Courage!

From Chicago Sun-Times:

Cardinal George criticized for plans to attend alleged gay-conversion conference
BY FRANCINE KNOWLES Religion Reporter

Cardinal Francis George is being called out in a petition drive to drop plans to offer mass at a conference where critics say therapists and priests will be trained in “dangerous ex-gay” therapy or controversial conversion therapy.

But conference organizers deny the claim.

At the four-day “Courage Conference,” which kicks off Thursday in Mundelein, George is scheduled to celebrate mass on Friday morning. Courage International Inc., a Connecticut-based Roman Catholic Apostolate, is hosting the program.

Executive Director Father Paul Check says the organization provides spiritual support for Catholic men and women with “same-sex attractions” who desire to live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

The conference plans to hold a “Therapist Seminar” scheduled for Friday. But Check said while the Courage community has members of the mental health profession, “their work for us and with us is not directed towards a change of sexual inclination or desire” and emphasized that’s not the organization’s mission.

Homosexual men and women often struggle with “difficulties that in some way may be related to their struggle to live chaste lives,” including substance abuse and depression, and the organization seeks to assist people in such struggles, Check said.

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93 Responses to Courage!

  1. Dan says:

    I attended this conference a few years back, and my sense is exactly what Fr. Check said: their work is not directed toward changing sexual inclination or desire.

  2. Legisperitus says:

    Some people are just opposed to chastity.

  3. Ralph says:

    the organization provides spiritual support for Catholic men and women with “same-sex attractions” who desire to live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality

    This is a very noble cause. I think it’s great that the Cardinal is attending and serving Mass. Good people with homosexual tendencies need support to make good choices. They aren’t going to get any from the “gay community” that’s for sure.

    I have a good friend who used to work in a restaurant kitchen. Two of his fellow cooks were openly gay men. The one that was living a gay lifestyle received no ribbing or hostility from the other coworkers. But the other gay man, who was open about his faith and his desire to live a chaste life, was subject to ridicule and pranks. They preferred “out and proud” to “quiet and chaste”. Sad.

  4. Priam1184 says:

    “Mental health professionals” (whatever that means) are not the answer to this question.

  5. Scott W. says:

    “Mental health professionals” (whatever that means) are not the answer to this question.

    Courage is an excellent group, so I’m not inclined to gainsay them for whatever tools they find useful in getting people to live chastely.

  6. tcreek says:

    When do you hear of any concern or praise for heterosexual Catholics who are obligated to live chase lives? They are far more in number than there are of those with homosexual desires. I mean the many Catholics who are divorced through no fault of their own and are living chaste lives. I know several who are quietly doing so but they don’t make the papers. They are the true examples of those who “take up their cross …”

  7. 1catholicsalmon says:

    More people need to learn about the good work done at COURAGE. Not only does it provide those who want to remain chaste with the support they need, but there is support provided by the ENCOURAGE group (I think this is the group in the US?) for the families of those who have same-sex attraction. There are NO OTHER Catholic groups around that offer this kind of loving support within Catholic Teaching. For those who are struggling with same-sex attraction: Courage is the place where you’ll find respect, love and acceptance.
    I’m glad to see that Cardinal George will be offering Mass at the conference.
    There is a Courage Chapter here in England and in a few other European countries as well.

  8. Priam1184 says:

    @Scott W One does not, I think, solve homosexuality with therapy. Just like you cannot send a married man to a therapist to get them to stop looking at other women. These attractions and desires do not just disappear one day. They are a cross to bear, those who are called to bear them need to be taught the spiritual discipline to help them to bear that cross to the end.

  9. Priam1184 says:

    I didn’t want to diss COURAGE in that last post. I know nothing about the group and had not even heard of it until I read this. But the Church in a lot of things has fallen back to relying upon ‘mental health professionals’ for things that are spiritual issues at there core. The mere existence of something called the ‘mental health profession’ is one of the serious causes of the decline of the Western world. There are people in the world who do have some physical damage in their brains and this causes them to behave in ways the rest of us do not understand, but these are few and far between. As for the rest of us: the mind cannot be separated from the soul. To do that causes chaos.

  10. Priam1184 says:

    I can’t spell today: “their core” is what I meant to write.

  11. Johnno says:

    More bishops and archidoceases should be supporting these folks. And even get them in CAtholic schools as opposed to whatever ‘gay clubs’ the liberal government dictates.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    I am glad to see this. Cardinal George is also giving a good example to the rest of the priests in his diocese, which is extremely important.

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    As I have mentioned before, Pastor Scott Lively of “Defend the Family” is busy “bringing it” on the topic of freedom of speech and action and the radical and tyrannical behaviors of the gay rights movement. We are most of us worried about what is coming in the way of shutting down free speech (that may disagree with homosexuals on some points) and this is something we are going to see alot more of. There are many gay activists who have no discernible problem stomping on the Constitutional rights of other Americans, and we see it already in play. Pastor Lively has a link on his latest email that discusses what is happening in, of all places, San Antonio! In that city there is some legislation pending that would make it an act of “bias” if someone ascribed to say, the Bible, and their expressed opinion cast dispersions on a homosexual. Apparently, that person would be “de-jobbed” as having a “bias” is going to be (if the legislation is not stopped) unacceptable in San Antonio. (I still can’t fathom that is happening in Texas.) Now who knows if this had no chance to make it but just the fact that this is what is being proposed is very scary.

    Pastor’s Fact Sheet on the Supremacy Clause may be helpful in that his point is we need to fight this tyrannical and un-American behavior by insisting on using our Constitution as the go-to document on these matters, in particular our First Amendment and the Supremacy Clause. This is going to weigh more and more heavily in the future as lawsuits and horrible legislation is created in order to silence the critics, certainly, clergy of any stripe are in the crosshairs, but no one is exempt. One reason why we all need to work together on this, because it’s everybody’s problem.
    The gay rights activists are never happy. If anyone thought that being quietly supportive of gay rights (marriage) was going to be the ultimate unpleasant but necessary duty, think again. The bar is just going to move, move, move. You will never arrive. People in the near future are likely to face extreme retribution for anything but loudly vocal support for gay behaviors of all kinds, including, as soon as they can, sexual activity with little boys, and definitely polygamy and other social experiments. So our knowledge of things like the Supremacy Clause is important, and our willingness to identify tyrannical un-American behavior also very important. Silence equals consent.
    See Defend the Family for the “First Amendment Supremacy Clause Factsheet” that you can print out and disseminate. Pastor Scott makes mention that he is going to be in, oh I can’t remember the state, Wisconsin? Fr. Z. isn’t that your neck of the woods? He has offered to debate a veritable team at one time, he, debating the traditional family and his opponents promoting homosexuality. He has offered to debate THREE proponents at one time, and come to find out, there are no takers. That’s right, no one will debate him, even in that lopsided format. It may be, as Brian Camenker of MassResistance said, that when he confronts with truth, they have nothing to say to it and they back down. Interesting. I wouldn’t always count on it, but, this is from people who absolutely know what they are talking about, so who am I. I’d like to see the debate.
    Anyway, please check it out for yourself.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    Yes, I had been waiting for this to come up. I heard about this a couple weeks ago. Really and truly bad judgment for the cardinal to let himself be associated with these quacks.

    I can’t find the 2013 brochure on line anymore but I know that in 2011 Rick Fitzgibbons was there, and I happen to know that for a hefty credit card charge from desperate parents he will have Skype conferences with kids to attempt to talk them out of their gay or questioning status.

    This is a dangerous group. We already have enough problem with youth suicide and an overly represented GBLTQ demographic.

  15. CharlesG says:

    The slanders continue. The focus of this group is to support people to live chastely. If someone wants to look into any kind of therapy, that is up to them. This is, or was, a free country. Helping support people to live chastely might actually help prevent suicides. How a priest of the Catholic Church, like Fr. Jim, could slander this very good group by calling them “dangerous” and “quacks”, is beyond me. There is something diabolical about the ever growing promotion of homosexual activity in the society, by the government, the elites, and even dissenting clergy within the Church. These people need love, prayers and a helping hand, not the vilification that the liberals like to deal out.

  16. acardnal says:

    Fr. Jim wrote, “We already have enough problem with youth suicide and an overly represented GBLTQ demographic.”

    Didn’t you omit a few letters Fr. Jim? I thought the MSM decided we are up to the full alphabet now?

  17. KristinLA says:

    tcreek–you are so right. Let us praise chastity in every state of life.

  18. jhayes says:

    I can’t find the 2013 brochure on line anymore

    See: http://couragerc.net/Conferences.html

  19. frjim4321 says:

    Thanks jhayes.

  20. Peggy R says:

    Frjim,

    Honestly! Really? “Quacks”? As quacky as AA, the original 12 step program to living with a disordered desire, upon which the Courage program is based? One can find flaws in AA and the new-ageism of its modern members, but the fundamental idea is pretty good–through spiritual development, ie, prayer and moral living, learn to overcome this disordered desire one day at a time.

    Are you just a strawman character created by Fr Z to get under readers’ skin? You’re so predictably contrarian.

  21. Giuseppe says:

    Frjim,
    As much as a provocateur as I like to be, Iknow that Courage genuinely follows Roman Catholic teaching on acting on same-sex sexual desires: such actions are always and everywhere forbidden and worthy of the highest condemnation. Courage is not made of quacks, unlike Exodus, which was devoted to a mission that was not only futile (attempting to rid people of same-sex attraction by berating them into a futile effort to ‘convert’ to a heterosexual persuasion), but it was so destructive to God’s broken creatures that it destroyed many lives. Exodus’s misguided founders and practitioners have dozens (some say hundreds) of suicides to answer for, and they must face their maker with blood on their hands. Courage, however, is orthodox Catholicism. Disagree with the ideals of same-sex chastity as you see fit, but your fight is with Roman Catholicism, not with Courage. Courage is a relatively small group, as most same-sex attracted people nowadays will find their way to another church or our of religion altogether, but Courage clearly follows Roman Catholic teaching.

  22. frjim4321 says:

    Giuseppe, as I mentioned earlier, I know that at least one “therapist” who had been tacitly endorsed by Courage was indeed involved in “conversion” activities and in the process have enriched himself by engaging in conversions with a teen via Skype. Granted this is an anecdotal report however I could never in good conscience endorse, approve or refer to Courage until I can be made certain that they do not engage in such therapies. Also quite troubling is some of the nomenclature of Courage which seeks to depersonalize homosexually oriented individuals by negating that their sexuality is indeed an aspect of their personality. I believe this depersonalization is very harmful and in fact can lead to unsafe and in fact risky behaviors. I would certainly grant that the cardinal in question thinks that he is doing a good thing here, but his knowledge in this area appears to be faulty. I hope that it does not result in harm.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    = Anecdotal not in the sense that I don’t have first hand knowledge because I do, but anecdotal in the sense that it’s one case only and not an entire data set.

  24. eulogos says:

    Fr. Jim, I think you should find out more about Courage. They only encourage those with same sex attraction to live a chaste life according to the teachings of the Church. I think the whole ‘change your orientation’ idea came from Protestants, whose whole idea of holiness is wrapped up in marriage and family. It might also be related to the Protestant belief that (in the words of the 39 Articles) “concupiscence hath of itself the nature of sin.” So that having those desires is felt to taint one with the guilt of the sin even if one does not act upon them. This is not Catholic. Courage is thoroughly Catholic, and does not identify the person with the desire.

    Of course there are some people who once identified as “gay” who resolve to be chaste and later find out that they have some heterosexual desire. Some people say they were always “bisexual” but didn’t know it, and that could be the case. One should not be so against the idea of orientation change as to reject the new lives these people find. But people should not be encouraged to hope for that to happen to them, as if they could not lead good lives as they are. It is more of a one day at a time sort of thing.

    I really do hope you will reconsider your opinion of Courage.
    Susan Peterson

  25. eulogos says:

    Fr. Jim, I am unclear about your comments about “personality.” I think that saying a person is separate from his concupiscent desires is not a statement about “personality.” But I fear you are treading on the ground of saying that there is something good and to be affirmed about having such desires, which we really cannot say. How can it be good to have desires which are “intrinsically disordered?” Should I embrace that part of me that avoids work, or that part which eats more than is healthy, by calling them parts of my “personality”? It doesn’t seem to me correct to call the rejection of ones sinful desires “depersonalization.” And frankly, if homosexual desire is a part of the personality, it is an unhealthy part. One just cannot say otherwise. Of course that doesn’t mean that no human good can exist as part of the attraction between two people of the same sex. If people are able to maintain a chaste friendship despite their attraction, all kinds of genuine goods can flourish in their affection for one another, even as in a chaste friendship between a man and a woman who are attracted to each other but not free to marry. It seems to be that it must be more difficult to do this with an intrinsically disordered desire as its basis, as such a desire has to have a root in some defect or immaturity in the personality. Of course, most of us (certainly including myself) have some defect or immaturity in our personalities, if not that one, which limit our ability to have chaste friendships with those to whom we are attracted, so perhaps I should not make so much of that.

    When you speak of “knowledge in this area” I wonder if you don’t mean “knowledge of the opinions of some current school of thought” about this area. This isn’t mathematics or a hard science. This is the study of the human person, which has to be based on one’s fundamental assumptions about a human being and the purpose of his life-which means that it is ultimately philosophical and religious. It is clearly an area in which many different ways of thinking are possible. I am not sure how you can classify one way of thinking about it as “knowledge in this area.” On what basis can you be sure that you have “knowledge in this area” and Cardinal George does not?

    I am reminded of an old book I read which said something to this effect: “The ignorant natives believe that malaria is caused by the bite of the mosquito, whereas we know it is caused by the miasma about the swamps.”

    That was a matter in which the natives were eventually vindicated by hard science. I am not sure there is any possible hard science which could vindicate one conceptualization of human sexuality and its meaning over another. However I think it is possible to say whether a particular conceptualization is more or less consistent with the premises or axioms of a world view…or with the basic truths of the faith.

    Susan Peterson

  26. Clinton says:

    Frjim4321, you have a vary high standards indeed. You cannot “endorse, approve or refer” to
    Courage in your ministry because of the organization’s rather tenuous connection to a single
    therapist with whom you disagree. In previous posts you’ve explained that you’d never allow
    a chapter of the Knights of Columbus to form in a parish of yours because the president of the
    K of Cs was a prominent appointee in a Republican administration. The good works and
    orthodoxy of both groups notwithstanding, you cannot bring yourself to endorse, approve or
    refer.

