Remodelling salvation history

No one can read Fr Jack Mahoney SJ’s remodelled scenario of salvation history without the respect owed to a learned and distinguished theologian. Nevertheless, I regret the premature publication of his Gresham lecture which was given in December. A theme which breaks the spine of salvation history as taught by the Church offends against the Vincentian canon of “that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all”. It is premature because such radical treatment requires more digestion and explanation at a professional level if its appearance is not to risk it either causing scandal or being rejected out of hand. Neither is appropriate.

If I describe it as a theology which fundamentally questions Original Sin, the “fall” from divine friendship, our fallen nature, human concupiscence, as well as the doctrine that Jesus atoned for humanity’s disobedience by offering himself as a propitiatory sacrifice to God, I am just putting down markers – largely in Fr Mahoney’s own words. Below, I provide you with a link to the lecture; this will give you context within which to judge his argument. I will just comment on some of the issues which he raises.

His approach is founded on our new evolutionary understanding of altruism. We now recognise the apotheosis of this altruism as it is shown to us in the mutual generosity of the Trinity. This is orthodox, though we should bear in mind that altruism at the base evolutionary level is morally neutral, even in humans, and explicable in terms of species survival. While we may experience it as a beneficial instinct towards our own group, it is also the source of conflict with “outsider” groups. We are bred to be hostile to strangers. As an ex-Catholic friend of mine once remarked: “It is unique to Christianity to require us to love our enemies.” And “love” seems to me the more precise word than “altruism”, at the supernatural level.

That death should be seen as a punishment for Adam’s sin, is, Fr Mahoney tells us, a primitive explanation. Evolution has taught us that, far from death being caused by humanity’s own fault, it is in fact “recognised as part of the process of ongoing creation through the survival of the fittest”. Interpreted in this way, we see Christ’s death not as a propitiation for sin but as a means of freeing death from its finality and drawing us into a new existence of divine altruism which is the “evolutionary destiny of human existence”.
On his way to this conclusion he examines the doctrines of Original Sin and its redemption by Christ. He notes the inherent difficulties of the traditional doctrine which have given rise to tortuous and unsatisfactory solutions over the centuries. And necessarily he adverts to the notorious mistranslation of Romans 5:12, which resulted in the false interpretation that we have all sinned in Adam. It is unfortunate that Trent makes much of the mistranslation but I do not think that the mistake nullifies the essentials of the doctrine.

I cannot find a better solution to this doctrine which is consistent with either Trent or the 1994 Catechism. But I am confident that our own inherent tendency to sin, sadly so often confirmed by our choices, is evidence of our imperfect nature and provides sufficient matter for Christ’s redeeming actions to be necessary. Why else does Matthew tell us of his blood shed for many “for the forgiveness of sins”? But, although Fr Mahoney argues that we have had a tendency to sinfulness from the beginning, he holds that Christ’s death is not atonement for sin but simply undergone to save humanity from individual death and meaninglessness.

Nor does he shy from the doctrinal consequences of his interpretation. Out goes the Mass as sacrifice; his reading of Scripture finds it to be “an inspiring, community ritual” celebration, and not the propitiatory sacrifice “as the Council of Trent maintained against the Reformers”. But this change would release us from the constriction of the priest acting as alter Christus at Mass – thus removing an obstacle to women providing the leadership within the community. All this would contribute to ecumenical co-operation. Indeed, it would.

He tells us that this evolutionary approach could change our moral understanding, and cites the area of sexual relationships beyond marriage. This ignores the fact that human beings evolve rather slowly while circumstances continually change. And human flourishing, to which natural law points, results from an interplay between the two. For example, low infant mortality has changed the benefit equation between reproduction and the expression of conjugal love. Our society’s experience with sexual relationships beyond marriage does not suggest to me an evolutionary advantage or a greater flourishing.

I value Fr Mahoney’s concept that Christ’s death defeats death and opens the way to a fuller and eternal life of generous love – though I do not follow why an evolutionary approach is required; I have believed this from my mother’s knee. But I continue to see the deep fissure in human nature between the lower appetites and the higher aspiration. And this defect has been inherited from Adam, possibly literally, but certainly rooted in all human nature since, ultimately, by species we are ensouled apes, and all genetically related. I accept that Christ atones for our sins and makes us holy by proxy through his sacrifice – for “making holy” is what the word “sacrifice” means.

I have tried to be fair to Fr Mahoney within a brief space. But I would suggest that you listen to the complete lecture. You will find a link at where I will be reproducing my column. On the blog we will have unlimited opportunity for discussion and debate.

Cut and paste this link to listen to the lecture or to download the text:

Jack Mahoney SJ is the author of Christianity in Evolution: an exploration, Georgetown University Press.

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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329 Responses to Remodelling salvation history

  1. John Nolan says:

    Excellent. The CDF hasn’t had much to to do lately, except deal with clerical sexual delicts, which are really outside its traditional remit. Mahoney’s heterodoxy should keep the staff at the Piazza del Ufficio Santo occupied for some time!

  2. Peter D. Wilson says:

    A really intriguing lecture. Although the effects attributed to original sin are all too evident, the idea of death as a consequence of the Fall (whatever that might have been) rather than the natural state of affairs for all material creatures appears palpable nonsense unless it took place outside time altogether. Moreover, the idea of inherited moral corruption is repugnant, and Mahoney presents a very attractive way to avoid blaming it on one individual in the chain of minute differences leading from the first eukaryote to modern man. I don’t understand what he says about the evolutionary significance of Jesus Christ, and I’m not sure that reading it again in the day time would help all that much, but the concept of a loving, omnipotent God requiring the horrendous sacrifice of the crucifixion in reparation for someone else’s disobedience has always seemd self-contradictory and if Mahoney can argue a way of dispelling it, more power to his elbow.

    Thanks for pointing us towards this fascinating piece.

    • Peter, I’m presuming that the lecture is an abbreviation of a more complex set of ideas presented in his book and I too found his reference to Jesus and ongoing evolution and selection difficult if not incomplete. It would imply that modern Catholics have, through ongoing evolution, “improved” on SS Peter and Paul -if that’s true it’s definitely not me!
      Altruistic self-sacrifice seems more understandable. I’ve often though that God decided that the “sacrifice of the cross” had to happen not because God needed it but because God realised, in His infinite wisdom, that humans would never accept that God could forgive without punishment.

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        ‘… the “sacrifice of the cross” had to happen not because God needed it but because God realised, in His infinite wisdom, that humans would never accept that God could forgive without punishment.’ That’s an interesting idea; plausible, too.

  3. Nektarios says:

    There is nothing new theologically in all Fr. Jack Mahoney says in hls lecture that has not been argued over, picked to death, straining at a gnat by philosophers, theologians, heretics. atheists and scientist over centuries. Now the latest bunch on the block, trying to riddicule the FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST, and push forward their own THEORIES on everything, those mechanistically minded EVOLUTIONISTS.
    Fr. Jack Mahoney’s lecture, that I have read, pushes the words evolution, evolutionary, evolved
    evolving at every point he can as he steam-rolls the evolutionary agenda forward. In so doing unconvincingly tries to push Christ and His finished work aside and push at this stage, the evolutionist agenda.
    You see, to the evolutionist, they cannot abide the idea of an outside agency, like God the Holy Trinity operating in our lives, so they take every opportunity to exit God.
    You may remember years ago, the slogan, `God is Dead’ – a feeble attempt to riddicule Christian life and belief. It didn’t work! Richard Dawkins the self confessed atheist, only a recent God is Dead apologist in saying `There is Probably no God.’
    In conclusion, for now, I think . Fr. Jack Mahoney in his lecture gives far too much credance
    to what afterall are but THEORIES by the evolutionist camp, and history as we all know is littered with discarded theories.

  4. Vincent says:

    I don’t want, at this stage anyway, to comment on Quentin’s article as a whole, but I am interested in one aspect of it. It would help me to know what people think.

    I have always had a difficulty with the whole idea of Original Sin. Was there in fact an actual Original Sin so definitive that it damaged the whole human race or is this just a metaphor? And how is it that one choice by an ancestor can in fact damn all his descendants – because the new Testament is clear that we have to have embraced Christ through baptism (or the equivalent of baptism) if we are to be saved from Hell for all eternity. What did we do to deserve this? We are told that it is not a personal sin – well, thanks, but the penalties seem pretty high for not arriving at the “right” answer.

    I have looked up the Romans 5:12 issue. I find that St Augustine (and his successors for around 1500 years) were relying on a Latin translation which came out as “all have sinned in Adam” In fact the Greek says 1) sin came into the world through one man 2) death came through sin 3) death spread to us all because all have sinned. That reads as if it is our own sins which do the damage and not Adam’s sin as such. But that would let, say, unbaptised infants off the hook altogether since they can’t have sinned – but the Church is still pretty grudging about this – if my interpretation is right.

    And how about the Immaculate Conception. What does it mean to have been conceived immaculately? What precisely have we got that Our Lady was saved from having? Or. If you like, what is the difference between an innocent infant and an innocent Mary?

    Does anyone know?

    • I’ve never been happy with the idea of God “needing” a sacrifice. Frequently in the OT prophets proclaim that sacrifices are NOT what God wants – but a change of heart. As the psalmist says “For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offerings from me you would refuse, my sacrifice a troubled spirit, a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn”.
      Similarly in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father forgives instantly without condition – he doesn’t say “great to see you back lad, just wait while I sacrifice your innocent brother to satisfy my need for justice”.
      You raise the issue of the Immaculate Conception which is an interesting dilemma in the light of Fr Jack’s thesis, if original sin didn’t exist, the Immaculate Conception would not have been necessary.
      However, if we believe the story of Bernadette Soubirous, which I do, Mary personally confirms her title and nature so that’s another back to break.

      • st.joseph says:

        Paul Milligen.
        So when we finish with this discussion,maybe you will be able to exolain the purpose of the Immaculate Conception?

      • milliganp says:

        St Joe, the specific point of my last line was that I regard the Immaculate Conception, confirmed by Mary’s direct communication with St Bernadette as a doctrine we can’t break so for me it clashes directly with Fr Jacks ideas. I don’t like any idea that implies that, whatever way God chose to create the first ensouled humans, they were “less evolved” than we are as could imply that God was “not fair” in judging them (they didn’t really know what they were doing). Somewhere in the past I remember a phrase “original innocence” to descibe Adam and Eve before the fall. Perhaps original sin is just a phrase to describe the loss of original innocence and what God Restored to Mary at her conception was that original innocence.

  5. st.joseph says:

    With Baptism we become the children of God
    A lot has happened before Jesus’s was born. Our Lady had to be without sin to become His mother and carry God in her womb.
    I listened to the video and read the lecture last week.
    I didn,t think it was worth thinking too much about. But I will be interested to read comments and make one if I can

  6. Rahner says:

    “But I continue to see the deep fissure in human nature..” Quentin, I am unclear as to what elements of the Augustinian account of Original sin you are prepared to reject. You refer to a deep fissure in human nature but was the fissure self inflicted and did it bring pain and death into human experience? If we reject the Augustinian account then some revision of our understanding of the metaphors of redemption and atonement is clearly required. I agree it would be useful for the CDF to consider Mahoney’s views – it might provide publicity to boost the sales of his very interesting book.

    • Quentin says:

      Thank you for your welcome challenge, Rahner. While I look forward to trying to answer it, I will be greatly helped first by the answers to Vincent’s queries, above. Some useful ideas have arrived but there will be, I hope, more comment to come. Or is Original Sin such a deadletter doctrine that even thinking Christians are short of ideas on the subject?

  7. Nektarios says:

    I can see we will need to go into the theological aspects of all this issue of Original Sin,
    The Fall and Redemption …what do you think the Holy Scriptures are all about if not all these issues?
    God cannot create God. Anything God created, be they angels, the Universe or Man, must be less than He is and has an inbuilt instability.
    This instability first found expression, not in this dimension but the spiritual realm with Lucifer, where God found Pride in him.

    He and those who went with him were expelled from Heaven and fell into this dimension.
    It was not a dimension as you see it now, it was all that you see now, but in it’s energy form.
    Lucifer and his cohorts created havoc, so God created Laws to limit the chaos entirely. This He did by bringing solidity into the Universe.
    So, the problem begins to emerge, that is the Original sin was that of Pride. I want you to notice in passing, that this rebellion in heaven by Lucifer and his cohorts must have taken place after he had created the Universe. Man, whom God had also created in his own image, (what that means needs clarification later), was in existence.
    God looked upon all he had created and saw that it was very good!

    Then that Original sin of Pride in Lucifer was discovered, and he thrown into this dimension and whatever one makes of the Garden of Eden, the fact remains that Adam was tempted and it was that same Pride that rose in him too when he gave way to the temptation.

    Please note with the fall of Satan, and the ensueing chaos he caused, the whole universe
    was affected, now man was to be affected and infected in his NATURE with this rebellious spirit of Pride. For Adam or Man, this was the Original Sin with disastrous consequences.

    I hope this is helpful towards the discussion and understanding of origins of Original Sin.

    • I’m not sure I’m happy with your “innate instability” theory. It implies that God cannot create perfection. To me the core consideration is that, because God’s love is perfect, God gave free will to His creation and it is the exercise of will against God that defines sin.
      Perhaps in God’s infinite wisdom He knew that a created being with free will would always turn against Him and thus planned salvation even from the beginning but did not hold back on creation or burden that creation the handcuffs of predestination.

      • Nektarios says:

        Paul Milligan

        No, it does not imply God cannot create perfection, only God, as uncreated, having no beginning or end, can create Himself.
        On another point: Is there such a thing as psychological evolution? I don’t believe there is. And without an answer to this question, all that we will talk about around Fr. Jack Mahoney’s lecture will be limited.

    • John says:

      A personal view – I don’t kinow what theological basis it has…
      God exiists as a pure spirit, He is not constrained by space or time – indeed space and time have no meaning in His “environment”. That is the nature of “infinity”, “eternity”, call it what you will. Eternity is not time everlasting, it is the absence of time.
      God’s first creation (note the meaningless of the word “first” in this context), the angels, were pure spirits, unconstrained by space or time, and as such had free will to rebel against God as some did. The source of rebellion was the sin of pride – “I will not serve”. Having no constraint of time and therefore being changeless, the decision of angels for or against God is irrevocable.
      We were created as spirits, but space and time were created to temporarily enclose our spirits in a mortal body. We too are capable of rebellion, and with respect to God our only sin can be pride – all other sins are consequences of this. The gift of time which God gave us includes the gift of being able to change our minds, unlike the angels. If we sin we can repent and return to God.
      God shows that this is possible by sending his Son for our salvation. Hang on a minute though – this Son He sends IS God. He is not sending some poor innocent man to crucifixion for our sake – he is “sending” himself in human form. He teaches us that it is POSSIBLE to overcome all human weaknesses and sufferings and turn to Him, and He will Himself help us to do so.
      Now this “original sin” is indeed original because it is innate in our nature. We cry out “I will not serve” to God and to each other. I don’t for a moment expect anyone to accept the Adam and Eve story as literally true. It is the work of an inspired writer who had an intense understanding of human nature and used the form of parable to express the nature of our relationship with God.
      O.k., now I reveal myself as one of those reviled “evolutionists”. As a scientist, I find the evidence for evolution overwhelming. I don’t see this as inimical to belief in God or to scripture. As I see it, the business of Theology is what God does. The business of Science is how He does it. There is no real conflict between the two – both are concerned with truth. Human weakness (or sin?) can of course twist either away from truth. Biblical writers expressed the truth within the limitations of their understanding. That understanding is better than many are given credit for, it is only scientific knowledge that may be missing.
      A question I want the answer to is “If God created man via evolution, rather than by direct creation at some point in time, at what point in time and in what circumstances did he infuse the immortal spirit?”
      To finish on a triviality, the best description of the “big bang” which I know, is in Genesis – “and God said ‘Let there be light’ “.

      • st.joseph says:

        John, I would also like to know when God ensouled man- where is the link.
        Quentin suggest we are ensouled apes
        If God made us in his owm image, would he ensoul us in apes first?

  8. st.joseph says:

    Yes , Pride.
    I will not serve!

  9. Firstly Quentin, thanks for you timely post. A summary of Fr Jack Mahoney’s lecture was published in The Tablet recently and it left me deeply uneasy (and the article seemed to fail to disturb the liberal minds that read the Tablet!). Given that evolution is a fact given to us by God through the scientific analysis of creation we need to develop a theology that reconciles it with the fall – but an answer which denies we are fallen seems to be a step too far.
    It is also, to my thinking, simply untenable to think of, for instance, a mass-murderer as simply someone with a deficit of altruism.
    However I do feel that we cannot ignore evolution. Previous attempts at trying to develop a theology of salvation without the fall by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Karl Rahner have fallen foul of the curial offices but their works continue to be of value in trying to address what is an, as yet, unresolved question of vital importance. Like you I hope for some reasoned contributions to understanding an essential aspect of our faith in Christ.

    • Quentin says:

      Paul, this is just the kind of thing I had in mind when I suggested that it would be wrong to reject Mahony’s ideas out of hand. Do you have particular applications of evolution which you think need examination?

      One thought occurs to me. Karl Popper argued that (scientific) propositions had to be in principle, at least, falsifiable. He further argued that a scientific proposition stood only because it was “best fit” attempt at describing reality. But this was always provisional in that an explanation which was better fit to explain reality could potentially replace it. Thus, the survival of the fittest idea.

      We all know that our human descriptions of the elements of faith fall far short of the reality we cannot fully grasp. So might one say that we must continually look for fitter descriptions? So, for example, the medieval description of Purgatory was the fittest at that time. Today we might say that we believe that most of us will need to be perfected, and any debts paid, before we are ready for Heaven. But we no longer need the imaginative picture of souls being purged, writhing in flames. We admit that we simply don’t know how this perfecting takes place, but we do have reason to think that the soul on its way to God strongly wishes to be perfected. The awaited light is too bright.

      • Firstly I’m not a trained philosopher or theologian so I don’t want to pronounce on areas which are not my expertise. However Avery Dulles wrote two helpful works, Models of Revelation and Models of Church which made it possible to explore these topics without getting immediately bogged down in the detail of dogmatic debate. I think a similar approach to understanding Salvation is required in the light of our modern understanding not merely of evolution but other sciences of human development such as psychology.

      • st.joseph says:

        I would like to make a point to your comment above . You say’Today we might say that we believe that most of us will need to be perfected’
        This may not be relevant to your thinking-but I often wonder about what Jesus said about baptism that is- ‘John (the Baptist) came to baptise with water, but I come to baptise with the Spirit.
        To me that seems that Jesus meant us to be united with Him in His Church the Spirit of Truth, the birth of the Church at Pentecost. A whole new experience.(and yet not new)
        Jesus came to teach us all this-His Sacrifice being the fulfilnent of the Old Testament, which was prophesised. ‘I came that you may believe. God speaks to everyone through His Son Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world.
        All things made new to our eyes, nothing else to be revealed, Jesus being the last prophet.
        Where does it say in the New Testament that we have evolved.
        Jesus spoke of Adam, would He have done that.
        He called h im by name!

      • John says:

        The mediaeval “flames” of Purgatory seem to me a misreading of Christ’s words ” some shall be saved AS THOUGH by fire”, as “some shall be saved by fire”. If I stand before God in a state of grace I shall nevertheless BURN with shame at my shortcomings.
        Just a personal view – I am no theologian.

    • Rahner says:

      “but an answer which denies we are fallen seems to be a step too far…..” Paul, fallen from what? A prior state of perfection and immortality??

      • If I’m forced to make a stab at it I would say “an innate capacity to know and respond to the will of God”. However based on being present at the death of several loved ones and reading the accounts of Christ’s own death on the cross I believe profoundly that human death was not part of God’s original plan and I don’t know how to square that with evolution.

  10. John Nolan says:

    I understand that Professor Mahoney’s field is moral and social theology rather than dogmatic theology, but if a theologian wants to speculate on salvation history and the difficult doctrine of original sin in a spirit of intellectual enquiry, there is no need to be unduly scandalized. He is not claiming infallibility, and Catholics do not have to agree with him; on questions of faith or morals we have a far more reliable authority to turn to.

    However, as the non-Catholic Augustine Birrell once remarked “it is the Mass that matters” and it needs to be considered in the light of his views which appear at variance with both Trent and Vatican II, the Masses he celebrates (assuming he still does) might be invalid on the grounds of deficiency of intent. Until this is decided, it would be prudent to avoid them.

    • It is deeply uncharitable, if not heretical, to presume that a priest who celebrates the Eucharist while speculating about the nature of the fall is somehow in danger of not confecting the body of Christ.

      • John Nolan says:

        Not so. I was referring to his remarks about the Mass which are clearly at variance with what the Church teaches. Whether or not he has the right intent is not for me to judge; I was merely suggesting there might be prudential grounds for doubt. It is somewhat ironic to be called a heretic for suggesting this, and as for charity, I can have unlimited amounts for the woman CofE vicar down the road whose Christian commitment is not in doubt, but were I to attend her ‘Eucharistic celebration’ I would not be fulfilling my Sunday obligation as far as the Catholic Church is concerned.

      • Quentin says:

        As I understand it, John Nolan is questioning intention solely in the light of the Mahony view that the Mass is not a sacrifice. If the priest is denying that he is performing a sacrifice and claims that the Mass is not more than a ritual celebration of our share of divine altruism, then we do have a matter of substance.Whether John’s speculation is legitimate or not I do not know — but we are talking about a question of some moment.. And he is free to moot it..

  11. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Just a suggestion – perhaps the death that “was not part of God’s original plan” was what St. John in the Apocalypse terms “the second death”. The commonplace variety, as has been pointed out, is an essential feature of evolution, and (with all respect to Nektarios) if we don’t accept evolution we must apparently suppose that God created the appearance of it in order to deceive. Maybe we should regard death as we know it as something comparable with the pupation phase of a butterfly, a transition to the perfected form.

    • st.joseph says:

      Peter Wilson.
      We believe in the Resurrection of the body- but isn’t it at the Second Coming of Christ, but where would our soul be while waiting,I wonder.
      When Jesus brought Lazarus back to life ,He said it wasn’t the life He was going to restore our bodies to.
      I think of when Jesus spoke about eating His Body and Blood, He said not the manna in the desert, but the Life when we die-Eternal Life, unless you eat my Body and drink my Blood you can not have Life in you.
      Does our soul lie in State until the end of the world.Until He comes again.
      Then I compare it with what Jesus said when He returns people will be working together in the fields and some will perish etc I took that as meaning the Last Judgement.
      I was told in the ‘on Multiplying the Universes we should not be curious about certain things.I dont just interested.
      While we question now , is the Churches teaching not enough?

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        To st.joseph – the Church’s teaching is no doubt enough for salvation, but not enough to satisfy innocent curiosity and doesn’t claim to be. The soul, we are taught, is immortal, which I presume to mean free from constraint to the dimension of time rather facing an unending continuation of it (to me an appalling prospect). As a spirit it’s probably free from spatial location, too, so unless I’m totally mistaken – I don’t mean to mock – the idea of its hanging around in some cosmic equivalent of the dentist’s waiting room is doubly inappropriate. Its actual situation is probably far beyond our comprehension.

