Way back around Thanksgiving I challenged Pope Francis’ assertion that “evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
I was intrigued to find out that column, titled “The pope’s fallible on evolution,” is still generating controversy months later.
It seems the entire Jan. 22 edition of a Catholic publication called First Teachers, edited by the esteemed James K. Fitzpatrick, was devoted to a respectful critique of my commentary.
“It was a surprise to me when I came across an angry column by Joseph Farah attacking Pope Francis for his position,” wrote Fitzpatrick. “I expected any attack against the pope to come from secular humanists who refuse to permit even the role for God in the evolutionary process that Francis describes. Farah does not take that stance. Instead, he attacks the pope for discounting ‘the biblical account of the Creation,’ of telling ‘his story’ of creation, ‘not HIS story.'”
Fitzpatrick continued: “My objection is that I feel that Farah should be as willing to cut the pope some slack for his conflicting understanding of the role of evolution in the creation of the universe and human life. Pope Francis’ understanding of evolution does nothing to disparage the need for the Incarnation and Jesus’ role in salvation history. Whether sin entered the world as described in the story of Adam and Eve found in Genesis or in some other scenario, it entered the world. Mankind began to behave, not as God intended, but selfishly and cruelly. This made it necessary for Jesus to become man, to provide us the word, the truth and the life and a path back to the existence intended for us by the Father.”
Fitzpatrick’s article was a spirited and respectful defense of the pope’s remarks. But he wasn’t prepared for the fallout he would get from fellow Catholics who rushed to my defense.
As a longtime contributor to The Wanderer, a venerable old Catholic newspaper and now an online daily, Fitzpatrick followed up with another article, much to his credit, recounting excerpts of the surprising number of thoughtful and articulate responses he received.
One wrote: “When did it become fashionable for Catholics to regard Genesis as a mere collection of stories, myths and pious legends? Pius VII was alarmed by this trend. I’ve read the Catechism of the Catholic Church from cover to cover, and nowhere does it tell me that I must accept evolution.”
When I corresponded with Fitzpatrick about the reaction of his Catholic readers, he told me they are still coming in. And, I gather that if this were a popularity contest between my view of Creation and the pope’s, I win hands down – at least with his readers. He let me know he’s planning another follow-up including more reactions from his readers.
While I disagree with Fitzpatrick about evolution, which I see as nothing more than a fairy tale for adults, with less scientific evidence behind it than the theory that the world is facing man-made catastrophic climate change, I appreciate his exploration of this topic and his willingness to provide a forum for debate among Catholics.
It’s not my intent to argue, and I would only offer two factual corrections: My commentary was not written in anger. Nor did I attack the pope. What I did was defend the inspiration and integrity of the Bible – including Genesis, the very foundation for the scriptures that follow.
The Genesis account isn’t just some Old Testament myth. It is fundamental to Christian belief. It was thoroughly affirmed by Jesus. In fact, if the fall of man is just an allegory, one wonders why Jesus would have had to come to atone for man’s sin – a prophecy first revealed in Genesis.
If Jesus did not come to fulfill that prophecy, who was He?
In Genesis 3:15, we see the first prophecy regarding the redeemer who would come in the form of Jesus. In a warning to the serpent, God says: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
This is a reference to the Messiah to come.
Jesus Himself affirmed Moses, the author of Genesis: “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
He affirmed the biblical Creation account: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:6-9)
Perhaps the pope forgot the teaching of Romans and other New Testament books that explain Jesus came as the second Adam: “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” (Romans 5:14)
What exactly did Jesus come to do if not redeem man as a result of the fall?
If sin entered the world through Adam, how does the pope explain all the evolutionary death that would have to occur on earth before Adam appeared? The Bible affirms there was no death prior to the fall.
It mystifies me when Christians discount the truth of Genesis. Frankly, nothing in the Bible makes sense without the Creation account. If the pope doesn’t believe the foundational aspect of the Bible, does he believe any of it? If he does, he really owes the Christian world an explanation of which parts of the Bible he believes and which he discounts.
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