    If it doesn’t try the patience of our host, maybe you could explain your continued endorsement
    of this president and his party. Why is it that their positions on matters like abortion, so-called
    ‘same-sex marriage’, or the HHS mandate aren’t enough for you to withdraw your approval of
    them?

  27. 1catholicsalmon says:

    Great post Fr. Z!! Lots of exposure of the Courage group….great stuff.
    One fact not mentioned is that THERE ARE MEN AND WOMEN with same-sex attraction who want to live chaste lives. Courage offers them the support they need to live in this way. No-one is forced into ‘conversion therapy’. Sounds pretty gruesome doesn’t it?
    Same-sex attraction is understood as a fact of life, and that their cross is heavy in that they need Spiritual fortitude and community to cope with it in a secular world that endorses the view that it’s unacceptable and weird to want to live chastely.

  28. PostCatholic says:

    I would have more to say but an ancient sage once gave some advice about not mixing margaritas in a piggery or something like that, and it seems like a good idea. I did find that conference funny–”Keynote Address: Why is There Sex?” Something tells me that it won’t mention eukaryotic evolution.

  29. Scott W. says:

    @Scott W One does not, I think, solve homosexuality with therapy. Just like you cannot send a married man to a therapist to get them to stop looking at other women. These attractions and desires do not just disappear one day. They are a cross to bear, those who are called to bear them need to be taught the spiritual discipline to help them to bear that cross to the end.

    It is one thing to say that homosexuality cannot be solved exclusively with therapy. I agree with that. I don’t have the wisdom or expertise (and I don’t think many of us here do either) to declare that therapy is of no use whatsoever. I think that is a fallacy of an excluded middle.

  30. Suburbanbanshee says:

    PostCatholic said:
    ” “Keynote Address: Why is There Sex?” Something tells me that it won’t mention eukaryotic evolution.”

    I think the Pontifical Academy of Sciences would beg to differ. Look, I don’t know what kind of idiots you’ve had to deal with in the past, but real theology uses all the sciences as her handmaidens. (The way that fields of knowledge change their minds, you can’t absolutely lean on them for theological purposes, or you’ll look like an idiot in a hundred years.) It is highly useful to Theology of the Body to look at the place of sex in evolution, and I would expect them to mention it.

  31. wmeyer says:

    frjim, I have a deep and abiding mistrust of “mental health professionals”, whatever they are. That said, isn’t your condemnation of the group for the actions of a specific individual, or individuals, much akin to condemning the Church for the sins of some priests? A confusion, I think, on your part.

  32. wmeyer says:

    The way that fields of knowledge change their minds, you can’t absolutely lean on them for theological purposes, or you’ll look like an idiot in a hundred years.

    Well said. But then, fields of knowledge have not had the benefit of divine revelation, and must change as their empirical evidence accumulates.

  33. joan ellen says:

    1. Reality Check: The Kingdom of God; The Kingdom of Satan. (St. Ignatius)

    2. The Kingdom of Satan includes sin. To avoid any sin takes the practice of virtue. The Kingdom of God includes virtue. The practice of virtue takes COURAGEl. The will is only as strong as the thoughts that inform it. The will can overcome the will. The will may need prayer, fasting and sacrifice to obtain COURAGE.

    3. Mental ( Thinking = Thoughts = Memory, Understanding, Reason, Imagination) Health is Soul (We take our Soul’s sinful (disobedience to God) thoughts, words, actions to Confession.) Health. -Feelings may or may not be attached to thoughts.- Soul Health is found in the Sacraments. The Sacraments gives us grace and COURAGE.

    4. The more we use Catholicism as the answer to our Mental Illnesses,(our Sin Sick Souls), the more Mentally Healthy we are because we have Soul Health or on the way to that. Soul Health = COURAGE.

    5. The greatest scandal in the Church (all others are minor in comparison) is that the concept of Mental Illness has replaced the concept of Soul Illness…sins against the Almighty Father which in turn sickens our neighbor as well, which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said to a prison inmate must be confessed to a Roman Catholic priest for Absolution, assuming sorrow for the damage done.
    Confession to a Roman Catholic priest takes COURAGE.

    Let’s light the candle, already!!!

  34. PostCatholic says:

    Do let me know if it turns out that I’m wrong, Suburbanbanshee, after the talk is given.

  35. Seamus says:

    Those objecting to Cardinal George seem to think it’s evil to help people attempt to change their sexual orientation. Why is it that I suspect they *don’t* think it evil to help people attempt to change, not merely their sexual orientation, but their actual sex, through “sex reassignment surgery.”

  36. Johnno says:

    PostCatholic -

    Evolution is a fairy tail, and it’s time you actually got up and educated yourself about the topic instead of whatever bogus science you’ve been spoonfed with. I believe you’ve got nothing to offer to the conversation so snark remarks will have to do for those who are not intellectually capable.

    Fr.Jim -

    Like clockwork here you are trying to empress how emotionally upset you are at people who do good while you try to poison the well with unsubstantiated BS. You certainly aren’t helping the suicide rate of the LGBTQABCDEFG by insisting they must remain in the very condition that leads them to become suicidal. Such actions are evil and one should be ashamed for doing that to them in the way that you are.

  37. robtbrown says:

    FrJimsays,

    Also quite troubling is some of the nomenclature of Courage which seeks to depersonalize homosexually oriented individuals by negating that their sexuality is indeed an aspect of their personality.

    I’ve replied to that comment before: Homosexuality is no more an aspect of their personality than is adultery for women only attracted to married men.

    I know little about Courage, but I can relate a conversation I had with one of my psych profs, the late Bernie Kleinman, a clinician and an agnostic Jew–also a big basketball fan. I asked him once whether he had ever treated any homosexuals successfully. He replied by asking what I meant by “successfully”. I asked whether after therapy they were free not to be homosexual if that was what they wanted. His answer was affirmative.

    That notwithstanding, psychotherapy is not a magic wand but is a process. The same is true for conversion.

    Re genetics and homosexuality: The case of the Collins twins (NBA players) would seem to refute a genetic cause. They are identical twins, but swing from different sides of the plate.

  38. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Granted this is an anecdotal report however I could never in good conscience endorse, approve or refer to Courage until I can be made certain that they do not engage in such therapies.”

    “Also quite troubling is some of the nomenclature of Courage which seeks to depersonalize homosexually oriented individuals by negating that their sexuality is indeed an aspect of their personality.”

    These sorts of comments make me wonder if there is a genuine understanding behind them that homosexuality is not a natural state of things. Sexuality is part of a person’s biology, but it is not a part of a person’s personality, since, indeed, a person with almost no sex drive still has a personality. Now, the consequences of actions, thoughts, etc., can be a contribution to forming a personality, but sexuality is not, per se, an aspect, in itself, of personality. Of course, the whole concept of personality is scientifically vague, at best, so that’s giving a lot more credit to a soft science than it deserves. There is a lot of nonsense and wish-fulfillment in the science behind homosexuality.

    Simply put, homosexuality is a disorder (of the sexual appetite). Period. To say otherwise is simply to disregard Natural Law and the constant teaching of the Church. Disorder seeks correction by order. If that is not possible, then the disorder needs to be contained for the good of order.

    If homosexuality could be cured, then it would be mandatory, under pain of sin, in my opinion, not to seek treatment. Since there is no known cure, the old English expression, “Whatever cannot be cured must be endured,” hold sway. That means chastity.

    The problem is that people are stigmatized by the disorder and I suggest it is that, in most cases, that causes the suicides. If one has the disordered appetite of a homosexual, then it must be treated as any other condition: with honesty, realism, and fortitude. How many people with Turrets syndrome or stuttering, commit suicide? Certainly not as many as in centuries past. No one would suggest that either of those are aspects of their personality nor that they are not conditions which should not be researched and cured. We have sympathy and support for both of those groups, as we ought to for homosexuals, but that does not mean that we should encourage their behaviors on the grounds that, “it’s just who they are.”

    Homosexual tendencies are not sins anymore than having the nearly uncontrollable urge to shout profanities, but not removing oneself from temptations, or worse, acting on the urges as if they were perfectly normal is a sin. Simply put, many homosexuals want to call good evil and evil good. They want us to say that not only is sin not sin, but that it is a virtue. That, is an abomination of logic.

    If a cure could be found for the disordered appetites of homosexuality, then, that would be a good thing. I am not going to argue whether or not it should be cured. That is not a valid topic for debate and I won’t waste my time explaining concepts that should be second-nature to a Catholic. That it cannot be cured is a reality, so, until such time happens, Courage seems to have the right goal in mind – living chastely.

    By the way, the psychology of appetites is not well understood. Who knew whether or not psychology could be of help until it was tried? It is capable of producing changes in brain structure in some cases. That it didn’t help is good to know, but I hardly think there has been anything like rigorous science involved.

    Therefore, given all of this, it is really hard to agree with your umbrage, frjim4321.

  39. Scott W. says:

    Why is it that I suspect they *don’t* think it evil to help people attempt to change, not merely their sexual orientation, but their actual sex, through “sex reassignment surgery.”

    No need to suspect anymore. California is preparing to declare gender-bending good by legislative fiat.

  40. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Chicken,

    thank you for your comment! I wonder about one thing though…

    That it cannot be cured is a reality.

    Is that so?

    Of course one thing is clear from the onset. It is reported that some groups do what may be described as “faith healing”. This is, in everything that goes beyond a decent and humble prayer, charlatanery and wrong.

    Yet I remember from a beginning-1970s entry in the Brockhaus the very small and concise statement (no literal quote): “Homosexuality. [...] Reasons have been described variously such as [...]. Healing of the disorder requires willing cooperation of the homosexual person.” Period.

    They meant quite normal psychotherapy (on people who actually want such psychothreapy). And I did hear that there are such therapies which have what was described to me a normal success rate of psychotherapies, reportedly at around 1/3.

    Certainly, to be clear, the scientific standpoint of 2013 is different from the one of, say, 1975. Nevertheless I do not feel that we have had much neutral science on the subject in the last four decades. When science says in 2013 that homosexuality is incurable (as it, in a way, does), I have not the information to check whether
    a) there have indeed been new insights or contradictions of old ones leading to a present theory that homosexuality is incurable (viz., it is indeed science that is speaking) or,
    b) therapy of homosexuality has been dismissed on political grounds by the pressure of the homosexual movement on the claim that it be incurable.

    (Who said that to me said that he is against discrimination of homosexuals. Homosexuals were discriminated against because therapy is denied to them.)

    It is obvious that a movement such as I described in b) does exist, which makes the matter complicated. But this again, of course does not mean that there might not still be scientific insight on the incurability of homosexuality.

  41. Imrahil says:

    Put the second-last paragraph one above.

  42. rodin says:

    FrJim–
    “I know little about Courage, but..”

    In case you have not seen it there is a web page (www.couragerc.net) for Courage. The organization was founded by Fr. John Harvey who, according to people I have met who knew him personally, was a very holy man. Fr. Harvey spent most of his life trying to help those with this affliction. Reference is made on the web site to an article written by Father Paul Scalia that might be of interest to you.

  43. joan ellen says:

    robtbrown says:
    25 July 2013 at 11:49 am to Fr. Jim – “That notwithstanding, psychotherapy is not a magic wand but is a process. The same is true for conversion.”

    It is too easy to allow the process of psychotherapy to subvert the process of conversion, i.e., to say that there is no sin, for example. How does psychotherapy successfully coexist with conversion? How many souls do we have? If we have one disordered soul, then why can’t the prescriptions/recipes from Holy Mother Church be sufficient to order our soul? To reintegrate our disintegrated soul? How can we have it both ways, i.e., subscribe to man’s humanistic remedies and to the remedies of the Church as well. How are they compatible? Won’t we hate the one and love the other?

    Theology, according to Belloc is the queen exalted above all science. Psychotherapy is thought of as a soft science as noted above. Yet, two of the traits identifying a science are that something scientific can be repeated and that something scientific is predictable. Like bouncing a ball. Because of free will I may not think, say nor do something I’ve done before ever again. That something is not going to be repeated, and no one can predict that it will be repeated. Without those two traits I fail to see how psychology can be called a science. Sorry for being so pointed.

    Holy Mother Church, on the other hand, says we get to label ourselves in our examination of conscience. Our weaknesses, including concupiscence, can be lessened/eliminated/fought against with grace. Our weaknesses exist because of a lack of grace. The strength needed to combat our weaknesses has to come from grace…from the Sacraments, prayer, and good works. Isn’t that why the Blessed Mother did not have weaknesses? She was full of grace.

    Other considerations: Labels given to people by a therapist or educator do not honor the Sacred nature of that soul, the soul’s dignity. A label also defames a person’s good name and reputation. Whereas with the concept of sin, it is the person who is sinning, the sinner, who is able to give the label (of the sin) to him/herself.

    I just cry at the thought of the children, especially, whom I have seen who have suffered because of psychotherapy labels, which negatively impinge on their personality. We suffer as a society because of the suffering caused by psychotherapy and it’s labels. Thomas Szacz (sp), Yugoslavian psychiatrist, said once you label someone, it is as good as saying garbage toss out. Psychotherapy aids the ‘I’m o.k. you are not o.k. syndrome’. The concept of sin makes us equally weak, and we get to choose it. And then confess it if we have been given the grace.

    The Church is our mother in matters of the soul. The therapist is not and never can be.

  44. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Joan Ellen, in what seems to are a general topic and rather a specific one…

    you raise points worthy of good, fruitful investigation.

    However, the tenor of what you say, imho, is incompatible with the reality of psychic diseases.

    Though I am the first one to admit that the catalogues are being inordinarily extended. You can regularly drink an amount of alcohol that marks you an undisputed alcoholic to the psychiatrist if you would go to him, while the moral theologian still says the thing we are dealing with is “little amount of mortification” and (perhaps) “waste of money” and has nothing specifically to do with the virtue of sobriety at all. But that, after all, is true for medicine as well. Back in the days some people just were big, just as others were thin. Now the plain normal man who is not big at all, including just about every professional sportsman outside of ski-jumping (due to the weight of muscles), is, already, “over-weight”. The problem is that in general association this is associated with being immoral, such as being a drunkard or glutton, which does exist but is something quite more excessive, and with addiction which does exist, but is something philosophically different from habit. But I digress.

    In addition, I am the first one to defend a man’s unwillingness to take psychotherapy as something unmanly. (“You. need. help.” is an awful sentence.)

    Nevertheless, the plain fact is that there are psychic diseases.

    Though I do not know whether homosexuality is one of them.

    Nor should it wonder the Catholic, who has believed all along that there is a unity of body and soul.

