Wednesday, February 13, 2013
P. S. One reader asked about the use of Ibid. I will here provide a brief explanation. When citing sources in papers and books, one often cites the same work repeatedly. When one cites the same source consecutively, one may use "Ibidem," meaning "In the same place," or its abbreviation, "Ibid." So when you see a footnote that says, "Ibid," it is in reference to the source that immediately proceeded it.
You may also note that my blogger name is Ibid. This is a carryover from my college years at Christendom. Ibid was my nickname back then (my friends even started a blog, where Ibid was my username), and I decided to use it for this blog.
I hope that clears up the confusion!
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Plus it seemed like a good way to put my newly acquired MA in Theology to good use.
The blog's name is Quidquid est, est! If you want to know what that means in English, go to the blog and look it up.
I will continue to post various things here, though most of my theological focus will be at the other blog.
That does not mean I won't go on rambling spiritual reflections, of course.
Enjoy the new blog. Keep enjoying this blog.
And please, read responsibly.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
I feel like I use that opening too often.
Ray Bradbury, one of the GREATEST authors ever, died yesterday at the ripe old age of 91. He has been one of the major influences in American literature (not just science fiction) in the middle to late twentieth century and beyond. His short story "The Fog Horn" inspired the awesomely awesome film The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (one of my favorites, in case you can't tell), which in turn inspired the whole giant monsters destroying cities craze of the 50s and 60s. Bradbury is better known for penning Fahrenheit 451, a classic dystopian novel about a world where books are burned by firemen because the books are, well, useless. Less about censorship, more about how rapidly advancing technology leads to a general disregard for bound books, the book is disturbingly telling in today's world, where each year more students seem to rather stare into space than read for 20 minutes.
I, for one, would rather have giant, angry sea dinosaurs roaming the California coastline. At least I wouldn't have to teach them.
Bradbury is also well known for his short stories. He apparently wrote a story a week since the 1930s (on a related side note: If anyone were willing to give me $1000 a week, I could churn out some short stories. Just saying. . . ). Most of these stories have appeared in various magazines and some have been collected into books (The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles are two of the most famous ones).
This love of writing and love of reading has inspired me for years, and I am greatly saddened to hear of Bradbury's death. In his honor, I have composed a poem. It might have been more appropriate to write a short story, but unfortunately, there is only one Ray Bradbury.
"To Mr. Bradbury"
We do not yet burn books,
but we do thrown them away.
We haven't outlawed creative speech,
but you still should watch what you say.
We might not see some monster rise
out of the ocean waves,
but we will, instead, be forced to watch
some bikini-strung surfer slaves.
We might not make it safe to Mars,
and thus the Martians already won.
Wonder where the dreamers went?
They fled; their dreaming time is done.
Who then will save us from darkness coming,
rolling ahead of some carnival park?
Who could stop the wicked thing come,
When we face nightmares unillustrated, and dark?
Rest then, Ray, your life now run.
Never will I forget your dreams,
or how you turn a thought of fun
into a story burst at is seams.
I look to you for inspiration,
to you to model m own fiction,
that like with you, one day, one might
see my work as fiction perfection.
RIP Ray Bradbury
Monday, December 26, 2011
VENI, redemptor gentium,
ostende partum Virginis;
miretur omne saeculum:
talis decet partus Deum.
Non ex virili semine,
sed mystico spiramine
Verbum Dei factum est caro
fructusque ventris floruit.
Alvus tumescit Virginis,
claustrum pudoris permanet,
vexilla virtutum micant,
versatur in templo Deus.
Procedat e thalamo suo,
pudoris aula regia,
geminae gigas substantiae
alacris ut currat viam.
Aequalis aeterno Patri,
carnis tropaeo cingere,
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.
Praesepe iam fulget tuum
lumenque nox spirat novum,
quod nulla nox interpolet
fideque iugi luceat.
Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.
O Come, redeemer of the earth
Reveal to us the Virgin’s birth;
Every age is thus amazed:
For so fitting a birth God has made.
Not from a man’s conception,
But by mystic exhalation
The Word of God is made flesh
And in a womb, fruit prosperous.
The Virgin’s womb soon expanded,
Her monkish modesty defended,
The banner of the angels fluttered,
She thus proceeded from her chamber,
Modest palace of the queen mother,
A giant thus with natures two
Eager to run his course right through
Equal to the Father eternal,
Girded in the fleshy armor,
In the weakness of our bodies
Strengthening all the virtues lasting.
Now your crib still shines bright
And newer light blows into the night,
for no night can falsify
what faithful faith can clarify.
Thus, Christ, most faithful king,
To you and the Father, glory we sing,
With the Spirit, the paraclete,
In eternal eternity, complete. AMEN!
