Doublethinking Lust IV: The Evolving Metaphor of Annulments

Recently, I’ve had the same discussion with a couple very smart Christian men, and it goes something like this:

Cane: Anyways…That’s why it’s important to accept the truth of the Creation Story, and how evolution leads a person astray.

Friend: Really? I think the important thing is to keep the metaphor of the Creation Story. We can recognize the truth of the findings of science as long as we keep the metaphor.

This scenario is ripe for doublethink, and it performs the trick of making the accumulation of believed facts (what we call science) the justice or moderator of truth so that from age to age we keep going back and re-interpreting the truth (The Creation Story) that was given to us.

This is an extremely seductive tack to take because we really want to believe scientists. They’re so successful. I mean, they seem really smart and earnest. They can solve big math problems (we who cannot, believe), and see atoms (we who cannot, believe), and they just have all kinds of superpowers (we imagine) and they’re always making up words for all the things they know that we do not. Pope John Paul II committed this error when he endorsed the philosophy of evolution; not only by endorsing it, but by referring to is as factual when it is absolutely NOT factual, but philosophical.

This is a trend of modern Catholic pontiffs. According to this essay Pope Pius XII was the first Pope to make this error, and Roman Catholics later compounded it when they cranked up the annulment mills.

Wait, what?

This is (part of) how such disparate topics are related:

In 1951, interestingly, Pius XII (who so grudgingly acknowledged the possibility of evolution) celebrated news from the world of science that the universe might have been created in a Big Bang.  (The term, first employed by astronomer Fred Hoyle was meant to be derisive, but it stuck.)  In a speech before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences he offered an enthusiastic endorsement of the theory: “…it would seem that present-day science, with one sweep back across the centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to the august instant of the primordial Fiat Lux [Let there be Light], when along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, and the elements split and churned and formed into millions of galaxies.”  (ME, 254-55)

But the Pope didn’t stop there.  He went on to express the surprising conclusion that the Big Bang proved the existence of God:

“Thus, with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, [science] has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the world came forth from the hands of the Creator.  Hence, creation took place.  We say: therefore, there is a Creator.  Therefore, God exists!”

The man who laid the groundwork for the Big Bang theory, astronomer Edwin Hubble, received a letter from a friend asking whether the Pope’s announcement might qualify him for “sainthood.”  The friend enthused that until he read the statement in the morning’s paper, “I had not dreamed that the Pope would have to fall back on you for proof of the existence of God.”  (ME, 255)

See, if you’re the sort of Christian who relies on human feelings and rationalizations to acknowledge God, then you’re the sort of Christian who must accept that unhappy wives who want to be free from their husbands are onto something. Then (rationalization demands) you must re-interpret your theology against divorce because so many congruent human perceptions (the unhappy wives) simply can’t be wrong! It would look like you made a mistake if you just whole-heartedly accepted divorce, as mainstream and evangelical Protestants do.[1] So, to resolve this contradiction, maybe for starters you just stop refusing communion to divorcees. That will tide you over while you dig through your theology (another system of rationalization) until you find…A-ha! Annulments! So, you crank up the annulment mill and just say, “That didn’t happen.”

Thomas Aquinas realized this sort of thing would be a problem, too, and abandoned his Summa Theologica–his attempt to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy, Averroes Muslim philosophy, and the divine revelation of the Jews and Christians. Why the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans (my peeps) continue to lionize the work he himself rejected will never make sense to me except as yet one more warning to beware the contrivances and rationalizations of even the wisest and best of men.

This is all because there is–behind every form of knowledge–a spirit, and when ever we put any knowledge to practice what we are doing is invoking spirits. Spirits are not new things. This is why the stupid old hillbillies like Mennonites, the Amish, SSPX-ers, etc. can be wrong about many and various things, but who still proclaim the Creation Story as fact, largely, do not practice divorce. They do not practice annulment. They do not hook-up. They do not “court” in any way we could refrain from snickering at.

[1]Yes, it does make those Protestants look very, very bad. So bad that we have to wonder if they’re actually Protestants; actually a form of Christian.

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30 Responses to Doublethinking Lust IV: The Evolving Metaphor of Annulments

  1. Chad says:

    Cane,
    Could you provide a link or source for Aquinas stepping away from Summa? I was unaware of that, and have been reading a great deal of philosophy with it’s foundations set within Aquinas’s writings. Mostly on the Virtues, but I’d like to see Aquinas’s reasons for such a step so that I can sort through what might be relevant and what might not.

