How Teilhard de Chardin’s hidden response to Vatican censure finally came to light

Pope Pius XI and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (Images: Wikimedia Commons/Composite: America)Pope Pius XI and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (Images: Wikimedia Commons/Composite: America)

The June 2018 issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, included an article by David Grumett and Paul Bentley, “Teilhard de Chardin, Original Sin and the Six Propositions.” It is a deep analysis of events of 1922 to 1925 in which the Jesuit paleontologist and theologian tried to reconcile traditional church teaching on the origins of the human race and the concept of original sin. This article prompted an article on May 10, 2018, from Catholic News Service by Carol Glatz. We hope here to give a little more background.

Working from his serious scientific background, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., could not accept the Bible’s account of creation and the fall as literally true. In 1922, he wrote a seven-page paper, as the article in Zygon states, “discussing how the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional dogma of original sin might be understood in the light of modern evolutionary theory.”

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Teilhard could not accept the Bible’s account of creation and the fall as literally true.

Teilhard’s work and his seven pages, his “Note,” caught the attention of the Jesuit curia and of the Holy Office (predecessor of today’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) in Rome. The Holy Office, in the end, required Teilhard to sign six statements on points where they saw his thought in conflict with traditional church teaching. Five of the statements cited doctrinal backup, from the Council of Trent to Vatican I, for what they were asking, but number four did not. It stated that “the whole human race takes its origin from one protoparent, Adam.” And with this Teilhard had difficulty, as he was being asked to accept something that had no scientific or official dogmatic grounding. In the end, he did sign it “in faith only,” not with scientific assent.

These Six Propositions were locked away from that time until 2007 when they were discovered in the Jesuit archives in Rome.

In late February this year, the University of Edinburgh hosted an event to celebrate the discovery of Teilhard de Chardin’s Six Propositions. The day included some lecture and some discussion, led by Mr. Grumett. Its main focus was a reading of a play about Teilhard titled “Inquisition,” by Mr. Bentley, an actor who with Mr. Grumett wrote the article in Zygon. They know each other through the British Teilhard Association, which sponsored the event.

Teilhard’s Six Propositions were locked away until 2007 when they were discovered in the Jesuit archives in Rome.

Mr. Grumett is a professor at the University of Edinburgh. His interest in Teilhard goes back to his doctoral studies at Cambridge University, where he specialized in Teilhard’s theology.

Mr. Bentley is an actor, most recently known for his role as the High Septon in “Game of Thrones.” He traces his interest in Teilhard back to student days at the Jesuit school in Wimbledon. Along the way, he learned of the document that had not been seen since 1925. In 2007, his interest led him to Rome, where Pope Benedict XVI had only recently granted access to some previously closed archives. He searched there but did not find the Teilhard document. He then visited the Jesuit archives.

Mr. Bentley was on a tight schedule, as he was taking only a couple of days off from his role in “Mary Poppins” in London’s West End. And by Friday afternoon, as time was growing short, he was getting desperate. Then, Mr. Bentley wrote in an email to America, his guardian angel whispered “censure” in his ear. He went to the receptionist and asked if there was a file titled “censure” among the Teilhard files. There was, and there he found the Six Propositions. He also found a letter from Teilhard to the Jesuit superior general, Wlodimir Ledochowski, explaining and defending his Original Sin essay, “Note sur quelques Représentations historiques possibles du Péché originel” (“Note on some possible historic concepts of original sin”), the essay that got him into trouble. “I had never heard of or seen this letter,” Mr. Bentley said, “and I don’t think any biographer or scholar had either.”

“When I got back to ‘Mary Poppins,’” he said, “one of the boy dancers asked me where I’d been for three days, so I told him I’d been to Rome and how I had found the Six Propositions, and when I finished he said, ‘Paul—that’s the coolest thing I ever ’eard.’”

He kept his discovery quiet while he worked on the play. Eventually, he and Mr. Grumett put together the Six Propositions celebration at the School of Divinity, New College, University of Edinburgh. Mr. Bentley also hopes that some production company will stage “Inquisition.” The discovery and publication of Teilhard’s work have filled in a gap in the scholar’s story with valuable documentation.

J Cosgrove
1 week 6 days ago

could not accept the Bible’s account of creation and the fall as literally true...discussing how the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional dogma of original sin might be understood in the light of modern evolutionary theory.

His ideas were very, very wrong. For those wrong ideas he was willing to give up the basis for Catholic theology. Arrogance or hubris or both. He was essentially denying there was a God.

