The eyes have it

When Sir Charles Sherrington described the forming of the human eye in the darkness of the womb, it took him nine pages. As he pictures, in a kind of scientific poetry, the steps, systems, materials, measurements and precision needed for this marvel, we share his wonder at this extraordinary example of God’s creation. We can see here the work of an intelligence far beyond our own. Indeed, our only and immediate reaction must be: Glory be to God.

But we haven’t yet grasped the true wonder. That may begin when we realise that eyes have evolved in the animal kingdom independently in more than 40 instances. Nature is profligate with eyes. God did not just fashion the eye, he gave us the system which would fashion the eye and a billion other outcomes. It is a progressive system, not in itself rational, but self-correcting through the filter of fitness to survive. Eventually, but seen and intended by him from the beginning, this resulted in an organism with such potential that it could only be complemented by an immortal soul made in God’s likeness.

That is the true wonder, and our imaginations cannot grasp it. Many people, among them readers of this newspaper, tell me that, while they can accept evolution in broad terms and recognise the mythic characteristics of the Creation story, there are certainly some phenomena so marvellous that we must assume God’s intelligent design.

I must distinguish such people from those who believe that everything is the outcome of God’s direct creation: that is, that Genesis is literal truth. Because this view is so unfashionable, some have adopted a modified form called “Intelligent Design” as a stalking horse for their larger idea. I do not have such people in mind here.

Over the decades many instances where it is proposed that only direct design could achieve the result have been cited. They have in common the claim that the steps required to develop the organism in question cannot be shown or even imagined. The argument started with the Rev William Paley who started his Natural Theology (1802) with the reflection that consideration of the pocket watch, which he found by chance, leads to the inevitable inference “that the watch must have had a maker.”

The first example I encountered was the bombardier beetle. This contains chambers of two different chemicals whose mixture was fearsomely and explosively ejected by the beetle in defence. It was claimed that the mixing of these chemicals would cause an explosion – thus prematurely destroying the beetle. This attractive theory came a cropper when the two chemicals were in fact mixed and no explosion occurred. In fact, catalysts are required to enable this to happen.

A more sophisticated example is provided by the rotational (wheel-like) motion of the flagellum in certain bacteria. It was argued that the intermediate steps required to build such a complex and rare mechanism could not be accounted for within evolution.

It is true that rotation does not occur at a larger scale. There are difficulties such as the provision of blood flow. But there is no such difficulty at bacterial level, and indeed rotation does occur in many other bacteria – but using substantially fewer genes. While, as far as I know, scientists have not been able to demonstrate all the intermediate steps, there is no reason to suppose that they did not occur. Proteins in different species can vary by 80 to 90 per cent, yet perform the same function. In fact, only two genes are unique to flagella.

Perhaps a less familiar example concerns the blood-clotting cascade. The process which leads to the clotting of blood, potentially bringing about healing, is very sophisticated. So many different processes are involved that “cascade” is an appropriate word. It has been argued that this complexity defies the power of evolution. It must have been directly designed. But it is possible to show how all the steps could have developed through evolutionary principles, enabling more sophisticated and efficient mechanism to develop, simply because the chance effects of each stage benefitted the owners, who survived to breed. We are living in a universe where a creature the size of a mouse can evolve to the size of an elephant in a mere 24 million generations, but retaining similar constituents and body parts, taking no more than a speck of evolutionary time.

It is important to note that such explanations do not claim that all these intermediate stages did occur in the fashion and the order which is suggested. Think of that old stone archway. We do not need to suppose that the scaffolding needed for its construction did not exist because it has been removed. What such explanations do show is that the end result could have been achieved through evolution, and Occam’s razor indicates that this is the preferable explanation.

And this, of course, is the problem. It will never be possible to disprove every claim that a biological phenomenon could only have been produced through Intelligent Design. In many ways our understanding of biology is still in its infancy. If one proposition is shown not to prove Intelligent Design, another can be put forward. There will always be cases where the intermediate stages cannot be identified.

But those who, perhaps through piety, argue for Intelligent Design do disservice. Each time one of their candidates is felled, a little damage is done to true religion. The god-of-the-gaps shrinks a little, and disbelievers mock.

Meanwhile, you can see God’s work here. This brief YouTube video was recommended by our contributor Nektarios – and is most impressive.

Tell us if you agree with my thoughts.

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Catholic Herald columns and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

163 Responses to The eyes have it

  1. Nektarios says:

    Quentin & Fellow bloggers
    If you still want to see the amazing state of the art x-ray and scanning video clip
    9(minutes) in length I can still email it.
    To keep to the rules of this blog, ask Quentin for my email address, and email me.
    It should work as I have just tested it again on my computer and is still there.

    I will not retain any email addrss unless you specifically ask me to.
    God bless

    • Nektarios says:

      Fellow Boggers,

      Quentin, now seems to have got the video on conception to birth working on the blog.
      I hope everyone will be able to see this particular one as it is mst informative
      and may help some folk to help others who just might be considering abortion.

  2. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Thanks to you and Nektarios for that link – fascinating.

    I can almost hear people saying that such a complex process could never have arisen by chance. If it were a direct development without false turnings that would almost certainly be true; all but a minute proportion of genetic changes must have been either neutral to survival or disadvantageous.

    I imagine (it isn’t my subject, so that’s the best I can do) a significant change being initially neutral, for instance converting a temporary excess of phosphate into solid form that later provided a reserve of that essential element in times of dearth when creatures lacking it failed to survive. That chunk of calcium phosphate, goodness knows how many generations later, could have provided a nucleus of rigidity ultimately developed by countless intermediate and similarly quasi-opportunistic stages into a full skeleton.

    Of course I don’t claim that as what actually happened, just as an illustrative possibility.

    Happy Easter to all!

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Peter-do you mean this occurred as a random metabolic process within the system of individual beings? I’m not sure if we are talking geology or biology here is why I ask…the skeleton bit makes me think you are talking about chemical cascades within a cell?

  3. ionzone says:

    It’s interesting that scientists are now turning to Evolutionary processes to create next-generation robots and computers, particularly AIs (Though games companies have done that for a while).

  4. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers



  5. Iona says:

    Thank you Nektarios – and Quentin – for the video clip, – really fascinating!