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
It’s been a while since I posted parts of my paper concerning the Origins of Man. Life happened again.
Here is the concluding parts, where I offer my relatively original (though not completely original, I found) solution to the disagreements between the Genesis account of Man’s origins and those proposed by scientists. It’s a weird solution, but then again, so is the whole debate to begin with. It’s important, of course, but weird.
Pius concluded his three points by emphasizing, “the impossibility that the first man could have been the son of an animal, generated by the latter in the proper sense of the term” (Fr. Hardon’s phraseology). Pius speaks in the realm of theology and philosophy, where the distinction between man and animal appears not in the morphology of the two creatures but in their radically different souls. Animals have a material soul that dies with the animal; human beings, on the other hand, have a rational, immaterial soul created by God that survives the body after death. A man is a composite of the soul and the body, the body being the soul’s potential waiting to be actuated. A body produced through sexual reproduction by pre-human hominids, the biological mother and father of Adam, would not be human, as Pius points out.
There is, however, a way in which God could use the normal generative power of the pre-human hominids to create the body of Adam. A successive sequence of evolutionary developments would have occurred over the thousands, if not millions, of years since God began this process. He worked with the natural causes of life, having in the living beings the “seeds” of future developments, as described by
What about Eve? Does this theory provide for her emergence from Adam’s body? It can, though it involves a miraculous intervention on the part of God. The theory is as follows: as the cells of the single, fertilized zygote that was Adam began to divide and multiply, as is normal in animal embryonic development, the zygote split into two parts, two bundles of cells, producing twins. This is called monozygotic twinning (the opposite of which is dyzygotic twinning, where two eggs are fertilized by two separate sperm cells), and it normally produces identical twins with “the same genetic structure.” The theory is that Eve is the second of the twins, formed from the side of Adam. God would have repeated the ensoulment as done in Adam, producing the first two humans. From this original pair stemmed the rest of the human race. There is one problem with this theory: Monozygotic twinning universally produces same-sex twins. To accept such a theory, a scientist might say, would be to claim that God worked against nature, that he forced Adam’s human body to do something it could not do naturally. The chromosomal differences between a man and woman make it impossible for such a twinning to take place. A Catholic scientist, however, remembers that such a change in the natural order is in essence a miracle: God working with nature so that nature works beyond its normal processes, though not against the natural process. This would not be the only instance of miraculous human reproduction. One simply turns to the virginal conception of Christ. Though there are examples of parthenogenesis (conception without a male) in several animal species, usually insects or reptiles, the resulting offspring is always a female. Nature does not allow for male offspring through virginal birth; the Y-chromosome needed is not available in females. The Catholic Faith, however, requires us to believe that Mary, a virgin, conceived and gave birth to a male offspring, Jesus. Just as God intervened in the conception of Jesus, so also He must have intervened in the special creation of Adam and Eve. The virginal conception of Christ becomes a miracle foreshadowed by the creation of Adam and Eve. This theory, therefore, provides not only an explanation of man’s creation through evolution, but it also provides a beautiful meditation on the first man (Adam) and Christ (the New Adam).
If Adam and Eve are in fact twins, or even simply the first two humans, how did the human population propagate? Polygenic theories explain this problem by providing an already varied gene pool. Multiple first parents means a variety of genes, and therefore little to no risk of inbreeding. Monogenism, on the other hand, faces severe moral implications. If Adam and Eve are siblings, then their sexual propagation is incestuous. If they somehow had relations with other non-human hominids, no matter how human-like they are, they are guilty of bestiality. Scripture condemns both sins (Deut. 27:20–23). Of the two, incest would seem the lesser of two evils, since bestiality rejects both aspects of the sexual act (unifying and procreative, as concerns the promulgation of the human species). However, incest’s tendency towards genetic deformities remains at the heart of the issue. How was the monogenic couple to reproduce with such a dilemma?
The answer lies in perspective. For modern man, incest is immoral. It violates the natural law and the law of God. For Adam and Eve, however, not only was incest allowed, it was essential for the propagation of the species. This is not an example of moral relativism. Rather it is an example of a moral teaching clarified or adjusted by Revelation. In the early days of man’s existence, the species needed to use incest to be fruitful and multiply because there were not any other humans. What God would later forbid was instead the norm. A similar clarification arises in the apparent conflict between the Mosaic prohibition against the unclean (discussed throughout the Old Testament) and the allowance of mixing with the unclean in Acts 10. The original law was to preserve and protect the faith of the Israelites. With the fulfillment of the law, such distinctions between clean and unclean are no longer necessary. Likewise, God forbade the Israelites from producing graven images of God (Exodus 20:4 and Deut. 4; 5:8). Christians, on the other hand, use religious art not because they reject the one God, but rather because the Incarnation made it possible to depict God visually, since God took on flesh.