J Cosgrove
1 week 6 days ago

There is zero in today's science which contradicts the 6 propositions. Notice #6

1 The first man, Adam, when he acted against God's command in paradise, immediately lost that holiness and justice in which he had been created
2 The sin of Adam damaged not only him alone but also his descendants; and the holiness and justice received from God, which he lost, he lost not only for himself alone but also for us
3 This sin of Adam, which is one by origin and passed on to all by propagation and not by imitation, inheres in everyone as something proper to each
4 Therefore the whole human race takes its origin from one protoparent, Adam
5 Even though faith is above reason, there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason
6 It is impossible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood and understands

rose-ellen caminer
1 week 4 days ago

Though I accept the revelatory truth of Genesis I do not understand it. I do not understand how a good God would tempt his made- in -His- image beloved - creatures, with a prohibition? If God is all knowing, God already knows we will give in to the temptation. And the punishment did not fit the "crime". Giving in to temptation, or to enticing promises, is innocent . What I do understand in what Genesis reveals, and what is enough for me to understand, is that there was some break with God, for we experience this break with The- All, The One [all- ah as the Muslims say ] Goodness,God , in that we humans and all living things, all suffer and therefore want and are in need of redemption, of wholeness. To believe that it's a "happy fault" that brought us Jesus Christ, I don't quite buy for who's running the show? God can do anything ;we did not need a break with the One Good God to know Jesus. The origin of sin if by sin we mean a deliberate rejection of goodness, would always be possible even had Adam and Eve not disobeyed for we were created with free will. Hence any one of us at any point in time could always choose to sin. And were there two things going on in that first act of disobedience; the sin of disobeying and the subsequent knowledge of evil? If Adam and Eve were tricked and therefore still really innocent of wanting to do wrong, then what really this original "sin"means is that humanity became in the thrall of the Satan the tempter of Eve. That Satanic grasp on humanity is what needed breaking and that was the role of Jesus's incarnation.That Adam and Eve's original sin gets passed down to all humanity does not seem ethically sound, on its face, but it does explain the evil and suffering of the world ;if evil is the result of a satanic hold on the world resulting from Satan's seduction of the innocent Eve, her compliance with the evil one, that explains how we all live in a world saturated with evil[suffering and harm to mind, body and soul, ] though goodness is present too.

I thought what got de Chardin in trouble with the Church was his seeming to be replacing Jesus Christ the historic God /man, of history, and salvation, with the concept "Christ consciousness" which is NOT the same as the actual Jesus the Christ, and therefore heretical.

Tim O'Leary
1 week 4 days ago

J - There are a lot of "garden-variety" Catholic-lite secularist-heavy commentators below. My own reaction to Fr. de Chardin is that he was a good soul following the best science of his time, with its insights and prejudices. Despite that, he understood the limits of scientific hypothesizing vs. the certainty of revelation and accepted the 6 propositions.

While I agree that science has not invalidated any of the 6 propositions, I do not think they all amount to infallible statements and prefer to hold fast to the teaching in the Catechism. Pope Benedict XVI, when Cardinal, gave 5 homilies on Chapters 1-3 of Genesis (published in 1986, in a short book, "In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall.") that I think is the best summary of where orthodox Catholicism is at on this subject.

J Cosgrove
1 week 4 days ago

I will try and find it. I have been on this journey for over 20 years of fitting science and religion together. My background is science and 16 years of Catholic education. What I have found is that Catholics don't understand evolution and are intimidated by Darwin's ideas and must accommodate them. It turns out that Darwin's ideas are incapable of explaining evolution. Academia will not admit that and teach the truth. Because of this most Catholic theologians accommodate it. The result is bad theology based on bad science.

J Cosgrove
1 week 3 days ago

I have found an online version of Benedict's homilys. I will read them and give you my reactions for what that is worth. Two quick observations. First, I have heard the story of Adam more than once in the last couple years during Mass, once recently at a wedding. Second, Benedict mentions Darwin's ideas specifically in his homilies and will have to read them carefully to see just what he says. By then this thread will be long gone.

J Cosgrove
1 week 3 days ago

a lot of "garden-variety" Catholic-lite secularist-heavy commentators below

I find it amusing that these commenters use such terms as "fundamentalist" and "creationist" and "clear thinking" to disparage others. They must believe this will persuade people to their point of view. The irony is they cannot justify their own thinking.

