemic against the errors of Origen. The Roman clergy and many of the most learned theologians of the age stood aloof or even supported the position of Rufinus. Yet St. Marcella and her allies effectively combated the errors of Origen in regard to the origins of man and the universe by appealing to the sacred history of Genesis as it had been understood in the Church from the beginning.

We who have the whole patrimony of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes, and Council Fathers, and their unanimous testimony to the literal truth of the sacred history of Genesis, have no excuse to shrink back from the fight to combat theistic evolution—even if it earns us the scorn and derision of Catholic intellectuals like Dr. Salkeld.

Contemporary Collective Amnesia

Just as our Hebrew ancestors in the Faith suffered from collective amnesia in regard to Genesis and the rest of the Law for long periods of time on at least two separate occasions in salvation history, the Catholic community has also been suffering from “collective amnesia” in regard to the true Catholic doctrine of creation for quite a long time.  Indeed, this collective amnesia in regard to the sacred history of Genesis actually began much earlier than is generally acknowledged and this has contributed to confusion within the ranks of traditional theologians with regard to views held by mainstream Catholic theologians in the 1890’s and early 1900’s in regard to evolution up to the human body and long ages, when Catholic society still had the appearance of being in good health. Some well-intentioned, Tradition-minded theologians wrongly conclude that these views were harmless because they were widely tolerated long before the revolution against the traditional liturgy of the Roman Rite and other traditional teachings of the Church on faith and morals.

Contrary to popular belief in the English-speaking world, Charles Darwin was not nearly as successful a propagandist for microbe-to-man evolution as his German colleague Ernst Haeckel, author of the fraudulent drawings used to “prove” the common descent of all of the different kinds of creatures from a “primitive” one-celled common ancestor. Haeckel’s bogus “proof” was the single most effective piece of propaganda in the campaign to convince the intellectual elite of the Western world that microbe-to-man evolution was a scientific fact rather than a wild conjecture. It convinced Catholic intellectuals from Fr. John Augustine Zahm at Notre Dame at the dawn of the twentieth century to Fr. Karl Rahner towards the end of the twentieth century that the traditional teaching of the Church on the special creation of Adam and Eve had been falsified by this “scientific” discovery.

Ernst Haeckel proposed his so-called “Biogenetic Law” according to which the embryonic development of vertebrates repeats the assumed history of their evolution from one-celled ancestors: “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” The importance of this “proof” was formulated by Julian Huxley in the following way:

Embryology gives us the most striking proof of evolution. Many animals which are extremely different as adults are hard to tell apart as embryos. You yourself when you were a young embryo were very like the embryos of lizards, rabbits, chickens, dogfish, and other vertebrates. The only reasonable explanation is that we vertebrates are all related by common descent. … Even more extraordinary is the fact that we and all other land vertebrates show a fish-like plan of construction in early embryonic life, with a fish-like heart, gill-slits, and pattern of blood-vessels. This only makes sense if we, as well as all other mammals, birds and reptiles, have gradually evolved from some kind of fish.”5

However, the “evidence” for this proposed law consisted in Haeckel’s skillful drawings of embryos belonging to different animals and man. [21]

It is remarkable that Haeckel’s drawings had such a huge impact on Catholic intellectuals from the end of the nineteenth century, in spite of his being censured by his academic peers for deliberately exaggerating the similarities between different kinds of organisms in his drawings.  Haeckel himself acknowledged how quickly the intellectual elite of the Catholic Church changed its position on evolution in his “Last Words on Evolution” in 1906. He commented on:

the interesting efforts that the Church has lately made to enter into a peaceful compromise with its deadly enemy, Monistic science. It has decided to accept to a certain extent, and to accommodate to its creed (in a distorted and mutilated form) the doctrine of evolution, which it has vehemently opposed for thirty years. This remarkable change of front on the part of the Church militant seemed to me so interesting and important, and at the same time so misleading and mischievous, that I chose it as the subject of a popular lecture, and accepted the invitation to Berlin.

It was obvious that both the general theory of evolution and its extension to man in particular must meet from the first with the most determined resistance on the part of the Churches. Both were in flagrant contradiction to the Mosaic story of creation, and other Biblical dogmas that were involved in it, and are still taught in our elementary schools. It is creditable to the shrewdness of the theologians and their associates, the metaphysicians, that they at once rejected Darwinism, and made a particularly energetic resistance in their writings to its chief consequence, the descent of man from the ape. This resistance seemed the more justified and hopeful as, for seven or eight years after Darwin’s appearance, few biologists accepted his theory, and the general attitude amongst them was one of cold scepticism. I can well testify to this from my own experience. When I first openly advocated Darwin’s theory at a scientific congress at Stettin in 1863, I was almost alone, and was blamed by the great majority for taking up seriously so fantastic a theory, “the dream of an after-dinner nap,” as the Göttinger zoologist, Keferstein, called it.[22]

Here Haeckel reveals a number of forgotten facts that urgently need to be recalled by Catholic intellectuals. In the first place, he acknowledges that the Church completely rejected Darwin’s microbe-to-man hypothesis in the first decade after the publication of Origin of Species. More importantly, Haeckel reveals one of the main reasons why the Pope and the Bishops did not see the need to explicitly anathematize biological evolution at the time of the First Vatican Council – namely, that the “theory” was rightly deemed so “fantastic” that it did not need to be taken seriously. For example, when Blessed Pope Pius IX endorsed the work of Dr. Constantin James, an eminent French Catholic physician, for writing the book On Darwinism, or the Man-Ape, in which he refuted “the aberrations of Darwinism,” the Pope added that:

a system which is so repugnant at once to history, to the tradition of all the peoples, to exact science, to observed facts, and even to Reason herself, would seem to need no refutation, did not alienation from God and the leaning toward materialism, due to depravity, eagerly seek a support in all this tissue of fables . . . And, in fact, pride, after rejecting the Creator of all things and proclaiming man independent, wishing him to be his own king, his own priest, and his own God – pride goes so far as to degrade man himself to the level of the unreasoning brutes, perhaps even of lifeless matter, thus unconsciously confirming the Divine declaration, When pride cometh, then cometh shame. But the corruption of this age, the machinations of the perverse, the danger of the simple, demand that such fancies, altogether absurd though they are, should – since they borrow the mask of science – be refuted by true science.[23]

It should be noted that at the top of the list of bodies of knowledge that are “so repugnant” to Darwin’s “tissue of fables,” Blessed Pope Pius IX cites, not natural science, but history and “the tradition of all peoples.” Part of our “collective amnesia” regarding our own Catholic heritage extends to our almost complete forgetfulness of the fact that our fathers in the Faith rightly considered the historical information in the Book of Genesis to be inerrant data that allowed Catholic scholars to determine the approximate age of the universe. Moreover, our fathers in the Faith recognized that “the tradition of all peoples” included a living memory of key events in mankind’s history, such as the creation of an original couple in a state of perfection, their Fall from grace, a global Flood, and a confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel. Catholic intellectuals like Blessed Pope Pius IX and Orestes Brownson rightly took this historical memory much more seriously than the wild extrapolations of Darwin and his disciples into the unrepeatable past.[24]