  45. robtbrown says:

    Joan allen

    Psychotherapy of.itself does not need to interfere with therapy. But I do agree that many therapists are against the Church.

    Nb: Carl Jung thought the paychotherapy should make a Christian a better Christian.

    There are.liberal schools of psychology–too noptimistic about man. There are also
    Conservative schools.pessimistic about man. And I have personally known psychotherapists (MD and PhD) who werepracticing Catbolics. I might mention Fr Thomas Vernier Moore–psycjologist then psychiatrist who was a Paulist then OSB and finally a Carthusian.

    more.conservative schhols–pessimistic about man. And I have personally known psycbiatrists and psychologists who were practicing

  46. PostCatholic says:

    “Evolution is a fairy tail, and it’s time you actually got up and educated yourself about the topic instead of whatever bogus science you’ve been spoonfed with. I believe you’ve got nothing to offer to the conversation so snark remarks will have to do for those who are not intellectually capable.”

    Johno, evolution is the generally accepted scientific explanation of biodiversity on earth. Natural selection works like this. Say one day a human happened to pass on a gene that resulted in a much smaller child, and because this variation proved useful and attractive, that tiny Tom-Thumb person met his Thumbellina and they reproduced. Now imagine if one day a genetic mutation resulted in wings! Wouldn’t that be something? A flying tiny human would certainly be useful and attractive to other tiny humans, and pretty soon we’d have loads of tiny flying humans. All because of the power of tiny-flying-humans meeting and falling in love and making more tiny-flying-humans. Then one day, descendants these tiny flying humans have a child with an unattractive appendage as a result of a genetic change. They might get it surgically removed, let’s say. Then you’d have a fairy tail separate from the fairies. See? Fairies loving each other isn’t so bad.

  47. joan ellen says:

    Imrahil says:
    25 July 2013 at 3:51 pm – “Nevertheless, the plain fact is that there are psychic diseases.” I really am not convinced that there is, in reality, such a fact. The methods for determining such a ‘fact’ are not very scientific. “there is a unity of body and soul.” These words give the topic of psychic diseases some factual substance since chemistry can be measured within certain physical (real) parameters. Chemical considerations in what we think, say and do make sense…because we are mostly water and chemicals, and an imbalance in chemicals certainly can alter what we think, say, and do. The physiological explanation for alcoholism is a reality that can objectively be measured. The addiction can be abated, not broken. That is physiologically impossible. The habit must be broken to abate the addiction. Many addicted cigarette smokers who quit the habit 20-30 or more years ago could pick up a cigarette and light it and begin the process of addiction again. Granted, alcohol maybe that much more difficult to abate. Going to meetings and talking about it is only going to make the desire for alcohol increase not decrease, hence a very low success rate. Perhaps homosexuality is similar to the addiction of an alcoholic or cigarette smoker. Perhaps it is an addiction. Perhaps it is exacerbated by talking about it, promoting it. We can choose not to drink, though perhaps the will can be compromised at a certain point by the alcohol making it almost impossible to not drink. That still makes alcoholism a physical disease and not a psychic disease. Check out Dr. Krebs Citric Acid Cycle to see the normal pathway for sugar (carbohydrate) digestion. An alcoholic does not process sugar that way.

    robtbrown says:
    25 July 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I surely do not mean to upset any soul. In 1 week’s time several women described to me their family/friends according to a DSM label. Then I also think of the little 6 year old boy who was just recently placed on Ritalin for being, well a boy. The damage that will occur to him, in his soul and in his body, is a great price for him to have to pay. It is sad.

    This mental illness problem, or psychic disease problem, exists in the world. Vikram Patel – http://blog.ted.com/2012/09/11/some-stats-on-the-devastating-impact-of-mental-illness-worldwide-followed-by-some-reasons-for-hope/ – he speaks of free help from family, friends, and neighbors to ‘cure’ mental illness.

    Friendship is a great healer. That idea comes from the Church…love one another. Granted, objectively we know it also.

    The reality of the Church, gives me hope, transcendent hope, and courage to face tomorrow. The concept of psychotherapy displaces the reality of the Church, imho, and so displaces transcendent hope. Hope without transcendence is not good enough to change me nor my life.

  48. Dave N. says:

    Like any other national Catholic organization or program (think RCIA), Courage is very much a mixed bag and one should exercise caution before making blanket endorsements and, much more importantly, before donating any funds. It’s only as good as the people running it.

    Our local chapter is lead by Deacon Birkenstocks with copious assistance from Sr. Pantsuit–who sometimes I think…well anyway, I have my suspicions as to why she might be so interested in Courage. I know for a fact that our local Courage meetings have, on at least two instances, resulted in subsequent gay coupling and the couples’ exit from the Catholic Church. It’s hard to know what to think about that. I think Deacon B. and Sr. P might even think that’s a good thing. This is in stark contrast to what the petitioners mentioned in the blog post think is going on.

    I’m sure for some, Courage provides great support. For others, it’s a lot of rah-rah affirmation of “gayness” that isn’t helpful. Your results may vary significantly. Support LOCAL ministries where you know who’s in charge and what’s going on.

  49. Imrahil says:

    Dear @joan ellen,

    my observation depends not on the scientific determination of psychic diseases actually used, but the plain fact that there are ones of them. There are lunatics, shocked people who repeat the same stuff all the way long and do not get what you are telling them, there is depression which reportedly admits good therapies simply by medication, and so on.

    This means that there is need of investigation how to determine the real diseases, but we cannot say they do not exist just because the methods used at the moment shoot at mucg, much wider ranges.

  50. Imrahil says:

    Thanks for the link btw.

    While about 22% smokes, 75% of the mentally ill suffer from tobacco-dependency.

    Shows just how far away from general feeling they have become.

    Which common man thinks even the two-packages-per-day smoker to be a case for the mad-doctor?

    Does not, though, change my opinion that there still are psychic diseases.

  51. joan ellen says:

    Dave N. says:
    26 July 2013 at 1:37 am
    “it’s a lot of rah-rah affirmation of “gayness” that isn’t helpful.” Can’t we say, truthfully, that ‘any self help meeting’ is an affirmation of whatever the problem is…even during Holy Hours in front of Our Blessed Lord. EXCEPT…Those are helpful!!!

    Imrahil says:
    26 July 2013 at 5:05 am
    “Thanks for the link btw.” You are welcome. I just sent an email to a couple of pastor fathers re: this topic. My intro to the Fathers: Pastor Fathers,
    “In the past week I had the privilege of hearing 5 different women describe a family member or a friend as mentally ill. Can you help us by telling us we are sinners. I pass onto you an email that I forwarded to one of the women.
    We used to describe our family/friends by their work or some other pleasant descriptor. Not anymore.” If you would like the email I sent to the woman, minus her name of course, email me at joankopacz@yahoo.com with Fr. Z in the subject line.

    “scientific determination” = in the case of psychotherapy = supposedly objective criteria imposed subjectively. “the plain fact that there are ones of them.” “lunatics, shocked people who repeat the same stuff all the way long and do not get what you are telling them” your subjective determination. Perhaps they do get it, but because of a lack of communication or good communication, clear communication, in person communication with nuances it appears that they do not get it. “depression which reportedly admits good therapies simply by medication” agree. Alcohol can do the same thing. Both ruin oh so many good brain cells, and include other tissues in the body. Using one’s nutritional/exercise program to change the thinking, feeling is much more prudent and healthy. Don’t you agree? For example at mercola.com, Dr. Mercola suggests that probiotics can do what Prozac can do. His quality research also demonstrates the physical/mental problems with medicating the children in schools. Medication admits the physicality of psychic disease. Wouldn’t you agree with that much?

    Agreed re: investigation. How about a study that weighs sin against psychic disease? to begin? and one that confirms/does not confirm the chemical (physical) origin of thought and feelings. Tears are physical, no?

    If there are psychic diseases, that our thoughts, etc. are diseased I will keep my opinion. That they originate chemically…physically. May we find a more agreeable exchange in the future. God’s blessings and graces to you.

  52. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Joan Ellen, thank you for your kind answer and God bless you too.

    My whole point was that just because something has not hitherto been objectivized, it does not mean it does not exist. Yea even if something would be utterly unobjectivizable per se, and even if it would be proven to be such, that neither would mean it does not exist.

    But the normal thing for the scientific man responsible for the subject (which I am not), who hears from the populace the concept “mentally ill” which (I agree) at the moment does not admit scientific clarity about who is and who is not, is to attempt a definition which now is objective and scientific (which our scientists have done) and preferably captures the original concept (where we have the problem).

    Medication admits the physicality of psychic disease. Wouldn’t you agree with that much?

    Certainly. In so far as anything is a disease it is to a degree physical, I would never have denied that. In so far as the physiology has nothing to do with it, we have to call it by the terms moral theology uses: attachment, habit, vice and sin – while perhaps, and perhaps not, (now I say something I have no opinion on) these, excepting the last, still have their physical element. Man is, after all, the union of body and soul. St. Thomas reportedly advised a nice bath for those suffering from acedia.

    Still these diseases are psychic, which is why they are called thus.

    I do find it curious that so many women told you they had mentally ill relatives, etc. I’m still under the impression that it is the thing not to be (except, perhaps, for “burn-out” which, of course, according to a virtual consensus of doctors and psychologues is no mental illness at all) and has a huge stigma on it.

  53. Imrahil says:

    we have to call it by the terms moral theology uses: attachment, habit, vice and sin

    or by the name “excentricity” and “it takes all sorts to make a world”.

  54. Johnno says:

    Postcatholic -

    Evolution is a consensus driven paradigm of the scientific community. This DOES NOT make it factual, it merely means that the majority accepts it a priori despite lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary, most of whom are involved in disciplines that have nothing whatsoever to do with it. And the scientific community has a long and sorry history of using consensus beliefs to trump facts and empirical evidence. Most famously with regards to when the scientific consensus refused to acknowledge that bacteria invisible to the naked eye existed and refused to implement hygiene regulations in hospitals and maternity wards because the majority of scientists rejected it, and those that argued against the consensus was made out to be pariahs. Ironically modern scientists and doctors held fast to unhygenic practices that even the Old Testament cleanliness laws forbid by insisting on ritual washing and timed quarantines.

    Also which evolution story to you subscribe to? The Gradualist method? or the Punctuted Equilibria method? Sounds like you’re a member of the gradualist church of evolution. By believing that small changes overtime led to evolution (a proto bird somehow sprouts 1% of a wing from its scales, its successors have 2% of a wing, its successors have 10% of a wing and so on until we get 100%; against all odds of the protoypes not surviving) despite that there’s no evidence whatsoever of this in the fossil record. Versus the other view that creatures evolved with all of their features intact (a reptile laid an egg and out sprouted a baby bird with 100% wings neither of its parents had, ta daaa!) which is consistent with the fossil record but so untenably unlikely that to believe it defies rationality. The evolutionary consensus of elders is split on this and argue about it to this day or just decide it’s one of those great holy & sacred ‘mysteries’ that are best left unanswered and best to leave the general population in the dark as to the fact that the great scientific community can’t scientifically establish its own imaginary claims.

    So if you want to live in a world where we can create fairies then why not apply the scientific consensus method that you trust and accept uncritically to your own life PostCatholic? Try jumping up and down on your way to work, and encourage your progeny to occasionally take dives off of various elevations and cliffs while flapping their arms that hopefully it will induce somehow or other some kind of genetic change providing they survive the experience to procreate that change and that natural selection allows for such abberations when it is inclined to counter the mutation. Then in millions of years time through some magical pixie dust somebody somewhere just might hollow their skeletal system and have their skin cells change entirely into feathers & sprout extra appendages that turn into wings for no apparent reason.

    Natural Selection, by the way, was a creationist concept coined by Edward Blythe to explain rapid biodiversfication on Earth long before Darwin showed up, stole his concept and didn’t credit him to inform his own spin on an ancient evolutionary belief system that pre dates him. And Natural Selection does not explain the story of macro-evolution. Natural Selection can only ‘choose’ from genetic information that already exists in the pool. It doesn’t create new genetic information. Procreation only passes on the same genetic information it already has from both parents. Natural Selection also acts to limit mutations, which by the way are do not add new genetic information, they result from the destruction of pre-existing genetic information. Natural Selection is inclined to select the untainted genes from the opposite parent to counter the corrupted mutations existing in the other parent. So mutations that do get through only reduce complexity, they do not add to it and in no way explain the fairy tale for how non living chemical matter assembles into living biological systems, that assembles further into complex single celled organisms that change into fish then into amphibians then into mammals then into you.

    So procreation, natural selection and mutations do not result in the evolution you imagine happened. To this day our consensus of scientists has no idea how it happened though they pass off many fanciful ideas around, all at contradiction to one another and the most basic scientific laws, each one making less sense as we learn more about the ginormous complexity of life that lets us live and breath. Evolution even fails to meet the least criteria required for practical science as evolution on the grand scale you imagine has never been witnessed or observed or documented, forget about explaining it after the fact. We’re of course told it would supposedly take millions of years to observe anyway and we therefore don’t have that data… yet. So we’re just expected to give evolution a pass based on what? Faith alone? Evolutionary Scripture alone? The Dogmatic concensus councils of anti-God naturalist philosophers? The feelings of people? Which story of origins allows us to eliminate the concept of God and sin from our lives? Which one of these best suits you rationale to conveniently accept the myth of evolution?

  55. robtbrown says:

    PostCatholic,
    :

    1. A distinction must be made between the possibility of evolutionary change within certain kinds of creatures (e.g., within either vegetation or dumb animals) and certain changes that would ignore a qualitative division, e.g., vegetative to brute animals or brute animals to rational animals. Evolutionary biologists try to eliminate the problem by relying on analysis of material structure, in which specific differences are only judged quantitatively. Thus, the difference between a rational animal and a brute animal is like the difference between a leg and wing. Of the latter, I have no objection to evolution as a possible cause of the difference. The former, however, is another matter entirely: Although the human brain is quantitatively different from that of primate, the differences in function are qualitative and their origin cannot be explained via material structure.

    2. Further, a distinction must be made between certain facts (e.g., fossil evidence) and the explanation of those facts. I generally accept all the facts (e.g., gene splitting and the existence of fossils of intermediate creatures like the Australopithecus) that are usually mentioned re evolution. There are, however, various problems with the explanations. Aside from the above mentioned qualitative difference between sensate and rational creatures, there are also other problems, among which: The acknowledged age of the earth does not provide enough years for the random evolution of rational animals from the non-rational ones.