Emmett Burke
1 week 5 days ago

Could you please provide a link to the Notes and associated discussion.

Emmett Burke
1 week 5 days ago

Sorry the link is already there at the very beginning of the article. Thanks

Mark M
1 week 5 days ago

I had the noosphere and the omega point crammed into my skull by a BC Jesuit in a ‘70s theology course.
My head almost exploded with that indecipherable crap. Good riddance.

Michael Gerrity
1 week 5 days ago

Great article. I laughed, I cried, I wondered if the de Chardin society has T-shirts. And the High Septon! Life is interesting sometimes. But truly, I feel sorry for Father de Chardin. In his faith he was trying to do something that can't be done: reconciling the stories of Genesis with evolutionary science, or astronomy, or genetics, or tectonics, etc. At Gonzaga High School (class of '66) I was taught, or perhaps it was only intimated to me, that Genesis cannot be taken literally. People don't do that, at least not grown-up people. Genesis is beautiful in places. "And the spirit of God moved above the waters" gives me goosebumps. But it's not a textbook. And forcing people to sign stuff just because you can--that would seem to be a characteristic of an institution without convincing arguments. Debates between scientists and believers are quite pointless, it seems to me.

Al Cannistraro
1 week 5 days ago

I also graduated from a Catholic high school in '66, and I emerged with the same attitude toward Genesis -- which I have tended to assume was the predominant attitude among non-fundamentalist believers. Is that assumption incorrect? I hope not. As I have continued to pursue my curiosity about what can objectively be known about Christian origins, I have learned that Jewish history as depicted in the Hebrew bible has not been corroborated or substantiated in any respect whatsoever, so it's not just Genesis. Also, using available literature (including the Old and New Testaments read as literature) paints a picture that is quite at odds with the traditional Catholic faith-based one. Unfortunately, there is little remaining relevant non-biblical literature from the centuries around the time that Christianity emerged to paint an objective picture.

But reading the Six Propositions in the background Teilhard article really sent me for a loop!

John Wakefield
1 week 5 days ago

What are you doing over there Mike Gerrity? Me, Gonzaga University ... your name is familiar ... these words are directed to the article, but your points are a jumping off place:

May the poetry of the Bible, here, Genesis, be noted .. the myth - a word that was defined at Gonzaga as ´super-truth´ - as that which soars; and which is unleashed by the poetry.

Velikovsky does a lot of ´taking literally´ of the Bible, in his case, the Old Testament.

But, literal/schmitteral ... could it not be that the Biblical writers .. those that got the material in there .. were not a bit overwhelmed with the noumenon-at-hand?

For example, Fuego, that miserably not-abstruse volcano rampaging in Guatemala right now, tonight .. how about if you going to write about that in a story, a story of disclosure (a meaning I will take for the word apocalypse)?

.. ! .. ?

Sometimes words, be they Hebrew, Sanskrit, Aramaic ... fall miserably wide of the mark, or narrow.

It seems, may it be inserted as opinion, that all Manichean devices brought to the great subjects of us: are we making it/or/not? .. should be let go: and in this cache, literal/not literal. The Bible is wrestling with strong situations. Explosive situations. The heart of man, the soul of man. The destiny of man.

Every walk around Williamsburg, that bed of Hassidim Jews - ever walk around there on a sabbath day? They got it down to how many steps they can take/no elevators .. no one wants a sixth floor walk-up ... could that not be said to be taking it a little too far, a little picky with the meticulousness?

.. that which gave you goosebumps, I say that is the great part. Father Jim Burns taught us a fall class on Paul. You might know him. Blue eyes, very forceful blue eyes. He got so het up with Paul I thought he was going to actually fly right out of the administration building, the class on the third floor. Religion is a contact sport, isn´t it? Right in here where we live. The deepest, most intimate, most hopefuly, most despairing part of us.

.. so, the best to you ... would like to be in touch with you tell you what I am up to down here.

Oh, let me close with one, going back a ways: I am in a church in Liberty, Texas. There is this Hispanic American there .. other side of the aisle from me. He is kneeling. On the floor - there were probably kneelers, but he is kneeling on the floor. And he was talking with God. Just as simple as that, just as plain as the nose on your face. No synod, no papal bulls, no documentation. The innocence involved there is the one that just might be the one Jesus was referring to.

Al Cannistraro
1 week 5 days ago

Question: Is it safe to assume that the Six Propositions are seen as relics today by clear-thinking Catholics in high places, as well as my most garden variety, non-fundamentalist Catholics?

