Flash. This Just In!

President George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, I feel a lot better now.  Pope Benedict XVI has been brimming with information and assurances lately.  According to the AP he has come out firmly deploring “. . . hunger, disease, war and violence.”  He’s also against poverty and in favor of freedom.  I’m glad the press is keeping us up on the latest here.

But then there was this.  The Bishop of Rome, in a rather unusual address, assured his world-wide flock that, “Humanity isn’t a random product of evolution.”  When I saw this headline I experienced a brief

frisson of interest, thinking that there was going to be some new aspect of philosophical discussion on this long-standing and seminal argument, but alas, it was empty of reasoning.  He said,

“If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature,” he said. “But no, reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason.”

Having apparently learned something (eventually) from the unfortunate Galileo episode, the Church does dabble in science these days, but alas, this assurance is not based on some new information from the Vatican’s astronomy enterprise, nor from any new thinking by church intellectuals, but simply on who said it.  The pope said it, so it must be so.  The AP account does not mention if the statement was issued “ex cathedra”, so one really can’t tell whether it has the full force of divine revelation.  But there was this statement about the Church’s formal position on evolution as expressed previously:

Church teaching holds that Roman Catholicism and evolutionary theory are not necessarily at odds: A Christian can, for example, accept the theory of evolution to help explain developments, but is taught to believe that God, not random chance, is the origin of the world. The Vatican, however, warns against creationism, or the overly literal interpretation of the Biblical account of creation.

I find it interesting that the Church has managed to have it both waysAllow me to restate the Pope’s position in my own words, if you will:

“Evolution might, just might, be real (if you want to believe that), but if it is real, then it was simply God’s tool for the process that resulted in . . . us.  You can take it from me, because I’m never wrong when I’m sure I’m right.”

Now, pesky adversarial skeptic that I am, I just can’t help wondering at this.  If God used evolution to make us, that means that there were human beings running around down

Woolly Mammoth Hunt - Horniman Museum, London.

Image by Jim Linwood via Flickr

here on this blue marble, chasing mammoths, running from wild animals, surviving ice ages and weather extremes, for some 200,000 years, all before any revelation of divine guidance or intent.  As a process for making a species of loved creatures, doesn’t that seem kind of messy and, well, negligent?

I would apologize to those of the faithful who may have read this far, but I won’t because I assume they haven’t.  After all, that’s what faith means – belief without reason.  So why bother?

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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7 Responses to Flash. This Just In!

  1. ansonburlingame says:


    I am not sure why, but over the last year or so I have read books and watched documentaries/series historical TV programs related to Europe during the reformation period. Gruesome to say the least on both sides.

    Just imagine today in any society burning someone at the stake for religious beliefs. Yet we seem to tolerate other countries stoning people to death for violations of religious doctrine today. Gruesome and almost unbelievable then and now.

    The Catholic Church has yet really acknowledge the failure to humanity for its actions long ago. Has God changed his mind how humans should be treated? If God however is constant in his wisdom over the ages and the human soul is indeed a scared “thing” made by God and to be cherished and nutured always and under any circumstances then please explain the reformation, today’s priest’s becoming pedophiles or any other atrocyties committed by the Church itself or by those ordained within the Church hierarchy.

    Simply with the ever present concept of hell by different religions the God of love and mercy is also a tyrant directing rath upon those that do not adhere to the required faith in God, Allah or whomever.

    We attended Easter Services with family last Sunday and I hear a SOUTHERN BAPTIST preach on “Lossing one’s religion”. Wow! His point was to move away from the dictates of religious interpretation and towards worship of God and Christ at a more fundamental level. And that was from a Baptist, one of the stronger forms of Protestant faith in the U.S.

    The world of man has been around for maybe 150,000 years, instantly created by God for creationists or slowly evolving for around 4 Billion years by Big Bang evolutionists.

    Whichever therory one establishes as his faith or religionous belief, the Church for sure has only been around for about 2000 years.

    What was God doing for the intervening 148,000 years in the short run or 3.99 Billion years or so in the longer “belief”?

    Did “man” in various forms (instantly created or evolved) during all those years have a soul created by God all that time? If so where was the Pope to interpret that soul for the first 148,000 (or 3.99 Billion) years and how did man survive without the “local” and supreme mind of God personified by the Pope or his ancestors.

    I also wonder why a woman has never been a Pope. I also wonder why no religion in the history of humans has never had a female that was supreme above all others.

    If in fact God is truly eternal, as most religions believe though using different definitions and terms for God, why I wonder has the Church itself never been eternal.

    2000 years is nothing even compared to the Creation theory of man’s time on earth.



  2. Jim Wheeler says:

    Exactly, Anson. You have gotten my message in this post. The authoritarian structure of the world’s oldest Christian church is inconsistent with scientific and historical facts. If evolution is real, which the church now acknowledges a possibility, there is a huge gap of over 100,000 years during which God apparently ignored man, his creation.

    The gaudy and luxurious trappings of the church and its Pope, with his rich vestments, are completely at odds with the humble image of Christ in the New Testament, exemplified by the Golden Rule and concern for the poor and the meek.

    The history of the Roman Catholic church is, as you mention, not pretty. When you mused about a female Pope, I seemed to recall something about that, so I googled it and found a very interesting article. The story may or might not be so, but regardless of that the article is fascinating for its historical context. I’m sure you will find it as fascinating as I did. Here is the link:



  3. Jim,

    Apparently you have forgotten that according to Peter the Apostle, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.” So that would, if interpreted literally, mean that God only spent about 200 days making us. That’s not too bad.



  4. ansonburlingame says:

    BUT, but, but….

    When did “time” start and what is the universal “clock”.

    We measure time based upont the rotation of the earth about it’s axis and around the sun. How does God measure time and what relevance does His time have to ours?

    As Winnie the Pooh says, he has a hard time figuring out his left hand from his right hand. But if “someone” would only tell him that which one hand was, he could take it from there.

    OK. When was t=0 and how many units of time have elapsed since then up to “today” (whatever today may mean). Then we can compare science to faith and “figure it all out from there”??



    • Jim Wheeler says:

      What you are suggesting here, Anson, is classic rationalization.

      If you postulate that God’s time-frame is different from ours, which might well be true for all I know, then what does that say about all those assurances in the bible, the ones that talk about God hearing our prayers (and even answering them), or watching over us and, yes, even the sparrows?

      And, if God’s frame-of-reference in time is different, what does that say about 150,000 years of unwatched souls? Oops?

      Also, if the time reference is different, does that imply a limit on God’s power? If so, then He could be limited in other ways too. But, if He is not limited, then He must have chosen to make the time scale different. Ergo, a neglectful God.



  5. ansonburlingame says:

    Com’on Jim,

    You know what I am saying. I don’t pay any attention to such biblical issues. After all the Bible was written by superstitious men, as ALL man inherently are.

    To me God is in no way “all powerful”. But he sure has good advice when asked about what to do “next”. Some mighty profound principles inherent in the “word of God” if one listens very carefully and God in my view is not unique to any religion.

    As for the Pope, or a great preacher, a wise philosopher, Buddha, etc I may listen to what they have to say but prefer when the rubber meets the road in my life to check with the source Himself (or Herself). And as a thinking man with free will I have every “right” to do so, then or now and act accordingly (while suffering the consequences perhaps for my actions.) God does not preordain and has no crystal ball that determines MY fate. Now in Rita’s case, that may be different, at least in her mind. That is fine with me and she can do and write as she pleases as well.

    And if I wrote that during the reformation I would be burned at the stake by either side!!!



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