  6. mike Horsnall says:

    I’ve studied embryology to some depth and am familiar with Sherringtons work. my Osteopathic thesis was on Growth and Form looking mainly at Sherrington and D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson who was a great figure in the field of Zooology. One of the points not brought out in the video was the way tissue forms along many axes of force so that a nerve cell placed in a tensioned medium will grow along the line of that tension. Treating babies of a few weeks old one cannot but be filled with a sense of wonder at the mechanism in ones hands-the same is true for the adult form. It is probably beyond the strength of our imaginations to conceive of what it is we physically are in space and time, I think the poet Blake had some understanding of this with his famous
    “Tiger,tiger burning bright ..” I also think Teilhard De Chardin grasped something of it with his Hymn to the Universe where he offers up to God the whole earth as Sacrament. When we try to set Intelligent Design as against Evolutionary theory I think we principally demonstrate the smallness of our own minds because, if evolutionary theory is anywhere near a model for reality-which it may or may not be- then the universe becomes rather like an unfolding thought written in matter…sound familiar to anyone?….Happy Easter all.

    • Rahner says:

      Augustine suggests that at the creation God implanted “rational seeds” (rationes seminales), which would develop over time into the products of creation. The potential for all natural things was created in the beginning, but not all things have existed since the beginning. Life developed over time in a historical unfolding of the natural order.

      • johnbunting says:

        Yes; if there is ‘design’ in the natural world, it lies at that level, not in the organic wonders that are usually trotted out as evidence of ‘Intelligent Design’, usually implying that God must have stepped in and tweaked evolution a bit at that point.
        The idea that blind evolutionary processes can explain everything runs into the buffers ‘ In the beginning’, because evolution is only possible with properties of matter – Augustine’s ‘rationes seminales’ – that cannot themselves be products of evolution. The usual atheist answer to this is ‘Well, it just happened by chance’, or ‘There could be millions of universes: it was bound to happen sometime’. Hopeless.
        Most, if not all atheist argument insists that metaphysics is rubbish, and that everything must fall within the province of natural science. Richard Dawkins’ use of the term ‘designoid’, for things which look designed, but in his view are not, is in a way correct, but not quite in the sense that he intends. Perhaps we can use the idea of ‘computer-aided design’ here: God is the programmer, the ‘rationes seminales’ are the computer hardware and software, evolution is the production facility. So who or what is the designer? One thing is certain: you can’t do without the programmer.

    • Quentin says:

      Your poetic simile for evolution as “the universe becomes rather like an unfolding thought written in matter” is beautiful. It is the sort of truth that makes this Blog worthwhile. Thank you.

  7. Nektarios says:

    Well argued I must say, John.
    But to take Rahner’s and Mike Horsnall’s postings in too; the video clip, let us just remember it is but a clip of a much larger talk which unfortunately I have not got yet. It said enough perhaps to set the intellect and the imagination going.

    As most do, they return to what they know, and they do this because it makes them feel safe,
    doesn’t it, Rahner?
    Mike Horsnall’s last sentence is the most important.
    And you, John, articulate them all and rightly discard the obvious ones like `rationes seminales’.

    I want us all to take stock of Johnbunting’s posting here, because it demonstatrates the problem man has with questions like , where did all this come from etc, etc.

    I want to ask, who or what is asking, no, demanding an answer to such a question like I have just mentioned? Why, does, whatever is asking the question need an answer?
    Yes, Mike, your last point is familiar to someone, so I am taking you up on your point too.

    Please note, how John articulates whatever it is that is seeking an answer, he falls into the familiar,
    the mechanical, the repetitive – the computer, the technological speak, hopefully this will lead us towards an answer to Life, the Universe and everything?

    We see through our different approaches, what is actually asking the questions we have posed in response to the video clip etc., do you see it? Yes?

    The question raised in the video clip about the human eye, and how it is organized differently
    is way beyond anything we know. What is going on in a developing feotus is so far beyond us mathematically, or using the most sophicated computers to compute, but still something in man is demanding an answer to it all. Who and why is asking?

    Richard Dawkins squeezes everything he can into some wierd inventions in his mind. Others before him have come up with Evolution and Intelligent Design. Note was is missing – do you see it?
    God is not a thought construct, if he is, that is not God. It is an invention by man.
    Are we left with a mystery, an unknown, untouched by human thought, totally other?
    Yes, If so, we begin to seek for what we do not really know. But know this, God that is, is also seeking us – think of the prodigal son.
    I’ll stop there for now.

    • Rahner says:

      “What is going on in a developing feotus is so far beyond us mathematically, or using the most sophicated computers to compute….” Currently, yes. But in 500 or 1000 years…

      • Nektarios says:


        One cannot compute the source that gives rise to all including conception. That cannot be weighed, measured or quantified.
        But who am I to dampen your optimism of what will be in 500 or 1,000 years from now.

  8. mike Horsnall says:

    John Bunting,
    I was reading up on Fred Hoyle the astronomer the other day. He is credited with saying something like “I’ve been looking through my telescope but I havent seen heaven yet..”

    Sardonic of course but very funny and it encapsulates the dilemma well. Hoyle was famously anti big bang theory. He argued that to propose the occurence of event by chance, rom which event, lasting only a fraction of a milisecond, sprang all the laws and logic of the universe which then went on to be bound by all those laws…..was a proposition close to insanity! I think you are saying something similar here. Evolution must rely on the underlying process which permits its unfolding and these processes themselves are not to do with evolution (the blind laws of gravity and mass I presume?)
    I like Fred Hoyle, he wasnt a christian but seemed to come to the point where he was forced to deny his own atheism because of what he saw through his telescope-good man!

    As to what point I am being taken up on by Nektarios at 3.11 pm I am completely clueless. The
    ” familiarity” I was referring to was the notion of ‘the word made flesh’ using that as an analogy for the process I was describing- as in the beginning…as in divinity coming into time, space and matter… as a child who’s death we celebrate today… On the topic of what ‘thought’ is or is not then we need to understand / apprehend that God has given man to communicate with him and that the communication is real not some kind of perverted phantasm This Godward/Manward communication is not ‘thought’ in the sense of mental chatterings but something much deeper; I think most of us already recognise this quite well.

    • Nektarios says:

      Mike Horsnall

      I obviously mistook your point re ` familiarty’.
      I am glad you understand that communication with God or God with us` is not thought
      in the sense of mental chatterings’ to quote you, so if ot that what is it that communications `most of us recognise quite well?’