Derrick Kourie
1 week 5 days ago

I wish that it were safe to assume so. Regrettably, I don't think it is. I believe that most "garden variety non-fundamentalist" Catholics are in a kind of limbo. They don't know how to think about these matters, because for decades, there has been no leadership - only silence from the top. This silence has empowered and emboldened the fundamentalists in the church (as evident in some of the disdainful comments here), it has dispirited and dejected clear-thinking Catholics and driven out millions. That, at least, is my perception.

Clearly, what happened, historically, is something along the following lines: that which we regard as a sinful orientation in homo sapiens was in fact an evolutionary advantage in early hominoid (and other) species. I refer to tendencies such as aggression, jealousy, possessiveness, suspicion of others, etc. In small bands of hierarchically organised hominid groupings, such attributes favoured survival. As population density increased because of homo sapiens's fertility and survival skills, these attributes start to become disadvantageous (again, from an evolutionary / survival point of view). But concomitantly, homo sapiens also acquires a capacity for reflective consciousness and can perceive the survival disadvantages (evolutionary speaking) or sinful character (theologically speaking) of these tendencies inherited from our hominid ancestry. What begins to favour evolutionary survival is virtue / love.

There was therefore no moment of original sin, but an emergence in homo sapiens of a reflective consciousness that renders us capable of judgment, self-control and sin. There was no fall, but an awakening. There was no prelapsarian state of bliss, but an emergence from animalistic ignorance. In fact, we are probably still emerging / awakening into clearer consciousness.

Until Church leadership explicitly endorses a narration such as the above, millions of modern educated people will continue to abandon Christianity, And those of us who know these things to be true but remain in the church, will be marginalised and forced into silence, lest we incur the disapproval of fundamentalist and/or ignorant authorities, too afraid to disavow what has obviously become an anachronistic world-view.

Marian O'Brien
1 week 5 days ago

There is another view; one that follows your line of thinking regarding an uprising of man from a human precursor to a creature that truly images God. It proposes that the incarnation was not a remedy for man’s sinful behavior but instead part of the original plan for creation. This view holds that God had always intended to share in our humanity. Jesus mission’ was not intended to raise man from a fallen status but to reveal the kingdom of God with himself as the model of the perfect human. Jesus is the goal for all of humankind to emulate on our journey to truly reflecting the image and likeness of God.

Remember that the early Church's understanding regarding Christ's life and death was a process. In the end, the predominant view was that Christ’s life and death was seen as making something new possible; that is redemption. According to many of the early Church Fathers, this was accomplished by Jesus recapitulating the history of Adam. A “do over” so to speak, that redressed the wrongs committed by the first man and returned man to the image and likeness of God. An alternate view was voiced by others including Dun Scotus. John Duns Scotus [1266-1308] was a Franciscan priest and a contemporary of Thomas Aquinas. Just as the early Church fathers had, Aquinas put an emphasis on sin as the origin of the incarnation. Scotus disagreed. Scotus presented an alternative theology of the incarnation that was based on scripture. Duns Scotus argued that God’s supreme work, the Incarnation, had to be first and foremost in God’s mind. It could not be dependent on, or occasioned by, any action of humans, especially sin. Duns Scotus believed that it had always been God’s intent to communicate his divine love to his creation through the Incarnation and therefore, the Incarnation was not a backup plan intended as expiation for the sin of humans.

We can see support for this alternate purpose for the incarnation in scripture, most notably in the Gospel of John. John 1:1-18 gives us a strong evidence that Jesus’ presence in the world as a human was part of the original plan from before the world was formed out of the void. We also see evidence for this alternate view in Paul’s letters; primarily Colossians and Ephesians. “…all things have been created through him [the beloved son] and for him.” [Colossians 1:16] And in Ephesians 1:9-10, God “has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

Man certainly is sinful, but as theologians such Teilhard de Chardin, Duns Scotus, Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, Catherine Mowry LaCugna, Kenneth Overburg and others have all argued that it is because humans are still in a state of becoming. They are on a journey to become the image of the perfect model of man. That model is Jesus Christ.

You might want to read the book "Is Original Sin in Scripture" by Herbert Haag. Unfortunately the book is out of print but you can get a used copy on Amazon. Also, there is a more contemporary book called "Evolution and Eden" by Jerry Korsmeyer. Korsmeyer has PhDs in both Physics and Theology. His book is a discussion on balancing the teaching of original sin with contemporary science. There is also an article that was published in America Magazine in 2001 called “Evolution, Evil and Original Sin” by Daryl Domning that you might find harmonizes nicely with your comments.