    Personally, as for Evolution…

    I guess I fail to see why it is ever a big debate for Christians. We’re told how creation went, and despite any findings I’ve been shown from ‘science’ I have not seen a single finding that disputes how people act towards each other, towards the planet, nor towards God as is demonstrated in the creation story and the fall. So, the Bible hands me everything I need to know, and science gives me no insight. Thus, why would I really care what science has to say on the matter? I have practical reasons to hold to my beliefs, as you stated here and more, and practical reasons to reject the science. Again, some you stated here and more.

    Faith is a Virtue for a reason.

  2. Cane Caldo says:

    @Chad

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14663b.htm

    It is not surprising to read in the biographies of St. Thomas that he was frequently abstracted and in ecstasy. Towards the end of his life the ecstasies became more frequent. On one occasion, at Naples in 1273, after he had completed his treatise on the Eucharist, three of the brethren saw him lifted in ecstasy, and they heard a voice proceeding from the crucifix on the altar, saying “Thou hast written well of me, Thomas; what reward wilt thou have?” Thomas replied, “None other than Thyself, Lord” (Prümmer, op. cit., p. 38). Similar declarations are said to have been made at Orvieto and at Paris.

    On 6 December, 1273, he laid aside his pen and would write no more. That day he experienced an unusually long ecstasy during Mass; what was revealed to him we can only surmise from his reply to Father Reginald, who urged him to continue his writings: “I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value” (modica, Prümmer, op. cit., p. 43). The “Summa theologica” had been completed only as far as the ninetieth question of the third part (De partibus poenitentiae).

  3. Bobbye says:

    The problem for people is twofold: 1) almost nothing in the world/universe can be proven. 2) people believe otherwise. What we view as proof is “sufficient evidence”, what courts might call ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ But all evidence is dependent upon the ‘credibility ‘of the authority from which the evidence is sourced. People who find scientist ‘credible’ believe the evidences that scientists proclaim. People who do not find scientists ‘credible’ do not believe their evidences. People who find God ‘credible’…. Actually ‘christians’ don’t even go there if they intend to reject the Scriptures as ‘evidence’. They claim church leaders as authority or philosophies (PLato and Aristotle have done so much damage) or anything but Jesus. Jesus spoke as though the Book of Genesis was true. Will a ‘christian’ accept Jesus’ authority?
    The problem is called ‘hardness of heart’. Pharaoh had that problem with Moses. No matter how many or type of plagues Moses claimed ‘ the only True God, Creator of all Heaven and Earth’ Pharaoh just refused to believe Moses’ claim. Pharaoh saw the evidences but rejected the ‘ authority’ which explained. Same thing happened between Jesus and the religious people of Judea, the Pharisees, Sadducees and others. Though they saw the miracles they refused to accept the authority of Jesus’ explanation. Hardness of heart keeps ‘christians’ from simply accepting the authority of God and His testimony of Jesus.
    Trying to ‘prove’ things is usually futile. Preach the Word in season and out of season. Preach Christ crucified, buried and raised from the dead.

  4. lauratheringmistress says:

    There actually is a Catholic organization not affiliated with sedevacantists or schismatics that promotes a biblical view of creation. Kolbe Center. Their head is a Byzantine Catholic convert. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing lectures given by the organization twice.

    Regarding annulment; it has a legitimate use. It explains how one deals with cases where a marriage appeared to take place but was impossible in fact. A good example would be a distant relative of my husband. She was married to a man that lied about the vasectomy he had had previous to their marriage. She never knew why they were unable to have children. (The men knew about it but wouldn’t say anything.) Given the assumptions of being open to life and intending to have children, the deception practiced against her would be reasonable grounds because the prerequisites for marriage to take place weren’t there.

    I will agree that the idea has been broadened from the reasonable (a tribunal reviews cases where it is questionable that a marriage took place after information is discovered that makes it doubtful) to the ridiculous. I have seen some rather scandalous cases of annulments granted that truly ought not to have been. But there must be a process of dealing the the bizarre cases that occasionally come up. Examples would be marriage unknowingly to someone who has received sex reassignment, marriage unknowingly to a brother or sister (far more likely these days given sperm donation, casual sex, broken families, etc.), misrepresented identity, bigamy, undisclosed divorce on the part of one party. The Church does the best it can with due diligence, but if it blesses a union that it wouldn’t have had the facts been known, it needs a way to unwind its position.

  5. Chad says:

    Thanks Cane. I’ll be going over that tomorrow afternoon.

