In 2014, Dr. Brett Salkeld, official theologian for the Archdiocese of Regina in Canada, wrote an article entitled, “Can Catholics Believe in Evolution?” Recently, Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute wrote a response to it for his daughter, who had been assigned the article by her biology teacher in a homeschool co-op. Dr. Salkeld saw the rebuttal and attempted to counter it. Links to both documents can be found here:
We are grateful to Dr. Salkeld and to Mr. Hichborn for creating a rare opportunity for the Catholic faithful to evaluate the arguments for and against theistic evolution, from the perspective of theology, philosophy and natural science. In this document we will set forth and defend the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation and demonstrate the fatal flaws in Dr. Salkeld’s defense of theistic evolution as set forth in his 2014 article and in his critique of Mr. Hichborn’s response.
In his 2014 article “Can Catholics Believe in Evolution?” Dr. Salkeld writes:
the idea persists among some Catholics, and many media outlets, that Catholicism is necessarily uncomfortable with evolution. This is for a few reasons. First of all, many people simply assume that the Bible teaches that evolution is false, or, secondly, that evolution is incompatible with centuries of Church teaching. Neither of these is, in fact, the case. Finally, many people have bought into the myth that science and religion are necessarily at odds. This, of course, usually follows on the first two mistakes.
We will begin by responding to these statements before addressing some of the subsidiary arguments that Dr. Salkeld made in his critique of Mr. Hichborn’s response to his article. As a preliminary and fundamental issue of difference with Dr. Salkeld, however, it is extremely important to point out that—most likely due to an unwarranted acceptance of the same uniformitarian approach to natural science that characterized Rene’ Descartes, Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin and their disciples down to the present day—Dr. Salkeld continuously argues that origins is a matter for natural science, not theology. This is a drastic and unwarranted departure from traditional Catholic teaching. All Catholics should understand that if origins occurred exactly as understood in the straightforward account in Genesis 1 and 2, the creation would have occurred through supernatural means, not through naturalistic means, making origins properly a topic for historical theology, not natural science.
In our reply to Dr. Salkeld below, we argue that there is no reason or necessity—from the perspective of natural science or theology—to depart from this understanding, which was adhered to by all the Church Fathers, Doctors, and Magisterial statements through Vatican I. It is only with the increasing influence of Lyellian geology and Darwinian biology after 1859 that some theologians began to depart from historical Catholic teachings about origins. This departure, we explain, was due to deceptive claims made by the Darwinists and the resulting influence on those in the Church who did not take the time to study whether those claims had scientific merit. This failure on the part of many theologians stood in direct conflict with the instructions of the two important encyclicals, Providentissimus Deus (par. 18 and 22) and Humani Generis (par. 36). As a result, while the truth in theology cannot contradict truth in natural science, many Catholics now hold an incorrect theological view of origins due to false and unsubstantiated Darwinian claims.
The only way back to the authentic harmony of truth is to study what the Church historically taught (through the Fathers, Doctors and Magisterium) and to understand that Darwinian claims fall apart under scrutiny and do not justify rejecting nineteen centuries of Catholic teaching. Let us begin, then, by returning to several key questions about Genesis.
What is the Genre of the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis?
Before we can determine whether the Biblical teaching on creation excludes the belief in molecules-to-man evolution that Dr. Salkeld defends, we must answer one of the most important questions regarding the text of Genesis 1, namely: “What is the genre of the first eleven chapters of Genesis?”
Happily, this question has a straightforward and unambiguous answer. The genre of Genesis is history. That Genesis is history and not poetry, myth, or a mixture of myth and history, has been affirmed repeatedly by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church right up until modern times. The words of Our Lord are the highest authority on this question, and He always spoke of the contents of Genesis 1-11 as true history. Indeed, He said: “For if you did believe Moses, you would perhaps believe me also; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47). He also said when questioned about divorce: “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6) He also spoke of the “blood of Abel” shed at “the foundation of the world” (Luke 11:50-51) and of Noah’s worldwide Flood (Matt 24:37) in literal terms.
When the Council of Trent approved the publication of the Catechism of Trent or Roman Catechism, it ratified the constant teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church that Genesis is a “sacred history.” The Roman Catechism was written for pastors so that they could instruct their people in the fundamental dogmas of the Faith. When pastors had questions about creation and the early history of the world, the Catechism directed them to “refer to the sacred history of Genesis” and explain it to the people, as written. In its binding decrees, the Council of Trent also defined that when all of the Fathers of the Church agree on any interpretation of Scripture regarding a doctrine of faith or morals, that interpretation is true. As will be explained further below, all of the Fathers accepted Genesis as a sacred history and concurred with St. Augustine’s verdict on the genre of Genesis:
The narrative in these books is not written in a literary style proper to allegory, as in the Canticle of Canticles, but from beginning to end in a style proper to history, as in the Books of Kings and the other works of that type.
Since the historicity of Genesis establishes the factuality of the events at the beginning of human history which undergird the fundamental dogmas of the Faith, including Original Sin and Redemption, it follows that the case, according to Trent, is closed, and Genesis must be regarded as history. Indeed, from the time of Trent until the reign of Pope St. Pius X, Pope after Pope lauded the Roman Catechism as, in the words of Pope Leo XIII, a “golden summary” of Catholic doctrine. By the reign of St. Pius X, however, evolutionary propaganda had persuaded so many Catholic intellectuals of the “fact” of long ages of Earth’s history that the Pope had to mobilize the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC) founded by his predecessor to counteract the tendency to mythologize the first chapters of the book of Genesis. By a motu proprio “Praestantia Scripturae,” on November 18, 1907, Pope St. Pius X affirmed that Catholics who dissented from the decisions of the PBC would incur the guilt of grave sin.
On June 30, 1909, the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission strongly affirmed the historical truth of Genesis from the first verse. The affirmations came in reply to two questions:
Question I: Whether the various exegetical systems which have been proposed to exclude the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis, and have been defended by the pretense of science, are sustained by a solid foundation?—Reply: In the negative.
This reply establishes that the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis cannot be called into question.
Question II: Whether . . . it can be taught that the three aforesaid chapters of Genesis do not contain the stories of events which really happened, that is, which correspond with objective reality and historical truth . . . or, finally, historical in part and fictitious in part?—Reply: In the negative.
This reply definitively excludes the possibility that even a part of the Genesis narrative could be fictitious and non-historical.
We can here agree with Dr. Salkeld, who states in his response to Hichborn: “[Genesis] was not written to be read as scientific description, and . . . the Church throughout the ages has not read it as such.” Throughout the ages the Church has read the chapters of Genesis as history, which is not properly a field for scientific study at all. Since scientific inquiry is based on the experimental method, it is properly restricted to events that can be subjected to tests in the present. It cannot establish how an event in the past proceeded, and indeed cannot even properly provide us with a sense of whether or not an historical event could have occurred. And, of course, natural science is at a complete loss to account for how artifacts like the Shroud of Turin and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe came into being. We will deal more with the limitations of experimental science in a later section and return for now to our discussion of the Magisterium’s position on Genesis.
The next magisterial document dealing explicitly with the historical events recounted in Genesis 1-3, the encyclical Humani Generis of Pope Pius XII, must be understood in the context of the 1909 PBC rulings. Although Pope Pius XII charged “exegetes” with the task of determining in precisely what sense the first eleven chapters of Genesis are history, he insisted that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are “a kind of history” and that they contain a popular description of the origins of the human race and of the chosen people. He also upheld the constant teaching of the Church that these chapters are “free from all error” (DZ, 2329). Therefore, the PBC decrees and Humani Generis uphold the constant teaching of the Church that Genesis 1-11 is a sacred history and leave the very heavy burden of proof where it has always rested—on those who question the plain and obvious sense of Genesis 1-3, as interpreted by the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers in their authoritative teaching.
Does the Bible Teach that Evolution Is False?
Since the sacred history of Genesis was revealed by God so that we could know the truth about how God created the world, we should not expect it to provide a catalog of errors about the origin of the universe. Rather, we should expect to find what we do discover there: a true account of how God created the world and what happened in the first period of human history. In the sacred history of Genesis Moses tells us that God created, by fiat, the entire material universe and all of the different kinds of creatures, for man, at the beginning of time, less than ten thousand years ago; and this constitutes the common doctrine of all of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers from the time of the Apostles in their authoritative teaching.
Theistic evolutionists scoff at the notion that the length of the period of creation could be a matter of great importance for Catholics. Dr. Salkeld himself makes the strong claim: “Neither the Bible nor the Church teach, have taught, or could have taught that evolution is false. It simply does not fall into the realm of what either the Bible or Church teaching is concerned with.” But this disregards the mind of the Church Fathers who held that the fiat creation of all things at the beginning of time less than ten thousand years ago was an indisputable fact contained in Divine Revelation and one that had to be maintained in the face of the scorn of the Graeco-Roman intellectual elite. Many of the pagan intellectuals of the patristic era believed in some form of evolution over long ages and heaped scorn on the Church Fathers for placing their trust in a book produced by Hebrew barbarians who lacked the culture of the philosophers of Greece or Rome.
Indeed, the Church Fathers had to contend regularly with the ideas of pagan philosophers like Lucretius who believed in molecules-to-man evolution through natural selection over long ages of time. In De Rerum Natura, Lucretius writes of the wonders that natural selection can accomplish in “a vast time”:
Struck with blows and carried along by their own weight from infinite time until the present, [atoms] have been accustomed to move and meet in all manner of ways, and to try all combinations, whatsoever they could produce by coming together, for this reason it comes to pass that being spread abroad through a vast time, by attempting every sort of combination and motion, at length those come together which . . . become the beginnings of great things, of earth and sea and sky and the generation of living creatures.
Far from making peace with these long ages of “vast time,” the Fathers of the Church rejected these long-age evolutionary phantasies as illogical, absurd, and totally contradictory to God’s revelation to Moses in the sacred history of Genesis. Of these early advocates of long ages of evolution, St. Basil wrote that:
Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the origin of the Universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider’s web woven by these writers who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! It is because they knew not how to say “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Deceived by their inherent atheism it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that was all was given up to chance.
St. Basil added elsewhere that so complete is the information contained in the sacred history of Genesis that those who rightly interpret the Sacred Scriptures can even know “the day on which the universe was made,” a conviction grounded in the certainty that the chronological information in the Sacred history of Genesis was inspired, inerrant, and sufficient to establish a chronology from creation to the later periods of human history. This stands in direct contrast to Dr. Salkeld’s claim that Genesis was not meant to be a “newspaper like recounting of historical events.” Indeed, the belief in long ages so dominated the pagan world that the Church Fathers repeatedly rejected this erroneous belief and firmly upheld the literal historical truth of the sacred history of Genesis and of the chronology of the world derived from the genealogies contained in the Pentateuch. Hence, we read in the City of God of St. Augustine:
They [pagans] are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents that profess to give the history of [man as] many thousands of years, though reckoning by the sacred writings we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed.
Julius Africanus observes that not only the Greek and Roman pagan intellectuals embraced these mythical long ages but also the Egyptians before them:
The Egyptians, indeed, with their boastful notions of their own antiquity, have put forth a sort of account of it by the hand of their astrologers in cycles and myriads of years …” [myriad = 10,000].
St. Theophilus of Antioch, occupying the see founded by St. Peter, and reckoning from the chronological data in the Septuagint, at the end of the second century expounded upon:
the number of years from the foundation of the world . . . to condemn the empty labour and trifling of these [pagan] authors, because there have neither been twenty thousand times ten thousand years from the flood to the present time, as Plato said . . . affirming that there had been so many years; nor yet 15 times 10,375 years, as we have already mentioned Apollonius the Egyptian gave out; nor is the world uncreated, nor is there a spontaneous production of all things . . . but, being indeed created, it is also governed by the providence of God, who made all things; and the whole course of time and the years are made plain to those who wish to obey the truth . . . All the years from the creation of the world amount to a total of 5698 years, and the odd months and days…. For if even a chronological error has been committed by us, of, e.g., 50 or 100, or even 200 years, yet not of thousands and tens of thousands, as Plato and Apollonius and other mendacious authors have hitherto written.
In his capacity as tutor of the imperial household after the conversion of Constantine, the Church Father Lactantius lent his voice to the chorus of patristic witnesses to the truth of the Biblical chronology of the world:
Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed.
All of these statements stand in stark contrast to Dr. Salkeld’s claim:
While the Church could not possibly have taught evolution as it has come to be understood with modern scientific advances, both because the information was unavailable and because matters of science do not fall within the realm of what the Church understands herself as competent to pronounce upon, many of the most prominent theologians in the Christian tradition have said things that look remarkably like the theory of evolution.
On the contrary, historically the theologians, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church have said many things that look remarkably like a literal-historical interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis. Dr. Salkeld raises a common objection to the historical character of the first chapters of Genesis, the alleged contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 when taken literally as historical narrative:
Dr. Sankeld alleges that the simultaneous creation of man as male and female in Genesis 1 contradicts the account of the creation of man before woman in Genesis 2 and shows that these chapters are not meant to be understood as historical narrative. In reality, with the possible exception of St. Augustine, whose reasons for proposing a simultaneous creation of all things are discussed below, none of the Fathers saw this as an example of a contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2, understood as historical narrative. Hence, the great Belgian exegete Cornelius a Lapide, summing up the teaching of the Fathers and Doctors, wrote:
Scripture does not say, “He created him;” it says “He created them,” specifically Adam and Eve. In other words, He created Adam a male and Eve a female. Therefore, it is clear that their names are announced by way of anticipation, for Moses has not yet described Eve’s creation, even though she was made on this same sixth day. (He reserves her creation for Genesis 2:22).
In reality the overwhelming majority of the Church Fathers saw no contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 as historical narrative. As explained in the article “Rediscovering the Literal Interpretation of Genesis in the Writings of St. Augustine,” other apparent contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2 when taken literally as historical narrative flowed from deficiencies in the Vetus Latina translation of Genesis used by St. Augustine and disappear in the superior Vulgate translation of St. Jerome. Biblical Hebrew expert Dr. Mark Koehne addresses other alleged contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2 when taken literally as historical narrative and shows that a correct understanding of the Hebrew resolves them all. For example, addressing one of the primary objections, Dr. Koehne writes:
A third primary objection to yom meaning a twenty-four hour period of time is Genesis 2:5 which, according to some commentators, contradicts the sequence of creation in Genesis 1, therefore demonstrating the symbolic meaning of the six days. Genesis 2:5 reads: “…no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up; the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but a stream came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.” Based on a cursory reading, in many translated languages, God seems to have created plant life for the first time on both day 3 (Genesis 1:11-12) and day 6 (Genesis 2:5—plant life following the creation of man on the sixth day). However, even in English the solution emerges. The vegetation on day 3 are “every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it.” In Genesis 1:29, God tells our first parents about their food source: “I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food.” The vegetation on day 3 is their food source. By contrast, the vegetation referenced in 2:5, that would only spring up with rain and man to work the ground, are field shrubs (siakh ha sadeh, i.e., שיח השדה) and field grass (ehsev ha sadeh, עשב השדה), i.e., cultivated garden plants.
Chronology of Concern to All of the Church Fathers
It is important to realize that the conviction that Genesis was history and that a chronology of the world could be derived from the genealogies and other historical information in Genesis remained strong throughout the patristic era. An incident in the life of one of the greatest scholars of the patristic age and one of the last of the Church Fathers, Venerable Bede (672-735), illustrates how seriously the Fathers took the historical information in Genesis 1-11. According to one of the leading modern authorities on Bede’s life and work:
…[Bede divided the history of the world] into six ages, with a seventh running concurrently and an eighth still to come. The days of the week of Easter lay behind this in the early Church, which in turn relied on the idea of six days of creation in Genesis, ending in the seventh day of rest of the Creator. In the Christian dispensation these were completed by an ‘eighth day’ which was also the first and only day of the New Creation . . .
The dominant chronology of the world in Bede’s day was the one derived from the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, which gave 5200 years from Creation to the Nativity of Christ. By a rigorous examination of all of the manuscripts available to him, Venerable Bede concluded that the chronology derived from the Hebrew manuscripts that St. Jerome used for the Vulgate was more reliable than the chronology derived from the Septuagint genealogies, even though this chronology had been accepted by most of the theologians of his time. In his work De Temporibus Bede set the beginning of the sixth age of the world at 3,952 years from Creation instead of 5,199. Thus, his biographer writes that:
In 708, when he was thirty-five and an established writer, he was told that he had been cited as an heretic on this subject before the aged bishop Wilfrid of York. In De Temporum Ratione he had challenged the calculation of the last age of the world by the recalculation of the years belonging to each age, while saying, as did St. Augustine, that the end of the last age and the coming of Christ was known only to God: ‘it is not for you to know the times and the seasons’, he quoted, ‘ that the Father has put in his own power’ (Acts 1:8). The charge of heresy distressed Bede profoundly; he wrote to a friend:
How could I, denying Christ, be a priest of the church of Christ and with what logic could I, believing in the gospels and the epistles, disbelieve that he had become incarnate in the sixth age?
As she concludes her account of this excruciating episode in Bede’s life, Sister Benedicta adds that “Bede was sure he was innocent, never altered his opinion,” and never suffered any kind of penalty for arguing against the majority view, but the fact that he was cited as a heretic for daring – after years of the most meticulous research – to differ from the accepted chronology by a mere 1200 years explodes the myth that our Fathers in the Faith cared little about the date of creation and that late-nineteenth century protestant fundamentalists were the first self-identified followers of Christ to get worked up about the age of the universe.
Thanks in part to the work of Venerable Bede, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church eventually embraced his reasoning, and in the post-Tridentine era the greatest Doctors of the Roman Church, like St. Alphonsus Liguori, upheld the chronology derived from the genealogical data contained in the Vulgate, which is why all of the Douay-Rheims Bibles in the United States published at the beginning of the twentieth century had an appendix citing a chronology of four thousand years from Creation to the Nativity of Christ, almost identical to Venerable Bede’s!
In light of the evidence we have presented here, which is but a brief sample of the unanimous teaching of the Church Fathers on the recent creation of the world, and before leaving this topic, we would like to ask the theistic evolutionists of our day to please show us a single statement from a Church Father who taught that God used long periods of time in the creation of the material universe or that it does not matter if one believes in these mythical long ages, as did most of the pagan philosophers of the patristic era. When the testimony of the Church Fathers and Doctors is taken seriously, it becomes apparent that the fiat creation of all things at the beginning of time is absolutely integral to the true Catholic doctrine of creation and that the insertion of long ages of time into the creation period involves a denial of the goodness of God and of the goodness of the first created world before the Original Sin and calls into question the inerrancy of the chronological information contained in the sacred history of Genesis.
Are Science and Religion at Odds?
The First Perfection of the Universe and the Creation-Providence Distinction
The Ecumenical Councils of Trent and Vatican I defined that when all of the Church Fathers agree on any interpretation of Scripture that pertains to a doctrine of faith or morals that is the truth and we must believe it. Unfortunately, theistic evolutionists have forgotten or overlooked one of the fundamental tenets of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation which was believed and taught by all of the Church Fathers in their interpretation of Genesis 1-3. St. Thomas in the Summa Theologica calls this doctrine “the first perfection of the universe,” which he defines as “the completeness of the universe at its first founding” and which is what, according to the Angelic Doctor, is “ascribed to the seventh day.”
All of the Fathers whose writings on this topic have been preserved agree that God created all of the different kinds of corporeal creatures for man in six days or an instant much less than ten thousand years ago and that when He had finished creating Adam, body and soul, and Eve from Adam’s side, He stopped creating new kinds of creatures, at which point all of the different kinds of creatures, angelic and corporeal, each one perfect according to its nature, existed together with man and for man, in perfect harmony. According to the Fathers whose writings have been preserved on this topic, the first-created world was completely free not only from human death, but from deformity, disease, man-harming natural disasters or any kind of disorder in nature, all of which “natural evils” only came into the world because of the Original Sin of Adam.
Indeed, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church held that the natural order in which we live and which the Fathers and Doctors sometimes refer to as the order of Providence only began to operate with relative autonomy after the work of creation was finished on the sixth day of creation. Hence, summing up the teaching of all of the Church Fathers, St. John Chrysostom writes:
When the Scripture here says: “God rested from all his works,” it thereby instructs us that on the Seventh Day He ceased to create and to bring out of nonexistence into existence; but when Christ says: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” it thereby indicates to us His uninterrupted Providence, and it calls “work” the preservation of what exists, the giving to it of continuance (of existence) and the governance of it at all times.
With their distinction between the supernatural work of creation and the natural order of providence, the Fathers and Doctors expose the principal error of the theistic evolutionists—their mixing of the order of the supernatural work of creation and the natural order of providence which are always distinguished in the writings of the Fathers and Doctors. This error flows in turn from the uniformitarian error that St. Peter warned us would enter the Church in the last days (cf. 2 Peter 3)—the false assumption that “things have always been the same from the beginning” of the universe and that therefore we can legitimately extrapolate from the material processes that are going on now all the way back to the beginning of time to determine the age and origin of the universe. St. Peter prophesied:
in the last days there shall come deceitful scoffers, walking after their own lusts, Saying: Where is his promise or his coming? for since the time that the fathers slept, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the 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)
With this in mind, we will now examine the rise of the uniformitarian scoffers during the so-called Enlightenment to see how the revolution against the true Catholic doctrine of creation began outside of the household of the faith before eventually infiltrating the highest levels of the Church in the form of theistic evolution.
“Scoffers Will Arise”
St. Thomas Aquinas defined the relationship between the work of creation and the operation of the natural order which only began after its completion as follows:
The completion of the universe as to the completeness of its parts belongs to the sixth day, but its completion as regards their operation, to the seventh.
In other words, the origin of the different kinds of creatures—stars, plants, animals and men—cannot be explained in terms of the activity of created things—that is, in terms of the same material processes that are going on now. This is because, until the entire supernatural work of creation was complete, the universe was still “under construction,” and did not function with the relative autonomy that it has enjoyed since the work of creation was finished. Thus, according to all of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers, who addressed this question in their authoritative teaching, it is impossible to extrapolate from the present order of nature and from the material processes that are going on now to explain how these things originally came to be.
This framework was not based on human reasoning or experience. It was based on God’s revelation to Moses in which He clearly stated that the work of creation was a fiat creation and that it was finished on the sixth day with the creation of Adam and Eve. Therefore, ALL the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers drew the boundary between theology and natural science AFTER the creation of Adam and Eve. From this starting point, they recognized that the work of creation was the proper realm of the theologian. The natural order—which began AFTER the work of creation was finished—was the proper realm of the natural scientist.
Those who defend atheistic or theistic evolution do not accept this premise from Divine Revelation. They believe that the same material processes that are going on now have been operating in the same way since the BEGINNING of creation—in contradiction to all of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers in their authoritative teaching. Remarkably, when St. Peter our first Pope foretold this revolution in men’s ideas he went on to predict that these scoffers—men like Descartes, Kant, Hutton, Lyell, Darwin, Teilhard de Chardin and all other theistic evolutionists and their modern disciples— would have to deliberately ignore the FACT—not the pious belief—that it was the Word of God that brought the heavens and the Earth and all they contain into existence, NOT a material process like what we observe in the world today (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-7). And this is, indeed, the fundamental error of all evolutionists, theistic or atheistic.
No one exposed the folly of a uniformitarian approach to the origins and antiquity of man and the universe better than St. Augustine. In The City of God, he reflected on the creation of Eve from Adam’s side and observed that:
This [the creation of Eve] He did as God…some people use the standards of their own daily experience to measure the power and wisdom of God, by which he has the knowledge and the ability to make seeds even without seeds. And so they regard the account of man’s Creation as fable, not fact; and because the first created works are beyond their experience, they adopt a skeptical attitude.
In this passage St. Augustine lays bare the error that St. Peter warned us against in 2 Peter 3 and which remains the fatal flaw in all accounts of origins put forward by theistic evolutionists who regard the account of creation at least in part as a “fable,” precisely because the “first created works are beyond their experience,” and they “adopt a skeptical attitude” toward the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11, especially in regard to the chronology of the world.
“He Did His Best to Dispense with God”
René Descartes (1596-1650) was the first Catholic thinker of note—i.e., the first Baptized Catholic “scoffer”—to propose that it would be “more reasonable” to explain the origin of stars, galaxies and other kinds of creatures in terms of the same material processes going on now than by fiat creation. In his 1637 work Discourse on Method (of Rightly Conducting the Reason), Part V, Descartes wrote:
But it is certain, and it is an opinion commonly received by the theologians, that the action by which He now preserves is just the same as that by which He at first created it. In this way….we may well believe…that by this means alone all things which are purely material might in course of time have become such as we observe them to be at present; and their nature is much easier to understand when we see them coming to pass little by little in this manner, than were we to consider them as all complete to begin with.
In reality, Descartes wittingly or unwittingly distorted the “common opinion” of theologians which identified the creative action of God in creating the universe with His action in maintaining it. Rightly understood, this common opinion held that God created and sustained the universe by His divine omnipotent power, but it distinguished (on the side of the effect) between the exercise of that power to create the corporeal and spiritual creatures ex nihilo and the maintenance of the universe after it was finished and complete. To appreciate the importance of this conflation of the order of creation with the natural order of providence, consider the following statement by secular humanist philosopher John Dewey about the pivotal importance of this concept in Descartes’ writing and its link to Darwinism:
When Descartes said: “The nature of physical things is much more easily conceived when they are beheld coming gradually into existence, than when they are only considered as produced at once in a finished and perfect state,” the modern world became self-conscious of the logic that was henceforth to control it, the logic of which Darwin’s Origin of Species is the latest scientific achievement.
In light of the fact that John Dewey (1859-1952)—the man most responsible for destroying the moral integrity of public education in the United States—identified Descartes as the one who laid the FOUNDATIONS of modern evolutionary thought, we might ask ourselves: WHY was René Descartes the first Catholic thinker of note to embrace this idea? Was he really so much smarter than St. Augustine, St. Thomas and all of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church? Is it a coincidence that Descartes dabbled in the occult and then had three “mystical dreams” brought to him by a “spirit of truth” which gave him the key to igniting a revolution in men’s thinking— a revolution that would overturn the traditional teaching that “the past—as revealed in Divine Revelation—is the key to the present” with the new mantra of the evolutionists, “the present is the key to the past”?
Perhaps we need look no further for an answer than to Descartes’ devout Catholic contemporary Blaise Pascal. Pascal was as great a genius as Descartes but, unlike Descartes, he had true piety and he saw the terrible consequences that would result from Descartes’ arrogant denial of the traditional teaching on fiat creation in favor of a naturalistic account of origins. Hence, Pascal wrote in Pensees:
I cannot forgive Descartes; in all his philosophy he did his best to dispense with God. But he could not avoid making Him set the world in motion with a flip of His thumb; after that he had no more use for God.
St Thomas followed Aristotle in teaching that a small error in the beginning becomes a huge error later on. But in the case of Descartes, a huge error in the beginning became an unimaginably monstrous error in the end. And this explains why highly intelligent and virtuous people can be completely wrong in their conclusions about origins—because in regard to the origins of man and the universe they have accepted the false premise of Descartes and unwittingly rejected the premise that was held by ALL of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers in their authoritative teaching. Indeed, a man could be the smartest person in the world—and virtuous and well-intentioned to boot—yet if he starts from a false premise, he will always reason (perhaps even sincerely and brilliantly) to a false conclusion—as all evolutionists do.
Has the Magisterium Upheld the Patristic Understanding of Creation?
The patristic teaching on creation was implicit in the words of the Nicene Creed, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” Not until the Middle Ages when the Albigensian heresy denied the divine creation of the material universe and the special creation of the various kinds of corporeal creatures did an Ecumenical Council elaborate on the first article of the creed in the following words:
God…creator of all visible and invisible things of the spiritual and of the corporal who by his own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual and corporal namely angelic and mundane and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body.
For 600 years, according to the foremost Catholic Doctors and commentators on this dogmatic decree, the words “all things” “at once from the beginning” signified that God created all of the different kinds of corporeal creatures and angels “simul” (“at once”). This could be reconciled with the six days of creation (the view of the overwhelming majority of the Fathers) or with the instantaneous creation envisioned by St. Augustine—but it could not be reconciled with a longer creation period. Among the commentators who taught that Lateran IV had defined the relative simultaneity of the creation of all things, perhaps the most authoritative was St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619), Doctor of the Church. In his commentary on Genesis, St. Lawrence wrote:
the Holy Roman Church determined in the Fourth Lateran Council that the angels along with the creatures of the world were at once created ex nihilo from the beginning of time.
This precise meaning of the words of Lateran IV was also explained by the most authoritative catechism in the history of the Catholic Church—the Roman Catechism—which taught that God created ALL things by his Fiat instantaneously “in the beginning” without any natural process:
…[T]he Divinity created all things in the beginning. He spoke and they were made: He commanded and they were created.
According to the Roman Catechism, “Creator of heaven and earth” in the Creed also referred to the creation of all of the different kinds of living things. It states:
The earth also God commanded to stand in the midst of the world, rooted in its own foundation, and made the mountains ascend, and the plains descend into the place which he had founded for them. That the waters should not inundate the earth, He set a bound which they shall not pass over; neither shall they return to cover the earth. He next not only clothed and adorned it with trees and every variety of plant and flower, but filled it, as He had already filled the air and water, with innumerable kinds of living creatures (Catechism of Trent).
Note that God created all of these creatures by His word, instantly and immediately. During the creation period, He made, specifically, trees, “every variety of plant and flower,” air creatures, water creatures and land animals. There was no long interval of time. There was no evolution. The Council Fathers reiterated the constant teaching of the Fathers, Doctors, and Popes, that God created the first man, Adam, by an act of special creation. They wrote:
Lastly, He formed man from the slime of the earth, so created and constituted in body as to be immortal and impassible, not, however, by the strength of nature, but by the bounty of God. Man’s soul He created to His own image and likeness; gifted him with free will, and tempered all his motions and appetites so as to subject them, at all times, to the dictates of reason. He then added the admirable gift of original righteousness, and next gave him dominion over all other animals. By referring to the sacred history of Genesis the pastor will easily make himself familiar with these things for the instruction of the faithful (Catechism of the Council of Trent).
The text shows that the plain sense of the “sacred history of Genesis” is so sure a guide to the truth about the creation and early history of the world and of man that the council fathers direct the pastor to read the sacred history so that he can “easily” make himself familiar with the facts. The Catechism teaches that God created man “lastly.” There has been no further creation since the creation of Adam and Eve—only variation within limits established during the six days. Indeed, the Catechism of Trent underscored the teaching of all of the Fathers and Doctors that creation was complete with the creation of Adam and Eve—and that God ceased creating new kinds of creatures after creating the first human beings:
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 (Catechism of the Council of Trent) (emphasis added).
Here we see that pastors throughout the world were instructed to teach the faithful that God finished the creation of the whole world and all of the different kinds of creatures specifically on the sixth day of a seven-day week. As we have seen above, St. Thomas Aquinas had summed up the teaching of all the Church Fathers on the two perfections of the universe:
…[T]he final perfection, which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the saints at the consummation of the world; and the first perfection is the completeness of the universe at its first founding, and this is what is ascribed to the seventh day.
The teaching of St. Thomas makes clear that the reason why God created the entire universe and everything in it was to show forth His glory and so that men made in the image of His Son could share one life with Him. He also reaffirms the teaching of all of the Church Fathers who held that the original creation was perfect, complete and harmonious in all of its parts. In contrast, theistic evolution holds that all kinds of creatures evolved and became extinct long before man evolved, that there never was a perfectly complete and harmonious creation in the beginning, and that God ordained that hundreds of millions of years of death, deformity, negative mutations, and disease should exist on earth before the first human beings evolved from sub-human primates.
Besides being an unintentional blasphemy against the goodness of God and His original Creation, theistic evolution’s account of the origin of man and the universe also suffers from incoherence. On the one hand, the Catholic theistic evolutionist professes to believe in miracles—most especially the ones connected with the Life, Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord. But when he is asked why he believes in these things, he can only say that he believes the testimony of the truthful witnesses appointed by God to attest to them in the Word of God, as that testimony has been understood in the Church from the beginning.
If we ask him, “Do you believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ raised Lazarus, a going-on-four-days-old-decaying corpse from the dead?”—he will answer, “Yes, I believe.” But a decomposing corpse is just a disorganized mess of chemicals which has no potential to become a living human being. Thus, the theistic evolutionist must hold that the fearfully and wonderfully made human body of Lazarus with all of its organs and physiological systems was instantaneously raised to life from a mess of lifeless disorganized chemicals at the Word of the Lord. But if we ask him whether we should believe that God created Adam in essentially the same way in the beginning of creation, as the Roman Catechism teaches, he tells us “No, modern science gives us overwhelming evidence that the bodies of the first humans evolved over millions of years from non-living matter through the same kinds of material processes that are going on now!”
Not only is this kind of teaching incoherent; it overturns the right hierarchy of knowledge, removing theology from her place as the queen of the sciences and exalting fallible human conjectures to give a natural explanation for that which we simultaneously explain supernaturally with regard to the miracles of Jesus. In regard to creation, the Word of God as understood in His Church from the beginning is subordinated to the word of man. No wonder our young people are leaving the Church in droves!
Has the Modern Magisterium Endorsed Theistic Evolution?