Derrick Kourie
1 week 4 days ago

Thank you, Marian. I am aware of the line of thinking running through Origen, Scotus and others that you so clearly outline. Not being an theologian, I have not read the various authors whom you mention. Thanks too for those pointers.

My primary concern is that Church leadership has not lead in these matters. John Paul II retained the monitum on Teilhard's works and Ratzinger's Catechism implies a state of prelapsarian bliss, and explicitly retains the notion of a pivotal moment of first sin in history that has stained all of humanity ever since. I believe that the Vatican's refusal to engage constructively with the theme of original sin and to reframe and modernise its anarchistic views has had catastrophic consequences at ground level, being a major contributing factor to the exodus from our churches.

Marian O'Brien
1 week 4 days ago

Perhaps the fear is that there is nothing satisfactory that can fill the void if the doctrine of original sin is not there to answer the question of how a Good and perfect God could create a world where people sin. In 1985, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who at the time was head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had to admit that ‘the inability to understand original sin and make it understandable is really one of the most difficult problems of present-day Theology and pastoral ministry.'

Yet we still have no theology of evolution. Why? We have great scholarship from Scientist/Theologians like De Chardin that would help us harmonize science and Church teaching.

I am a mathematician who was drawn to study theology. One of the wonderful and surprising things I found was that Augustine was right, there is an inseparable link between faith and reason. The Church will get there one day, I think. After all, the Church no longer teaches that the earth is at the center of the solar system [but they made life very difficult for Galileo and Copernicus before they got there]. My hope is that the people who have left will be willing to come back when that time comes.

Derrick Kourie
1 week 4 days ago

Thank you for the reference. From my earlier reading of Teilhard, I was aware of the outline of his thinking. The article is an interesting contextualisation of Vatican political and theological considerations at the time. I hope it will pivotally contribute to a renewed consideration of the question of original sin, and all the theological implications associated with it: who was Jesus; Why did he die: what does salvation/redemption really mean; etc. Marian's explication of the Scotus line of thinking is very relevant.

Marian O'Brien
1 week 4 days ago

Thank you for the link.

Philip Pia
1 week 5 days ago

The concept of a universal connection of human consciousness is very old and forms the heart of the Christian tradition. Teilhard’s contribution was to take this concept put place in within the scope of recent knowledge of the universe being a work in progress from the Big Bang, through the development of individual human consciousness, through the future convergence of collective human consciousness and unification with the Cosmic Christ or Omega Point. Teilhard is not easy reading but his theology is powerful and growing in acceptance as a unitive spirituality. For similar themes and somewhat easier reading, I suggest Making All Things New by Ilia Delio O.S.F.

Will Niermeyer
1 week 5 days ago

I thought we moved way beyond this biblical creation account as being credible. It is a beautiful story about humankind's relationship with God and each other. Nothing more or less.

J Cosgrove
1 week 5 days ago

The story of Adam and the fall is the basis for Catholicism/Christianity. If one does not accept it, the death and resurrection of Christ and Catholicism is meaningless. Yes, it is a story, but there is nothing known to contradict it. You cannot be a Catholic and not believe it.

Robert Lewis
1 week 5 days ago

Where do you get such a backward idea when John Paul II himself said that there is no contradiction between evolution theory and the Christian Faith? How can you have the Adam myth and evolution at the same time?

J Cosgrove
1 week 5 days ago

Nothing backward in what I said. You do not understand what evolution is. Evolution is the appearance of various life forms over 3.5 billion years. It does not say how they appeared only that they appeared. There is no method known to science to explain how it happened. The direct creation of Adam is as valid as any other method. If one believes otherwise then one believes in fairy tales. Science hasn't a clue.

J Cosgrove
1 week 5 days ago

One of the fairy tales are Darwin's idea of evolution. Maybe some day science will have a valid theory but now all they have is wild speculation. The problem is the origin of new proteins. The cell is the most complicated machine known to man and proteins are its parts. In Teilhard's time the cell was just something called protoplasm.