    • Nektarios says:

      Peter D. Wilson

      Of course there is evolution, for example it has taken millions of years for the brain to be what it is in all its complexity. It takes time to evolve from a baby to an adult. It takes time to learn a language and so on. So I don’t deny evolution. Without it, we would not have reached the technological age where we are communicating by computers. In all this evolution time is involved.
      What I do question however, is there such a thing as time and so evolution psychologically? By psychological, I mean the psyche, the I, the me. Is evolution involved? Is time involved with this aspect?
      This is an important factor in disscussing Fr. Jack Mahoney’s lecture.
      If Time is not involved in the psyche, it is timeless. If there is development in the psyche
      it is not of thought or time or evolution as we understand that word.

  12. mike Horsnall says:

    The thought that the psyche evolves is within the Catholic ‘brand’ however peripheral. Teihard De Chardin wrote on the subject in detail. There is no real difficulty with the idea that God allows and expects (plans?) this. The expansion of the church in the world and the continual incoming and indwelling of the spirit do not run counter to this . However Revelations-if taken even remotely literally inclines to the view that evil will still come close to triumph so questioning moral evolution. The idea that humanity evolves both morally and spirituality is strongly prevalent within New Age thought of course. I can’t recall anyone saying anywhere that ‘individual’ psyches are capable of evolution though one could speculate about the purpose of Purgatory I guess

    • Nektarios says:

      I don’t quite understand what you are saying, Mike,
      Is th Psyche of Time, if so it is subject to the sorrow, suffering pain misery and death.
      If of Time it will be small and develop through time, The past, through the present and projected into the future. So ones future is now. I don’t know if I am communicating all this?

      If the psyche is not of Time, then it is not subject to the vagaries of time as outlined above.
      But the danger for all of us as human beings, when we force time and all that Time means into the psyche, then there is disorder.

      While with evolution, it is progress made through time, and it is mechanistic and repetitive, not so with the psyche. But we are treating the pysche as though it was a mere product of development (evolution), this is to do great damage to us as human beings.
      Ones psyche i not a product of though or will or imagination nor indeed of Time with its evolutionary necessity if it is to progress. It merely treats the spiritual psyche as mechanistic to the point where one can hardly think apart from the mechanistic and the
      repetitive and of course speed and efficiency. Sooner or later one will just grin to a halt.

      • Nektarios says:

        Mike Horsnall

        Soory about the mistatke, down with the cold right now.
        The line should have read:
        Ones psyche is not a product of thought, or will, or imagination, nor indeed of Time…..

        Sorry about that!

      • Nektarios says:

        Sorry Mike and fellow bloggers,
        I am coughing and sneeezing away here with a cold and my last posting had a lot of spelling errors, Forgive!
        I will stay off till I feel a bit better… but will be reading all your postings.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Sorry but I cant make any sense of this at all. Look up some Teilhard de Chardin for starters. You have a tendency towards private definitions which really need unpacking rather than baldly stating- if you are to find common ground with anyone that is.

  13. mike Horsnall says:

    Paul Milligan’
    Scratching around a bit but if I remember right death is seen as the wages of sin-in other words a result of sin. There is a line that says the fall was necessary in order that the second adam (Jesus) might come forth and that the last result be better than the first. This would place death as quite fundamental in the scheme of things though perhaps not compulsory in the beginning?

  14. Iona says:

    Original sin – just a mistranslation of two words in the whole Bible?

    How about this, from Psalm 50, which was read at Mass on Friday last:

    “O see, in guilt I was born, a sinner was I conceived”.

  15. Iona says:

    “Why did God not just forgive Adam?”

    Perhaps because the eating of the forbidden fruit had changed Adam (and Eve). Their eyes had been opened; they knew that they were naked; they hid from God because they were now afraid of him, which previously they had not been. He couldn’t “just” forgive them, because forgiveness wouldn’t restore their nature to what it had been previously. (He could, I suppose, have expunged the incident completely; but that is not the same as forgiving).

    • Rahner says:

      “Perhaps because the eating of the forbidden fruit had changed Adam (and Eve).” You seem to be committed to a fundamentalist reading of Genesis….

      • st.joseph says:

        Adam and Eve were made in the image and likeness of God mainly in His Soul.
        When Adam and Eve sinned their soul was ‘not’ any more likened to God,forgiveness could not restore their fall back to the way God made them.

        You speak about fudamentalist reading of Genesis-which seems to me not very fair to Iona,
        The transition from the Old Testament to the New came about when the Blesed Virgin Mary consented to be the mother of the Messiah.
        The restoration of Marys soul speaks volumns in relation to Genesis.In Her Immaculate Conception, All the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled and Mary became the Tabernacle of The Most High and the Ark of the New Covenant,.At the birth of her Child she became the first monstrance, showing Christ to the world as prophesised.
        Do you think that to be fundamentalist reading of the New Testament.?

    • John says:

      In my earlier diatribe, I tried to express the importance to our understanding of the difference between God’s view outside of time and our understanding within it. Our minds cannot grasp the absence of time, but if that is God’s true “environment” then in God’s view “Adam’s” sin and Christ’s redemption are effectively simultaneous. In other words, God did just forgive Adam. by his actions.

      • st.joseph says:

        John, we dont know that but we hope so.But I think it did not restore the sin Adam and Eve brought into the world.
        Why are we not discussing this further into Genesis-it goes further into time.
        God made His Covenant and it was restored, but evil existed.
        We were clothed and lost our innocence.
        I am not a theologian ,and dont profess to understand it all-but follow it through to Jesus Christ our Saviour, and the New Covenant that God made through His Son Jesus .
        How many times will God have to come so that we understand the message.
        Maybe it will be at the end.
        I believe Our Blessed Mother is perhaps holding His hand back. As she would being a Mother, and Mother of the Church. She loves us.She directs us to Her Son.
        Others will have other beliefs I’m sure.

        I would not want an argument against this, just thoughts please.

  16. Iona says:

    “Ancient Israel was deeply concerned about the phenomenon of human death”. Mahoney doesn’t seem to give any reasons for making this assumption. Maybe he does in his book. I couldn’t find any in the lecture.

    (in a sense, we’re all deeply concerned about the phenomenon of human death. But I don’t think this is what Mahoney means. He seems to mean that Ancient Israel had different, or deeper, concerns than other communities, hence the “mythology” that he says they devised)

  17. Iona says:

    the Eucharist as “propitiating sacrifice”: Mahoney says this isn’t present in any of the four accounts of the Last Supper.

    In St. Matthew’s gospel, however, Jesus says “this is my blood which will be poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins”.

    (I haven’t looked up St. Paul’s account as I can’t remember which letter it comes into)

  18. Horace says:

    Mahoney states that “Jesus became a member of the human species to exemplify in human terms God’s own altruism towards us”.
    Well perhaps – but this is then further qualified as” This altruistic leadership . . . is by no means the only, or even the main, purpose of the incarnation”, which is suggested to be “to enable Jesus, through his own death and his resurrection to a new life, to save his fellow-humans from individual extinction and meaninglessness”.
    Here I become very confused!
    As Quentin says “I am confident that our own inherent tendency to sin, sadly so often confirmed by our choices, is evidence of our imperfect nature and provides sufficient matter for Christ’s redeeming actions to be necessary.”
    and this, as Iona points out, is exemplified in Psalm 50:7 “For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.”

    This concept of Jesus having died “save his fellow-humans from individual extinction and meaninglessness” is further explained by Mahoney as :-
    “Jesus died to save us, not from sin but from death”!

    I never have been happy with the notion that “death came about through humanity’s own fault” (at least when taken literally) but the idea that “Jesus died to save us . . from death” is totally incomprehensible! – unless “death” is to be interpreted in a ‘theological’ rather than an ‘evolutionary’ sense.

    Then we hear Mahoney suggest :- “the sacramental nature of the Eucharist finds a central evolutionary role as an inspiring community ritual in celebrating the continuing presence of the risen Christ”.
    What has ‘evolution’ to do with ‘an inspiring community ritual’?

    No, surely the Mass commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice of himself to ‘save’ humanity from sin, [however Original Sin may be interpreted].
    Luke 22:19 (“And taking bread, he gave thanks and brake and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.”) and equally Paul 1 Corinthians 10:16 (“The chalice of benediction which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?”)

    • Rahner says:

      “No, surely the Mass commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice of himself to ‘save’ humanity from sin,”
      But WHY did Jesus have to sacrifice himself to save us?

  19. Nektarios says:


    He died that we might be forgiven,
    He died to make us good,
    That we at might go at last to Heaven
    Saved by His precious blood.

    Behind this simple verse in an old hymn
    Is the whole Gospel!.

    • Nektarios says:


      As a rejoiner to my past posting:
      One can have all the words,but without faith it will simply be foolishness to one,
      Perhaps a good, quiet contemplation by all of us of Hebrews Chapter 11 is necessary-
      just to refresh our memories if nothing else.
      Are we in danger of being presumptious in our approach to truth thinking man’s reasonings can find out the mysteries of God?
      Perhaps Fr. Jack Mahoney’s lecture is just that, man’s reasonings groping around in the dark to find out the mysteries of God?

      • Rahner says:

        I am unclear as to your own understanding of the doctrine of original sin – but I am quite clear that theology does not consist of a string of pious exhortations.
        Mahoney is not being “presumptuous”. He is doing what theologians have been doing for centuries – attempting to understand Christian doctrines in the context of our other beliefs about the world and human nature.

  20. st.joseph says:

    There is plenty of evidence in the Bible ,and what Jesus taught Himself, that He knew what was going to happen to Him.
    He rebuked Peter-‘Get behind me Satan’ He knew Judas was going to betray Him.
    He knew in the Agony in the garden, when He asked His Father ‘if it be His Will to take away this cup from me, and He said not my Will but yours.
    The Transfiguration is a powerful reading. Mark chpt 9.2-8 very few words but very inspiring.
    It is important to me, as my son was ‘supposedly’ dead and then found he wasnt, but born early on the 6th August. Feast Day of the Transfiguration. He was not very beautiful too look at, but became so as time went. But very beautiful to my husband and me.
    I can understand what Peter meant when he spoke. Was that a glimpse of Heaven.A light shining in the darkness.

  21. mike Horsnall says:

    Rahner (mainly)

    One of the more beautiful elements of cath0licism is its willingness to admit of mystery. To admit of mystery is not simply to be pious or dogmatic. Neither is the admitting of mystery a cop out or an intellecual failure, rather it is the simple acceptance of the limits of reason.This acceptance should not be glib or sleepy but it is neccessary when faced with the utterly mysterious. I have valued greatly the ability of catholic thinking to take the metaphors and analogies of the Old testament and make them currently valid without too much worrying about forensics. So when Iona talks about adam and eve with the forbidden fruit this does not neccesarily betray a fundamentalist view-but an acceptance that we speak of these things in metaphor. I have in mind one of those old documentaries which show the intrepid scientist handling the radioactive isotope through heavy glass and with thick gloves. We handle the things of God in much the same way it seems- heavily clad in cult,ritual and metaphor.
    With regard to original sin and the why of Jesus’ sacrifice there is value in Nektarios simple verse because it gives our best shot in a nut shell-take it or leave it there is the label on the jar ful of mystery. Its ok for Rahner to apply some forensic sieve of philosophy- but this mindset is only one of many and we need not bow to it though we should carefully consider our thoughts and our beliefs so as not to build a golden calf. My thoughts are similar to Horace-if you want a clear explaination of original sin and imperfection-look within. I don’t know why we are as we are , why history is as it is, why our strong human best produces only patchy results-but the story of the Fall and the resurrection certainly gives light and is understandable to us all.
    Finally I don’t think that the assertion of death being a tool of evolutionary progress is up too much at all really. Even the fittest become weak and die.

    • Rahner says:

      Of course metaphor has an important role in theology but you can only judge that a particular metaphor is appropriate if you have some limited non-metaphorical understanding of something. You refer to the “story of the Fall” and claim it is “understandable to us all”. In that case I repeat my question, from what did we “fall”, a prior state of grace and immortality as envisaged in the traditional understanding of Original Sin (see the CCC) or do you deny that the question even makes sense?

      • st.joseph says:

        Rahner can you understand all Jesus’s Miracles.
        You say from what did we fall.?
        We fell from the perfect state that God made Adam and Eve-in fact we inherited their sin , as our first parents, and were cast out of the garden of Paradise.(Eden)

      • Nektarios says:

        Your hectoring manner is becoming a little grating to say the least, I wish you would tone it down a bit. Your attutitude comes across as, `I know and you don’t.’ Well Rahner, I question if you know anything as you ought.
        But before you get all hot under the collar, an assuming I am presumptious towards you,
        I ask you to do something first, and that is,
        stand before God, place yourself, all alone in front of Him. Now see if you can talk the same way to God. Tell God all about Himself…. Tell him how much authority you have theologically and don’t you dare let Him get a word in edgeways. See if you can bully Him with your hectoring manner into submission of your oh so limited Theology?

        Theology, is a product of thought. As such it is extremely limited, hence all your silly questions, they were actually dealt with centuries ago within the Orthodox Church before the Roman Catholic Church or Latins as it was then known ever came into being.
        Another problem with bare theology as such, in the scholastic mode, the mystical side is absent.
        When it comes to looking at the world as it is presently, do we not have to look tand see through the eyes of faith also? If we don’t the world and all that goes on in it and with man in his pettly little thought processes vain repetitive and meaningless, Comparing this with that Thesis with Antitheses and secreting a whole load of rubbish.
        Psalm 46:10 is the remedy. But you have, it seems not understood, yet, what that stillness is.

  22. Iona says:

    Rahner – I certainly don’t think of myself as fundamentalist. I have no problem with evolution, for example.

  23. Iona says:

    Quoting Rahner:
    Mahoney is not being “presumptuous”. He is doing what theologians have been doing for centuries – attempting to understand Christian doctrines in the context of our other beliefs about the world and human nature.

    Maybe he should be doing it the other way round, – attempting to understand the world and human nature in the context of Christian doctrines.

    Or at least, attempting to reconcile the two, rather than making one subservient to the other.

  24. mike Horsnall says:

    The simple answer is that we do not know. Nor do we know why we glimpse, somewhere deep within, or from our collective lives that we are fallen from grace. We do not know if our sense is mythic nor can we clearly see if it is metaphoric or not. You repeat this same forensic question over and over again month in month out-yet you know there is no answer to it. It simply is not possible to definitively state whether our hope is certain or not or upon what it is based. You are right to state that pious exhortation fails to move hearts and it is quite fair to take up the cudgels against Augustine thinking that if the guy is wrong then some remodelling of our faith can be done. But I cannot see any way forward in the discussion because there is no solace to the question; evolutionary theory is not adequate to deal with the notion of original sin.

    • Rahner says:

      Our understanding of Original Sin is bound to be limited but I think Mahoney provides a useful basis from which to explore the doctrine. However, Nektarios describes my questions as “silly” and Mike regards them as unanswerable. They may,of course, both be right. But I am fairly sure that for any traditional Catholic view of Original Sin that draws on Augustine, Aquinas, Trent and the CCC these questions would not be regarded as silly or unanswerable. Other contributors have accused Mahoney of heterodoxy and modernism. But anyone who judges my questions to be silly or unanswerable and who proposes a metaphorical, symbolic or mystical understanding of Original Sin have themselves moved a considerable distance from the traditional formulation of the doctrine.I don’t have a problem with that, but if we do move away from this traditional understanding it might be helpful to at least acknowledge that this is so. For the record, I believe that human beings and the rest of creation has always been in need of a God-given transformation. But I reject the view that any human beings ever “fell” from some prior state of grace, perfection or immortality.

      • st.joseph says:

        I am really interested in your comment, what makes you ‘reject the view that any human beings ever fell from some prior state of grace, perfection or immortality.?

        Perhaps I may become convinced by your ‘insight.’

      • Nektarios says:

        Rahner & Fellow bloggers,

        To question anything is not silly, it is essential, but one must be free to enquire. One cannot enquire or question anything we are conditioned by, be it theology, morality, politics, religion or culture or whatever.
        This is the crux of this discussion(for me) it is perceived by some, that Man is a product of evolution. Hence what he thinks and does is also a matter of evolution. Is man a product of evolution, actually?
        Evolution is of Time as I have said before, therefore all that belongs to time.
        Is the soul of Time? Is my salvation of evolution or an evolutionary process as it is generally understood or something that has its origins in God and eternity, so Timeless?
        Is my Spirit of Time and subject to an evolutionary process or something Timeless?
        How is one to find out?
        Quoting someone else, whether they are eminent theologians or not, it is not ours,we have
        to enquire and discover, to enquire and discover for ourselves.
        God says, “Look unto Me, all the ends of the earth, and be ye saved,” so how are we going to do that?

  25. st.joseph says:

    I think if ones looks back too much we may be turned into a pillar of salt.

    We have have had Catholic Text Books as far back as the sixties.
    We remember ‘Christ among us’ A Modern Presentation of the Catholic Faith by Anthony J Wilhelm 2nd revised edition 1975,if the date is correct, just to look at one example.
    This book is of particular interest.
    After it had been in common use for over a decade as a very popular basic text on the Catholic faith for adult inquirers, the congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), in one of the few cases of its kind where the CDF proceeded against a single book, requested that the book’s Imprimatur, or permission to be printed with ecclesiaticl approval, be removed.The Archdiocese of Newark promptly complied, and the book’s Imprimatur was accordingly removed.

    However this did not have the effect of removing the book from circulation or use as a religious text. According to a story in the New York times , a secular publisher , Harper an Row,immeditely decided to reissue the book without an Imprimatur , it was very readable and considered to be the best introduction to the Catholic Faith on the market-despite the fact that the Churches highest doctrinal authority had declared it unsuitable for teaching the authentic Catholic faith.
    What kind of book is it that , even though it has been condemned by the Catholic Church’s highest doctrinal authority continued to be ‘the nation’s most widely used introduction to Catholicism?To look, even sketchley at the contents of this book is to begin to understand something about what has too often been wrong with Catholic religion textbooks .
    Would one think that this is why we have lost so many vocations?
    A local catholic school teachng Here I Am Lord, a priest was in the school and mentioned the Mass is a Sacrifice and a Sister butted in and said ‘What has that got to do with it’ Father.
    That speaks for its self !
    Thats when my husband a I started circulating proper catholic books,but it was just a drop in the ocean! The rot was already setting in.Modernism was already rearing its ugly head.

  26. Quentin says:

    I have been reading the great variety of comments on the subject of Original Sin. While I am not sure that we have arrived at the right answers yet, we have had to do some pretty demanding thinking.

    Central to the problem is that we are exploring a real situation through the symbolic forms used in Scripture. I agree with Mike Horsnall that it is hard to distinguish the literal and historical truth from the story as it is told. And I am not able to provide better answers than anyone else. But I do give here some thoughts – yet I can’t guarantee that they won’t confuse you more!

    I start with my phrase “ensouled ape” (of which I think st.joseph is critical). What I mean here is that we share a common ancestor with the apes. The lines diverged (5 – 8 million years ago), and the homo line developed. Most significantly its brain continually enlarged, and it developed increasing skills.

    At what point in the succession of homo types did it become ensouled? It may only have been with homo sapiens (c. 250,000 years ago). Philosophically the most clear-cut characteristic of having a soul is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and to be able to choose one or the other. It is symbolically significant to me that the result of eating the forbidden fruit is to receive the knowledge of good and evil.

    We would expect a creature which combines animal appetites with spiritual aspirations to be subject to what I called a “deep cleavage”. Not only is this tension what we would expect, it is what we all experience within ourselves.

    However this was not the original sin as such. That, we are told, was the intellectual sin of pride and disobedience. Man succumbed to this temptation even before the fruit of the tree. The Church is clear that we are affected by this sin, not through imitation, but through propagation. From which I infer that it is a characteristic of human nature. And indeed our intellectual choice to break the moral law is logically prior to our choice of the way in which we are about to do this. So, because we are human, as our first ancestor was human, we are prone to sin – and sadly confirm it throughout our lives.

    Rahner reasonably asks, from where have we fallen? And I do not know the answer. My best shot is that we have fallen from what we would have been had our ancestor chosen to remain friends with God. We must initially have received the grace to do this, but chose to refuse. I see this grace as elevating us above the natural state of proneness to sin through human nature. Thus our “fallen” state is not a deprivation but a return to the norm.

    Similarly, physical death is a return to the norm. What provision God might have made if it had been otherwise we are not told. However I am aware that Christ speaks much of life and, although some listeners take this literally, he makes clear that he is referring to eternal life. One may assume that unfallen man was to have enjoyed eternal life, and through Christ’s action and our conformity to it, we regain it too. In this respect, if no other, I am with Fr Mahoney

  27. st.joseph says:

    Your comment is interesting.
    Just let me make a point’ and I am not diputing the fact becauseI dont but unless I ask I will never know.
    I we are ensouled apes, there must have been a time that we would become perfect for God to make us in His image, are you thinking that God made ensouled apes before we became humans as now.
    But surely having a soul in the image of God makes us in a perfect state-so therefore is that the link? Hope you can understand that. If not I will try to explain further what I mean.

    • st.joseph says:

      Just to make it a little clearer, would God put His soul in an animal?

    • Quentin says:

      St.joseph, “ensouled ape” is only a manner of speaking. When we say that humans are made in the image and likeness of God, we normally mean the characteristics which make us human. Thus, for example, our capacity to love. We have a physical aspect which has evolved and we have inherited this. We also have a spiritual aspect through the powers of the soul, given to us directly by God. We only talk about these separately for convenience. In fact they make up one, integrated, person. Me, or you!

      • st.joseph says:

        Thank you Quentin.
        Where is the missing link then.
        And did Eve come from Adam through eveloution or a female ape?

  28. Peter D. Wilson says:

    I can’t resist the temptation to throw a cat among the pigeons. According to the old “penny catechism”, article 30, the three powers of the soul are memory, understanding and will. Seventy years’ association with cats convinces me that they have a measure of all of these powers (especially will!), and no doubt the same applies to other animals according to their level of consciousness; maybe it could be taken as a definition of consciousness. Does that mean, as many would like to believe, that they have souls qualitatively similar to our own? And if not, what is the essential difference?

    • John Nolan says:

      St Thomas Aquinas distinguished between the ‘vegetative soul’ which plants have (they grow and take nourishment), the ‘sensitive soul’ of the higher animals, who he believed had the emotions of happiness, unhappiness, love, even hope; and the ‘rational soul’ of man. Cats easily fall into the second category.

      • John – yes, that is clearly true, and of course I take cats only as a familiar example. But it doesn’t really answer my question: does the possession of the powers attributed to the rational soul, in however limited a degree, imply something more?

