Why I Don't Believe in a Young Earth

Monday, November 23, AD 2009

Some time ago, someone asked me:

Suppose–just for the sake of argument–you were convinced that an honest reading of the Tradition of the Church required you to believe that the initial chapters of Genesis were historical. Would you be able to do it, or do you think that Darwinism is so irrefutable that you would have to abandon or radically redetermine your faith?

I think this is the question that worries a lot of Catholics without a strong scientific background as they watch the evolution/creationist/ID debate on Catholic blogs. Here are these otherwise solid Christians taking common cause with the likes of the Richard Dawkins against their brother Christians. What gives? Are these folks really Christian? Do they care more about science than about faith? Do they only accept Catholicism so long as it agrees with science?

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24 Responses to Why I Don't Believe in a Young Earth

  • IMO it’s quite easy for Catholics to reconcile science and the Bible. My trust and understanding of the Bible relies entirely on the Church. My faith in the Bible comes from Christ and His Church. I accept Genesis as sacred scripture because it’s part of the deposit of Scripture that served God Incarnate, but mostly because the Church Christ established and gave authority to said this is Scripture. If we’re going to accept the Church’s authority on that, it’s equally as important to understand it as the Church understands it.

  • I studed geology and ended up a young-Earther myself. The geologcal evidence for a young earth was too great to ignore. But this hasn’t threatened or altared my Faith. I don’t see science and religion as opposed to each other or as each other’s bed fellows because science is a ***tool*** that is used to understand Creation. It’s one of **many** tools that we use to understand Creation and the meaning of life etc. People keep elevating science far above what it is meant to be and that’s when the trouble starts.

  • Ooops, hit submit to fast. I was going to end with:

    It’s like trying to elevate the tech pub (Science) to the same level of importance and greatness as the actual helicopter (Creation)… (I was a helicopter mechanic in the Navy.)

  • St. Augustine wrestled with this same question when he was a Manichean. The Manicheans taught all sorts of doctrines that are quite familiar in New Age thought today and could easily be revived as a whole, and astrology was a big one. Despite what people mistakenly think today, back then astronomers had pretty good methods of observing and recording the heavens. St. Augustine was no dummy, and he noticed that astrology did not account for either how people’s lives worked out or how the heavenly bodies actually behaved. For a while he hoped that when he finally got to talk to the really smart Manicheans, they would be able to explain why this was so. But when he discovered that they couldn’t, he had to give up the Manicheans because he saw quite rightly that one simply could not be expected to believe what was obviously not true.

    It has always been a great comfort to me that one of the smartest men who ever lived stood up for that obvious principle long, long ago, and became one of the greatest Catholics of all time. He would not expect anyone to remain a Catholic if it required people to believe things about the physical world that are obviously not true. I think that he knew a lot more about how to read and understand the Bible than I do and he did not consider Genesis to be a treatise in natural history. People who do simply do not understand how to read the Bible. They are doing the best they can to reconcile faith and reason, and because they can’t do so with their mistaken way of reading the Bible but they intuitively realize that faith must inform reason, they choose to disregard what reason would otherwise show. The solution is of course to get a better handle on Scripture and reason.

  • Your post kind of put God in a small box.

    After all, isn’t anything possible with God?

  • In all truth it doesn’t matter if the earth is 10,000 years old or 4.5 billion. What difference does it make if the universe is 1.5 million years old or 15 billion? God stated, “I AM WHO AM”. He is now! Not yesterday and not tomorrow. RIGHT NOW! So we can conclude that time is a construct for our benefit and if called to Judgment right now do you think Christ is going to ask you how old you think the earth is?

    Our faith in Christ does not require a scientific understanding. Most Christians throughour history were ignorant and illiterate. Clearly salvation does no hinge on knowledge of the world or the universe. Know Christ – that’s it.

    Now He also made us curious and I beleive this to be true even before the Fall. It is what we are curious about that needs to be corrected, not the curiousity itself. He also gave us dominion over Creation, which we know includes all we can see no matter how many billions of light years afar it is.

    I find it difficult to square the evidence (I am not a scientist) with a 10,000 year old earth. That doesn’t mean we won’t find evidence to the contrary and either way it will not change the most pivotal point in all of histroy, Our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross.

    I don’t think God would deceive us into thinking the universe is 15 billion years old as some kind of trick. I also don’t think it matters to Him if it is 1.5 million years old or 150 trillion. He is very patient – we are not.

    I alos think that in order for our temporal reality to unfold and be reasonably perceptible by our limited minds it has to be 15 bil years old because our Sun and our location in the Milky Way would not be logically possible in a shorter period of time. Creation itself is a miracle; however, it unfolds in a natural and rational manner for us to understand which is totlaly necessary for us to even notice miracles.

    If God placed us right here in this vast universe suddenly, without context we would have to accept that as a miracle and miracles would then be facts and not mysteries. If miracles are not mysteries then they are not special and if not special then the Incarnation is nothing more spectacular than a lepton.

    Where’s the adventure in that?

  • Tito,

    To say that the earth is 6,000 years old is to make God a liar. Not a good idea.

  • BA,

    I wasn’t saying or agreeing with the young earth theory, more with some of the scientific propositions that were offered.

    God is capable of creating the speed of light at approximately 186,282 miles per second, instantaneously.

  • Good post, Darwin. If you get a chance, check out the blog of David Heddle. He’s a physicist–and a Reformed Christian who takes the same tack. One of his themes is that if the Earth is indeed 10K years old, God is attempting to deceive us through His act of Creation. Which, lest we forget, is a form of revelation itself.

    I think the distinction between the miraculous and the idea the universe is 10000 years old is this:

    (1) the first inverts/suspends/makes an exception for the natural law/order, (2) the second suggests there is no such thing as natural law or a natural order. Or certainly no way to discern the latter.

  • Good post, Darwin. If you get a chance, check out the blog of David Heddle. He’s a physicist–and a Reformed Christian who takes the same tack. One of his themes is that if the Earth is indeed 10K years old, God is attempting to deceive us through His act of Creation. Which, lest we forget, is a form of revelation in and of itself.

    I think the distinction between the miraculous and the idea the universe is 10000 years old is this:

    (1) the first inverts/suspends/makes an exception for the natural law/order, (2) the second suggests there is no such thing as natural law or a natural order. Or certainly no way to discern the latter.

  • Sorry about the double post!

  • Dale,

    No problem.

    I need to read most things twice in order to ingest the information, reminds me of my college days.

  • Tito,

    It is possible that God created the world five minutes ago, complete with fake memories of the past and fake evidence indicating that the world was much older. He could do that, but the question is why He would do so, and whether believing this is consistent with what we know about His nature.

    Similarly, God could have created the world 6,000 years ago, but planted evidence to make it look like the world was much older. He could do that, but it’s hard to see why He would do that, nor is it clear that His doing so would be consistent with what we know about His nature.

  • Tito,

    Perhaps this will help clarify a bit: I certainly don’t mean to say that God _could not have_ created the world ten thousand years ago. God, in his infinite power, could create the world in any way that he chose. Though of course, God being eternal, I think there’s merit to the Augustinian idea that God exists in a single, eternal present. And so from a God’s-eye view, this moment is one with the incarnation, and is one with Adam and Eve’s fall, and is one with both the instant of creation and the end of the world. The stretch of billions of years which to us looks like the long and gradual development of the universe is in God’s mind an instant of ever-flowering creation — and it’s only our view, trapped within the temporal timeline of creation, that makes it look like “God sat around for a few billion years before single celled life even developed”, as some complain.

    So my point is not that God could not have created the world another way than he did, or indeed tha we are definitely right in our current understanding of the physical history of the world (in that I’m sure there are a lot of things we don’t know or are wrong about) but rather that I have a lot of trouble with the idea of that all the indications that the world is ancient (from seeing objects millions of light years away, to geological strata, to continental drift, to radioactive decay, to the apparent history of the other planets, to fossils, to DNA, etc.) are misleading or explained by processes totally different from what we see acting in the world today (and in some cases, incompatible with the physical laws on the universe as we currently observe them.)