Robert Lewis
1 week 4 days ago

Darwin's is only one version of evolution. The story of Adam and Adam's descendants--one of incest, fratricide and blood sacrifices--is, however, not only preposterous, but one that, in its support of the horrible theology of "substitutionary atonement," makes the Christian god approximate the bloodthirsty Yahweh of the Jews and the tyrannical Allah of the Muslims. Blake called this terrible sky-god "Nobodaddy," and even Milton couldn't quite stomach him. He is NOT Jesus's "Abba," and Duns Scotus (and probably Francis of Assisi) knew it.

Jonathan Lunine
1 week 5 days ago

Indeed so...but a difficult teaching. The Catechism states, "The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents" (CCC 390)

Gregory Hansell
1 week 5 days ago

This is only the case if one holds to a substitutionary theory of atonement, an absurd understanding of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection that implies a monstrous, Zeus-like God. Look instead to Scotus’ “Primacy of Christ” for a more powerful, beautiful, and Christocentric view of the Incarnation, one that is not contingent on Adam’s sin.

Edward Graff
1 week 4 days ago

Agreed. The prevailing view before Trent (I believe) was closer to Bonaventure who held that God cannot be forced by circumstance to do anything. The mission of Christ was always to unify us to God and He always intended to come.

Robert Lewis
1 week 4 days ago

The Duns Scotus theory of "At-one-ment" is not sufficiently well-known in Catholic circles, and it is not frequently enough offered as the Catholic alternative to the vicious theology of "substitution," which turns God into William Blake's "Nobodaddy." I have a strong devotion and intellectual interest in Gerard Manley Hopkins--and not just as a poet--and I am convinced that it was his preference for the theology of Scotus, as compared with the "substitutionary atonement" of Aquinas and the Council of Trent which prevented his advancement among the Jesuits. Duns Scotus's version of the Incarnation's eternal necessity, pre-dating Adam's fall, puts a new and better color on "Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends."

Al Cannistraro
1 week 4 days ago

J Cosgrove,

You said, "The story of Adam and the fall is the basis for Catholicism/Christianity. If one does not accept it, the death and resurrection of Christ and Catholicism is meaningless. Yes, it is a story, but there is nothing known to contradict it. You cannot be a Catholic and not believe it."

On the other hand, there is the case of Thomas L. Brodie, a Dominican Bible scholar who found reason to disbelieve the entire basic Catholic narrative, had his case reviewed by his order, and yet remains a Catholic and a (silenced) Dominican in good standing.

https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-L.-Brodie/e/B001H6PUI8
https://www.sott.net/article/293184-Irish-priest-proves-Jesus-never-exi…
http://vridar.org/2013/01/23/the-inevitable-catches-up-with-thomas-l-br…
http://www.mythicistpapers.com/2013/03/21/thomas-brodie-pt-1/

In my opinion, your opinion on who is or is not a Catholic is not controlling. Who are you to judge?

J Cosgrove
1 week 4 days ago

I once joked on this site

could a good Catholic be an atheist or could a good Catholic not believe in Jesus

and after reading a lot here, I am getting the sense that many would agree.

Al Cannistraro
1 week 4 days ago

J Cosrove,
You said: "I once joked on this site,
'could a good Catholic be an atheist or could a good Catholic not believe in Jesus,'
and after reading a lot here, I am getting the sense that many would agree."

Well I don't know if I am a "good" Catholic," but after being raised and educated (kindergarten through undergraduate degree) in a Roman Catholic environment, and having taken it very seriously for my entire thinking life (I am 69) being at the same time a bit of a skeptic and an independent thinker, and having been an altar boy and a member of a "christian" club in my Catholic high school, and having been one to think about religious and theological and philosophical questions my whole life, and having been baptized and confirmed and married in a Catholic Church, I consider myself to be on the same path I started on.

It's just that I'm making up my own mind.

I assess the validity of arguments and pronouncements of others based on my own best efforts.

I think the Roman Catholic church has a responsibility to try harder to preserve its rich legacy rather than let it continue to wither away due to intellectual laziness.

What the Church needs is less tradition-bound dogma, and more freethinking. And a lot more humility and tolerance for diversity of perspectives. Fundamentalism that relies heavily upon the overly credulous is not a good long term plan for a "universal" church.

I appreciate that the RC church, through the Jesuits and America magazine and this online forum for example, is still keeping my hope alive.

J Cosgrove
1 week 4 days ago

Yet you pronounce things contrary to Church dogma without evidence because you seem to think them silly and have clear thinking. No one has any way of knowing what the real story of Adam and Eve was except through revelation and you trashed revelation. So through clear thinking you trashed one of God's ways of communicating with us.

As an aside I rarely see clear thinking coming from any modern Jesuit.