        It remains a speculation, not a virtual assertion. In fact my tentative answer, to those who cannot bear the idea of a heaven without their particular pets, would be that the love between them has a quality that somehow projects beyond physical death into eternity, and that nothing of permanent value would be lost.

        However, that is incidental to the real point of my question. If something in a way comparable with the rational soul exists in the lower animals, might it be imagined to have evolved in design, as it were, from the faintest stirrings of consciousness to the near-human qualities shown in the great apes? That would avoid, or at any rate minimise, the uncomfortable notion of Adam (supposing that person to have been a specific individual, not necessarily male) representing a complete break from scarcely distinguishable forebears.

        However, my internal devil’s advocate complains that the question is as futile as whether an electron is a particle or a sequence of waves. Sorry if I’ve wasted anyone’s time!

  29. mike Horsnall says:

    Presumably it is possible to have a theology which still sees Christ as some sort of God figure who leads mankind through death as through the waters of the Red Sea. It is possible to view our nagging doubts and self evident failures as an evolutionary aspect of the soul-its not that we are fallen rather we just started out from a very low base! According to this our spiritual nature is gradually winning and has done more so since Christ came into the world as a kind of heavenly reinforcement-a sort of Ghandhi +++ figure filled with the eternal spirit. This then obviates the need for sacrifice. We can even say that the ‘fall’ is a sense we have beause when we were ensouled at birth or whenever our spirits laid aside their own immortality in order for our animal nature to be lifted up to heaven. We could go on and on with this sort of speculation-but then we should have to give up attending Mass and forget confession as being anything other that a ritual. I guess we would also have to re model Easter and Christmas too come to that.then we could have self affirming rituals fact we would probably all have to join the unitarian church. The Unitarian Church, if I remember correctly, markets a faith which:
    ‘”Is not offensive to reason”
    I think the Unitarian church is a spent force in terms of salvation history so perhaps it could do with a bit of help. The basic problem with remodelling salvation history is that its not us who get to do the remodelling. If almost any of the complex web of Catholicism does actually touch the divine through revelation then we can remodel all we like but it will not ring true-only the dull sound of the intellect-that of one hand clapping- if I may borrow a phrase from a different tradition.
    As to whether cats have souls then, I would think, probably so of some form or another…right now I hear their inner conflict with the ears of my spirit..
    .”Oh Lord you know I wanted to love that mouse, but my self control just got the better of me again and I ate the little blighter…What time’s cat confession Father?”

  30. st.joseph says:

    I read a book in 1990.
    It had a chapter on evolution
    It said when geneticists announced the discovery that every human being on the planet had descende fro a single woman, who lived about 200,000 years ago,it explained all the facts which I wont’ go into.But more fuel was added to the debate
    While the 200,00 thousand figure could be off by 100,000 years or so, it can not be stretched to fit the 10 million year evolutionary timetable which they had in mind. They called her Eve.
    Still hard at work the geneticists are confident that in the future they will also discover “Adam”
    And yet the evolutionists stand firm.Nothing will shake their ageless creed, because the alternative, special creation is unacceptable
    Its champions will substitute shamelessly whatever odly shaped theory they can force into the round hole of the observed facts.

    It is a matter of faith. Christians believe by faith also, except that there is no need for such tortured theories. Scripture tells us; “I am the Lord .and there is none else;there is no God besides me. I made the earth; and I created man upon it;my hand stretched forth the heavens, and I have commanded all their host.”(Isaiah 45;5, 12).
    I am wonderif if anything has come about the ‘woman’ as I mentioned above
    But I will confess I look at the comments and make one, although I dont really know what I am talking about, but what I believe to be true.If Jesus thought it to be important I am sure He would have told us so-because I am positive He would know!


  31. mike Horsnall says:

    You cannot have it both ways . Yes the augustinian notion and the CCC provide a clear answer-but you have yourself rejected that answer. On traditional terms of course there is an answer- but from any other more modernist perspective there is nothing but guesswork in the dark. My own inclination is to accept the Church’s teaching on Original Sin I do not however see it as a literal truth arising from a literal story. This is a bit of a fudge. I agree with you that the fudge should be acknowledged but since there is only guesswork otherwise I’m not too exercised by it; this is because I’m less concerned with doctrinal origins than I am with how to live in the world today. I don’t think its a cop out Rahner simply to state the obvious- that none of us truly know of what it is we speak; that includes you.

    • Rahner says:

      Mike, Any account of Original Sin (or any doctrine) is bound to be fairly speculative but to suggest that any attempt by a theologian to move beyond the traditional account is “only guesswork” seems unwarranted. Each attempt has to be considered on its own merits, taking account the totality of Christian thought and experience.

  32. Nektarios says:


    Sorry, if you feel got at, but this aspect on Original Sin is for all of us to look at seriously.
    To see Original Sin just as a Dogma or doctrine of the Church which we have to accept, will only condition us to thinking we have Original Sin or the effects of Original Sin, but one will not know for sure. So a spirit of dependence on others to tell us and of fear prevails.

    As Original Sin or the effects thereof affect all of us, we don’t have to look very far, we don’t have to look to another to tell us, we don’t need to be conditioned by theology and theologians, it is very near, even within all of us -Yes?

    What that Original Sin was, Quentin is quite right, but the effects of that was catastrophic
    and cataclysmic.
    One may ask what did Adam and Eve our first parents Fall from and into what?
    The first part, what did they Fall from? This cannot be adequately answered by anyone. All I can say, is a perfect state of being that God created Adam to be, made in His own image. Here one could argue for centuries and still not get to what it actually means to be made in the image of God. But this is what Adam and Eve fell from.

    As to the second part, and fall into what? Here we can all answer, for we, like our first parents are in that fallen state. Look, observe for ourselves.
    In this Fallen state, man has become dependent on his wits to survive. Man’s sinful nature infected as it is, keeps the mind alienated from God and the mind darkened. What is poor Man to do? He invents. He invented other gods and even godesses. You see even in that darkened state, something in Man has not forgotten its native place. He even thinks in this poor state that he is a god or goddess.
    Sin ravages his nature and temptation annoys him day and night and `gives no rest to the wicked,’ as Scriptures says.
    Man lives a life, where any joy of living they ever had by invention,evaporates, turning living into a problem and at the end of a life of anxiety, fear, misery, pain suffering and sorrow at the end of it all, there is death then judgment.
    So much for Original Sin and the Fall – care to add?

    • Rahner says:

      “So much for Original Sin and the Fall – care to add?”
      If I had to choose between your methodolgy and Mahoney’s…….I would choose Mahoney.

      • Nektarios says:

        I am not against serious enquiry, nor indeed a serious theological expression.
        I was offering no methodology as such. What I was saying, firstly, no descriptive, no matter how accurate we make it ,can ever be the actual. And secondly, If we, instead of stating theologically or otherwise Original Sin and the Fall, we know the latter for sure.
        Trouble is, the effects of that Fall, whether construed as a mythical or litieral story is our story as human bengs. Do we not seeall the distorting the effects of it in us – surely we do?
        No methodology, just the light of the Truth shining within, showing up that which is true, actual and all too real.

  33. st.joseph says:

    The role of St. Joseph in the life of the follower of Christ, like that of Our Lady can only be truly understood by examining his place in salvation history.
    To him was entrusted the Saviour.
    , the Messiah who would bring aout the redemption of his people,and his mother, the woman prophesied in Genisis who would crush the head of the serpent.
    The One whom prophets and kings had longed to see and had not seen, St. Joseph truly saw and touched and cared for.With Mary he would ponder and treasure the life of Jesus, would see him grow as youn boy ‘full of grace and truth’ before God and men, and would even be mysticall united with the sacrifice of Calvary, at the circumcision and when he heard the words of Simeon to Mary ‘thy own heart a sword shall pierce. ‘That offering of Jesus which Mary and Joseph made at the Presentation would indeed be consummated at the crocc on Calvary.
    Looking at the life of St.Joseph in the setting of the Holy Family, one can only exclaim with

    St.Paul”O the depths of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How imcomprehensible are his judgements and how unsearchable his ways!” (Rom.11;33) As God had once walked in friendship with man,so now in St.Joseph,man walked with God, If St.Paul could say’To live is Christ,’ how much more St.Joseph, who shared hislife completely with Him-as praying together as a family, in felfilling all the religious precepts, and in working together.

    This is part of a article in the Homiletic & Pastoral Review .
    St.Joseph in Salvation history. by Fr Edwin Gordon. Aug-Sept 1990.

  34. st.joseph says:

    Sorry about the spelling, my computer is jumping all over the place -and to move it up to amend them ,I lose it all. again and again!

  35. mike Horsnall says:

    The thing is that we all know the evangelical view-I know it off by heart by now and espoused it as you do, for many years, all over the world, to many people. But that is not the point here. Equally your understanding of time is not the point;on that topic as you know eternity is forever breaking into time so the realms are not seperate. Catholics know that clearly because of their understanding of eucharist.
    Somewhere in this thread there is a key debate that is difficult to elucidate; it is to do with interpretation. It seems to me that on the one hand we intuitively sense that dogma and doctrine are very important. Some see these religious ‘structures’ rather like the temple of the Old Testament. So for example the living tradition of the Catholic Church may be seen in like manner as the temple-directly inspired and constructed according to the word of God with the cultic rubrics clearly laid down-as in Deuteronomy and Leviticus. These traditions may not be altered.
    I would class the doctrine of original sin among others as attracting this form of analysis.
    Yet there is also a sense that dogma and doctrine are not set in stone. There is the tension all the way through the Old Testament of the prophetic voice which points towards Christ, the sense that the temple is not the physical building.
    So we have theologians (and Rahner…!) trying to see what can be believed now with integrity.Trying to find what is valid from the dust of history. Seeing that a fair bit of dogma and doctrine is subject to cultural shift over time -no more literal hellfire /damnation doctrine now for example. Believing the doctrine of original sin to be a specific historical strand of church teaching , they approach that particular pillar and tap it with their trowel to see if it still holds or not…Of course this tapping is seen as sacrilege by those who see the temple as integral to what goes on in it.
    I find all this fascinating as I can see both sides yet can truly rest on neither. I cannot rest on the evangelical interpretation -once having come away from a literalist view it is impossible to return there and, faced with a deepening mystery, one comes to evaluate belief less in terms of logic,
    intellect and reason as one goes journeying on-so much of the old discussion simply becomes irrelevant.
    Yet neither can I adopt the liberal view. I do not think we are free to build our own temple as we choose and according to our own human lights based on our own contemporary cultural beliefs and mores (and I include scientific method and secular thought under those headings) The cultic encounter with God cannot be easily tampered with -by the simple application of philosophical or scientific method, if it were that simple then all we have are golden calves to melt down as we will.

    • Nektarios says:

      mike Horsnall,

      And all this time, the reality of your old nature is there, its distortions, its, darkness,
      its fears and anxieties its sorrows and so on. I agree with you, we are not free to build our own temple, but I do have a house wherein God dwells.
      How have we built up this house we dwell in? Or is our house in such a state of disorder and disrepair that it is ready to almost collapse? Is our house so full of holes that there are drafts blowing us about with every wind of doctrine?
      Whether we find ourselves in the RC Church or the Orthodox Church or various other denominations, we have to build the house we dwell in. I am not speaking of a visible house, but the house of the soul.
      You see, there is the spiritual life and the spiritual way to walk in.
      When it comes to mere theological assertions and beliefs( and they have their place) of which the Apostle Paul was taught and practiced and reached what today might be called a theologian, did he not say, ” I count it all but loss that I may win Christ.”
      All I am saying, there is more, much more to the Life in Christ than theology and theological definitions.
      Meanwhile, whatever is going on with us as Christians, wherever we are found, we are eiher building the house up, or, not paying close enough attention to the house of the soul so that it falls into disrepair and danger of collapse.
      The Theologian has to do this too, as well as the lay person, the Pope, the Archbishop,
      clergy, and laity, we are all building the house of our soul.
      This is how the Fathers taught and I am not greater than they, but learn from them.
      No cultish, philosophical or scientific method as such, but spiritual knowledge and application, application, application. As I write this in reply to you Mike, it is equally applicable to Rahner and all of us.

      • Rahner says:

        The expression of the Faith takes many forms including prayer, spirituality, liturgy, service of others and theological reflection. I accept that,as Newman suggested, a real apprehension and not just a notional apprehension of what has been revealed is required. I would also accept that Western Christianity has often sought a degree of conceptual clarity in theology that is not appropriate or helpful. At the same time I think it is clear that it is necessary to relate doctrines to the rest of our beliefs about the world and human nature. And as I have previously indicated, theologians have been doing this for centuries, and Mahoney’s work, whatever we may think of it, is in this tradition.

  36. Quentin says:

    I think that the Tuesday evening comments on this subject are a remarkable witness to the quality of discussion. They do not read to me as disagreement — rather they are essays from different standpoints at trying to understand a truth which is close to us but ultimately unknowable. After Arnold Lunn had become a Catholic, he remarked to Ronald Knox that God approaches everyone through through their own temperament. He was an instance of someone who needed intellectual conviction, he said, while Knox was drawn by mystical, internal conviction. Now i am going to study the comments with which I am most inclined to disagree. Perhaps I can spot what I am missing.

  37. mike Horsnall says:

    Yes it is absolutely vital to recognise that we approach God through the mirror of temperament and that this is perfectly acceptable marking as it does the beginnings of being able to see God in others. We are allitle birds chirping away in the garden, recognisable by our songs. Being on this blog for some time now I have in my mind a fairly clear picture of all the protagonists in the debate-even down to what I think individuals might look like, their backgrounds and mode of dress…one day we should all have a get together -like a murder mystery evening -then we could all try and figure out who’s who!

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike, I agree.
      But it wouldnt,be very difficult to know the females-who’s who, as there are not that many, unless all the men are in disguise on the blog. But it would be fun!.

  38. David Keith Andrews. says:

    From an ensouled ape.

    I am happy to accept that my body has evolved from earlier forms of life according to Darwin’s laws. As it possesses the two requirements for evolution by survival of the fittest (inheritance of propertiies from parents and dying) it is capable of continuing to evolve in this way. But, body and soul form one integrated unit and the soul cannot obey Darwinian laws of evolution. If para. 366 of the catechism is accepted, the soul has been created by God, is not produced by parents and is immortal. To what extent is a human being Darwinian?

    An important attribute of the soul is love and the commandment that we should love others was stressed by Jesus. There are many organisations which exist to put this commandment into practice – Cafod, Oxfam, SVP, Red Cross, Save the Children, Hands around the World, Water Aid, to name but a few. These exist to help the weak, the poor and the sick – those members of the human race vulnerable to early death in the interest of survival of the fittest. Having souls, humans are able to combat the effects of natural selection and the extent to which they will follow Darwin’s law is debatable. It is suggested that evolutionary theories do not form a safe starting point for examination of possible changes to our understanding of the theology of human salvation.

    I agree that death of the body does not seem to be a plausible punishment for sin. Should we rather see this punishment as a spiritual death due to the rejection of God and the graces which He offers to us?

    I do not feel qualified to debate the nature of original sin but offer the following comments on sin in general : We do not live on individual desert islands and the sins of one human can have an effect on others. In The Lords Prayer we therefore say ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us’. This forgiveness can include prayer and acts of reparation on behalf of others who sin. Unlike Fr. Mahoney I have no difficulty in accepting Christ’s death as a supreme act of reparation for the sinfulness of mankind – ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing’.


  39. Brian Hamill says:

    I have not read all the comments so far and so, in fear and trembling that I may be repeating someone else’s point, I offer the following thought. We clearly do not live in a perfect world and I do not live in a perfect body – it gets less and less perfect each day. On the other hand God made all things good. So how do I square those two truths: one of fact and one of faith? Genesis 1-3 and the doctrine of original sin are two of the attempts which we have made. But both Genesis and the doctrine have the same frailty of all human thought and expression: they are limited by the context in which they were conceived and expressed. The misunderstanding through inadequate translation of the passage in Romans is a good example. So what do we have to fall back on? Faith, but rightly understood. Faith to a Christian is not belief in a set of doctrines but in a person, the person whom we name as Jesus of Nazareth, and whom we claim was the manifestation in human form of the Creator God. In the name given to him, Jesus, his role was proclaimed, Saviour, and saviour from our sins – not from the Romans as the Jews wanted him to be. For m, the Son had to become incarnate, original sin or not, since only He could bridge the gap between the finite creation and the infinite God. The fact he came as Saviour was due to some failure on our part, some wound in our nature, which he took up and glorified in his death and resurrection. But what failure, whence this wound? ‘Aah, there’s the rub.’ If the ‘doctrine’ of evolution has played havoc with the Augustine’s ‘doctrine’ of original sin, that does not mean that sin vanishes or that Jesus is misnamed. It merely means we have to think again and let our ‘fides’ go seek more deeply for its ‘intellectum’. Jack Mahoney may have gone up a blind alley, but such fruitless journeys are not a waste of time and effort to judge by the interest and the response in this blog which his book and lecture have aroused.

  40. st.joseph says:

    I am slightly lost here at the moment and I am going to read Jack Mahoney’s lecture again.
    He hasn’t proven anything to me,and I am still waiting to see if anyone else can prove what he is writing.
    Interesting as it is-and for me to read, but does he tell us anything.
    We all know now what sin is,and what seperates us from God! We all know how to love Him and our neighbour.We all know how to follow Him as Christians,
    Can someone tell me how important it is for our salvation, I can imagine Jesus sitting on His Throne in Heaven and saying what the reading was to day ‘Come follow Me’ I will show you where I live ‘to two of His Apostles.
    We are all saved from sin now and if we dont know what sin is,maybe that is where our interest should be.but I will come back when I have digested his lecture again for the fourth time!

    • Quentin says:

      st.joseph, I have found the nature of your faith impressive, and I have tried to learn from it — indeed I have learned from it. And it is clear that the direct, straightforward response to God must be our priority. Mary has chosen the better part; it shall not be taken away from her. Nevertheless some people find that they want to explore aspects of the faith to understand it better. The late Frank Sheed, a great defender of the faith, used to teach that it was a mistake just to accept mysteries as mysteries, and to put them aside. He said that a mystery was there to be explored and explored. We would never arrive at the destination, but it was a heck of a journey. I knew him well. He was perhaps the only person who was able to hold a rapt crowd at Speakers’ Corner, while explaining the nature of the Trinity.

      • st.joseph says:

        Thank you. for you comment and I do understand what you are saying.
        I also explore aspects of the faith, I always have done but it is difficult to be able to grasp this eveloution thing,and I have read the comments and most people feel the same as I do on this subject.
        I appreciate that continued discussions on subjects takes us into other areas of our faith and we can all receive a clearer understanding of why we believe in certains things.
        I also have learnt quite a lot as to why I believe too.And I do enjoy it.
        I am not saying that we ought not do this.
        However sometimes -and I maybe wrong but I feel that we are liable to make Christ into someone like Ghandi or Buddah. No disrespect to them both, but Jesus to us is God and there are some mysteries we will never solve until – well I dont when-so maybe someone will convince me that God did not make a man and a women from something other than an ape. Because why are they not evolving now .?

      • st.joseph – They may well be evolving now, but it’s a very slow process taking more than the lifetime of a civilisation for significant developments. In any case, humanitarian care for the weak has greatly reduced the evolutionary pressure against their reproduction, and some might say that it now favours the feeble and indolent!

  41. st.joseph says:

    Peter, What do you think we will be evolving into.?
    I read somewhere that it would be unreasonable to believe that we knew God anymore than Abraham or any one of the prophets.
    Obviousley technology has improved our thinking- but maybe taking us further away from the Lord.
    All we learnt from the Moon was a stronger frying pan.
    It will only take some mad man to find living conditions somwhere else the blow up the earth.
    Maybe science fiction ,but then wasn.t it all scienec fiction years ago.
    There is so much to do on earth to make life better for our existence here . Finding money for a cure for Cancer might be a start. Looking at the future for humans as we know now would be eveloution in this century.

    • st.joseph – I agree with much of what you say. I doubt whether blowing up the Earth is within man’s capability, but gravely damaging the biosphere probably is. As for where evolution might take us, on present trends it would probably involve less reliance on physical strength and more on mental dexterity, but there’s no telling whether those trends might reverse or drastically change direction before any substantial alteration in human physiology. Whether it would ever lead to a new species is beyond me.

      It would be sad to think, after all the efforts of Jesus and his disciples, that we knew no more of God than did Abraham and the prophets. I must confess being less wholeheartedly devoted.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        To know as much of God as Abraham did would be pretty splendid I should think! Depends what you mean by ‘know’ Its a debatable point. I think that we all ‘know’ God to the extent that we can draw near to God. This varies for each. But I’m not sure that Adams experience of God would be different in quality than that of Abraham, Matthew, Pope Benedisct or you or me.

    • st.joseph says:

      Peter, thank your for your comment. I will come back to you later.
      My 8 year old is doing his first reading at school Mass.Then I am off to the hairdressers and -have not forgotten you.
      My head is not always in the clouds!!

  42. Nektarios says:


    But, spiritual things are spiritually discerned.
    Also the word spiritual is often wrongly banded about these days in religious circles. It is by the very nature of it spiritual, therefore it is a slippery word to nail down by definition.
    We resort to theological, mystical, poetic, language and metaphors because to our though processes it is so elusive.
    Remember what Jesus told his disciples when asked wat heaven was like &c. He does not tell them
    it this or that definitively, no. He said, it s like this…LIKE. It is so other, so different to this life as we know it, that the human mind with its thought processes cannot take us there.Thought is a response to memory. So it is always old and limited.
    Coming back to the subject of Fr. Jack Mahoney’s lecture,Evolutionists cannot abide the idea of an outside agency, God, so they invent a line of ascent throuh Time.
    I did enquire on the blog about the process of Time. It is a movement from A to B, or chronological Time or cosmic Time, and Time as a perception is also thought.
    The balance in these matters is, as the Russia Theologian Vladimir Lossky points out: One cannot have a good theology without a good mysitical life, and one cannot have a healthy mystical life without a good theology.
    Therefore the whole man is involved

  43. st.joseph says:

    I am back( all glammed up hair ) for my eldest grandsons 21st today celebrating to-morrow
    Now what I was saying about Abraham, first ‘one’ will have to read him, and you will find that Abraham’s relationship with God ,I find to be a perfect one (I am not a Bible scholar) just my thinking.
    Abraham walked with God and was obedient even to given his son for sacrifice.
    There is a lot in common with the New Testament-Sacrifice, Covenent, Altar, Holy ground.promise by God to Abraham.
    I think the apostles would have been familiar with a lot of this-but not associate it with Jesus as they walked with Him.Until later and then at Pentecost.
    We now know both Old Testament and New and can understand both,and how one compliments the other
    Jesus said ‘Before Abram I Am’ We can in lots of Genesis , see reference to the Trinity as Jesus was speaking about Himself as the Son of God.
    I am on ly making a stab at this, so you probably won’t understand me,but I believe we need the OT to understand the New with the help of the Holy Spirit.
    I also see the connection between Abrahams sacrifice in obedience to God giving up Isaac- to the sacrifice of the unborn , in disobedience to God.
    This has maybe no reference to Jack Mahoney and his lecture but if God can make t he Universe he can also make Adam out of dust.and from his rib make Eve. I know it sounds naive but, believing in every thing else can be naive too. Unlike Rahner I would rather believe the Word of God than Jack Mahoney!