    I certainly don’t think our current understanding of the universe is perfect, but I do think that as rational creatures we’re called to use our reason as best we can — and so I don’t think it would be in keeping with our calling as rational creatures made in the image of God to refuse to use our powers of reason and our senses to understand creation as best we can (and accept the conclusions of that study) just as it Augusine’s day it was his calling to understand the world through the best philosophical and scientific insights of his day, and Aquinas in his.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for that articulate response.

    I don’t have much to offer to this intriguing debate which I have been enjoying reading (and learning a lot).

    But where I stand is that I do believe we are descended from Adam and Eve. Hence why I find it difficult to digest that we are descended from monkeys if we are made in His image. Not rhetorically or symbolically, but literally. We are made in His image.

    Not there isn’t anything wrong with eating bananas and hanging out on tree limbs, but we are special and are God’s most special creation.

    That’s my lens that I use.

    Sometimes a simple understanding can lead to the Truth.

  • Coffee Catholic writes Monday, November 23, 2009
    “I studied geology and ended up a young-Earther myself. The geological evidence for a young earth was too great to ignore”.

    In a nutshell. It is a question of scientific evidence. The Bible has nothing to do with the matter except for the non-scientific question of creation.

    Let geologists present the facts and we can go from there. The meaning of “day” and the order of creation do not affect the geological facts.

  • Darwin’s point was the same point as Pope Benedict in his Regensburg lecture — God has given us reason, which, though limited, is not to be dismissed for something sub-rational. God’s qualities, as revealed through revelation, indicate a God who does not contradict himself; reason of course is used to determine this — but if we say “don’t limit God,” then I guess we can all end up in the nominalist-voluntarist dream of God who is not limited, even by his own self-limitations.

  • Henry beat me to it… I thought of Regensburg as well.

    Tito, we are made in the image of God because we have an intellect, free will, and are made for relationship; God could’ve taken a pre-existing creature an infused these things (parts of a rational soul) at any time.

  • Interesting post, Darwin – and also interesting commenting.

    Chris, your point concerning the fact that the “image of God” is a good one. Are we to understand that being made in the “image of God” is describing a picture of a human? It seems clear to me that the human form as an image cannot be what is referenced in what we read in the Bible. What of people who are born with missing limbs or other deformities? To the outside observer, some of these people may not even appear human, yet we would not say that they lack the “image of God” we describe. Moreover, our bodies can be changed virtually at will by accident or design, yet I would argue that the image God placed in us is left unchanged, for God Himself is the only one with that power.

    For these reasons I have always equated our creation in the “image of God” to be the fact that we are given a soul that is indeed in the image of God.

  • No more they do.

    I guess I’m a bit confused as to what you mean by that in this context, though.

    As a Catholic who thinks that evolution is basically correct in regards to the history of life on Earth, I would say that at some point in history (when I would not presume to say) God infused our ancestors with immortal and rational souls, making them truly “human” in the sense that we mean the term (something which I would say is not reliant on a biological form, but rather on our nature). Not until that infusion of souls into what were, before that, bipedal and rather clever primates, did we become truly persons, truly made in the image of God, etc.

    At whatever point that divine spark entered humanity, we were permanently and irreparably set apart from the rest of the animal world, because we were no longer strictly animal, but rather both animal and rational, both animal and divine.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for the explanation.

    I’m going to hang out in my neighbors tree house and eat some banana’s now.

  • “Gorillas don’t have souls.”

    Where in the world do you get this kind of nonsense from? By the fact that they are animals, they have souls — indeed they have a specific kind of soul which transcends the souls of plants (according to classical definitions). Catholic teaching has always said this.

  • Animals do not have rational souls. They have a vegetative and a sensitive soul that perish when they do. A good summary of Catholic teaching on this subject is linked below.


Thanks to the Young, the Tide is Still Turning Toward Catholicism

Thursday, October 8, AD 2009

All too often I hear the familiar refrain; “how can the tide be turning if the world seems to be increasingly at odds with the Church?”  The skeptics of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism refer to many newsworthy stories in their query of my thesis. They point to elected officials and government czars seemingly supportive of ideas that not only challenge the core of Catholic beliefs, but conventional societal beliefs about the family as well. The skeptics of my thesis point to the latest Hollywood Cause Célèbre which involves rallying around a man (famed Film Director Roman Polanski) who has admitted to raping a child of 13 when he was 45 years old. They also point to the outright mockery of the Catholic Church at the hands of the entertainment industry by those who believe the tide is turning in their direction. In addition, the skeptics of my thesis also point to stories that barely get any media attention such as an abortion clinic who prominently displayed a crucifix in their window with Jesus replaced on the cross by a chicken. Another sign in the window of the same abortion clinic read “no job too big or too small.” How could the tide be turning if this is what we see and don’t see on television news, the morning paper or on the internet they asked? Thankfully, there are many reasons that tide is turning, and we need to look no further than the young to understand why.

Keep in mind that while the tide is turning for the Church, it is turning in the wrong direction for for the world. The Church is the only one who can save the world and it is something which has already been done many times in history, which is why the enemies of the Church are so upset. If the enemies of religion would be as kind to us as they are toward the liberal mainline Protestant churches, one would have cause to be worried. However unlike the mainline Protestant churches, the Catholic Church’s numbers are not in a free fall and vocation numbers are on the increase.

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12 Responses to Thanks to the Young, the Tide is Still Turning Toward Catholicism

  • What a splendid hope-filled article. Thank you.

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  • Kudos on a masterpiece that Polanski can only wish to achieve. As Christ didn’t find the going to be anything but tough even though one would think his power would have made it otherwise, neither can we expect anything different. But we should look at how far Christianity has gone despite the setbacks along the way. And we know the tide will keep turning in our favor It has to if the promised victory at the end of the Bible is to be realized.

  • Amen Dave. As Bishop Chaput told those in Rome, in an editorial in an Italian magazine article, to those churchman who seemed to favor our President’s early rhetoric and his speech at ND, Free will today is valued more highly than life. Good to read your comments again and yes, the tide is truly turning. Take care and God Bless.

  • Regarding the Diocese of Rochester, last Monday the Catholic Courier (DOR’s diocesan newspaper) published a story publicly admitting what had been common knowledge locally: In a mere 8 years (i.e., from 2000 to 2008) the diocese had lost over 25% of its weekend Mass attendees.

    While diocesan leadership has blamed our decline in Mass attendance on what it terms a demographic shift (i.e., northern Catholics moving to the sun belt states), the bottom line is that DOR is losing Mass attendees 9 times faster than Catholics are leaving New York State.

    See http://www.catholiccourier.com/tmp1.cfm?nid=78&articleid=109508&cfid=4092824&cftoken=68817627

  • “and often residing in the rural parts of their dioceses”

    This is also true for our few seminarians in the Diocese of Rochester. Not one of the six was raised within the city of Rochester or its surrounding suburbs in Monroe County. Two are from Livonia, two from Elmira, one from Ontario county, and another has been residing here only a brief time since entering college. Perhaps this is a good thing, as our more liberal priests and lay Pastoral Administrators (laypeople or nuns who have full control over one or more parishes) are located within Monroe County.

    ~Dr. K

  • Dr. K. It was good to see that Elmira was listed in my old parish I left years ago ( and I do mean years ago ) Our current Bishop came from that city and there are still many othodox young people there. I remember Bishop Sheen when he did his best to create the right environment for all of us in the Diocese.

  • I believe it is a mistake to write of “Catholicism”, as though it is but another ISM. The Church and the sacraments are but the means to get us into heaven. As the Church teaches, you may go to Mass every day of your life and still fail.

    As the council fathers of Vatican II attempted to indicate, every person in the world is a potential Catholic. Being human is being almost a Catholic.