    I like the comparison of human evolution to a tornado going through a junk yard and spontaneously assembling a Boeing 747. Or that the faces on Mt Rushmore were formed by erosion.

    3. Although Darwinian evolution is predominant, I find the Lamarck approach a much better argument. And it is verified by bacteria that adapt to resist antibiotics.

    4. I find your comment re prokaryotes and eukaryotes not relevant here.

  56. robtbrown says:

    Joan,

    You’re referring to certain ways in which psychology is practiced. I acknowledge that there are serious problems with that. Loads of therapists actually oppose the Church and Her moral teaching. But often therapy is simply concerned with trying to have the patient have a realistic view of themselves and those around them.

    On the other hand, although conversion does give someone a true sense of human life, it’s not an automatic cure for psychological problems. I don’t know of any alcoholic who dried out after being received into the Church, but I do know of many who quit drinking after the 12 step program.

    I do agree, however, that the constant reference to the DSM to describe someone’s traits is more than a bit ridiculous.

    Also: A distinction is made between psychological problems organic in origin and those that are not.

  57. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown (and also @Johnno),

    thanks for the interesting comment. I wonder (as to 2): Is it possible at all, in any given amount of time, to reach rational life by development of organic life?

    I have hitherto treated (of course) matter out of nothing, life (with the apparent-will to self-preserve) out of matter and rational life out of irrational life as three instances utterly impossible without a distinct act of creation (being agnostic about the rest of how precisely creation worked). Some weird chance with a probability, however, strictly greater than zero, might turn Mount Rushmore into the form it has now; but can rational life with an identity and the power to philosophize etc. evolve out of organic life with even any possibility, however small.

    As to (3), Lamarckian evolution (to a degree) has to be silently acknowledged by the present scientific consensus. That is, if the newspaper articles I read were correct. I say silently, because they will quietly say that “there is transmission of acquired characteristics” (yes, I read that), without (what in my view this message means) giving the (imho) sensational statement “Lamarck was right after all”. For wasn’t this the great dispute of the 19th century?

    A question about the Creationist approach, if I’m informed correctly they acknowledge that the wolf can evolve into a fox, and we all know that the wolf can evolve into a dog (which, despite being listed as one species, are quite different animals). How precisely do they draw the line in saying, e. g. (as I suppose they are saying) that cat and dog cannot have a common ancestor?

  58. Imrahil says:

    The second paragraph gets a “?” at the end and in the beginning of the third it should read “has been”. Sorry about that.

  59. Giuseppe says:

    Imrahil,

    Remember, it is not only DNA that is passed from one generation to the next. Surrounding DNA are numerous proteins which control what DNA is unfurled for synthesis and how much. The study of all of this is called “epigenetics”. These epigenetic factors are passed from parent to child, and they can also change over time. (Indeed, why do cells from the same fertilized egg differentiate into different cell lines? Proximity to one end of the initial clump of cells leads cells to transcribe their proteins differently than cells near the middle, and this continues as various cell lines develop.)

    Epigenetic changes occur throughout life. Indeed, even identical twins in pregnancy will have different gene expressions, even though they have the same DNA. (Identical twins are never fully identical). This is the “Lamarckian” twist that people talk about, and which early geneticists, who were simply focused on DNA, were unaware.

    In addition, there is genetic material in mitochondria. Robtbrown mentions antibiotic resistance, which often includes transmission of small organelles (plasmids) from one bacterial to another (even cross-species), thus adding new genetic material into a bacteria.

    Re. Johnno and gaps in the fossil record. Fossils probably represent less than 1 trillionth of former life on earth. Of course there are gaps.

    God is too smart not to have made use of evolution and natural selection.

  60. Johnno says:

    Giuseppe -

    Depends on what you define evolution to be. If you refer to changes within the fixity of the creature: Original Wolves bringing forth different varieties of wolves, then common dogs for example, or in cases where all horses and zebras can be traced back to a common ancestral horse, or that even tigers and lions are both descended from the same line of an original tiger/lion, then sure there’s no disagreement and this is all in keeping with the Creationist Biblical model. Creatures do diversify and will change, but this evolution is horizontal, and if vertical, then downwards and never exceeding the boundaries set by their original kinds/family.

    If however, you define evolution to be more than that: where from NOTHING, we get ‘quantum fluctuations’ then dust then matter, then life, then cells, then worms, then fish then amphibians then mammals then people, then this is simply a gross speculation not supported by science and not at all compatible with Revelation from Scripture and the Church’s infallible teachings.

    With regards to the fossil record, the point is that evolutionists have no evidence of transitional forms. Everything found appears whole and entire. The fossil record does not support the macro-evolution model. And holding on to the fact that the fossil record is obviously incomplete is not a statement in their favor. They lack evidence, period. So when we were being told and conditioned to believe the fossil record supported evolution, we were blatantly and deliberately lied to.

    As for the behavior of bacteria and antibiotics, again we observe antibiotic resistance not due to upwards evolution, but from mutations that are reductive. You still get a survival advantage, but you have reduced complexity. Similarly, other models suggesting transference of genetic information also themselves demand complex systems to be in place already. And we cannot just copy and paste what we observe in much of the microscopic level to other organisms of scope that contain none of the functions they do. Again there is no evidence, nor explanation, and there is therefore no need to entertain any of it when it is in contradiction with our faith.

    We already know clearly from Scripture and Tradition from the Jews and the Church, and dogmatic councils such as Vatican I, and from Papal infallibility that the universe was created ex nihilo in 6 days being the typical 24 hours periods as explicitly stated by God Himself when He commanded Israel to work and observe the Sabbath in the same manner that He ‘worked’ and ‘rested’ after His example. The Cathechism puts those words in quotes, but 6 days is understood to be literal. The Hebrew words & phrases of Genesis themselves match the usage of refer to common days and typical transitions of evening to morning throughout the Torah who after all shared a common author in Moses. Finally also from the Papacy & Church which teach infallibly that all mankind is descended from Adam and Eve as our original parents, and also that creatures both physical and spiritual beings were created ex nihilo and completely; ergo the Angels did not undergo a process of macro evolution, Satan and the demons did not undergo macro evolution, and subsequently neither did we since Vatican I makes no distinction between the corporeal and the spiritual, and the Church and Councils were well aware of Darwin, and have been so for the longest time because while Darwin popularized evolution he was introducing nothing new that was not already being entertained by the Greeks and earlier civilizations. All this is still in keeping with the facts that as far as the physical universe is concerned mankind and life does biologically change overtime in appearance, something we naturally observe, but not to the radical extent that Darwin and his new age anti-theistic followers would like us to believe.

    Macro-Evolution has been a very useful tool to attack and undermine the Christian faith, and to advance the idea that God does not exist or doesn’t care, and places the observance of suffering, death and disaster on God the creator, rather than due to SIN; and then makes a mockery of the Cross and Resurrection making God send His Son to suffer & die to save us from death and suffering, when it was God Himself who uses death and bloodshed and survival as the very engine of creation long before there was any supposed man to possess an intellect and therefore to sin; and thus also attacks the very character and goodness of God. The entire evolutionary worldview is a heretical the more you consider all its implications and therefore we see how it inclines men towards atheism, and also inclines them to believe we can reshape and reform our lives according to our own wills where everything – gender, sexuality, the very definition of life or human beings is all in flux, subject to change, and subject to the will of those who are most fit and positioned to remake the world in their own idolatrous image.

  61. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Johnno,

    it may be that your interpretation of the Bible says what you says, but as for
    dogmatic councils such as Vatican I, and from Papal infallibility
    you would need to provide a citation, for I have never seen one, and as to
    in 6 days being the typical 24 hours periods
    you are provably incorrect, as the Bible, any man to 1967, and any common man today understands a day as the period between sunrise and sunrise, midnight and midnight, or suchlike, yet the Sun was created only at the Fourth Day.

    Also,
    teach infallibly that all mankind is descended from Adam and Eve as our original parents
    If I remember Ott’s dogmatics correctly, it is only “sententia certa”, although denying it (besides that you may not deny even a sententia certa) makes difficulties with original sin. Nevertheless (if I’m right in my remembering) infallible is something different.
    and also that creatures both physical and spiritual beings were created ex nihilo and completely
    “completely” in the sense “completely at once” would need a citation, for I am not aware of one
    ergo the Angels did not undergo a process of macro evolution
    which noone here suggested they did.

    Also, it was Catholic philosophers such as St. Thomas who treated the possibility that God created the world in one instant (being described in the Bible in six days). Also, according to Catholic philosophy man and animal are by nature mortal beings (the immortality being a preternatural gift, which the Tree of Life stands for). The Death which according to Scripture God did not want is the death as now present (surely Adam would not have been deprived of Heaven had he not sinned). And I do believe that this is more compatible with God’s mercy, to deprive Man of super- and preternatural gifts and an eternal life they never would have had but (in a way) “extraordinarily” in the first place, rather than imposing as harsh a measure as death on an otherwise immortal man as a punishment. For yes, even as a punishment of sin, death is still due to God.

    As for
    Creatures do diversify and will change,
    it might be interesting where you draw the line. Of course, not always a line can be drawn – but in science, it can. Why can fox and dog, but not cat and dog (or, if cat and dog, then why not cat and pig) have a common ancestor?

    As for inclinations a theory or world-view might produce, they are rather unimportant for determination of its truth.

    Forgive me to say so, but I do perceive that often when hearing about Creationist arguments: while remaining purely on science, they are interesting (such as your assertion that there is no evidence of transitional forms*), but they do need to get their theology straight – and this in a Catholic way – (especially not calling all the time de fide what at present good Catholics with full acceptance of the Church do not hold to be such), and quit their applying to the rotten state of present morality (which may be right, but simply is no argument).

    *You may say that “this is the one oddness always pointed to”, but as to transitional forms: what do you make of the Archaeopteryx?

  62. joan ellen says:

    Observation…Interesting…this post went from Courage and Cardinal George’s speaking to Courage…to the psychic…read :) spiritual…and also to the physical…read :) evolution. Well, perhaps, the physical includes those humans who think like tigers and lions!!! HA Perhaps the unnatural (the aberrations) from the natural are included in evolution as was suggested in a much earlier comment.

    I do hope we continue on Fr. Z’s new post “Technocracy and the Beast of Revelation: “the appearance of omnipotence and omnipresence”” where he calls for a “Theology of Communication.” And therein the good Fr. Z “hits the nail on the head.” The all of it reverts back to just that…we are not (on the negative side) in sync with our communication, and we are (on the positive side) attempting to communicate and get in sync with our communication. So, his call asks that we, if I understand him, do not forget the Theological in our communication. Please, oh, please do correct me if I have misconstrued/misunderstood that for which he is aiming.

  63. joan ellen says:

    Imrahil says:
    26 July 2013 at 2:21 pm
    Dear @robtbrown (and also @Johnno),

    “Is it possible at all, in any given amount of time, to reach rational life by development of organic life?” “can rational life with an identity and the power to philosophize etc. evolve out of organic life with even any possibility, however small.” Doesn’t it depend on from where you think rational life comes? :)

    Giuseppe says:
    26 July 2013 at 5:31 pm
    Imrahil,
    “God is too smart not to have made use of evolution and natural selection.” Why can’t we evolve in our communication practices…to perfect communication…to communication that does not ever include sin…i.e., anger, jealousies, untruths, etc. Or are we stuck with the samo, samo?

    Johnno says:
    26 July 2013 at 7:00 pm
    Giuseppe -
    “Creatures do diversify and will change, but this evolution is horizontal, and if vertical, then downwards and never exceeding the boundaries set by their original kinds/family.” We can improve our vertical stance via virtue, is that not true? Or is that not what you have in mind when you use the word vertical?

    “With regards to the fossil record, the point is that evolutionists have no evidence of transitional forms.” And besides rocks do not evolve, they aggregate and disintegrate. Time does not evolve. It marches on. Etc., Etc., Etc. Oh, sorry, I guess we are saying that only living things evolve. Disconnect here for me, since all things are supposed to be equal.
    “Again there is no evidence, nor explanation, and there is therefore no need to entertain any of it when it is in contradiction with our faith.” My point exactly with regards to the psychic disease argument. How on earth does atheistic humanism support my faith, except maybe to increase my faith. But that is not what is happening to most people who support atheistic humanism. They leave the faith.

    “Macro-Evolution has been a very useful tool to attack and undermine the Christian faith…”"…and positioned to remake the world in their own idolatrous image.” I agree Johnno. One can substitute the words humanistic psychology for macro-evolution in your sentence.

    Imrahil says:
    27 July 2013 at 5:46 am
    Dear @Johnno,
    “and as to
    in 6 days being the typical 24 hours periods” This is Jewish year 5773. Jews believe the whole of creation began then.
    “As for inclinations a theory or world-view might produce, they are rather unimportant for determination of its truth.” This is a good thought on which to reflect.
    “*You may say that “this is the one oddness always pointed to”, but as to transitional forms: what do you make of the Archaeopteryx?” To support this, there is such a thing as human beings being born with the remnants of a tail. Sad to say. It has been said that evolution can be compatible with Catholicism as long as we say that at some point in time God gave us a soul. If, the soul does animate the body…as St. Thomas says…then any body before that was not that of a human being. Is that not true?

  64. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says:
    27 July 2013 at 5:46 am
    Dear @Johnno,
    “and as to
    in 6 days being the typical 24 hours periods” This is Jewish year 5773. Jews believe the whole of creation began then.

    Even if we take “day” in genesis to mean 24 hours, that does not mean that there weren’t millions of years between those “days”.

  65. joan ellen says:

    robtbrown says:
    27 July 2013 at 9:41 am
    Imrahil says:
    27 July 2013 at 5:46 am
    Dear @Johnno,
    “and as to
    in 6 days being the typical 24 hours periods” This is Jewish year 5773. Jews believe the whole of creation began then.

    Even if we take “day” in genesis to mean 24 hours, that does not mean that there weren’t millions of years between those “days”. This seems like a clearly fair way to think.

  66. robtbrown says:

    Giuseppe says,

    God is too smart not to have made use of evolution and natural selection.

    That’s certainly possible, but there are limitations:

    Non existent – Existent
    Non living – Living
    Vegetative – Sensate
    Sensate – Rational

    Each of these pairs concern change that the first cannot of itself effect. Within each singlet there exists the possibility of evolution, but the impossibility that a new creature with a qualitatively higher function will be produced. To put it geometrically, the sides of a polygon inscribed within a circle can increase infinitely, but it never becomes a circle.

  67. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says,

    The Death which according to Scripture God did not want is the death as now present (surely Adam would not have been deprived of Heaven had he not sinned).