The teaching of the Catechism of Trent on creation summarized above was upheld by the Magisterium well in to the twentieth century and has never been abrogated to this day. The First Vatican Council affirmed the teaching on creation of Lateran IV word for word. The Popes who reigned during the decades after Vatican I all mandated that the Catechism of Trent be used to teach priests and faithful the true doctrine of creation. Moreover, every magisterial teaching that touched on the interpretation of Genesis 1-11 upheld the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11. Less than a decade after Darwin published The Descent of Man, Pope Leo XIII wrote to the Bishops of the whole world in an encyclical on Holy Marriage:
What is the true origin of marriage? That, Venerable Brethren, is a matter of common knowledge. For although the revilers of the Christian faith shrink from acknowledging the Church’s permanent doctrine on this matter, and persist in their long-standing efforts to erase the history of all nations and all ages, they have nonetheless been unable to extinguish, or even to weaken, the strength and light of the truth. We call to mind facts well-known to all and doubtful to no-one: after He formed man from the slime of the earth on the sixth day of creation, and breathed into his face the breath of life, God willed to give him a female companion, whom He drew forth wondrously from the man’s side as he slept. In bringing this about, God, in His supreme Providence, willed that this spousal couple should be the natural origin of all men: in other words, that from this pair the human race should be propagated and preserved in every age by a succession of procreative acts which would never be interrupted. And so that this union of man and woman might correspond more aptly to the most wise counsels of God, it has manifested from that time onward, deeply impressed or engraved, as it were, within itself, two preeminent and most noble properties: unity and perpetuity (emphasis added).
Pope Leo XIII also defended the traditional Catholic approach to Scriptural exegesis with his encyclical Providentissimus Deus, in which he reaffirmed the rule that Scripture scholars must “uphold the literal and obvious sense of Scripture, except where reason dictates or necessity requires.” In the light of this rule, the “sacred history” of Genesis 1-11 had to be interpreted literally unless exegetes could offer proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the literal interpretation of that history could not be true. Pope Leo’s successor, St. Pius X, was equally aware of the tendency of contemporary intellectuals to see evolution at work in theology and morality as well as in nature—and he deplored this tendency. In Lamentabili St. Pius X condemned with the full weight of his office the proposition that “the progress of the sciences demands that the concept of Christian doctrine about . . . creation . . . be recast.” As mentioned above, in the Motu proprio, “Praestantia Scripturae,” Pope St. Pius X also declared that no one could contest the rulings of the PBC without “grave sin.”
In 1909, the Pontifical Bible Commission’s answers to several questions about Genesis 1-3 established certain truths unequivocally. In addition to its replies to Questions 1 and 2 cited above, the PBC’s answer to Question III established that the literal and historical truth of the following facts cannot be called into question: “The creation of all things wrought by God in the beginning of time”; “The special creation of man”; and “The formation of the first woman from the first man.” With this reply, the PBC reaffirmed the teaching of Lateran IV and Vatican I that all things were created by God in “the beginning of time”; excluded any natural process in the formation of Adam and Eve and reaffirmed that their creation was immediate and instantaneous.
In 1950, in the encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII gave permission to Catholic scholars to evaluate the pros and cons of human evolution. But this permission in no way abrogated the authoritative teachings cited above. Permission to investigate an alternative view is not tantamount to approval! On the contrary, it is often a means to expose an error root and branch. Pope Pius XII also called the German philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand a “twentieth century Doctor of the Church.” Commenting on a Catholic catechism that spoke favorably of theistic evolution, Von Hildebrand wrote the following:
A grave error lies in the notion of “an evolutionary age” – as if it were something positive to which the Church must conform. Does the author consider it progress, an awakening to true reality, that Teilhard de Chardin’s unfortunate ideas about evolution fill the air? Does he not see that the prevailing tendency to submit everything, even truth – even divine truth! – to evolution amounts to a diabolical undermining of revealed truth? Truth is not truth if it is ever changing. The “courageous response” called for is precisely the opposite of yielding to evolutionary mythologies.
Nowadays many Catholics reject the “traditional” Catholic doctrine with respect to the special creation of man, the creation of Eve from Adam’s side, and other doctrines derived from the literal historical interpretation of Genesis 1-11 on the mistaken grounds that the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium in recent decades has “moved beyond” and “corrected” certain errors in its earlier pronouncements on these subjects in the light of scientific advances. However, in the passage quoted above Dr. Von Hildebrand has given the simple reason why the special creation of Adam and the creation of Eve from Adam’s side, among other doctrines derived from Genesis 1-11, are authoritative and unchangeable Catholic doctrine. He reminds his readers that “Truth is not truth if it is ever changing.” Therefore, it is impossible for the Magisterium to have taught these doctrines as authoritatively as it has in the past and then to contradict that authoritative teaching. This would not be a “development of doctrine,” like the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception or Papal Infallibility, but a deformation of doctrine.
Scriptural Inerrancy Inseparable from Fruitful Theological Discourse
The theistic evolutionist will argue against our thesis that theology has matured and makes use of tools, like the historical-critical method and the latest findings of the natural sciences, that were not available to the Fathers of the Church or to the great theologians of the past. According to this way of thinking, the Fathers and great theologians of the past can be appreciated for their wisdom but should not be considered reliable authorities in the realm of history or natural science. But this objection obscures the fact that the constant teaching of the Church—as defined at the First Vatican Council and reaffirmed in Dei Verbum in the Second Vatican Council—has been, is, and always shall be that every word in the Holy Scriptures is true, whether it speaks of faith and morals, history, geography or any other subject; and that, as a consequence, all fruitful theological reflection begins from this starting point.
Theistic evolutionists like to point out that the Magisterium has never defined the literal historical truth of the historical propositions in Genesis 1-11. So, they say, we are free to believe or not to believe that Adam lived to be 930 years old or that the Flood waters covered all of the Earth’s highest mountains. But this approach to determining the truth of historical statements in Holy Scripture would have been anathema to the Fathers and Doctors. Indeed, the Angelic Doctor summed up the mind of the Fathers when he wrote that:
A thing is of faith, indirectly, if the denial of it involves as a consequence something against faith; as for instance if anyone said that Samuel was not the son of Elcana, for it follows that divine Scripture would be false.
Again and again, theistic evolutionists accuse the defenders of the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11 of exalting their private opinions above the Magisterium of the Church. But this is a calumny. We are simply maintaining the reverence for the historical books of the Bible that all of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers maintained in their authoritative teaching. If Genesis 1-11 is a sacred history, and all historical propositions in historical books of the Bible are free from error, as Pope Pius XII in Humani generis reaffirmed, we do not require a Magisterial decree to believe that Adam was 930 years old when he died or that the Flood waters covered all of the Earth’s highest mountains (and was, necessarily, therefore, global in its extent). On the contrary, we are bound to believe these things without any Magisterial decree, because if anyone says that “Adam did not live to be 930 years old” or that “the Flood waters did not actually cover all of the Earth’s highest mountains,” it follows that divine Scripture would be false. The Angelic Doctor reminds us that:
It is unlawful to hold that any false assertion is contained either in the Gospel or in any canonical Scripture, or that the writers thereof have told untruths, because faith would be deprived of its certitude which is based on the authority of Holy Writ (emphasis added).
For St. Thomas Aquinas and the Church Doctors who came after him, it was sufficient to say, “According to Moses in Genesis, God said X, Y, or Z,” to settle an argument. No reference to a Church Council or papal document was necessary. This approach stands in direct opposition to the methodology of most contemporary Catholic theologians. Proof that the plain sense of Scripture had sufficient authority for the Fathers and Doctors to define doctrine can be found, for example, in the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica on transubstantiation. Since the Fourth Lateran Council had just defined the dogma of transubstantiation for the first time, one might expect St. Thomas to cite the teaching of the Council in his treatment of the topic. But he does not. It is sufficient for him to cite the text of Scripture and to comment on it with the help of the Church Fathers. Until the rise of evolution-based modernism, this was the modus operandi of all the greatest theologians and commentators on Holy Scripture, like Cornelius a Lapide, who followed in the footsteps of the Church Fathers and Doctors.
Even in recent times, fruitful theological reflection has continued to result from this methodology, as when St. Maximilian Kolbe, in the last theological work of his life before being taken to Auschwitz, gave this profound explanation for the words of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” He writes:
Who then are you, O Immaculate conception?
Not God, of course, because he has no beginning. Not an angel, created directly out of nothing. Not Adam, formed out of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2,7). Not Eve, molded from Adam’s rib (Gen. 2,21). Not the Incarnate Word, who exists before all ages, and of whom we should use the word “conceived” rather than “conception”. Humans do not exist before their conception, so we might call them created “conceptions.” But you, O Mary, are different from all other children of Eve. They are conceptions stained by original sin; whereas you are the unique, Immaculate Conception (emphasis added).
Here we see that by taking God at His Word in the sacred history of Genesis with regard to the special creation of Adam and the literal creation of Eve from Adam’s side, St. Maximilian was able to grasp the profound reason for Our Lady’s identification of Herself as “the” Immaculate Conception—an expression which, on the eve of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species the following year, gave the lie to the diabolical deception of human evolution.
Is Fidelity to the Traditional Doctrine of Creation Disobedience to the Current Magisterium?
Nowadays it is widely asserted that defenders of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation only accept Magisterial teachings that agree with their own views and reject more recent pronouncements that contradict earlier teachings. Since this accusation goes to the heart of the creation-evolution debate within the Catholic community, it is worth taking the time to examine it closely. What is really at issue here is whether an ambiguous or non-authoritative teaching of a Pope or Council on a matter of faith or morals trumps a more authoritative prior Magisterial teaching on the same matter. Theologian Fr. Chad Ripperger has written a penetrating reflection on this very question entitled “Conservative vs. Traditional Catholicism.” In his essay Fr. Ripperger observes that:
some ecclesial documents today do not have any connection to the positions held by the Magisterium prior to the Second Vatican Council. For example, in the document of Vatican II on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, there is not a single mention of the two previous documents that deal with the ecumenical movement and other religions: Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum and Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos. The approach to ecumenism and other religions in these documents is fundamentally different from the approach of the Vatican II document or Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II. While the current Magisterium can change a teaching that falls under non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching, nevertheless, when the Magisterium makes a judgment in these cases, it has an obligation due to the requirements of the moral virtue of prudence to show how the previous teaching was wrong or is now to be understood differently by discussing the two different teachings. However, this is not what has happened. The Magisterium since Vatican II often ignores previous documents which may appear to be in opposition to the current teaching, leaving the faithful to figure out how the two are compatible, such as in the cases of Mortalium Animos and Ut Unum Sint. This leads to confusion and infighting within the Church as well as the appearance of contradicting previous Church teaching without explanation or reasoned justification. Moreover, the problem is not just with respect to the Magisterium prior to Vatican II but even with the Magisterium since the Council.
For an example of the problem that Fr. Ripperger highlights here, consider a fundamental element of the Church’s traditional teaching on the roles of husband and wife in the family which is rooted in the sacred history of Genesis and the Mosaic account of the special creation of Adam and Eve but which is not explicitly affirmed in the 1994 Catechism—that is, the God-given role of the husband and father to be the spiritual head of his wife and children. This—the constant teaching of all the Fathers, Doctors, Popes, and Council Fathers in their authoritative teaching—was re-affirmed by Pope Pius XI in Casti connubii, the same encyclical that re-affirmed the Church’s constant teaching on the intrinsic evil of birth control. He wrote:
The submission of the wife neither ignores nor suppresses the liberty to which her dignity as a human person and her noble functions as wife, mother and companion give her the full right. It does not oblige her to yield indiscriminately to all the desires of her husband, which may be unreasonable or incompatible with her wifely dignity. Nor does it mean that she is on a level with persons who in law are called minors and who are ordinarily denied the unrestricted exercise of their rights on the ground of their immature judgment and inexperience. But it does forbid such abuse of freedom as would neglect the welfare of the family; it refuses, in this body which is the family, to allow the heart to be separated from the head, with great detriment to the body itself and even with risk of disaster. If the husband is the head of the domestic body, then the wife is its heart; and as the first holds the primacy of authority, so the second can and ought to claim the primacy of love.
In spite of the fact that this has been the constant authoritative teaching of the Church from the time of the Apostles until now, it is nowhere to be found in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Moreover, when Pope St. John Paul II wrote that husbands and wives should practice “mutual submission” he did not explain how his exhortation could be reconciled with the constant teaching of the Church on the roles of husband and wife prior to his pontificate. Are the faithful to conclude that the traditional teaching on the spiritual headship of the husband and father has been abrogated, because it is not explicitly affirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Absolutely not! That has NEVER been the modus operandi of the Magisterium. On the contrary, the Church has always operated on the principle that her authoritative teaching on a doctrine of faith or morals must be upheld, unless and until a new definition of that doctrine is proclaimed at the same—or a higher—level of authority. Since no authoritative Magisterial teaching has ever abrogated the constant teaching of the Church on the God-given roles of husband and wife in the family, Catholics are obliged to uphold the traditional doctrine.
Moreover, we are obliged to ask the Magisterium to explain how the doctrine of “mutual submission” should be reconciled with the constant teaching of the Church on the roles of husband and wife in holy marriage, since we know that God cannot contradict Himself. It is actually not difficult to reconcile Pope St. John Paul II’s “mutual submission” with the traditional doctrine, but, sadly, very few contemporary theologians make the effort to do this. One way to reconcile the two is to recognize that a Catholic husband and father must submit himself to the spiritual and material needs—not wants!—of his wife and children, while his wife and children should submit to his authority in all things but sin.
I think that it would be helpful for the reader to pause for a moment and reflect on the question, “Does the treatment of family roles contained in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church and its silence on the spiritual headship of the Catholic husband and father abrogate the traditional teaching of the Church summarized in Casti connubii?” How one answers this question is crucial for any constructive discussion of the Church’s authoritative teaching on creation and evolution. On the one hand, the Catechism is an authoritative guide for bishops’ conferences to use in developing their own contemporary catechisms. On the other hand, the treatment of family relationships contained in the new Catechism leaves out an essential element of the subject that has been taught since the time of the Apostles and summarized in Casti connubii. When faced with a contradiction of this kind, should the faithful follow the more recent teaching because it necessarily reflects the guidance of the Holy Spirit? If so, does this mean that Catholic fathers are no longer the spiritual heads of their families? Or does the informed Catholic have an obligation to evaluate the more recent teaching in the light of the constant teaching—the “traditional doctrine”—of the Church? Throughout her history, the Church has always held that an authoritative Magisterial teaching must take precedence over a less authoritative teaching on the same topic, especially when the latter teaching is incomplete, ambiguous, or contradicts the prior teaching. There are many examples of this in Church history.
The Traditional Doctrine of Creation and the Recent Popes
Defenders of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation do not challenge the legitimacy of Vatican II or of the 1994 Catechism. Nor do we deny that Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have made non-authoritative statements favorable to theistic evolutionism. We simply maintain that an ambiguous, incomplete, tentative or non-authoritative teaching of a Pope, Bishop, or Council cannot supersede a clear, unambiguous teaching that has been handed down from the Apostles. Any such tentative or ambiguous teachings on matters of faith and morals must be understood in light of previous clear and authoritative magisterial teachings on those matters, if any have been handed down. In regard to creation and evolution, we have demonstrated that a great number of highly authoritative magisterial teachings have upheld special creation and the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11.
Advocates for theistic evolution will object that cosmological or biological evolution are hypotheses in natural science and cannot be excluded by the Church’s creation theology. And it is true that Pope St. John Paul II believed his scientific advisors when they asserted that everything in the universe (except for man’s soul) could have evolved through natural processes after the creation ex nihilo of some material elements and natural laws in the beginning. But the Pope never cited any evidence that their opinion was true beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, Pope St. John Paul II’s endorsement of the evolutionary hypothesis was always tentative and never obliged our assent. For example, in one Wednesday audience he stated:
It can therefore be said that, from the viewpoint of the doctrine of the faith, there are no difficulties in explaining the origin of man, in regard to the body, by means of the theory of evolution. It must, however, be added that this hypothesis proposes only a probability, not a scientific certainty.
Furthermore, in his famous speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1996, the Holy Father admitted:
A theory’s validity depends on whether or not it can be verified; it is constantly tested against the facts; wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its limitations and unsuitability. It must then be rethought.
These statements demonstrate that Pope St. John Paul II always recognized that the molecules-to-man hypothesis remained “only a probability” as a hypothesis in natural science. Nevertheless, theistic evolutionists continually cite the statements of recent Popes expressing their belief that the natural science evidence favors some kind of molecules-to-man evolution as if these statements abrogated the mountain of authoritative teaching in favor of the traditional doctrine of creation. Indeed, there are two important points that theistic evolutionists usually overlook in regard to these recent papal statements.