In the light of these facts, it is not surprising that the Pope and the Bishops of the First Vatican Council in 1869-70 re-affirmed the Firmiter dogmatic decree on creation of Lateran IV and anathematized the proposition that “the progress of science” required that the doctrine of creation, among others, be changed; but they did not see the need to explicitly condemn molecules-to-man evolution. This was also because the gold standard for teaching and preaching the Faith at the time of Vatican Council I was the Roman Catechism, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which clearly taught that God specially created all of the different kinds of creatures, including man, in six days, just as recorded by Moses in what the Roman Catechism called “the sacred history of Genesis.”[25]

The same Catechism went on to teach that God rested on a literal seventh day from the work of creating new kinds of creatures, thereby identifying the entire work of creation as a subject for historical theology and not for natural science.  In this way, it excluded the hypothesis of molecules-to-man evolution in its theistic and atheistic forms, because of its conflation of the order of creation with the order of providence—as well as progressive creation, the idea that God spread out the work of special creation over millions of years because of its different way of mixing these two orders.  Dr. Salkeld’s denial that the Church taught special creation authoritatively flies in the face of the fact that the Roman Catechism was mandated for teaching the dogmas of the Faith throughout the entire world for more than 350 years, up to and including the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X.  Thus, when Vatican I and Pope St. Pius X anathematized the erroneous claim that “the progress of the sciences” required that the dogma of creation be “changed,” the dogma of creation was defined for all Catholic Bishops, pastors and seminary professors in the words of the Roman Catechism. 

Needless to say, the modern Popes who ceased proclaiming the doctrine of creation as defined in the Roman Catechism never deliberately rejected it as a doctrine of the faith.  Rather, they mistakenly believed their advisors in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences who convinced them that the Cartesian-Darwinian framework was a legitimate framework within which to study the origins of man and the universe, thus, “moving the goalposts,” to use Dr. Salkeld’s phrase, and making it appear (falsely) that Big Bang cosmology, Lyellian geology, and Darwinian biology offered legitimate “scientific” explanations for the origins of man and the universe.  In this way, the dogma of creation could be shrunk to mean nothing more than that God created the angels, some matter, and some natural laws “in the beginning,” which then “evolved” until the body of a sub-human primate became suitable to receive a human soul.

Condemnation of Darwinism

The opening of the Vatican archives from the period when the Magisterium of the Church first responded to attempts to reconcile microbe-to-man evolution with the Catholic Faith in the decade or so after Vatican I has confirmed Haeckel’s testimony to the negative reaction of the Church leadership when he first tried to promote Darwinism.  In an unpublished master’s thesis in defense of the special creation of Adam as an infallible teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, theologian Bradford Fellmeth recently revealed that in 1878 the Congregation of the Index condemned a collection of articles by a theologian named Caverni whose main thesis was that:

“it is possible to reconcile evolution with Christian doctrine.” After a 19-page report by future Cardinal Tommaso Zigliara, O.P.—to whom we will return when addressing Arcanum—the Index reached the unanimous decision to condemn the work, albeit quietly. Their reasoning for doing so is found in the official report read and submitted to Pope Leo XIII, who personally approved it on July 10, 1878:

If Caverni’s work is condemned, as it should be, Darwinism would be indirectly condemned. Surely there would be cries against this decision: the example of Galileo would be held up; it will be said that this Holy Congregation is not competent to emit judgments on physiological and ontological doctrines or theories of change. But we should not focus on this probable clamor. With his system, Darwin destroys the bases of revelation and openly teaches pantheism and abject materialism. Thus, an indirect condemnation of Darwin is not only useful, but necessary.

Therefore, the Church, via the Congregation of the Index, has already albeit indirectly condemned Darwinism, and virtually no one knew about it until within the past twenty years. It is relevant to recall that Pius X condemned the proposition that “they are free from all blame who treat lightly the condemnations passed by the Sacred Congregation of the Index” in Lamentabili. Even though, as the authors of Negotiating Darwin note, this indirect condemnation has been entirely “ineffective,” it is not for that reason no longer binding.[25]

As explained above, the reason why the Magisterium stopped enforcing these authoritative condemnations flowed from the influence of the natural scientists in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences who convinced the Popes from Pope Pius XII on to go along with their unjustified “moving of the goalposts” to remove the origins of man and the universe from the realm of historical theology to the realm of natural science.[26]

Haeckel’s “Greatest Triumph”

Not surprisingly, in his “Last Words on Evolution,” Haeckel regarded his success in changing the intellectuals of the Church from his greatest enemies into active supporters as “his greatest triumph.” He wrote:

Today, when evolution is almost universally recognised in biology, when thousands of anatomic and physiological works are based on it every year, the new generation can hardly form an idea of the violent resistance that was offered to Darwin’s theory and the impassioned struggles it provoked. In the first place, the Churches at once raised a vigorous protest; they rightly regarded their new antagonist as the deadly enemy of the legend of creation, and saw the very foundations of their creed threatened . . . Our science of evolution won its greatest triumph when, at the beginning of the twentieth century, its most powerful opponents, the Churches, became reconciled to it, and endeavoured to bring their dogmas into line with it.[27]

Haeckel went on to note the unique role played by scientists within the Society of Jesus in accomplishing this revolution against the “foundations” of the Creed. He wrote:

the Jesuit Father Wasmann, and his colleagues, have – unwittingly – done a very great service to the progress of pure science. The Catholic Church, the most powerful and widespread of the Christian sects, sees itself compelled to capitulate to the idea of evolution. It embraces the most important application of the idea, Lamarck and Darwin’s theory of descent, which it had vigorously combated until twenty years ago. It does, indeed, mutilate the great tree, cutting off its roots and its highest branch; it rejects spontaneous generation or archigony at the bottom, and the descent of man from animal ancestors above. But these exceptions will not last. Impartial biology will take no notice of them, and the religious creed will at length determine that the more complex species have been evolved from a series of simpler forms according to Darwinian principles . . . the open acknowledgment of [the truth of evolution by] the Jesuit, Father Wasmann, deserves careful attention, and we may look forward to a further development. If his force of conviction and his moral courage are strong enough, he will go on to draw the normal conclusions from his high scientific attainments and leave the Catholic Church, as the prominent Jesuits, Count Hoensbroech and the able geologist, Professor Renard of Ghent, one of the workers on the deep-sea deposits in the Challenger expedition, have lately done. But even if this does not happen, his recognition of Darwinism, in the name of Christian belief, will remain a landmark in the history of evolution. His ingenious and very Jesuitical attempt to bring together the opposite poles will have no very mischievous effect; it will rather tend to hasten the victory of the scientific conception of evolution over the mystic beliefs of the Churches.[28]