    We cannot speak of deprivation of Heaven because it is a gratuitous gift. The grace of the First Man was not a call to the Beatific Vision but was rather a gift by which he would not have been subject to death (this included gifts to the intellect and will). It was a participation in the Divine Nature but, unlike Christian grace, not a call to the Beatific Vision.

    That notwithstanding, because Original Innocence did not include the Beatific Vision, sin was possible. Thus, IMHO, there is a certain inevitability to the Fall of Man.

  68. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Joan Ellen,

    Doesn’t it depend on from where you think rational life comes?

    No.

    Science, including philosophy, does not depend on an input of opinion.
    If, however, we know by metaphysics that rational life is impossible without an act of creation and if it does exist (and I have a feeling that it is even the second half that would be attacked first), God’s existence is proven; if not, not.
    If we know it can evolve, then we may get an idea of how God worked.

    As for the very fine sentence “God is too smart not to have made use of evolution and natural selection”, I did not write it but Giuseppe did.

    On the point of sin, yes we can not-sin. Clearly, we, actually, do sin; we, also, have even been prophecied that we would (to a degree) never be totally rid of sin during our entire life; but nevertheless, the point of sin is that we are not forced to do it. (Sin is neither something intrinsical to our nature nor has it anything to do with “not overcoming enough one’s animal nature” [the latter is only the circumstance preceding the sin in lesser sins]. It is a decision of free-will, and real free-will, against a moral commandment recognized to be such.)

    On the assumption that rational life came out of irrational life by evolution (which I do not hold and do, albeit privately, think to be incompatible with the Faith), we would have evolved to be able to sin (even if this is not freedom but only “some sign of freedom”, according to St. Thomas). An animal does not sin. To not-sin is our own moral job.

    What Johnno meant with “vertical” was an increase in biological complexity, without any connection to virtue.

    Again there is no evidence, nor explanation, and there is therefore no need to entertain any of it when it is in contradiction with our faith

    If anything is in contradiction with our faith, we do not look for evidences or explanations but simply dismiss them. If it still is among the reasons which some might feel to be treated with caution because they contradict the first-hand literal meaning of Scripture rather than faith, but where a real evidence, a real explanation would make us accept, then the words “contradiction with our faith” are, in my humble opinion, out of place.

    As for the rest, we simply do not choose a world-view for an assumption that it works best to make us moral, but for the assumption that it describes the world as she actually is.

    Dear @robtbrown,

    I’d be interested in what precisely makes you note “vegetative-sensate” among these limits? I mean, that is intuitive enough of course… but if higher plants are, still, vegetative… do not some scientists suppose them to have “slower feelings”? And anyway, where do the mushrooms belong to?
    (These questions are to be understood strictly as questions of interest, and non-rhetorical.)

  69. Imrahil says:

    if not, not.

    Means: if not, then not by this means.

  70. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says,

    I’d be interested in what precisely makes you note “vegetative-sensate” among these limits? I mean, that is intuitive enough of course… but if higher plants are, still, vegetative… do not some scientists suppose them to have “slower feelings”? And anyway, where do the mushrooms belong to?

    I simply use St Thomas’ (Aristotle’s) distinctions. Vegetative life has the powers of reproduction, growth, and nutrition. Sensate life (for our purposes here) have external senses whose sensations can be stored via memory and imagination. Vegetative life is certainly sensitive to external stimuli–e.g., light, noise, but sensate life can store interior images (in the wide sense) of these stimuli. That’s why high animals can be trained. Lower animals, such as crocodiles, cannot because they have very little if any memory–they cannot distinguish between the food from the hand that is feeding it. And of course, some insects have a remarkably strong sense of smell.

    Mushrooms belong to pizza, sauces, and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches–and certain antibiotics. They are in the above sense vegetation, but are not classified as plants in modern science because they lack photosynthesis and have asexual reproduction.

  71. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown, thank you, and I tend to agree.

    As for the “deprivation”: correct. Let me put it this way: Surely it does not seem that God was not able to give Heaven to Man just because he did not sin; and as far as our knowledge of probabilities of His actions goes, He would have, given that he even did so in spite of sin.

    On the other hand, it cannot be said that the Fall was inevitable. It could have been evaded. The way was simple: not sinning.

    Unfortunately, that was not what happened.

    As to the mushrooms: Excuse what was probably bad English. The things are called with the word the normal translation of which is “mushrooms” in German, nevertheless coming to think of it I should have probably written “fungi”.

  72. Johnno says:

    Imrahil & robtbrown & others

    Since a lot has been said, I hope you don’t mind me making a joint reply to cover some of the things said by all of you so this isn’t a specific response to anyone in particular -

    Firstly, With concern to ‘Archaeopteryx’, what about it? Another similar one discovered by the CHinese named Xiaotingia zhengi was also uncovered. It’s another claimed transitional form and supposed evidence for feather evolution, but they only found faint impressions and the story around it has been a “maybe it is/maybe it isn’t” feathers type of deal. So it has largely been inconclusive without much evidence. But even if it were feathers, might it not have been just a bird? Again there is as usual a complete lack of concrete information and conclusions around it and is mostly driven by assumptions and adherence to the evolutionary paradigm.

    As for where we draw the line with regards to evolution, well I think this is just common sense really though inexact. Take a look at all the breeds of dogs we have. I’m sure if we keep at it we’ll get a good many more combinations providing teh genetic stock lasts, and more often than not the new smaller breeds then to be more unhealthy and harder to care for. But do you honestly propose that they’ll be anything more than 4 legged animals with a snout and someday indentifiable as something other than a dog? Will they sprout wings? Will they walk upright and write Shakespeare? Whatever they morph and change into they shall always be dogs limited by their genetic information. You can remix it to get outward features by breeding them, but you are making use of already available genetic information. You can certainly classify different kinds of creatures by family. Dogs-dingoes-wolves. Cats-bobcats-tigers-lions. Horses-zebras-ponies. Likewise with people – Negroes-Caucasians-asians. We are all of the same family descended from a common ancestor – Adam & Eve, and subsequently Noah and his family, which is also interestingly enough when our lifespans began heavily decreasing according to Biblical geneology. If there’s anything to take from this it makes me wonder just how amazing the first created kinds of animals would’ve looked… or how beautiful Eve was as a woman.

    Now, with regards to the measurement of the days of creation, indeed the Sun is created on Day 4. But you do not need the sun if all that’s required is a transition from evening to morning. you just need a source of light and a transition. And we already had that on Day 1 (And God said, “Let there be light.”) So a source of light already existed. THe Jewish Tradition is that the source of that light was God Himself, what they call the ‘Shekinah Glory’ of God manifesting Himself. You see examples of God’s appearance as light many other times again, most famously as the light shrouded in the Pillar of Cloud that led the Israelites (Like a Tabernacle containing the presence of God), and also again as the ‘star’ of Bethlehem (The word in the Gospels is not ‘star’ but actually ‘light’ that the Wisemen followed). It is speculated that the Angels were also created in this light on Day 1, and that the separation of light from the darkness is the separation of the Michael & the Angels from Satan and the fallen ones. So anyway we already had an establishment of a source of light and therefore a means for a day/night cycle.

    Now of course you might argue that the length of the day might be in question. For example, you may say one day took a million years, or like Aquinas argue that a day took less than a second such that 6 days were instantaneous. And you may rightly argue so. But do note that Aquinas, when he made this argument was not at all concenred with the accuracy of teh days of Genesis, he was using it as an example of arguing against hyperliteralism in Scripture and how there was room for interpretation. There is nothing indicating that Aquinas himself took his argument seriously other than to be merely illustrative. But let’s suppose he did, but what evolutionists are arguing for is that the length was considerably longer (millions of years), something Aquinas no doubt would’ve balked at because if he did subscribe to his instantaneous Creation interpretation, it was undoubtedly to impress God’s awesome power. Arguing for millions of years suggests otherwise, and tossing in the ‘evolutionary’ method would make God out to be inept and one who would call death, suffering, disease, and bloodshed, “Good”, only to turn around millions of years later and call it “an intruder,” and the “wages of sin.”

    When the Apostles and Christ speak about death, they are not merely referring to the spiritual ‘second death.’ In fact they impress that the physical death is tied intrinsically to the spiritual death, just as our soul and body cannot be separated. Otherwise if it is merely the spiritual death God is concerned with, then why did Christ have to physically die and be physically resurrected? He was already good and holy and in union with God just by being conceived. In fact Mary was already an accomplishment of that in anticipation of Christ. And why then would the Earth be cursed? And why do the Apostles speak of all Creation groaning in pain and awaiting restoration? A Restoration to what? According to evolution, the Earth and creation was always the way it was before man popped up and began sinning. You cannot divorce the physical death from the spiritual one. They are linked, and the physical death is the manifestation and consequence of the spiritual one. God would also contradict Himself by calling a world of death and misery “good.” It attacks God’s very character and makes Him out to be contradictory. And if spiritual death is the only concern then why bother restoring/renewing the physical Creation, raise the dead to life in their flesh, and say there will be no more death? This does not compute. The death Christ came to free us from was both a spiritual and physical one. In fact the physical sufferings and problems of creation are also glimpses of the spiritual state called Hell. The physical one is temporal. The spiritual one is eternal, just as we are immortal beings who also exist in time.

    Finally, whether you choose 6 24 hour days or Aquinas’ 6 instantaneous moments, both these would be rejected by the evolutionary establishment. And even if you were to choose 6 millions x X year periods of daytime and nighttime, this would still be rejected. The Earth’s day/night cycle has been fine tuned such that both sides receive an ample and limited amount of sunlight and darkness. Why? Because if you were to shorten or lengthen the daylight / nighttime cycle, the entire ecosystem of the Earth would be destroyed from overexposure to the Sun’s Heat, or from the extreme chill due to the lack of heat. Just look at the places on Earth where there is too much or not enough sunlight for long periods of time, or better yet, look at the other planets of the solar system. This would be terrible conditions to match the expectations of evolutionists to harbor their origin of life fantasies. As it turns out, the 24 hour day/night cycle is just one of many nice ‘random-what are the odds?-lucky-chances’ of being fine tuned just right to support life and the Earth’s ecosystem. Almost suspiciously as if it were designed that way… but I guess we can’t ever say that in ‘modern science’…

    With regards to Catholic Tradition and teaching on the topic of Creation we already have the strong constant tradition of the Church Fathers that speak of a recent creation and in 6 days. There are too many to list, but of course I’m sure you don’t need to be convinced that the Church Fathers since the Apostles and the Jews before them all held to a literal interpretation of Genesis. You can google these yourself. But one should state that their constant and strong continuous interpretation of Genesis’ days as literal is not insignificant and cannot just be brushed aside, otherwise you might as well call into question their support of other now-established dogmas with regards to the Eucharist and the perpetual virginity of Mary, and much of the Creeds. But it is this very Tradition that was upheld by various Councils.

    Now we turn to the Magisterium, who upheld the Church Father’s interpretation and has stated so dogmatically. I’ll copy and paste some of the references here below from another website, though there are more detailed ones available, including those of the early Biblical Commissions before our topsy turvy modern era:——–

    “In affirming the Church Fathers and the Tradition of the Church, the Magisterium has infallibly taught that God created all things, material and spiritual, out of nothing. Here is a very brief chronology of the Church’s teaching on the creation of the universe:

    561 – Pope Pelagius I writes a letter to King Childebert I in which he states: “For I confess that…Adam and his wife, were not born of other parents, but were created, the one from the earth, the other from the rib of man.” The early Church always affirmed that man was formed from the earth, and not from an ape.

    1215 – Lateran Council IV – “God created both orders out of nothing from the beginning of time, the spiritual and corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly.” The Lateran Council infallibly proclaims that God created the spiritual (angels) and corporeal (humans, animals, plants, heavenly bodies) “out of nothing” (ex nihilo).

    1860 – Council of Cologne – “Our first parents were formed immediately by God. Therefore, we declare that…those…who…assert…man emerged from spontaneous continuous change of imperfect nature to the more perfect, is clearly opposed to Sacred Scripture and to the Faith.” The Church again affirms that man is not the product of an evolutionary process. Man was formed “immediately.”

    1870 – Vatican Council I issues an infallible dogmatic statement with an accompanying anathema: “If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing, let him be anathema.” Once again, the Church infallibly proclaims that “the world and all things” in it are the product of an ex nihilo creation. In addition, the Church, for the first time, adds the phrase “as regards their whole substance.” This phrase essentially prevents anyone from advancing the theory of evolution (that is, arguing that God made some parts, but evolution contributed to the other parts). Moreover, the Church affirms Lateran Council IV that both the “spiritual and material” were made out of nothing. Spiritual refers to the creation of angels, and no one has argued that angels were created by an evolutionary process. There is never any distinction between how God created the angels (instantaneously, out of nothing) and how God created humans (instantaneously, out of nothing).

    1880 – Pope Leo XIII writes his encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae in which he states: “We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep.” Pope Leo’s interpretation of Genesis suggests a literal six day creation. This is because he says Eve was “miraculously” created. Since miracles happen instantaneously, Pope Leo is saying Eve was created instantaneously, on the sixth day. It is thus logical to assume Pope Leo believed Adam was also created instantaneously, like Eve, on the sixth day. There is no methodological distinction between Adam and Eve, and nothing to suggest that their creation was from an evolutionary process that took millions of years. Pope Leo’s encyclical is in line with the infallible teachings of Lateran Council IV, Vatican Council I, and the early Church Fathers. Moreover, Pope Leo XIII issued this teaching only about 20 years after Darwin’s theory of evolution came on the scene.

    1950 – On August 12, Pope Pius XII issues the encyclical Humani Generis which addressed false opinions that were threatening to undermine Catholic doctrine. The pope, in echoing St. Augustine and Providentissimus Deus, declared that the modern exegete’s desire to depart from a literal interpretation of Scripture in favor of a non-literal interpretation was foreign to Catholic teaching: “Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and its explanation, carefully worked out under the Church’s vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual” (no. 23). “Everyone sees how foreign all this is to the principles and norms of interpretation rightly fixed by our predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII in his Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, and Benedict XV in the Encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus, as also by Ourselves in the Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu” (no. 24). The pope also broached the theory of evolution with caution by stating that the Church “does not forbid research and discussions…with regard to evolution,” but warns that “divine revelation demands the greatest moderation and caution” when so discussing, and says we must ultimately “submit to the judgment of the Church” (no. 36). The pope further condemned “polygenism,” the heretical belief that the human race is not the product of a single set of parents (Adam and Eve), but multiple parents, as evolutionary theory maintains.”