  9. Iona says:

    Nektarios (April 6th, at 3.11 p.m.):
    “I want to ask, who or what is asking, no, demanding an answer to such a question like I have just mentioned? Why, does, whatever is asking the question need an answer?”

    What was “the question” that you had “just mentioned”? – I have looked back, but can’t seem to see it.

    • Nektarios says:


      Happy Easter
      I posed the question which was:
      I want us all to take stock of Johnbunting’s posting here, because it demonstatrates the problem man has with questions like , where did all this come from etc, etc.

      There should perhaps have been a question mark after etc,

    • mike Horsnall says:

      I want to ask, who or what is asking, no, demanding an answer to such a question like I have just mentioned? Why, does, whatever is asking the question need an answer?”
      What was “the question” that you had “just mentioned”? – I have looked back, but can’t seem to see it.

      This isn’t Alice in Wonderland by any chance is it?

      • Nektarios says:

        Mike Horsnall
        Cf. reply to Iona on 6th March at 9. 34.
        Sorry if I have made a problem with clarity in what I said.
        It was written rather quickly.

  10. claret says:

    Wonderful stuff all this for those who have the evolutionary designed intellect to understand it.
    For those like me who are intellectually deficient and wallowing along in some kind of evolutionary backwater, and have yet to catch up with the rest of the human race, they perhaps wonder, as I do, why we humans don’t have eyes in the back of our heads.

  11. Peter D. Wilson says:

    mike Horsnall says: April 6, 2012 at 9:31 am
    “Peter-do you mean this occurred as a random metabolic process within the system of individual beings?”
    Sorry to be so late coming back to you – I’ve been otherwise occupied all day.
    I must stress that in this speculation I’m straying far outside my field, and a competent biologist would give you a vastly better answer. However, here goes. The random change would be an error in replicating the cellular genetic code, maybe (this is a wild guess) disrupting a route to dispose of excess phosphate or calcium so that the solubility of calcium phosphate is exceeded and a solid is formed that might be useful on a later occasion.

    The point is that the effects of the reproductive error would at first be tolerable and in changed circumstances would prove helpful to survival.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Ok I geddit now!! Sorry to be pedantic-so I guess that the ability to lay down calcium phosphate might, at some stage be lnked to hard tissue formation which might give rise to a higher leverage capacity for force and so on and so on until we get a giraffe…..but not a lamarckian giraffe I hasten to add! ..I’m now so far out of my own field that I resemble a hedge. !!.

  12. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Nektarios and Quentin, for making the video clip available to watch, I found it fascinating and beautiful.
    Although not new to me from studying the Anatomy and Physiology of the Reproductive Cycle in the female and the fertility of the male from puberty to old age. Also how the hormones play such a big part in it.We had diagrams and slides, but this video was such a simple way of showing it all
    Very impressive..
    Women do not know what is happening to their bodies, before they know they are pregnant-and to think by the time the baby reaches its womb ‘it is washed away with the next menstrual cycle, through the agressive use of the contraceptive pill. Therefore not knowing they were pregnant.Really sad! Very sad for me ‘seeing’ a baby at 12 weeks ,as that was about the time I miscarried my 3, and the baby I saw was just like that.
    I wish everyone on the blog a very Happy and Holy Easter, and to remember the Sunday after Easter ,is the Feast of Divine Mercy’.

  13. johnbunting says:

    Thankyou, Nektarios; and thanks for bringing the video to our attention.
    To clear up a possible misunderstanding: did I give the impression of ‘discarding the obvious ones like ‘rationes seminales’ ‘? Not knowing Augustine that well, I hadn’t come across the term before, but it seemed to me a possible way of expressing the initial creative act of God.
    My ‘computing’ analogy is, like all such ideas, a very inadequate attempt to express God’s action, which is far removed from what we normally understand by ‘creation’ or ‘design’.
    You say “Who, or what, is demanding an answer to such a question?”. A questioner must surely be a ‘who’ rather than a ‘what’; but perhaps I’m missing your point here! I just feel that it’s natural to be curious about such questions, but one should not be obsessed with them. There are more important things, and one has to live with uncertainty, in this as in other matters.
    By the way, mike Horsnall, I was interested to see your reference to Sherrington. The little I know of him came at ‘second-hand’, so to speak, in Schrodinger’s ‘Mind and Matter’. Schrodinger, harking back to Berkeley, rejects the idea that mind is only a product of evolution, and questions whether a world existing before any mind became aware of it could be said to exist at all.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      John Bunting…RE Sherrington
      I had to work my way through his ‘Integrative Action of the Nervous System’ for my sins and thus became interested in him…..mainly I remember the trials and tribulations of the poor old decerebrate dog…

    • Nektarios says:


      Yes, slightly missed my point, understandably. So let’s see if we can clarify it somewhat.

      When it comes to the big questions like where did the Universe come from? What is a soul? what is going to happen in the end? There are a thousand other associated questions that could be put.

      When I ask, Who or What is asking the question, no, demanding an answer to the question. It seems an odd way at first to put it in the English language, but bear with me a little.
      When you say I ask a question, who is that I? One often says, well, it’s me! Who or what is me?
      We have the superficial I and me, being my name, identity, nationality, occupation,
      status and all that. We call that I or me. Most are satified with that superifical understanding, especially here in the West.

      When asking the question who or what is asking the question, no, demanding an answer to the questions such as the God , the universe and everything, it was meant to arrest
      your thinking – clearly it did, as with some of the other bright ones on the blog.

      When one says, I or me, it really is not a who, but a what. Let us explore a little
      something about ourselves.
      Thought asks the question, but thought does not exisit without an identity. This is called Self. It is produced by thought. When you look in the mirror, for example you will or can have thoughts about who is staring back at you. One says it is myself. What we think
      about this image that thought has produced we hardly ever give it a passing thought to, but accept.
      Self is a construct of thought. Do you see?
      The issue of demanding an answer, to God the Universe and everything, comes out something of this Self thought construct, and it is called me. Again, not a who but a what!
      What is me?
      This `me’ is Self that thought has constructed, given an identity to, and this `me’
      is the centralization of Self.
      Please notice how you see the world – is not everything revolving around you?