    Was it not one of the weaknesses of the Church in pre Vatican II days that it had – that its members had – too certain a sense of salvation? That it did not pay attention to Satan who roams the world seeking whom he many devour?

    The sudden rise of divorce, of contraception, of abortion demonstrated how weak were the defenses of Catholics against these temptations. And how too sure of themselves were our bishops, who even today do not “like” to bring up these subjects.

    These failed shepherds will have much to explain when called to give their accounts.

  • I hope my children or perhaps my grandchildren live to see that you are correct.

  • Dave,

    A fine start to your contribution on the American Catholic website.

    I do see these changes, but as Father Zuhlsdorf says, brick by brick.

    Lets be the change agents at each of our own parishes as we assist our churches to return reverence and orthodoxy with charity back!

  • Gabriel Austin asked, “Was it not one of the weaknesses of the Church in pre Vatican II days that it had – that its members had – too certain a sense of salvation?”

    As one who was raised in the pre-Vatican II days, including 16 years of Catholic education ending with a college diploma in 1965, I would have to answer in the negative.

    In my little corner of the world (upstate New York) we were all well aware of what mortal sin was, as well as its consequences.

    Our catechesis may have been overly legalistic at times, but it was not short on authentic Church teaching.

    That is just the opposite from what I see today in that same little corner of the world.

  • Mike writes Sunday, October 11, 2009 A.D. at 9:30 am
    “Gabriel Austin asked, “Was it not one of the weaknesses of the Church in pre Vatican II days that it had – that its members had – too certain a sense of salvation?”

    “As one who was raised in the pre-Vatican II days, including 16 years of Catholic education ending with a college diploma in 1965, I would have to answer in the negative.
    “In my little corner of the world (upstate New York) we were all well aware of what mortal sin was, as well as its consequences.
    “Our catechesis may have been overly legalistic at times, but it was not short on authentic Church teaching”.

    We were intellectually – superficially – aware of the catechism. But how deep did it sink?
    Perhaps you do not recall the [non] reception of Humanae Vitae. Encouraged by “theologians” bishops simply ignored it. It was too unpopular.

    The ferocity of Judy Brown’s work is due to her having been told by her parish priest that it was OK to use the pill. When she discovered that he lied, she became and remains furious.

    Bishop Shannon had the honesty to resign, without publicity, when he decided he could not accept Humanae Vitae.

    “That is just the opposite from what I see today in that same little corner of the world”.

    My point precisely. From overly “legalistic” to every man his own bishop, which is to say seeking excuses to do what we want to do, rather than what we ought to do.

    I harp on this because I see a misunderstanding of the work of the Church. It is not to create an institution; that institution exists and is protected. It is rather the tiresome business of getting each of us into heaven which is our future and not being overly concerned with the future on earth.

Catholicism Flourishes in Kerala

Thursday, October 8, AD 2009

Luca Fiore of Oasis magazine wrote an article on the Christians in Kerala titled, The Amazing Secrets of Kerala.  I will briefly summarize this article presented by the eloquent Sandro Magister of Chiesa.

Legend has it that Saint Thomas the Apostle arrived and preached in Mylapore, India , not far from Madras, where he suffered martyrdom and where his tomb is kept today.  Prior to his martyrdom Saint Thomas arrived in Kerala at about A.D. 52.  The Christians in south west India called Thomas Christians due to the missionary efforts of Saint Thomas.

St. Thomas the Apostles Tomb Chennai Madras

The Christians in Kerala are of the Syro-Malabar Rite within Catholicism and they constitute up to 20% of the population, where in the rest of India Christians are just a bit over 2%.  Kerala is a pluralistic society where the majority of residents are Hindu, Muslims make up 25%, and Christians 20%.  All the faiths live in peaceful harmony which is unlike some parts of India.

The state of Kerala is somewhat of an anomaly in India.  With relative peace among the different faiths, Kerala also has the highest literacy rates in the country, over 90% compared to roughly 65% to the rest of India.  Another exception is that Kerala is also the only government with Marxists in control.  This coming from a state where the majority of the schools, from elementary to university levels, are predominantly Christian.

Conversions are not common, but when they occur, there is normally no violent reaction whether they convert to Christianity from Hinduism or Islam, though Pentecostals are the most militant and cause the most disturbance among the residents of all faiths.  There are many reasons for conversion to Christianity, some convert because of the communal aspects of worship which is lacking in some Hindu strains.  Other convert due to the love the converts witness that is carried out among Christians.  But there is no definitive evidence of the major reasons behind conversions.

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9 Responses to Catholicism Flourishes in Kerala

  • Thanks for the fascinating post, Tito.

  • Generally speaking, there’s very little inter-religious fighting and the church is flourishing. The church doesn’t like the Communists because of their atheist agenda. The Hindu fundamentalist BJP has very little support here.

    I’m proud to me a St Thomas Christian myself!

  • The Saint Thomas Christians will be the ones that ultimately turn India into a great Christian nation!

  • I am very proud,because I am an Indian malayali and a roman catholic

  • I am from Kerala, living in the U.S. for the last
    40 years. Through the persecution perpetrated by
    the Hindu religious party BJP and her allies
    made dramatic changes to create a solid unity in
    between the Christian denominations. The Christian
    Church will not grow without severe persecution,
    so the equation is working well in India. The
    Holy Spirit is working in full force, and millions
    of people are coming to follow Christ. The Hindus
    who are educated know, what the Christians have done
    for them in education and social uplift. But the
    crooked politicians are using the spade card of
    religion, but their strategy is not working as they have planned, and they are getting discouraged every day.

    The people of India, especially the Hindu community
    are seeking after the truth and they are finding
    the truth “Jesus Christ” and following by the thousands. Also, many miracles are taking place
    all across India, and that brings a lot of non-Christians to the Christian faith.

  • u ignorant mathew take care of ur own catholicism first,u have enemy within before converting others.once theconverts gets education they realise the truth of god and will follow hindu way of life.

  • dear mathew what british couldnt do for 300 years do u think is possible to do now,this type of ignorance is making people to still follow ur religion with out reasoning,logical thinking and making money for drunkards,paedopholes.because they are ur priests

  • as long as america sends money your religion will survive in the world once that money stops flowing ur downfall starts

  • Joseph,

    It’s interesting that you conflate the British Raj with missionary work.

    Why are you so concerned about an extremely small minority roughly 2.3%?

    Why do you feel the need to lash out at Christians as such?

    You think it is money that is fueling their faith?

    You have it completely wrong.

    If you can’t keep this discussion civil your comments won’t get approved.

Reunion Not Imminent Between Catholic and Orthodox Churches

Monday, October 5, AD 2009

Catholic Orthodox

Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, a major proponent of union between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, has addressed the virulent opposition among the Metropolitans of Greece by stating that reunion is not imminent.

It is being propagated very falsely and conspiringly that the signing of the union of the Churches is imminent! A professor emeritus of Theology, who is well known for his ill-will towards my person, had visited a Hierarch of the Church of Greece and had told him that he knew with certainty (!) that the union had already been signed (in Ravenna!) and that the relative announcement was a matter of time!!! Clergy and laity have approached me and asked me if it is true that the union is to be signed in Cyprus, in October! Obviously, a feeling of unrest is being attempted among the people of God through this behaviour, with unpredictable consequences for the unity of the Church. However, those who are disseminating these things are fully aware (as long as they have not been blinded by empathy, fanaticism or a mania for self-projection), firstly, that the ongoing theological Dialogue has yet to span an extremely long course, because the theological differences that have accumulated during the one thousand years of division are many; and secondly, that the Committee for the Dialogue is entirely unqualified for the “signing” of a union, given that this right belongs to the Synods of the Churches. Therefore, why all the misinformation? Can’t the disseminators of these false “updates” think of what the consequences will be for the unity of the Church? [He who agitates (God’s people) shall bear the blame, whoever he may be — Galatians 5:10]

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Prime Directive Debate

Thursday, September 24, AD 2009

“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.”