  73. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil,

    I never said the Fall was inevitable, nor did I say it was necessary. I said there is A CERTAIN INEVITABILITY to it.

    Let’s say there is a perpetually warm, fresh, delicious pizza sitting on a table–no one is to take a bite. Let’s also say that a potentially infinite number of hungry people are going to walk past it. Don’t you think there is a certain inevitability that one will take a bite?

    No problem with mushrooms–I knew you were referring generally to fungi.

    In Original Innocence the First Parents had sanctifying grace but not the Beatific Vision–so they were not in possession of the Supreme Good. Thus, they could sin. Now consider that before the Fall they would produce a potentially infinite number of children, grandchildren, etc. Don’t you think there would be a certain inevitability that one would sin?

  74. robtbrown says:

    The mushroom sentence was supposed to be at the end of the comment.

  75. joan ellen says:

    robtbrown says:
    26 July 2013 at 12:23 pm
    Sorry to go back…
    “But often therapy is simply concerned with trying to have the patient have a realistic view of themselves and those around them.”
    I do not mean to be discourteous, but my family and friends do a really good job of this. And it does not cost a red cent. They are usually right on also.

    “I don’t know of any alcoholic who dried out after being received into the Church, but I do know of many who quit drinking after the 12 step program.”
    I do and know of too many who use the 12 step program to go drink after the meetings.

    It probably is in the investigation as Imrahil suggested.

    Then there is that mushroom/fungi thing…but oh well, enough is enough already.

  76. robtbrown says:

    Joan Allen,

    1. I agree about family and friends. The problem is getting someone to listen.

    2. AA is constructed with the knowledge that no member ever loses the desire to
    drink. That’s why there is always someone to contact. There is also predictable recidivism, which might account for the phenomenon you mention.

    I was once invited to a party in Rome with mostly of AA members. Party = drink, I guess, and they all looked like people who really liked to party and were barely holding on. To me parties have usually been boring.

  77. joan ellen says:

    Imrahil says:
    27 July 2013 at 3:59 pm
    “Surely it does not seem that God was not able to give Heaven to Man just because he did not sin; and as far as our knowledge of probabilities of His actions goes, He would have, given that he even did so in spite of sin.

    It seems you are saying that God was going to give Heaven to Man even if he did not sin. So, if I understand what you are saying Heaven was/is a given – sin or no sin.

    The Blessed Mother is in Heaven and she was guilty of no sin. That seems to support your thought. Unless Heaven, is meant for repentant sinners and the Blessed Mother just wanted to be with us.

    Yet, robtbrown robtbrown says:
    27 July 2013 at 6:46 pm

    “In Original Innocence the First Parents had sanctifying grace but not the Beatific Vision–so they were not in possession of the Supreme Good. Thus, they could sin.”

    Oh, maybe the difference is because the Blessed Mother could not sin vs. the First Parents who had a Free Will who could sin. So then, is it that the Blessed Mother had a Free Will but was protected from sin? This is deeper than I can go.

  78. joan ellen says:

    Imrahil says:
    27 July 2013 at 11:59 am
    Dear @Joan Ellen,

    “Doesn’t it depend on from where you think rational life comes?”

    “No.”

    Original: “Is it possible at all, in any given amount of time, to reach rational life by development of organic life?” “can rational life with an identity and the power to philosophize etc. evolve out of organic life with even any possibility, however small.” Doesn’t it depend on from where you think rational life comes? :)

    What if the question is stated differently, such as Doesn’t it, it being rational life evolving from organic life, depend on from where rational life comes? Please let me guess how you will answer. I guess you will still answer No. But I will say…if the soul comes from God, and if He instills the soul into the body, and rational life is in the soul…how can it evolve? Are you saying that the soul can evolve after God puts it into the body.

  79. Giuseppe says:

    @Robtbrown, re. God is too smart not to have made use of evolution and natural selection.
    “That’s certainly possible, but there are limitations:
    Non existent – Existent
    Non living – Living
    Vegetative – Sensate
    Sensate – Rational
    Each of these pairs concern change that the first cannot of itself effect. Within each singlet there exists the possibility of evolution, but the impossibility that a new creature with a qualitatively higher function will be produced. To put it geometrically, the sides of a polygon inscribed within a circle can increase infinitely, but it never becomes a circle.”

    The only that one evolution and natural selection cannot muster a reasonable explanation is non existent->existent. I leave that to our physicist friends. Regardless of the outcome of their discussions, I do believe that God instituted the ‘big bang’ or whatever started creation. And I believe he is the ‘unmoved Mover’. But I do believe that everything else can be understood through His laws of physics, chemistry, and evolution/natural selection – we just need more time to figure out all of the details. Genesis is not literal truth, but rather a metaphor with essential truths. No human could have understood theoretical physics and biochemistry 6000 years ago.

    Johnno notes this belief is anti-Catholic. I disagree, but I need to do some more reading in the next few weeks, and I shall hold off receiving Holy Communion this weekend until I can clarify that my beliefs are not anathema. But I still believe that God is too smart not to have made use of evolution and natural selection.

  80. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown, thank you for your kind answer. As to “inevitability” of the Fall, I understand what you say, and somewhat understood it like this from the onset… though I object to the term “inevitability” or “a certain inevitability” (all the more since, in the language of theology, “certain” is only used as in “certainly”) as being technically out of place. (Just as, erm, you rightly object to my “deprived” as technically out of place.) The probability of remaining without sin is still strictly greater than zero.

    In addition, I do think it makes a difference in that those who walk by the pizza, by hypothesis, do not suffer from concupiscience… and there was a very real possibility that Adam, at least, remained without sin. If I am informed correctly, sins of other men (including Eve) would not have had (or respectively did not in themselves have) that heredity effect which the sin of Adam had.

    Dear @Joan Ellen,
    what I say is that I do not understand your question.

    Are you saying that the soul can evolve after God puts it into the body?
    I could go for some paragraphs to describe that not knowing much science I cannot exclude some Lamarckian evolution reaching out from the body to the soul, but the more simple answer is: no.

    I raised the question: is it theoretically possible for rational life evolve naturally out of sensate life? And, I may say, it seems an interesting question, since @robtbrown and I say no, while @Giuseppe says yes. Whatever be the answer, it does not depend on the facts regarding actual origin of actual rational life. The dependence is vice versa: if rational life could have developed, then maybe it has (in so far as this investigation goes, and then what actually is content of the Faith comes into play); if it could not at all, then of course it has not, but was created by a distinct act of creation.

    Dear @Giuseppe,
    I suggest that you decide beforehand to believe whatever a Catholic must believe and believe whatever else you believe only under the condition that it is not anti-Catholic. Than you can fairly receive Holy Communion and, in time and without hectics, find out whether or not you are allowed to hold as Catholic what you hold.
    I can tell you that there are Catholic priests who believe the same thing as you without being reprimanded (Fr Karl Rahner comes to mind).

    Nevertheless I am curious – not as a matter of your Catholicity, but as a matter of metaphysics – how you believe rational life can come out of irrational life, and – as a matter of science – how you believe amino-acids can acquire an apparent will of self-preservation.

  81. robtbrown says:

    Giuseppe says,

    The only that one evolution and natural selection cannot muster a reasonable explanation is non existent->existent. I leave that to our physicist friends. Regardless of the outcome of their discussions, I do believe that God instituted the ‘big bang’ or whatever started creation.

    The Big Bang, which was first proposed by Belgian Monsignor Georges Lemaître, presumes first the existence of something. It is not intended to address or supplant creatio ex nihilo.

    And I believe he is the ‘unmoved Mover’. But I do believe that everything else can be understood through His laws of physics, chemistry, and evolution/natural selection – we just need more time to figure out all of the details. Genesis is not literal truth, but rather a metaphor with essential truths. No human could have understood theoretical physics and biochemistry 6000 years ago.

    If you think modern science can unite those leaps in existence I noted above (vegetation to sensate, sensate to rational), then you are relying on entirely materialistic analysis– as I noted above. To assume that, given billions of years and all the power in the universe, algae can eventually develop to a being that produced the Mozart Piano Concerti is materialist fantasy. See also my example of the difference between an infinitely side polygon and a circle.

    But let’s suppose that you are right, and I am wrong–that it is possible that vegetation can on its own develop via random mutation into asensate creature and likewise that a sensate creature on its own develop into a rational one. Let’s suppose that the difference between a primate and a man is merely difference in material structure. And that what I maintain is impossible, you, by analysis of material structure, consider possible.

    Now suppose that a chimpanzee sits at a word processor and hits keys just as a human does. Given unlimited years, how long till the chimp produces Hamlet?

    Or as I mentioned above: Erosion causes rocks to change, and therefore it is possible that erosion could actually randomly produce a face on a mountain. How many years would it take erosion to produce not the four famous faces on Mt Rushmore but only one face. To my knowledge erosion has not even produced one face as simple as those on Easter Island, despite the earth being 3 billion years old.

    I would also recommend that you read what I wrote about the six days in Genesis.

  82. Giuseppe says:

    @Robtbrown – I love to read your posts. Many thanks to you and Imrahil.

    Just a few points –
    1) Vegetation did not evolve into sensate creatures. Bacteria predated vegetation. That distinction between vegetation and sensate is (as most distinctions are) artificial – but it is particularly unhelpful given the varieties of life. Vegetation is actually quite a bit higher order than we give it credit for. All life is probably derived from bacteria.*
    2) Check out the Tree of Life Phylogenetic trees – here’s one.
    http://itol.embl.de/itol.cgi
    This approach shows relationships among species via genetic similarity. Humans and plants are both in the salmon-colored Eucaryote section. (The representative plants are Arabiodopsis thaliana and Oryza satavia.) I agree there is rhetorical appeal in painting the image that plants (take grass) cannot become human. I totally agree. Grass has not become human.
    3) Erosion is a poor example of a material process analogous to evolution. It is a slow, destructive, whittling away. Try this material process – the development of a chicken from a fertilized chicken egg. Or you can keep the plan/animal distinction – the development of an oak tree from an acorn. Must one rely on the divine to explain that type of material change?
    4) Re. sensate into rational. This is another distinction which is actually quite blurry. No doubt humans are a leap above other animals with our creativity, but rational thinking occurs in other species, and not just primates (sea mammals are probably the most studied non-primate group).

    I still believe that God created the universe through some unexplained mechanism. He might well have created multiple universes. (These explanations are probably not material, as they, of course, involve the emergence of matter and possible the emergence of laws of physics, etc.) Once you have creation, thought, with earth at this correct distance from a sun, it, then, is not impossible for the rest to (eventually) be explained (or at least understood) naturally (including materially).

    I still maintain that God is too smart not to have made use of natural selection and evolution.

    *A tangent: We are reminded, indirectly, that some sort of bacteria is probably the first cellular life form (and, thus, a super-distant cousin). Among the cells on our person, 9 our of 10 are bacterial flora, generally living in symbiosis with us. There is no human who could exist in connection with the rest of creation without being coated inside and out by bacteria. (Skin and the GI tract rely on interactions with bacteria to function properly.)

  83. robtbrown says:

    I never once mentioned God.

    1. OK that bacteria is placed first. Like plants, bacteria lack both external and internal senses. Are these distinctions artificial? When was the last time a tree came up to you and wanted to be petted?

    I realize, however, that a primate seems closer to a human than it does to, say, a honey bee.

    2. Bacteria develop into humans–through various stages, just as a first grader develops into an MD. That is the claim of human evolution.

    3. The erosion example serves to show that even if I grant the difference between man and primates is merely material structure, there are still not enough years to accomplish what evolution says happened. And chipping away is an example of small change, just as you would claim that various small changes occurred from the beginning of life to man.

    A fertilized chicken egg has the same DNA of a chicken.

    And in so far as I’ve already said I accept the fossils, I obviously have no problem with natural selection.

    4. The possibility of multiple universes is irrelevant to this topic–unless you’re going to claim that there’s another universe where 2 +2 = 5.

    Name one example of rational thinking in brute animals. Do you think that primate sitting at a word processor, given enough time, could eventually produce David Copperfield, much less a sentence? I do realize, however, that animals have a kind of sense that allows them to learn and communicate, e.g., bears in Yellowstone now know how to open car doors, which they teach to their young. They also can learn what harms them. But these are not acts of reason.

    Are you familiar with Herbert Terrace?

  84. joan ellen says:

    There sure is much to think about re: the psychology (the study of the soul) of human beings and re: the topic of evolution. I am most grateful for the above comments re: psychology and evolution.

    RE: psychology – My understanding is that a soul is put into the body by God at the moment of conception. The soul has a Sacred nature (made in the image and likeness of God). RE: evolution – Would the Sacred (God does not change) nature allow it to evolve – change. It can, hopefully, develop from imperfect to perfect (Sacred Scripture…”Be ye perfect…) through the use of free will, ie. avoiding sin and practicing virtue. I don’t understand how the soul could evolve, unless the Sacred can evolve. Can the rational evolve from the sensate? It can if the rational is not of a Sacred nature in my very limited understanding. An Aside: Plant fossils in the tops of the mountains in So. America are the same as the plants today. Could evolution have stopped with the flood. On the other hand, Johnno’s search above tells me that the Church frowns upon the topic of evolution. Unless I am reading the quotes in the wrong vein.
    RE: psychology and the DSM…acedia (sloth) was mentioned above. Sloth is a capital sin. Depression (some psychology professionals believe depression is a choice) was mentioned above. Some psychology professionals believe that behind depression is anger. Anger is a capital sin.
    I wonder what percentage of DSM labels can revert back to the 7 capital sins? I’m sorry, but I’m still going to think of the soul…the psyche…as being a spiritual ‘thing’…and that it thinks what it thinks and is subject to the Sacrament of Penance…Confession and is not subject to the notion of modern psychology…at least not the dark side of it…the sinful side of it.

    I have in the past (for a short time) considered that there is/was no such thing as sin…and that was because modern psychology could explain away every single one of my thoughts, etc. and feelings.

    We have only 15 billion (a significant number but still limited) brain cells give or take a few. We have only so many thoughts possible in our individual (I.Q.) human realm, though the I.Q. differences can make a significant difference in understanding/not understanding, as can the Confirmed, i.e., the gifts of the Holy Spirit vs. the unconfirmed. (No wonder it is sometimes difficult, though not impossible to get on the same page, the same sentence, the same word…so the importance of Fr. Z’s new tag…technocrati has no others listed under…Theology of Communication…as of yesterday.) Thoughts differ according to individuality/gifts/talents as the above comments demonstrate, today’s Gospel mentions, and which the DSM labels can and do, at least sometimes, stifle. We have only so many feelings and emotions that all human beings can feel/emote. We have only 2 choices…for God or against God.