    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      st.joseph – Congratulations to your grandson on his 21st; I hope you all enjoy the celebration.

      Of course God could have made Adam from dust and Eve from a rib, if He chose to do so. The question is whether He did. To me (not a biologist, by the way), it seems that the alternative of evolution is about as close to established fact as anything in the past can be, certainly closer than any conviction in a court of law. If it did not happen, why should God have laid a false trail simulating it? That would seem more like a creation by the Father of Lies, a possibility that the Church long ago condemned as heretical.

      It’s perfectly possible that an intimate knowledge of God enjoyed by Abraham could have been lost or debased in the centuries before Jesus, who evidently found much to correct in contemporary opinions, so I’m not going to argue about that one.

      • st.joseph says:

        Thank you for your congratulations. Its a double celebration-he also passed his final exam for the Intellegence Core in the Army yesterday-although it has its sadness with the anniversary of the loss of my husband on the 1st Feb.But we have to ‘chin up’ as they say.
        We would have been married 50 years in August.DV.

        Back to Scripture, I wonder when we will question Moses and the Commandments written on Tablet of stone..
        I have always thought that impossible-(not the Commandments.) but we accepy accept it.
        And Elijah taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind.

        Then we can move on to the New Testament and doubt the Virgin birth and Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration, and on and on and on.
        We can’t change the past, but the present can change the future.

        That is just as difficult to believe. But we do!

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        st. joseph – I agree there is something of a problem, but perhaps a minor one. Apparently, to those familiar with the history and geography of the Middle East, some books of the Old Testament, especially the Apocrypha, are self-evidently fiction; Jonah, Tobit, Judith (appalling woman!) and Esther come particularly to mind. The contradictory creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2 can’t both be true, but I’m content to take them as didactic myths, conveying an important truth (the creative activity of God) in the form of folklore. On the other hand, the romantic in me would like Ruth to be authentic, and 1 Maccabees is considered fairly accurate.

        It’s hard to know where to draw the line, but do we have to? The doctrinal content is usually clear enough, and the literal truth or otherwise of the narrative framework is less important. When a Jehovah’s Witness friend asked my view of the Bible, the best answer I could give was “The word of God, expressed in terms of ideas current at the time,” and I don’t think I can improve on that.

  44. Iona says:

    Since there was a perfectly satisfactorily evolving creature, God wouldn’t need to make a near-duplicate of it from dust in order to endow that with His image. (I’m assuming that God is as impressed by Occam’s Razor as we are).

  45. Iona says:

    For what it’s worth, I see Original Sin as an event which had the dual effects of giving early mankind some knowledge or understanding that we hadn’t previously had, and that changed us irrevocably in a way that affected our (previously transparent and fully trustful) relationship with God. I have toyed with the idea of its being closely related to the development of language, but I can’t quite work it out.

    • st.joseph says:

      Maybe somewhat like when the apostles spoke in tongues.
      The one where people understood in their own language.not the speaking in tongues where only the person speaking in it knows what is being said, wich I don’t understand!

  46. st.joseph says:

    You are right.
    We could say that there is a ‘fall in every generation, with those who are preaching evil ,in the name of rightiosness , against the Will of God and taking others with them , are behaving like our ‘first parents’, instead of children of God ,that we all all are .!
    We ‘fall’ away from the Lord ,every moment we sin against Him
    Maybe it is more serious now- to sin aginst the Holy Spirit!
    What judgement will the Lord make to us when we are sentenced-although maybe we do that ourselves.
    Lord let your Light shine upon us an we shall be Saved.

  47. John Candido says:

    I believe that Professor Jack Mahoney is correct in suggesting that Christ’s death as atonement for Adam’s sin is a primitive explanation. The notion can’t be correct in evolutionary or historical terms as Adam is a product of somebody’s imagination. Adam never existed in history as Eve never existed. It follows that if Adam and Eve never existed, then the doctrine of original sin is immediately suspect.

    Can the doctrine of original sin satisfactorily explain sickness, suffering, and death? Is this the act of a God who is love in essence? What of child abuse? Can anyone tell a child that the abuse they have endured is partly explicable via an imaginary Adam and his sin, whatever that sin was? Can any grown person really assert that the suffering of an innocent child is a result of the fall of man, and of a God who has cut-off his/her relationship with human beings?

    The doctrine of original sin is so nonsensical that it deserves excoriation from all thinking Catholics. To think that we are all tainted by original sin, by some primordial fall from grace, and as a consequence, all of humanity must suffer and eventually die a physical death, doesn’t add up to me. I might have faith in God, but faith in the penalty of suffering and death for an imaginary sinner and his/her imaginary sin, is asking too much from me and a lot of other people as well. The church would be far better off teaching that suffering and death is a natural part of life, and that life is entirely bounded by evolutionary forces. I am not denying the existence of evil or sin, or exculpating sinful acts by men and women.

    Mahoney’s work does have the potential of alleviating some of the traditional difficulty of the mystery of suffering. Evolution is behind our suffering and our inevitable biological death. Without God being behind our inevitable death and our suffering via Adam’s fall; God is in some measure let off the hook so to speak.

    Mahoney’s reconceptualisation of the sacrifice of the Mass deserves genuine consideration. In the light of evolutionary life, it makes sense to me to see the crucifixion in terms of Christ occupying suffering on everyone’s behalf. Christ sets the supreme example of forbearance in suffering and the supreme example of forgiveness of one’s persecutors. Christ’s cross simultaneously frees us from the finality of our inevitable biological death and the meaninglessness of our lives.

    If this means that the Mass is reconfigured from a sacrifice to a celebration; I am all for it. In the light of these considerations, the liturgy of the Mass would need some tinkering and reform. If this also negates the nonsensical rule of an exclusive male priesthood, Jack Mahoney’s theology could become an important catalyst of potential future reform in the Catholic Church. His work is long overdue.

    • st.joseph says:

      John Candido.
      When Adam and Eve( I call them that) were living the life of fullness of Grace with God-and we must not forget their free-will.
      What did they eat. Obviousley not an app;le, but maybe from the tree of knowledge that gave them the idea they could be God (not unlike many today and in the past centuries)
      which take us up to today.
      I am only going to give one example there are hundreds but that is.-unlawful drugs that destroys our body- including contraceptive drugs, alcohal in excess, we are doings today what is endangering our bodys ,our mind., and most of all our soul.In fact following in the sins of Adam and Eve. We have inherited all that disobedience, and pride.I will not serve.
      But now we have second chance to make all that up to God.
      We have that knowledge before us-but we are just treading the path for destruction mostly of our souls.
      We do have Purgatory ,so we have a gateway for our redemption , but is is narrow and we have to make ourselves little to pass through.Perhaps come like little children (of God)

    • Quentin says:

      Impressive and very clearly expressed. However it may be that not everyone will agree with all that you say. You may have given the discussion second wind.

      • st.joseph says:

        Thank you.
        I thank Nektarios fo my thinking to write that from his omments on the post Homo-appiens (if thats spelt right
        It shows how we learn from each other to bring out our comments to think.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Funnily enough I thought it was evolution that brought sickness and death…..
      You know all things around us are finite-study a bit of materials science and you can see why. Sickness and death are an inevitability if you want to be an organism that is!

      If you read Pauls letters closely enough you will see that they are suggesting that Christ did not die as a kind of sticking plaster over the wound of Adams sin -nor as an antidote but in orde that we might be raised up to heaven to take our rightful place. The step from the first Adam to the second is evolution+++
      As for life being entirely bound by evolutionary forces -I don’t think the line is even intelligible let alone accurate. David Keith Andrews made the point previously that though the human form might be evolutionary -the human soul is not and often impells the brute ape to go against its own evolutionary force by ensuring the survival of the weak.

      • st.joseph says:

        If Adam and Eve didn’t ‘eat the apple from the tree of Knowledge’ maybe we would already be living in Paradise now.He and Eve wouldn’t be cast out of the Garden to work and toil and die. The earth would be filled with gardens of Paradise..
        Jesus would not have suffered-but would be there as a part of the Trinity and we would all be filled with Grace from the Holy Spirit like Adam and Eve’
        Only one question–where would Satan do his work rebelling against God.
        Would God have taken our free will from us!?
        The way I see it is if we are living as the Lord asks us to do’ we dont die -just move over in the Spirit If we have to spend some time in purgatory so be it!.

      • John Candido says:

        ‘As for life being entirely bound by evolutionary forces -I don’t think the line is even intelligible let alone accurate. David Keith Andrews made the point previously that though the human form might be evolutionary -the human soul is not and often impels the brute ape to go against its own evolutionary force by ensuring the survival of the weak.’

        The fact is that life, all of life, is bound by evolutionary forces. To say otherwise, isn’t facing scientific reality. This is not to say that humans are devoid of an altruistic love of others, don’t have a soul, or are not capable of or are not destined for, a spiritual relationship with God. Both are happily compatible with each other.

  48. JohnBunting says:

    The letter from Fr John Daley IC, in today’s Catholic Herald (February 3rd 2012), seems very much to the point here. Original Sin, for the first humans and also for us individually, was the first occasion when something was done with the full knowledge that it was morally wrong.
    It seems to me that the ‘death’ resulting from sin is not physical death, which happens anyway, but the separation from God which remains as long as the sin remains unacknowledged and unrepented.

  49. John Thomas says:

    How Anglican Fr Mahoney seemsI Maybe he’ll join what I believe has been dubbed the “reverse ordinariate”!

  50. Iona says:

    John Candido – You say:
    The notion can’t be correct in evolutionary or historical terms as Adam is a product of somebody’s imagination. Adam never existed in history as Eve never existed. It follows that if Adam and Eve never existed, then the doctrine of original sin is immediately suspect.

    There came a point in time, surely you will agree, at which reflective and self-aware creatures, capable of entertaining possibilities and making plans, emerged from somewhere along the “homo” line. Those newly-emerged creatures are what I understand by “Adam and Eve”. We don’t have to picture them in a garden with an apple-tree and a snake in it, and some fig-leaves handy for making aprons.

    John Thomas, – I like it!

    • John Candido says:

      I don’t have a problem with your summary of the development of human consciousness. My problem is with the church’s teaching on original sin. I believe it is counter intuitive and more suited to a simpler, pre-Darwinian age.

      • st.joseph says:

        John Candido/
        Forgive me but you do seem to have quite few problems with the Churche’s teaching-you say so yourself.
        It is not me accusing you.
        The Church would need to do a lot of re-ordering spiritually ,to convenience you .for you to accept in faith ,what the church teaches .

        Did you see the film Expelled; No Intelligence allowed by Ben Stein!!!!
        I didn’t ,but read the reviews

  51. Rahner says:

    I agree with much of what John has written. The traditional view of original sin in which pain and death are given as a punishment to billions of human beings in response to a primordial human act turns God into a grotesque cosmic delinquent.

    • st.joseph says:

      How would you deal with sin,instead of pain and death if ,the traditionsl view of original sin was abolished if you were God?I would like to know your alternative opinion?

      • Rahner says:

        To be in a state of “sin” is to be in a state that needs transformation. God has responded to this by embracing the whole of creation, including pain and death, with the love of the Trinity in order to transform it.
        God embraces creation in the same way as a parent embraces a sick child.

      • You can’t be an accidental sinner. Sin involves the wilful and concious rejection of the love of God, explicitly for those who know God and implicitly (because of the natural law written in our hearts) for those who do not. If we are not culpable for our sinfulness we are still in need of God’s assistance but not of redemption since the later requires our separation from God to be our fault, not an accident of evolution.

  52. st.joseph says:

    Maybe we ought to be thinking of the second coming of Christ-not that I do either,
    But I do think that God hasn’t finished with us yet here on earth-the same way thatHe is prophesised in the Old Testament to the Jews!
    Maybe that is why Our Lady is appearing first-warning us-like She was born before Jesus,making way for Him. Maybe this is the second time around.
    This may seem going off the subject-but we are a long way forward from Adam and Eve. We now have New parents.
    How are we going to benefit by Fr Jack Mahoney and all the others in the past.
    Satan will always be around to confuse us.

  53. Iona says:

    John Candido – do you have a problem with the actual existence of original sin? – Or only with the way God has been depicted as responding to it (i.e. by inflicting suffering and death on all people)?

    (I’m going to be away for a few days, so if you answer my question I’m afraid I shan’t be able to respond to your answer until about next weekend)

  54. st.joseph says:

    No offence but it seems to me that you probably believe God to be a Myth and He only comes into existence when we begin to believe in Him.
    When would you think He first showed Himself to Man?

    • John Candido says:

      ‘No offence but it seems to me that you probably believe God to be a Myth and He only comes into existence when we begin to believe in Him.’

      I do believe in God and it is not dependent on anyone believing in him/her or not.

      ‘When would (sic) you think He first showed Himself to Man?’

      Probably in Christ. Thanks.

    • milliganp says:

      St Joseph, you are obviously a devoted child of God, but your refusal to accept the knowledge that God gives us of Himself through the scientific exploration of His creation is in itself, I would suggest, an obstacle to true faith. We have to believe in everything that God has done and if God chose to create us through evolution we need to grasp that fact.and understand its ramifications in how we live out our faith.
      No serious theologian or biblical scholar (including the pope) thinks that the story of Adam and Eve is anything other than a sacred myth. The church teaches that our immortal soul is immediately created by God so the possession of a soul is not an evolutionary step but a direct intervention by God.
      Like Karl Rahner and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Fr Jack Mahoney has come to the conclusion that you can’t have evolution AND original sin as taught by Augustine. What he does present is a model where, without the concept of the fall, the Incarnation, the death of Christ and the sacramental life of the church all have valid and consistent purpose.

      • st.joseph says:

        Adam must have lived for a long time with the loss of one rib
        There are plenty of devoted children of God around, and I have no objection to calling them my brothers and sistered.

        Convince Me. and I may be converted.

      • st.joseph says:

        I dont know if you are a Catholic but if you are you will be in possesion -or can get hold of a Catechism of the Catholic Church.
        You may like to look up numbers 339 onto 356.
        If you think that the story of our first parents who we (as well as Jesus descended from, in His humanity but without sini) is anything but a sacred myth inclusing the pope as you say-perhaps we ought to have a re-write.of the whole CCC

  55. mike Horsnall says:

    John Candido,
    I would really really really like to see the random double blind controlled experimental detail you have access to which proves and charts the evolutionary progress of the human soul!!

    • John Candido says:

      ‘I would really really really (sic) like to see the random double blind controlled experimental detail you have access to which proves and charts the evolutionary progress of the human soul!!’

      As the human soul is immaterial, it is immediately disqualified from experimentation. There is no possible way that anyone can experimentally demonstrate ‘the evolutionary progress of the human soul’; it is an impossible demand. I cannot prove or disprove the ‘evolutionary progress of the human soul’, through an experiment as no one else can. Theology cannot be the subject of scientific experimentation as we are dealing with issues of faith or philosophy. Your implication however is that as no one can provide an appropriately modelled experiment on the evolutionary progress of the human soul, then nobody can make a reasonable comment on it, outside of a controlled experiment. What utter nonsense!

      All that I have said is that the theory of evolution, as regularly confirmed by scientists past and present, bounds all of nature in a process of change through time. That is, humans, and all other life, have not finished evolving, but will continue evolving into the future, by a natural process called evolution. Science and the theory of evolution do not prevent Theologians or Philosophers from their work because they cannot provide proof of their conclusions in a scientific experiment. And it neither prevents our free will, or our capacity to follow religious principles such as to ‘love one another’.

      It is interesting to note that the entire process of evolution cannot be placed in a random double-blind controlled experiment, but the science of evolution is continually affirmed and reaffirmed by replicable experiments by scientists around the world. How can this be? A very large experiment as suggested by Mike Horsnall is impossible, but smaller replicable experiments from a multitude of scientific disciplines, can more than reasonably contribute to our understanding of evolutionary theory.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        John Candido,
        Forgive my penchant for nonsense but I take it that when you talk of all of life being subject to evolution-you think that our souls have evolved too? That there is no such thing as the eternal divine either within or without? That there is no unchanging God? All is subject to inanimate forces such as pressure and heat?

      • John Candido says:

        ‘…when you talk of all of life being subject to evolution-you think that our souls have evolved too?’

        Do I think that our souls have evolved? As I have already answered previously; nobody can answer this question definitively. What if I used my intuition and other peoples’ intuition? It probably wouldn’t be a reliable source of knowledge.

        I do understand that people can evolve through time both physically, emotionally, and socially; but this would not be relevant to your question. Your questions are about the evolution of the human soul, and let us not forget that the human soul is immaterial and unmeasurable. Any person can become a more rational, mature, and good person through time, or go the opposite direction and become increasingly evil. This process is through the perennial mechanism or agency of personal development. However, this is not the same as saying ‘my soul has evolved to a higher or lower plane’. Personal attributes can be subject to experimentation or observation through the agency of statistics, as used in the disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, and sociology. The human soul is extant to scientific enquiry.

        ‘That there is no such thing as the eternal divine either within or without? That there is no unchanging God? All is subject to inanimate forces such as pressure and heat?’

        How can I respond to this question? I thought that you got it that I am a Christian and a lapsed Catholic to boot. These final questions from Mike Horsnall have left me wondering if he is one of the creationists that populate Secondsight. Are you a creationist or do you believe in evolutionary theory Mike Horsnall? Let me say at once that you are entitled to believe in whatever you like! I am not conducting a witch hunt.

  56. st.joseph says:

    I read a small sentence from an article which to me puts it all in a nut-shell ‘Evolution has not been observed happening or simulated in the lab or recorded in history and no one has explained how it actually works.’ Is this science? St Paul says; Faith is the evidence of things not seen This fits the theory of evolution perfectly.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘Evolution has not been observed happening or simulated in the lab or recorded in history and no one has explained how it actually works.’

      As a non-scientist, I think that I am on reasonable grounds in saying that evolutionary processes have not been observed by anyone, because they take a long period of time to take effect. The same reason would apply to why it cannot be simulated in a laboratory. I referred to this fact in my most recent post.

      Evolution is definitely recorded in history through disciplines such as palaeontology, geology, the carbon dating of specimens, cosmology, theoretical physics, biology, and genetics, as well as others that I cannot name. By the way let me repeat that I am not a scientist and do not know anything about the aforementioned disciplines.

      So this leaves me to wonder if st.joseph believes in evolution or is a creationist. If you are a creationist, why do you believe in it as opposed to the theory of evolution?

      • st.joseph says:

        For what I have .read and read and read. over the years and drawn my own conclusions with regards to ‘my faith’ and what I know of the Lord.!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        John Candido,
        John this might seem a strange question but if you don’t know anything about the above disciplines why are you banging on about them?

      • John Candido says:

        Yes it is a strange question and I think that I will leave it at that.

  57. Quentin says:

    In fact there is a good example of evolution at work: the story of the peppered moth.

    Before the Industrial Revolution the light-coloured moths were camouflaged against the light-coloured trees, while the dark-coloured were an easy prey for birds. But as the tree trunks blackened through industrial pollution, the advantage switched to the dark-coloured version. And, with successive generations, the proportion of dark moths increased greatly, at the expense of
    their lighter cousins. With the coming of “clean air” legislation the advantage switched back, and it was light coloured moths who increased. The survival of the fittest for the prevailing environment could be observed in action.

    • st.joseph says:

      I thought we were speaking about the human race evolving.

      • milliganp says:

        Evolution applies to all forms of life that reproduce sexually from Plants to Man. Human evolution is plainly evident in the multiplicity of races with widely varying skin colour, facial shapes and hair colour and texture. Evolution has taken place in the last century resulting from changes in diet, look at the difference in average height between Southern India and Northern Europe. The whole point of evolution is that it occurs via thousands if not millions of tiny steps, each apparently insignificant. The diversity of nature might be better expressed by saying nature NEVER produces the same thing twice (other than identical twins and non-sexual cloning).

    • mike Horsnall says:

      There is of course a difference between evolution and adaptation -at least there was when last I looked a couple of years ago…perhaps things have evolved since then.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        As to the millions of insigniicant steps of evolution this really is wrong. How does the eye become an eye? Did it take millions and millions of miniscule changes over myraid years?
        Were there really..ala Quentins moths..millions and millions of poor near blind or blind Humanoids shambling round-prey to sabre toothed tigers , zombies , snipes and goodness knows what else…until one fine day the eye became and eye, the tooth became a tooth and the humanoid finally got to cock the trigger of its Klashnikov? Come on kids!!

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Quentin – As I understand it this was not true evolution but selective breeding favouring first one and then another strain already existing within the species. Nevertheless it does illustrate the kind of process that could lead to evolution when a mutated gene happens to give an advantage in new circumstances. The improbability of such a coincidence probably accounts for the slowness of evolution.

  58. st.joseph says:

    The only comment I make to that is. ‘Yes there are some some humans who act like Apes and maybe have the same ‘intelligence.

    • st.joseph says:

      Josh Billings, his sayings .
      (Henry Wheeler Shaw)

      The trouble with people is not that they dont’ know but that they know so much as ain’t so.
      Taken from.
      The Defective Tales- The Story of Three Myths.

  59. st.joseph says:

    John Candido
    In reply to your comment at 4.06am.
    Our Lord said that the truth of something should be judged by its fruits. On this basis what are the basis of evolutionary theory so far?
    Darwin and the various schools of thought following him have not exactly ushered in a brave new world of human happiness full of converts with the ‘Light ofscience’ in their eyes’, as that optimstic Victorian hymn put it. Rather has the purely cerebal approach to creation, together with its associate modernism proved arguably to be the most dangerous idea ever to rampage through the Church, confusing the flock and causing saintly popes anguish.
    Even Catholic faith and morals must now ‘evolve’, thus opening the door to a virtually unlimited array of heresies. When one of these heresies says that God Himself must evolve we are once again on the edge of hubris and insanity.

    I think we maybe reading from different books!! I will stick to mine if you dont mnd!

    • st.joseph says:

      Also. Bible genealogies of Jesus you must read (not that you will be convinced that God appeared in the OT and spoke to Moses.!

  60. st.joseph says:

    John Candido.
    Your comment (when I asked when you thought Jesus first showed Himself to Man )
    Probably in Christ you say.
    Brought to my mind a homily my priest mentioned on Sunday that being I quote:
    ‘Jesus did not come to create a paradise on earth,He came to make it possible for us to enter the True Paradise that already exists.

    I seem to think that you may believe that we through evolution that we are responsible to bring it here on earth and not that it always existed in the beginning.
    Something for you to think about!

  61. st.joseph says:

    Mike Horsnell.
    Your comment brings to mind a little book I read many years ago London Catholic Truth Society
    1970 for 9d. ‘God Stares You in the Eye ‘by Rev J. McKee BA, A wonderful little book I still have it, Thank you for reminding me.