Yesterday Darwin had a thought provoking post about the impact of technologically advanced cultures on less developed cultures.  In the combox discussion there were frequent references to the Prime Directive of Star Trek.  This of course gives me an excellent excuse for posting this examination of the Prime Directive and for me to burnish my credentials as the “Geekier-Than-Thou” member of this blog.

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38 Responses to Prime Directive Debate

  • Cogent analysis.

    I enjoyed the mental excercise and I must admit that you are more of a geek than I am becuase I didn’t know there was this depth of knowledge about the Prime Directive. I also cannot speak Klyngon, but I am trying to learn Latin (EL).

    I think we could use something like the Prime Directive for the American Empire. Non-intervention is a great policy – but, as you stated, NOT everytime.

    Our first obligation, our Supreme Prime Directive, if you will is to obey God. Not to play God, but to do His will and that requires that we use the gifts, whatever they be, spiritual or temporal, for His greater honor and glory. Naturally, we suck at it, which is why non-intervention would be best in most situations, like trying to impose Democracy at the barrel of a gun (not that I am against the war in Iraq per se, just its stated goal and the execution).

    Conversly, even though American interests had a hand in the rise of Nazi Germany, would it have been ethical for us to NOT intervene in WWII to stop the spread of fascism and national socialism? Of course, that doesn’t excuse our cooperation with Soviet and Chinese Communism. We stopped Hitler and that was noble but handing half of Europe over to Stalin and China to Mao is not excusable.

    I think we need to keep in mind that the Supreme Prime Directive is a commandment, the first one, all other directives come from that.

  • Oh, the Prime Directive is not only a non-starter for Catholics, it’s pretty much impossible to square with any sane/serious ethical tradition, religious or not.

    In fact, about the only “philosophy” it comes close to jibing with is objectivism, and even Ayn Rand probably would have at least *sold* the vaccine to the dying species in “Dear Doctor.”

    I suspect the PD was the result of something approximating a late-night undergrad bull session amongst the scriptwriters.

  • I suspect the PD was the result of something approximating a late-night undergrad bull session amongst the scriptwriters.

    More likely it was just a convenient plot device. Lots of ST:TOS episodes would have been over in five minutes if Kirk et al had been able to reveal who they were and use the full extent of their technology. You’ll notice that whenever following Directive Prime would hinder advancing the plot, it is promptly abandoned or ignored.

  • Dale’s right, how is it possible to obey the prime directive of Jesus Christ and this prime directive at the same time:

    Matthew 28:19-20
    19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

    That commandment necessitates a cultural and religious intervention with any society that is not converted to the True Faith.

    This not a coercive action, it is one of deep and abiding love for God and His creation.

  • Though it does seem to have a certain appeal for people suffering from a near crippling case of relativism of the youthful variety. Back in the golden age of science fiction (high school) I did have a few people insist to me in all seriousness that the prime directive was moral because it was _wrong_ to impose our ideas of what a good outcome was on other people who might have a different cultural context.

    I don’t think that kind of idealism holds up to any real serious thought or experience, but it does apparently have a certain appeal. Of course, for my part, I was always a Babylon 5 guy rather than a Star Trek guy…

  • Actually, there was an episode (Observer Effect) in the short-lived series, Star Trek: Enterprise, which presented what I believe to be a balanced perspective concerning what was ultimately to become the Prime Directive.


    An alien species called the Organians refused to interfere with the dying crew of Enterprise which had contracted a deadly silicon-based virus since these aliens themselves adhered to such a directive.

    Captain Archer, who ultimately discovered their presence nearing the end of the episode, engaged in dialogue with the aliens, acknowledging the apparent soundness behind the reasoning for this Prime Directive they adhered to since when they, the crew of the Enterprise, had actually interfered with more primitive alien races, introducing advanced technology and what not, the results were often disasterous (perhaps that is why and how the Prime Directive itself came into being?*).

    However, he made an impassioned appeal to them, saying that adhering to such a directive in this case was not only foolish but also an act of bloody murder and that if becoming an advanced species meant being absent of compassion, he would rather remain primitive.

    * With regards to what Archer said concerning their experiences with primitive alien races and the harm that ultimately resulted when they interfered with these, this would seem to provide somewhat compelling evidence for why the Prime Directive came into existence, where Picard himself eloquently remarked in a past Next Generation episode:

    “The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy… and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.

    – Captain Picard (TNG: “Symbiosis”)

  • History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.

    That’s the theory. My question would be: what’s the evidence. I can think of plenty of examples where a less technologically advanced civilization has been harmed by contact with a more advanced civilization because the more advanced civilization used their superior technology to kill or enslave the less advanced people. Absent that, though, I can’t think of any cases where simply being given access to more advanced technology, medicine, etc. has been harmful. On the contrary, there are plenty of examples (such as, for example, in the wake of the Tsunami a few years back) where this has been very helpful.

  • The flaw with Picard’s logic is that he presumes to have perfect knowledge. It isn’t up to a Starfleet captain to know outcomes. We are not to have anxiety over how things will go, we are to only do our part as Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

    That is the Supreme Prime Directive. Suspecting that Picard is a descendant of ours then we have to assume a) he has knowledge of Christ or at least the Catholic Church is still alive and well in his time or, b) Rodenbury was even more sinister than we thought and interjected this athiestic, relativist Prime Directive in order to deny Christ.

    Either way, it doesn’t work. You CANNOT know that results will always be bad and perhaps a little bit of prudence will help you determine what technology to share and what to hold back all the while it is incumbent on you to improve the primitive species’ situation as pertains to basic needs and share positive cultural values with them and most importantly the Gospel.

    Say you get in your DeLorean and activite your flux capacitor and end up in Rome before Christ. Would it not be incumbent upon you to do all in your power to prevent children, especially girls, from being left to die on the hillside? I know what you’re thinking (y’all are really geeky)doing that you are going to skew the timeline and all manner of craziness can ensue. That’s a nice plot device, but if reverse time-travel were possible do you not think God allowed it? Wouldn’t it still be incumbent on you to OBEY His commandments and leave the outcome up to Him?

    Prime Directive may be a plot device, it may also be a tool of the devil to insert relativism into our culture through media entertainment. Evil has never had better marketing.

  • Blackadder:

    That’s the theory. My question would be: what’s the evidence.

    Did you even read my previous comment?

    I believe that was one of the things that that prequel, Star Trek: Enterprise, attempted to answer.

    Again, it would seem that Captain Archer’s previous interferences with primitive races by introducing advanced technology and what not, and the negative repercussions that ultimately came as the result, would seem to have provided the basis for why the Prime Directive ultimately came into being.

    This is why in that episode, Observer Effect, he couldn’t really fault the Organians for this Prime Directive that they seem to subscribe to due to his own set of experiences; however, he did fault them for the fact that in the particularly fatal circumstances facing his crew, if an advanced race were to act absent compassion, that race wouldn’t be so advanced after all since it lost that sense of compassion he felt integral even to an advanced culture.

  • So the man-made rules are absolute until they are no longer convenient to the rule makers.

    That makes sense.

  • e,

    Star Trek: Enterprise is a work of fiction. The fact that a character in a work of fiction says “history shows X” doesn’t mean that history actually shows X.

  • American Knight:

    Say that I am part of a complement that possesses advanced technology that happened to be nuclear-based.

    Suppose that I encountered a race on a planet that is exactly the kind of midiaeval earth.

    Their inhabitants are all dying of a deadly plague.

    Now, we possess a nuclear-based apparatus that would ultimately cure these peoples; however, the cure itself requires perennial treatments.

    So, tell me, if we were to provide such potentially deadly technology to this relatively primitive race; do you really believe that doing so would not result in harm?

    For one thing, the inhabitants themselves obviously wouldn’t possess a thorough understanding of the technology that we do.