  6. Cane Caldo says:

    @LtRM

    The Church does the best it can with due diligence, but if it blesses a union that it wouldn’t have had the facts been known, it needs a way to unwind its position.

    That way is called “divorce”, and it’s not an unwinding, but a destruction of the unbeliever. It is a tool the world and part of the destruction of the flesh

    Annulments are tied–very tenuously–back to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7, to which I keep going back.

    But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

    You’ll notice that the Christian should not put away the unbeliever, but that if the unbeliever chooses divorce, then the Christian is not bound. Like Christ, a Christian suffers the injustice done to him or her, and submits that suffering as a offering to God, and uses the opportunity to minister to the unbeliever.

    The Church (well before the Protestant/Roman split, I believe) turned this around as a way for Christians to absolve themselves of unbelievers (whether proclaimed or known by their fruits).

    From Eve eating the fruit, to Adam eating the fruit, to Jesus’ death and resurrection one of the clear themes of the Bible is that God does not erase what we did wrong in this life. Instead he turns those evil into our instruction. The theology of Annulments turns this theme on its head.

    Now, there is a very narrow window where we might say an annulment is a legitimate statement: That’s if someone was married against their will, or without their knowledge. This is very different than willfully marrying into you know not what. Everyone who marries does the second.

    This doesn’t mean I think I think its wrong to be Roman Catholic (or Anglican, which I am); just that this is one area where the Church has been wrong and should repent. It’s leading people astray.

    There actually is a Catholic organization not affiliated with sedevacantists or schismatics that promotes a biblical view of creation. Kolbe Center. Their head is a Byzantine Catholic convert. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing lectures given by the organization twice.

    The point was not that we should be SSPX, Amish, etc., but that even (perhaps especially) fringe groups are protected from the debased marriage/dating/hookup culture simply by embracing the Creation Story as True, and following the logic from there.

  7. lauratheringmistress says:

    Okay, let me give you an example. A man marries a woman. Fourteen years later, he discovers she is already married. It had been in another country, she left and changed her name. Now legally there is no difficulty here in what to do, but what about the Church? If it had known she was ineligible for marriage, it would
    never have allowed it in the first place. But here is the guy for fourteen years, possibly with children, in an apparent “marriage”.

    The point I meant with “should not take place” was that it was a) impossible, not b) unwise.

    Is this not an appropriate place for annulment? Did a marriage take place? Can a marriage take place if one party is already married, if they are of the same sex at birth but some doctor decided to attempt to alter reality, if the act was done under duress against the will of both parties? That’s the job of moral casuistry, to work through the weird cases.

    The rule is clear. Marriage is permanent. But what is also clear is that not just anyone can marry. A woman can’t be married to two men. A man can’t marry another man. So if fraud of one sort or another has occurred, there must be a way to deal with it. If the marriage was impossible, how can the dissolution of it be divorce? Divorce assumes a marriage occurred. That’s the whole point of annulment.

    I think that your statement about use and abuse of tools the other day fits here. Annulment had a very specific and narrow use to which it was proper. Namely, that despite the best efforts of men to prevent impossible marriages from being simulated, occasionally one will slip through. So a process exists to investigate such suspect cases and free the innocent party to remarry.

    What occurred is that that tool has been abused badly. Under the broad definition of “immaturity” (that’s the usual excuse), people are essentially given a Catholic version of divorce. I would very much like to see a greater restriction of the use of annulments. It would probably leave people like my brother-in-law, whose ex-wife turned out to be BSC, out in the cold. But it might inspire a bit more caution in entering into marriage too rashly.

    And, as a side note, I also happen to reject evolution. Setting aside revelation (as if one could), it simply makes no sense from the evidence. Astrophysics makes my head hurt, so I don’t worry so much about the age of the universe, except in so far as I think a Young Earth makes a far better story. And preferring stories to data, I side with the poets over the scientists on that one.

  8. @CC:

    I have never considered “knowledge” as spirits, old or not. But now that you’ve said it, my mind wandered to the Garden of Eden and the whispers in Eve’s ear about knowing good and evil.

    Thanks for the series of posts. It’s clearer to me now that “Christian game” is an oxymoron when I peruse Genesis 2:9, 16. Interesting also is how the commandment to Adam about the tree of knowledge was given to him by God before Eve was created. So when Chapter 3 opens, we read that Eve knew about the commandment (Adam must have told her) and when she took the fruit, she was rejecting God and Adam’s authority.