With this statement Haeckel showed keen insight into the weakness of theistic evolutionist attempts to reconcile molecules-to-man evolution with the antithetical dogma of creation. He rightly anticipated that if Catholic theologians accepted the naturalistic accounts of Darwin and his disciples for the origin of man and other living things and abandoned the constant teaching of the Church on the fundamental doctrine of creation, thoughtful Catholics would realize the absurdity of trying to reconcile these opposites. He realized that theologians who allowed natural scientists to dictate to them in regard to the dogma of creation would end up ceding the primacy of theology as the Queen of the Sciences and allow Natural Science to usurp her place. Haeckel also noted the irony that Jesuits and other Catholic apologists for theistic evolution at the end of the nineteenth century tried to make it seem as if the Church had “admitted the theory of evolution for decades” when just a decade or two before the Church had been united against evolution as a mortal threat to the very foundations of the Faith.

Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919)

As Karl Escherich [a German entomologist and colleague of Haeckel] well says: “Hitherto we read in the faces of our clerical opponents only hatred, bitterness, contempt, mockery, or pity in regard to the new invader of their dogmatic structure, the idea of evolution. Now (since Wasmann’s apostasy) the assurances of the Catholic journals, that the Church has admitted the theory of evolution for decades, make us smile. Evolution has now pressed on to its final victory, and these people would have us believe that they were never unfriendly to it, never shrieked and stormed against it. How, they say, could anyone have been so foolish, when the theory of evolution puts the wisdom and power of the creator in a nobler light than ever.” We find a similar diplomatic retreat in the popular work of the Jesuit, Father Martin Gander, The Theory of Descent (1904): “Thus the modern forms of matter were not immediately created by God; they are effects of the formative forces, which were put by the creator in the primitive matter, and gradually came into view in the course of the earth’s history, when the external conditions were given in the proper combination.” That is a remarkable change of front on the part of the clergy.[29]

Indeed, the anti-Catholic forces have been “smiling” at this “remarkable change of front” ever since, delighted to have Catholic intellectuals like Dr. Ken Miller assure us that the literal historical interpretation of Genesis was an invention of protestant fundamentalists at the end of the nineteenth century, in flagrant contradiction to the indisputable fact that every one of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church would have died to defend the literal historical truth of every word of the “sacred history of Genesis.” In a remarkable fulfillment of Haeckel’s predictions, Dr. Miller now assures his youthful audiences that twenty-first century natural scientists will discover how life came from non-life when “the external conditions” were “in the proper combination,” without any special creative act of God. Thus, as Haeckel predicted, mainstream Catholic theistic evolutionism has become indistinguishable from atheistic evolutionism, except in its adherence to the absurd notion that God placed a human soul into the conception of two sub-human primates!

“Homo alaliis” or speechless man presented by the artist to Prof. Ernst Haeckel, 1887

Lucifer’s Secret Weapon Against the True Catholic Doctrine of Creation

To realize how badly Catholic intellectuals allowed themselves to be duped at the end of the nineteenth (and the beginning of the twentieth) century can actually be a first step to liberating ourselves from our intellectual slavery to a host of evolution-based errors. But there is one piece of the puzzle that Haeckel cannot supply, and that has to do with the sources of Catholic doctrine in regard to the creation of man and the universe. We saw earlier that ten years after the publication of Origin of Species the First Vatican Council reaffirmed the Firmiter of Lateran IV which had defined the creation of “all things” by God “at once” from “the beginning of time.” An objection often raised by modern scholars against the thesis that the Firmiter of Lateran IV and Vatican I was intended to define once and for all that God created all of the different kinds of corporeal creatures in the beginning of time asserts that the Firmiter itself is rarely mentioned by theologians or Doctors of the Church in their writings against later errors in regard to the doctrine of creation.  If the Firmiter was intended to define the creation of all of the different kinds of corporeal creatures at the beginning of time, the argument goes, then later Doctors and preeminent theologians would have cited the Firmiter as a kind of proof text against later heretics who deviated from the true doctrine of creation.

Unfortunately, this objection exemplifies the very attitude that makes it so hard for modern scholars like Dr. Salkeld to understand the thinking of the medieval doctors and the Firmiter correctly – an attitude of irreverence for Sacred Scripture as the totally inerrant, God-breathed Word of God.  The Firmiter was intended to correct heresies based on a rejection or misinterpretation of the first chapters of Genesis, but it was never intended to replace Genesis as the primary source of information revealed by God about the creation of the world.  The common notion among Catholic theologians today, that the content of Genesis 1-3 is not sufficient to prove that God created all of the different kinds of creatures by fiat at the beginning of time, would have been incomprehensible not only to Pope Innocent III and the fathers of Lateran IV but also to Blessed Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII whom Dr. Salkeld quotes in defense of his evolution-friendly reading of Genesis.  Indeed, in one of the most respected summaries of dogmatic theology published after Vatican I, the Dogmatik of Mathias Scheeben, the author completely rejected microbe-to-man evolution and upheld the special creation of all of the different kinds of creatures, including man. However, even though the Dogmatik was written in the immediate aftermath of Vatican I, Scheeben’s defense of the doctrine of special creation does not rest on the Firmiter of Lateran IV and Vatican I but on the testimony of the sacred history of Genesis. In the words of A Manual of Catholic Theology Based on Scheeben’s Dogmatik, the authors explain that:

Organic beings, which now propagate themselves by generation, owe their existence neither to spontaneous generation nor to unconscious evolution of inorganic matter and forces; each species has been created to represent a Divine exemplar, and has received the power to perpetuate itself by producing individuals of the same speciesThis doctrine is most expressly contained in the narrative of creation in Genesis (emphasis added).[30]

To repeat: The Firmiter of Lateran IV and Vatican I was meant to exclude erroneous teachings about creation based on the rejection or misinterpretation of Genesis, not to supplant Genesis as God’s inerrant account of how He created all of the different kinds of spiritual and corporeal creatures for man at the beginning of time.  Thus, for St. Thomas and the Church Doctors who came after him until the generation of Haeckel’s “greatest triumph,” it was sufficient to say, “according to Moses, God said X, Y, or Z,” to settle an argument.  No reference to a Church Council or papal document was necessary.  However, one of the signs of Haeckel’s “greatest triumph” was the erosion of the faith of many Catholic intellectuals in the inerrancy of Scripture beginning with Genesis. This, in turn, gave rise to the modern attitude – so common even among Tradition-friendly theologians today – to insist, as Dr. Salkeld does, on some kind of conciliar or papal decree to ratify the literal historical truth of Sacred Scripture. Lucifer’s secret weapon in his war against the true doctrine of creation has been the abandonment of the traditional reverence for Sacred Scripture and for Scriptural inerrancy which characterized all of the Fathers, Doctors and theological masters of every generation that preceded Haeckel’s “greatest triumph.” With that out of the way, subsequent generations of Catholic scholars down to the present day appeal in vain for evidence that the Firmiter of Lateran IV and Vatican I excludes theistic evolution and progressive creation, heedless of the fact that only in the impoverished atmosphere of faith after Haeckel’s “greatest triumph” would Catholic scholars look anywhere but to the “sacred history of Genesis” for the source of the true Catholic doctrine of creation.