    For another, all the negative episodes of our own people’s history (e.g., the devestating historical events we collectively endured due to misuse of this technology) where we as a people ultimately learned wisdom never to misuse this technology again, could not really be transferred to a comparatively primitive people such as the ones here.


    Because absent of actual experience, like a curious and even errant child, no matter if one were to warn them, they’ll simply go off on their own and misuse the technology regardless not only due to an overwhelming sense of curiousity but also due to their comparatively adolescent mindset as a race where they do not know any better.

    What you’ll likely discover, in the end, is that if you were to revisit that primitive race years later after endowing them with such technology, you’ll find that they had eventually wiped themselves out because they had come to actually utilize that technology in order to gain power over other warring factions.

    Hence, there are delicate considerations in the matter that you are obviously neglecting.

  • Blackadder:

    Star Trek: Enterprise is a work of fiction. The fact that a character in a work of fiction says “history shows X”; doesn’t mean that history actually shows X.

    I was simply providing you the background on how the Prime Directive in the Star Trek Universe came into being because of Captain Archer’s own (mis-)adventures in the Star Trek Universe.

    How, in heaven’s name, did you actually come to think that we were discussing about something that resembled current/historical reality?


    Captain Archer had these set of negative experiences in the maiden voyage of the original enterprise in the Star Trek universe as a result of his deliberately interfering with a primitive race; therefore, the Prime Directive came into being in the Star Trek universe


    Captain Archer had these set of negative experiences in the maiden voyage of the original enterprise in the Star Trek universe as a result of his deliberately interfering with a primitive race; therefore, the Prime Directive came into being in our universe.

  • How, in heaven’s name, did you actually come to think that we were discussing about something that resembled current/historical reality?

    Don’t play dumb and don’t treat me like I’m an idiot. You’ve been an active participant in this discussion and you know very well that it involves the application of PD to current or historical reality.

  • My original comments were strictly with regards to how the PD came into existence in the Star Trek Universe.

    Obviously, there is no Captain Archer, as far as I know, who is gallavanting in outer space in some space ship called Enterprise, deliberately interfering with primitive races.

    You’re better than that, Blackadder; don’t play the obtuse card.

    I have much higher regard for you.

  • Technology is just a tool.

    Our medieval ancestors were perhaps less technically proficient than we, but they were also, probably more moral, holy and pious.

    Man has NOT changed at all since he was created. We may have more knowledge of God’s universe, we certainly have been given more revelations but we are basically the same.

    The only moral advancement has been made becuase of Christ’s sacrifice and teaching and communion.

    So if we assume that Star Trek takes place in our future then the Church will still be there and man will essentially still be the same. Take that technology and bring it back to today and we would have the same dispositions for proper use or ill.

    This is much like the gun control debate. We need to control guns becuase guns are dangerous in the wrong hands. This false permise assumes that the wrong hands, presumably attached to wrong heads will obey gun control laws while they vilate ever other law and moral precept.

    If you give me a nuclear weapon, I am confident that I would NOT use it.

    A certain President of a certain country that used to be ruled by King Darius in ancient times — may be not so much.

    So the Pime Directive is nothing more than hubris, relativism and happy horse manure.

  • American Knight:

    You didn’t answer my question.

    Would you provide such a race with that kind of advanced technology or not?

  • There is not enough information to make that statement definitively. I would do whatever, to the best of my knowledge at the time, fulfils my baptismal promise of loving my neigbor our of love for God. If it saves lives I would do it. We all would have to.

  • Blackadder
    it seems that the Star Trek guys are always doing more of a “hand out hand grenades and bio-labs” type interference, instead of the “install a couple of solar powered water purifiers and a windmill powered well” type interference.

    Like I said on the prior topic– Fleeters are morons. They’ll choose to tweak a culture along Nazi lines because it’s organized.

    I can’t think of a single “turned out bad” interference that star fleet did where any random 20-something enlisted kid couldn’t have come up with a better plan that had fewer risks.

  • American Knight:

    Now you can see why Captain Archer himself remarked when confronted with a choice of bestowing advanced technology to a technologically inferior race in desperate need of it (remember: his time was way before the Prime Directive ever even came into being):

    “Some day, my People are going to come up with some sort of a doctrine, something that says what we can and can’t do out here, should and shouldn’t do. But until someone tells me that they’ve drafted that… directive, I’m going to have to remind myself every day, that we didn’t come out here to play God.”

  • No e.,

    I don’t see it. I know your question was designed to get me in that trap, you may be an amateur attorney 🙂

    Archer’s well intentioned sentiment may very well have lead to the illogical (Vulcan pun intended) construct of the Prime Directive.

    The road to hell is paved with those kind of intentions.

    We are to keep His commandments becuase we love Him.

    The Prime Directive is a violation of His commandment so it is false no matter how well intentioned.

    We are not to know what will happen, we are only responsible for obeying God’s rules as we work. The Prime Directive is hubristic because in it Fleeters presume to know what is best. They don’t. Only God knows what is best.

  • Actually, even Captain Archer himself thought that such a draconian application of the principle (before, it was simply some prerogative the Vulcans handed to them, which he & his Enterprise crew personally disagreed with but eventually found it to be generally justified) was wrong, as evidenced in many episodes.

    That said, I don’t think Captain Archer himself, who could be considered the Forefather of the PD, would agree with the strictly literal interpretation (without noting the Spirit of the Law, as it were) that subsequent generations at Star Fleet gave to it.

    It reminds me of how later generations of Americans are doing same with respect to our Constitution, who more so than not cling to an absurd literal interpretation of it and, indeed, deliberately defy the very Spirit of that Law which our Forefathers actually intended.

  • The only law with spirit is the Law of the Spirit.

    The Consitution is man’s law and it has no point if it has spirit. Law is fixed until legitimately changed; otherwise what is the point?

    Rules that are not fixed may as well not be rules.

    We need to read the law in CONTEXT not in spirit. This is true for what used to be our Constitution and it is true for the PD. The difference is the Constitution conforms to God’s Law, the PD doesn NOT!

  • AK-
    I think he means “spirit of the law” in the not doing something technically legal but totally against the idea– ie, the law says no marrying girls under 18, so folks just enter common law marriage until they’re 18…..

  • OK.

    I suppose I’m just overy sensative these days becuase of the dictatorship of reletavism.

    This living breathing Constitution BS is getting really old.

    Laws are a gift. We are free becuase of the Law and man’s laws are to be written in light of the Spirit, which is Truth.

    The laws we are handed these days are anything by truth and have no regard for the Truth. It is disgusting and I fear that we will end up with a future like the socialistic brave new world of Star Trek, or no future at all. I prefer the future of Star Wars, a heroic battle to slay the Empire and restire the Old Republic.

  • We need to read the law in CONTEXT…

    The Spirit of the Law actually means that you have to keep in CONTEXT the very reason for the law.

    It would seem Foxfier has a much clearer understanding of this than you do.

    It is disgusting and I fear that we will end up with a future like the socialistic brave new world of Star Trek, or no future at all. I prefer the future of Star Wars, a heroic battle to slay the Empire and restire the Old Republic.

    Rest assured, Star Trek and Star Wars are all works of fiction.

    Besides, socialism (or, rather, a variant thereof) has long been in existence for quite some time now in America and, indeed, the socialist project is even being further extended currently to much greater degree by the present Administration.

  • e.,

    I conceded the point when Foxfier pointed it out. Did you really have to go and beat up on me for it?

    I think our language can be more poetic when we are all on the same page. As in standing on something solid, you know, like the truth. Sadly, we aren’t all (I am not referring to you or most people here, I am referring to America in general)on the same page.

    As you cogently pointed out we are already socialist and on our way to full-blown communism. I suppose I am just quick to the trigger because socialism isn’t only an economic system, a false one at that, but it is a cultural sickness that perverts men’s minds.

    Be wary, be very wary.

  • American Knight:

    I conceded the point when Foxfier pointed it out. Did you really have to go and beat up on me for it?