  9. James and the Giant Peach says:

    “This is why the stupid old hillbillies like Mennonites, the Amish, SSPX-ers, etc. can be wrong about many and various things, but who still proclaim the Creation Story as fact, largely, do not practice divorce. They do not practice annulment. They do not hook-up. They do not “court” in any way we could refrain from snickering at.”

    So are you saying that even though these groups seem wrong by many metrics of the world, because they are right in the one metric that matters (Trusting God’s Word for his Word simply because it is his Word) they yield good fruit? I can get behind that.

    This is slightly similar to your last thought experiment. We can make all sorts of rationalizations to convince others and ourselves why divorce is bad, but essentially the only reason we need is that God said it is bad and it goes against Him. Likewise, Adam and Eve (Eve in particular) rationalized the fruit was good and pleasing to the eye, and could gain her knowledge. Instead of doing mental gymnastics to convince herself it was OK, she should have obeyed God.

    And I think there is a lot to be said about this kind of wisdom in real life. A parent might tell his child not to touch the stove, or not to go outside after dark and the child wouldn’t understand the reasoning as he does not have real world knowledge. However, the parents already know what would happen, and they distill the wisdom they know in the form of a command: Do not touch the stove. All men are children before God, and when he gives us a command, or he gives us a narrative, it is important that we obey it and acknowledge it as right. We can try to do a lot of mental gymnastics to convince ourselves (or un-convince) of the merit behind something God wrote, but we receive the wisdom, and all her benefits, simply by obeying the Lord.

  10. Pilgrim of the East says:

    For a long time, my opinion about Genesis was that it’s not important and I didn’t care. Sure, evolution was quite intriguing principle, which (at least to some extents worked) (e.g. genetic programming), but for all I knew God could have created animals in a object-oriented manner in a week, which would imho explain most stuff just as well as evolution…
    But, couple of months back I read in one completely unrelated book this quotation of Norman Mailer’s book “Harlot’s Ghost”:

    “The geological strata had all been put in place. The solar system was in the heavens. Everything had been set moving at rates of orbit to encourage astronomers to declare five thousand and more years later that the age of the earth was approximately five billion years. I like this notion immensely,” said Harlot. “You can say the universe is a splendidly worked-up system of disinformation calculated to make us believe in evolution and so divert us away from God. Yes, that is exactly what I would do if I were the Lord and could not trust My own creation.”

    And that pushed me quite a bit to interpreting Genesis in a metaphorical way…

    And while I not necessarily disagree that there are spirits behind every form of knowledge, I am really sceptical about your ad hoc connection of evolution theory and divorce. In a Jesus’ times people divorced(and it likely wasn’t something too exceptional, otherwise he wouldn’t probably bothered to forbid it) – no evolution back then. And the fact that Amishs and Menonites don’t divorce would be far better explained by their technical underdevelopment (which make people more reliant on each other) and strong social pressure against it…

  11. GkChesterton says:

    I’m going to have to part ways on this one a bit. But I will need some time to do it properly because by and large what you wrote is good.

  12. Ryder says:

    Regarding Aquinas and his Summa, a man stepping away from his work three months before his death is hardly a rejection of that work or evidence for some grand change of heart. Was he granted a degree of wisdom that made his previous achievements seem puny? Sure, but puny is not necessarily false or misguided. Both the voice from the crucifix and his deathbed speech (two paragraphs down in the link you provided) give strong reason to believe in the value of that previous work for the living who have not yet attained sainthood and its accompanying wisdom. Paul notes a similar dynamic in 1 Corinthians 3.2. The fact that some men, who are father down the narrow path, have grown to digest solid food should not dissuade us from taking nourishment from milk.

  13. Cane Caldo says:

    @James

    So are you saying that even though these groups seem wrong by many metrics of the world, because they are right in the one metric that matters (Trusting God’s Word for his Word simply because it is his Word) they yield good fruit?

    Yes, exactly.

    @LtRM

    Okay, let me give you an example. A man marries a woman. Fourteen years later, he discovers she is already married. It had been in another country, she left and changed her name. Now legally there is no difficulty here in what to do, but what about the Church? If it had known she was ineligible for marriage, it would
    never have allowed it in the first place. But here is the guy for fourteen years, possibly with children, in an apparent “marriage”.

    The point I meant with “should not take place” was that it was a) impossible, not b) unwise.

    It did happen, though. Jesus himself recognizes that the woman at the well had five husbands!