In the first place, all of the statements by Pope St. John Paul II and other recent Popes favorable to some kind of microbe-to-man evolution have been made as private opinions in regard to evolution as a hypothesis in natural science. This is significant, because the First Vatican Council purposely defined papal infallibility very narrowly and explicitly stated that the gift of infallibility was not given to the Pope to define “new doctrine” but only to define a doctrine of faith or morals as contained in the Deposit of Faith that was handed down from the Apostles. Needless to say, no modern Pope has found microbe-to-man evolution in the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles! Therefore, none of the recent Popes’ opinions favorable to the microbe-to-man hypothesis can possibly abrogate the authoritative teachings of their predecessors in regard to the doctrine of creation.
In the second place, and more importantly, when Pope St. John Paul II did teach in the realm of faith and morals he directed the Bishops and theologians of the Church to do certain things which – if they obeyed him – would lead inevitably to the complete rejection of molecules-to-man evolution in its theistic and atheistic forms. Specifically, in Fides et Ratio, Pope St. John Paul II repeated the call of Pope Pius XII in Humani generis to maintain the metaphysical principles of traditional Catholic philosophy and to bring them to bear on the examination of controversial ideas, like human evolution. Sadly, few theologians have heeded the call of these two Popes to bring the metaphysical principles of traditional Catholic philosophy to bear on the examination of the evolutionary hypothesis. However, one theologian and philosopher who has done so is Fr. Chad Ripperger, formerly professor of dogmatic theology at the Fraternity of St. Peter Seminary of North America, whose article “The Metaphysical Impossibility of Human Evolution” can be found on the Kolbe website.
Fr. Ripperger’s recent book The Metaphysics of Evolution demonstrates that when the metaphysical principles of Catholic philosophy – like “No effect is greater than its cause” – are applied to molecules-to-man evolution, it cannot pass the test. Indeed, when Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Pius XII’s exhortations to apply the metaphysical principles of traditional Catholic philosophy are obeyed, one quickly discovers that the whole evolutionary story violates this fundamental principle from beginning to end. As Mr. Hichborn observed, in the evolutionary system, non-living matter produces a living organism; but that is only the beginning of the story. The one-celled organism must then produce the multi-celled. The multi-celled non-swimmer must produce the swimmer; the swimmer must produce the walker; the walker must produce the flyer—and so on until the sub-human primate gives birth to the body of the first human being. The ability of some bacteria to metabolize non-living matter is irrelevant to this scenario, because it does not change the fact that non-living matter cannot produce a living organism without violating this fundamental principle. Indeed, from the beginning to the end of this mythical evolutionary process, the effect is greater than the cause, so that molecules-to-man evolution constitutes a continuous stream of violations of a metaphysical principle which Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Pius XII agreed cannot be violated by any sound system of thought.
Confronted with Fr. Ripperger’s argument, the theistic evolutionist of the Teilhardian school falls back on the claim that he is not an atheist like Richard Dawkins, and that he acknowledges that God must supply the “force” that changes the reptile into a bird or the land mammal into a whale. But theologians who take that position wittingly or unwittingly abandon the pretense that molecules-to-man evolution is an hypothesis in natural science. Indeed, the moment that “God” must be invoked to save the molecules-to-man hypothesis it ceases to be an hypothesis in natural science and becomes a religious belief. Perhaps this is why Dr. Salkeld asks the question, “Can Catholics BELIEVE in Evolution?” rather than “Can Catholics entertain the Evolutionary Hypothesis?” because the only form of theistic evolution that does not violate the metaphysical principles of traditional Catholic philosophy is a kind of panentheism which identifies God with the evolutionary process and makes God the savior of a bankrupt hypothesis in natural science.
In reality, however, the Teilhardian version of theistic evolution violates another metaphysical principle of traditional Catholic philosophy which Fr. Chad Ripperger has highlighted in a more recent publication entitled The Principle of the Integral Good. In his new work, Fr. Ripperger shows how the metaphysical principle of the integral good—the goodness of God and the integrity of His handiwork in the first-created world—is incompatible with the hypothesis of molecules-to-man evolution in both its theistic and atheistic forms. One of the most valuable and important parts of this new book is its critique of the idea of so-called “continuous creation,” which holds that God continuously creates new kinds of creatures through a process of evolution. This idea has no precedent in the writings of the Fathers or Doctors of the Church, but it has become so widespread that it is even taught in the deeply-flawed YOUCAT, or Youth Catechism (which ought more properly to be called a Youth Cataclysm because of the harm that it has done to faith of so many young Catholics!)
In reply to Question 47: “Why did God rest on the seventh day?” YOUCAT answers:
God’s rest from his work points toward the completion of creation, which is beyond all human efforts.
In the whole history of the Church, no Father, Doctor, Pope or Council (in an authoritative statement) has ever taught that God’s rest from the work of creation “pointed towards its completeness,” in the sense that the original creation was unfinished or incomplete. On the contrary, as we have shown above, the correct explanation of the “rest of the Lord” was well articulated by the Catechism of Trent which taught that:
the seventh day was called the “Sabbath” because [God], having finished and completed the creation of the world, rested from all his work which he had done (emphasis added).
The essential truth that God created a world that was finished and complete has been withheld from YOUCAT’s young readers who are told that “evolution takes place as God’s continuous creation in natural processes.” The YOUCAT view further echoes the Teilhardian vision of a monstrous god who deliberately created an incomplete world filled with physical evils like birth defects and natural catastrophes when it states:
God created the world to be good, but it is not yet complete. In violent upheavals and painful processes it is being shaped and moved toward its final perfection. That may be a better way to classify what the Church calls physical evil, for example, a birth defect, or a natural catastrophe. Moral evils, in contrast, come about through the misuse of freedom in the world.
From the time of the Apostles until now, no Father, Doctor, Pope or Council in an authoritative teaching has ever taught or tolerated YOUCAT’s distorted implication that God created a world with birth defects or man-harming natural catastrophes before Original Sin. On the contrary, the unanimous teaching of all of the Fathers and Doctors is that God created all of the different kinds of creatures perfect according to their natures, in a state of harmony with man, and that all deformity and disease was a consequence of the Original Sin. Fr. Ripperger’s book offers a timely correction to many modern errors that flow from a denial of the goodness of God and of His handiwork in light of the traditional Catholic understanding of the metaphysical principle of “the integral good.”
Theistic evolutionists try to find some precedent for their notion of continuous creation in the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, especially in the statements cited by Dr. Salkeld:
It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth. In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come.
Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.
Rightly understood, however, neither of these statements contradicts the traditional Creation-Providence distinction. They uphold it. While St. Augustine only speaks of the generation of identical offspring from already created biological species, St. Thomas is speaking of the natural laws which were created alongside the physical bodies and which govern their movements, like the movements of stars or the course of a chemical reaction. In both cases, the Doctors are saying that any development that takes place in the order of nature or Providence is an unfolding of the essential structure of each kind of creature which God created in the beginning. It cannot be the development of any new kind of creature that reproduces itself, since these creatures—which St. Thomas calls “perfect” creatures precisely because they possess all the senses and reproduce themselves—are all, according to St. Thomas and all of the Fathers and Doctors, descended from prototypes which God created at the beginning of time. Hence, St. Thomas teaches in the Summa:
the corporeal forms that bodies had when first produced came immediately from God, whose bidding alone matter obeys, as its own proper cause. To signify this, Moses prefaces each work with the words, “God said, ‘Let this thing be,’ or ‘that,’ to denote the formation of all things by the Word of God . . .
Like all of the Fathers and Doctors before him, St. Thomas also taught that only Divine Power, being infinite, can produce things of the same species out of any matter, such as a man from the slime of the earth, and a woman from out of man. All that St. Thomas and St. Augustine are saying in the statements quoted by Dr. Salkeld is that any developments that we see in the biosphere in the order of providence were programmed into the original created things—in the light of our knowledge of genetics, we could say, into the genomes of the original kinds of plants and animals—which God created in the beginning. There is not a hint in the writings of St. Thomas or St. Augustine of any kind of evolution, whereby a less ordered organism gives rise to a more highly ordered one through any kind of material process. Even their belief in spontaneous generation never led them to doubt the special creation of all of the different kinds of plants, animals and Adam and Eve in the beginning of time or the fact that all of the living things that reproduce themselves were direct descendants of the original specially created prototypes.
Open Dispute Long Overdue
One of the main reasons why molecules-to-man evolution still appears to many Catholics to be a credible hypothesis is that it has not been subjected to rigorous critical examination in the public forum. As Dr. Salkeld points out: “Not everyone has the time, talent, or inclination to study evolutionary biology and so pronounce on the question of evolution from within their own realm of expertise.” Unfortunately, instead of addressing any evidence himself, he jumps to this conclusion: “Nevertheless, Catholics can be comfortable with the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community on this question.” As we will elucidate in the next section, not only are a growing number of scientists publicly dissenting from Darwinism on purely scientific grounds but, as Michael Hichborn has noted, there are a number of popular “proofs” of evolution that do not support the hypothesis, but which actually undermine it when they are carefully examined.
In his encyclical letter Humani generis in 1950, Pope Pius XII asked that Catholic scholars examine the evidence for and against the hypothesis of human evolution. However, in the last 70 years only a handful of Catholic universities and research centers have given any attention to the serious shortcomings of the evolutionary hypothesis. On the eve of his election to the papacy, then-Cardinal Ratzinger approved the publication, in English, of his work Truth and Tolerance in which he observed:
There is . . . no getting around the dispute about the extent of the claims of the doctrine of evolution as a fundamental philosophy . . . This dispute has therefore to be approached objectively and with a willingness to listen, by both sides—something that has hitherto been undertaken only to a limited extent.
This statement was all the more remarkable in light of the fact that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has long refused to give any serious consideration to the scientific evidence against the evolutionary hypothesis, while defending a number of positions on other issues that are highly questionable from a Catholic point of view. (Questionable positions advocated by publications of the PAS include limiting family size to two children; using the so-called “brain death” criterion to determine human death; and using GMO food to combat world hunger.) During the Darwin year, the organizers of a PAS conference on evolution refused to allow scientists to present compelling scientific evidence against the evolutionary hypothesis, even when Ph.D. level Catholic scientists offered to do so at their own expense.
In reality, as explained above, the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church—upheld by all of the Fathers and Doctors without exception—has been that the origin of man and the universe is not a question for the natural sciences but for theology. For decades Catholic theistic evolutionists have attempted to defend evolution as the “only scientific explanation for origins” on the grounds that “natural science” is restricted to explanations in terms of presently-observed natural processes. “Creation,” they say, is not a “scientific” explanation for the origins of man or of other life-forms, because it does not meet this criterion. But the Church has always held that “theology” is the “queen of the sciences,” so there is nothing “unscientific” about the traditional doctrine of creation. It simply acknowledges that there are limits to how far natural scientists can extrapolate from presently-observed material processes back into the remote past. This is a much more reasonable conclusion in the light of Divine Revelation about Creation, the Fall, and the Flood, than the evolutionists’ assumption that “things have always been the same” since the beginning of creation.
Moreover, by embracing evolution as the “only scientific” explanation for the origin of the different kinds of living things, theistic evolutionists not only jettison the constant teaching of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Councils; they also unintentionally impugn the goodness and wisdom of God. This is because, unlike St. Thomas and the Fathers and Doctors who taught that God created all of the different kinds of creatures, perfect according to their natures, for man, in a perfectly harmonious cosmos, theistic evolutionists hold that long before the Original Sin took place God deliberately produced—through evolutionary processes—many different kinds of creatures only to destroy them so that something more highly evolved could take their place. Moreover, this evolutionary god used a process of mutation and natural selection that littered the earth with diseased and deformed creatures in the process of producing the alleged “beneficial mutations” that transformed reptiles into birds and land mammals into whales. Whatever one wants to call this evolutionary god, it is not the God of the Bible, of the Fathers, and of the Doctors of the Church, of whom St. Thomas says again and again that “all His works are perfect.”
“God of the Gaps” or Evolutionary “Idol of the Gaps”?
Like many other theistic evolutionists past and present, Dr. Salkeld accuses defenders of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation of harming the faith and indirectly retarding scientific progress by arguing against the possibility of a naturalistic explanation for the origin of the human body and the various kinds of corporeal creatures. By saying that God created the first living cell, the argument goes, Catholics would discourage natural scientists from discovering how the first living cell evolved from non-living matter—a discovery that Dr. Ken Miller assures us will be one of the great achievements of the twenty-first century!
In reality, as we have demonstrated at length in various places, it is the traditional creation-providence framework that provides the most fruitful framework for doing scientific and medical research, while the widespread acceptance of the molecules-to-man evolutionary framework has retarded scientific and medical research for the last 161 years. The traditional Catholic doctrine of creation as defined above provided a unique framework for medical research—one that recognized the existence of A Lawful Universe of Well-Designed Creatures, Marred (but not Ruined) by the Effects of Original Sin, whose Function (but not their Origins) can be Discovered through Rational Investigation. This proved to be an extremely fruitful framework for natural scientists and medical researchers.
In the Christian, pre-Darwinian world, biology operated on a presumption of stable form and function. If a biologist encountered an organ or bodily system in an organism whose function he could not identify, he presumed that the Creator had given it a function and he sought to discover it. As we shall see, Darwinian evolutionary biology replaced this creation-based presumption of stable form and function with an evolution-based presumption of flux and dysfunction. We will now consider examples of the consequences of this replacement. The examples we will examine span the entire 161-year history from the Origin of Species until today, and will include the scientific investigation of so-called “vestigial organs,” “embryonic recapitulation,” and “junk DNA.”
The Myth of Vestigial Organs
While definitions of biological evolution may vary superficially, biological evolution can be defined, essentially, as the development of all life-forms from non-living matter through natural processes over hundreds of millions of years. In Origin of Species Charles Darwin speculated that small changes in living things as they adapted to changing environmental conditions could somehow be passed on to their descendants so that, over many generations, reptiles could change into birds, land mammals into whales and a subhuman primate into a human being. As evidence for his hypothesis, Darwin cited what he called “vestigial organs” in various species of animals, organs which once had a useful, adaptive function at an earlier stage of evolutionary development but which no longer had that function, had it only to a lesser degree, or had acquired a different function.
In the Descent of Man, Darwin cited several examples of such “vestigial organs” in man, including the appendix, wisdom teeth, muscles of the ear, the tail bone, body hair, and the semilunar fold in the corner of the eye. Darwin held that the appendix was vestigial because it was small in comparison with the caecum of monkeys, a fact which Darwin took to be evidence that in the course of man’s evolution his need for the caecum had diminished as his diet had changed so that the caecum and the appendix (or caecal appendage) had grown smaller in man through “disuse.” Darwin’s disciples continued the same line of reasoning and identified various organs, glands, and other features of the human body that seemed to have either lost or diminished their function during the course of human evolution.
One of the foremost anatomists of his day and a Darwin disciple, Robert Wiedersheim, identified numerous vestigial organs in the human body, including the appendix. Wiedersheim’s testimony played a part in the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Dayton, Tennessee, when a zoologist from the University of Chicago, Prof. Horatio Hackett Newman, submitted expert testimony to the effect that:
There are, according to Wiedersheim, no less than 180 vestigal [sic] structures in the human body, sufficient to make of a man a veritable walking museum of antiquities. Among these [is] the vermiform appendix. These and numerous other structures of the same sort can be reasonably interpreted as evidence that man has descended from ancestors in which these organs were functional.
Acceptance of the evolutionary hypothesis by most biologists and medical researchers ensured that the actual function of the appendix in humans remained obscure for over a century after Origin of Species. According to an introduction to biology published in 1950:
Science has piled up still further evidence for its case. It has found a number of useless organs among many animals. They have no apparent function and must therefore be a vestige of a once useful part of the body. A long time back these vestigial organs must have been important; now they are just reminders of our common ancestry. One example is the vermiform appendix which not only is utterly useless in human beings but which often causes great distress.
To understand the anti-scientific nature of the Darwinian approach to understanding the function of the appendix in man, it is helpful to begin with a look at the position of the appendix in the human body. As shown in this diagram, the appendix sits between the nearly sterile ileum at the end of the small intestine and the caecum at the entrance to the large intestine. Noting that monkeys lacked an appendix but had a developed caecum for the digestion of plant matter, Darwin reasoned that the appendix in man was an appendage of the caecum and that the whole unit had degenerated through disuse as man evolved from an herbivorous ancestor. In this way, Darwin based his evaluation of the appendix on an evolutionary interpretation, then used the appendix as “evidence” for evolution—a classic example of circular reasoning!
The evolutionary interpretation of the appendix discouraged researchers from considering that the function of the appendix in man might be distinct from that of the caecum. This proved to be the case. In the 1960’s, experimental evidence demonstrated that the appendix actually serves as a center for antibody-producing cells. By 1976, experimental knowledge of the appendix had advanced to the point that a medical textbook on gastroenterology noted the following:
The appendix is not generally credited with significant function; however, current evidence tends to involve it in the immunologic mechanism.