    Apologies, but that was not my intent; I was merely amused at the irony in that what you declared then (and coincidentally accused the Spirit of), was actually much aligned with what the Spirit of the Law meant. That’s all.

    I suppose I am just quick to the trigger because socialism isn’t only an economic system, a false one at that, but it is a cultural sickness that perverts men’s minds. Be wary, be very wary.

    Believe me, friend, whenever I witness even mere rhetoric resembling that of the Spectre haunting Europe employed likewise concerning America, I instantly become leery of exactly this kind of perversion that is indeed socialism.

  • Picture-perfect example of why I really dislike PC talk– stuff with a good, solid, serviceable and honest standard meaning gets twisted to the point where I can totally understand folks twitching from the phrase “spirit of the law.”

    Sounds a lot like the “penumbra of an emanation” we all now and ‘love’, eh?

    Shoot, even the word “choice” totally out of any birth-related context makes me twitch…. Charity is similarly abused….

    *sigh* How did I get on a serious note when what I *really* want is to find a good geek board to discuss who would provide a better Pope, the Cardassians or the Vulcans?

  • Pius XII Foxfier is a good example of a Vulcan pope. Julius II, Cardassian all the way.

  • *sigh* How did I get on a serious note when what I *really* want is to find a good geek board to discuss who would provide a better Pope, the Cardassians or the Vulcans?

    Neither… it would always be human.

    As even the prequel attempted to make clear, it was the human race that was ultimately destined to serve a greater purpose, which was ultimately gathering into One all foreign races into a unified whole, later known as the Federation.

    That same special destiny, I would imagine, could easily translate into the enduring fact that only a human could be a better Pope, due to this faculty unique to humans (at least, according to ST/Enterprise lore), which enables them the remarkable talent for engendering peaceful, diplomatic relations amongst disparate alien races.

  • Ambassador Soval: “We don’t know what to do about Humans. Of all the species we’ve made contact with, yours is the only one we can’t define. You have the arrogance of Andorians, the stubborn pride of Tellarites. One moment you’re as driven by your emotions as Klingons, and the next you confound us by suddenly embracing logic!”

    Admiral Forrest: “I’m sure those qualities are found in every species.”

    Ambassador Soval: “Not in such confusing abundance.”

    Admiral Forrest: “Ambassador… are Vulcans afraid of Humans?”

    (Soval answers with a slight nod)

    Admiral Forrest: “Why?”

    Ambassador Soval: “Because, there is one species you remind us of.”

    Admiral Forrest: “Vulcans.”

    Ambassador Soval: “There are those on the High Command who wonder what Humans would achieve in the century to come, and they don’t like the answer.”

    Admiral Forrest: “We’re not the Klingons. We only want to be your partners, to do what the nations of Earth have learned to do: to work together in common cause.”

  • E.- I don’t generally accept Enterprise, since they felt the need to pull a “it was all a holodeck” thing at the end, but given that the humanoid species are inter-fertile and several of the half-breeds have been shown to be fertile themselves (for example, a crewman who’s got a Romulan grandfather) I’d have to consider them the same species…which is really a pain for the atheistic version, even with the “seeded DNA” ep in TNG.

    What a horribly irrational thing for a Vulcan to say! Sounds oddly racist, even….

  • I can think of several examples where trying to do the right this has backfired. Think of all of the developing countries particularly in Africa that we brought medicine and doctors too back in the 50’s and 60’s. As a result the infant mortality rate dropped significantly. Good thing right?

    Well maybe not. These cultures have spent millenia having 10 or more children each assuming that 80% of them will die before becoming adults. The high birthrate was needed to maintain their numbers.

    However, with modern medicine, the mortality rate dropped while the birthrate remained high. Populations skyrocketed, and the subsistence agriculture they had practiced for centuries no longer supported them. What followed was massive poverty and famine.

    This was a major problem beginning in the 1950’s and 60’s when Star Trek was created. It was also a problem that the majority of the population was not really away of. Few people back then realized the negative impact of providing food and medicine to people who need it, hence the writers developed the Prime Directive as a plot device to point out that even well intentioned actions can have disastrous consequences.

  • Also, there is a fairly good chance that the church wouldn’t play a significant role 350 years in the future. If current trends continue, there will be very few Christians in 2350AD. The only two religious groups that continue to grow are Islam and non believers.

    Of course this isn’t taking into account the prediction of Star Trek that there will be hundreds of other worlds in the Federation. I doubt any of them will have religions similar to those on earth.

  • The assumption that current trends will continue is generally a losing bet.
    (That statement is the only trend that I can think of where it’s a good bet it’ll continue….)

    Africa is not in trouble just because of their birth rate– systemic corruption that prevents long term improvement for short term personal advantage is a much bigger problem. (Very symbolically, there’s a tendency to sell the seeds for next year’s crop.)

  • 2/23/2010
    I sit down and typed in the words for Prime Directive For A Health Care Reform, and it was like wow, just look at all this stuff,
    God vs./ or and the Prime Directive, As a Star Trek fan for over 30 years, I wish to see in to this blog, but I am a little lost so let me show you the tomorrow,”So as these Government Officials get your vote and send you off to you room so that all can be fixed by their Artificial Intelligence, {because they have been stuck in that Matrix} and now all they can do is see us as variables in a equation as dollar numbers, they do try to see, but without that Mathematical A.I. They are so lost. This is the same with Health Care Insurance Companies, as A.I. shows the way for D.N.A testing and other inventive forms of how to calculate the dollar as a human input.
    It has been stated that because of diversity that Government Officials must intervine,For days I worked the word diversity in my mind and it came to me that because of this it is not Americas weakness it is our greatest strength. And this is how I will show you.
    Bill Of Rights –
    The Declaration of Independence-
    United under one forum, builds what is called the Trinity of the Protection Of Laws. This is because these Laws were built by people of faith who gave thanks to God for this wisdom. One would have to see and admire the simplicity of the three as one and at the same time they maintain their independence.”
    But I do offer my congratulations again to the Administration and theses Law Makers In And for The People Of The United States Of America.
    Henry Massingale
    FASC Concepts in and for Pay It Forward

Pange Lingua Gloriosi

Thursday, September 3, AD 2009

Composed by Saint Thomas Aquinas for the Office of Corpus Christi (see CORPUS CHRISTI, FEAST OF). Including the last stanza (which borrows the words “Genitori Genitoque”—Procedenti ab utroque, Compar ” from the first two strophes of the second sequence of Adam of St. Victor for Pentecost ) the hymn comprises six stanzas appearing in the manuscripts

Pange, lingua, gloriosi corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi quem in mundi pretium
Fructus ventris generosi Rex effudit gentium.

Written in accentual rhythm, it imitates the triumphant march of the hymn of Fortunatus, and like it is divided in the Roman Breviary into stanzas of six lines whose alternating triple rhyming is declared by Pimont to be a new feature in medieval hymnody. In the  Roman Breviary the hymn is assigned to both Vespers, but of old the Church of Salisbury placed it in Matins, that of Toulouse in First Vespers only, that of Saint-Germain- des-Prés at Second Vespers only, and that of Strasburg at Compline. It is sung in the procession to the repository on Holy Thursday and also in the procession of Corpus Christi and in that of the Forty Hours’ Adoration.[1]


[1] Henry, H. (1911). Pange Lingua Gloriosi. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved September 3, 2009 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11441c.htm

Note: For more information click here.

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Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy Around The Catholic World

Wednesday, August 26, AD 2009

Ted Kennedy and Pope John Paul II

Here are what Catholics are saying on the passing away of Edward Moore Kennedy around the web (updates from around the web have ended as of 8-26-2009 AD at 6:32 pm CST):

It’s Already Started: The Party of Wellstone Uses Kennedy’s Death for Political Opportunism by Jay Anderson of Pro Ecclessia

Mixed Record?! my hind end by Rich Leonardi of Ten Reasons

I had been praying for his spiritual health by Jean M. Heimann of Catholic Fire

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14 Responses to Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy Around The Catholic World

Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009 AD, Requiescat In Pace

Wednesday, August 26, AD 2009

Ted Kennedy

[Update at the bottom of this post as of 8-26-2009 4:38 pm CST]

Edward Moore Kennedy, known as Ted Kennedy, passed away late last night in Hyannis Port after a battle with brain cancer at the age of 77.