The Current Crisis of Faith and Morals

The many parallels between Josiah’s time and our own ought to bring us to our knees in humble repentance. Like the apostate men of Judah, we have abandoned the God of Genesis for the god of evolution, endowing finite creatures with the god-like power to produce other creatures greater and more advanced than themselves. Like them, we have made our peace with homosexual vice and child sacrifice, as the overwhelming majority of Catholics in Europe and North America favor the practice of contraception, in spite of its frequent abortifacient effects, and most support abortion in some cases, while smaller majorities even approve of so-called same sex marriage. Millions of Catholics, including many Bishops, priests, and consecrated religious, promote the New Age evolution-based theology of Teilhard de Chardin, while huge numbers of practicing Catholics see no harm in allowing their children to read or watch material like the Harry Potter series with its insidious false distinction between “black” and “white” magic. For most of us, the Lord’s Day is a day like any other, when the overwhelming majority of baptized Catholics forsake Holy Mass and use the Lord’s Day for work, sports, shopping, and entertainment, as on any other day.

The spectacle of so many Church leaders tolerating or even encouraging these evils has driven many Catholics into sedevacantism from a sheer inability to believe that such evils could exist within the Church of God.  No doubt there were Jews in the time of King Johoiakim who believed that God had deserted the House of David because of the abominations that flourished during his reign.  But it would be as foolish to abandon canonical communion with the Pope and the Bishops of the Catholic Church today as it would have been to seek the future Messiah anywhere else than in the House of David in the days of King Johoiakim.

From the beginning of this ominous slide towards the abyss of godlessness and neo-paganism, Our Blessed Mother has appeared on Earth to call us to repentance. In one of the first approved apparitions of the modern Marian era, Our Lady of La Salette told the children Melanie and Maximin through her tears that God was most greatly offended by sins against the second and third commandments. The spread of Lyellian geology had already led many of the intellectual elite of once-Christian Europe to abandon the literal interpretation of the days of Genesis One in favor of the geological eras of Hutton and Lyell, and with that loss of faith in the literal historical truth of Genesis One as the basis for the Third Commandment, the slide into unbelief and the desecration of the Lord’s Day spread and accelerated.

Today, prominent Catholic intellectuals like Dr. Kenneth Miller at Brown University, author of Finding Darwin’s God, routinely dismiss the literal historical interpretation of the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis as a “protestant fundamentalist” phenomenon that was never taken seriously within the Catholic Church. The notes and commentary in the Douay Rheims Bibles in use throughout the English speaking world at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council continued to teach that God created the heavens, the earth, the seas and all they contain in six days four thousand years before the Birth of Christ, but the majority of the Bishops at the Council had been taught by their seminary professors that at least some – if not all – of the historical information in Genesis 1-11 had been falsified by modern “natural science.” Thus, like the collective amnesia that afflicted the Jewish people during the seventy years of the Babylonian Captivity, our collective amnesia concerning the Church’s teaching on origins began long before the Second Vatican Council.

The proof that the creation of all things in six 24-hour days four thousand years before the Birth of Christ was taught by all Catholic Bishops, seminaries, and universities in the world as recently as the beginning of the First Vatican Council in 1869-70 can be found in the Catholic catechisms and theological manuals approved by the Bishops of Europe and North America at that time. Through the efforts of our colleague Chris De Vos we have been able to review a large representative sample of these works, including A Dogmatic Catechism by Rev. D. W. Cahill (1855) and The Catholic Church: An Epitome in Sacred History by the same author (1860); The Full Catechism of the Catholic Religion by Rev. De Herbe (1863); A Manual of the Catholic Religion for Catechists and Teachers by Rev. Walther Weninger (1863); The Catechism of Perseverance of Rev. Jean-Joseph Gaume (1866), which was used to instruct the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux; and The Dogmatic Catechism of Rev. Frassinetti (1873), published in English with a foreword by the Archbishop of Westminster in London.

These works prove that Catholic seminarians and laity alike were taught to believe and defend the literal historical truth of the sacred history of Genesis. In his Dogmatic Catechism Rev. Cahill yields no ground whatsoever to the “learned men” of his time who challenged the chronology of four thousand years from Creation to the Nativity of Christ. In works recommended by the Bishop in charge of Eastern Scotland for use in all of his Catholic schools, Fr. Cahill writes that these “learned men”:

attribute ten thousand years or more to certain ancient monuments, particularly Egyptian monuments . . . to bring into discredit the Sacred Scriptures, and so to shake the foundations of our most holy religion. Adam was the first man created by God. He is as old as heaven and earth within five days, having been created on the sixth day of creation; and all the buildings and monuments which are in the world are less ancient than Adam.

Could our Fathers in the Faith have been any more emphatic that the literal historical truth of the first eleven chapters of the sacred history of Genesis pertains to the “foundations of our most holy religion”?

A careful examination of the instructional materials in use throughout the world at the time of the First Vatican Council shows that they not only taught the literal historical truth of the sacred history of Genesis from beginning to end but also anticipated many of the objections to it that have destroyed the faith of so many Catholics in recent times. How many Catholics have cited Fr. Stanley Jaki’s statement that “There can’t be days without the sun” as a decisive argument against a literal interpretation of “day” in Genesis One? Yet in the Catechism of Perseverance that formed the faith of the soul dubbed “the greatest saint of modern times” by Pope St. Pius X – St. Therese of Lisieux – Fr. Gaume anticipated and refuted this sophistical objection with the same argument that St. John Chrysostom and the Church Fathers had used against the skeptics of their day. God created the sun and the moon on the fourth day, Fr. Gaume explains, so that men would not attribute the growth and sustenance of living things to them but to God, thus protecting mankind against the temptation to idolatry.

The Message of Fatima and the Future of the Church

On October 13, 1917, at Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady worked the greatest public miracle since the Resurrection, the Miracle of the Sun, to prove that her Fatima message was urgent and true. In that message She warned that, if her requests were not heeded, Russia would spread its errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church, and that several entire nations would be annihilated. The principal error that took hold in Russia with the Bolshevik Revolution, a few weeks after the Miracle of the Sun, was not communism, but evolutionism – since it was the “scientific fact” of molecules-to-man evolution that made confident atheists and communists of Lenin, Stalin, Mao-Tse-Tung, and their numerous disciples and stooges.