In 1995, a textbook on anatomy and physiology stated categorically that:
The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and its primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system.
It is now recognized that the lymphoid nodules appear in the appendix roughly two weeks after birth which coincides with the colonization of the bowel with bacteria. The appendix can be safely removed later in life because it plays its most important role in the body’s development immediately after birth and because it is only one part of the Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue system (G.A.L.T.) which produces several kinds of antibodies: IgA immunoglobulins, which help to protect the bloodstream from infection from the contents of the bowel, and IgM and IgG immunoglobulins, which combat infections in the bloodstream.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence for the functionality of the appendix, 160 years after Origin of Species, Darwin’s dim view of the appendix continues to be upheld by respected information sources. For example, in this year of Darwin, a visitor to the British Broadcasting Corporation’s “Science and Nature Home Page” can still read the following description of the appendix:
The appendix has no known function in humans. Evidence suggests that our evolutionary ancestors used their appendixes to digest tough food like tree bark, but we don’t use ours in digestion now. Some scientists believe that the appendix will disappear from the human body.
The extraordinary ignorance of this statement—which is still posted on the BBC’s “Science and Nature Home Page”!—shows how much faith in the evolutionary hypothesis continues to influence leaders in the field of public information, even when the facts contradict their evolutionary presuppositions. But the statement also reflects the degree to which the conventional wisdom pins the blame for diseases of the appendix squarely on the “vestigial” and defective nature of the organ itself, without even considering the possibility that these diseases could be symptomatic of deeper disorders.
Extensive studies of non-industrialized societies all over the world have found that appendicitis was virtually non-existent in those who retained their traditional diet and way of life. In the December 2005 issue of the British Journal of Surgery, in an article entitled “The Aetiology of Appendicitis,” Dennis P. Burkitt of the Medical Research Council argues that
Extensive evidence from the geographical distribution of appendicitis and its rise in prevalence in economically developed countries in the early part of this century suggest that the change from a high to a low-residue diet is largely responsible for this disease.
By blaming diseases of the appendix on the defective condition of a vestigial organ, Darwin and his disciples up to the present time have helped to discourage researchers from following the traditional approach of Western natural science and medical research initiated by Hippocrates and the ancient Greeks which looked for the causes of human disease in the defective diet, habits, or environment of their patients rather than in some intrinsic defect of the body or of its component parts. By blaming diseases of a vestigial appendix on evolutionary degeneration, generations of scientists lost their incentive to ask why these diseases did not exist among non-industrialized societies and to seek to prevent them through constructive changes in diet and life-style rather than by treating the symptoms of the disease through surgical removal.
Darwinian Presumption of Flux and Dysfunction
Dr. Jerry Coyne at the University of Chicago is one of the world’s leading scientist-apologists for molecules-to-man evolution. In a fairly recent book, Why Evolution is True, Dr. Coyne makes the familiar claim that a certain feature of the human body offers strong “evidence” that humans evolved from microbes through a material process of evolution. In this case, Dr. Coyne’s Exhibit A is the lanugo, or transitory coat of hair, that humans possess in utero. Dr. Coyne confidently informs his readers:
One of my favorite cases of embryological evidence for evolution is the furry human fetus. We are famously known as “naked apes” because, unlike other primates, we don’t have a thick coat of hair. But in fact for one brief period we do – as embryos.
Please note this intelligent scientist’s reasoning process. He argues:
Now, there’s NO NEED for a human embryo to have a transitory coat of hair. After all, it’s a cozy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the womb. Lanugo can be explained ONLY as a remnant of our primate ancestry (emphasis added).
This is a classic example of an unsubstantiated presupposition looking for support. His argument is absurd, for there are hundreds of hairy mammals who likewise have no need of fur for warmth in the womb of their warm-blooded mothers, but he only singles out man for his specious argument.
Here we see again how this evolution-believing scientist’s presumption of flux and dysfunction prevents his brilliant intellect from reflecting, as St. Albert the Great, Maxwell, or Faraday, would have done: “Lord, I am not knowledgeable enough to understand why this pseudogene / lanugo /appendix is here, but with Your help I will continue to investigate until I discover its purpose.” Instead, with his evolution-based presumption of flux and dysfunction, the brilliant scientist reasons, “If I, with my trained intellect, cannot see the function of this feature, it MUST BE a useless holdover from the millions of years of evolution!” And yet, long before the publication of Why Evolution Is True, current research had already established that:
…[vernix caseosa] covers and protects the skin of the fetus from the constant exposure to the amniotic fluid in which it is bathed. In addition, the vernix caseosa facilitates the birth of the fetus because of its slippery nature and protects the skin from being damaged by the nails.
Indeed, long before the publication of Dr. Coyne’s book, any up-to-date course in embryology taught that:
Vernix caseosa is a culmination of sebaceous gland secretions and dead epidermal cells, and the lanugo hair helps retain it on the outer skin surface (emphasis added).
Thus, the atheistic evolutionary faith of Dr. Coyne, like the theistic evolutionary faith of Dr. Kenneth Miller, whose work we will examine more closely below, crippled his scientific understanding by leading him to presume dysfunction in ingeniously-designed structures in the human body which he did not understand. This stands in marked contrast to the presumption of stable form and function that characterized the greatest natural scientists of all time, men like St. Albert the Great, Maxwell, and Faraday, who worked within the framework provided by the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation. The good news is that when Catholic scientists and medical researchers return to the traditional Creation-Providence framework for investigating the natural world, we can expect a golden age of scientific and medical discovery!
Evolution and the Anti-Culture of Death
Faith in the truth of the evolutionary hypothesis has repeatedly led scientists and medical researchers to believe that organs of the human body that have no apparent function are “vestigial” and expendable. The full extent of the danger inherent in this unproven and unsubstantiated assumption emerged soon after the publication of Origin of Species with the popularization of the concept of “embryonic recapitulation” by Darwin’s disciple the German medical doctor and professor of anatomy Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919).
Darwin had argued that similarities in structure among diverse life forms indicated that they had all evolved from a common ancestor. According to Haeckel, the existence of similarities in embryos of various kinds of organisms proved that the higher life forms “recapitulated” their evolutionary history before birth and that they had all descended from a common ancestor. To make this “proof” more compelling for his contemporaries, Haeckel doctored drawings of the embryos of fish, salamanders, chickens, turtles, rabbits, pigs, and human beings to exaggerate their similarities and minimize their differences.
Toward the end of his life, Haeckel himself noted that the Catholic Church leadership had initially rejected the microbe-to-man hypothesis as—in the words of Blessed Pope Pius IX—”a tissue of fables.” However, the skillful propagation of his drawings as “proof” of man’s descent from an amoeba helped to revolutionize the thinking of the intellectual elite of the Catholic Church so that within thirty years Haeckel boasted of “evolution’s greatest triumph”—the conversion of the Church’s intellectuals, led by several prominent Jesuits, to accept microbe-to-man evolution as a “fact” which had to be reconciled with the Catholic Faith.
Although Haeckel’s fraud was discovered and exposed by his own academic peers during his lifetime, the evolutionary hypothesis demanded common descent, and the concept of embryonic recapitulation continued to exert a profound influence on the study of embryology for many decades. Just as the conviction that the appendix was a vestigial organ prevented scientists and medical researchers from discovering its true function in the human body, so Haeckel’s fraudulent theory of recapitulation prevented embryologists from investigating the unique patterns of early embryonic development in various kinds of organisms. One of the leading lights in the study of embryology in the twentieth century, Gavin R. de Beer wrote that
“Haeckel’s theory of recapitulation . . . thwarted and delayed the introduction of causal analytic methods into embryology,” since “if phylogeny was the mechanical cause of ontogeny as Haeckel proclaimed, there was little inducement to search for other causes.”
De Beer’s observation implied that Haeckel’s influence had come to an end by the 1950’s—but this was far from being the case. On the 100th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species Sir Julian Huxley, the foremost scientist-apologist for molecules-to-man evolution the whole world, boasted that “embryology,” i.e., Haeckel’s drawings, provided “the most striking proof” that a microbe turned into a human body through a material process of evolution. To this day, biology textbooks all over the world argue that similarities between embryos of fish, amphibians, reptiles, humans and lower mammals constitute evidence for the evolutionary hypothesis, in spite of the fact that actual photographic evidence completely falsified the “most striking proof” for evolution more than 20 years ago.
Typical of examples too many to cite is the caption that accompanies drawings of embryos of various life-forms from a widely used American biology textbook published in 2002 and co-authored by a prominent member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Entitled “Embryonic development of vertebrates,” it states:
Notice that the early embryonic stages of these vertebrates bear a striking resemblance to each other, even though the individuals are from different classes (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals). All vertebrates start out with an enlarged head region, gill slits, and a tail regardless of whether these characteristics are retained in the adult.
Although Haeckel’s distorted drawings do not accompany this caption, the drawings that are provided do not show the stark differences between the various kinds of embryos at the same stage of development that were photographically displayed for all to see by biologist Michael Richardson in an article in Scientific American in 1994. Rather, together with the inaccurate drawings, the caption falsely gives the impression that human embryos—as members of the vertebrate phylum—possess gill slits. But this is patently false. The pharyngeal arches in human embryos have no connection with gill slits whatsoever but develop into the outer and middle ear, and into the neck bones, muscles, nerves, and glands. Moreover, after the discovery of DNA, confidence in the truth of the evolutionary hypothesis led many evolutionary biologists to predict that similar body parts in diverse organisms would be controlled by the same genes. This, however, proved to be false, as embryologists have discovered that the realization of the same body plan—such as five digit extremities—in diverse organisms (such as whales and humans) is controlled by different genes and is achieved through totally different embryonic pathways.
The idea of embryonic recapitulation not only led embryonic researchers down the wrong pathways—it also led to a devaluation of the human embryo similar to the devaluation of the appendix documented above. In this case, however, the consequences of the devaluation were far more serious since what was being devalued was no longer an organ of the human body but the human body—and human life—itself! All over the world, abortion advocates have used the alleged similarity between human and lower animal embryos to trivialize abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. For example, in Germany pro-abortion activists:
skillfully exploited the disunity of the German Catholic intellectuals to bring their demands for the legalization of abortion to the legislature. … Karl Rahner, who was in the forefront of the fight over [the loosening of] paragraph 218, wrote in Naturwissenschaft und Theologie (brochure 11, page 86, 1970): “I think that there are biological developments which are pre-human, but these developments are still aimed in the direction of man. Why cannot these developments be transferred from phylogeny to ontogeny?”
“Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” is a fancy way of saying that “embryos re-live their evolutionary history in the womb.” And although this “most striking proof for evolution” has been thoroughly refuted by the modern science of embryology, belief in the bogus concept of “embryonic recapitulation” led Germany’s most influential Catholic theologian, Fr. Karl Rahner, to conclude that unborn human beings pass through a “pre-human” stage. This opened wide the door to the legalization of abortifacient contraception and abortion—since the child in the womb could now be regarded “scientifically” as “pre-human” during the first stages of development.
“Breathtaking Prospects for Embryonic Stem Cell Research”
In light of this history, it is particularly tragic that Dr. Salkeld recommends the Biologos institute and the Thomistic Evolutionists who receive funding from Biologos as reliable sources of information in regard to creation theology and natural science. According to the Council of Chalcedon, the human nature assumed by Our Lord Jesus Christ began to exist from the moment of His conception:
We profess the holy Virgin to be Mother of God, for God the Word became flesh and was made man and from the moment of conception (ex auteis teis sulleipseoes / ex ipso conceptu) united Himself to the temple he had taken from her.
and this doctrine is explicitly reaffirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which teaches that:
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person (CCC, 2270) (emphasis added).
In contradiction to this fundamental doctrine, the founder of Biologos, Francis Collins, is on record as being “excited” about the prospects for “embryonic stem cell research,” which, according to the official teaching of the Catholic Church, means that he is excited about the killing of tiny boys and girls so that the parts of their mutilated bodies can be used to benefit stronger and less vulnerable human beings. In the light of this gruesome reality, we would like to ask our readers to reflect on this question: “If Francis Collins believed the traditional Catholic teaching on the special creation of Adam and Eve, body and soul, would he be able to rationalize his support for the dismemberment of tiny human beings in the early stages of their embryonic development?” How could he, on the one hand, believe that God created man as man and woman as woman from the first moment of their bodily existence, but hold simultaneously that the little boy or girl at conception is less than human—or that the body of the little girl or boy could exist without a soul?
It is one of the most striking features of the patristic teaching on the creation of Adam that the Fathers insist that his soul was created with, and as the form of, his body, not before or after the body. As St. John of Damascus, who summarized the whole patristic tradition of the East, wrote in The Orthodox Faith:
From the earth He formed his body and by His own inbreathing gave him a rational and understanding soul, which last we say is the divine image . . . The body and the soul were formed at the same time—not one before and the other afterwards as the ravings of Origen would have it.
The person who believes that God evolved the body of a sub-human primate until it was ready to “receive” a human soul—a metaphysical impossibility as Fr. Ripperger explains at this link—has little difficulty in believing that the body of a tiny human embryo could exist without a human soul. Yet, in the light of current biological evidence, both of these views contradict the dogmatic decree of the Council of Vienne in 1312 which defined that “the [human] soul is the form of the [human] body.”
Dr. Haarsma, Francis Collins’ successor as president of Biologos, also acquiesces in the destruction of tiny children, though in a less direct way than Collins. You can read her comments made at Calvin College, another bastion of theistic evolutionism, here. In them she explicitly states that a tiny human body is not necessarily a person from either a scientific or scriptural standpoint, and that it is legitimate to use, abuse, and destroy existing embryonic stem cells (which have to have come from tiny human bodies) for scientific research. Though she opposes the production of embryos specifically for the purpose of being destroyed and manipulated, she states that using embryonic stem cell lines is ethical. However, the use of these cell lines clearly violates the Principle of the Integral Good, as explained by Fr. Phil Wolfe in a homily he gave on this topic, and to allow such use represents a grave evil committed against innocent human beings in the first days of life.
Can it be a mere coincidence that Catholics and Evangelical Protestants who do not accept theistic evolution are almost always categorically opposed to embryonic stem cell research, whereas those, like Francis Collins, who accept evolution, are much more likely to promote or at least tolerate the destruction of innocent children in the first days or weeks of life, as defined by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church? Indeed, Francis Collins and Biologos are aiding and abetting the destruction of millions of unborn children with their evolution-inspired refusal to recognize the existence of the human soul as “the form of the body” from the moment of conception.
Evolutionary Mythology and “The Biggest Mistake in the History of Molecular Biology”
While faith in the evolutionary hypothesis has demonstrably retarded the advancement of research in the field of embryology and contributed to the acceptance of abortion, abortifacient contraception, and embryonic stem cell research, that same evolutionary faith has also impeded scientific and medical research in the realm of molecular biology. It can be demonstrated that faith in the evolutionary hypothesis delayed the recognition of the functionality of so-called “junk DNA” (or non-coding DNA) and thus retarded the discovery, and, probably—at least in some cases—the cure of many genetic disorders. What follows is a brief summary of the history of the rise and fall of the evolution-based concept of “Junk DNA.”
- In 1972 the term “junk DNA” was coined by biologist Susumu Ohno, who argued that the human genome must be almost entirely non-functional junk because if most of the genome were actually functional, the rate of harmful mutations would be much too high, which would lead to genetic degeneration (de-evolution or “devolution”).
- Ohno claimed that the human genome was littered with “junk,” and that this was consistent with the evolution of the human genome without any kind of intelligent design. A junk-filled genome was used to argue against God as the author of the genome (as no “Author of Life” is needed to create a junk-filled-genome).
- By 2012 phase 2 of the human genome project was complete. This was a multi-million dollar, international study tasked with determining how much of the genome was active. The team of more than 400 ENCODE scientists discovered that most of the human genome, even the so-called “junk” DNA that is not translated into protein, is actually used (i.e., is actively transcribed into RNA).
- It turns out that different parts of a gene can be used for building many different proteins, so any gene is composed of multi-purpose building blocks. The ENCODE results have completely changed the way we view the genome. Instead of it being viewed as a protein-generating engine, the genome can now be seen as an RNA computer, doing multiple calculations, primarily within the so-called “junk” regions of the genome.
- Within any given stretch of human DNA there are multiple overlapping codes, meaning that a change to any specific letter might affect multiple different genetic messages. Darwinian evolution simply cannot account for the origin or preservation of these overlapping codes.
- True science (the ENCODE project and a wealth of data published over the last decade) has falsified the myth that almost all of the genome is “junk”. When the latest ENCODE results were published in a series of papers in 2012, a Science Magazine article headlined:
“ENCODE Project Writes Eulogy for Junk DNA.”
Tom Gingeras, a senior scientist with ENCODE affirms this noting:
“Almost every nucleotide [genetic letter] is associated with a function of some sort or another, and we now know where they are, what binds to them, what their associations are, and more.”