    The Church has been duped. The Church is made up of people. People get duped. The right thing for them to do is to give counsel on how to rectify the situation. An annulment is an announcement that marriage didn’t happen.

    Can a marriage take place if one party is already married

    Yes.

    [...] if they are of the same sex at birth but some doctor decided to attempt to alter reality,

    No. The embodied person is not consenting in a right mind. An annulment would be appropriate.

    if the act was done under duress against the will of both parties?

    No. Marriage is an act of the will. An annulment would be appropriate.

    That’s the job of moral casuistry, to work through the weird cases.

    That may be, but it seems to me that the practice of annulments by the RCC is about pretending the Church is inerrant. Again: This is not to say the Protestant practice of openly turning their own over to the civil courts is a good or even better solution.

    @Pilgrim

    “The geological strata had all been put in place. The solar system was in the heavens. Everything had been set moving at rates of orbit to encourage astronomers to declare five thousand and more years later that the age of the earth was approximately five billion years. I like this notion immensely,” said Harlot. “You can say the universe is a splendidly worked-up system of disinformation calculated to make us believe in evolution and so divert us away from God. Yes, that is exactly what I would do if I were the Lord and could not trust My own creation.”

    But is that what He did? Do you know the Earth is five billion (or fourteen billion) years old? If the initial measure,methodology, or assumptions are incorrect, the rest will be, too.

    I am really sceptical about your ad hoc connection of evolution theory and divorce.

    When God questioned Adam, Adam appealed to the spirit behind divorce. He separated himself from her for what they did together.

    @Ryder

    Regarding Aquinas and his Summa, a man stepping away from his work three months before his death is hardly a rejection of that work or evidence for some grand change of heart.[...]The fact that some men, who are father down the narrow path, have grown to digest solid food should not dissuade us from taking nourishment from milk.

    From Amazon: “The Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas’ brilliant synthesis of Christian thought, has had a decisive and permanent impact on philosophy and religion since the thirteenth century. As the title indicates, is a summing up of all that can be known about God and humanity’s relations with God. Divided into three parts, the work consists of 38 tracts, 631 questions, about 3000 articles, 10,000 objections and their answers. “

    This is a long conversation that I’m not terribly interested in having right now. Suffice it to say that a clear reading of the Bible is more useful, shorter, and deeper than some ancient nerd’s meandering attempt to justify the living Christ to dead Greeks.

    I think it’s intriguing that in the Norse mythology Odin hung on the Tree of Woe for the sake of others, but do we need a summa to justify Christ to the Eddas? If someone wrote one, would it be a good idea to make it a revered document of the Church? I don’t think so. I don’t think Thomas ended up thinking so either.

    Regardless, it’s not terribly important to me why Thomas stopped working on it. What’s important is that it is completely unnecessary and counterproductive to supplement Christianity with Greek philosophy.

    I do think the Greek language is important to Christianity–and to God’s plan. In the same way I think Rome’s rise to power was important (roads to everywhere; unprecedented trade to ease the travel of missionaries, rule of law, etc.). I even have an opinion (completely pet, and very shaky) that Rome was only propped up long enough to get Christianity to Britain, and then the bottom was allowed to fall out. Gentiles are important. Worldly understandings of a great many of the things we refer to as humanities are not.

  14. Pilgrim of the East says:

    @CaneCaldo:

    But is that what He did? Do you know the Earth is five billion (or fourteen billion) years old? If the initial measure,methodology, or assumptions are incorrect, the rest will be, too.

    problem is that even people who believe Young Earth theory believe that (http://www.rforh.com/blog/debunked-blog/distant-starlight-disproves-a-young-earth-lets-debunk-this-statement-by-looking-at-the-evidence/ – 2nd argument assumes God was “cheating” by putting Earth in gravity well, 3rd one is obviously stupid) => it’s irrelevant what we assume. Initial measurements and methodology seem right for all we could test (are we deceived here? If so, then by whom?).

    I really don’t understand why do exact same people(it may not be you) have often problem with idea, that Genesis may be poetic description, which uses symbols(so days may be quite a bit longer, etc) but is still true while not being technically correct – but they try to interpret Revelation to match it with current world – do they assume that God is allowed to speak only literally about past but figuratively about future?

    When God questioned Adam, Adam appealed to the spirit behind divorce. He separated himself from her for what they did together.

    I understand it more like that he tried to shift blame to God, for he gave her to him as a helpmate. Anyway, now you’re connecting divorce to yet another form of knowledge, which makes your initial assumption, if anything, less convincing.