On the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, October 13, 1973, the year of Roe vs. Wade, through her approved apparition in Akita, Japan, from a statute that had wept human tears 101 times, Our Lady warned that the Miracle of the Sun was a foretaste of a fiery divine judgment that would be unleashed upon the world, killing most of the earth’s population, unless mankind repented and turned back to God. Given that we have only grown worse since Our Lady of Akita’s warning, we may well have reached the point where a divine chastisement and the annihilation of nations are inevitable. But we have our Blessed Mother’s solemn promise that her Immaculate Heart will triumph, that the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Her, that Russia will be converted, and that a period of peace will be granted to the world. So, let us hasten her Triumph, by living our consecration to Jesus through Mary in every thought, word and action – in every moment of our lives!

As we observe the multiplication of errors against faith and morals on every side, it is tempting to lose heart and to doubt that there will ever be an era of peace, a restoration of the Faith all over the world, and the social reign of Christ the King. But this would be tragic, because God who does “nothing without telling His servants the prophets,” has repeatedly foretold a future era of peace and a final Ecumenical Council that will put an end to all heresies. Moreover, in light of a number of authentic prophecies that speak of a future Ecumenical Council that will “define the true sense of Holy Scripture,” it seems virtually certain that the overwhelming support in Scripture and Tradition for creation in six days will lead to a solemn definition of “day” in Genesis 1 as a 24-hour day.

In his book Trial, Tribulation, and Triumph, researcher Desmond Birch cites a number of holy men and women of recent centuries who prophesied an Ecumenical Council during the future era of peace that will define the sense of Scripture on certain important, unresolved questions. In particular, he mentions the seventeenth century founder of an institute for priests, Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser; Sr. Jeanne le Royer, a French nun and mystic of the eighteenth century; and a nineteenth century French nun known as the Ecstatic of Tours.

Before presenting the prophecies of a final Ecumenical Council during the Era of Peace, Birch cites the work of Scripture scholar Fr. Kramer whose analysis of the Book of Revelation argues that “the seven thunders” of chapters eleven and twelve of the Apocalypse refer to the declarations of an Ecumenical Council during the Era of Peace, before the appearance of the final Antichrist. According to Kramer:

The Seven Thunders may then be declarations of an ecumenical council clearing up all that was left unfinished by the magisterial office of the Church, before God will permit Satan to exert his supreme efforts to destroy her from without. The Seven Thunders will strengthen the faithful and loyal clergy in their belief and practices, expel all who are addicted to corrupt lives and superstitions and manifest the unwavering stand of the Church on the then prevailing maxims of the world . . . Through the Seven Thunders, God gave him (St. John) a special revelation of great importance, indicating what would immediately precede the coming of Antichrist, but it was to remain a secret to the Church.[31]

Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser was a holy priest of the seventeenth century, founder of an Institute for the formation of priests approved by Pope Innocent XI in 1680. Holzhauser accurately predicted the execution of Charles I of England and the persecution of the Catholic Church in England for 120 years. (Prohibition of Mass under penalty of death lasted from 1658 until 1778.) The documents for his cause of canonization attribute miracles of healing to him. In one of his works, Venerable Holzhauser divided the history of the Church into seven periods and situated the seventeenth century Church in the fifth of these periods. He wrote:

During the fifth period, we saw only calamities and devastation; oppression of Catholics by tyrants and heretics; execution of Kings, and conspiracies to set up republics[32] . . . Are we not to fear, during this period, that the Mohammedans will come again, working out their sinister schemes against the Latin Church? . . . During this period men will abuse the freedom of conscience conceded to them . . . there will be laxity in divine and human precepts. Discipline will suffer. The holy canons will be completely disregarded, and the clergy will not respect the laws of the Church. Everyone will be carried away and led to believe and to do what he fancies, according to the manner of the flesh[33] . . . But, by the hand of God Almighty, there occurs so wondrous a change during the sixth period that no one can humanly visualize it.[34]

The sixth period of the Church will begin with the powerful Monarch and the holy Pontiff . . . and it will last until the revelation of Antichrist. In this period, God will console His Holy Church for the affliction and great tribulation she has endured during the fifth period. All nations will become Catholic. Vocations will be abundant as never before, and all men will seek only the Kingdom of God and His justice. Men will live in peace, and this will be granted because people will make their peace with God. They will live under the protection of the Great Monarch and his successors.

All nations will come to worship God in the true Catholic and Roman faith. There will be many Saints and Doctors on earth. Peace will reign over the whole earth because God will bind Satan for a number of years until the days of the Son of Perdition.   No one will be able to pervert the Word of God since, during the sixth period, there will be an Ecumenical Council which will be the greatest of all councils. By the grace of God, by the power of the Great Monarch, by the authority of the Holy Pontiff, and by the union of all the most devout princes, atheism and every heresy will be banished from the earth. The Council will define the true sense of Holy Scripture, and this will be believed and accepted by everyone (emphasis added).[35]

It is difficult for twenty-first century readers to imagine how unbelievable Venerable Holzhauser’s predictions of the rise of republics must have seemed to seventeenth century Catholics in nations where Christian monarchies had existed for many centuries. In our proud and unwavering faith in progress, we fail to consider that the restoration of monarchies in the future is no less likely today than the prophesied rise of republics in the seventeenth century. Moreover, Venerable Bartholomew was not the only authentic Catholic prophet to predict a future Ecumenical Council in similar terms.

Why would the six days of creation be among the passages of Holy Scripture whose “true sense” will be defined once and for all during the Era of Peace?

The answer emerges where Venerable Holzhauser remarks that “atheism and every heresy will be banished from the Earth.” Given the intimate connection between the denial of the six days of creation and the acceptance of evolution – in dogma and in morals, as well as in natural science – the definition of “day” in Genesis One as a 24-hour day would irrevocably seal the Church’s condemnation of that error.