  62. milliganp says:

    Mike Horsnall
    Your comment about the evolution of the eye is ludicrous. The apes from which it is presumed humanity evolved had perfectly functional eyes which had developed in mammals far earlier in the evolutionary cycle. I know that there are arguments against the eye ever being “accidental” but the reality is that millions of species have eyes of immensely varying complexity and capability.
    The presence of complex beings may argue for intelligent design but cannot support an argument for creationism unless we posit that God was intentionally deceptive in creating a universe 6000 years ago that was already 13.75 billion years old.

  63. milliganp says:

    St Joseph.
    further to your comment to John Candido, Darwin didn’t invent evolution, he discovered it.
    It would appear that God invented evolution in which case we should treat it with due reverence. There is no doubt that many in the scientific community are currently on a mission to eliminate God from reasonable thought but it is hard to fault them when their honest endeavours are treated with contempt by people with closed minds and little qualification to judge them.
    God created us as rational beings and must have foreseen that our minds would one day be able to comprehend some of the wondrous ways in which our universe was created and so He created a universe of infinite wonder in which no matter how good our telescopes and microscopes became there would always be something tantalisingly beyond our reach.

    • st.joseph says:

      I wish you would not put words into my comment- about the Universe.
      Did I say that the Universe was not creared by God of infinite wonder,
      I was not making comments on the Universe,
      My comments are about the first man and women and God was the first one to remind us of that not Dawkin.What qualifications may I ask has anyone got on evolution- do you?
      God has the first and last word We will all find that out eventually.

    • st.joseph says:

      The above comment is for Milliganp.

  64. JohnBunting says:

    About your “blind humanoids shambling round……….until one day an eye became an eye…..” etc.
    Is it not possible, if not probable, that eyes and other complex structures reached an advanced state long before any humanoid, or indeed any mammal, appeared? Can you please tell us your reasons for being so certain that ‘evolution by millions of small steps really is wrong’?
    If that is so, then ‘How does the eye become an eye?’, in your view?

    To make my position clear: I think the problems with Darwinism arise almost entirely from it being used as a vehicle for atheism, and being applied to matters for which it was never intended, such as ‘social engineering’, or eugenics. If it is treated just as a theory of how complex organisms arose, well, one is still free to disagree wth it, but I do not see it as incompatible with Christian belief. Like any other scientific theory, it has no supernatural, metaphysical or theological implications, because such concepts are not within the terms of reference of natural science.
    Is God any less our Creator, if we reached our present state by a long process of evolution, rather than appearing ‘ready-made’, almost instantaneously?

    • John, thank you for a rational post!

    • mike Horsnall says:

      John Bunting.
      Of course God isnt and of course it doesnt matter….the only two people who believe any longer that adam and eve suddenly turned up on the savannah as if beamed down fro Star Trek-are my two dear and very keen Pentecostal chums who pastor a church in Oxford.
      On the other hand there is something horribly politically correct about the wholesale swallowing of the broadscale doctrine of evolution, a doctrine which shades off into socio political posturing and ideology.
      We do not have to suscribe to large amounts of pseudo scientific speculation or ponderously pronounce impossibly long numbers to prove that we are ever so modern and well educated christians as opposed to that other bunch of dimwits who are more religious than ourselves and clearly a bit benighted….yeuk!
      Not saying that was your implication by the way John and as Rahner says below your comments are usually even natured, calm and balance, unlike my choleric dyspeptic ramblings…

  65. mike Horsnall says:

    Havent any of you heard of ‘step changes’?

    I wonder why you get worked up into a blind rage whenever anyone questions the subject? The notion that evolution as carried on at a smooth imperceptible rate for 13.75 billion years may roll off the tongue nicely and make us all feel very suave and contemporary but as far as I can see its completely raving barmy. How can any of you confidently assert such garbage? Is it not clear that contemporary physics is in such a kerfuffle with itself that clear minds will openly admit to being baffled by the workings of the universe? Is it not clear that all of the considerations of time are based on its supposed regularity and linearity-further that these notions are currently being outdated by the week as we appear to have realised that things can go faster than light? Why can you not see that the eons you all roll off your tongues like tasty chocolates are in fact the figment of mathematical best guesses with all other things being equal that is -even when they clearly arent.
    Step changes are the theory that allows sudden complex changes to occur on a kind of catastrophe curve basis-a constantly evolving universe with insignificant minimal changes over the billions of years might cheer you all up but it truly is nonsense!!!

    • Rahner says:

      Mike, Can you name one biologist who has claimed that evolution has been taking place for 13 billion years?
      ps Are you the one who is perhaps in a blind rage? John Bunting seems quite calm to me…….

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Rahner -ask Mulligan it was his idea!! As to blind rage dear boy I’m only enjoying myself…is it allowed?

      • I said the universe was 13.75Bn years old (current best estimate +/- 111 Million years). Mike and St Joseph don’t bother reading or responding to the detailed statements in other peoples posts.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      By the way, the how does an eye become an eye discussion is really worth looking into. I seem to remember various insect oddities such as beetles which fire a kind of acid from their bums when fed up. The chemical comes from combining chambers in the insects abdomen which must really have been formed pretty much all at once and could never have evolved. There are loads of little curios and oddities like this around if you begin to look. For a long time people wondered how the human could stand erect because of the close structure of the human neck which appears perfectly designed for erect weightbearing and wide vision-the weight change could not have been gradual and still give a functioning neck on account of the vertebral facet angle change. My background by the way is more in anatomy than paleaontology, being an osteopath and anatomy lecturer as I am. Sure spout your theories on evolution but do be aware that it falls to bits all over the place when considered from varying perspectives.

      • Rahner says:

        If you really have identified a fundamental flaw in the theory of evolution I see a Nobel Prize beckoning.

  66. I think we are approaching the point where Goodwin’s law cuts in! I really don’t want to get into who’s credentials are most valid but will point out that most scientist regard Osteopathy as a non-science based medicine. The fact that you have such an obvious dislike of science is thus unsurprising.
    What I will do is quote something from my own area of science (electronics). The fact that you are able to sit at a keyboard and type into the blog requires that a large number of scientific laws (or discoveries) work (including light-speed). The 20 Billion+ transistors in each PC depend on quantum physical events to work to remarkable levels of fine tuning.
    These same electronic advances allow us, through the Hubble Telescope to see events 8Billion+ light years away (which requires something to be over 8Billion years old!). So we have highly advanced and repeatable scientific processes up against quack medicine. I know which way path I would prefer to follow.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      OOOOH I do like it, nice, incisive clear cold venom…well said dear deacon well done indeed…marvellous in fact!!
      As to quackery-nice to get a low one in isnt it…find out about the subject a bit.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        PS Actually science fascinates me, particularly mechanics and physiology-by the way, where did you do your survey of scientists who think osteopathy is quackery..Phd was it?

    • Quentin says:

      Ironically I am rather pleased when someone nudges over a forbidden line on this blog, as it gives me an opportunity to remind people. Suggesting to a contributor that he or she has devoted their lives to a “quack” profession is at least a nudge onto the wrong side, if not more. Luckily Mike has a good sense of humour — which you need if you are going to defend intelligent design over evolution.

      • I agree with you and am providing this reply by way of an apology. However we have had a post suggesting that a priests sacraments are not valid and another suggesting that a contributor did not believe in God, neither of which seemed to cause you concern. Catholic blogs at this stage have become a place for people with very strange views to to air their personal opinions without contributing to the sum of human knowledge.
        I only joined in this blog because I believe the issue you originally raised is crucial to be discussed. Although there have been some good comments, sadly there has been little to enlighten the subject posted in this forum, I had hoped your article in the Catholic Herald might encourage somebody with real theological insight to provide a reasoned critique of Fr Jack Mahoney’s propositions.
        I do not think we gain much creditability for our Catholic faith when we merely contradict, or worse, rubbish science since most scientists are people of intellectual integrity. I believe that “squaring the circle” of evolution and faith is THE big challenge that scientific advances present to Faith and I live in hope that someone will one day make an effort equivalent to that of Fr Jack but hopefully present us with an schema that doesn’t “break the spine of salvation history”.

      • Rahner says:

        Quentin, I understand that the purpose of this blog is the shared exploration of the relationship between science and religion but I have to say that I think Paul Milligan has a point in his 11:49 post!
        Perhaps some quality control is needed?

  67. st.joseph says:

    I read an article that said,
    Genesis 7;11;12 says that it rained for 40 days and nights and ‘The fountains of the great deep were opened up’ This implys a tetonic upheavel of far greater magnitude that any in recorded history. This produced not the tidy layering of the gradusl evolutionists but the complex irregularity with some strata ending up in the verticle position (e.g Caldey Island) that we see to-day.
    Together with the rain these ‘fountains’ caused enormous tidal waves carred billions of tons of mud and detritdus across the Earth’s surface depositing it haphazardly as it went. The simplest creatures being at the bottom of the sea were in general covered first, the the free swimming fish and amphibians, the the slow moving animals on the plains and finally the more agile apes and humans who could get to higher ground and were covered last.
    Fossils are formed by being suddenly pressed under a layer of sediments thus preserving the whole creature. A slower process would result in them being eaten or decomposing leaving only the bones. Of course rocks are older than the ones lying above them but howmuch older? Why do we automaticall assume millions of years .If deluge geology’ is a true picture of affairs, layers could have been deposited one after the other in a matter of days or even hours! Later, heat and pressure could have caused solidification into rock. These massive tidal caused huge ‘graveyards’ to pile up where tens of thousands of different creatures can be seen today the biggest in Siberia. Theseanimals which were obviously overwhwlmed at the same time, come from widely different levels of that geologic column.
    In coalfields ‘polystrates’ are quite common. One seventy foot tree trunk was found protruding upwards through many layers of sediments each of which evolutionists say would take millions of years to deposit. Wood exposed to the elements decomposes in a few decades (Human bones, iron artifacts and even gold jewellery have been foun insome coal seams) In a Texas river bed there are foot prints of humans, dinosaurs and the fossils of trilobites all at the same level and superimposed on one another..
    Meteorite dust is constantly falling on the Earth and Moon and its rate of deposit can be roughly estimated. The lunar landing craft was designed o cope with up to 60 feet of it. They found half an inch of it which gappens to be about 8000 years old. The Moon, like the Earth,is young.

    Taken from Christian Order 2004.

    I associate that like The Great Flood of Noah.

    • Rahner says:

      Ah, yes………Christian Order………that great fountainhead of scientific knowledge………

      • st.joseph says:

        Is that what you think of the CCC too?

      • Rahner, thanks for beating me to it! Christian Order pours out irrational and vitriolic criticism of the Second Vatican Council, almost all the bishops of the church and has even set its sights on the pope in its latest issue accusing him of having masonic views for not attempting to convert Jews to Christianity (remember: Jews, Freemasons and communists .. yes we might just have a Nazi moment!)

      • St Joe, Christian Order does not recognise the validity of the CCC.

      • st.joseph says:

        If you would like some more info on Creation. I will give it to from other sources too.
        I have plenty. But I am going to bed now,
        And at Holy Mass in the morning, I will look at the Host and wonder how God made His Son out of a wafer!!!

      • Rahner says:

        Is that what you think of the CCC too?”
        Are you suggesting that the author of Christian Order wrote the CCC?

    • John Candido says:

      I looked at the online magazine called ‘Catholic Order’, by finding it through Google, and I must say that my cursory impression is that it is not only pre-Vatican II thinking, but a product of medieval prejudice. I find the entire publication quite disturbing and offensive. It seems to faithfully reflect the anti-Semitic nature of some Catholic prayers, some parts of the liturgy of the Mass, and the theology of previous eras.

      If you want to have a look, (although I would very strenuously not recommend it), go to and you have Mr. James Larson in an article called, ‘The Gospel Falsified’, propounding views about the Jews in relation to the Church and the world, that I find highly offensive, hysterical, and anti-Semitic. What has James Larson’s preposterous pronouncements about Jews got to do with Christian love? It is baffling, to put it mildly!

      • John Candido says:

        ‘…some parts of the liturgy of the Mass,’

        Allow me to clarify this phrase. What I mean is that some parts of the liturgy of the Tridentine Mass that contained anti-Semitic references to Jews.

      • Sadly, John, there are some deeply disturbed human beings in the Catholic Church and they do the faith much harm; many of them, sadly too, are clerics. People are driven from the church because, instead of experiencing the love of God they get a bundle of human prejudices. That the church in the West is in crisis is beyond doubt but the diagnosis of what is wrong is the challenge. Christian Order and its ilk believe we need to go back to a rigid, dogmatic, authoritarian and pre-Vatican II model of church. Most of the priests I know are worn out, they feel unsupported by the church because no-one in authority ever speaks out against the revisionists.
        Few people, returning to the church or in a period of personal doubt, experience the loving father of the parable of the prodigal son.
        In St John’s Gospel after the great discourse on the Eucharist in chapter 6, the Gospel notes that many abandon Jesus and that Jesus asks Peter “will you leave me too”. Peter replies “Lord where should we go?”. You stated in another post that you are a lapsed Catholic, please don’t let the church put you off trying to return.

      • John Nolan says:

        JC, I wish you wouldn’t use ‘medieval’ as a term of abuse. It’s rather like referring to a ‘pre-scientific age’ which is a modern conceit and a historical nonsense. Why are you so contemptuous about the philosophy and theology of ‘previous eras’? There are some modern philosophies which had considerable intellectual following but are now discredited; one thinks immediately of Marxism-Leninism.

        I used to read Christian Order in the 1970s (it was on sale at the back of the church). Then edited by Fr Paul Crane SJ, it was a useful antidote to the prevailing lunacy of the time, and the articles were of the sort that would nowadays appear in the Catholic Herald. I haven’t seen it for years, but will take your word for it that at least some of its articles pander to another kind of lunacy which is fortunately out on a very distant fringe.

      • milliganp says:

        Once you type something on a computer, the words are there forever! I do think we have to be careful about theological ageism. In a previous age Chesterton, rather anachronistically said “democracy demands I respect the opinions of my groom, tradition demands I respect the the opinion of my father”. We should cherish an era that produced saints like Francis, Clare, Dominic et al while recognising that in the same era there was much that we would now consider barbaric. Anyone for trial by ordeal?

      • John Candido says:

        ‘It’s rather like referring to a ‘pre-scientific age’ which is a modern conceit and a historical nonsense.’

        John Nolan, a pre-scientific age is not a ‘modern conceit’ to me, but a simple historical marker that refers to a time before science was introduced to human society. A pre-scientific age is a pre-Enlightenment age, if you like. ‘The Enlightenment’ is defined in the ‘Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary’ on page 467 as,

        ‘the 18th century philosophy emphasising reason and individualism rather than tradition.’

        How is a pre-scientific age ‘a modern conceit and a historical nonsense? Baffling!

        ‘Why are you so contemptuous about the philosophy and theology of ‘previous eras’?

        I am not! Your charge is a sweeping generalisation about me and my values. Any philosophy or theology, past or present, which has misogynistic or racist elements in them I naturally eschew, as most ordinary people do. Of course in fairness, you have to see people in history in their own contexts. However, error is error John Nolan! If that is conceited by your thinking, then so be it.

        I agree with you that Marxism-Leninism has been a total failure on many levels. I don’t know how you come to see me as an enemy of history, when I genuinely have an amateur’s appreciation of history and all it can teach us. History has to be preserved and appreciated by all, lest we repeat the mistakes, egotism, and folly of past leaders and their societies.

        Of course one person’s favoured history is another’s poison, as well. The writing of history and what constitutes history is always governed by the historian’s values, and the values of the society he/she inhabits. History is a complex matter and it requires those who produce it and digest it to be vigilant, sensitive, and critical of the text before them. No more despicable a person than Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin once said that, ‘the writer is the engineer of the human soul’. How true! La Trobe University historian, Dr. Clare Wright once noted that, ‘the beauty of history is that it is inherently complex, multilayered, & diverse’.

      • John Candido says:

        ‘…and the theology of previous eras.’

        How embarrassing! Allow me to also clarify this phrase as well. What I meant was that any parts of any past theology, or the teaching or instructions of any past Catholic notary that contained any anti-Semitism. My apologies if I gave anybody the wrong impression.

    • st.joseph says:

      Paul Milligen
      I have read but not digested it yet.However my first thoughts are that God gave is all brains animals as well.
      But if there is a resemblence to humans I think they may have learned from us over the years.
      My mother had a dog and it could practically do a lot of things when taught.It would play hide and seek with me when I was a child.

      • WE must not forget the human tendency to anthropomorphism, we imagine our cat likes us but it just knows where lunch comes from!

      • Quentin says:

        There is an interesting question here. The cat is sentient, ergo it is conscious of feeling (if not self-conscious). So is the cat’s consciousness material (if so how?) or spiritual?

      • st.joseph says:

        Paul Milligan. What makes you think that. but nor do a lot of Catholics.
        I do.I was speaking about Rahner.

  68. mike Horsnall says:

    Heres a link for you Paul:
    especially part 4 paragraph 11 which you may have once read concerning diaconal spirituality

    • OK Mike, I owe you a personal apology as well as the general response to Quentin’s post on acceptable blog behaviour. I have been a deacon for 11 years and love my ministry – which is one of service. I have no difficulty helping those whom I serve by preaching the Gospel to challenge the ways of the world. In our response to the tendency of atheist science to reduce God to an explanation of the “bits we don’t yet understand”, a “God of the gaps” which is a straw dog put up by the likes of Dawkins, I explain a more complex creation enhances rather than diminishes God’s grandeur.

      However what is very hard is to preach against is the devil within the church which ranges from “cafeteria Catholicism” to people who hold their views so tightly that their certainty becomes just another version of invincible ignorance, people who preach a God just perfect for Dawkins to attack.

      You have made several posts which do little more than rubbish those views with which you disagree and that has increased my anger – be grateful I hadn’t had a drink, I can do worse when riled! However anyone who refutes verifiable mainstream science does little to advance the plausibility of our faith.

      • Quentin says:

        Thank you, Paul for this. You will understand, I am sure, that proper moderation of the blog is often a matter of judgment – and I can only make the best decision I can. You mention, for example, the questioning of a priests’s orders, suggesting an inconsistency. But this remark was not being made about another contributor. And, in fact, the query was based on whether the priest in question was intending to do “what the Church does” when consecrating. This is not to question his orders but to raise a relevant query based on good sacramental theology.

        There is no reason why you should be aware of the emails I very occasionally receive from contributors who have been hurt by others’ remarks, and indeed we have sometimes lost valued contributors as a result. But I am aware.

        In general, I have no problems about strong views, or about anti Catholic views. What I ask for are views supported by reasoned argument relevant to the topic in hand – couched in the fashion in which one would say them face to face. in saying this, I am bearing in mind Rahner’s comment this morning.

  69. Rahner says:

    If you would like some more info on Creation. I will give it to from other sources too.”

    I’m sure it will be highly entertaining!

    • st.joseph says:

      I have just come on to the blog and I must say that there are a few remarks thatI think are very unloving from Paul Milligan Rahner and John Candido,
      We are discussing evolution heren ot Christianj Order.
      Its a bit like the kettle calling the pot black when it comes to C.Order and CCC, when those who are supposed to be RC are not in favour with the teachings of the Church
      I feel it is a little like Adam and Eves shame and some need to cover themselves.
      One thing that the Lord gives us and that is dignity, I would like to see some of it here .
      I am a Catholic and I am more entitled to express my opinion on my faith than those who do not read the CCC.

      You dont win any battles by insulting people and Rahner if you think that Gods Creation is highly entertaining, what kind of a person are !

  70. st.joseph says:

    Paul Milligen.
    I would like you to meet my PP, He would educate you on humilty .
    The laity I agree are a mixed bunch- but we are all apart of the Body of Christ and the Lord knows every hair on our head and I think your remarks are a cause of shame for a Deacon, whose one duty is to preach the love of Christ not condemnation.

  71. milliganp says:

    St Joe, I’m not sure what point you are trying to make (as ever). In my parish I insist we teach original sin as part of our talks on baptism and I always talk about sin during the baptism service. The church has a structure, the Bishops in communion with the Holy See are responsible for oversight and governance of the church. I am in communion with my Archbishop and through him with Rome.
    Christian Order denies or undermines the structure of the church by encouraging people to criticise or ignore not only their own bishops, but now the Holy Father as well. It is not merely some valid alternate view within the church but is a dangerous, evil publication.
    From sad experience in my own parish and deanery the readers of this journal do great harm to the church by their lack of charity and adherence to twisted doctrines. Part of the duty of any member of the church is to condemn error and the advice I give to anyone who comes across this journal is to either throw it away or politely pass it back unread to whoever gave it to them.
    If, perchance, you are responding to my 7:49 post, it was full of Christian charity for someone in doubt, so your response is even more bizarre than usual.

    • st.joseph says:

      I did not reply to a comment of yours at 7.49. tell me where plaease.

      • st.joseph says:

        Just to make a comment on your last post.
        Can you tell me why you teach something that you dont believe in.
        At least Christian Order is being true to their own conscience.
        As I am
        And I have a lot in common with CO as I hear about them.
        That they believe in the faith that I believe in-I not necessarily agree without some of theirs, but then I dont read it or subscribe to it
        But I do have a lot in common in some of their beliefs, maybe with a lot more than the catholics who believe in contraception and who will not even try to do their best to teach NFP. or support the pro-life movement. They do a lot more damage to the faith than than CO.As you say you dont see the points I make maybe you should try asking and then I will make it clearer for you to see.

      • milliganp says:

        Why do you accuse me of not believing in original sin? It is a current doctrine of the church and at my ordination I swore to uphold the teaching of the church. Sometimes we have to believe out of obedience rather than reason (or perhaps accept the reasonableness of the doctrine). The challenge I face, as do many, is trying to square the doctrine with what we now know about human origins. Like Fr Jack, Karl Rahner etc I would like to find language which reconciles the two without damaging the deposit of faith. Pretending the dilemma does not exist is not an authentic position to hold unless we flat outright deny the science, which is what young-earth creationists do. Fortunately for those of us who believe most science to be reasonable, the church has endorsed the big-bang theory of creation and has not rejected evolution as a mechanism for the creation of life.

    • st.joseph says:

      John Candido and Rahner.
      In Millignap comment above I seem to see a resemblance to your comments when you speak about the Popes and Bishops in the past. Your comment on Christian Order is bit hypocritical dont you think.!

  72. John Nolan says:

    “Christian Order denies or undermines the structure of the Church by encouraging people to criticise or ignore not only their own bishops but now the Holy Father as well. It is not merely some valid alternate view within the Church but is a dangerous, evil publication.” [Capitalization added]

    I seem to have read this somewhere else. Ah yes, I remember now, but in place of ‘Christian Order’ it had ‘The National Catholic Reporter’ or ‘The Tablet’. Odd how both sides use the same language to slag each other off. Just as well the protagonists are separated by cyberspace, or we might get the situation which obtained in 4th and 5th century Alexandria!