A brief statement was released from his family:

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,”

Requiescat in pace Teddy.

Elizabeth Scalia, a.k.a. The Anchoress, has an in-depth look at Ted Kennedy’s life titled, Ted Kennedy, Healthcare & Purgatory.

Update I:   For reactions around the Catholic world click here.

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22 Responses to Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009 AD, Requiescat In Pace

Evidence That The Tide Is Turning

Tuesday, May 5, AD 2009

A refreshing news story from the mainstream media that portrays the Catholic Church in a positive light.  A ‘min-comeback’ is the thread of the story, though I disagree with the main reasons for this being the distance from the priest sex abuse scandals combined with the U.S. recession. 

This video exhibits more evidence that the tide is turning towards Catholicism.

(Biretta Tip: Creative Minority Report)

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2 Responses to Evidence That The Tide Is Turning

  • The real reason for the ‘mini-comeback’ IMHO:

    The coarsening of our culture – ugly entertainment, ugly politicians, ugly language. A respite to the divine and beautiful is what most sane people crave.

  • Daledog,

    That’s one of my opinions as well. The more America slouches towards Gomorrah (as Robert Bork wrote in his book of the same title), the more alluring is the Catholic Church with her celebrated eternal truths.

Religion in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2009

According to a recent study, the percentage of Americans who profess no religion has been increasing over the last 20 years:

The Catholic population of the United States has shifted away from the Northeast and towards the Southwest, while secularity continues to grow in strength in all regions of the country, according to a new study by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College. “The decline of Catholicism in the Northeast is nothing short of stunning,” said Barry Kosmin, a principal investigator for the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). “Thanks to immigration and natural increase among Latinos, California now has a higher proportion of Catholics than New England.”

In broad terms, ARIS 2008 found a consolidation and strengthening of shifts signaled in the 2001 survey. The percentage of Americans claiming no religion, which jumped from 8.2 in 1990 to 14.2 in 2001, has now increased to 15 percent. Given the estimated growth of the American adult population since the last census from 207 million to 228 million, that reflects an additional 4.7 million “Nones.” Northern New England has now taken over from the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country, with Vermont, at 34 percent “Nones,” leading all other states by a full 9 points.

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5 Responses to Religion in the U.S.

  • In regards to question 2), I think the immigration does in indeed mask a similar hemorrhaging of members from the Catholic Church. While I think there’s a solid core of faithful Catholics, I think it is much smaller than the numbers suggest. I think in the near future, we’ll see an even greater loss of membership as the realities of the Church teaching and governmental policy butt heads.

  • Ryan, I agree with you that we are very likely to see the Catholic faith tested in America by the exact mechanism you suggest. I pray that God will change people’s hearts and that all Catholics will open themselves to the truth. I fear that large percentages of Catholics will formally depart the Church in the next 20 years. It is hard to say how big the faithful core is or will be in the end. I think the core is stronger in Faith than given credit for, but in numbers? I find reasons for hope, but certainly seems likely that we could lose up to 90% of the self- identified Catholics.

  • Point #4 deserves further scrutiny. In period when political/economic elites avoids all things religious, will be not only greater estrangement from the faithful but legislation like that swatted down in Connecticut. Could extend to our nation’s largest fudge factory. Note all the DC insiders who frequent Sunday morning chat shows. Not likely they will slip away to their house of worship. Thus the estrangement showing up in broad scale following the Porkapalooza Bill. Might be presenting the ultimate dilemma- God or Gummint as Ultimate Source of All That Is True And Good.

  • That unbelief is plateauing while membership in most churches is fallen suggests to me that part of what we’re seeing is a failure of established churches to reach people with anything compelling. There can be a laziness and self absorbtion to people who are “religious but don’t belong to a church right now” but I think a fair amount of it is also that far too often one can go to a church for years (sadly this would seem to be as true of many Catholic parishes as of protestant churches) without getting much to hold you in the way of real teaching, and explanation of what life means other than “community” or compelling liturgy. And so people often drift away into their own home-grown, wishy washy religious belief combined with non-practice.

    I suspect it would take a significant cultural shift to break this paradigm, because while at the same time people drift away from churches because they’re not compelling, there’s also a strong cultural prejudice against evangelizing and judging — which precludes most of the compelling things that could be said.

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The Single Life and St. Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 14, AD 2009

So you’re a single Catholic sitting at home with nothing to do on St. Valentine’s Day, what are your options?  Well there are many things that you can do, especially if you want to resolve your current status as a non-married person.  If you’re not called to religious life, you are most certainly called to married life with very few exceptions, yet you’re sitting on your couch still being single.  In this column I’ll offer a basic and fundamental template for a single Catholic in pursuing your future spouse(1).

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5 Responses to The Single Life and St. Valentine's Day

  • Interestingly enough, St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Church calendar in 1969 due to very little knowledge about the man/men himself, and as such the day has become a strictly secular holiday.

    Good post.

  • Jason,

    I was unaware of the removal, but I stress “Saint” in “St. Valentine’s Day” to raise awareness of the Christian (Catholic) origins of this secularized holiday.

    Thanks for your kind comments. They’re always appreciated (and encouraged). 🙂

  • Jason,

    St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Church calendar in 1969

    The feast was removed from the liturgical calendar, that doesn’t mean his feast was suppressed, only that it was removed from the mass cycle. Many saints are not represented on the calendar, but their feast day still exists, and can still be celebrated outside the Mass, and inside the mass as a commemoration.

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  • i agree the best way to celebrate valentine’s is to be in God presence, but only few single understand the secret.

The Radical Love Of Dominicans

Thursday, February 5, AD 2009

Here is a beautiful video about a young nun, Sister Lauren Franko, who is in the discerning process on whether to pursue the religious life or not.  Another perspective is offered of what it takes to be a nun by Sister Maria of the Cross.  Both of these nuns are part of the Dominican Sisters of Summit, New Jersey.  It is a very well made Photo Essay by Time.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2051558&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Radical Love“, posted with vodpod

(Biretta Tip: Patrick Archbold of Creative Minority Report and Toni Greaves)

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2 Responses to The Radical Love Of Dominicans

4 Responses to Dignitas Personae

  • Thanks for the heads up, Chris. I’m a little lax in keeping track of new documents (be they Catholic or new papers in Computer Science), so I’m very grateful to everyone who brings my attention to these new releases!

  • Oddly enough, the BBC’s original treatment of the document looked relatively.. well.. fair and accurate with none of the usual snide commentary or slant.
    Very unusual for them


  • I just read it. I found it, generally, to be a good, clear read, specifically when dealing with the profoundly complicated issues brought about by in vitro fertilization. It frames its discussion with a solid grounding in natural moral law and a consistent reference to the dignity of the human person as well as the sacred nature of the sexual act, holy matrimony, and the complementarity of husband and wife.

    It also quotes Benedict extensively, “Natural law, which is at the root of the recognition of true equality between persons and peoples, deserves to be recognized as the source that inspires the relationship between the spouses in their responsibility for begetting new children. The transmission of life is inscribed in nature and its laws stand as an unwritten norm to which all must refer.”

    Now we must ensure that this instruction does not fall upon deaf ears.