Like Venerable Holzhauser, Sister Jeanne le Royer foretold a great Council of pastors after a time of great trial and tribulation:

I see in God a large assembly of pastors who will uphold the rights of the church and of her Head. They will restore the former disciplines. I see, in particular, two servants of the Lord who will distinguish themselves in this glorious struggle and who, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, will fill with ardent zeal the hearts of this illustrious assembly. [36]

Similarly, the Ecstatic of Tours predicted:

The Council will meet again after the victory. But, this time, men will be obliged to obey; There will be only one flock and one shepherd. All men will acknowledge the Pope as the Universal Father, the King of all peoples. Thus mankind will be regenerated. [37]

Since the Ecstatic of Tours had lived during the first Vatican Council, which was interrupted by strife between French and Italian forces, it was logical for her to see the future council as a continuation of the work of Vatican I. On the other hand, as a “pastoral council,” which did not define doctrine or condemn errors, Vatican II could not complete the work of Vatican I, which was a Council in the traditional sense, defining doctrine and condemning errors in faith and morals. Thus, the Ecstatic’s prophetic announcement of a council “after the victory” of the Church points to a future Council that will complete the unfinished work of the First Vatican Council.[38]

In light of the promises of Our Lady of Fatima, it is interesting to note that prophets of the Russian Orthodox Church have also predicted a future Ecumenical Council. St. Seraphim of Sarov who predicted the Bolshevik Revolution and the overthrow of the Tsar more than one hundred years in advance also foretold a final Ecumenical Council before the rise of Antichrist and the end of the world. He prophesied that its aim would be:

to unite and reunite all the holy Churches of Christ against the growing anti-Christian tendency under a single Head, Christ the Life-Giver, and under a single Protecting Veil of His Most Pure Mother, and to deliver to a final curse against the whole of Masonry and all the parties similar to it (under whatever names they may appear), the leaders of whom have one common aim: under the pretext of complete egalitarian earthly prosperity, and with the aid of people who have been made fanatical by them, to create anarchy in all states and to destroy Christianity throughout the world.

It is significant that St. Seraphim recognized that the Orthodox Churches have not been able to have an Ecumenical Council since their separation from the Church of old Rome.   Thus, he regards this future Council as “the eighth” because it will involve the Bishops of the whole world, as did the seven Ecumenical Councils of the first millennium when the Patriarch of Constantinople remained in communion with the Bishop of Rome. This is a remarkable admission by one who is probably the most revered modern saint of the Russian Orthodox Church—an admission that it is impossible to have a truly Ecumenical Council without the participation of the Bishop of Rome.  Indeed, we know that this event will only become possible after the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope and the Bishops in union with him,[39] the act that will spark the conversion of Russia and her return to full communion with the Catholic Church.[40]

It is worth reflecting on the agenda that St. Seraphim identifies as the common aim of all of the enemies of Christianity: “under the pretext of complete egalitarian earthly prosperity, and with the aid of the people who have been made fanatical by them, to create anarchy in all states and to destroy Christianity throughout the world.”  Is that not the very goal that we see being pursued throughout the world by corporate globalists like Bill Gates and George Soros, in concert with the United Nations, Communist China, and secular humanist regimes?

Conclusion

We hope and pray that Dr. Salkeld will read this response to his “conspiracy theory” claims—as well as our response to his previous articles which ought to have disabused him of the notion that contemporary defenders of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation are conspiracy theorists in the first place!  However, we realize that it will not be easy for him to change his mind—not because the scientific evidence for molecules-to-man evolution is so overwhelming, as he seems to believe, but because it is so hard to believe that “so many brilliant scientists (and theologians) could be wrong” about something as fundamental as the proper framework within which to study the origins of man and the universe.  Dr. Salkeld accuses us of holding that anyone who embraces theistic evolution is a “sycophant, a “patsy,” or a “crook.”  But we do no such thing.  We have acknowledged that a Catholic can be highly intelligent, learned, sincere and devout, and still be wrong about the origins of  man and the universe, IF—and this, as we stated above, is the crux of the matter—IF he accepts a false framework within which to study the relevant theological and empirical data.

To put this difficulty into a historical perspective, we might ask ourselves:

How many of the scribes of Judah believed in the sacred history of Genesis when Josiah mounted the throne?

How many scribes believed in the sacred history of Genesis in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah?

How many Bishops believed in Christ the Creator of all things at the height of the Arian crisis in the mid-fourth century?

The answer to all of these questions is the same—only a few.  The vast majority of the learned and powerful religious men in each of these crises supported an heterodox interpretation of Genesis or no interpretation at all.  It was only a tiny remnant who upheld the true understanding of the Mosaic account of Creation.

But what about Dr. Salkeld’s objection that if our position is correct, it would mean that the Church leadership had failed to uphold the complete Catholic doctrine of creation for almost 100 years?  Is it not absurd on the face of it to hold that the leadership of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church could have failed to uphold the true doctrine of creation in its entirety for almost 100 years?

Again, the history of the Church provides an answer.

It took 56 years for an Ecumenical Council in Constantinople to complete and confirm the work of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, to put an end to the first dire crisis of faith in the history of the Church. Is it so surprising that it could take 150 years for a final Ecumenical Council to complete the work of the First Vatican Council and put an end to the worst crisis of faith in the history of the Catholic Church? As the prophets quoted above prophesied, the next Ecumenical Council that completes the work of the First Vatican Council will condemn all modern heresies and so will undoubtedly pronounce a final reaffirmation of the dogma of creation and an explicit anathematization of evolution it its theistic as well as its atheistic forms.

Through the prayers of the Mother of God, may the Holy Spirit grant to the Pope and the Bishops the grace to consecrate Russia by name to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as soon as possible, and to usher in an era of peace, the restoration of the Church, and the greatest evangelization the world has ever known.

Fr. Peter Dwyer, OAM; M.Ed.; B.Th.; G.R.S.M. (Lon); L.R.A.M.; A.R.C.M.; A.Mus.A.

Eric Bermingham, M.S., Aerospace Engineering

Dr. Dean H. Kenyon, Ph.D., Biophysics

Dr. Kevin Mark, D.M.D.

Mr. Hugh Owen, M.S.

Mr. Michael Randolph, B.S. Philosophy; M.S. Information Management

Thomas H. Seiler, Ph.D., Physics 

John Wynne, M.S.


References

[1] https://churchlifejournal.nd.edu/articles/catholic-creationism-as-a-conspiracy-theory/ (accessed 5-15-20)

[2] https://www.britannica.com/topic/conspiracy-theory (accessed 5-15-20)

[3] LACTANTIUS (c. 300). “Chapter 14,” On the Deaths of the Persecutors.  According to Lactantius, “That [Galerius] might urge [Diocletian] to excess of cruelty in persecution, he employed private emissaries to set the palace on fire; and some part of it having been burnt, the blame was laid on the Christians as public enemies; and the very appellation of Christian grew odious on account of that fire.”

[4] The controversy surrounding Piltdown Man during the decades of its acceptance as fossil proof of human evolution concerned not its authenticity but its viability as proof that human evolution first occurred in Europe rather than in Africa or that white Europeans were “more highly evolved,” as Osborn believed, than “less favored races.”  Certainly, the idea that the skull was a deliberate fabrication would have been regarded as a “conspiracy theory” by the intellectual elite of the Western world, especially during the period from 1934 to 1952. On re-examination in 1953 it was found to be a fabrication, comprised of a human cranium and an ape jaw.