Al Cannistraro
1 week 4 days ago

J Cosgrove,

You said, "Yet you pronounce things contrary to Church dogma without evidence because you seem to think them silly and have clear thinking. No one has any way of knowing what the real story of Adam and Eve was except through revelation and you trashed revelation. So through clear thinking you trashed one of God's ways of communicating with us."

I have no problem with faith (chosen belief), and I certainly have no problem with religious faith as long as it does not cause one to do harm. I do not wish to mess with the faith of anyone here unless they are willing to engage in purposeful and broadly based argumentation in pursuit of what is closer to truth. I am willing to be open to compelling arguments that might upset my current world view from those who are likewise open to having their own world views upset by compelling arguments.

Are you open to seeing the story of Adam as mere mythical literature? I don't see a good reason to see it as anything other than literature. However, I am open to seeing mythical literature as having some sort of "divine" connection if I am provided with an explanation that I can understand.

The provenance of the idea of divine biblical inspiration (mode of revelation) as the "Word of God" is pretty flimsy, and circular, and self-serving of the self-proclaimed "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." I say that from a non-faith-based perspective. But from a faith-based perspective I can make no argument.

Teilhard was a very intelligent man, as well as a very devout and sincere and knowledgeable believer, and he sighed off on the Six Propositions. Maybe he saw something that others do not.

But it's a bad idea to use science and forced logic to try to uphold faith-based assertions because not everybody will be buying what you're selling.

J Cosgrove
1 week 3 days ago

I have never found any reason provided by anyone to not accept the story of Adam. Science can not do it. And certainly not because someone doesn't like the story. One either accepts that God has communicated with us or He hasn't. I accept He has. It makes sense to me because it would be impossible to know God and His intentions solely by reason.

So no one has ever provided any reason or clear thinking not to accept revelation. Therefore I will accept it and use the Church's interpretation as my guide.

Philip Pia
1 week 5 days ago

To J Cosgrove: please spare us from your offensive conclusions regarding who can and cannot be a Catholic. Your original post accused Teilhard of "arrogance or hubris or both." Sound familiar?

J Cosgrove
1 week 5 days ago

I am basing my conclusions on Catholic teaching and science. The Church has taught the Fall and the need for the Death and Resurrection since its beginning. Nothing in science contradicts the Fall or the Resurrection. So is that arrogance or hubris? Teilhard was very wrong on the science. and expounded a new theology. That is hubris especially when his science was wrong.

Phillip Stone
1 week 4 days ago

Maybe some of the commentators here would be interested in updating their thinking by exposure to work and discussion being reportedly done by fully committed Christians who are also expert research scientists.

They accept that the first five books of the Jewish canon give a literal and truthful account of creation.
It is necessary to begin with the topic that scripture is the word of God in the words of men. That is the beginning of the limitation and the glory of human language.

The Hebrew of the Torah had about 4000 words available to talk about life, the universe and everything (that is omitting proper names) and modern English has about a million words to do the same job. It follows that a statement that is literally true in Ancient Hebrew has many possible ways of being rendered in English and many of those ways are unfaithful to the original meaning.

At Reasons to Believe you will find summaries of the comparisons made by up to date astrophysicists and cosmologists between what they have discovered and the biblical accounts which is not confined just to Genesis one but other parts in other books as well.
They show how there is no incompatibility between the two sources of information and understanding. Don't think either myself or they are claiming to PROVE the truth of the Divine Revelation of our origins - they are demonstrating that science has NOT PROVEN that the Bible is false, primitive, superstitious and incredible.

Associated scientists who are biologists, geneticists and mathematicians are producing information that the theory proposed by Darwin of the origin of species by chance and necessity has more and more flaws and errors so as to be essentially disproved nowadays.

Another line of research, parallel but independent, has been looking at nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
Long story short, it is demonstrable that there was a mitochondrial Eve, that all humans have mitochondria that descended from one female. The DNA Adam is demonstrated, but with more difficulty which might be explained by the bottleneck narrowing at the Flood to just Noah and his sons and their wives.
Thus, we may believe that just one pair, a male and a female hominid was raised to full human status by the breath of God endowing them with immortal spirits.

Do not be deceived by charges that these people are American Protestant Fundamentalists or Biblical Creation scientists. They are not.
They are proper scientists working in their fields of expertise testing a hypothesis against discoverable facts.