  • La nueva instrucción Dignitas Personae elaborada por la Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe y aprobada expresamente por SS Benedicto XVI indudablemente será motivo de comentarios de todo tipo, por la importancia y trascendencia del tema que trata.
    Si bien no nos corresponde evaluar su contenido debido a nuestro escaso nivel intelectual y teológico y la carencia de argumentación científica que pudiera justificar o denostar el tema de la fecundación asistida, no es menos cierto que de su lectura surgen elementos que nos mueven a reflexionar.
    Es de suponer que quienes acuden a estos métodos lo hacen impulsados por la necesidad y no por snobismo, y la posibilidad de desarrollarse como padres, cumpliendo el mandato de “creced y multiplicaos” cuesta entender que sea incompatible con la solución científica, cuando esta es una posibilidad para dar solución a problemas de infertilidad.
    Se dice que:
    El origen de la vida humana… tiene su auténtico contexto en el matrimonio y la familia, donde es generada por medio de un acto que expresa el amor recíproco entre el hombre y la mujer.
    Es irrebatible este concepto, aunque podría matizarse para hacerlo un poco más abarcativo y siendo tal cual se lo plantea,
    ¿Qué pasa con quienes dentro del matrimonio no cumplen con la castidad conyugal?
    Cuando los actos propios de los esposos, como muestra del amor recíproco no tienen el objetivo de la procreación, ya sea por cuestiones de determinación o por la utilización de cualquier medio que atente contra la fecundación, estaremos en la otra cara de la moneda del tema que estamos tratando.
    Con lo cual, si quienes utilicen o simplemente piensen en métodos no naturales para concebir, o métodos no naturales para no concebir quizás estén inmersos en situaciones similares a la de los católicos divorciados en nueva unión, cuya imposibilidad de acceder a la comunión (por citar sólo un ejemplo) es motivo de inquietud entre quienes viven todas estas problemáticas.
    La instrucción Dignitas Personae no es motivo de debate, pero indudablemente será motivo de más de una apreciación.
    [email protected]

A Call to Arms for God, Life, and Country

Friday, November 21, AD 2008

With the election of the most anti-life president in this nations history, Christians across America will soon be facing a daunting gauntlet of attacks on the sanctity of life.  We need to now follow Jesus more than ever, embrace His teachings, practice our faith, evangelize our friends and neighbors, and pray.  Pray and strive for prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance with faith, hope, and love.

st-michael-the-archangle-by-raphaelThis is spiritual warfare on a massive scale.  We need to win the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans in order to push back against evil.  What is at stake are unknown millions of innocents that will be slaughtered for Mammon’s sake.  Not since World War II and maybe even the French Revolution has human civilization been faced with such dark forces arrayed against it.  The time for fruitless and pointless rhetoric ended on November 4th.  We now cannot stand by the wayside and negotiate the nonnegotiables with those that intend to do harm to the most vulnerable among us.  No equivocating, no complacency, and no compromise.

Pray and fast for President-elect Obama and our glorious nation.

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13 Responses to A Call to Arms for God, Life, and Country

  • “We must make choices.”


  • Mahalo Tito for sharing! I’ve posted it on my blog and am sending it out to others.
    God bless,

  • I think it is unfair to call the open letter ‘pointless rhetoric’. Even if all it does is help people in the Catholic blogosphere focus more on FOCA, it will have done an important service. Additionally, it’s always possible that it will get picked up by a news outlet and help shape the discussion.

    I am skeptical that FOCA is a priority for the Obama administration, but if it does come up, it is very important that people call and write letters to their Congressional representatives. Raising awareness about FOCA is a good thing, and even if the open letter is not particularly successful, it is worth a small amount of effort at a chance of a larger payoff. To paraphrase Paschal, a potentially large payoff is worth a small expenditure of effort.

  • Pingback: To pray, to engage, and fight like a Maccabee. « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective
  • Vox Nova invites the devil into their midst and then sends it a note asking the devil to not act devilish.

    The first act was foolish, the second is absurd. The letter is pointless when ‘point’ is understood to mean that which is directed to a final end. Because the letter has virtually no more chance of success as would a letter to the devil himself.

  • John Henry,

    I respect where you’re coming from and I understand why you feel the way you do. I am certainly one for constructive dialogue, but when the open letter comes from one that openly cooperates in disparaging and hindering the efforts of those wanting to end abortion, then I find it disingenuous at best.

    Christopher Blosser,

    Fr. Z may have signed it, but it is my opinion, not Fr. Z’s, that this open letter will help. But I want to reiterate that I do respect your feelings and thoughts on why the letter is important. Had it come from any other source, it would have had a different meaning to me and many others out there.

    But since it has eminated from a known anti-life blog such as Vox Nova (and yes, they are anti-life, when some bloggers openly endorse to vote for the most anti-life president in U.S. history), then it pretty much lost most, if not all, moral credibility.

    I don’t disparage those like Fr. Z, Deal, and yourself for signing it, but I do think it highly disingenous from the likes of Henry Karlson, Policraticus, and Michael Iafrate.


  • skeptical that FOCA is a priority? Obama has just recently appointed Ellen Moran (no pun intended) director of communications at the White House. She is exec director of ‘EMILY’s List’, a group that supports and promotes female candidates that are pro-abortion.

    the guy voted that a baby may be left to die when surviving an abortion attempt (in case you forgot). O is a monster

    Christ promised the gates of Hell would never prevail against the Church. He never made such a promise to America.

    i hope i’m wrong but i think the prophesies of Akita, Japan 1973 may be coming true soon on American soil.

    i’ve made my choice – getting out of here. ay mate!

    it didn’t have to be this way but America has made her choice.

  • Superb to point this out about Ms. Moran. Much like the Department of Chicken Protection appointing Mr. Fox as Chief Security Guard. More like Moran is good Dem soldier getting sweet job and preoccupied with White House briefings, official statements, and babysitting Helen Thomas. As for splitting the scene…..come on….stay where the action is, Ed…….

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  • Dude get over yourself, he’s not anti – life he’s pro- choice. there is a large difference. its just that you guys are so caught up in your own beliefs, you don’t consider the rights and beliefs f your neighbors.

  • Razz,

    I’m not sure what you were trying to explain, but this is a free country and we Christians have fundamental rights in the constitution that allows us to practice our faith and exercise those rights.

    ‘Being caught up in our own beliefs’, I’m not sure what you were trying to express, but try again. Do you mean we aren’t allowed to express our opinion?

  • “you don’t consider the rights and beliefs f your neighbors.”

    Ah but that is the problem. Unborn children are our neighbors, our most weak and vulnerable neighbors, and it is unjust to allow them to be put to death.

Top Ten Catholic Bestsellers for November 2008

Friday, November 21, AD 2008

One of the major resources that I used to educate myself on my Christian faith were reading books.  I am a book-hound.  I have a stack of books that I haven’t even begun to read yet that are all on Catholicism.  Whether if they are about saints, history, mysticism, philosophy, or our Holy Bible, I am just enamored with almost anything Catholic in book form.  Right now I’m reading several books (not all at the same time).  Render Unto Caesar by Archbishop Chaput, St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, and Father, Forgive Me, for I Am Frustrated by Fr. Pacwa just to name a few.

I am always hunting for books at my favorite Catholic bookstore here in Houston, Veritas, or Half Price Books.  Yes, I even browse the books at Barnes & Noble and Borders.  And if that’s not enough, I go online to Amazon.com.  I have always enjoyed reading books and this love of reading helped me a lot in learning as much as I could about Christianity.  Having to hold a book in my hand and read it rather than going online to learn more about Catholicism, it is difficult to explain but it just can’t be beat. 

So in order to share my love of reading to you all, I’ve decided to post Amazon’s* Top Ten Bestsellers for Catholic books.  I find Amazon’s to be more concise than other providers.  Enjoy!:

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One Response to Top Ten Catholic Bestsellers for November 2008

  • Great resources. I’ll have to see if we can add some of these titles to our Book Club list. I’ve only read number 4 and 9 myself, though I did read Arroyo’s first biography of Mother Angelica. Jesus of Nazareth was great, but I was a little disappointed in Return of the Prodigal Son.

One Response to Serious Catholics Only