      I will conclude with this as this posting is already too long for some.
      I wonder if you notice how this thought construct of Self with its identity and centralized
      me is always anxious? It will take too long here now to go into it all, but essentially it wants something it cannot have – permanence.
      So what is the real I?
      It is energy; it is God stuff, it is timeless, but we hardly know the real I.
      For that to happen we start on the road of denying this thought construct called Self
      and it’s centralized anxious me.
      The real I or you is that unique signature that God recognises as His child.
      Hope this ties up some points the video clip throws up and fills you withmore of the true wonder that is you.

      • st.joseph says:

        Jesus said ‘I Am Who Am. Before Abraham I Am.
        I used to drive my self crazy with that when I was -under 10yrs-thinking it may be bad grammer in the Bible – Jesus knew He was God and announcing His Divinity, 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity.
        Then I got it into my head to think about ‘ what makes me ‘me’ and my brother ‘him’. Later on in years when I understood conception and monthly cycles, realised that I am ‘me’ and my brother ‘him’ at one particular time of my mothers menstrual cycle, and probably not have existed if she didn’t become pregnant at that time.

        I hope I am not confusing anyone – -and I wonder if anyone else has thinks stupid things at times. like that.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        RE the above questions regarding identity
        What can clearly be seen here is an obsessive trait.

  14. Quentin says:

    Gail Mills is having a problem with her computer, and has asked me to publish this for her.

    My father always discussed the eyes as a proof of Creation V’s Evolution.
    If a camera was brought before you which was in bits and assembled itself before working perfectly it would be amazing.
    If a camera was brought before you which was in pieces of dust and assembled itself before working perfectly it would be more amazing.
    But, If a camera was brought before you which was one tiny speck too small to be seen with the naked eye then multiplied and arranged in nine months assembling itself before working perfectly it would be Awesome??
    Each organ of every human or animal go through that same route to be working. All by chance?
    No! Surely not.
    Then there is water. Anything becoming cold contracts and gets heavier, not water.
    Water goes against the usual route of physics. When it is hot it gets lighter and when it gets cold it gets lighter. If it became heavy and sank then life could not exist at the bottom of the pond/sea bed. Water is not an animal or creature that evolved to improve itself so it had to be ordained. Surely?
    Our Blessed Lady said in Lourdes; ” I am THE Immaculate Conception”
    Meaning, Adam and Eve were not conceived or they would also be immaculate as sin had not entered when they existed in Eden. Mary does not lie. She gently leads you to a greater understanding of God.

    Happy Easter to you all.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      May I recommend Richard Dawkins’s “The ancestor’s tale”? Within his own field he’s good to read. In paperback or Kindle format it isn’t expensive (£10 or less) and traces back the development of human beings to their earliest progenitors (or in deference to convinced creationists, claimed progenitors) as simple cells. It gets a bit technical in places but (so far as I can remember from eight years ago) even I as a complete non-biologist could follow most of it.

  15. Nektarios says:

    st joseph

    You do exist. You are a person. You are a human being. You are the sum total of all your experiences. And you are what you call `me’.
    What you are also, without really understanding it, (none of us do) is that breath of God that created you to be a living soul.
    The`me’ is a construct of thought and the centre of the Self. Thought built it up and sustains it.

    The reason we are told to deny Self, is because it is an illusion, no real, but appears in our thoughts to be real.
    There are other reasons we are told to deny self. One is, Self is a usurper in place of God.
    This god invention by thought called Self can become a tryrant.

    Jesus was God. there was no division in the Godhead between God the Father and the Son
    and Holy Spirit. But there is us.
    The Spirit in us wars against the flesh. We are sinners and the good that we want to do, that cannot do.
    This `me’ is not a comparison with someone else, I am me and you are you. this is also illusion,
    a the root of selishness, wars, divisions, nations, politics, religion and so on.
    Such an environment makes `me’ anxious.
    So the whole structure of Self with its `me’ at the center has to be brought downand ended.
    But how?

    Jesus said, `Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest for your souls.’

    In another place we read, `And finding Himself as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death.’

    I will stop for now.

    • st.joseph says:

      Nektarios. Thank You for your reply.
      I wonder did Jesus ask Himself as a child ask some questions.
      Or did He automatically know Himself from birth-probably Our Lady and St Joseph would have told Him something.

      Mike, I am probably ‘obsessed with that too!I am pleased you said ‘obsessed’ and not ‘possessed’.
      I think I must have been a peculiar child as I often did funny things, I remember going through a phase at about 4 when I had to touch every thing-it used to drive my mother mad, every wall I passed and tree had to be touched, if I missed I had to go back and touch or get in a strop!one day I saw a small child doing the same to pavement slabs and had to go back and do it.
      I think I realised then how silly it was.And before I was 5 had grown out of it.

      • Nektarios says:

        st joseph

        Jesus our Lord asked many questions it seems. Not about who He was, no more than most of us ask who we are. Here, the similarity between Jesus as God incarnate and ourselves ends. As a man we are told, he grew up from a child to manhood without
        any seeming outward difference to others.
        He hid His divinity, because even as a child He knew `He must be about his Father’s business’.

  16. mike Horsnall says:

    ST Joseph,
    Sorry ma’m the posting came in the wrong spot. You may be obsessive as a coot about certain things -most of us are so I shouldnt worry about it. But It was this unhealthy obsession we appear to have developed regarding the nature of thought I was intending to highlight.
    Clearly human beings have thoughts about God which are not perverse or illusory. All of theology and liturgy comes out of human thoughts about God. There is a whole history going back several thousand years now of enquiry and encounter into the heart of God- carried out through the medium of contemplation and mortification- which documents the nature of the self and of its overcoming. …I have studied this approach to some degree myself and have a good Spiritual Director who teaches Spirituality at the seminary I attend. So I can fairly confidently assert this: the contention that thought and self are illusory is not part of our Christian heritage. Anyone who reads say Kempis’ Imitation of Christ or De’Salle The Devout life , or Merton or Nouwen…the list is almost endless.can see the drift of the way of renunciation which is wholesome and Christ centred…Anyone who has read any of these works, seriously tried to pray for more than 30 seconds and maybe tried a day or two of silence is aware of the complexities of our inner life. No one I would argue, certainly within the Catholic fold, takes the step that Nektarios has taken and seems to feel free to take here. The teaching put forward here by Nektarios (and it is that) is spurious, dangerous and obsessively idiosyncratic; I repudiate it publicly.

    • Nektarios says:

      Mike Horsnall

      I am afraid, though it is hardly worth mentioning, but you are misrepresenting myself to others on the blog what I am saying on issues such as thought and so on. I am not forwarding a teaching, but only looking at various aspects of our humanity and spiritual understanding.