  15. Cane Caldo says:

    @Pilgrim

    (are we deceived here? If so, then by whom?).

    Well, by our unbelief, for starters. As an example: What would the effects of destruction, pressure, etc. of worldwide flood look like in a fossil record? How would this affect our ideas and measurements about time, generally?

    I really don’t understand why do exact same people(it may not be you) have often problem with idea, that Genesis may be poetic description, which uses symbols(so days may be quite a bit longer, etc) but is still true while not being technically correct – but they try to interpret Revelation to match it with current world – do they assume that God is allowed to speak only literally about past but figuratively about future?

    Because the physical world largely is a poetic description of things, and because history is also not a re-living of events, the Genesis account is surely poetic. We don’t disagree there.

    However; notice what you did: I talked about the philosophy of evolution, and you immediately jumped to Young Earth versus Old Earth philosophies. “Because of the physics of light, then implicitly common descent is plausible.” is not a very good argument.

    I understand it more like that he tried to shift blame to God, for he gave her to him as a helpmate.

    I don’t think we’re saying different things.

    Anyway, now you’re connecting divorce to yet another form of knowledge, which makes your initial assumption, if anything, less convincing.

    The important part is the spirit behind the form.

  16. theasdgamer says:

    @Pilgrim
    “do they assume that God is allowed to speak only literally about past but figuratively about future?” Bad reframing. Bad Pilgrim. Bad.

    When reading, one must always consider the literary type of the literature that one is reading. Poetry is very recognizable in Hebrew. The translators have done an excellent job in many translations of italicizing poetic language. There is very little of that in Genesis 1. There is widespread agreement among ancients that reading Genesis 1 as a literal account is valid. There is controversy whether the Alexandrian practice of reading Genesis 1 as allegory is valid. The Alexandrians thought that both the literal AND the allegorical readings of Genesis 1 were valid. They were not attempting to deny the literal reading of Genesis 1.

    As regards Revelation, there is no controversy that it is to be read figuratively.

  17. Pilgrim of the East says:

    @CaneCaldo:
    if you talked primarily about philosophy of evolution, then you sure got me confused by mostly using term “Creation story” and quoting that part about pope, Hubble and Big Bang…
    Also, where did I claim that common descent was plausible? I just explained why I find hard to believe that everything was created ex nihilo in 7 days 5000 years ago.

    @theasdgamer:
    yeah, I’ve been really, really bad boy – did you use such start of your answer to try to impose your authority on me? That’s usually perceived as a weaker form of ad hominem…
    “There is widespread agreements among ancients” – that’s ad populum/antiquitam, just as is your “there is no controversy …”
    And while I am not a theologian and don’t know neither Hebrew nor any other biblical language, I don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see, that something can hardly be read in both literal AND allegorical way and still be valid in both cases…

    And poetic description doesn’t in any way mean poetry – so that’s another fallacy… Have you ever explained to 3 years old girl how babies are made? I understand Genesis in similar way…

  18. theasdgamer says:

    @pilgrim
    Sorry you didn’t appreciate the joke. Ad hominem? From a joke? You were responding out of annoyance and your logic circuits weren’t operating properly.

    You _did_ reframe Genesis. The idea that Genesis is not to be interpreted literally is novel. Novelty is bad in theology. It is well understood in theology that the ancients are very useful in interpreting scripture. Hence, appeal to the ancients is valid. Your defense fails.

    Sorry, “there is no controversy” is still relevant. You can easily disprove this if you can find any controversy.

    I don’t know what in the world “poetic description” means if poetry isn’t involved. Vagueness is the error.

    ” I don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see, that something can hardly be read in both literal AND allegorical way and still be valid in both cases…”

    Actually, some _prophetic_ passages can be read at least two ways–one immediate/literal and one future/pointing towards the Messiah. These prophetic passages are poetic. Genesis 1 is not. Your assertion about how scripture is to be read is clearly false. By way of clarification, the Alexandrian idea erred because one ought not to read history figuratively. Genesis 1 ought not be read figuratively since it is historical.

    “Have you ever explained to 3 years old girl how babies are made?”

    Sounds like a combination of an appeal to the ancients and an ad hominem against them. You are implying that the modern view of how things came to be is valid (without adequate evidence the modern view is controversial) and that the ancients couldn’t have understood the modern view. Of course, if the modern view is erroneous, your statement isn’t even wrong. You haven’t given adequate evidence why the straightforward reading of Genesis 1 is wrong. By way of clarification, the ancients certainly had ideas about incredibly long periods of time.