    • milliganp says:

      Do I need to polish my scallop shells?

      • st.joseph says:

        MilliganpI know I am a bit biazzare in my comments as you said, but where did I accuse you of not believing in original sin- but are you saying that you do-that you believe our first parents committed the first sin ,which to me is original sin ,and yet you are saying that we evolved from apes or something else- I am not sure what you are saying.It sounds you are confused.
        I think the discussions on original sin us a smoke screen to avoid the real truths!
        Where were you when we were discussing abortion and NFP.
        And by the way are you also Paul Milligen too,if you are -why?

      • milliganp says:

        AArgh. You asked me why I teach something I don’t believe in after I post on Original Sin and then you ask “where did I accuse you of not believing in original sin”. This really is confusing. Apart from anything else evolution (which the Church accepts) does not prevent belief in Original Sin. God could have allowed apes to develop to a point where they were then give a soul by God at which time they became the first humans. This has obvious difficulties which I accept, quite apart from the problem of monogenism.
        The church does not teach that evolution is wrong and therefore I’m not guilty of a breach of faith by discussing it. I am also aware that speculation is not the same as belief or doctrine. I think the Church needs to address the clash between evolution and the doctrine of Original Sin because they don’t remotely sit easily together but while we fail to address it we leave a major area of difficulty for those, particularly younger, Catholics who have difficulty with a faith that seemingly illogically contradicts science.
        On the identity issue, I logged in from two different machines and WordPress’ identity system decided I had a split personality. But Paul Milligan and Milliganp are the same person.
        I only came to this blog 10 days ago after an article by Quentin in the Catholic Herald so I was unaware of any previous discussions.
        Frankly I’ve learnt my lesson from this discussion, I don’t think the internet has yet evolved to the point of being an effective place for reasoned discussion. I know I’ve said things in a way I’d never express in a face to face discussion and there has not been much discussion, just statements of contrary opinions. On Thursday I’m leading a parish discussion on use of the internet for evangelisation and faith development, I think I’m going to say “leave it a while”.

      • Quentin says:

        I think (hope) that your view is premature. This is one, quite exceptional, blog where people from a range of points of view are able to express strong feelings while knowing that they will be heard, and usually constructively. We are a ragbag of different temperaments, experience and education and that’s marvellous. I have a far better view of how people may see issues than I did when the blog started. And by listening to them carefully — particularly those with whom I instinctively disagree, I have matured a great deal in my understanding of the faith.

        I know that the marketplace is dusty, untidy and noisy but that is where it all happens. The blog had nearly 40,000 hits last year, many internationally. It would be difficult to find another Catholic discussion blog which is able to unite people from all quarters in a common search for understanding.

      • John Candido says:

        I fully concur with the sentiments that Quentin has just expressed about the blog.

      • John Candido says:

        Dear Paul Milligan, I sincerely hope that you do not leave Secondsight. You say your field is in electronics. Can you satisfy my curiosity by asking you if you are an engineer or an electronics technician? You seem to be quite an intelligent fellow and we need as many people to contribute to Secondsight by people from all walks of life.

        Meetings and conferences between academic theologians and philosophers, and the tutorials that students attend during their degrees are one thing. You won’t get that level of deep discussion on Secondsight, but you do have the laity in action. It isn’t as measured or as learned as academic discussion, but at our level, it more than fits the bill. I can think of a number of people who were highly intelligent and who have sadly left the blog. Their leaving will make Secondsight the poorer. So please don’t go, and encourage as many people as you can to have a look at the blog, with a view to making a contribution to discussions.

      • milliganp says:

        John, just for info, I started off in electronics as a design engineer (and still, sadly, drool over circuit diagrams of Hi-Fi amplifiers). As everything started going inside the chip I did a period of system level design and went into computers at the start of the PC era. When I became a Deacon I felt the need to do something more worthwhile (somehow helping banks make more money no longer thrilled me!) and now work for the church as an administrator.
        I realise that blog posting is in it’s early years, part of my reason for pulling back was that I didn’t want to bring my ministry into disrepute by a moment of high emotion. I will continue to monitor the blog and respond when I feel I have something worthwhile to say – but not when I just disagree with another post!
        There’s an old Monty Python sketch where a chap pays to have an argument and ends up saying “this isn’t an argument, it’s mere contradiction”.

  73. JohnBunting says:

    mike, (et al.)
    Your point about ‘step changes’, yesterday. You say the idea of millions of small steps is really wrong, but then go on to say “Haven’t any of you heard of step changes?”. So we seem to differ about the magnitude and duration of the steps. Fair enough: I wouldn’t insist on ‘nothing but’ many small steps, but neither would I rule them out.
    Most of us will be familiar with Stephen Jay Gould’s idea of ‘punctuated equilibrium’: that evolutionary change may be driven by environmental pressures, or if a single population gets split into two. But with your remarks about the structure of the human neck, are you thinking of large step changes taking place in a single generation, and being inherited by subsequent generations?

    There is a more general point about all this, given the present state of thinking on evolution. The theory can seem very powerful, because it’s easy to think that almost any change is possible, given enough time. The weakness is that we don’t know, or have only a vague idea, of just what the sequence of events was in any particular case.
    However, the appearance of complex living organisms on earth was a physical and biological process, so should in principle be describable in scientific terms. The history of science shows that if a theory is wrong, it will, sooner or later, be shown to be wrong, and will be replaced by a better one. Our understanding of evolution is very incomplete, and may yet undergo great changes, but is there anything better to replace it?

    • st.joseph says:

      Thank you for your reply.
      The reason why there were no comments from ‘scieince experts on evoloution’ is because no one has the answer .
      We have discussed plentyof subjects on science on second sight, those which can be explained.
      I have always found that those who believe in evolution ‘accuse those who don’t .of not believing in science. Which to my opinion is a little demoralising
      If I could see the reasoning behind whether we do or not I would would believe it and then explore.
      But I find more important things to evangelize on that that.
      I wish you success with your lecture,and if you do get a chance to mention Fertility Awareness I would be most grateful, as I believe that is more forward looking than what we have been dscussing , because that is a Truth than can be explained with Science,and to my mind will save a lot of babies from being aborted from the use of abortifaciants.
      I believe that Our Lord band His Blessed Mother would be more in favour of that.

  74. David Keith Andrews. says:

    I wish to return to the topics of love and free will which have been discussed a numbers of times in this blog. I see them as being central to the question of whether the soul has been directly created by God, which Mahoney views as being incorrect in the light of evolutionary theory. Love, in the context of loving God and ones neighbour, requires free will – the ability to make a conscious decision whether to love or to reject. It is not like the love or abhorrence of of sprouts caused by inheritance of specific genes from parents. It is possible to love God one day and the next day decide to disobey and reject Him. I would not expect to be able to do this if love or rejection of God were evolutionary attributes transmitted to me from my parents. As I consider love of God and my neighbour to be properties of the soul I am happy to accept that my soul has been directly created by God and is not subject to evolutionary laws. If my conclusion is reasonable, does it have any useful impact on the question of whether salvation requires to be rewritten?

    • Vincent says:

      It has at least the impact of reminding us that although an evolutionary model can explain a number of things it would be foolish to expect it to explain every thing.
      Off the top of my head I see three possible reasons for doing good to my neighbour. First, if I do so he will reciprocate. Second, I am naturally inclined that way because supporting one’s own gang is a good evolutionary adaptation. Third I freely choose to do so for his benefit. In practice these motives may be mixed in any one case, but the third motive is the only one which gets you (and by you I mean any human being on earth) to Heaven.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘It is possible to love God one day and the next day decide to disobey and reject Him. I would not expect to be able to do this if love or rejection of God were evolutionary attributes transmitted to me from my parents. As I consider love of God and my neighbour to be properties of the soul I am happy to accept that my soul has been directly created by God and is not subject to evolutionary laws. If my conclusion is reasonable, does it have any useful impact on the question of whether salvation requires to be rewritten?’

      Thank you David Keith Andrews! At last, somebody has seen fit to return to our topic! This is very appropriate given the necessary and at times frivolous side alleys that have diverted out attention. I have not read Jack Mahoney’s recent book, so I am going to go out on a limb of sorts. I do this every now and then.

      Assuming you are correct, I don’t think that it would necessarily impact Mahoney’s thesis in a negative manner. Ensoulment is the idea that God specifically intervenes and creates a soul for an early and developing foetus. It has been speculated that this occurs after conception and up to 14 days by some theologians. If this is the truth of the matter, this does not contradict our being continually bounded by the theory of evolution as humans. We are still capable of and have a continuing life with God, the sacraments are still here, and we have free-will which makes us equally capable of both good and evil acts.

      It is the fact of the theory of evolution and its clash with the doctrine of original sin, which is germane here. These two concepts are mutually incompatible because the creation story in Genesis is not science. I personally find the doctrine of original sin to be completely counter-intuitive with our understanding of a loving God. It is also incapable of adequately explaining the problem of human suffering. God rescinds his/her relationship with us because of some imaginary sin is pure fantasy. God is better and higher than this horrible and vengeful act!

      The Garden of Eden and its assorted characters are a total fabrication. Moving onwards from this, the doctrine of original sin is inherently incoherent and better suited to a pre-Darwinian age. My apologies to John Nolan!

      Let’s assume that the soul is also bounded by the forces of evolution, in that it has some role in its development. I don’t think that this scenario would necessarily impact on Mahoney’s discourse either. If God is the ultimate author of evolutionary forces, then it follows that he/she is also the author of each human soul’s evolution or development. God intimately knows and understands the position of our souls at any stage of its development. The sacraments are still valid, we have our spiritual life in God, and we are free to do good or evil.

      • st.joseph says:

        John Candido.
        Conception is when the ovum is fertilized.
        What do you mean by some theologians?.
        Why was Jesus Baptised.?
        Why did John the Baptist come before Jesus-or why come at all?
        Infant baptism is the entrance into the Church and cleanses our soul from the sin of ou first parents. and make us children of God back into the fold so to speak. My words-look in the CCC for the correct ones, but I am sure you will know that being a Christian.
        John baptised with water,he Baptised Jesus and Jesus then began His Ministry.
        Jesus now Baptise’s us in the Spirit as He told us in Scripture.
        Why do you have a problem with that.?
        There is a very interesting book by Thaddeus Doyle .CC.
        In it there is a chapter on Understanding vital Biblical texts. 1999.
        If you dont understand the CCC, perhaps a look into that might help you on your journey in faith!

      • st.joseph says:

        John Candido.
        Your comment ‘at last someone has seen fit to return to the topic’
        Let me just remind you that 3 of you decided to change the subject.
        Was it beacuse you didn,t like my article on Christian Order.
        I feel a little bias on your part here -when you wished to ignore its content. and change the subject.
        I would like to know your ,and Rahners opinion on the article and NOT on CHRISTIAN ORDER
        No copting out please.

      • milliganp says:

        St Joe, why to attack John for a whole series of things he didn’t say.
        Just to answer a few of your questions, Thomas Aquinas, a fairly well known theologian, believed ensoulment took place at 12 weeks. The church teaches that life is sacred from conception to natural death, so we must not intervene artificially. The moment of ensoulment is not a definitive doctrine in the same way as the divinity of Christ or the virgin birth, but the sanctity of life is.
        Jesus was obviously not baptised to wash away original sin, so I’m not sure what point you are trying to make.
        The sacrament of Baptism as entry into the church and becoming co-heirs with Christ to the kingdom of heaven can happily survive an alternate interpretation of Original Sin (we could call it original fallenness without requiring any loss of doctrinal integrity).

      • milliganp says:

        John, I cannot feel even remotely happy about think the soul evolves if the soul is spiritual and immediately created by God. What we do know is that conciousness has evolved as have broader moral standards.
        Lest I be accused of being a relativist let me use a couple of examples:-
        At the time of Christ everybody believed that the state could put someone to death almost as a whim (think of John the Baptist for a Jewish example). Today we have much higher standards and if we were to follow Christ we might say even just-war theory is suspect.
        At the time of Christ adultery was punishable by death. Today as Christians we believe all extra-marital sex is wrong but believe that forgiveness has to be the response to one who commits this sin.
        However through history (dare I mention the Mediaeval period as an example) the Church has supported the same and other practices we now consider barbaric, so there has been some form of moral evolution – even within the Church.

      • milliganp says:

        You raised an interesting thought about suffering as “punishment” for sin. In an evolutionary world, suffering is something that forms you, we sometimes have to burn our hand to learn what fire is. Similarly John Polkinghorne has said that a disease like cancer is a natural side-effect of evolution. Perhaps suffering is not the pain but how we deal with it. I nursed my father through the last two weeks of his life, dying of cancer, but it was a spiritually fruitful time because our whole family believed in God and the resurrection so the sadness of loosing him was a source of hope for those of us left behind.
        I’m sure that is another dimension of Calvary, Jesus undergoes one of the most barbaric forms of execution ever invented to show us that suffering and death can be an act of love.

  75. John Nolan says:

    Sorry, John Candido, I’m not going to let you wriggle of the hook so easily. The men of the Renaissance and later the Enlightenment (these are modern and misleading terms, but they will have to do for now) tended to revere the Classical past, and certainly did not regard it as pre-scientific – indeed the quest for knowledge (Lat. scientia) is as old as human history. Unfortunately they, like yourself, tended to disparage the more immediate past (the ‘Gothick centuries’ or the ‘Middle Ages’) regarding them as an age of faith rather than reason. No-one, but no-one who has seriously studied history regards this as anything else than a travesty, and I am surprised that there are still supposedly intelligent persons who parrot it.

    In a sense the medieval era’s (perhaps) exaggerated respect for tradition arises from the fact that men were continually striving to attain what they saw as the ideal of a Classical civilization which was never totally destroyed by the barbarian invasions and was kept alive in the first place by the Western, i.e. Catholic Church.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘Unfortunately they, like yourself, tended to disparage the more immediate past (the ‘Gothick centuries’ or the ‘Middle Ages’) regarding them as an age of faith rather than reason. No-one, but no-one who has seriously studied history regards this as anything else than a travesty, and I am surprised that there are still supposedly intelligent persons who parrot it.’

      I am afraid that you have got me wrong! If you read my previous post on the 7th February at 1:49 pm closely enough, you would have come across statements such as,

      ‘Of course in fairness, you have to see people in history in their own contexts.’

      How does this disparage people who lived in the past? There would have been hundreds of thousands of people who lived in the middle ages who were far more intelligent than me. If they were born today, they could achieve anything that they would have set themselves to do. I am no genius. Assuming that other people have integrity, I bow to higher minds because you have to, don’t you?

    • Rahner says:

      John, Which aspects of ancient/ medieval science/knowledge should not have been abandoned?

      • st.joseph says:

        I mentioned Christian Order to be the where my article came from.
        You and Paul Milligen were the ones that distorted it.
        Youmade no comment on the article-but jumped on the opportunity to slate the CO with your usual sarcasm., and Pauls indredible outburst.
        I asked you the question if you thought the same as CCC.
        I dont know what you referred to in your next comment at 7.43.when you asked me if I was suggesting the author wrote the CCC..
        I will ask you again to clarify what you meant so that I can answer your question
        Also what poisonious article did I write from Christian Order,
        This needs clarification please..

      • John Nolan says:

        Rahner, you don’t abandon knowledge unless you are an idiot or a fanatic or both. Often theories and assumptions have to be modified or abandoned in the light of later discoveries, which isn’t at all the same thing.

        John Candido, in the post from which you have quoted you identify a time “before science was introduced to human society”, and even go so far as to identify that time as being anything prior to the 18th century Enlightenment. Can’t you see that this is nonsense on stilts? Metallurgy is a science which originated in the Bronze Age. I think your problem is that you set far too much store by so-called ‘social science’ which isn’t scientific in the strict sense of the word and tends to be used to reinforce people’s prejudices. You throw around terms like ‘racist’ and ‘misogynist’ because they mean what people want them to mean. How ‘scientific’ is that?

    • milliganp says:

      OK John, I’m going to use a word you don’t like. One of the downsides of the “Classical Past” which was very evident in the middle-ages was the deep misogyny of Greek and Roman civilisation which infected Catholic thinking.

      • milliganp says:

        Sorry, the above post replies to John Nolan’s 11:20 post, not John Candido.

      • John Nolan says:

        I’m not objecting to the word ‘misogyny’, only the fact that its definition is entirely subjective and conditioned by modern social mores (which are not set in stone and will inevitably change). The Classical attitude to women resulted in part from an erroneous belief that the man’s seed contained everything needed for reproduction, as well as social conditioning arising from expanding military states. The decline of the Roman Empire was accompanied by greater female emancipation, but I shall leave it to others to draw what conclusions they want from this.

        I am not denying that the Church Fathers had a negative attitude to sex – they were after all celibate monastics. But it is an indisputable fact that women in the Middle Ages exercised a greater role in both ecclesiastical and secular society than they were allowed after the Renaissance and Reformation. The protestants reverted to a more patriarchal Old Testament ecclesiology, and it was John Knox who referred to “the Monstrous Regiment of Women”.

        I happen to disagree with the feminist agenda, and am prepared to argue against it on logical and historical grounds. That does not make me a misogynist; like most men I love women, but equally like most men I cannot begin to understand them.

  76. milliganp says:

    OK, I’m doing something I promised not to do but for the sake of sanity, it is generally agreed that modern philosophy and science started about the time of Descartes (or Galileo) in the early 17th Century. To distinguish it from earlier science we could say it was when people stopped believing in alchemy. To call our bronze age forbears scientist is pushing it a bit far since they achieved what they did without any understanding of the chemicals use in their Metallurgy, otherwise we might as well call making bread science.

    • John Nolan says:

      No, it’s not generally agreed, except by those ignorant of history. Newton himself dabbled in alchemy and a surprising number of so-called intelligent modern people still believe in astrology (and anthropogenic climate change, a far more dangerous myth).

    • John Nolan says:

      Early metallurgy, like bread-making or even more important, beer-making was based on the same empirical scientific method used today, namely trial and error. To believe that ‘modern’ science began in the 17th century is an erroneous conceit, only matched by those who think the Catholic Church dates from 1965.

  77. st.joseph says:

    I appreciate that you like to feel you are your’ brothers keeper’ but my reply was to John Candido.You could have at least have given him the opportunity to speak for him self.
    If you care to look back on secondsight earlier posts you will find that ensoulment has been discussed exhaustibly.
    It is many years ago since Thomas Aquinas made his statements-we have come along way ‘scientifically’ since then.
    We now know that life begins at fertilisation. When ensoulment takes place we could say at birth if one wanted to.
    It is convenient to say that is 10 days or so that contraceptive pills are not abortifaciants.
    I seriously hope that you do not preach that in you ministry as a deacon!

    Now the point I was making (not trying to) as you said, and that is Jesus ,showed us that in our humanity that we followed Him,How would I be suggesting that He needed to be baptised-when Mary was Immaculate.
    Also I would like to point out to you that I took the password of St.Joseph for the simple reason he has been my Patron Saint since 9 and my house is named after him,my fathers name and one of my grandsons second name also I was married in St Josephs school St Josephs, my children baptised first holy communion ,confirmed , married all in different churches, he seems to have followed me around.So under those circumstances I would prefer when you are referring to me not to say St Joe not out of any respect for me ,but for him as the foster father of Jesus.
    Thank you.


    • st.joseph says:

      And now that you are back,perhaps you would consider making a comment on the ‘article in Christian Order’ as you were so quick to criticize the book like the other 2.

    • milliganp says:

      St Joseph, I receive a couple of kind communications asking me not to give up contributing to this blog. I Also read Quentin’s “Apostolate of the Blog”, so I’m trying to stay on topic. In light of this I will try not, in future, respond to or create posts that criticise or respond to criticism from other bloggers. It would be far better is we presented ideas rather than challenge issues we believe to be in the mind of our fellow posters.
      The reason I preach that life is sacred from conception to natural death is precisely because then someone can’t say that, because they believe ensoulment takes place after conception that early abortion or the use of the chemical pill could be justified.

      • st.joseph says:

        Thank you.
        People do not understand that body and soul is one unity.
        Catholics have a very good Catechism now to refer to.
        I would like to believe that they would have one in their homes.
        It is a great pity that it had so much condemnation when it was published -and before it was even in print.
        I was at a meeting where by one femenist actually called it a big slab of frozen ice and she was supposedly teaching in a semenary, and she also said she was going to re-write it,
        The need for Msgr. Michael J .Wrenn R.I.P, to write the Catechisms and Controversies was a necessity at the time.
        It is not encouraged in schools-it is not promoted in church’s often as it ought to be.
        Catholics are confused and it is their own fault!There is no excuse for ignorance.
        That is why we have Scripture Tradition and the Magisterium.!
        All three are essential when teaching the Truth.
        There will be some who will disagree with me.
        It is good that we can discuss things on secondsight -there is no need to argue or get hot under the collar, we are civilised now with the dignity the Lord gave us, We are all entitled to opinions but and we are here so that we can all search the Truth.
        Most of all remembering that it is about Faith as well as ‘Science’,
        I am also pleased you are back.


  78. st.joseph says:

    I think you may have misunderstood what I said about the article
    What I said was that the ‘article in Christian Order’ was over looked by the 3 of you by your criticism of the book
    I thought it was worth writing ,as a different outlook on evloution.Which to me was more important than Christian Order.It was not an article by the editor-so why the criricism.
    I would still like an opinion-if it is not too much to ask ‘as I am here also to hear other opinions not just to ‘listen to my own voice’ I live on my own so I get enough of that.

  79. milliganp says:

    St Joseph,
    I went back and read what you had posted prior to the exchange of abuse!
    The article obviously provides a “young-earth” creationist account of how the fossil record and other geological structures might have been created. No doubt a scientist with greater knowledge might tear holes in the argument by looking at the quantity of water necessary to cover the earth, the amount of energy released when all the molten lava erupting came to the surface etc.
    From my point of view the Catholic Church does not promote young-earth creationism as a dogma, indeed big-bang and evolution theories are not rejected. I accept that experts, especially in groups, tend to hold an idea in common till proved wrong, and there are, I am sure, plenty of “step changes” that have occurred in science.
    I tend to trust scientists in general since engineering technology, chemistry and medicine have added greatly to our lives and rely on the same basic maths, physics and biology as the sciences astronomy, cosmology, geology, and genetics that one has to disagree with to advocate young-earth creationism.
    Do I believe God created everything out of nothing, absolutely. Do I believe God could have created the universe as we know it 6000ish years ago, yes -unless you count a 6000 year old universe with 13Bn year old material in it a square circle.
    In my ministry I am called to help people answer the fundamental question “what must I do to attain eternal life” and exactly how we got here is not part of the answer to that question. Perhaps in the interface between science and faith we should say “give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s”.
    God Bless

  80. John Candido says:

    ‘John Candido, in the post from which you have quoted you identify a time “before science was introduced to human society”, and even go so far as to identify that time as being anything prior to the 18th century Enlightenment. Can’t you see that this is nonsense on stilts?’