      All the books you mention I have and read several times, know them very well.
      Let me also correct you MIke, just to put it on record, that I am not putting forward any teaching (other than that which is broadly accepted as Christian), both Catholic or Orthodox and what we can agree with Protestants.

      It would have behooved you to have asked me first what I meant by whatever, before you reputiate me or anything I or anyone says on the blog.
      In fact, my dear chap, It is quite cowardly to have a go at st joseph before discussing first with myself any reservations you may have. You should also read more carefully, what I have said to others, perhaps?

      I don’t want any attacks on myself like this on blog again, in what is little more than discussion and that to some profit, if you but understood it, as you say you do.

      Should there be any more silly, arrogant, mock self- righteous repudiations like this
      of myself, I will even go above Quentin’s head to deal with it if I have to. Got it?

      • st.joseph says:

        Someone on the blog I dont know who it was, but it doesnt matter really-they something about ‘those people who watch ‘X Factor’ I promptly replied ‘I do!
        My daughter bought me a ticket with herself (although she did it for me) to see the show at Cardiff last week. It was full of 6 yrs to very old peopleay .

        We were up in the balcony and one can imagine the noise and the screams, so I said to her ‘if her Dad is close to me now, he will think he is in purgatory’, to which she replied’if Dad was close to us now, he would think he was in Hell. So he would.Beside us there were about 12
        Downs Syndromes and 3 carers around about 18 to 25, and we were talking to them , and they knew everything about the show, all their names who their mentors were,standing up screaming with the rest of them (not us).
        One can be humble in places where you would not think,because as I sat there and looked around, I was thinking Holy Week the wednesday – did they know about Jesus? But then I thought ‘even if they didn’t’ Jesus knew them !
        Some of the artists who were on the X Factor, were going no where in life, some in gangs, no jobs etc; and believe it or not they did have talent and made something of their lives. A video was shown of what they do for charity-visiting hospitals, and disabled children.
        Maybe the thousands who were there, many didn’t know God, but He knew them !
        I thank God every day that I am able to go to Holy Mass and ‘ think’ about Him,therefore He will expect more from me than those who have not had the opportunity to ‘think about religion. They may find God if they haven’t already found Him through the gift He gave them.
        I started thinking about the Blessed Sacramnet at 5 before my first Holy Communion -so I owe The Lord more for giving me the Grace to do so. Just a thought. It made me feel very humble.!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        “….Should there be any more silly, arrogant, mock self- righteous repudiations like this
        of myself, I will even go above Quentin’s head to deal with it if I have to. Got it?..”

        I think this reveals the true nature of things, I have said what I have said.

      • Vincent says:

        I don’t want to appear particularly stupid about this, but the fact that I haven’t got the faintest idea what you are talking about must mean that I am.

        The human race has always named things – since Adam named the animals. It is simply a way of giving an identity or classification so that we can do meaningful thinking about our experience of the world.

        Of course “labelling” as you call it is often abused. And of course it doesn’t get to the heart of what we are labelling. We should always be careful about this. Nevertheless if the word “horse” does not contain the equine essence at least I know that it is not a cow – and that can be useful on occasion. Similarly if I call God the Supreme Being I am not claiming theological insights beyond my station, but I am distinguishing him from an inferior being – and indeed from me who am created rather than creator.

        Since this all seems so obvious to me I must have got you wrong.

  17. st.joseph says:

    P.S. The reason why she booked it at Christmas for April 4th, because it was my late husband’s birthday.To stop me ‘mooching ‘about!

  18. Quentin says:

    There does seem to me to be some confusion here. It’s probably my fault for attempting to find ways in which to understand human knowledge of the divine. Always a dangerous route but without danger we get nowhere.

    As I understand it, Christianity is essentially an incarnational religion, that is, it lives in the human and in the divine at the same time.

    Thus we hold it to be true that Christ has a divine nature and a human nature. We might say – if we take the view of the lay philosopher – that we can know nothing of the divine nature by seeing Christ. After all divine nature is ineffable and infinitely beyond our understanding. Yet when Philip, in his rough Galilean way, said “Show us the Father”, Jesus replied “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” So I must, and do accept, that in seeing Christ in faith I am seeing the Father. That is, I am seeing the most truthful picture of the Father allowed to me. And the more I know about the Son (and perhaps getting fractionally nearer to being like him) the more I learn.

    Should I get to Heaven I am confident that my knowledge will leap forward. I do not expect to have to repudiate a word of what the Church has taught me about God. But I will be content to learn that while now I see in a glass darkly, then I will see face to face.

  19. Nektarios says:

    Mike Horsnall
    Then what you have said, doesn’t mean very much.
    Perhaps you don’t like questions, especially more mystical questions being asked?
    I forgive you for taking it out on me, but please, don’t take it out on other bloggers.

    What Quentin says, to a point is quite true on the essentials of the faith handed down to us.
    As to the rest, we are, as you rightly point out, seeing through a glass darkly and often get things wrong as well as get things right. Surely this is part of the whole process of sanctification?

  20. Iona says:

    St. Joseph
    April 7th at 12.40:

    “Then I got it into my head to think about ‘ what makes me ‘me’ and my brother ‘him’. Later on in years when I understood conception and monthly cycles, realised that I am ‘me’ and my brother ‘him’ at one particular time of my mothers menstrual cycle, and probably not have existed if she didn’t become pregnant at that time.

    I hope I am not confusing anyone – -and I wonder if anyone else has thinks stupid things at times. like that.”

    What’s stupid about it? Have any of us NOT had thoughts like that? – That “I would not have existed if my parents had not happened to meet when they did”, or (even more mind-bogglingly) “I would not have existed if a different sperm – among the 600 million or however many it is in a single ejaculate – had reached the ovum first”?

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Iona…on ‘stupid’ thoughts,

      Must admit I hadnt tracked it that far back with regard to the ‘first past the post’ ability of one sperm over another…but you are right. Sooner or later we must all come to marvel at this unbroken chain of cause which stretches right back through our genetics and the history of our particular tribe in the roots of their history and location. I find the whole thing both awesome and fantastical…my personal interest, these days, is whether the wheel bolts are on tight enough on the lorry that I’m just about to pass on the motorway-or will some trick of metallurgy prematurely end my days and thus scotch my daughters university career!!!
      I have a very good Deacon friend at the moment in a coma in hospital simply because, at that moment, someone stepped off a kerb without looking…Makes you wonder about chance and choice though..those two perennials.