- The parts of our genome that were thought to be “junk DNA” are actually essential for life. This is something that most Darwinists still have not yet come to grips with. Their refusal to accept what the data plainly show is not because they have a sound scientific basis for that refusal. It is because of their unyielding ideological commitment to Darwin. They are well aware that the collapse of the junk DNA story would be a deathblow to Darwinian theory. One ardent evolutionary advocate and scientist, Dan Graur, has gone on record saying:
If the human genome is indeed devoid of junk DNA as implied by the ENCODE project, then a long, undirected evolutionary process cannot explain the human genome… If ENCODE is right, then evolution is wrong [emphasis added].
In the light of these and many other similar discoveries, one of the pioneers in establishing the functionality of “junk DNA,” Professor John Mattick, claimed that, “the failure to recognize the implications of the non-coding DNA will go down as the biggest mistake in the history of molecular biology.” This prediction will most likely be fulfilled, not only because of the way that the “junk DNA” concept has retarded the scientific investigation of genetic material that does not code for protein, but perhaps more importantly because of the way that the evolutionarily inspired “junk DNA” concept has delayed the medical understanding and treatment of serious genetic disorders.
“How Can So Many Brilliant Scientists Be Wrong?”
In his response to Mr. Hichborn, Dr. Sankeld explains that one of the reasons why he was skeptical of anti-evolutionary claims as a young man was that “so many brilliant people” believed in the molecules-to-man evolutionary hypothesis that his father rejected. As mentioned above, Dr. Sankeld’s examination of the arguments against molecules-to-man evolution led him to conclude that those who made these arguments were ignorant and impeded scientific discovery by taking a “God of the gaps” approach, appealing to God for an easy explanation for the origins of everything from the first stars to the human body, rather than supporting the hard work of natural scientists who sought to advance our understanding of how these things could have originated through natural processes. In this respect, Dr. Sankeld echoes the sentiments of popular scientists like Bill Nye “the science guy” who assert that believers in special creation are “science stoppers” whose “God of the gaps” theology retards the progress of scientific and medical research.
As successful as scientists like Bill Nye have obviously been in convincing many Catholics of the truth of their claims, the few examples we have just presented suffice to show that the real threat to fruitful scientific and medical research arises not from the ranks of Catholics who defend the traditional doctrine of special creation but from the ranks of the theistic and atheistic evolutionists who have replaced the traditional Catholic creation-based presumption of stable form and function throughout the biosphere with an evolution-based presumption of flux and dysfunction. Moreover, the fact that the overwhelming majority of Catholic professional scientists and medical researchers have embraced the evolutionary framework rather than the Creation-Providence framework proves that it is quite possible for intelligent men and women of good will to embrace this false framework without realizing that it cripples their ability to pursue fruitful scientific and medical research. This is because their false philosophical framework distorts their interpretation of the empirical evidence.
We turn now to examine in detail the claims of one of the primary authorities that Dr. Sankeld holds up as a reliable source of information in regard to the creation-evolution controversy. In doing so, we hope to demonstrate not only the bankruptcy of many so-called “proofs” of evolution, but also to demonstrate that continued adherence to the evolutionary framework retards basic research as well as applied sciences like medicine. To grasp this point is to discover the key to answering the frequently-asked question, “If the traditional Christian doctrine of special creation is true, how could so many brilliant scientists be wrong about evolution?”
Alleged Proofs of Evolution in Action
In the video clip embedded in Dr. Salkeld’s response to Michael Hichborn, Dr. Kenneth Miller assures his audience that the crux of the argument for the intelligent design of living things is the idea of irreducible complexity, and that this idea is fundamentally incorrect. He uses the bacterial flagellum as an example, and this is not the first place that he has made this argument. In his Dover trial testimony, his book Only a Theory, and in other writings, Dr. Miller argues that the irreducible complexity of the flagellum is refuted because about 10 flagellar proteins can also be used to construct a toxin-injection machine (called the Type-III Secretory System, or T3SS) that some bacteria use to kill other cells. At the Dover trial, Judge Jones cited Miller when he stated that the T3SS explained how the bacterial flagellum could evolve:
…[W]ith regard to the bacterial flagellum, Dr. Miller pointed to peer-reviewed studies that identified a possible precursor to the bacterial flagellum, a subsystem that was fully functional, namely the Type-III Secretory System.
In reality, however, even evolutionary biologists reject Miller’s speculative scenario. In 2008 an article in New Scientist pointed out that the evidence favored the view that the Type III Secretory System was actually a degenerate form of a bacterium with a flagellum and came after it, not before:
One fact in favour of the flagellum-first view is that bacteria would have needed propulsion before they needed T3SSS, which are used to attack cells that evolved later than bacteria. Also, flagella are found in a more diverse range of bacterial species than T3SSs. ‘The most parsimonious explanation is that the T3SS arose later,’ says biochemist Howard Ochman at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Indeed, how and why would a bacterium “evolve” a mechanism to attack cells before it had even evolved a mechanism to move itself around so that it could launch an attack in the first place? Moreover, Miller’s claim that a functional part of the flagellum disproves the irreducible complexity of the whole system is illogical. Just because a fan can function independently of an automobile engine does not prove that the automobile engine is not irreducibly complex and that it does not need a certain number of specific interdependent parts to function (of which the fan is only one—and a relatively unimportant one). Scott Minnich is an expert in the bacterial flagellum, and he developed an accurate test of the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum that refutes Miller’s simplistic and inadequate argument. As Minnich explained on the Dover witness stand:
One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. … knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect.
Indeed, a peer-reviewed journal article the following year admitted that “the flagellar research community has scarcely begun to consider how these systems have evolved.” So, the Dover decision to deny students the right to critically evaluate evolutionary claims rested in large part on Dr. Miller’s masterful misrepresentation of the evidence regarding the possible evolutionary origin of the flagellum. In essence, his faulty argument is that since some of the parts can work together to have a function, then it is conceivable that evolution could have produced them in a slow, step-wise, just-so fashion. To his credit, Miller himself admits, “that’s not evidence – that’s just an argument.”
Indeed, no plausible scenario has been offered by Dr. Miller or by anyone else for how the components of the bacterial flagellum could be produced through a purely naturalistic mechanism like lateral gene transfer or mutation and natural selection. These are the only possibilities available to “Darwin’s god” (to use Miller’s phrase) to create all the life that exists, and they do not hold up to rigorous scientific testing. As Dr. John Sanford and others have demonstrated elsewhere, genetic mutations degrade genetic information, and therefore cannot produce new complex functions or organs, only scaled-back and stripped-down versions of existing complex functions or organs, as we see with the T3SS. Dr. Sanford explains:
Specifications are inherently specific, and random mutations destroy specificity – they systematically destroy any useful information. Yet there are a few isolated cases where it is claimed that certain laboratory experiments demonstrate remarkably high rates of beneficial mutation. My colleagues and I have very effectively refuted these claims in a recent scientific publication (see Montanez et al., 2013). The key to understanding these claims of super-abundant high-impact beneficial mutations, is that a large part (up to 50%) of any microbial genome consists of “just-in-case genes” which need to be precisely regulated. These genes are often crucial in the real world – conferring tolerance to a host of specific stress conditions. But in an artificial and unchanging laboratory environment, such genes are just dead weight. Breaking or deleting such non-essential genes will very often conserve energy and allow faster growth in the artificial environment. Likewise, disrupting their normal regulation can be advantageous in the artificial environment. Under these artificial conditions many diverse “beneficial” mutations can arise that involve loss of information, loss of function, and genetic degeneration (like stripping down a car for a race). Describing such mutations as “beneficial” is really a misnomer – they actually represent “adaptive degeneration.” This is best seen in the famous long term Escherichia coli experiment by Lenski and colleagues (Barrick et al. 2009, Lenski, 2011). E. coli did indeed adapt to a certain artificial environment, and on specific artificial medium could grow slightly faster. But when the enabling “beneficial” mutations were analyzed – they all involved loss-of-function events (either broken genes or broken promoters). Genome size consistently shrank. This is clearly NOT how genomes are built and speaks directly to the problem of genetic degeneration.
It is quite sad to see Catholic theologians like Dr. Sankeld citing Dr. Miller as an authority on origins when he was been proven wrong so many times and has done so much to prevent Catholic and non-Catholic young people from having an opportunity to critically evaluate the evidence for and against the evolutionary hypothesis. In the next section, we will show two additional errors that Dr. Miller uses as “gotcha” scenarios for unsuspecting lay folk (who don’t generally know enough details of biology to question his chicanery).
“Darwin’s God” or the “God of our Fathers”?
One of the most damaging errors that Dr. Miller has propagated to the Catholic (and non-Catholic) public is his claim that the argument from irreducible complexity for the intelligent design of living things, made by Dr. Michael Behe and other biologists, has been falsified. In a number of his writings, Dr. Miller has argued that:
Intelligent design cannot explain the presence of a nonfunctional pseudogene, unless it is willing to allow that the designer made serious errors, wasting millions of bases of DNA on a blueprint full of junk and scribbles. Evolution, however, can explain them easily. Pseudogenes are nothing more than chance experiments in gene duplication that have failed, and they persist in the genome as evolutionary remnants of the past history of the b-globin genes. (“Life’s Grand Design,” Technology Review, Vol 97(2): 24-32 (February / March 1994).)
Displaying his Darwinian “presumption of dysfunction,” Miller wrote those words in 1994, but he continued to use the β-globin pseudogene as a refutation of ID in his 2008 book Only a Theory. In reality, Miller’s example of irrefutable evidence of common descent turns out to be false. Recent research conducted as part of Project Encode has demonstrated that the β-globin pseudogene is functional and that a mutation in this particular gene is associated with a serious disease of the blood.
We will cite just one more example of Dr. Miller’s misrepresentations. It is well known that Dr. Miller ridiculed Of Pandas and People by Catholic biophysicist Dr. Dean Kenyon for failing to acknowledge such recent findings as evolutionists’ latest “missing links.” In a critique of Pandas Dr. Miller claimed that Ambulocetus was a transitional form between land mammals and whales. Miller quoted Pandas on the absence of transitional fossils in the alleged fossil record of whales and then chided the authors for failing to mention this prize “missing link.”
Yes, evolution predicts that there should have been transitional forms linking swimming mammals with land mammals. And their absence, Pandas argues, is good evidence that evolution is wrong. Well, guess what? In the past 10 years not one, not two, but three true intermediate forms have been discovered. Up until 1986, the oldest known fossil whale had been Basilosaurus, dating to about 40 million years before present (a sketch of Basilosaurus is shown in Pandas). However, fossil-hunters have now found 3 intermediates that link Basilosaurus to land-dwelling ancestors. They are:
Pakicetus inachus – 52 myr.
Ambulocetus natans 50 myr.
Rodhocetus kasrani 46 myr.
The actual fossil forms were described in a 1994 article in the journal Science (JGM Thewissen, ST Hussain, M Arif (1994) “Fossil evidence for the origin of aquatic locomotion in archaeocete whales.” Science 263: 210-212.). A less technical account of these intermediate forms and their importance for understanding cetacean evolution was written by Stephen Jay Gould in Natural History magazine (“Hooking Leviathan By Its Past,” Natural History (April 1994), p. 12).
Pandas, in teaching students that such intermediate forms would, indeed, could never be found, compounds its earlier misrepresentations of fossil history with an outright falsehood, a misperception of reality which has no place in authentic scientific education.
Dr. Miller’s bluster and righteous indignation appear to have convinced Judge Jones at the Dover trial which denied public school students the right to hear evidence for intelligent design and against the evolution of all living things through unguided material processes. But, as Dr. Jonathan Sarfati has documented, Dr. Miller’s claims regarding Ambulocetus were not only inflated but misleading:
. . . Finding Darwin’s God, by Kenneth Miller . . . claimed, “the animal could move easily both on land and in water,” and contained a drawing of a complete skeleton and a reconstructed animal. But this is misleading, bordering on deceitful, and indicative of Miller’s unreliability, because there was no indication of the fact that far fewer bones were actually found than appear in his diagram. Crucially, the all-important pelvic girdle was not found . . . Without this, it’s presumptuous for Miller to make that proclamation. His fellow evolutionist Annalisa Berta pointed out:
“ … since the pelvic girdle is not preserved, there is no direct evidence in Ambulocetus for a connection between the hind limbs and the axial skeleton. This hinders interpretations of locomotion in this animal, since many of the muscles that support and move the hindlimb originate on the pelvis.” (Berta, A., What is a Whale? Science 263(5144):180–181, 1994; perspective on Thewissen, J.G.M., Hussain, S.T. and Arif, M., Fossil evidence for the origin of aquatic locomotion in Archeocete whales, same issue, pp. 210—212. )
In his more recent presentations on the alleged evidence for land mammal to whale evolution Dr. Miller continues to draw upon information contained in the NAS document – Teaching About Evolution – which devoted more space to the story of whale evolution than to any other Darwinian icon and used this drawing to bolster its claim that whales evolved from land mammals. The alleged sequence begins with a sketch of hoofed land animals called mesonychids. From this mammal, the NAS explains that a creature called Ambulocetus evolved and the animal is described as – “A species with front forelimbs and powerful hind legs with large feet that were adapted for paddling.” Teaching About Evolution claims that this animal:
Could have moved between sea and land – and could move its back in a strong up and down motion, which is the method modern cetaceans or whales use to swim and dive.
The NAS sequence continues by claiming that:
A later fossil in the series from Pakistan shows an animal with smaller functional hind limbs and even greater back flexibility. This species, Rodhocetus, probably did not venture onto land very often, if at all.
The fourth species in the sequence is Basilosaurus, described as:
A recognizable whale, with front flippers for steering and a completely flexible backbone. But this animal still has hind limbs thought to be nonfunctional.
Dr. Miller also cites Ambulocetus as one of several intermediate forms providing solid evidence for whale evolution in Finding Darwin’s God. In fact, he calls PhD scientists Michael Behe and Dean Kenyon “foolish” for predicting that no fossil evidence for whale evolution would be found. In the Miller and Levine textbook Biology six specimens leading to modern whales are illustrated and are alleged to show how whales evolved from ancestors that walked on land. The claimed transitional forms include the NAS examples of Ambulocetus, Rodhocetus, and Basilosaurus. But Miller shows Pakicetus as the land animal preceding Ambulocetus, and a creature called Dorudon is placed after Basilosaurus but before modern whales. As biologist Pamela Acker explains in the documentary “Foundations Restored”:
The problems with this evolutionary icon are many. Perhaps this is why there is not a single reference to the scientific literature in the NAS’s Teaching About Evolution and why Ken Miller references only one article in Finding Darwin’s God.
Miss Acker goes on to expose the fatal flaws in Dr. Miller’s claim that paleontologists have identified “three true intermediate forms” between land mammals and whales.
There are several problems with the overall presentation of the sequence by the NAS. In the first place, all four specimens are shown as approximately the same size, with no scale of measurement or even a footnote explaining that the specimens are drawn out of scale.
Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus had respective lengths of about seven and nine feet, versus Basilosaurus’ fifty to seventy length. Obviously, divulging the real sizes of these creatures would raise doubt about any close evolutionary relationship. In another omission, the NAS fails to include a timeline for the creatures in its proposed sequence, probably because many of the claimed transitional forms lived at the same time according to evolutionists’ own dating results. The Nature article announcing Rodhocetus contained the dated Pakicetus between 49 and 52 point 5 mya, Ambulocetus at between 48.5 and 52 mya, and Rodhocetus at between 46.5 and 49.5 mya. Thus, according to evolutionists’ own dating results – the three species may well have co existed for more than half a million years, something that is not supposed to happen in the struggle for survival among closely related species.
All of the whale intermediates that Dr. Miller presented in his biology textbook are either questionable or have been fully discredited:
- While the original representation of Pakicetus showed the animal as a perfect transitional form displaying characteristics both of terrestrial and aquatic animals, subsequent finds confirmed that Pakicetus was an entirely terrestrial animal. As Dr. Jonathan Sarfati points out: “the term ‘whale’ becomes meaningless if it can describe land mammals, and it provides no insight into how true marine whales supposedly evolved.” In addition, the size of the semicircular canal system in its ears confirm that Pakicetus is unlikely to be a fossil whale intermediate.
- According to an article in the prominent journal Science, Ambulocetus most likely resembled an otter or seal, not a whale. The same issue of Science includes an editorial delicately reminding readers that of the five characteristics paleontologists use to define whales, three could not be evaluated based on the fossils recovered and the other two characteristics, which concern dental features, are so variable that several early whales known only from teeth, were originally described as mesonychids.
- While Basilosaurus was originally included as a member of the whale sequence due to claims that the hind limbs were non-functional, prominent evolutionists have claimed that the limbs likely had an important function in assisting the serpentine animal during reproduction. Some of the prominent websites promoting the whale sequence have even removed Basilosaurus from their displays.