    As mentioned above- more investigation and thinking are needed…in concert with the teachings of the faith. In concert with the faith means, to my understanding, that it should be Good, True and Beautiful – the short quiz to determine if something is for God or against God. Psychological help in the practical, positive sense, i.e., helping others in locating gifts and talents…should be no problem. Why not. Gifts and Talents are not bad, untrue, nor ugly.

    I look forward to a continued fruitful Catholic discussion/debate/investigation RE: both psychology and evolution so we can intelligently pass it on in our life endeavors.

    How badly do I say/write the above?

  85. Giuseppe says:

    @Robtbrown – I greatly appreciate the opportunity to bounce ideas off of you.
    “1. OK that bacteria is placed first. Like plants, bacteria lack both external and internal senses. Are these distinctions artificial? When was the last time a tree came up to you and wanted to be petted?”
    A tree is a tree and it does not walk. I love the rhetorical flourish, though. However, it is worth noting that it shared common ancestors with mobile pets, and those common ancestors most likely did have motion. Of course plants don’t walk to have a need met, however, some can change in position by growing toward the sun. So, in that case, they do move to be petted by the sun. Re. external and internal senses, I’d have to brush up on my Aquinas, as I haven’t heard these terms discussed much since, but I would say that many animals do have memory. (At least lab rats do.)

    “I realize, however, that a primate seems closer to a human than it does to, say, a honey bee.”
    Because, genetically it is. A non-human primate and a human share a more proximal common ancestry than a primate and a honey bee.

    “2. Bacteria develop into humans–through various stages, just as a first grader develops into an MD. That is the claim of human evolution.”
    Your example of the 1st grader->MD posits that change can occur within one individual via stages. It is a poor example. Stages within one individual are vastly different from stages among millions of generations. Your example is not the claim of evolution. The claim of human evolution is that humans can trace their direct lineage back to the earliest forms of life. To use your example, it would be, I suppose, like claiming that an MD developed from a first grader. And, in truth, it is possible that an MD might have emerged from among billions of first graders.

    “3. The erosion example serves to show that even if I grant the difference between man and primates is merely material structure, there are still not enough years to accomplish what evolution says happened. And chipping away is an example of small change, just as you would claim that various small changes occurred from the beginning of life to man.”
    A chimpanzee will never become a man. It is too far evolved along its chimpanzee line to ever become man. We diverged from chimpanzees around 7 million years ago. That’s not the question. The question is whether or not (around 7 million years ago) chimpanzees went in one direction and other descendants of the common ancestor eventually became hominids. Then (around 3.5-4 million years ago) a sub-group became the Australopithecus. Then (around 2.5 million years ago) a sub-group became Homo. Then (around 150-200,000 years ago) became Homo sapiens. That’s 7 million years from a common pre-chimpanzee ancestor until development of Homo sapiens.

    Chimpanzees’ never being able to write Hamlet shows that chimpanzees cannot write Hamlet. It does not show that humans could not have evolved from a common ancestor millions of years ago.

    Re. change of pace of human thinking – how far have we come from cave drawings and vocabularies of the hundreds to today? In less than 150,000 years.

    How did humans evolve what makes us human? Upright walking, bigger brains, greater language skills. These greater language skills can further the development of thinking. Which further develops language. Which further develops thinking — to the point where we are engaging in discussions of human evolution on a post about Courage. (Shows how evolution can go off track.)

    “4. The possibility of multiple universes is irrelevant to this topic–unless you’re going to claim that there’s another universe where 2 +2 = 5″
    True. I brought that up simply to state that evolution and natural selection have no claim on the creation of the universe. They stake their claim beginning with atomic and molecular life precursors. Re. 2+2=5, I agree to hold off on discussing this and whether there can ever be a universe where such concepts of “2″ and “5″ would not even exist. (This crazy thinking shows you how much humans have evolved their ability to reason – we can be tempted to reason ourselves into multi-universe irrationality.)

    “Name one example of rational thinking in brute animals. Do you think that primate sitting at a word processor, given enough time, could eventually produce David Copperfield, much less a sentence? ”
    It has already been done, but long-hand. A primate named Charles Dickens, who evolved from a common ancestor that we share with chimpanzees, wrote the novel over 150 years ago. The primate-typing-masterworks is a bad analogy. Not even if you can bring me back our common ancestor, turn back time 7 million years ago, including ridding the world of humans (who did not exist then) could I swear that a primate would evolve into Dickens or a Dickens-plagiarist. It would depend on the natural conditions of the time and the randomness of mutations. Is it possible? Sure.
    Re. David Copperfield – why would we ever expect a chimpanzee to become a human? It’s almost like asking a tree to walk up to someone to be petted…

    “I do realize, however, that animals have a kind of sense that allows them to learn and communicate, e.g., bears in Yellowstone now know how to open car doors, which they teach to their young. They also can learn what harms them. But these are not acts of reason.”
    What is reason? Non primates can learn, communicate with each other, and, in your example, teach something to the next generation. There are frequently studies on how animals can think abstractly. We probably over-call rationality in humans and over-call instinct in animals.

    “Are you familiar with Herbert Terrace?”
    Yes, saw the movie ‘Project Nim’. A very bold scientist. A very sad story. And chimpanzees are not and will never be human.

    I do promise to brush up on my Aristotle/Aquinas categories. I do not hear other scientists using them, so I am out of practice.

  86. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Joan Ellen,

    first so much:
    On the other hand, Johnno’s search above tells me that the Church frowns upon the topic of evolution.

    This is not true. It was the dear @Johnno’s private opinion which he, sorry to say, mixed with many “this is of faith”s which have no other basis than in private opinion. It still is my own private opinion that rational life is metaphysically 100% impossible without a distinct action of creation, but I would not throw that as “of faith” at the dear @Giuseppe.

    About the Church’s stand to evolution – this is also a suggestion to the dear @Giuseppe, and a reminder to myself to read that again -, I believe a very sound teaching can be found in the Ven. Pope Pius XII’s Humani generis.

    As to anger, the better name for the capital sin of anger is “wrath”. As the scholastics well knew, anger is chiefly and foremost a passion (and hence within the region where psychology does come into play), and to have a passion is not sinful. St. Thomas gives three quaestiones on the passion of anger (S. th. I/II 46-48). Indeed anger is the titular passion for an entire part of a man’s passionate soul, the so-called irascible part. (That this one is not “the bad part”, you see when I tell you how the other part is named: the concupiscible part.) On the capital sin of wrath, or also called anger, there is then another quaestio in its due place (S. th. II/II 158), subheaded under “sins against temperance”, for the sin lies in not moderating the passion of anger according to the right order. St. Thomas is even very careful to point out that that very well-known thing, righteous anger, does exist.

    Likewise with sloth. As treated by St. Thomas, sloth is not simply depression (called by him “sorrow”), which is morally neutral, but depression turned by an (at least non-resisting) act of the will to the spiritual good.

    I have in the past (for a short time) considered that there is/was no such thing as sin…and that was because modern psychology could explain away every single one of my thoughts, etc. and feelings.
    May I suggest that one reason for that was that, well, you only went along “ordinary” paths of human badness? Perhaps psychology can “explain away” much (if we do not accept from the onset that there is a morality, which imho already implies that we have to take reasonable control of our passions), including murderous wrath. But how could psychology possibly explain cruelty (which around here is one of a few points that distinguish first-degree from second-degree murder), child-abuse, espionage for mere money, or the like?

    In concert with the faith means, to my understanding, that it should be Good, True and Beautiful – the short quiz to determine if something is for God or against God.
    I like that one. Thank you!

  87. Johnno says:

    Giuseppe & Imrahil

    Giuseppe: “Johnno notes this belief is anti-Catholic. I disagree, but I need to do some more reading in the next few weeks, and I shall hold off receiving Holy Communion this weekend until I can clarify that my beliefs are not anathema. But I still believe that God is too smart not to have made use of evolution and natural selection.”

    It’s not about disagreeing with me. You are disagreeing with the Magisterium of the Catholic Faith and the clear sense of Sacred Scripture to accomodate an atheistic philosophy and find some kind of synthesis between our faith and theirs. One that has no scientific merit to it whatsoever.

    And what do you even mean by the statement that “God is too smart not to have made use of evolution and natural selection”? First off if by evolution you only mean ‘change and diversification within kinds’ or ‘micro-evolution’ there is no issue. ‘Natural Selection’ itself is a term coinced by creationists before Darwin. God already uses those. If however you want to mean evolution according to the hyperbolic fantasies of atheists that nothing creates self existing matter that becomes alive and grows from single celled organisms into fish into apmphibians into mammals then there is no scientific evidence for it, and God Himself has said He didn’t use that method nor take any longer than 6 days.

    Why would God be smart, according to you, to go that route? Because the great science establishment would find it easier to believe in Him if He did things their way? Should Jesus Christ have taken the paralyzed man’s blood pressure, asked him about his family medical history, carted him off to the local treatment center, performed intensive surgery, used adult stem cells and created new limbs and performs years of laborous physical therapy on the man to show how much of a smart and learned man He was? Instead our Lord said, “Your sins are forgiven, get up and walk” and healed him…

    Imrahil: “This is not true. It was the dear @Johnno’s private opinion which he, sorry to say, mixed with many “this is of faith”s which have no other basis than in private opinion. It still is my own private opinion that rational life is metaphysically 100% impossible without a distinct action of creation, but I would not throw that as “of faith” at the dear @Giuseppe.”

    It is not my private opinion. I have above provided several references from Councils and the Church. Perhaps you’ve missed them because my comments go into moderationa nd only appear later. Please read them, look them up yourself to verify them, and then get back to me.
    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/07/courage/#comment-420569

  88. Giuseppe says:

    @Imrahil – many thanks for your suggestions and your counsel. Thanks for the Humani generis suggestion. Sections 35-40 are the most relevant. Your words are very wise.

  89. joan ellen says:

    Imrahil says:
    29 July 2013 at 7:11 am
    You are welcome.
    “It still is my own private opinion that rational life is metaphysically 100% impossible without a distinct action of creation,” I can share that opinion, from the little that I know and understand, and I obviously do not have the education that you have.
    “anger is chiefly and foremost a passion (and hence within the region where psychology does come into play), and to have a passion is not sinful.” Anger, if righteous, is not sinful, we agree. I also agree that having a passion, for example a passion for work is not sinful, ordinarily, and “that we have to take reasonable control of our passions), including murderous wrath,” I agree we are 100% responsible for everything we think, say and do. I object that passion is the “region where psychology does come into play”, because if I am to think that I am 100 % responsible for every thing I think, say and do, I would include my passion and I should be able to control my passion, my impulse. Failure to do so is lack of self-control, a sin of omission, is that right? Self-control being a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Then, it seems passion is part of, a component of, the sin of anger. No psychology explaining away needed. No excuse. No cop-out. It is what it is. SIN if the 3 components of sin are engaged- the knowledge, the deliberation, the consent.

    I would like to see distinctions in the use of the word psychology in the Culture of the Catholic Tradition, perhaps, spiritual psychology (to include Catholic psychology as outlined by St. Thomas (ST, part 1, #s 75-85) and modern psychology as defined/outlined/labelled in the DSM’s newest edition 5) as a way to clarify thinking and communication. Wishful thinking maybe. Or I prefer hopeful thinking. Again, imho, modern psychology’s contribution lies in it’s ability to help natural gifts and talents emerge.

    “But how could psychology possibly explain cruelty (which around here is one of a few points that distinguish first-degree from second-degree murder), child-abuse, espionage for mere money, or the like?” BINGO. We know what we are doing…in spite of any circumstance. Though a circumstance can mitigate some degree of the seriousness of sin. Even if we have not learned the 10 commandments, we are born with objective standards built into our soul. An unmerited gift from God Himself. The Church in Her wisdom makes sense of it all in Her teaching. Supports it. Refines it. If only every child were taught these things.
    Imrahil says:
    27 July 2013 at 11:59 am
    Dear @Joan Ellen,
    “To not-sin is our own moral job.” When I think of the word example, I like these words.

    I shall check out Humani generis, (S. th. I/II 46-48) and (S. th. II/II 158). Thank you.

    “Likewise with sloth. As treated by St. Thomas, sloth is not simply depression (called by him “sorrow”), which is morally neutral, but depression turned by an (at least non-resisting) act of the will to the spiritual good.” Thank you for this distinction re: depression. If sorrow is morally neutral, can it be said that sadness is not because it can develop into despair, a grave sin against the Holy Spirit? In either case, it seems that whether sorrow or sadness, a spiritual good usually always follows. Does that make sense? Reminds me of the words of a good priest who said “bad things happen to good people so that a greater good can come from it.”

    ““ordinary” paths of human badness?” These are good words. Are you saying that there are extraordinary paths of human badness?

    Re: Giuseppe: “The claim of human evolution is that humans can trace their direct lineage back to the earliest forms of life.” ” No human could have understood theoretical physics and biochemistry 6000 years ago.” “We probably over-call rationality in humans and over-call instinct in animals.” I like these sentences since they reflect reality in my understanding. The 3rd one makes perfect sense to me since women have that 6th sense…intuition…or strong gut that cannot be explained, except perhaps as, from my point of view, help from the Holy Spirit of God since we are the weaker and in need of more help. (Hope I don’t ruffle any feathers with that! I could add “in some areas.”)

    robtbrown says:
    26 July 2013 at 12:23 pm

    “I do agree, however, that the constant reference to the DSM to describe someone’s traits is more than a bit ridiculous.” Thank you for this.

    “Also: A distinction is made between psychological problems organic in origin and those that are not.” Whether psychological (i.e. soul…what we think, say or do) or physical (organic) origin, if it is against God, we are still responsible for the thought, word, or action. Can it be said that way or no?

  90. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Johnno,

    thanks for the remark. I did indeed not read your other comment.

    As for the Fathers, it is enough for me to know that St. Augustine did hold a less-then-literallissimo interpretation of Genesis 1 (in his De Genesi ad litteram libri XII), and was accepted in this by St. Thomas. I have not the time to do a proof of tradition, least of all when we supposedly do have opposing Church Fathers and would need to weigh and balance them.