    I will concede that you are right John Nolan in the technical details of history. You are a trained historian and what you are pointing to are the actual details of history, its unevenness of human, technological, and social development, its complexity, its non-linearity, and its diversity. It’s a complex matter. No doubt about it at all. It takes someone who is trained in history to appreciate it, and to bring this sort of detail to the public’s attention.

    For the bloggers who post their thoughts in Secondsight, these important details are not things that immediately come to our minds when dealing with theological or philosophical matters as laymen and laywomen. We are not trained historians. History no doubt touches on both of the aforementioned disciplines. One can think of the complexity of the development of doctrine, or the history of a scientific theory, or a movement within the church, or a school of philosophical thought. This can explain why the rest of us are somewhat ignorant about the finer details of history.

    Most people, (including historians?), like to label or envelope complex matters into simple headings, and I think that most people will acknowledge that such labelling is a simplification of the actual details of history, or of any other discipline. All it takes is some reflection on the matter at hand, and it becomes apparent that we are at the beginning point of a mountain of study! Untrained amateurs forget about this obvious complexity and regularly reach for labels such as ‘eras’, ‘ages’, ‘epochs’, and ‘revolutions’, because they are easier to deal with. I think that I am starting to see where you are coming from John Nolan and I owe you an apology of sorts!

    Despite this sincere acknowledgement, it is still not counter-intuitive, to my mind at least, to speak of a scientific era, the Stone Age, or a Bronze Age, or an Iron Age, or a post-industrial era, or the pre and post political revolutionary eras of Europe and North America, etc. etc. Providing that due acknowledgment is given to the fact that they are arbitrary, grossly simplified, and nonsensical in strict historical terms. My take on all of this is that it is a dichotomy born of convenience, if you like, that doesn’t fail legitimacy providing that due acknowledgment, is given to the complexity of history. The point then becomes how do amateurs such as me provide this acknowledgment in a brief but courteous manner?

  81. John Nolan says:

    JC, you are not wrong, but whereas historians use such labels as a useful tool, too many people throw them around to score political points. The Victorian era was one of unprecedented tecnological, political and social progress, to the extent that American historians use it about their own country and other societies (I have seen references to ‘Victorian Vienna’, which British historians would describe as ‘the Vienna of Franz Josef’). Yet there are people who use the term Victorian in a derogatory sense.

    Anyone writing in (say) 1912 might be forgiven for regarding the previous 100 years as an upward curve of prosperity, peace and progress, at least from a European point of view. Two years later the dream was shattered. No-one in 2012 can have the same sanguine point of view, since the 20th century, for all its tecnological achievements, saw a lapse into barbarism in the heart of a presumed civilized culture. I hope you continue to read history – it doesn’t necessarily teach us any lessons, but it sure as hell gives us a sense of perspective.

    • milliganp says:

      I think the consideration of history is actually very important for Catholics in particular, one of the reasons that the Second Vatican Council was more radical than most had expected was that European theologians had been so scandalised by the carnage of the two great wars – carried out by Christian nations – that they felt we needed to do more that “tweak” our beliefs, particularly our relationship with protestantism.

      • st.joseph says:

        I read an article by Aiden Nichols O.P. I dont know the date .
        ‘A Catholic View of Orthodoxy.
        In his opening statement he discusses why Catholics shoul not only show some ecumenical concern for Orthdoxy but also treat the Orthodox as their priveleged or primary Ecumenical partners.

        A very interesting article.
        When the catholic Church was moving towards protestantism after the Second Vatican 2 misintrepations ,I would have been very happy moving over and accepting their faith if they would have accepted me!.

  82. John Nolan says:

    A very perceptive comment. There was a feeling in transalpine Europe (not in the UK and USA) that the Holy See had not been active enough in regard to WW II (which, it must be remembered, had ended a mere 17 years before the Council was summoned) and needed to be chastised. The obvious target was the Curia and in particular its guardianship of the liturgy of the Roman Church as exercised by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. By 1967 Joseph Gelineau SJ was able to boast that “the Roman Rite is no more; it has been destroyed”. Whether this was a good or a bad thing depends on your point of view – what is not in doubt is that it divided the Church, and these divisions are still all too evident.

    • John Nolan says:

      Refers to milliganp’s comment at 4:16

      • st.joseph says:

        I think .Turmoil & Truth .by Philip Trower is a good read .
        The Historical roots of of the Modern Crisis in the Catholi Church.
        I didn’t follow it all but for those intellectual searching minds maybe of interest.

  83. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers,
    I feel we a flogging a dead horse here.
    The effects of Original sin is plain to all, that is why perhaps we don’t spend much time looking at it. Perhaps we should revisit it and observe it a little closer.
    Fr. Mahoney is not seeking to remodel Original sin, thought cannot do it.
    I would suggest also the same applies to Salvation. Have you not heard, have you not read in Holy Writ: Salvation is a gift of God. And again, It is God who works in us both to will and to do his good pleasure.
    You see, our puny, self absorbed intellectual capacity does not acquire Salvation on the one hand, and on the other provide any power.
    Again have you not read: We were dead in trepasses and sin ( that is in out fallen nature).
    dead things don’t react.
    So an intellectual readjusting to accommodate others who are equally dead in trespasses and sin calling it a remodelling of Salvation is just the ramblings and writings of a bored academic mind.
    You see, one has to observe oneself to see the depths of ones nature. Not judge it or condemn it or want to change it – just observe. Do it.!
    Then you will observe for yourself and be the authority in yourself of what that fallen nature
    actually is in you.
    Now, do I have to remind us all, that in observing you have this fallen nature, that everyone else has it too, not because I say so, but because, You are everyman and everyman is you. Right!

    The externals of time and place and culture and circumstance my differ one to another of course, but as we observe, we all share this fallen nature. And glory be we in a new nature all share the properties of that – what are they? anybody want to take it up?

    • Quentin says:

      No. I think we are flogging a live horse.

      I have just been running the propositions of the Creed through my mind. I accept them all and at a very elementary level I have some idea of what they are getting at. But my understanding is minute in comparison with the realities they adumbrate.

      While I am not keen to worry away at doctrine as through I were scratching a sore spot I do want to understand as well as I can. If Original Sin is put to me as an example I say that I have not mastered, even at a human level, much of what that doctrine has to give me. I have to start with Scripture. If I accept that the account only relates to reality in a mythical or mystical way, I am not satisfied that I have grasped what it is trying to tell me. And I don’t think the Church has grasped it either; if they had they could explain it more satisfactorily. But what did I expect? Christ himself said that the Spirit would bring us to understanding. So I am not surprised that it is a process which takes time. That’s why, as I said originally, Mahoney should not be written off. I think that much of what he says is just plain wrong — but if people cannot risk exploration into new territory we will never discover new truths.

      • st.joseph says:

        If Our Lady had not said ‘Yes’ I suppose Salvation History would have been changed and we perhaps would not have had a New Testament
        maybe we would all would be waiting for the Messiah!
        Everything is maybe
        If we explore that maybe we will discover a new truth!.

      • Rahner says:

        I strongly support your comments, Quentin. If people don’t risk exploration they will simply become entrenched in a ghetto and then spend their time wondering why nobody is listening to them….

      • Nektarios says:

        No, no, no, it does not take Time.
        My Kingdom is not of this world. Time is movement, Time is thought, one idea following another. Hence you think it is a process. Time in its movement contains, sorrow, pain suffering anxiety fear, misery and so on that man has gone through for centuries.
        God’s kingdom being eternal, does not contain that which happens and belongs to Time.

        Our brains are so fixated on Time. Time as well as being movement is measurement.
        Do you not notice how fixated we are on measurement? Time as a movement,Time as a measurement equals a mental idea of process. Going from A to B chronological time, time for everything under the sun.
        But do realize, do see this very clearly, if one introduces Time and all that happens in
        Time, one is putting into the Timeless dimenson of us, ie’, the spiritual psyche, the horrors that occur in Time.

        I don’t want to say much more for the moment, as this may take some time to digest. Do not think you can mentally assimilated this and say I agree or disagree, that is not what is important, what is important is to see this is the Truth it is what actually is. One can never make progress spiritually to one comes to what actually is.
        Of course, learning a trade or learning to play a musical instrument or whatever takes time as does growing up froma baby to and adult.
        You have watched it all, learned in time this or that, but inwardly, beneath the skin,
        in the psyche, the psychological, is that in and of time?

        Yes, run through the Creed once, a thousand , a million times, and one may accept them, or be conditioned into accepting the Creed, feeling after the wide aspects i belief as stated in the Creed, but until one comes to the
        point one lives the Creed, it would be for one, just a set of propositions and statements of belief and meaningless.

  84. momangelica says:

    By the way, On Saturday, it is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Now the interesting thing about our Lady’s appearance at Lourdes was her answer to the request of Bernadette’s priest to ask who She was. ” I am the Immaculate Conception” Now that may have made no sense to Bernadette but it did to the parish priest as there had been a Dogma passed which had not hit the laity as yet at that time.The Dogma was to declare Our Lady had been conceived without the stain of original sin.
    Our Lady does not lie! So that means there was Original Sin as the Church has described and She declares Herself the New Eve to put right what the first Eve undid.
    St Augustine wasted his good time trying to get to grips with Gods mysteries and he was shown how it is an impossible task. We have to be careful of the sin of pride in trying to have all the answers to impossible to know events. Our trust in the Holy Mother Church earns us merits. Our job is to Go out and proclaim the Good News not to undermine other.
    The priest is practicing Heresy by the way. Poor Man! Not the first and certainly not the last.
    Keep your eyes on the Holy Church, which is the body of Christ and you will not stray.

    God Bless you all.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      momangelica- I think there’s a logical error there. Our Lady seems to have been simply using a label that the Church had recently applied to her. That says nothing at all about the reality or otherwise of Original Sin.

  85. st.joseph says:

    I think Our Lady was confirming the Doctrine or Dogma of the Church-when she called Herself the Immaculate Conception. She would not tell a lie, being the Mother of God.So that we would believe. A little bit of help from our Mum! When She appeared to make known the Miraculous Medal and said Mary conceived without Sin ,also was a significant sign of Her Immaculate Conception
    St Bernadette is my Confirmation name.
    Thank you for your comment.

  86. st.joseph says:

    I suppose ypo think Fatima is too when the Miracle of the Sun was seen by 70,000 thousand people.
    O Ye of little faith, What is a Dogma. It is not a private belief!
    Hopefully we will have the 5th Dogma soon. Mary as Co Redemtrix Mediatrix Advocate..
    It is in conformity with Divine Revelation in the Holy Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments, in the Tradition of the Church from the time of the Apostles and in the solemn Magisterium, up and including Pope John Paul 2nd in his encyclical, Redemptoris Mater.

    The doctrine of St Albert the Great( now thought to be Pseudo Albert) and of St Thomas Aquinas
    about the maternal participation of the Virgin Mother of the Redemption as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate had a great influence in the Church.

    • I think it’s important to remember that the church does not require us to believe in ANY apparition or revelation after Christ, who was the fullness of revelation; thus a person who denies or has doubts about Lourdes or Fatima or the Sacred Heart is not a heretic and can still be in full communion with the Church. I find the story of Lourdes overwhelmingly fruitful in understanding both the role of Mary in salvation and our ongoing relationship with her as mother of the church. Friends, who are good solid Catholics, have been to Lourdes and have found the whole panoply of pious merchandising around the site a complete obstacle to reasonable belief.

      • st.joseph says:

        Thats because the people who go to Lourdes are not of the right spiritual ‘mood’ to accept
        Of course there are people who go there especially today are looking for ‘something and tthen are dissappointed.
        I went to Lourdes 30 years ago with the Diocese Pilgrimage, with my son and his family after my husband died .we were away for 2 months, and I can tell you the whole family benifited from the experience, except maybe my daughter -in – law, not a catholic ,her mother had converted because of my son ,the children are catholics,and she is a good person and does a lot for the parish) the reason she didn’t get anything out of it was , the reason my son told her,’she didnt put anything into it
        I have no desire to go to Shrines , I wont mention which, but those that are not accepted by the Church, but I would show respect to those who do!
        If Our Lady had not been the Immaculate Conception, born without sin
        should may have said NO, we owe Her the respect to listen to Her .
        I go to Holy Mass daily if I can weather and health permitting, I am quite satisfied with that, what more could I want .and I believe that Our Blessed Mother is there truly present at the foot of the Altar as She was at Calvery.
        The Assumption is a Dogma and if one doesnt believe in that then obviousley one is going to believe in less.
        I see a little protestantism here ,sorry to say!

    • John Nolan says:

      Mediatrix and Advocate I have no problem with. Coredemptrix detracts from the unique sacrifice of OLJC and verges on heresy. I understand that Pius XII toyed with this ‘dogma’ but fortunately God intervened. And I am no Modernist, as should be evident from my comments on this blog.

      • st.joseph says:

        John Nolan.
        I appreciate that you will have problem with C0-redemptrix,
        It is not a modernist thinking ,nor traditionalist thinking, it is the belief of many popes, and years and years by Popes in the past.
        Co- Redemptrix is often confused as our Lady detracting from the unique sacrifice of Jesus;this is total misunderstanding towards the whole meaning.
        Our Blessed Virgin Mother ‘co-operated’ all through Her life in the sufferings of Her Son,from the moment She agreed to be His mother.
        This just completes all the other 4 Dogma’s.
        She is the one that would crush the head of the serpent with Her heel.
        It is all in conformity with Divine Revelation in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, in the time of the Apostles, and in the solemn and ordinary Magisterium of the Church, up to and including Pope John Paul 2nd in his encyclical,Redemptoris Mater.
        If this verges on heresy, then their are many Popes in the past including Pope Benedict , he has mentioned it many a time.
        Just because a dogma has not been proclaimed a Truth yet-it does not mean that is not true.
        I dont try to convince anyone to believe in this as it makes no difference, it is in the Lords hands ,and He will have the final say.
        My personal belief is , because She is the Spiritualt Mother to all Nations that when it is defined a Truth-a difference will be seen within the Church, with Grace, and will bring a greater unity amongst Christians ,and peace in the World.
        I am not being presumptious in that statement-but saying it in all humility.

  87. milliganp says:

    An interesting story on today’s Telegraph site relevant to the “how long has there been life on earth” debate. It’s not posted to convince, merely for consideration.

    • st.joseph says:

      Ps. correction to above. I went to Lourde 30 years ago, my husband was alive.then. I went when he died 6 years ago

      • st.joseph says:

        Paul Milligen.
        And when ‘I’ receive the Body and Blood Flesh of Jesus Christ in Communion ‘I’ believe that I also receive the Fles of Mary OurMother as that is where He received it from.
        Call me a heretic if one likes I will gladly be excommunicated for that!

        Rahner. your statement above ‘to become entrenched in a ghetto’ I could change your statement a little and call it gro’tto.

  88. momangelica says:

    Peter, there is no logical error in my statement.
    Obviously, the hierarchy in Rome would have debated the Original Sin and where all that leads, over and over throughout the decades, which may have left many intellectuals outside of the Churches conclusion with the new Dogma so when Our Lady appeared,(no small thing!!) she endorsed the decision of the Church because it is and always will be, lead by the Holy Spirit;
    Her answer was in accord to the rest of the Dogmas and Decrees of the Holy Roman Church which is Creationist in it’s Bible based teachings. She,the Holy Roman Church has the full authority to teach and she does.
    Rahner. There is nothing “only” about the Lourdes apparitions, you are free not to take a bit of notice if you are closed minded enough to but there is a lot to learn and to benefit from if only to see how the sick are the celebrities in that town, that masses of young adults volunteer as handmaidens and brancardiers. They do early hours in the morning shifts in the hospitals,night duty, collect wheelchair bound sick to take / roll them to any event laid on for them and go year after year if they are able to.
    Paul M.
    If your friends had gone with the hopes of a miracle and it had occurred they would not have been mean-spirited about the sight of merchandise that is sold outside the Shrine.

    God gave us free will. He leaves us to choose with integrity and honesty the information under our noses, that is not to say we have to be masters of understanding of this information but “become like little children”. Your souls are at stake if you think you can make it up or pick and choose as you go along.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      momangelica – I think you’re putting more weight than it will really bear on to what appears to be no more than a purposefully cryptic statement of identity, but you could be right in your supporting assumptions so I don’t intend to argue the point.

      That still leaves very serious difficulties in the doctrine of Original Sin as traditionally understood from a creationist viewpoint that I believe untenable and others of the highest authority no longer attempt to support; some development is clearly required.

  89. st.joseph says:

    We could say that Reclaiming Salvation History-referring to Adams words, when God Created woman from his,.’ rib when he exclaimed ‘This at last is bone from my bones.
    and flesh from my flesh!
    This is to be called woman.
    for this was taken from man.’
    I can imagine Our Lady saying to St Joseph.
    This at last is Bones from my Bones,
    and Flesh from my Flesh.
    He is to be called Jesus ,
    for this was taken from a woman.

  90. st.joseph says:

    We could take that into the future then and say ‘ This is why a woman leaves her mother and father and and joins herself to the Body of Christ (the Church), and ought to take man with her in marriage ,and live by the example of the Holy family.

  91. st.joseph says:

    Peter, I have often wondered why Jesus came from the House of David

    Would you have any thoughts on that, or anyone else?

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      st.joseph – “… why Jesus came from the House of David”
      It’s usually taken as being the fulfilment of God’s promise to David of an enduring dynasty, despite the subsequent collapse of the Israelite kingdom. But is your question more fundamental than that?

      • st.joseph says:

        Peter,So you believe that God spoke to David and Moses before them and so on.
        But why the New Covenant which could only be fulfilled with a bloody sacrifice, why did He have to die.
        Surely His heriditary line from the House of David must have come straight from one man.
        No Fall, no need of Redemption, so Jesus need not have died.

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        I’m sorry, I don’t understant the point you’re trying to make.

  92. st.joseph says:

    I will begin from Adam and Eve . (just for evoloution sake ,before that was prehistoric man,and go forward through the hereditary line to Jesus (according to Scripture) taking into account that Mary also came from the House of David.
    If there had not been a Fall- from grace why was Mary born Immaculate?She could still have been a person like the other prophets- she could have been innocent. What would she have to be perfected from?
    People still died in those days, the Transfiguration made that clear, that Moses and Elijah were present
    Jesus would have lived a perfect life, with His Ministry, He could have died without being crucified ,and still Risen from the dead, and Ascended into Heaven.
    The NT would carry.on the same from the Last Supper.
    I presume Our Lady died before She Assumed into Heaven body and soul.
    So what was the death that Jesus saved us from?
    So now we can do without the bad Angels, St Michael, Satan, Hell, etc.
    In fact we may as well become an atheist and believe in nothing, because we have the natural law like the humanist , they get along fine with that.
    I think Fr Mahoney is confused and is trying to make something out of nothing like God did, and maybe he wants to become Him.
    We can believe all sorts of combinations by messing about with the Truth revealed to us in Scripture.
    But I know which ‘ONE’ I believe in.
    This may be confusing to you, but I know my own mind, and we can’t prove anything with words.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      st. joseph – I’ve never denied that mankind is in a state of attraction to evil – I need only look into myself to see it. What caused it I do not know, nor can I see how it might be transmitted genetically (or by “propagation”, whatever that may mean). I’m happy to believe that by a special dispensation Mary has always been without it, and for the rest of us the death of Jesus in some way provided an escape from the worst of its effects. What are we arguing about?

      • st.joseph says:

        Whose argueing? But thank you for your reply.
        I would like to think that our comments developed into a discussion through each others thoughts .
        Between Momangelica,youand I.
        Isn’t that what the blog is all about?
        That be the most civilised and Christian way we do it.

  93. st.joseph says:

    John Nolan.
    To add to my comment above (no room to reply up there)
    When Pope Benedict was visiting Fatima last year on 13th May, in his homily ,he called us all
    ‘co-redeemers to our Redeemer’. If we the laity can be co-redeemers, how much more will our Blessed Mother be CoRedeemer.

  94. Iona says:

    I’ve only been away for five days and here are reams and reams of comments! (or whatever substitutes for “reams” when it’s not on paper).

    Coming at Original Sin from another angle, my experiences of bringing up children have left me in no doubt that Original Sin exists. And perhaps that is what Peter is saying (just two posts above this one)? – i.e., we can see the effects of original sin in ourselves and others. So we believe in its existence (or, some of us do).
    If we have a problem, it is not in recognising its existence, but in dovetailing its historical beginnings with human evolution. But why is THAT a problem? Consider this possibility:
    at some point in (pre-historic) time the human race was represented by a very small group of individuals who had a direct and transparent relationship with God. They made a choice to go directly against God’s guidance in acquiring what they thought of as valuable knowledge, and which had the effect of changing them irrevocably, such that they did indeed have a changed view of things (self-consciousness, self-determination?) but necessarily at the same time had the effect of destroying or at least distorting their relationship with God.

  95. Iona says:

    Make that, three posts above this one (not two).
    I’ve been to Lourdes, too. All the commercial stuff stays outside “the Domain” as I think it’s called. The atmosphere within the Domain is intensely spiritual.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Yes its surprising what the kids get up to when you are away! I’m off to Lourdes this year hopefull -for the first time.
      St Joseph,
      That comment about ghetto to grotto really was funny!. I kind of agree with your intuition that Mary is somehow important for the world situation among Christians. As you know I’ve only been a catholic a handful of years and noticed that when I eventually-after much evangelical grousing and scepticism-began shy conversations with our lady, my whole sense of spiritual issues began to change-for the better I think.

      I wouldnt worry too much about presumption on here-we all seem rather keen on it overall!!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        PPS Iona, I agree with you also about Original Sin. When I worked in China I helped set up a number of house churches and was strongly involved in evangelism. The standard line in Marxist socialism was the tabula rasa of the soul. When faced with this( by the many stony faced chinese intellectuals I came across while teaching TESOL courses) my stock answer was along the lines of
        “Well if we are all born neutral who taught your children to disobey?” This used to bring the house down and was often the starting point of fruitful conversation.

      • st.joseph says:

        Thanks Mike.
        I missed your sense of humour!!

  96. Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces are two concepts (I won’t call them dogma) that have not been defined as part of the deposit of faith. Vatican II called Mary Mediatrix but NOT Mediatrix of all Graces and said nothing about Co-Redemptrix. If Mary had both titles she would effectively be being defined as part of the Trinity (or would that now be Quadernity). We shouldn’t rely on “many Popes” for undefined dogma, we used to believe in the divine right of kings, the temporal power of the pontiff, trial by ordeal, that angels dragged the stars across the heavens etc; fortunately none of these became part of the deposit of faith.
    Before you all accuse me if insulting the Mother of God, I accept Mary as Mother of the Church and the many other titles we give her ( I proclaim the Litany of Loretto with personal conviction), but we need to realise that we owe Latria (worship) to God alone and the greatest honour to Mary.