- Dorudon was similar in shape to Basilosaurus and also had small hind limbs that the scientific literature explains were likely used to facilitate reproduction. Dorudon was only Sixteen feet long, which initially caused some evolutionists to think it was a juvenile Basilosaurus. But, as with Basilosaurus, there is no reason to view Dorudon as a transitional form.
- Finally, the mesonychids, the catch all genus of land mammals purported to be ancestral to whales, were discussed by scientist Robert L. Carrol in Patterns and Processs of Vertebrate Evolution. He stated: “It is not possible to identify a sequence of mesonychids leading directly to whales. All adequately known mesonychids were terrestrial in most aspects of the skeleton.”
Moreover, there is mounting genetic evidence that mesonychids did not lead to modern whales. An article in Nature explains that molecular studies produce different results than does speculation based on the fossil evidence, as some molecular studies suggest that mesonychids are not closely related to cetaceans. Due to the increasing reliance of evolutionists on molecular studies over the fossil evidence, more and more evolutionists reject the notion that modern whales evolved from the mesonychids and, instead, are most closely related to hippopotami, which are said to have branched off from land dwelling artiodactyls at some point.
And yet, evolutionists realize that this new evolutionary sequence is also problematic. According to one Science editorial, substantial discrepancies exist with such a scenario as this. The new sequences would require the similar cranial and dental morphologies of mesonychids and cetaceans to be attributed to two unrelated evolutionary events, or convergent evolution, which is always the explanation of last resort whenever a logical evolutionary sequence cannot be identified.
We can anticipate that Dr. Sankeld may object that we are once again taking a “god of the gaps” approach which—if it were taken up by the scientific community—would prevent researchers from continuing their search for the “true intermediate missing links” that appear to have eluded them for so long, in spite of their best efforts. However, in light of all the evidence that we have presented here, it would seem that—at least for Catholics—a much more reasonable response to the complete failure of evolution-believing scientists to provide any compelling evidence for their wild conjectures would be to abandon the bankrupt evolutionary framework and return to the Creation-Providence Framework of the greatest scientists of the past.
What Miller and Urey Got Wrong, and Why Biochemical Evolution Is Impossible
Before leaving our discussion of the bankruptcy of scientific “proofs” for evolution, we need to address the idea of biochemical evolution, particularly as represented in the Miller-Urey experiment. In order for molecules-to-man evolution to have taken place, in a theistic or atheistic scenario, the original form of life must have come from non-living matter. As we have already stated, this violates the principle that “no effect can be greater than its cause,” and has even been refuted from a scientific standpoint. Biologists, however, like to point to an experiment that was conducted in the fifties as proof that organic matter can come from non-organic matter. As Dr. Salkeld states:
the “famous Miller-Urey experiment, for example, found that adding electricity to a collection of inorganic molecules, led to their organization into amino acids. The proteins did not preexist and await some “spark.” Rather, we have concrete, repeatable, testable scientific data showing that a “spark” can generate the proteins necessary for life.
In reality, the Miller-Urey experiment did not “generate the proteins necessary for life.” It produced 11 out of 20 naturally-occurring amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are complex biochemical molecules composed of hundreds of amino acids (one estimate is that the average protein contains roughly 325-350 amino acids) that have an organized sequence and a definite three-dimensional shape. To give an idea of the complexity of these proteins, keep in mind that one misplaced amino acid in a protein can have disastrous results, such as sickle-cell disease in humans.
Not surprisingly, the problems with the Miller-Urey experiment are legion:
- Amino acids are chiral, which means that they occur in “left-handed” and “right-handed” forms. The chirality of the amino acids produced in the experiment was classically inorganic, with a rough mixture of both forms, and not organic. Life requires only left-handed amino acids, and there is no known inorganic method for sorting out these chiral forms that could have operated under proposed early-earth conditions.
- Ammonia, which was present in the flask, would not have been stable in significant concentrations under the proposed conditions of Earth’s early atmosphere. Without ammonia, there would not have been a sufficient nitrogen source to form the amino acids.
- The flask did not contain oxygen, which geology has demonstrated was present even in the early atmosphere of the earth. In the presence of oxygen gas, no amino acids are produced.
- Two key amino acids necessary for the structure of all biologically-functional sequences were missing from the Miller-Urey experiment, because the flask did not contain sulfur (a key component of both of these amino acids). Thus the experiment did not produce methionine, which is the beginning amino acid of all protein-coding sequences, or cysteine, which is necessary to produce the disulfide bridges that stabilize a protein’s three-dimensional structure.
Jonathan Sarfati, a physical chemist from the Victoria University of Wellington, points out another general flaw that plagues origin of life experiments like Miller & Urey’s:
Origin of life simulations purport to show that life could arise by time and chance. In reality, even the meagre results obtained are only possible because of the design of the experiment. A common procedure is to find a trace of compound A in a spark discharge experiment, and compound B in another simulation (sometimes with mutually incompatible conditions), then claim, “See A and B can be produced under realistic primitive-earth conditions.” They then obtain pure, homochiral, concentrated A and B from an industrial synthetic chemicals company, react them to form traces of the more complex compound C. Then the news is trumpeted that C will form under primitive-earth conditions. But this doesn’t show that dilute A and B can react that way, that they can be produced together, or that they won’t react with contaminants D, E or F that were also formed in the first experiments. In short, the evolutionists’ simulations have an unacceptable level of intelligent interference.
Additionally, even if the Miller-Urey experiment, or one like it, were able to produce a functional protein, the protein would be unable to reproduce itself (a condition necessary for life) without being assembled as a unit with functionally encoded DNA in a functional cell.  Moreover, according to a Science Daily article, “The minimum number of protein-producing genes a single-celled organism needs to survive and reproduce in the laboratory is somewhere between 265 and 350, according to new research. This makes the probability of building even a “simple” cell astronomically less likely than identifying a particular atom out of the 1080 atoms in the entire universe. It is worth noting that in a court of law the probability of finding two people with identical fingerprints—estimated at 1 in 1050 is considered to have a real probability of zero. Yet Dr. Ken Miller has stated that he believes that discovering how life came from non-life will be one of the great scientific discoveries of the twenty-first century!
All of this evidence indicates that Dr. Salkeld’s statement, “we have concrete, repeatable, testable scientific data showing that a ‘spark’ can generate the proteins necessary for life,” is woefully inaccurate, and it would cause any reader not well versed in chemistry to think that life is simple and that scientists can do things relating to life that they are not even close to being able to do. Of course, such fictions are necessary to keep the evolutionary paradigm alive and well in the minds of its promoters.
Molecules-to-man Evolution: The Opposite of the Truth
Anyone who has had the fortitude to bear with this response to “Can Catholic Believe in Evolution?” up to this point will be happy to know that we are reaching the end of our brief defense of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation. There are only two more essential points which must be made before we conclude. The first has to do with the way that evolution’s account of reality is not merely false but the opposite of the truth. The second has to do with the terrible implications of theistic evolution for the spiritual life of the Catholic faithful and for their understanding of the character of God.
One point on which all natural scientists can agree is that there are certain laws which govern the behavior of all material things, one of which is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In the words of physicist Dr. Thomas Seiler, the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that:
for isolated systems entropy, which is a measure of probability, will always increase. Entropy determines the direction in which all processes in nature proceed: from less probable distributions to more probable distributions, from ordered structures to disordered ones and never vice versa.
An example of the operation of entropy is genetic degeneration of a biological species due to negative mutations: for instance, on some windy islands, certain flies have entirely lost their wings. This is explained by the advantage of staying on the ground in an environment where strong winds can carry flying insects far out to sea. A succession of micro-variations that leads to the destruction of complex organs is a natural process of increasing entropy. The opposite—a succession of small genetic variations leading by natural selection to the construction of a completely new organ—is an excluded process of decreasing entropy. Although one single variation step on the same level of complexity [as in the production of a new breed of dog] is possible, the random addition of thousands of such small steps can never create a new organ or functional physiological system, like the blood clotting cascade. Selection only choses the fittest at one step but there is no reason why these should always be those that lead to a new organ in the future. It’s rather very likely that a succession of fittest ones leads to a dead end.
An objection to the above premise is that the constraints of thermodynamics are not valid for biological structures because these exist in open systems. “Open” means that matter and especially energy can be exchanged with the surroundings. In order to test the validity of this objection, we must examine in detail what is possible in open systems.
The limits of an open system can be illustrated by the example of machines that reduce entropy such as refrigerators. They transfer heat from a cold volume (the inside space) to a warm volume (the surrounding room). This highly improbable phenomenon, however, can only be achieved because a complex mechanism that can automatically perform the cooling cycles exists already. Such entropy reducing machines are also found in the chloroplasts of plants. A further example of order increasing in open systems is observable in the formation of crystals, e.g. snow-flakes. When heat is removed, a phase-transition leads to the appearance of macroscopic regularity. Molecules which have slowed down during cooling can condense. It becomes energetically more favorable to arrange them in a crystal configuration than in a random orientation—a typical energy downhill process.
The reason why the proposed evolution of biological organs does not belong to such kinds of processes is that these processes are the physical ways in which a pre-existing order is transferred from one level to another. No really new order or information is generated in any of these open-systems. Either the information content was already present in a complex machine like a refrigerator or the chloroplasts, or it already existed in the symmetry of the underlying molecules, i.e. the directed inter-atomic electromagnetic forces. A further such category would be the feedback mechanism of a so-called “dissipative structure.” Nothing improbable happens in all these cases. It is always an energetic necessity that the pre-programmed ordered structures appear. Therefore, open systems do not create order. They only make hidden order visible.
On the other hand, the bodies of living creatures represent new information. It is not pre-contained in the molecular structure of constituent chemical elements nor is there a machine which is programmed to produce it. There is no physical arrangement which contains the information which is necessary to built up life from non-life or complex creatures from simpler creatures. It is excluded by the Second Law of Thermodynamics because it does not belong to those pre-programmed structures which open systems can create! It follows that the evolution of man from molecules is precluded by the fundamental laws of nature. In the words of geophysicist Josef Holzschuh: “…[T]he Second Law of Thermodynamics poses an insurmountable scientific barrier to evolution”
In recent decades, research in the field of biology has demonstrated that the Second Law of Thermodynamics has a counterpart in the realm of living things which the renowned plant geneticist Dr. John Sanford of Cornell University has named “genetic entropy.” According to Dr. Sanford, peer-reviewed published research in the field of genetics has firmly established the fact that genetic mutations break down the integrity of the genomes of plants, animals and human beings, in a way that highlights and underscores the truth of two fundamental historical realities described by Moses in the sacred history of Genesis. The first is that the original genomes of Adam and Eve and of the other prototypical plants and animals were perfect—free from any kind of genetic defect, a conclusion that agrees perfectly with the traditional Catholic understanding that God created for our first parents a “very good” creation, completely free from death, deformity and disease. The second is the reality that the Original Sin of Adam not only brought human death into the world, but also, as St. Paul explains in chapter eight of his Letter to the Romans, made the entire material universe subject to a mysterious “bondage to decay.” Dr. Sanford writes:
There is growing scientific evidence that the human genome is rapidly degenerating due to mutation accumulation (the term “genome” means all of a person’s genes combined). The book entitled “Genetic Entropy” . . . summarizes the diverse scientific evidences indicating long-term human genetic degeneration. This is supported by papers by several world-famous population geneticists such as Crow (1997), and Lynch (2010). It is also supported by genetic theory, numerical simulation experiments, and numerous other scientific publications (Sanford et al., 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013; Gibson et al. 2013; Brewer et al., 2013; Baumgardner et al., 2013).
The fact that humanity is genetically degenerating due to mutation accumulation amounts to “evolution going backwards” and is the anti-thesis of Darwinian thought. Remarkably, such degeneration is very consistent with the Bible. In many places, the Bible indicates that we are dying people in a dying world, and that creation itself is wearing out . . . (Psa 39:5&11; Psa 102:25-26; Mat 24:35; Ro 8:22; Heb 1:10-12; 1Pe 1:24-25).
The most obvious outward evidences for genetic degeneration are aging, death, and shortened average lifespans. The degeneration of man is explicitly recorded in the words of Jacob, who said to the Pharaoh “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors” (Genesis 47:9, NLT). The extreme longevity of
the early patriarchs is very well documented in Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. The Bible records the age at death of the first 25 Patriarchs in the lineage that goes from Adam to Moses. All of these early Patriarchs lived to be extremely old.
In his masterpiece Genetic Entropy Dr. Sanford shows that almost all genetic mutations are harmful and that the few so-called “beneficial mutations” that evolutionists have identified do not produce any new functional genetic information but in most cases confer a short-term benefit to the organism at the cost of some loss in overall fitness. Since evolution must account for the generation of the enormous amounts of coded information that direct the production of all kinds of sophisticated organs and systems in plants, animals, and humans, it is apparent that a process that cannot even preserve the order that already exists cannot possibly be a viable mechanism for producing new organs and functions!
Thus, it is apparent that, in the light of the discoveries of modern genetics, the molecules-to-man evolutionary hypothesis stands exposed not only as a false account of the origins of man and the universe but as one that is the opposite of the truth. Whereas sound natural science tells us that the biosphere is devolving from a state of original integrity, as the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation has always taught, the modern myth of molecules-to-man evolution tells us that we are evolving from a “primitive” condition to some kind of utopian “omega” point in the future. This “science, falsely so-called” (1 Timothy 6:20), is then used to justify every kind of deviation from the traditional liturgy, faith and practice of the Church, on the pretext that—as St. Pius X predicted in Pascendi—the Church has “evolved” into a new stage which demands that her liturgy, marriage law, and moral doctrines be “updated” and “adapted” to the new times in which we live. Thus, false prophets like Fr. James Martin travel the world telling the faithful that the Church has “evolved” and that what were once identified as “sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance” can now be welcomed and celebrated within the Church.
Atheistic Evolution Turns Men into Demons; Theistic Evolution Makes a Demon of God
In his Summa Contra Gentiles, the Angelic Doctor warned us long ago that:
The opinion of those who say that it is a matter of indifference what we believe about creation as long as we have a correct opinion of God is notoriously false, for a false opinion about creation is always reflected in a false understanding of God.
And, indeed, the worst consequence of the widespread acceptance of the evolution deception by so many Catholics is the way that it distorts our understanding of the character of our Most Holy God.
The God of the Apostles, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church is the Almighty God of Truth, of Life, and of Love who displayed the same character when He created the world as when He walked the Earth, and who continues to display that same holy character through the Sacraments and through the members of His Mystical Body when by His grace they manifest His living Faith, Hope and Love. By contrast, the god of evolution is a god of deception, death and destruction, who used a process of hundreds of millions of years of death and destruction to evolve the bodies of the first human beings, and who, after he had conceived them in the bodies of evolved sub-human primates, placed them in a world that he had deliberately filled with death, deformity and disease.
This same god of evolution then allowed his Church to teach a false account of the origins of man and the universe for almost two thousand years until he finally raised up—not saints and scholars from within the Church to enlighten Her—but godless men like T. H. Huxley and Ernst Haeckel who hated the Church and wanted to destroy Her. Thus, as we have documented elsewhere, atheistic evolution turns men into demons, but theistic evolution makes a demon out of God!
Through the prayers of Our Lady of Fatima and of all the Holy Angels and Saints, may the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds, deliver us from all “science, falsely so called,” and lead us into all the Truth!
Fr. Peter Dwyer, OAM; M.Ed.; B.Th.; G.R.S.M. (Lon); L.R.A.M.; A.R.C.M.; A.Mus.A.
Fr. Chad Ripperger, Ph.D., Philosophy
Pamela Acker, M.S., Biology
Eric Bermingham, M.S., Aerospace Engineering
Dr. Dean H. Kenyon, Ph.D., Biophysics
Dr. Kevin Mark, D.M.D.
Mr. Hugh Owen, M.S.
Ademar R. Rakowsky, B.A., Geology; B.A., Physics; M.Sc., Meteorology; S.T.B.; S.T.L.
Dr. Thomas H. Seiler, Ph.D., Physics
Response of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on Genesis — June 30, 1909
Commentary by the Authors of this Reply to Dr. Salkeld
The PBC’s answer to Question V allows that some expressions in Genesis may be understood improperly when “reason prohibits holding the proper sense” or “necessity forces its abandonment.” However, according to the answer to Question VI, interpretations should be made “with the Holy Fathers and the Church herself leading the way.”
Answers IV and V taken together tell us that some expressions may be understood improperly when “reason prohibits holding the proper sense” or “necessity requires.” These are very strict conditions indeed! According to these criteria, the word “dies” in Genesis One may be understood improperly as a certain space of time IF and only IF reason dictates or necessity requires. In short, the Magisterium is not treating the proper and improper senses of “dies” as equals. On the contrary, the Magisterium lays the burden of proof squarely on the shoulders of those who would challenge the proper sense. It is they who must prove that reason dictates or necessity requires that “dies” be interpreted as a “certain space of time” and not as a natural day.