From my point of view, this puts the collected opus of Teilhard de Chadin in the library section along with "Chariots of the Gods?" by von Daniken and the collected opus of Carlos Castenada.

Edward Graff
1 week 4 days ago

Phillip, "Reasons to Believe" is standard-issue Evangelical literalist nonsense. It's not remotely Catholic, and rejects the Biblical authority of the Deuterocanonical books. You're not a Catholic and have no business commenting here.

J Cosgrove
1 week 4 days ago

You're not a Catholic and have no business commenting here.

I believe Dr Stone is a life long Catholic from Australia.

But based on this discussion anyone could say they are a Catholic including atheists who deny Christ existed.

Robert Lewis
1 week 4 days ago

"Thus, we may believe that just one pair, a male and a female hominid was raised to full human status by the breath of God endowing them with immortal spirits."
This is still "evolution," isn't it? And there is nothing in it that inclines toward a theology of "substitutionary atonement." It's not the creation of man from one pair that is the hobbyhorse of the Catholic and Protestant Fundamentalists; it's the use of this myth to enforce the doctrine of "substitutionary atonement" that is their principal motive for attacking evolution science. The way you describe a different kind of evolution, as compared with the Darwinian, is just as compatible with Duns Scotus (and, actually, Teilhard), as it is with Calvin or Luther.

J Cosgrove
1 week 4 days ago

Darwin's ideas cannot explain evolution. They are not science but speculation. They fail to explain anything but very minor changes and without evidence are extrapolated to more complex changes. They cannot explain complicated changes to life forms and extremely complicated changes have taken place. No one knows how these changes could occur.

Robert Lewis
1 week 4 days ago

I don't disagree, but I still think some kind of evolution of species--perhaps with a supernatural intervention--is how the God who is Jesus Christ's "Abba" would have intervened--and that He wouldn't have "intervened" in such a way as to precipitate "original sin" in the form of some kind of absurd "disobedience," or incest, or fratricidal murder.

J Cosgrove
1 week 4 days ago

You seem to be like some others here who are trashing revelation because they think they know better than God. I don't pretend to understand the Mind of God but we can try. We have to follow the bread crumbs to where they lead rather than second guess God. Right now the story of Adam is one of those bread crumbs. It was certainly central to Christian theology for as long as Christian theology existed. See St Paul.

Robert Lewis
1 week 3 days ago

God did not write the Bible; "divinely-inspired" humans with a vocabulary of only four or five thousand words wrote it, almost perforcedly reliant on symbolic language--metaphors, allegory, etc. Neither you, the Evangelists, the Doctors of the Church nor the Magisterium in the Vatican perfectly well know the "mind of God," and to claim you do is practically blasphemous--a direct contradiction of what "Yahweh" says to Job. And even Christian theology has "evolved"--always guided by a "Holy Spirit," I'll grant you, but part of your idolatry of books and institutions is to adhere to the notion that the "Holy Spirit" has STOPPED guiding the evolution of theology. The Catholic Church is a LIVING, BREATHING and therefore CHANGING institution. As John Henry Newman put it: "To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often."

Bruce Snowden
1 week 4 days ago

As I write this Post, I feel like a “Sparrow” flying with “Eagles!” While the mighty “Eagles” soar, this little “Sparrow” will stay close to the ground, urged forward by the need to express a view that appears to confirm the thinking of that wholly Catholic, noble and blessed Paleontologist and Theologian and great Jesuit priest, Father P.T. de Chardin, S.J.

Here's how I see it. Augustine once said, “The Bible doesn’t teach how the heavens go, it teaches how to go to heaven!” By “the heavens” Augustine said in effect the Bible is not a Scientific Text Book, but is a Book of Moral Guidance, pointing to the Homeland, Heaven. So I believe Father de Chardin is correct in at least questioning the Biblical story of the origin of the human race. The essence of Biblical creation story is simply that GOD created – it didn’t just happen. As Father de Chardin put it, “God makes things make themselves!” How? In evolutionary ways, one thing proceeding from another, in a sense having a touch of Trinitarian complexity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, proceeding One from the Other without Beginning or End. That’s the theological connection. It’s the task of scientists to explain the non-theological HOWS and the WHENS, realizing that all physical science is theologically related, having come from God.

About the concept of Original Sin, that Doctrine needs some fine tuning.

I hope someday Father de Chardin will be canonized for he was also holy, a man of great Faith, Hope, Love. Interestingly he prayed to die on Easter Sunday and he did die on Easter Sunday in NYC.

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