  21. Iona says:

    Nektarios – What you’re suggesting about the individual self sounds very much like Buddhist thought, or the more mystical reaches of Hinduism. Would you have any comment on that?

    • st.joseph says:

      Thank you Iona
      I think it was stupid at 4, to think like that, until I realised the methods of conception. And remember also I was,nt sure how babies were born or came about until I was 21 married and pregnant straight away. We have to remember at 4 yrs I was told I was found under a cabbage, left by a Stork.I wondered if anyone had thoughts like that at 4yrs old.
      I would like to know!.I know it was before the war ended-before my father came home.
      The reason I thought people may be confused was by the me ‘me’ and him ‘him’ bit.
      Just thoughts -no big deal.,just pointing out the fact how ones thoughts begin, and lead on to something else..
      You see war time we didn’t have much to do like children to-day. Their mind is full of other things that ‘think’ for them..We were cleaning our teeth with salt and soot from the chimney etc; It is amazing to-day what my 8 yr old knows about computers and so on.

      I was following on a conversation above when I mentioned Jesus thinking about Him.
      self. Not that importnat really . Unless one wants to make it so,with Mikes comment!!
      Which was unnecessary and Nektarios thought too!
      There seems to b e a little muddled thinking here !!

    • Nektarios says:

      Happy Easter, Christ is Risen!

      I know a little about Buddhist thought, even less about the mystical reaches
      of Hinduism, but only to the extent, I know the dfference between them and Christianity.

      Self and the `me’ has not got a label such as Buddhist, Hindu, or even Christian.
      Placing a label on it like that, is to identify it as any of these or other religions, sects
      cults and so on.
      Now please see this, when one places a label on Self or `me’ or anything, one has introduced one to one of the biggest problems for man, sin apart, and that is duality.
      Duality, puts a space between one and the label. So what happens is we name things,
      but are not at one with it or in touch with it. Are you following this?
      Duality, has given us problems like, me and you, them and us and so on. When it comes to God the same things happens, unfortunately. We metaphorically stick a label on God and call it God. This is not God, obviously, but ideas about God. We are happy with the labels from others or our own

      To say, I know God in truth, is not to stick a label on my ideas and call that God, that produces in us, Duality.
      Similarly, when it comes to Self and the `me’ sticking a label on it, puts a distance between you and it. We might not know anything about it, but we have the label!

      Let me give you an example, one is driving along the road and one sees some trees.
      There are some trees, we say. We have put a mental label on to something that we call a tree or trees. We might not know what type of tree or trees they are, but we are satisfied enough we have labelled it and so identified it as a tree or trees. That is the effect of duality. It distances us from what is actual and we are left, rightly or wrongly with the label.

      When communicating about Self and the me, most are satisfied with the label, being a set of ideas they have right or wrong. produces duality. but they do not know what it is actually, no more that most people driving past a tree knows what kind of tree it is and so on.
      People are killing each other and have done for centuries because of labels we stick on ideas, politics, religion and a whole host of other aspects to life causing duality and so division, ignorance, wars, strife and so on.
      Finally, Iona, realize the saddest thing of all, this duality, this division, this constant labelling of everything first takes place in us, with all its associated problems it brings in its wake.
      Does that help answer your question you posed?

  22. Iona says:

    Mike –
    Oh, dear. I’ve got a longish drive tomorrow and now have something new to worry about…
    However, at least all my children are now financially independent (bar needing the occasional emergency loan), so no university careers to be prematurely ended.

  23. Iona says:

    St. Joseph – the question of how Jesus thought about himself, and when exactly he realised who he was, could probably be the subject of a book. (Maybe it already is the subject of a book). Or one of Quentin’s columns.

    • st.joseph says:

      Thank you Iona.
      But Nektarios’reply satisfied me.

    • Quentin says:

      It’s a fascinating question. We once had a Jesuit on the parish who preached very clearly to the effect that Christ had, in his human nature, to discover who he was and the mission he had to fulfil. And of course it’s true that as (for instance) a real baby he could not have known in the cradle who he was. We may piously assume that he was brighter than most but, even so, he could not have had the use of reason for the first year or three of his life. I presume that his mother told him about the Annunciation, and he would have learnt a great deal from the Old Testament. Was his meeting with the elders when he was aged 12 part of his journey of discovery? I do not know the answers to these questions. Perhaps those whose theology is more up to date than mine can help

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Yes it is fascinating, another perennial. One of the things I notice when treating babies of only several weeks old is the way they often look at you and seem to weigh you up with a ferocious intelligence..! I’m not convinced that reason is as late to come as we think-Iona will know perhaps. I often wonder with babies if their reason is fairly intact but what they have to figure out is how to get their bodies to work so that they can communicate effectively with adults!!
        The problem with Jesus of course is that we don’t know what a mind could percieve unclouded by sin and so find it difficult to ‘place’ Jesus along the line of development. We are given to understand that Jesus learned obedience as he went so its fair to assume that he might not have been entirely sure of the detail of how things would pan out until after the ressurection. But he was probably learning and increasing the depth of his understanding all the way along; long before the age of 12 one would suspect he had inklings of his otherness. I don’t think there is much use in pretending that a person who was sinless wouldnt stand out in social terms-imagine a pre school playground and all the jeeering, pecking ordering and bullying that is well patterned in by the age of 5-Being without sin would have meant not doing any of that so his nascent reason would probably
        have picked up an inkling or two pretty early on!!

  24. mike Horsnall says:

    ST Joseph,
    As I remember it was round about the time I was given my first microscope………..

  25. st.joseph says:

    How old was that?

    • mike Horsnall says:


      • st.joseph says:

        Mike if I had -had a microscope at 10 I would have known more about conception,( I know I am not on my own ).
        If I had known about all this, when I went to the doctor after 2 months married, and he told me I may be pregnant- (I thought it was the change of air why I was not menstruating)
        I said to him , I cant be I have only been married 2 months.This may be unbeleivable, but true.
        This is why I think it so sad that females now a days are not aware of their fertility.
        They need to see the video clip that Nektarios told us about! To respect Gods gift of life.
        And not so much sex education in schools,(not for 5 year olds) but more about chastity and the love of the Lord.
        I was lucky, I knew about Him first, then the rest follows. If He is not the first thought in
        their minds then,they turn to sex,contraception- abortion- or the morning after pill.Not everyone.
        To add ,I was not told too much about hell ,more about heaven. So fear does not come into it! We do have to think for ourselves and work things out.