A similar process occurred with incest. Today, due to “the accumulation of bad mutations during the centuries,” man’s genetic makeup is imperfect. Genetic imperfections, even recessive ones, shared within families are more likely to manifest in cases of inbreeding than in cases of mixed marriages. At the dawn of humanity, however, such imperfections did not exist. J. W. G. Johnson notes, “Adam and Eve were bodily perfect. In the early stages of the human race there was virtually no genetic load.” Therefore, inbreeding among the children of Adam and Eve would not cause severe defects. As the human race expanded, genetic changes occurred, much in the same way that genetic changes allowed for the body of Adam in the first place. Some of these changes were beneficial while others were harmful; the genetic variances made it so that inbreeding became harmful, as genetic imperfections stood a greater chance of being passed down to future generations. God, in His divine wisdom, forbade incest even though it was necessary earlier in human history.
The debate between Creation and evolution over human origins continues and will continue despite efforts on both sides to reach a mutual agreement. There is, fortunately, hope. New discoveries draw scientists and theologians closer to an agreeable conclusion, one that allows for evolution and God’s creative power. God could have created the world and man as described in Genesis; He could have also used evolution, perhaps in a manner similar to the one described above. Any theories on this matter cannot contradict truth, no matter how convenient the results. It is the judgment of the Magisterium that is the final say on truth, and to this Magisterium one must give assent.
Fothergill, 327. Fothergill does not subscribe to the monozygotic twinning theory, instead favoring dyzygotic twinning as the origin of Adam and Eve. The issue with dyzygotic twinning is that Eve does not come from Adam, instead forming in the same way he did.
All mammals have two sets of chromosomes, X and Y. Females have two sets of X chromosomes (XX), where as males have only one X and one Y (XY). These chromosomal differences determine masculine and feminine traits. This chromosomal difference would require, in the hypothetical Adam and Eve monozygotic twinning origin, that Adam come before Eve, as there must already be Y chromosomes for a male. The female XX chromosomes could not spontaneously produce Y chromosomes.
In the first scientifically recorded example of mammalian virginal birth, a laboratory mouse in
Recent evidence, however, shows that scientists in a laboratory can manipulate the genes controlling gender. God, of course, can do on anything a scientist can do in a laboratory, and one wonders if such a genetic manipulation occurred with Christ. Hannah Devlin, “Scientists find single ‘on-off’ gene that can change gender traits,” The Times (
Gareth Leyshon, “The Problem of Original Sin in an Evolutionary System,” (2011), available at www.drgareth.info/Polygenism.pdf, accessed
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Here is the next part of the paper on Human Origins. In it I discuss the Church's contributions to the debate, particularly in the writings of Pius XII, the first pope to deal extensively with this issue.
When the Church addressed the theory of scientific evolution as proposed by Charles Darwin, She did so with the belief that evolution could not counter the Faith. In the words of Bl. John Henry Newman, “Mr. Darwin’s theory need not be atheistical, be it true or not; it may simply be suggesting a large idea of divine prescience and skill.”[i] The Church allows for both Creation and evolution, as long as scientists and theologians retain several key doctrines. In 1909, the Pontifical Biblical Commission enumerated the doctrines that Catholics must hold:
The creation of all things wrought by God in the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the oneness of the human race; the original happiness of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the command given to man by God to prove his obedience; the transgression of the divine command through the devil’s persuasion under the guise of a serpent; the casting of our first parents out of that first state of innocence; and also the promise of a future redeemer.[ii]
Though not explicitly named, one sees in the Commission’s response a veiled reference to evolution. If there is a ‘special creation” for man, does that mean man did not evolve? If he did evolve, did the soul evolve with him? Could there have been more than one Adam and Eve? The Commission did not answer these questions, though the tone of the response implies the negative.
It was during the pontificate of Venerable Pius XII that the Church ruled on evolution, particularly the evolution of man. Pius was well aware of the abuses of evolution’s anthropology, especially as incarnated in communism and Nazism.[iii] It is therefore not surprising that he addressed problems concerning evolution and man’s origins. In his encyclical Summi pontificatus, Pius reaffirmed the ancient teaching that all of humanity stems from Adam and Eve (Dz. 2280). In a 1941 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, he briefly discussed human evolution: “Only from man could there come another man who would then call him father and ancestor; and the helpmate given by God to the first man came from man himself and is flesh from his flesh, made into a woman and called such because she came from man.”[iv] He continued his reflection by examining the superiority of man over other animals, but then stalled his reflection, stating, “We must leave it to the future to answer the question, if indeed science will one day be able, enlightened and guided by revelation, to give certain and definitive results concerning a topic of such importance.”[v] Nine years later, however, he took up the issue again in Humani generis. Towards the end of the encyclical, Pius mentions that,
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.[vi]
It is a reasonable proposal. Catholics may freely discuss and debate evolution as far as it involves animals and the human body on the condition that those discussing evolution remember that it is still a theory, not a fact. The Church likewise reminds the faithful that the soul cannot evolve, that it is “immediately created by God,” and it is therefore off limits to scientific discussions.
