Evolution - one more time.
As a young boy, reading "The descent of men" and "Origin of the species," I got the impression that man came from the monkeys. And I believed it. When I became a Benedictine monk, meditatimg upon my defects and sins, I became more convinced that I was a monkey. Some childish questions followed; why didn't the apes continue turning into men, why didn't man continue to be superman; or why didn't the apes turn into rats (reversed evolution)? This topic had been raised once more because of statements made by the cardinal from Austria.
Pope Benedict XVI said: "The purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men...we are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary." These words confirm the old belief that the first men was a finished product.
The idea that evolution is an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection, and that evolution is governed by a wise intelligent being were not part of my old theology. I learned that there was no evolution of whatever kind. When God created Adam and Eve they were as human as we are right now.
Evolution is not a scientific fact; it is an explanation (and not a very good one). Evolution does not go against religion; it goes against rationalism, G. K. Chesterton states. Evolution was born when man had ceased to believe in God who created everything out of nothing; in evolution man found it more thinkable to believe that the ape turned itself into a man.
Chesterton, using comon sense, wrote in "Everlasting Man" that the art works of early man showed that primitive man was as human as his office mates in the Daily News. Art is the expression of man's culture. It is a copy of life. It shows how man lived. It expresses the nobility or ignobility of a civilization. He observed that the art of early men was more artful than our present art. Their art reflected their innocence and the intelligence that come from that innocence. It reflected a high degree, not of technology, but of culture. Art is born, Chesterton continues, when the temporary touches the eternal. And the charcoal drawings in those ancient caves showed that the first men were in contact with the eternal. Their sketches were meant to entertain their children as the universe entertains a philosopher. Try to compare the art of the cavemen with the art of the French and Russian revolution. It's like comparing the art of a man with the scribblings of an ape.
Scientific discoveries had consistently shown that the "caveman" showed great intelligence. We thought we were intelligent until we found the civilization of Egypt, until we discovered the civilization of the Aztecs. Now we are discovering that the"Ice Man" was sophisticated in running his life. We live in concrete homes, the caveman lived in caves or flimsy huts. Both sheltered themselves. The disparate materials they used were dependent on materials available and not on the quality of their minds.
Let's consider how God acted in Scriptures. God was always in a hurry He was in a hurry to replenish heaven after the fall of the angels. So He created man. Jesus Christ was in a hurry to work out the redemption of men to replenish heaven with new citizens as seen in His restless activity while on earth. And Christ in His teachings kept on reminding us to repent as soon as possible. Never to wait or waste time "Today, if you hear His voice..." It would not be consistent with God's behaviour if He tarried for a million years to wait for that chimp to become a man. He didn't have to wait. God is outside time.
God could have done things fast, redeem man fast, and end the world fast. The first man was a finished product and not an object of evolution.
This is not a conflict between science and religion. Because the theory of evolution is not scientific at all and is, therefore, not science. The fear we had, which had been comfirmed, is that it would affect morality. That heterosexual marriage would evolve into same sex marriage.
What I learned from my evolution teacher was that God created the world. "Let there be light." There was a big bang and it all started: everything began small, like one- celled amoebas; then those amoeba-like-fish in the water went up the land, lost their fins and grew legs for walking. Then not satisfied with walking on land, they climbed trees and became apes. They probably developed vertigo so they came down the trees. While down on earth, God gave them human souls and eureka... there was Adam and Eve.
Of course, science cannot prove this. Anyway it is only an intellectual proposition with no basis in fact. But then I began to wonder. If everything begun small and grew big, how come at the begining we have giant dinosaurs and now they have shrunk to lizards?
Groote, purportedly the author of the spiritual classic "The Imitation of Christ," wrote that there is such a thing as a "forbidden tree." And this tree is made up of forbidden knowledge. Not so much because this knowledge is forbidden but more because this was an utter waste of time and distracts the soul from the more important job of working out his salvation. And St. Paul tells us not to be concerned with genealogies, whether we came from apes or chimpanzees.. The quests for knowledge of things in the stars fall under the same category of forbidden knowledge. The stars are there, not for us to explore for inhabitants , nor for us to measure the distances from here to there. No. The stars were created for us to marvel at the glory of God.
Man did not evolve. He was as he is. Probably a little sun-burned because he only wore fig leaves. Well, let me modify my statement, probably man is worst now than beforew. Because man in his depravity abused the environment and descended below his human dignity and even below the beasts. The soul of man today is worst than Adam and Eve, who had retained the innocence of childhood inspite of the fall. Man today have perverted themselves into adulthood. "Unless you become like little children..."was Christ's message from the cave." Or shall we say "Unless you become like Adam and Eve?"
We, Catholics have the secured confidence that nothing ever change in the spiritual realm. This is our foundation in believing in Tradition... that the teachings of Christ that had been handed down to us have not changed and will never change just as the movements of the stars had been so precise that we can set our watches by them. But we also have the more dreary confidence that nothing will ever remain the same. Everything is in flux.
Why don't we just stick to the Bible and say 'man came from the slime of the earth.' That sounds better for my ego than to say that he came from the apes. That's what we are, all the rest of us.....slime of the earth. But man's nobility rests on the fact that the slime was moulded by the hands of God. But the evolutionist prefer to tell man that he came from King Kong.
The evolutionists and liberals believe that eventually men can marry men and women can be ordained priests and the problems of the world will all be solved. This Darwinian mentality, which was Heraclitus' difficulty, is the source of all heresies. If the fruits are bad, couldn't it be that the tree is a bad theory? Yes, the Church has not condemned the theory of evolution. But evolutionist find it impossible to prove it. So why waste time on it.
But spiritual evolution , on the other hand, is a theological reality. We can be born lunatics and end up contemplatives. G.K. Chesterton described evolution as a "slippery slope." Do you remember who used that phrase recently? "A miry slope" where it is very easy to slide down to heresy."
Let us listen to what Pope Benedict XVI said about evolution and leave the rest as "forbidden knowledge" ...and how about starting to memorize the prayers in Latin as he encouraged. (Picture above is "Paradiso Terrestre" by Peter Wenzel.)