    Certainly the creation in one instant is something different from 15 billions (American billions) of years and evolution, but that it can be Catholically hold does show that this interpretation of Genesis you point to is apparently not binding on Catholics. What is more, creation in one instant is, as it were from “God’s point of view” also a thing that actually happened… as Sir 18,1 says in St. Augustine’s interpretation, and which is in this sense certainly compatible with evolution… even better, to be honest, than if we still suppose a distinct creation of life and of man (which I nevertheless do, and which is not incompatible either).

    As for the Jewish interpreation of the light being God himself, they are provably wrong since the light is something created (Gen 1,3).

    As for death, bloodshed, disease and suffering, what, again, did the Tree of Life stand around for? Life, including human life, is by nature mortal. Life, being created, on its own tend to fall back into nothing, and God does not owe to His creatures to keep them in what He never owed to give them.
    All the same, “God hath not wanted death” in some sense (which is perhaps “death as present now” or also “death for men”), and indeed “the whole of Creation lieth in birth pains”, but caution works both ways. We have to be careful about what this Scripture means here.

    This is why I said, and excuse me for even repeating what, as I readily admit, was a bit impudent: creationists first need to get their theology straight. Whatever the merits of creationism, much of it is fueled by the notion that mortality came into the world with sin – a notion that has origins in Protestant Bible-interpretation and is, as such, false (even if God should have prevented not only men, but all animals from death by extraordinary means). It does not take into account that apparently men had to be kept alive by a Tree of Life.

    As for the Church’s magisterium you quoted,

    561 – sententia certa, and as for “from the earth and not an ape”, that’s your interpretation. The earth mentioned in Gen 2,7 is indeed often interpreted for an ape, which according to this interpretation is then made a Man by God through a distinct act of creation (which btw. is among other things why I hold such an act to have taken place). By the way, Gen 2,7 directly rules out the possibility that Man would have been created directly entirely out of nothing (which, though, is true for each single human soul).
    1215 undisputed.
    1860 deals with Man as such without pronouncing on the nature of the “dust from the ground” mentioned in Scripture.
    1870 – does not say “instantaneously”. Noone disputed here anything of it. Does rule out that an actor separate from God called “evolution” contributed anything to the substance, but does not rule out that God created things with an intrinsical evolutive power which would make them what God foresaw them to become. (I do not say here this necessarily took place. I do say that who holds it does not hold anything anathematized by the council.)
    1880 – an appeal to the Bible does not in itself make a pronounciation on its interpretation. Does not add much but does say that Eve was miraculously created (from Adam’s rib). Does not say anything about Adam. Nevertheless, I do hold that according to my interpretation Gen 2,7 means that Adam was distinctly created – whether or not to call that a miracle or “even more than a miracle” is semantics. And if you deduce from “Eve was miraculously created” that “Adam was miraculously created” (which cannot be deduced per se from the encyclical, although I hold it on other grounds), then nothing hinders us to suppose that just as Eve was created from a pre-existing rib, Adam would have been created from a pre-existing animal.
    1950 — exactly. Nevertheless when you wrote “heretical”, I do not know whether you copied it from the text or added it on your own, and heretical is a censure which means quite much.

    Dear @Joan Ellen,
    thank you for your kind words.

    Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit indeed, but it is the self-control of Catholics, not the self-control of Manichaeans and Mormons (having left some traces in Puritanism and some fainter traces in “mainstream-Conservative”, if you know what I mean, Protestantism). Thus, no, passion is not part of, a component of, the sin of anger. We are created as body and soul and need not be ashamed of our passions per se, nor, per se, suppress them. I guess that may sound “liberal” to you, but true it is nonetheless. St. Thomas advises the soldier to positively accept his anger and make use of it (S. th. II/II 123 X).

    We are not 100% responsible for what we think. Sins of thought only occur in deliberate thought.

    We are born with objective standards built into our soul. An unmerited gift from God Himself.
    I do not like to say it, but I wonder whether the word “unmerited gift” is, here, in place. Of course our very being is an unmerited gift of God himself. Nevertheless if you mean (as I take your words to mean) than we are hold accountable to fulfil such and such commandments even without knowing them, and enjoy as an unmerited gift that we do know them (written in the heart), I have to disagree. For if God had not written them into our heart, nor commanded them in a supernatural way, we would not, could not in justice, be hold accountable to them.

    ““ordinary” paths of human badness?” These are good words. Are you saying that there are extraordinary paths of human badness?

    I was not giving a statement made fit into pure logics, which is why I used the quotation marks. Nevertheless, for all practical purposes (and I leave the formal definition as an exercise to the reader, as a science textbook would say) there are ordinary and extraordinary paths of badness… and of course the thing that makes problems to theorize about is the “ordinary”. Badness is, in a sense, extraordinary. Nevertheless it does make some sense when Father Brown said “young people will have passions” (The Scandal), and this is what I meant.

  91. Johnno says:

    Imrahil -

    On the topic of the Church fathers, the overwhelming majority supported the straightforward sense of Scripture, the norm being not to depart from it unless there was a legitimate reason to see it another way. For the most part there wasn’t. And as the Church Magisterium dictates, the Oral Tradition and consensus of the Fathers constitutes an obligation on Catholics to see it as authoritative. The less-that-literal interpretations by Augustine don’t fall far at all from it in that his argument is still in accordance with the clear understanding that there were 6 Days, if ‘Day’ be defined as simply ‘a transition of day to night’ which you might argue was 6 seconds or 6 billion years. There is certainly room to see it in there and if you wish to hold to that you could, but do note that as I said, it is not clear that Augustine actually did subscribe to what he presented as something other than an illustrative argument. And even if he did it was against the clear concensus of the Fathers, many of whom also attempted to gather an exact age for the Earth and began with Day 1 of Genesis treating all 6 days as regular days and holding that the Earth was less than 10,000 years old. Augustine would be an extraordinary exception to the rule.

    So if you wish to insert (24 hours ^ billion) x 6 worth of time in between, you would have to propose scientifically the problem of exposing the Earth to the Light/Sun’s heat while depriving the opposite side of it for an enormous period of time which would be disastrous to the evolutionary ecosystem required by modern science. So your interpretation of Genesis would be rejected by both the current science establishment and also by the consensus of the Church Fathers. You could of course argue for miraculous intervention, but if you’re going to do that, might as well just stick with the plain reading of Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Jews and the Church. And we should also mention that even if you accepted long ages in Genesis’ days, then the complete order of events is still at odds with the Scientific Establishment. In Genesis, God creates the Earth first, then the universe of stars and the sun. This contradicts modern science. The same with the sea being present before land, which to the naturalists required a molten Earth before any water. Likewise with plant life before sea life. Birds before land animals. The whole order would be wrong according to evolutionist scientists. If you want to appeal to modern scientists you’d have to throw out Genesis completely along with the foundations of original sin, marriage, gender etc.

    Finally you’d have to contend with the clear words of God Himself speaking through Moses in Exodus 31:15-17 – “Six days may work be done, but on the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the sons of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant. It is a sign between me and the sons of Israel forever. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.” God uses Himself as an example to command Israel to observe the 7 day week and the Sabbath. Knowing God, He began the Creation this way in anticipation of this, for nothing He does is without purpose and all that He does is tied both to a physical and historical reality alongside the spiritual and poetic. They harmonize together. God could’ve just stated that He created the world in 6 periods and differentiated between His actions versus the example they were to follow. But He doesn’t. And if you wish to argue otherwise, then either you must say God lied (impossible), or God didn’t really mean what He said (which opens up a really big can of worms with regards to everything in Scripture right up to the Gospels and beyond).

    Getting back to the Jewish Tradition of the Light being God. I must clarify that they do not say the created Light is God who of course is not a created being. The Light is the physical manifestation of God in our physical reality. Light is involved often when God shows up throughout Scripture. Usually depicted as fire. From the Burning Bush, to the pillar of Light, to the Holy Spirit Descending upon the Apostles, to Christ’s appearance to St. Paul. Do not now be so quick to cast off the Tradition of the Jews and Church as meaningless to appeal to the Bible alone; that is what the Protestants do.

    Getting to the Tree of Life, no doubt it was there to sustain man, just as all the plant life was made for food and air to breathe. Man is a dependant being, who depends on God. This is why we have the Eucharist. Man, and the whole of creation placed under his domain, was always in danger of death and destruction, as God warned Him; if man chose to disobey God and set Himself up as a being like Him, which of course he is not. Death is the rejection of God. Both physical and spiritual. The reason death and suffering exist in the world is a physical and ‘in-time’ manifestation of the pain and loss we will suffer if we finally reject God in eternity where we will eternally be separated from Him and thus starve and suffer forever without the sustaining power of God whom we rejected. This state and place is called Hell. This is why Scripture and the Apostles describe death and pain and suffering in the world as being an intruder brought about by man’s sin. God did not create it as part of the original design. But man, in rejecting his relationship and dependence on God, suffers it as a natural consequence. Death is brought about as a consequence of man’s original sin. God did not institute death. Death is not a good thing. God called His creation “Good” but Himself condemns death and promises that its sting shall be taken away someday and have no more power over us.

    The story of evolution requires death and survival and suffering and extinction as its very own engine for advancement. To say God used evolution means God Himself from the very beginning of creation used it as the very vehicle for fumbling His way, randomly and lengthily, until man turned up. In other words, death and bloodshed cease to be a sinful consequence, and are instead primordial and good. Our entire theology with regards to death, war, etc. being intrinsic evils, though sometimes unavoidable, is completely turned around. I’m afraid the Jews, Church Fathers and Creationists have their theology correct here when they point this out. It is those seeking a synthesis between the God of Christianity and the god of evolution that have to sort this out, and it is impossible because of the obvious contradiction.

    Getting to your thoughts on the references I quoted (the notations there are not by me):

    By what leap of logic do you equate the Earth, the dust from the ground, with that of an ape? Often interpreted this way by whom? Those wishing to marry the contradictions of evolution with the clear words of Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers and the Popes?

    When the councils and Popes speak of man being made ‘instantaneously’ and ‘immediately’ then mean without any millions of years process that evolution requires (or not, according to the Gould’s punctuated equilibria, which is a lot like Pokemon). This right away outrules macro-evolution. And why Jesus Christ Himself says that “in the beginning God made them, man & woman.” The beginning being the Creation. The 6th day is a lot closer than 3-4 billions years later where much of the time there were no gender differences while cells were dividing in a lake to reproduce.

    When the Church says that the whole substance of man is made, they indeed do rule out any supporting actors because evolution demands the substance not be whole but in progress for long periods of time until it arrives to the present form, which is still not the complete and whole substance, because evolutionarily speaking, nothing is ever whole, which is why PostCatholic and other evolutionsts believe man still evolves and shall become something akin to the X-Men in the future. Creation is a complete and whole act by God. The effect is never greater than the cause. Evolution denies this, in the face of everything science tells us, such that some scientists believe that the universe today doesn’t represent the universe in which evolution occurred, something changed and now evolution has ended and the universe is running down and everything shall come to an end one day once the usable energy runs out, what Lewis called the atheist’s apocalypse. It is here where some theistic evolutionsts try to inject God, but if there’s no observable evidence that evolution is occuring or ever has occurred, then why bother trying to accomodate it with our revealed faith?

    With regards to the creation of Adam and Eve, we know that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, because Scripture explicitly states so. Scripture also explicitly states that Adam was created from the soil of the ground. The idea that Adam was created from a pre-existing animal is simply your own injection and invention. Not found in Scripture. Not taught by the Jews. Not taught by the Church Fathers. Not taught by the Church Magisterium. I don’t see why we cannot appeal to the Bible. We do it for practically everything else. But now all of a sudden it’s inconvenient? Why? Because the house of evolution is threathened? This is again actually a Protestant mindset, one that claims to hold the Scripture as authoritative, but conveniently doesn’t want to acknowledge Scripture when it supports Catholicism. You can’t have it both ways. The only reason Catholics began trying to read into Scripture things which aren’t there is because they were fooled into believing an atheistic philosophy masquerading around as actual science and want to dilute their faith and the truth to appeal to a demographic that is neither scientific nor rational. It was simply modernism. The demolition of the faith also started here.

    With regards to the heresy of “polygenism”, it is indeed a defined and serious heresy. Pope Pius XII condemned it. You can even look it up at Catholic Answers. It is a dogmatic definition of the Catholic Faith that ALL mankind, every human being, is descended from Adam and Eve, our original parents. This ran counter to the evolutionary establishment who believed there were different races of men who descended from different ancestral apes and thus provided a rationale for racism and eugenics and slavery. Oddly enough, the current evolutionary paradigm has caught up to the Christian faith and now subscribes to the ‘out-of-Africa’ theory and that of the ‘mitochondrial Eve’ that all human beings trace back to one point of human origins. So Science seems to be catching up to what the Judeo-Christians already knew for around 5,000 years. Also the secular world frowns on racism now, so the idea is very appealing in itself. So as I point out, our belief about origins shapes our human behavior, beliefs, actions and society. Genesis is not merely some allegory that you can dispense of reinterpret to suit an atheist who’ll turn around and laugh at you when you tell him about the Risen Lord and the fact that we eat him in the form of bread. Believing in a 6 day creation is much easier. If you take God at His word and begin to understand why He created as He did, you begin to uncover an amazing wealth of Theology. Every day and action forms a separation, light from darkness, land from sea, birds from fish, man from animal, woman from man; these are not accidents or random. It is purposeful. It lays out the divine cosmic principles the ancient world saw as yin & yang, animate & inanimate, masculinity & femininity, as more than just genders but principles that applied to everything, objects, words, language. It all means something, it all tells us about God, who is not only Creator, but an artist expressing what He is. Understanding the Creation, it’s distinctions, its laws, and especially the masculine/feminine and marriage tells us about Him and about what our ultimate relationship is to be with Him, as abride to the groom. Throw all that away to substitute evolutionary philosophy, and you get the insane world we have today where everything is change and everything is rebellion and everything is a flux and never anything soild or static or clearly defined. So you decide which world you’d rather inhabit. As for me, I submit to the wisdom of the Church and that of God who has always been clear and honest with us from Day 1.

    [You write lots of long comments.]

  92. Johnno says:

    Sorry Fr. Z. I don’t always mean to, but usually these topics get complicated… Would it be alright in the future to separate content into smaller multiple ones? (and of course, trying to be as brief as possible…)

  93. Giuseppe says:

    Re. evolution and Catholicism. I’ve learned so much from this conversation. Even with the long posts! Thank you, Father Z, for hosting such a forum. I’d love to see this conversation continue with Johnno, Robtbrown, Imrahil, JoanEllen, et al. I’ve felt like I am back in philosophy and biology classes in college, so I like the ability to explore these ideas.