  97. st.joseph says:

    With all due respect,have you read any of the literature on the Theological Study.
    I have been very much involved for 30 years following the progress.
    John Paul 11 and the Maternal Mediatrix of all Graces. (Jn 19;26) says
    ‘with particular eloquence and as a unique contribution, John Paul 2nd teaches the Doctrine of the universal motherhood of Mary in the order of Grace, the Mediatrix of graces.’
    John Paul describes Mary’s new universal motherhood a Mediatrix in the order of grace as the final gift given by the Saviour to all humanity from Calvary. ‘The gift of his mother was the final gift that He was giving mankind as the fruit of His Sacrifice. It is a question that as a gesture intended to crown His redemptive work.

    I receive information and D.V.Ds from Dr Mark Miravalle regularly on the progres defining the dogma.
    We would not have had any of the dogmas ,without a theological study in the past.
    It was Cardinal Ratzinger who made the first move for a study of this dogma-not the laity.
    This is not a subject open to debate like the femenist and women priests .
    As if the laity could move the hand of the Lord to suit us.
    There will always be controversy when it comes to Our Blessed Mother.
    If you believe that Mary will take any thing that is due to Her Son-how badly mistken you are.
    We Worship God alone,and , but the Veneration of Mary will be for the good of the One Holy ,Catholic Church.

  98. St Joseph, why do you insist on twisting everything people post to your own ends! It is deeply irritating. I say that the church has defined Mary as Mediatrix NOT Mediatrix of ALL graces and you quote JP II calling Mary Mediatrix NOT Mediatirix of ALL graces to contradict me!
    I never suggest that Mary takes anything due to her Son, please do not twist the meaning of my posts.

    • st.joseph says:

      Paul Milligen
      1st The statement I made is a statement of Pope John Paul 11
      2nd Papal Teachings on Jn 19;26 and the Mediatrix of ALL Graces.
      The modern Vicars of Christ have continued and AUTHORITATIVELY
      CONFIRMED with a DYNAMIC consistency the rich and full understanding of the
      The popes have made the revealed,part of the AUTHORITATIVE TEACHINGS of the CHURCH, the ordinary MAGISTERIUM with particular emphasis on the UNIVERSAL NATURE of meditating PARTICIPATION with the one MEDIATOR concerning ALL GRACES flowing from the REDEMPTION
      As we shall see the Magisterium repeatedly teaches since that Mary uniquely participated with the Redeemer in the acquisition of every Grace of the Redemption as Coredemptrix,for this reason Mary has rightly been assigned by God to participate uniquely with the Mediator in the distribution of EVERY GRACE that flows from the REDEMPTION as MEDIATRIX.
      I am not going to write the whole of the book for you. But the final Statement 76 all in Capitals is. as follows.
      The exalted roles of Mary as Mother of Jesus, as Coredemptrix with the Redeemer, Mediatrix, of all graces with the Mediator and Sanctifer, and Advocate for the People of God are providential performed by the Immaculate Mother og God and are firmly present in SWacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, as authoritatively and CONSINTELY by the CHURCH’s Masisterium …….and 0n and on.

      Book MARY. forward by Luigi Cardinal Ciappi OP
      Papal Theologian Emeritus for Popes
      Pope X11, John XX111, PaulVI, John Paul I and John Paul 11.
      IMPRIMATUR. Most Reverand Gilbert Sheldon. Bishop of Steubenville
      May 6th 1193 Dedicated to Pope John Paul 2nd and the Bishops of the Universal Church.
      Now what is you Problem.!!!!!!! and explain you very ‘irate accusing comment’ .

      • st.joseph says:

        And before you misquote me , it is 1993 not 1193, although it would still be the same, nothing has changed over the years!!!!!!

      • Rahner says:

        “The statement I made is a statement of Pope John Paul 11”
        11? I guess I must missed the other 9!

    • John Candido says:

      Paul, you have to take some bloggers with a huge grain of salt, because if you don’t, you will go completely barmy! I learnt the hard way. I simply choose what posts I will respond to and ignore others I consider to be not worth replying to.

      If I choose to respond to a particular post, I am always considering if it would be better if I was as brief as possible. I especially like respectful one sentence replies. This has saved me a lot of unnecessary stress. John.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        On the other hand those unworthy souls, so far beneath you both, who irritate nay even sometimes jeer at your ponderous self importances may even have something worth listening to!

    • Rahner says:

      Paul. Welcome to Secondsight!!!!!

      • st.joseph says:

        To the 3 of you.
        I may be an old lady in my 7o’ s with a worn out computer and a dictionary as old as myself by my side,wrapped in a blanket, with a cup pf Horlicks in my hand.
        Neverthless I have Our Lord and His Blessed Mother by my side, which at the moment -their company is a lot better than you three.

        I was always told that civility is know load to carry, and I have taught my children that, and they pass it on to their children!
        So I will leave all the space on the blog in the future to the 3 of you, obviousley you have a lot to say, Now you have to whole World in your hands.Good Luck.
        Thank you Mike and all those others who I have exchanged comments with
        Especially Quentin
        A leaf out of his book would not go amiss!.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Yes, welcome to the ship of fools….

  99. mike Horsnall says:

    Come on St Joseph, you can’t go or we really will be reduced to utter dullness and pomposity. You know its only that the boys like so to show off and really don’t know any better than be so rude-also you seem the only one on here with a sense of fun so if you go I’ll have to as well!

  100. John Candido says:

    I don’t know if my apology is worth anything at all, but I unreservedly apologise to st.joseph for my comments. It was not my intention to cause you any offence or hurt on Secondsight. st.joseph please ignore my comments and continue blogging. I sometimes don’t get human relationships right and this is one occasion that I haven’t done so.
    Sincerely yours, John Candido.

    • Quentin says:

      It’s no good, st.joseph, you’re here for life. Don’t you see? We’re all crackers in our different ways – you, me, everyone. We simply can’t do without you. So, live with it!

  101. Rahner says:

    I solemnly promise never to quote from Christian Order ever again.

    • momangelica says:

      Please do not promise that, I receive C.O.and subscribe it to several priest who love it.
      We are not all timid modernists you know. Some of us had a good Bishop who instructed us to be “soldiers of Christ” And lo and behold, the Holy Spirit fulfills His promise to those of us who had an understanding, even back then in the early sixties, of what was required of us. Certainly not boring but it needs a stiff whiskey to cheers us up when we are debating with fellow Catholics who argue like Protestants over fundamental issues of the Church.

      • John Candido says:

        You have got to be joking Momangelica! ‘Christian Order’ is a disgraceful, hysterical, and anti-Semitic publication, disguising itself as a Catholic periodical.

      • momangelica says:

        John Candido, I do not joke about the C.O.
        An educating periodical with very gifted and intelligent contributors. I don’t agree with some views eg. Medjugorje, as I’m of the thought that “by it’s fruit you shall know them” also “Satan cannot cast out Satan,” The queues for confession there are legendary as are the conversions from bad lifestyles.
        Anti-Semitic? That word seems to be bandied around in the same way Homophobic is; carted out to end any reasonable dialogue.
        Yes, the Jews of a certain activity and mindset was explored recently and for good reason. I’ve been concerned about the increase in blasphemy in films, art and television to mention just a few influenced mediums, it is usually a Jewish owned or run production guilty of this predilection. as an example.
        What was written in C.O. was only good research.But it may have been triggered by the sabotage of Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifices’ Faith of our Fathers conference by a mischievous person using the over sensitiveness of the local Jewish community who’s persecutory beliefs propelled them into an action that was misapplied.
        I agree that there are some outrage coming from C.O. which I interprite as righteous indignation.
        It’s a funny state of things when a “catholic” weekly paper, famous for it’s dissent is sold in many churches with Bishops approval but an editorial seeking fidelity to the Holy Roman Church’s teachings can be treated with hostility by those who are happy to take and read the dissident material,( not saying that you are one John as I do not know about your stance towards the “Poisen Pill”)


  102. Iona says:

    Don’t go, St. Joseph! You can’t leave me here among all these blokes!

  103. momangelica says:

    And like Iona, I say to St Joseph, please don’t go, you are one of the few who keep me cheered by your Catholic reasoning, giving me hope that there is someone else with a moral backbone; who obviously loves the Church and is a builder and not a dismantler.

  104. John Candido says:

    There is a very interesting article in an online magazine called ‘Catholica’ ( entitled, ‘Where does Christ fit in Evolution?’ it can be accessed here, I am confident that this article will add to the discussions so far ‘Remodelling Salvation History’.

  105. mike Horsnall says:

    John Candido,

    I’ve worked my way through most of TeilhardDe Charding over the years and am quite a fan of his writings especially Hymn of the the Universe. The account of the Cosmic Christ you send us to via your link to Catholica is far from new of course. Pope Benedict in his Spirit of the Liturgy covers similar ground when he talks of the way in which the cosmos ‘speaks about christ’ But the Cosmos isnt christ itself, only a speaker of his name. Spirit of the Liturgy by the way is a marvellous book which you might enjoy.
    By the way: ” How can I respond to this question? I thought that you got it that I am a Christian and a lapsed Catholic to boot….”

    I have precisely no idea as to the nature of your standing in religious stakes at all John. The point was that, along your lines, there is a case made for an evolving God and I wondered had you considered the issue for the sake of logic if little else
    I asked you the ‘strange question’ I did earlier because it seems to me that scientists close up to the fore front of things are far more likely to admit of mystery and wonder at the heart of things (and their own ignorance) than trot out the old dogma that ‘evolutionism’ has become. Those of us who have little knowledge of the sciences seem far more prone to trot out garbage than those who are brighter than us and hence see the borderlines of knowledge more clearly.
    I am not an evolutionist any more than I am a creationist-I’m bound to see the world as God speaking-perhaps along similar lines to your article- but remembering that Jesus Christ is not a meteorite a river or a forest! I don’t think that makes me an anything-my inclination however is mystic.

  106. John Candido says:

    ‘…along your lines, there is a case made for an evolving God and I wondered had you considered the issue for the sake of logic if little else.’

    I never said anything about God being subject to evolutionary forces. I said that all of life is subject to evolutionary forces, as discovered and reinforced by reputable scientific analysis from around the world. God created the cosmos. Evolutionary theory is a factual account of our origins. Therefore, God is not only the author of our world, but chose evolutionary processes in order to create it.

    ‘Those of us who have little knowledge of the sciences seem far more prone to trot out garbage than those who are brighter than us and hence see the borderlines of knowledge more clearly.’

    I try to be as careful as I can be with scientific matters precisely because I am not a scientist. I must not guess matters but do a modicum of reading about issues. That does not mean that I can read about any science in proper scientific journals either. However, I don’t have to be a scientist in order to write about scientific issues in an intelligent manner, provided I am careful. All of this is common-sense.

  107. mike Horsnall says:

    Thats precisely my point its ONLY ‘common sense’.

    I’m as impressed as the next man that we can measure a satellite to Jupiter and predict the planetary position, or understand the molecular value of chemicals in order to produce them by the ton; but we can only hypothesize about the age of the earth or the process of creation/ evolution. To do more than that is to dogmatise and fabricate along the lines of our convictions.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Mike – it’s more than hypothesis that the age of the earth is no less than that of the rocks within it.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Yep that would seem at least a fair guess…perhaps I’m just numberphobic.Help me out here Peter and direct me towards some small snippets of evidence that 100% correlate the age of the rocks beyond all shadow of doubt. This isn’t a trick question by the way I just want to understand it better. I do have an inkling about half life etc its just that, as I’ve aid before I cannot see that this amounts to proof…what am I missing?

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        Mike – I’m not sure whether this is what you need, but I’ll give it a try.

        The element potassium has a radioactive isotope (K-40) with a half-life of 1.3 billion years in round figures. It decays to argon-40 which is a gas and chemically about as different as could be. Once a quantity of potassium is combined into a solid mineral the gas can no longer escape. If a sample of that mineral now contains equal amounts of K-40 and A-40 then half of the original K-40 must have decayed and the age of the mineral is 1.3 billion years. If the ratio of A-40 to K-40 is 3 to 1, then three quarters of the original K40 must have decayed, i.e. half of what was there originally plus half of what was then left, and the mineral is 2.6 billion years old.

        Does this help?

  108. mike Horsnall says:

    Hello Peter, thanks for persevering with me.
    I can see that a radio active substance will change its state over time-indeed that all things must eventually decay. What I cannot see as being without a single doubt certain is the precision of the dating. As far as I can see we could only state with bold confidence the timeline if we put a piece of K 40 in a sealed room and came back 1.3 billion years later to find a 50% split as you mention. Since we cannot do this and since the tools for measuring the state change have only been in place for a half century or so then I don’t understand how we can apply the long measurement of billions of years except by extrapolating tiny state changes into very large ones over time and by assuming that the time units we use for measurement are linear and constant. What I would like to be better informed about is how we know we can actually trust our linear assumptions in the absence of ‘physical’ proof. By proof I mean walking the talk all the way along the actual timeline and seeing what takes place.

    I assume there must be a reason why my doubts may seem absurd to others but no one has satisfactorily been able to explain that reason to me as yet in any other terms than simple belief that the calculations are right and that the timeline is straight.

    • Rahner says:

      Are you suggesting that the belief that the world is, say, 5000 years old is as reasonable as the belief that it is 4.5 billion years old and that there is no rational way of choosing between these rival claims? Your doubts are absurd as the whole framework of human knowledge relies on inductive reasoning and extrapolation. What grounds are there for accepting that your understanding of what constitutes a “proof” is the only reasonable one?

      • mike Horsnall says:

        For goodness sake man grow up or push off. I’m trying to conduct a simple discussion with a someone who knows more than me on a subject I’m interested in. I couldnt care less what you think so run away and play for awhile.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Mike – I see your difficulty and I’m not sure that dispelling it would be possible, since it’s a challenge to the fundamental assumption of science. Perhaps I’d better explain how very long half-lives are evaluated; as you remark, we haven’t been here long enough to measure them directly. Pardon me if I make it insultingly simple, taking potassium-40 as an example (there’s a complication but it doesn’t affect the principle).

      We know how many K-40 atoms there are in a given mass of potassium.
      We can detect the decay of individual atoms within that mass decay by the radiation emitted each time.
      If on average one part in X of those atoms decays in unit time, then the half-life in those units is X times the natural logarithm of 2 (a mathematical consequence).

      The complication I mentioned above is that only a proportion of K-40 atoms decay to argon, so that proportion must be used rather than the whole amount of potassium in the dating calculation.

      The idea of a varying rate of time is paradoxical, since there’s nothing against which it can be calibrated – years per what? if you like. I think the only way to put your difficulty into meaningful terms is as a doubt about constancy in basic physical properties. The question has indeed been asked, but I believe only with respect to very small postulated changes.

      The question of precision is altogether different. Since at the level of individual atoms decay is a matter of chance, precision depends strongly on the number of events observed, and in geological dating the number in a reasonable counting time may be inconveniently small. The uncertainly may be enough to raise questions about which of two specimens is the older, but not of whether the age should be six thousand or six hundred million years.

  109. mike Horsnall says:

    Pete, thanks for your answer
    “The idea of a varying rate of time is paradoxical, since there’s nothing against which it can be calibrated – years per what? if you like. I think the only way to put your difficulty into meaningful terms is as a doubt about constancy in basic physical properties. The question has indeed been asked, but I believe only with respect to very small postulated changes.”

    This is very helpful…Years per what? is interesting. I thought that the ‘year’ if you like was a definitive measuring rod rather like the duration of a second is fixed. You seem to imply that there is flexibility in the ruler and that this is normal?.. When you speak of a challenge to the fundamental assumption of science do you think that the ‘challenge’ (for it is in truth only the perplexity of one man!) has its basis in complete ignorance or is it a fair question? Please be as insultingly simplistic as you like since its the only way I get anywhere with anything. I get the impression you see that there may well be a gaping hole in my understanding which is so large that I simply don’t recognise it…perhaps this maybe an inability just to take thinngs at face value I don’t know.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Mike – Oh dear, I seem to have created confusion! I meant to imply in “Years per what?” that the “what” doesn’t exist. Time, on the current view, is one of the four co-ordinates in which we operate: we could take them as east-west, north-south, up-down and forward-backwards – except that we don’t seem able to move backwards. Neither can we stand still, only move onwards. Your “definitive measuring rod” expresses exactly my own concept (although I don’t see how it squares with your doubting whether the timeline is straight), and in any case we don’t see any of the irregularities that might otherwise be expected. However, I’ve puzzled over it for years, Stephen Hawking’s “Brief History …” I fear gives only an illusion of understanding, and if you have a gaping hole, I have a veritable chasm!

      What I take to be the “fundamental assumption of science” is that what has happened once will happen again whenever the circumstances are sufficiently similar, and that includes the constancy of physical properties. Questioning it is perfectly fair: the assumption accords with intuition that otherwise the universe would be insane, but really the only practical justification for it is that devices and enterprises based on it actually work.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        “Really the only practical justification…”
        Yes thats my understanding too-It is evident that we do know something about the universe from our ‘devices and enterprises’ ..which are really and truly quite remarkable. As a young man I once worked for the General Electric Company and we constructed the then largest Turbine Generator in the world-it was an incredible feat of engineering and I was simply in awe of the maths, guts and skill required to turn the huge rotor shaft Funnily enough though I remember asking all the staff in the drawing office to explain electricity to me-and no one could!! Also its fair to guess that what happened yesterday will happen again tomorrow and the apple will still fall off the tree…never mind, keep digging!

  110. milliganp says:

    Dear Mike, just some thought to help with “imagining” events with very long time-scales. In nuclear physics there are element with half-lives measurable in seconds -thus we can observe these elements over large number of generations. By comparing the way that the 20 elements with “short” half-lives behave and understanding how radioactive decay works we can actually be fairly precise and sure about this elements that have very long half-lives.
    Nevertheless there are sciences in which our certainties are verifiable easily by experimentation and others where we really just have “best theory”. Thus devices like the Large Hadron Collider can verify much of our theories and knowledge of sub-atomic particles. However theoretical areas like string-theory are far from having verifiable experiments and it’s entirely possible that a great mind or simple experiment might one day provide an entirely alternate model which we find works in a verifiable manner.
    To some extent evolution is in the second camp, we can see how sexual reproduction provides variation and that certain variations survive and accumulate, but you can’t join the dots from a frog to a giraffe -we’re still in best effort territory.
    On the latter, before a geneticist jumps in, I do understand that analysis of DNA allows us to see the signature presented by evolution.

  111. mike Horsnall says:

    Hmmmm, “Best effort territory..” I quite like that.

  112. Returning momentarily to the original subject, Denis Alexander of the Faraday institute has reviewed Jack Mahoney’s book in the Tablet. He makes 2 points I felt important to note. Firstly, like Quentin, he analyses the doctrines which Jack’s book proposes are incorrect or unnecessary and comes to the conclusion that the remnant doctrines are almost indistinguishable from liberal Protestantism. His second, and perhaps more important point, is that Jack scatters his writing with the words evolution and evolutionary relating to matters entirely outside biology leaving one to consider if Jack has stretched his cloth too far and torn it.
    That we need to consider how we reconcile our Christian faith with the scientific discoveries of genetics and evolutionary biology is, I believe, an urgent priority. However it seems that Jack Mahoney’s work is only of value in telling us what constitutes going too far.

  113. momangelica says:

    But what worries me Paul is this priest, Jack Mahoney going around influencing teachers (this is where such material is usually aimed ) and so getting into schools sending out more confused children to continue the line of lapsed Catholics.
    An RE teacher told me that a certain couple (mention no names at present ) were going around teaching the RE teachers and basically it was heresy. Removing the miracles of Christ was paramount to their aims amongst other ways. Their book which was in most Catholic Secondary schools lost it’s imprimatur but that did not stop it’s use, sadly, as our Bishops seem to lack wisdom in judging material worthy of Catholic schools.The RE teacher in question went along with every modern interpretation and gimmick going, lovely lady but perhaps no spiritual backbone.

    Good post by the way!

    • milliganp says:

      With reference to your comments on RE, I’m going to break my own rule and implicitly criticise our Bishops! Sadly our Bishops spend a lot of time in meetings and little time directing their flocks. Most RE and Catechetical materials are developed by lay people employed by the Bishops, often with the direct intent of balancing any tendency to over-clericalism. A lot of these people have rejected the dogmatic rigour of the pre-Vatican II church in favour of methods which more in common with a mid-70’s free thinking love-in. The end result is that no-one is really minding the store on delivering our faith message with any consistency (we administer, we don’t direct).
      Sadly, in our Primary schools, nearly all RE is delivered by classroom teachers, many of whom have no more belief in Jesus than Santa or the tooth fairy. This is the age where children have vivid imagination and a deep desire to be loved and are most open to the idea of a loving God and a personal relationship with Christ -they can understand the Resurrection and miracles without feeling the need to subject them to scientific scrutiny.
      I’m involved in preparation for sacraments and there is strong evidence that a significant number of Catholic parents and children have received little formation – and perhaps formation is the key word. Religion is not just facts, it’s belief – and RE without spiritual and moral formation is an empty subject.
      I better stop as I’m rambling in an area that deeply troubles me and I might get carried away.

      • Rahner says:

        “the dogmatic rigour of the pre-Vatican II church”
        Could you give an example of this “rigour”?

      • momangelica says:

        I was once a quiet normal person ( what? ) until I discovered the goings on in the schools.
        Hell hath no fury and all that.
        The children’s souls were at stake and it was down to me to do something about it. My husband was a convert through the most miserable catechetics ever given. Thankfully, he went along with most things with me but not without a fight and it was a lonely place.
        Prayers! So underestimated but effective.
        I found giving little children “jobs” to do is a fixer. A certain prayer to save souls (St Gertude’s ) is a good one. Praying for priests during prayer at bedtime, they are such naturals these little ones.
        One of my son’s told me last year that “I’m going to bring my children up like you did Mum” Which was a revelation and a comfort and to boot? My husband has gone all Traditional, Latin, All because on Good Friday they brought out an empty cross to venerate. Protestant! he declared and went off to find the real Catholic Church. He is a changed man and never challenges me but now agrees and even assists when possible.
        Missionaries gave their lives to be in the position you are in Paul – to educate, we must not let them down no matter how obstructive things seem. God and the Saints will come to your aid.

  114. mike Horsnall says:

    Never mind Paul, if there’s ever a place for troubled ramblings its here…I’ve just listened to the lecture-well the first 10 minutes till I got bored. I can’t really see that he’s any other than a theologian earning his living along a line that was first hacked out more than a century and a half ago by the Deists. If you read a little late 18th/early 19th science/theology you will see its been done -I once remember reading a little book by the zoologists of the day about how God could be discovered in the ear of the vole-Dereham was it. Mahoney, like Dawkings, will come and go and not be missed. The really fascinating thing about all this to me is the way science and religion coalesce around and influence one another over the centuries. If you look closely you find that fundamentalist evangelical theory comes and goes through time tending to come out when the intellectual community itself is pronouncing upon a ‘fixed’ or ‘steady state’ universe (19th C for example) We all go ring a ring of roses in the dark really-till we all fall down.

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