[5] POPE LEO XIII, Arcanum divinae, 5.

[6] Quoted in GERARD J. KEANE, Special Creation Rediscovered (Mt. Jackson: Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, 2016), p. 4.

[7] ST. AUGUSTINE, Lit. Mean. Gen. I, 39(19).

[8] JOSEPH GEDNEY, “St. Augustine Rediscovered” https://www.kolbecenter.org/st-augustine-rediscovered-a-defense-of-the-literal-interpretation-of-st-augustines-writings-on-the-sacred-history-of-genesis/ (accessed 5-29-20)

[9] FR. PETER FEHLNER, In the Beginning https://www.kolbecenter.org/in-the-beginning/  (accessed 5-25-20).

[10] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/2_kings/23-7.htm (accessed 5-27-20)

[11] https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/septuagint/chapter.asp?book=14&page=34 (accessed 5-29-20)

[12] “We now come to the meaning of the word sabbath. Sabbath is a Hebrew word which signifies cessation. To keep the Sabbath, therefore, means to cease from labor and to rest. In this sense the seventh day was called the Sabbath, because God, having finished the creation of the world, rested on that day from all the work which He had done. Thus it is called by the Lord in Exodus (emphasis added) (Catechism of the Council of Trent).

[13] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/2_chronicles/36.htm (accessed 5-27-20)

[14] The most important dogmatic decree on creation, the Firmiter of Lateran IV in 1215, was specifically directed at the Albigensian-Catharist heretics, most of whom held that God created the spiritual creatures and some material elements in the beginning but did not specially create the different kinds of corporeal creatures.  See “The Firmiter of Lateran IV in its Historical Context Defines the Fiat Creation of All Things” at https://www.kolbecenter.org/the-firmiter-of-lateran-iv-in-its-historical-context-defines-the-fiat-creation-of-all-things/ (accessed 5-29-20)

[15] The Council of Rimini was opened early in July, 359, with over four hundred bishops. About eighty Semi-Arians, including Ursacius, Germinius, and Auxentius, withdrew from the orthodox bishops, the most eminent of whom was Restitutus of Carthage; Liberius, Eusebius, Dionysius, and others were still in exile. The two parties sent separate deputations to the emperor, the orthodox asserting clearly their firm attachment to the faith of Nicaea, while the Arian minority adhered to the imperial formula. But the inexperienced representatives of the orthodox majority allowed themselves to be deceived, and not only entered into communion with the heretical delegates, but even subscribed, at, Nice in Thrace, a formula to the effect merely that the Son is like the Father according to the Scriptures (the words “in all things” being omitted). On their return to Rimini, they were met with the unanimous protests of their colleagues. But the threats of the consul Taurus, the remonstrances of the Semi-Arians against hindering peace between East and West for a word not contained in Scripture, their privations and their homesickness–all combined to weaken the constancy of the orthodox bishops. And the last twenty were induced to subscribe when Ursacius had an addition made to the formula of Nice, declaring that the Son is not a creature like other creatures. Pope Liberius, having regained his liberty, rejected this formula, which was thereupon repudiated by many who had signed it. In view of the hasty manner of its adoption and the lack of approbation by the Holy See, it could have no authority. In any case, the council was a sudden defeat of orthodoxy, and St. Jerome could say: ‘The whole world groaned in astonishment to find itself Arian” (Benigni, Umberto. “Council of Rimini.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 9 Oct. 2018 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13057b.htm>.) (accessed 5-29-20)

[16] J. H. NEWMAN, The Arians of the Fourth Century (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2001), pp. 445-446. The First Nicene Council’s dogmatic definition of the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ was ultimately reaffirmed by the First Council of Constantinople in 381.  Since the work of Vatican Council I was interrupted by Italian revolutionaries, it is to be expected that its work will be completed in the future era of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima and that this will include a definitive reaffirmation of the traditional dogma of creation and anathemas against the principal deviations from that doctrine.

[17] “At one point in the Church’s history, only a few years before Gregory’s [Nazianz] present preaching (A.D. 380), perhaps the number of Catholic bishops in possession of sees, as opposed to Arian bishops in possession of sees, no greater than something between 1% and 3% of the total” (JURGENS, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. II, p. 39.)

[18] BISHOP ATHANASIUS SCHNEIDER, “The Interpretation of Vatican II and the Current Crisis in the Church” https://catholicism.org/bishop-schneider-interpretation-vatican-ii-current-crisis-church.html  (accessed 5-17-20).

[19] St. JEROME, Letter to Principia, Letter CXXVII  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf206.v.CXXVII.html (accessed 5-27-20)

[20] ST. JEROME, Letter to Principia, Letter CXXVII http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf206.v.CXXVII.html (accessed 5-27-20)

[21] As Dr. Thomas Seiler explains in his work Originality of Species (THOMAS H.SEILER, Originality of Species) http://www.originality-of-species.net/ (accessed 5-25-20):

These drawings have been compared to real scientific observations and embryologist Michael Richardson summarized the significance of Haeckel’s influential work:

This is one of the worst cases of scientific fraud. It’s shocking to find that somebody one thought was a great scientist was deliberately misleading. … What he [Haeckel] did was to take a human embryo and copy it, pretending that the salamander and the pig and all the others looked the same at the same stage of development. They don’t … These are fakes” ( Michael Richardson, The Times (London) 11 Aug. 1997.)

Furthermore, the proposed embryonic recapitulation of certain organs turned out to be without substance. Human embryos never have gill slits or other animal organs during their development as has been documented by the embryologist Erich Blechschmidt who concluded: “the so-called basic law of biogenetics is wrong. No buts or ifs can mitigate this fact.” He adds that the gill stage myth is “not even a tiny bit correct or correct in a different form… It is totally wrong” (E. Blechschmidt, The Beginnings of Human Life, Springer-Verlag, New York, p. 32, 1977).

[22] ERNST HAECKEL, “Last Words on Evolution” https://www.gutenberg.org/files/53639/53639-h/53639-h.htm  (accessed 5-27-20)

[23] Quoted in A. D. WHITE, The History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1895), Arco Publishers (1955), pp. 75-76.