  26. st.joseph says:

    Mike, your comment at 11.44 pm. above.
    I love Luke. chpt 4-16 -22.

  27. mike Horsnall says:

    , 2012 at 9:50 am

    Your post has gone higher up but I presume it is an attempt to make sense of the self/labelling/duality post April 9th 12.14 and that you are confused by it hence:

    “…I don’t want to appear particularly stupid about this, but the fact that I haven’t got the faintest idea what you are talking about must mean that I am…..”

    I’m a Catechist and am reasonably educated in these subjects but as far as I can see most of it is gobbeldy gook I wouldnt take it too personally. In my experience anything which brings confusion not clarity is in itself confused.

  28. Nektarios says:

    Vincent & Mike Horsnall,

    I am probing a little deeper than mere words to what actually happens in us, and in the world at large.
    I am not simply quoting the Catechism – what would be the point of that, endless repitition of what we already know? But the catechism is formulation of belief based on The Holy Tradition, handed down orally at first, then in written form and ten in print.

    Yes, it is clear you are both not understanding what I am saying. If you were you would be asking questions, but you are not. What can you learn (presuming you want to learn) if you don’t ask questions.
    Do you not think I am well aware that we name everything? I am not talking about labelling perse,
    but the effects of that labelling in us. How simple do you want me to make it.
    Confused? One can only be confused when has opposing thoughts.
    If we were talking about the Roman Catholic Catechism, then we can discuss that , but we are not talking or discussing the RCC.
    I get the impression as this sounds new to you, you just want to hurl insults.
    For professionals like yourselves, I find this rather unprofessional.


    • mike Horsnall says:

      It seems to me that a pattern is emerging here. Firstly act as some kind of gnostic mystic Secondly denigrate those who seem too simple to understand these gnostic gems.Thirdly fail to spot that the audience is politely coughing behind its hand. Fourthly utter threats and dire consequences to those who dare dissent….hmmm this fits quite well with my essay on The Church Fathers and Heresy.

      • Nektarios says:

        Mike Horsnall
        Do you think Mike, I do not know the meaning of Gnostic and the origins of Gnosticism?
        Let me, make it quite clear to you I am not a Gnostic or believe in Gnosticism. I am speaking about things the Holy Fathers taught and it was they who coined the word `Gnostic to denote a certain kind of heresy with their so-called secret knowlege.
        It was the Holy Fathers that coined the term Gnosticism and deemed that it was heretical. So do I.

        I also think you have got hung up on the word `duality’ which in the terms of reference I was using, has nothing to do with Gnosticism or their heresies. It is a widely term used in psychology and psychiatry.
        So please, Mike get your facts straight first.

        If I did make a threat, i.e., to go over Quentin’s head if necessary, was not on account of
        any dissent on your part, you ar free to dissent as much as you like, but when it descends to rudeness, being unkind, aggressive an the like and like this your latest posting of yours on 9th April at 7.51pm to calling me a Gnostic or heretic, of course I act.
        You accuse me of denigrating others on the blog, which is a disgraceul accusation and totally untrue.
        I would ask you to retract your accusations and apologize on the blog, that is the least you could do.
        I am sure Quentin will be keeping a weather eye on what you say next.

    • Vincent says:

      i am sorry that you should think that I am hurling insults. It is not my habit. I am sure that you have important things to teach us, and I look forward to understanding what they may be. I have tried to make it clear that I am very open to learning from you once I am clear about what you are saying. I realise that you may come from a more mystical tradition than most of us, but I hope that your teaching can be explained in some simpler form.

  29. Nektarios says:

    I will do my utmost to be as clear as I can.
    I respond to questions others pose, or the drift of some thread, or the topic itself and if I can contribute anything helpful I seek to do so.

    I would say, with the history of the West, expecially through the so called Dark Ages, the mysticism here in the West was not a healthy one, it is quite right to be on one’s guard.
    If you want to explore part of this mystical apects in the Orthodox Church, perse, Google in The
    Philokalia – we share this along with othermystical writing with the Roman Catholic Church, but this is the main sourse material. It is published by Faber and Faber in English.

    Other individuals to Google in and have a perusual of is Elder Thaddeus. Great on the thought issues.
    My own person favourite apart from St.Seraphim of Sarov was Elder Ambrose of Optina. What amazing gifts these two Saints had.
    It is in footsteps of these men and the Philokalia my inner mystical life has been and continues to be shaped.
    You have enough reading there to keep you going for some time. PAX!

    • st.joseph says:

      Gail Mills.
      Thank you for telling us about your fathers article.

      I am surprised that no one has made a comment on it.
      I knew you father very well, a wonderful person with a lot if insight.
      Maybe someone would like to comment on the article, especially The Immaculate Conception

    • Vincent says:

      Thank you for this, Nektarios. I think the problem remains that it is unlikely that many people will be as learned as you in Eastern mysticism. Inevitably the points you want to make will need to be “translated” into a form suited to the more literal Western mind.
      While I realise that much may be lost in translation, we do have the example of Jesus conveying the truths of his Father to Galilean fisherman. Can’y have been easy.

      • Nektarios says:

        I would agree with you. Vincent, that is difficut to convey somethings of a mystical nature.
        But please, don’t get hung up on it. Our Christian mystical life is our inward working
        of the spiritual life.
        The blog is perhaps not the right place to discuss such issues to any depth.
        But I will stop and leave you with this set of little aphorisms:
        God is Love; With Love comes interest: With interest comes attention; With attention comes looking; With looking come seeing; And with seeing, comes change.
        Without love, there is no interest, attention, looking, seeing, and without seeing there is no change no matter how externally religious we are or conditioned.
        There I will leave it.
        May you have a happy Easter.

  30. st.joseph says:

    Thank you for the information.
    I am not too much experienced with all this.
    My grandmother used to speak to me about the Spanish Mystic’s,being Spanish descent,
    How do they differ from the Orthodox.Or is it all the same .

    Another question- do you in the Orthodox Church have liberal thinkers, by that I mean the way of the world My grandmother was a bit of a hermit in her time I spent a lot time with her and listening to her speak.
    This is why ‘maybe’ I sometimes feel a little out of place in the ‘modern ‘ Church.
    Then I am pulled both ways in ‘living ‘it.