The PBC’s answer to Question VII establishes that the word “dies” in the distinction of the six days of Genesis Chapter One may be understood in the proper sense as a natural day or in the improper sense as “a certain space of time.”
It follows that the “free discussion among exegetes” allowed by answer VIII is permitted for the purpose of allowing the advocates of the improper sense to demonstrate that the improper sense of “dies” in Genesis One is the only reasonable interpretation. But “free discussion”—being of its very nature an exchange of views—also means that attempts to defend the improper sense as the only reasonable interpretation must be subjected to critical review by other exegetes in full knowledge that failure to PROVE that the improper sense of “dies” is the only reasonable interpretation of the word in Genesis One ipso facto establishes “natural day” as the preferred interpretation. Moreover, since the answer to Question VI teaches that the interpretation of Genesis should be made “with the Holy Fathers and the Church leading the way,” the burden of proof falls entirely upon those who question the consensus of the Fathers on the interpretation of any part of Genesis 1-3.
 ST. AUGUSTINE, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Vol. 2 (New York: The Newman Press, 1982), p. 33.
 For the 1909 PBC’s complete responses to questions on Genesis in Latin and English, see the Appendix at the end of this paper.
 HENRY DENZINGER, Sources of Catholic Dogma (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1954), p. 545.
 IBID, 545-546.
 For a thorough refutation of the claim that the PBC decrees of the early twentieth century have been “set aside” or “abrogated,” see “Rediscovering the Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission” by Fr. Sean Kopczynski / (accessed 3-22-20).
 For a good example of this widespread attitude, see the exposition of the thought of the Epicurean philosopher Celsus by ORIGEN in his treatise Against Celsus, Book I, Chapter II (accessed 3-22-20).
 LUCRETIUS, De rerum natura, Vol. L 181.
 ST. BASIL THE GREAT, The Hexameron, Homily 1, 6.
 ST. AUGUSTINE, City of God., 12:10.
 The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus 3(1), On the mythical chronology of the Egyptians and Chaldeans, (accessed 3-22-20)
 THEOPHILUS OF ANTIOCH, Theophilus to Autolycus, Book III, Chapters XVI and XVII.
 LACTANTIUS, The Divine Institutes 7:14, Of the first and last times of the world.
 CORNELIUS A LAPIDE, Commentary on Genesis 1-3 (Mt. Jackson: Kolbe Center, 2019).
 JOSEPH GEDNEY, “St. Augustine Rediscovered: A Defense of the Literal Interpretation of St. Augustine’s Writings on the Sacred History of Genesis” (accessed 3-22-20)
 MARK KOEHNE, “The Meaning of Yom in Genesis One in the Light of Modern Biblical Scholarship” (accessed 3-22-20). Dr. Koehne thoroughly address all of the principal arguments against interpreting “yom” or “day” in Genesis One as a 24-hour day and the days of the Hexameron as sequential days.
 BENEDICTA WARD, SLG, The Venerable Bede (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publication, 1998), pp. 32-33.
 To this day, the reading from the Roman Martyrology for Midnight Mass at Christmas in the traditional Roman Rite states that 5,199 years elapsed from Creation to the Nativity of Christ.
 BENEDICTA WARD, SLG, The Venerable Bede (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publication, 1998), pp. 32-33.
 For an introduction to the evidence from the natural sciences that supports the Biblical chronology, see Episodes 8-10 of the DVD series “http://www.foundationsrestored.com/” (accessed 3-22-20) as well as the articles “Cosmology, Thermodynamics and the Christian Doctrine of Creation,” “Ariadne’s Thread,” “A Question of Time,” and “Genetic Entropy in the Bible” on the Kolbe Center website. (accessed 3-22-20)
 It could be argued that St. Augustine does not agree with this view, since he believed that God created all of the different kinds of creatures in their seed forms instantaneously at the very beginning of creation, and then brought them into active existence afterwards. But, as we will show below in relation to St. Augustine’s commentary on the creation of Eve from Adam’s side in the City of God, he still classifies the actualization of these “rational seeds” as a work that only God can do and one that takes place at the beginning of creation, since he calls the creation of Eve from Adam’s side one of the “first works” of creation and places it, according to the Biblical chronology, at a point in time less than six thousand years before his own lifetime, or about 5,500 years before the Birth of Christ.
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Homilies on Genesis, 10:7.
 St. THOMAS AQUINAS, ST I, Q. 73, Reply to Obj. 2.
 Of course, theologians and philosophers still have the task of teaching and explaining God’s providential maintenance of the natural order, after the sixth day of creation.
 ST. AUGUSTINE, The City of God, (London, Penguin Books, 1984), p. 504.
 Great Books of the Western World, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Editor, Vol. 31, Descartes / Spinoza, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Chicago, William Benton, Publisher, pp. 55-56.
 JOHN DEWEY, The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 997), p. 8.
 BLAISE PASCAL, Pensees, 669, Sect. 4, No. 6.
 DZ, 428.
 ST. LAWRENCE OF BRINDISI, Commentary on Genesis 1-3 (Mt. Jackson, VA: Kolbe Center).
 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, ST, I, q. 73, a. 1.
 POPE LEO XIII, Arcanum, V.
 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, ST, I, q. 32, art. 4.
 St. THOMAS AQUINAS, ST, II, II, q. 110, art. 3.
 St. THOMAS AQUINAS, ST, III, Q. 75.
 ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, SK 1318. All citations from the writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe are abbreviated SK and taken from Scritti di Massimiliano Kolbe, Rome, 1997.
 It may be objected that “immaculacy” only has theological significance after the Original Sin, but this was clearly not St. Maximilian Kolbe’s view of the matter. Similarly, some may object that Our Lord Jesus Christ was also immaculately conceived so that Our Lady was not the only Immaculate Conception, but St. Maximilian overrules this objection as well by noting that Our Lord is a Divine Person and that His existence did not begin with His conception at the moment of the Incarnation so that He cannot be considered—as the Blessed Virgin can properly be considered—a conception, since He is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity without beginning or end.
 POPE PIUS XI, Casti connubii, 10.
 Cf. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Mulieris dignitatem, 24b.
 POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996.
 In Fides et Ratio, Pope St. John Paul II lamented “the scant consideration accorded to speculative theology, and . . . disdain for the classical philosophy from which the terms of both the understanding of faith and the actual formulation of dogma have been drawn. My revered Predecessor Pope Pius XII warned against such neglect of the philosophical tradition and against abandonment of the traditional terminology (Fides et ratio, 77). Here he referred to Pope Pius XII’s exhortation in Humani generis in which the Pope wrote that the perennial “philosophy, recognized and accepted within the Church, protects the true and sincere value of human understanding, and constant metaphysical principles—namely, of sufficient reason, causality, and immutable truth” (Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, DS 2320).
 Among other errors, YOUCAT insinuates that the Bible is not inerrant and that the Bible authors were subject to the errors of their time.
 According to Paragraph 302 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created ‘in a state of journeying’ (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call “divine providence” the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection.” As in the CCC’s treatment of Holy Marriage mentioned above, this statement is not wrong in what it says, but it is ambiguous because of what it leaves out. Unlike the YOUCAT, the CCC mentions that Creation has its “own goodness and perfection,” but it does not clearly explain the nature of the “first perfection” of the universe, as does the Roman Catechism or St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica. For a more in-depth discussion of the CCC’s treatment of the doctrine of creation see Does the Catechism of the Catholic Church Abrogate the Traditional Doctrine of Creation? (accessed 3-22-20).
 YOUCAT, side note for Question 42.
 YOUCAT, Question 51.
 St. AUGUSTINE, On the Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11.
 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, Commentary on Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268.
 ST, I, q. 65, a. 4. This teaching is important not only for the creation of the first man and woman, but also for the creation of a host of other sexually reproducing organisms. The impossibility of bird-to-reptile evolution comes clearly into focus when one realizes that such evolution would require the repeated simultaneous evolution of a male and a female with perfectly complementary reproductive organs, different from those of their ancestors.
 ST, I, q. 92, a. 2, ad 2.
 JOSEPH CARDINAL RATZINGER, Truth and Tolerance (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), pp. 179-181).
 For an overview of arguments from philosophy and natural science against the molecules-to-man evolutionary hypothesis presented at several conferences in Rome during the so-called “Darwin year,” see A Scientific Critique of Evolution published by Sapienza University in Rome in 2009 (available through the Kolbe Center) and the papers and presentations presented at St. Pius V University in Rome in 2009 at http://www.sciencevsevolution.org/ (accessed 3-22-20).
 Cf. In a NOVA INTERVIEW, entitled “In Defense of Evolution” (accessed 3-22-20) DR. KEN MILLER said, “We also don’t understand where the first living cell came from or how prebiological evolution took place. But most of us in science don’t regard the inability of science to explain everything as weakness. We regard that as the unexplored territory that’s going to keep most of us busy for the rest of our careers.” Interview conducted on April 19, 2007, by Joe McMaster, producer of “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial,” and edited by Lauren Aguirre and Peter Tyson, executive editor and editor in chief of NOVA online.
 Cf. HUGH OWEN, “The Negative Impact of Faith in the Evolutionary Hypothesis on Scientific Research,” in Evolution and the Sciences: A Critical Examination (Bierbronnen, Germany: Gustav Siewerth Akademie, 2012).
 Cf. CHARLES DARWIN, The Descent of Man, Second Edition, 1874, Chapter One http://www.darwin-literature.com/The_Descent_Of_Man/3.html (accessed 3-10-09).
The World’s Most Famous Court Trial, second reprint edition, Bryan College, Dayton, Tennessee, 1990, p. 228.
 A. PERKEL and M.H. NEEDLEMAN, Biology for All, Barnes and Noble, New York, 1950, p. 129.
 HENRY L. BOCKUS, M.D., Gastroenterology, 2:1134–1148 (chapter “The Appendix” by Gordon McHardy), W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1976.
 FREDERIC H. MARTINI, Ph.D., Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1995, p. 916.
 British Broadcasting Corporation’s “Science and Nature Home Page” http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/body/factfiles/appendix/appendix.shtml (accessed 3-23-20)
 DENNIS P. BURKITT, “The Aetiology of Appendicitis,” British Journal of Surgery, December 2005.
 JERRY A. COYNE, Why Evolution is True (Viking), 2009, p. 80.
 GERARD J. TORTORA and SANDRA REYNOLDS GRABOWASKI, Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (John Wiley and Sons, Tenth Edition), 2003, p. 154.
 PHILIP R. BRAUER, Human embryology: the ultimate USMLE step 1 review (Hanley & Belfus), 2003, p. 95.
 In 1871, the year of the publication of Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man, BLESSED POPE PIUS IX called Darwinism “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, [that it] 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” (Quoted in White, A.D., The History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1895), Arco Publishers (1955), pp. 75-76.)
 GAVIN DE BEER, Embryos and Ancestors, Third Edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1958, p. 172.
 Cf. MICHAEL K. RICHARDSON ET AL Anatomy and Embryology, “There is no highly conserved stage in the vertebrates; implications for current theories of evolution and development,” Vol. 196, No. 2, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 1997, pp. 91-106.)
 PETER H. RAVEN and GEORGE B. JOHNSON, Biology, 6th ed,, McGraw Hill, 2002, p. 1229).
 ALFRED HAUSSLER, The Betrayal of the Theologians, Human Life International, 1982, p. 2.)
 ST. JOHN OF DAMASCUS, On the Orthodox Faith 2:12.
 If St. Thomas had known that the fertilized human egg contains all of the genetic material that determines the development of the human body, including its sexual characteristics, there is no doubt that he would have interpreted the dogmatic decree of the Council of Vienne as requiring that the human soul be considered to be present from the moment of conception—not as a revealed truth but as a theological conclusion drawn from the conciliar decree in the light of the biological evidence. The biological facts are entirely consistent with the Scriptures and with the liturgical tradition of the Church, since the Incarnation is liturgically celebrated nine months before the Birth of Jesus, and the conception of St. Anne is and has (since the first millennium) been celebrated nine months (minus a day) before the Nativity of Our Lady. In the light of our current knowledge of biology, therefore, we can be sure that St. Thomas and other Doctors were influenced by Aristotelian biology rather than by Scriptural or liturgical testimony and that they would have corrected their belief in “delayed animation” if they had had correct information with regard to the completeness of the genetic information contained in a fertilized human egg.
 FR. PHIL WOLFE, FSSP, The Morality of using Vaccines derived from Fetal Tissue Cultures: A Few Considerations (accessed 3-22-20).
 The following information and journal citations are taken directly from: J. SANFORD and R. CARTER, “God, Family, and Genetics – A Biblical Perspective,” from the proceedings of the symposium ‘The Two Shall become One’, Rome 2015 (accessed 3-22-20).
 S. OHNO, So Much ‘Junk’ DNA in Our Genome, Brookhaven Symp Biol 23:366-70, 197R2.
 E. PENNISIi, Encode Project Writes Eulogy for Junk DNA, Science 337:1159-1161, 2012.
 E. YONG, ENCODE: the rough guide to the human genome, Discover Magazine, Sep 5, 2012.
 D. GRAUR, SMBE/SESBE Lecture on ENCODE & junk DNA (December 20, 2013), slideshare.net/dangraur1953/update-version-of-the-smbesesbe-lecture-on-encode-junk-dna-graur-december-2013.com (accessed 3-22-20)
 “Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 400 F. … 2005) was the first direct challenge brought in the United States federal courts testing a public school district policy that required the teaching of intelligent design” (“Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District,” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) (accessed 3-14-20).
 Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling, p. 76.
 Dan Jones, “Uncovering the evolution of the bacterial flagellum,” New Scientist (2-16-08).
 Kitzmiller v. Dover, Day 20 PM Testimony, pp. 107-108.
 J. S. SANFORD. Genetic Entropy. FMS Publications, 2014, p 28-29.
 E. GIANNOPOULOU ET AL. 2012. A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism in the HBBP1 Gene in the Human β-Globin Locus is Associated with a Mild β-Thalassemia Disease Phenotype. Hemoglobin. 36 (5): 433-445).
 KENNETH MILLER, “Of Pandas and People: A Brief Critique,” (accessed 3-22-20) If Dr. Miller reads this document he will, of course, take us to task for not being up to date on the “latest” missing links. But that is just the point. When it comes to evolution’s missing links, the check is always “in the mail.”
 Quoted in JONATHAN SARFATI, “Episode 2: Great Transformations,” http://www.answersingenesis.org/pbs_nova/0926ep2.asp#r4
 https://creation.com/refuting-evolution-chapter-5-whale-evolution (accessed 3-22-20)
 For a detailed technical explanation of this impossibility, we refer the reader to James Tour’s article “Animadversions of a Synthetic Chemist” available at https://inference-review.com/article/animadversions-of-a-synthetic-chemist (accessed 3-22-20)
 Both Louis Pasteur and Francesco Redi conducted experiments that firmly disproved the archaic idea of “spontaneous generation” – that living things can come from non-living matter.
 P. ABELSON. Chemical events on the primitive earth. Geophysics, Vol 55, 1966.
See also: “Development of the Hydrosphere and Atmosphere, with Special Reference to Probable Composition of the Early Atmosphere” (accessed 3-22-20).
 CLEMMEY & BADHAM. Oxygen in the Pre-Cambrian atmosphere: An evaluation of the geologic evidence. Geology 1982.
See also: WILLIAM W. RUBEY, “Development of the Hydrosphere and Atmosphere, with Special Reference to Probable Composition of the Early Atmosphere” (accessed 3-22-20).
 Evolutionists sometimes try to solve the biochemical problem by suggesting that RNA is the original molecule of life. However, as RNA is a less stable molecule than either protein or DNA, molecules of RNA that are randomly generated do not display the sequence specificity necessary for coding the information for a living cell, and the formation of RNA is haunted by many of the same problems we have described with the formation of proteins (such as chirality and an inadequate purification from intermediate products). For more on this hypothesis, see James Tour’s “Animadversions of a Synthetic Chemist” (accessed 3-22-20) **
 University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill, “Scientists Find Smallest Number Of Genes Needed For Organism’s Survival” (accessed 3-22-20).
 JOSEF HOLZSCHUH, A Scientific Critique of Evolution, La Sapienza University Rome 2009.
 THOMAS H. SEILER, “The Originality of Species: A Scientific Critique of Evolution” (accessed 3-22-20)
 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book II, Chapter III.
 Cf. Episodes 11-12 of the DVD series “Foundations Restored” www.foundationsrestored.com document in detail the negative effect on the leaders of the principal anti-Christian movements of the twentieth century—and on secular society in general—of their acceptance of the molecules-to-man evolutionary hypothesis in its atheistic form.