Monday, February 22, 2010

Credo and Clarifications: What I Believe About Scripture, Church and Evolution

In light of a recent post which gathered a good deal of attention, I thought I should deal with certain misconceptions over what I actually believe.  Since some atheists and some Christians seem to be under the impression I reject the authority of Scripture and of the Church.  Because of this I want to make a formal statement on this subject.

Do I Believe Scripture Contains Error?

Answer: No.  I believe Scripture is Inerrant.  My disputes are not over the words of Scripture.  Rather, my disputes are with those personal interpretations of Scripture which insist on being treated as Doctrine.  I do believe certain Christians misunderstand the idea of genre when it comes to reading Scripture and draw a meaning the Bible never intended to give.

I formally reject the idea the Bible is only symbolic or myth and repudiate any other view which claims Scripture contains error.

Do I Believe The Catholic Church Errs?

Answer: No.  I accept and submit to the authority of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church under the Successor of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, and do my best to keep to the teachings of the Church.

I believe the Catholic Church was established by Christ and was given the authority to bind and to loose, and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is given by Christ the authority to interpret Scripture

I do not go against the authoritative teaching of the Church and seek to constantly improve my understanding of her teachings to keep rooted in the Catholic faith.

That being said, I wish to also state that the Magisterium is living.  It does not contradict itself, but it can deepen the understanding of a teaching.  So we need to understand that the Current Successor of St. Peter has the authority to interpret the teachings of the Church in a binding way, but the Catholic in the pew does not.

This is why, when a radical traditionalist or a Young Earth Creationist Catholic cites an older council of the Church and accuses the the modern Magisterial teaching of contradiction, I accept the teaching of the Magisterium over the so-called interpretations of the individual.

What Do I Believe on Creationism, Evolution and the Teachings of the Church?

I believe that Genesis intended to affirm the truth that all creation is from God, and nothing exists which God did not will to bring into being.  However Scripture does not say how God chose to create the universe and all that which is in it.

Science appears to indicate the world is around 4 billion years of age.  I ground what I believe about the possibility of evolution in the teaching of Pope Pius XII who laid down the following requirements:

36. For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.  However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith.[11] Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question. (Humani Generis)

The Church has not ruled that one may not believe in evolution at all, but requires us to remember:

  1. It hasn't been proven without a doubt and we are not to say it has been proven beyond a doubt
  2. Those who consider evolution have to consider both arguments for and against it.
  3. The Church has the authority of authentically interpreting the Scriptures
  4. We are to always submit to the Church should it make a ruling.
  5. We must believe the soul was directly created by God

Because the Catholic Church does not forbid a belief in evolution that accepts God as the cause of all which exists, those who claim Catholics that accept the possibility of evolution are heretics do not speak for the Church, but instead are guilty of rash judgment if they assume without proof that Catholics who believe in evolution deny the authority of the Church or the Bible.


I formally reject as false and unjust any accusation which claims I deny the authority of the Church or the inerrancy of Scripture.  I do submit to the Church with an act of will.  I will never disobey the Church and seek to avoid all instances of accidental departure from her teachings.

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