April 18, 2011

God Did What?

Ilia Delio’s “Faith and the Cosmos” (4/4) reminds me, as I work on my Ph.D. in historical theology at a Catholic university, that few of my colleagues are capable of doing much in regard to science and evolution. The biggest obstacle is not lack of desire, let alone an anti-scientific viewpoint, but the Herculean task of trying to be competent in theology, ancient and modern languages, philosophy and science. In spite of these barriers, faith and science is a recurring theme in the introductory theology course I teach, including a special unit on Genesis 1-3 and evolution. Unfortunately, almost none of my students understand methodology, the distinction between theory and opinion and the cultural relativism that says “everybody is entitled to their opinion.” It is an embarrassment that the general population is anti-evolution when so many of the ministers, Catholic and Protestant, are not.

Adam Rasmussen

Silver Spring, Md.

No Original Sin

Re “Faith and the Cosmos” (4/4): One problem with the church’s approach to science is that it refuses to give scientific findings due status vis-à-vis theology if science indicates a need to modify its interpretation of a revealed truth. Consider, for example, the scientific evidence against Adam and Eve being actual historical individuals. Without them the concept of original sin and the Fall requires considerable revision. The Vatican will have none of it. The theologian John Haught’s concept replaces the “fallen nature” tradition with one of constant becoming. Thus humankind’s propensity to sin is a consequence of its evolutionary contingency, not some single moment of turning away from God in a garden. And Christ’s redeeming act is not so much to wipe away original sin as to continue humans more accurately on spiritual growth. There are more examples, but until the Vatican gives to science the status it needs to influence theology, the problem will remain.

Charles Keller

Los Alamos, N.M.

Speak Out

The article “Good Counsel,” by Fran Hezel, S.J. (Faith in Focus, 3/28), is full of down-to-earth perspectives, perhaps based in part on his time spent in a multicultural milieu, to which I can relate. The older I get, the less seriously I take myself and the more time I try to devote to laughter. But I take seriously using my gray hairs and experience to speak up and speak out for those young people around me who cannot do so, mostly out of fear. As Janis Joplin once sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Craig B. McKee

Hong Kong

‘Hi! I’m Fran’

Francis X. Hezel, S.J., seems to think we should adopt the cultural norms of the people in Micronesia (Of Many Things, 3/28). Why? If we go to Micronesia, yes, we should observe their cultural norms. But if they come here, no. They should adapt. Further-more, what is “curt” about saying, “Hello, my name is George?” Is Father Hezel unable to respond, “My name is Father Hezel. Nice to meet you. How do you happen to be at this event?”

But the author’s story is an effective attention-grabber leading into what I suspect is the real point of his article: a description of the people of Micronesia, which is quite interesting.

Thomas Brandin

Los Angeles, Calif.

Smart Woman

Allen Hubbard Jr.’s “A Recurring Vision” (3/28) about St. Teresa reminds us that in mysticism Christ is to the Christian what Sisyphus is to Albert Camus: a figure who bears pains similar to ours and provides a symbol of identification. Otherwise it is easy for people to turn away from religion that they perceive as revolving around salvation, when the immediate vantage point of life affirms that suffering is and will always be an essential component. I am impressed by this essay.

St. Teresa is my favorite saint. A mystic, a practical woman, compassionate, smart and shrewd. With the Inquisition still out and about in her day, she had to deal carefully with church powers, but she remained focused on Christ and the care of her sisters in faith.

Winifred Holloway

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Write About It Later

“A Recurring Vision,” by Allen Hubbard Jr. (3/28), reminds me of the saying “You can know all things and know nothing in the right way.” The author, an undergraduate in religious studies, states that he was required to read St. Teresa of ávila. He then quotes Carl Sagan, an atheist, and analyzes Sagan’s statement comparing God’s covenant as symbolic of God’s enduring interest in and attention to humanity. But God’s covenant is one of love, not “interest.” He then compares the relationship of Christ to the Christian to that of Sisyphus to Camus. But the task of Sisyphus is to do nothing but the same task over and over.

The task of the Christian is to seek Christ in prayer to achieve union. Since Mr. Hubbard admits he has not experienced spiritual rapture, he would do well to leave writing about it to St. Teresa, John of the Cross and contemporaries like John Padberg, S.J., and the late David Fleming, S.J., to name only a few.

Cecilia Vossmeyer

St. Louis, Mo.

Out of Date?

Reading Gary L. Chamberlain’s “Nursing Shift” (3/28), I had to turn back to the cover to check the date. Was I reading a copy that had been lost in the mail? Although I agree there are serious ethical issues related to the practice of recruiting professionals from other countries, there does not seem to be a nursing shortage at this time. The hospital with which I am associated has had R.N. graduates working as dietary aids since their graduation last spring while they wait for a nursing position to open up. A niece of mine had to go 2,000 miles away from home to find a nursing job after graduation. And this is only a part-time job. A good article. But is it timely?

Elizabeth A. Gavula

Flourtown, Pa.

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10 years 3 months ago

Hi,  Mr. Keller,  I see the story of  Adam and Eve in an altogether other way. Here’s my “What Ifs.”

I think Science does support the Biblical account that Adam and Eve were actual historical beings! Of course, not as  biological “new creations”  nor as two previously non-existing persons  suddenly called into existence. I mean what science fails to take into account is that, Adam and Eve were a “new creation” in Grace, drawn from the already existing human gene pool by God, to become the “First Parents” of a newly constituted “First Family of God” by Divine intent, which in Revelation culminates into the Church. The Church is the First Family of God in its fulfillment.

About the rib story, it’s Biblical hyperbole intended to underline how close Adam and Eve were to each other, a perfectly compatible couple one to the other, so close that Adam could say, “Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone..

But what about  the Garden? Or more precisely, “Who” is the Garden? Eve is the Garden! And what about  the Tree of Life? Or more precisely, “Who” is the Tree of Life? Adam is the Tree of Life! Something happened between the “Tree” and the “Garden” that caused the “Original Sin!”  Adam the seed-bearing Tree of Life, and Eve, the Garden where the seed could be planted, somehow were collectively  involved in  a breech of obedience to God, our  First Parents warping the sanctifying bond that was given by God as the birthright of God’s First Family.  Enter the Archangel Michael with Fiery Sword.  Michael is patron Saint of the Church, the sword a symbol of Truth. Interesting. But what is the Gate?  If Eve is in fact the Garden, might the “Gate” be the collective  marital bond between Adam and Eve considering that they had become  one in spirit and flesh, making both equally responsible for the breech? St Joan, HELP! The Inquisitors are coming!

Where does Abram fit into this drama? I have thoughts about that too, but enough said. Maybe all that I’ve said is dung, about which let heads wiser than mine decide! 

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