  19. thidwick says:

    Never have I understood why so many Christians seem more interested in studying and promoting the works of heathens like Aristotle and Plato than they are in studying and promoting scripture. Yes, you can glean things from Greek philosophy that, with a little tweaking, can be made compatible with Christian theology. It’s completely unnecessary, though, and it’s very dangerous in that Christian values and Classical values are, at their core, incompatible. Foundations matter.

  20. lauratheringmistress says:

    The value the Greeks have to offer is the tool of logic. It cuts through controversies like Christ’s relationship to God (in which Scriptural arguments can be made both for his being if the same substance and merely similar substance. Begin and end with Scripture. But you need to think clearly also.

    And I think the ontological proofs of God do some good work. They’re a kind of proto-evangelion for those whose minds have trouble grasping poetry. To accept the authority of Scripture, you already have to believe God is possible and that the men who compiled the books that make it up are reliable. For all that I’m a cradle Catholic, I found such apologetic works helpful to my growth.

  21. Bobbye says:

    The church started using Plato to defend itself against Scripture in the second century.Almost all of the Apologists used Greek philosophy to make Jesus Christ palatable to Roman leaders and society. From Italy, where statues of Atlas with a globe on his back had stood since the 4th century BC, the Church through philosophy came to a place where they were willing to kill those who would profess that the Earth is round and that the Sun does not revolve around the Earth despite what Aristotle said.Jesus said “My Words are Life and Spirit” To think that godless men like Aristotle and Plato can add to that is beyond my comprehension.

  22. Pilgrim of the East says:

    @theasdgamer:
    It’s hard to identify jokes which aren’t funny… It’s quite similar as when I saw Zippy starting his answer in discussion with calling his opponent “buttercup”…

    If novelty is bad in theology then I assume that older the better, right?

    Futurists contend that the literal interpretation of Revelation finds its roots in the ancient church fathers. Elements of this teaching, such as a future millennial kingdom, are found in the writings of Clement of Rome (AD 96), Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), Irenaeus (AD 115-202), Tertullian (AD 150-225) and others. Futurists hold that the church fathers taught a literal interpretation of Revelation until Origen (AD 185-254) introduced allegorical interpretation.

    ( http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.5110361/ )
    – your “there’s no controversy” statement seems false. But by your logic (novelty is bad in theology; it’s important what ancients thought) it’s really great argument, I guess…

    Also, again “It is well understood in theology.” – really reminds me this Yes minister quote:

    Most questions are loaded. They are full of assumptions such as ‘A lot of people have said that you consider yourself above the law’. There are two possible replied to such loaded questions: a) ‘Name ten.’ …

    anyway – I’m not theologian, I don’t really have any theology, I have no biblical education apart of actually reading it, and I think that God don’t expect us to read church fathers to understand Bible (so I guess I support Sola Scripture).

    I really have no desire to argue with you – I have no biblical evidence the straightforward reading of Genesis 1 is wrong , I just say that it doesn’t match what we can observe in the world and that there are basically 3 possibilities:
    1) what we can observe is wrong – I doubt that – but it seems that you and Cane support this notion
    2) God created intentionally world to deceive us into thinking it is older than it really is – that doesn’t match God as we know him form Bible
    3) reading it literally is wrong, in the same way as was wrong literal reading of Revelation by early Christians

    P.S.:
    “By way of clarification, the ancients certainly had ideas about incredibly long periods of time.” – citation needed, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have even large numbers but people are IIRC actually restricted in thinking by language(and even for me today is a billion too big number to have some real idea of it). I am convinced that my likening of first people to 3 yo child (regarding knowledge of astrophysics and science overall) is quite apt one.

    P.S.2: explanation of babymaking to 3 yo:
    Mummy and I loved each other so much, that God sent you to us.
    – it’s certainly poetic description but it’s not poetry at all
    – it’s true, but we could surely give far more technically correct explanation to older kid, which would make 3 yo really confused
    – believing that God literally sent kid from heaven (let’s say as some kind of meteorite) would be very wrong (dunno, if this point is clear, I couldn’t translate it to English well)

  23. I like the topic of Doublespeak better than the topic where creation is being parsed. FWIW, my vote.
    Doublespeak is gone far beyond its genesis, where someone cleverly circumvented the first truth with the first english language double speak. Its now simply borrowed for the emotions it evokes, having no awareness that it is doublespeak or sadly what doublespeak even is.

  24. Cane Caldo says:

    @Empath

    Its now simply borrowed for the emotions it evokes, having no awareness that it is doublespeak or sadly what doublespeak even is.

    Exactly. Doublespeak is full-grown into doublethink; exactly what we ought to expect it to accomplish.

    As for creation: I’m not trying to convince anyone right here and now that the theory of evolution by natural selection is wrong, or that the Earth is 6,000 years old. In fact, the absolutist 6,000 year people are making exactly the same mistake; just with different sets of figures.

    @LtRM

    The value the Greeks have to offer is the tool of logic.

    I think this is probably true; especially as their keenness for logic informed their language.

  25. theasdgamer says:

    @pilgrim

    When there is a controversy, older _theology_ is better. The writings of the church fathers let us see when theological doctrines were accepted. Since Revelation is an allegory, I don’t see “allegorical interpretation” as meaningful.

    “I have no biblical evidence the straightforward reading of Genesis 1 is wrong”

    But have you looked at biblical evidence that a straightforward reading of Genesis is correct? “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” So, the Sabbath idea is based on the understanding that the Lord made everything in seven days.

    Now, we need to consider the Genesis 1 definition of day as a cycle of darkness/light. A day isn’t defined in Genesis 1 as “a 24-hour period of time.” The sun is used to mark days nowadays; it wasn’t even created until the fourth day. So, I think that it’s entirely possible that the first two days of Genesis 1 might have been very long. Once green plants were created on the third day, light was needed, of course, so the third day must have been close to 24 hours in length.

    “I just say that it doesn’t match what we can observe in the world”

    I’d counter that people are incredibly arrogant to think that they can begin with the detritus of the past (physical evidence) and be able to support some idea that contradicts the words of the actual Creator. I see one or more ethical errors as well as errors in metaphysics and epistemology. We observe _physical evidence_. Evolutionary biologists construct theories around those observations. We do not _observe_ that the evidence contradicts Genesis; your evidence is totally based on the reasoning of evolutionary biologists beginning with the detritus of the past. Their theories based on the detritus of the past might be totally wrong. Given a set of physical detritus, there’s an unlimited number of theories that could be constructed about that set; the richness and variability of the theories is limited only by one’s imagination.

    The ancients had the concept of a very long time period of indeterminate length–an age (aeon).

    I don’t know why you apply “poetic description” to parents’ mythmaking. Maybe it’s a euphemism for “fable?” This isn’t straightforward. I smell the faint odor of deception. Perhaps you haven’t been as careful in thinking about this subject as you ought and have incorporated some deception into your thinking?

  26. Exactly. Doublespeak is full-grown into doublethink; exactly what we ought to expect it to accomplish.

    I have this little electronic box from the early 90’s Then, it was kind of cool. It has a sentence programed in with 4 words that can be chosen or inserted randomly by the machine. So it says You are a ___________ ___________ ____________ ____________. There are 4 buttons, one for each blank. Each button has 4 stored words, so the number of combinations of 4 groups of four in , if I remember correctly, is represented by “4!” “Four Factorial, or 1x2x3x4 =.
    It has over the years, and still today, spontaneously spoken while sitting in the pantry or on the fridge, usually saying “You’re a TOTALLY, GROSS, BORING, NERD”. The family has a thing about this, a memory thats ours.
    But anyway, thjats the way double speak is now. The minds of the programmed have some responses they can access randomly, and they do, and its once and done settled for them because, well because it is.

  27. Patrick says:

    Saints always do weird things like that. St. Francis spent a big chunk of his life working really hard to found his order then toward the end he retreated from that work and went to that mountain and received the stigmata and didn’t die a public death. St. Maximilian Kolbe worked really hard building up a religious newspaper with a bunch of monks, then got called away from it and it fell ito disrepair and he ultimately died as a martyr in a concentration camp. That’s more likely what happened with Aquinas. Christianity is about a relationship with Christ Jesus, not whatever impotent work we do while on earth. Even a great mind like Aquinas recognized the ultimate futility if human efforts. He was probably turning more and more toward God as he got closer to death.

    [CC: Welcome.]

  28. Zippy says:

    Pilgrim:

    It’s quite similar as when I saw Zippy starting his answer in discussion with calling his opponent “buttercup”

    “Suck it up, buttercup” is a Seinfeld reference.

  29. Pingback: The Reasonable Investigation of the Pragmatism and Sophistication I Lack | Things that We have Heard and Known

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