[24] Orestes Brownson (1803-1876) was one of the greatest Catholic apologists in the history of the United States–some would say the greatest.  A convert to the Catholic Faith, Brownson entered the Church after having earned a stellar reputation as an original writer and thinker, a member of the intellectual circle that included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. His Review offered a bold and uncompromising defense of the Catholic Faith which earned the respect and admiration of the entire episcopate.  On May 13, 1849, Brownson received a letter from Bishop Kenrick of Philadelphia, signed by the Archbishop of Baltimore and by all of the American Bishops in attendance at the Council of Baltimore in 1849, to encourage him by their “approbation and influence” to continue his “literary labors in defense of the faith.”  In a review of Darwin’s Descent of Man in 1873, Brownson wrote:

We are thus severe against these men [Darwin and his disciples], not because we are narrow-minded and bigoted, not because we have an overweening confidence in our own opinions or hold them to be the measure of the true and the good, nor because we dislike science that is science, or dread its light; but because they do not give us science, but their own opinions and speculations, which they can neither know nor prove to be true, and  which we know cannot be true, unless the religion of Christ is false, God is not, and heaven and earth a lie.  We condemn them, because the truth condemns them; because, instead of shedding light on the glorious works of the Creator, they shed darkness over them, and obscure their fair face with the thick smoke that ascends at their bidding from the bottomless pit of their ignorance and presumption.  Their science is an illusion with which Satan mocks them, deludes and destroys souls for whom Christ has died, and it comes under the head of the endless “genealogies” and “vain philosophy,” against which St. Paul so solemnly warns us.  It is high time that they be stripped of their prestige, and be treated with the contempt they deserve for their impudent pretension, and be held in the horror which all men should feel  for the enemies of truth, and whose labors tend only to the extinction of civilization, the abasement of intelligence, to fix the affections on the earth, to blunt the sense of moral obligation, and to make society what we see it every day becoming.  They are Satan’s most efficient ministers. ORESTES BROWNSON, Brownson’s Quarterly Review, July 1873  https://www.kolbecenter.org/orestes-brownson-on-darwins-descent-of-man/ (accessed 5-25-20)

[25] Citing an article by James Akin, Dr. Salkeld holds that the dogmatic decrees of the Council of Trent and Vatican I lost their force when the Code of Canon Law was revised in 1983 The “Unanimous Consent” of the Church Fathers .  This smacks of the exegetical style of the scribes of Our Lord’s day who interpreted the Mosaic law on divorce to mean that a man could divorce his wife “for any reason,” forgetting that, as Jesus reminded these errant teachers, “in the beginning it was not so,” and that marriage was established by God to be permanent and indissoluble from the beginning of creation.  To hold, as Dr. Salkeld and Mr. Akin do, that the dogmatic decrees of Trent and Vatican I (the violations of which were not anathematized in the conciliar canons) were abrogated or made non-binding by the 1983 Code of Canon Law is to turn Almighty God into a kind of Koranic monster who directs His Church to teach fundamental doctrines for almost two thousand years before withdrawing His directives and allowing those doctrines to be radically altered under the influence of fallible man-made hypotheses in natural science.  The absurdity of this claim can be readily recognized when one considers that the canon of Holy Scripture was defined at the Council of Trent without a corresponding anathema, so that, by Dr. Salkeld and Mr. Akin’s criterion, the canon of Holy Scripture can no longer be considered dogmatically defined since the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law!  Dr. Salkeld and Mr. Akin seem to think that the Pope has an unlimited power to change doctrine, but in defining papal infallibility Vatican I explicitly stated that this gift was not given to the Pope to “define any new doctrine” but only to define doctrines of faith or morals contained in the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles.  Needless to say, no recent Pope has found anything contrary to the traditional doctrine of creation in the Deposit of Faith!

[26] BRADFORD FELLMETH, Thou Art Dust”: Recovering the Revealed Doctrine of the Origin of Man’s Body, unpublished thesis for a Master’s Degree in Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, 2019.  In the same thesis, Fellmeth proves that the Profession of Faith Vas electionis by Pope St. Pelagius I, defining the special creation of Adam, body and soul, and the creation of Eve from Adam’s side, was an infallible exercise of the papal Magisterium.

[27] In reality, the scientists of the PAS never “convinced” the modern Popes that this “moving of the goalposts” was justified.  By fairly early on in the twentieth century, the Cartesian-Darwinian framework had become the accepted framework in academia for studying the origins of man and the universe, but this happened so subtly and gradually that there never was an open and honest debate about the relative merits of the Cartesian framework and the traditional Creation-Providence framework.

[28] ERNST HAECKEL,  “Last Words on Evolution” https://www.gutenberg.org/files/53639/53639-h/53639-h.htm (accessed 5-27-20)

[29] IBID.

[30] IBID.

[31] A Manual of Catholic Theology Based on Scheeben’s Dogmatik, Joseph Wilhelm and Thomas B. Scannell, Vol I, Chap. IV, Sect. 122 (London: Kegan Paul, 1890), p. 383.

[32] Quoted in DESMOND A. BIRCH, Trial, Tribulation and Triumph (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), p. 421.

[33] DESMOND A. BIRCH, Trial, Tribulation, and Triumph (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), p. 40.

[34] IBID, pp. 332-333.

[35] YVES DUPONT, Catholic Prophecy (Rockford: TAN, 1970), p. 40.

[36] BIRCH, op. cit., pp. 332-333.

[37] IBID, p. 422.

[38] IBID, p. 423.

[39] The Second Vatican Council was supposed to complete the work of the First Vatican Council, and the original schemas were written with that purpose in mind.  When the modernist Bishops and theologians of northern Europe seized control of the Council, the original schemas were set aside, and the character of the Council was changed to that of a “pastoral council” in which, as the Pope’s legate confirmed, no new doctrine would be defined.

[40] For an explanation of why the papal consecrations of the world in 1984 and 2000 did not fulfill the request of Our Lady of Fatima for the Consecration of Russia by the Pope in union with the Bishops, see HUGH OWEN, The Light Comes from the East; Reflections on the Papal Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Mt. Jackson: Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, 2015), pp. 105-109.

[41] To those who object that St. Seraphim of Sarov ought not to be called a “Saint”—as did Pope St. John Paul Ii—because he has not been canonized by the Catholic Church, it should be pointed out that it has been the practice of the Catholic Church to accept the saints who are commemorated by Churches that have been separated for a time from the Holy See when they return to communion with Rome, even if those saints have been glorified during the period of separation. For example, St. Gregory Palamas was glorified by the Orthodox after the Schism of 1054, but after the Ukrainians returned to communion with Rome in 1596, they were allowed to commemorate St. Gregory Palamas in their liturgical calendar.  Today, St. Gregory Palamas is commemorated by the Greek Catholic Churches both Melkite and Ukrainian.  (For a beautiful harmonization of the theology of St. Gregory Palamas and St. Thomas Aquinas, please see The Ground of Union: Deification in Aquinas and Palamas, A.N. Williams (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). This masterful work demonstrates that St. Gregory and St. Thomas can be shown to agree on all essential points of theology by anyone who takes the time to understand each of them in his own idiom.)   Since Our Lady of Fatima assures us that Russia will be converted and return to full communion with the Catholic Church, it is quite reasonable—although not certain, of course—to expect that St. Seraphim of Sarov will continue to be commemorated as a saint in the era of peace.

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