Regarding “North Korea: Another Option” (page one, May 14 issue): The recent story of a Maryknoll missioner who goes to North Korea twice a year to tend to a group of North Koreans with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis was well written. It is amazing that the 85-year-old priest, Father Gerald Hammond, is still active. It is most amazing that the North Korean government allows him into the country. It is sad that the communist country, with its vast army and increasingly sophisticated weapons, cannot provide medical help to its most vulnerable.
Joseph P. Nolan
Creation and the Church
There are some serious questions that have been raised by Stacy Trasancos’ recently published commentary, “How Do Adam and Eve Fit With Evolution?” (In Depth, June 11 issue).
It is not unreasonable to assume humanity began with a miracle. In it, Catholics who reject evolutionary theory and embrace the traditional Catholic teaching on creation are derided as “Fundamentalists [who] propugn their version of dogma as if they are the sole authorities, disregarding science and any magisterial documents they deem unacceptable.” Now, the premise of the article is that miracles are reasonable and can be combined with the evolutionary science.
Yet the National Academies of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine define science as “the use of evidence to construct testable explanation and prediction of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process,” thus ruling out miracles, which are not natural, but supernatural, phenomena.
Is it not illogical that on the one hand the article argues for upholding the currently fashionable paradigm of origins, neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, while at the same time embracing the very thing it absolutely rejects, namely, miracles?
Now, it must be stated that, indeed, to be a Catholic one must believe in miracles; our creeds demand belief in miracles. I assume that the author accepts the physical reality of Christ’s birth from the Virgin and resurrection from the dead. These two beliefs are entirely unscientific, and science tells us these events could not have happened. Yet we have evidence for them, and Catholics believe them to have happened with a level of belief as if we had actually seen these events with our own eyes. Why, then, does the author so readily dismiss Catholics who believe, according to a straightforward reading of the Scriptures and reading of the Church Fathers, that all of creation was created immediately and miraculously?
How can one pick and choose to believe in miracles that science rejects as unscientific and impossible, while at the same time dismissing as “fundamentalists” those who have believed in other divinely revealed miracles (such as the miracle of immediate and out-of-nothing creation) that the Church always believed?
Evidence must be interpreted, and intelligent people have come to very different conclusions after examining the same evidence. Let us not pretend that those of us who reject evolutionary theory are ignorant or unintelligent. “I beseech you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being” (2 Maccabees 7:28 RSV).
Kevin J. Mark, Ph.D.
Stacy Trasancos responds: Dr. Mark assumes that a Catholic must either “embrace the traditional Catholic teaching on evolution” or reject evolution, but that is a false dichotomy. The traditional Catholic teaching on creation is professed in the first line of the Apostles’ Creed, which echoes the words of the Maccabees mother and her seven martyred sons. “I believe in One God, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” To whatever extent evolutionary science discovers or theorizes that life rose from matter and evolved to the diversity we observe today, there should never be any doubt that the universe is the handiwork of God.
Nature is not at war with creation; nature is creation. Nor should there be any doubt that God can perform miracles, for he holds all creation in existence. Miracles simply are not data for the scientific method. Humans do not work miracles; God does. There is nothing illogical about acknowledging that God can both create an ordered universe and work miracles.
But that does not mean that we can know when or if miracles happened along the way, and trying to decipher a literal account takes the focus off of the fuller meaning of Genesis. A strictly literal interpretation of Scripture misses the fuller meaning of Genesis. Are we to conclude that Adam and Eve walked around with their eyes closed until they ate the fruit in Genesis 3:7? That original sin merely altered the position of four eyelids? We will never know the exact biological or miraculous events of human origins. They are hidden from us.
The truths in Scripture and the life of Christ, such as the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation, are revealed. The work of the Catholic intellect is to grant assent to the revealed truths of faith and then to reason, in that light, about the created world as far as possible. Modern science was born of this very worldview among scholars in the Middle Ages, a theology of creation that forms an unbroken thread all the way back to Genesis 1:1, praised by the prophets, defended by the Church Fathers and guarded by the magisterium. There is an impropriety, however, in declaring knowledge about details that are impossible to know. It seems fundamentalism has become the new modernism.
Excuses for Sin
Regarding “Treading the Uneven Territory of ‘Gay Ministry’ in the Church” (page one, April 5 issue): “Catholics seeking to follow Church teaching about sexuality sometimes encounter confusing messages” was the summation of the Register’s article. Some within the Church are attempting to please God, those termed “LGBT” and the secular public. Impossible! There is only God’s truth in every age — “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Regardless of gender ideology, all humans are either “male” or “female.” Even what is termed “bisexual” or “transgender” involves the male and female sexes or genders.
No humans, especially the young, should be victimized by other people’s hidden divergent “sexual practices.” Man and woman are the primary identities that maintain human equality throughout the world when they are worn by every human. They are primary because they top the list of all God’s species.
Those who refuse to wear the “man and woman” identities reject human equality, preferring separateness, but in doing so, they’ve chosen a secondary status. “Gay, homosexual, lesbian and same-sex” are incomplete, secondary designations — unequal to man and woman, with no basis in science or history. They are not identities, for they fail to identify a gender and a species — and are merely pretentious designations pulled out of the air. They encourage gender ideology; but in failing to identify the human species, they could actually be applied to any living species, from ant to ape.
The Supreme Court’s same-sex “marriage” decree will go down in history as a lapse in human knowledge — when our Supreme Court and legislative bodies forgot humans are fundamental men and women, complementary sexes, and overrode simple biology, English, science, history and God. “Sexual” orientation is not an inclination to friendship. It obfuscates what the Church knows is a male and female tendency to sexual desire, lust and practice.
That’s why it’s necessary for the Church to use God’s correct “man and woman identities” for everyone — so “deviant” desire, lust and practice can be correctly identified as “disordered.” It is not possible to call the deviant transgression “disordered” if we persist in calling it “gay, homosexual, lesbian, or same-sex orientation.” We cannot allow baseless, “pretentious, secular designations” to be used as excuses for a sin that God condemned thousands of years ago.