Franco Sokolic’s letter in the August 8 edition of The Southern Cross Catholic newspaper cries out for a response.
On one point though, Mr. Sokolic and I do agree: that the Father is creator of all heaven and earth. It is how this came about which always invites so much controversy and rightly so, for who knows the mind of God? Isaiah puts it well when he says:
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. [i]
He expressed shock that a prince of the church (Cardinal Pell) could say he supports the principle of evolution[ii]; how could our Lord and Saviour have descended from simian ancestry? Apparently Mr. Sokolic does not understand the hypostatic nature of Jesus; when referring to evolutionary progress, it means evolution within creation. This in no way relates to the divinity of Jesus but rather to His humanity!
Like most creationists, Sokolic limits his thinking to the narrow confines of his own insular perspective, not allowing any thought that falls outside his thinking to intrude. Relying on a literalistic interpretation of the Bible and on the teachings of distant councils, without contextualising, Mr. Sokolic makes the mistake of placing ancient narrative into modern understanding – oil and water so to speak! Trying to apply modern mores and conception to material intended for an ancient audience long since past is a mistake, which leads to misunderstanding and a false perspective, no matter how relevant the message might be.
In order to clearly understand the stance of the Catholic Church, it is necessary to clarify what is meant by evolution. The word has two particular properties or connotations, which are of specific interest to this discussion. Firstly evolution can be understood in the scientific sense as change over time and biologically as the change to living organisms over time; both underscored by empirical proof. Secondly and probably more pertinent to this debate, there is the philosophical sense which refers broadly to the motive behind the evolutionary process; it is this aspect of evolution to which Mr. Sokolic refers – confounding and fusing both definitions of evolution into one combined and mistaken viewpoint.
Evolutionism, which flows from the second property of evolution mentioned above, is broadly speaking a world-view which seeks to explain the origin or existence of all things from a materialistic perspective. This is the foundation of Darwinism, a rationalistic pseudo-faith which proposes chance over cause thus excluding any role for a creator. This view is obviously at odds with Catholic thinking.
However, the Church only ever seeks the truth, being founded by Truth itself. So too does science seek the truth, for empirically proven theses are the truth. So from this perspective, how can the church have a problem with what is the truth? We cannot know the mind of the Creator nor how He achieves His creation (for it is on-going). Patently science has proven that the earth is not as young as the creationist view would have us believe; nor is creation the result of some chance mixing of chemical compounds as a Darwinist would have you believe; the continual chance based building of ever more complex systems is at odds with the thermodynamic principle, which sees entropy as the final outcome over time. [iii]
In closing I would propose that, not only is Franco Sokolic’s viewpoint irrational, but it is counter to the truth!
[i] Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). 1994. The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Is 55:8–9). National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA: New York
[ii] Debate between Cardinal Pell and the prominent atheist, Richard Dawkins on Australian television.
[iii] The following resources were used as reference and must be credited as such: