Doublethinking Lust IV: The Evolving Metaphor of Annulments
February 4, 2014 30 Comments
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.
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. 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.
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.