In the next paragraph, however, Pius changes his tone. Here he comes to the issue of polygenism, about which he forbids discussion and debate:
When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty [of debating]. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.[vii]
It is an oft quoted paragraph, and rightfully deserves the attention granted it. Pius places a limit on debating evolution, namely that Catholics cannot hold that a) some men after Adam could not trace their biological ancestry to him, or b) Adam and Eve represent a “certain number” or group of first parents. The first point refers to the theory of so-called pre or co-Adamites, men living before or during Adam’s time that are not his descendents.[viii] The second point refers to the actual word “polygenism,” which means “multiple sources,” indicating that the human race stemmed from multiple sets of first parents.
The average theologian could consent to this teaching with little to no discontent. If polygenism is correct, then there were people who lived after the Fall of Adam that did not descend from him, and therefore did not lose “the state of justice, integrity, and immortality” enjoyed in “the original happiness of our first parents,” as expounded by the Pontifical Biblical Commission. When discussing this problem, Pius cites the Council of Trent’s doctrine on original sin, which teaches that “the sin of Adam” is passed down “by propagation, not by imitation,” meaning that the biological descendents of Adam suffer the curse of original sin (Dz. 790). The sin of Adam would not have affected other hypothetical humans living around his time. Only those who descended from Adam would share his wounded human nature. This theology of original sin is crucial not only to Christian anthropology, but to the very theology of the redemption. If some men did not descend from Adam, then Christ’s redeeming act, His sacrifice on the cross, was not for them. The theological foundation for Christ’s mission, for the sacraments and the Church, and the entire Christian faith rests in the reality of original sin. As truth cannot contradict truth, the thrust of science cannot contradict the Church’s teaching on original sin. The Faith takes precedence over scientific theories.
Could both the Genesis account and the theory of evolution be true? In other words, can a Catholic balance the theory of evolution with the Catholic teaching concerning original sin and the creation of Eve? How would a monogenic theory of man’s origins work in reality, without implying widespread immorality, such as bestiality or incest, or genetic deformity? Several Catholic thinkers have tried to get around these problems by citing the Church’s relative silence on the issue of human origins as proof that She no longer forbids adherence to polygenic theories, adopting instead a more symbolic interpretation of Genesis.[ix] This interpretation rejects the teaching of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the Church’s Tradition. Such an approach does not satisfy the above questions, and so a more thorough evaluation is in order. Three provisions, noted by Fr. John Hardon in The Catholic Catechism, highlight the essential doctrines required by Pius XII and the Pontifical Biblical Commission:
1) the essential superiority of man in relation to other animals, by reason of his spiritual soul.
2) the derivation in some way of the first woman from the first man.
3) The impossibility that the immediate father or progenitor of man could have been other than a human being, that is, the impossibility that the first man could have been the son of an animal, generated by the latter in the proper sense of the term.[x]
By keeping these three points, the theologian plants his foot firmly in the Church’s Tradition while incorporating the findings of science.
How could one preserve the belief that man evolved without falling into the error of polygenism? It is a tight rope to walk, where one misuse of a word spells disaster for the theory. Theologians have attempted several formulations to explain a monogenic evolution of Adam, yet many remove one or more of the essential teachings enumerated above, most frequently the one involving Eve.[xi] There is, however, a theory that seems to follow the requirements set out by both Pius XII and evolutionary science. More striking is that this theory might have the backing of recent scientific discoveries.
[ii]Pontifical Biblical Commission, “The Historical Character of the Earlier Chapters of Genesis,” (
[iv]Pius XII, “Address to the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences” (Rome: 30 November, 1941), available at http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/p12plen.htm, accessed
[vi]Pius XII, Humani generis (
[viii]Anthony Maas, “Preadamites,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 12 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911), available at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12370a.htm, accessed
[ix]Karl Rahner, “Natural Science and Reasonable Faith” in Theological Investigations, Vol. XXI, Science and Christian Faith, trans. Hugh M. Riley (London: Darton, Longman, & Todd, 1988), 41; Mark Shea, “Interesting Conversation on Polygenism” on Catholic and Enjoying It (February 17, 2009), available at http://markshea.blogspot.com/2009/02/interesting-conversation-on-polygenism.html, accessed 7/15/11.