Thursday, 6 December 2012

A Different Kind of Cowardice

Waiting for our street friends to arrive for coffee and pasties, I idly picked up a pamphlet, put out by  a fellow- Missioner, on Intelligent Design. A mess of pottage, a curate's egg, a load of cobblers, describe it as you may, it's a potent mix of poor theology and worse science.

 I am ashamed of my cowardice. I left it unchallenged.

Some of my best friends are fundamentalist Christians, convinced that God created the Universe a few thousand years ago by an interventionalist, simplistic process that got everything here, as it is, in six days, period.

Why, knowing this is nonsense, flying in the face of biblical texts and scientific discovery, do I keep quiet?

What's the point of arguing the point? Those wedded to creationism, rather than intimate with the Creator, will not be persuaded by any argument I put forward, but this is just an excuse.

I start with a disadvantage. These friends had trouble accepting that I, as a Roman Catholic, could possibly call myself a Christian at all. I have problems with this myself, from time to time, when reactionaries in my church do something stupid, but I stand firm. You see, the Roman Church is capable of humility, and of learning from it's mistakes. Some of which are hardly excusable, so I'm not going to try, among them, censoring Galileo.

Galileo was recently rehabilitated. Recently! Truly! Better late than never, GG!

So, bible bashers, why do I believe my position as a a 'believer' in evolution by national selection, is compatible with my Christian faith?

What does the bible actually say? Well, firstly, only that God rested on the seventh day - not that he retired... Secondly, in God's own words:

Genesis 1:24, 26 God said, “Let the land produce all kinds of living creatures. Let there be livestock, and creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals. Let there be all kinds of them.” And that’s exactly what happened. " (NIV translation)

" Let the land produce.... " a succinct description of evolution, if you ask me, and a remarkable insight for a Bronze Age culture.

The Catholic Church has, nowadays, a sensible view of science. Rather than oppose it, the church engages with it. Many great scientists are Catholic - some, like Fr George V Coyne, director of  the Vatican Observatory in Arizona, are priests. I expect, if you're celibate, you have the time and the energy to get doctorates in theology AND astrophysics...

I don't agree with all church positions, especially on human reproduction, but  I think Fr George has this right:

“God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world which reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity. God lets the world be what it will be in its continuous evolution. He does not intervene, but rather allows, participates, loves.”
Why don't I tell my friends hooked on Intelligent Design that I think they're stupid? Because they're my friends, I guess.

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