  31. Nektarios says:

    St. Joseph
    I am not too aquaint with Spanish Mystics though one or two stand out, St Teresa Of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Perhaps you could tell me a bit more about Spanish mystics?
    You ask, How do they differ from Orthodox mystics?

    Well, what we need to do first is qualify what we mean by mystical and mystic?
    In one sense, every true born Christian believer is a mystic. or the Greek word, mysticos.
    For every true believer in Christ has had the revelation revealed not only outwardly in the preaching of the Gospel, but inwardly through the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ ,it has been revealed what had been hidden and still is hidden in the transmission of
    that life in Christ to us all.
    In the Christian vocabulary. It has 3 meanings. 1. A mystical meaning of Scriptures. 2.Mysticical significance to the Sacraments, or Mysteries as we call them in the Orthodox Church. 3. Mystical Theology. So in these aspects, if we are faithful, every Christian is a mystic.
    We could go on at length, but enough for now.

    As to your other question: ` do we have liberal thinkers in the Orthodox Church?’
    Yes, in a word,and we have many monastic hermits and nuns too. But again, it is often presumed
    that liberal thinking is `modern’ up-to-date, but it has to be said, lacks spiritual discernment, have not gone beyond their passions and desires, and are more concerned with making their mark via the media or writing. I think there are great many liberal thinkers in the Orthodox Church today, and as it is a global Church, the effects of living in the West and inbibing our bad habits is infecting the East as well now.
    But many, are true to the tradition of the Orthodox Church – God bless them!

  32. st.joseph says:

    Thank you.

    I onlyknew what my grandmother told me when I was young, she had a great love the Carmelite Mystics and told me about them, consequently after she enrolled me in the Brown Scapular when I was 7 and still wear it, then became a member of the Third Order about 40 years ago. Although I don’t go to any meetings now.My grandmother loved St John Of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila, St Catherine of Sienna, and poems of the great Mystics.She lived for her faith being a widow from 28 so she just loved it all. She was a wonderful operatic voice and loved all the music in Church and
    all their poems .
    As I said I was brought up with it, from an early age, and believed that was what the Church was all about.’Mysticism’ When I got older I realised it was more than that,-we have to evangelise, by bringing the people to Christ, as He is ver yclose to them, but they dont know it.
    If tou google Spanish Mystics you will read a lot, I will do that sometime as I would like to know more, and feel will know my grandmother more as I did not always understand what she meant-only will have time to read more now.(not so much NFP evangelising and teaching now.
    Your comments interested me!! Like remembering something of my past

    • Nektarios says:

      St joseph

      It may well be like remembering something fromthe past, but ever with you.
      It also shows you loved your grandmother very much.

      • st.joseph says:

        Yes I did.
        One of the happiest moments on holiday (she lived in Co Wicklow Eire) a seaside town,where there was a Carnival, to which my mother took me too ,I was about roughly 7 or 8. She gave me sixpence to buy a ticket on a stall, and said to me if you win will you bring me back a Sacred Heart Statue.I remember praying please God let me win for my Nanny, and lo and behold up came my number, and I brought home 2ft Sacred Heart statue, her face was radiant. It was beside her bed until she died aged Dec1962.
        I have it in my lounge, my mother brought it back after her funeral .I couldnt go as I was pregnant and had a few problems.My son wants me to leave it to him!
        Happy memories I shared with her. She had the same birthday as Pope John Paul 2nd 18th May.May she RIP.
        She was not charasmatic like him. Whatever that means . At least I dont think so!.
        I believe we can learn a great deal from our grandchildren.

  33. tim says:

    I often have trouble following what Nektarios is saying, but I don’t necessarily assume that that’s his fault rather than mine. Maybe we should sometimes try Quentin’s tactic (“I know just how you feel!”) of reflecting back to him what we understand him to be saying. That might help all concerned, by highlighting misunderstandings?

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Tim – But that surely requires some glimmer of what he’s trying to convey!

      • Nektarios says:

        Tim & Peter

        Getting to grips with such issus as Christian mystical thought is not easy to convey at the best of times. It is not mechanistc thinking but goes beyond all that. Now I know I have lost you at this point saying that.
        Our thought processes going on in our brain is very complex, and perhaps simple answers do not satisfy you? Perhaps you want something more complex or put in a more complex way?
        But like I said in a prior posting, perhaps the meduim of the blog is not the best means to communicate such matters?
        At the level we are talking about, just ask any questions you have about such matters.
        If I can answer you I will, but do not feel you have to accept it.
        I want you to explore not only the theological, patristic and the mystical levels of your own Christian life and experience for yourselves an to discover.
        Maybe I am not the person you need to talk about such matters but someone whom you know well and respect their spiritual gifts and life?

    • st.joseph says:

      Jesus said ‘Listen those who have ears’

      • st.joseph says:

        P.S. A little like Natural Family Planning. It is criticised by those who do not understand it!

  34. st.joseph says:

    My comment at 4.27 should have said grandparents-not grandchildren.

    I posted this earlier, I dont know where it went.

    • Nektarios says:

      st joseph
      Yes, I already figured that out… you should see all the typing errors I make!

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        Nektarios, April 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm – Thank you for a generous response. I think that’s all I can say at the moment, except God bless you! And sympathy over the typing problems. Why is it that errors rarely become apparent until too late?

  35. johnbunting says:

    A letter in today’s Catholic Herald (April 13) prompts me to revert to the topic of origins and evolution with which this thread started.
    Francis Reilly, opposing evolution, asks “How can God be so wasteful in taking all that time to develop His world when He coiuld have done it in an instant?”.
    With due respect to Mr Reilly, this strikes me as a bizarre question. The idea of ‘waste’ only has meaning in the context of a limited resource which could have been put to better use. As both time and space were created by God, it is clear that neither are in short supply! A long process of creation is no more ‘wasteful’ than doing it in an instant, and can still recognise God as the Creator, unless you are of the odd state of mind that regards Darwinism as atheism.
    The ‘creation/evolution’ dispute will no doubt run and run, and I suspect that no scientific theory will ever satisfy those who prefer to imagine complex organisms appearing instantaneously and fully-formed, like Athene from the head of Zeus.

    • st.joseph says:

      If Jesus rose from the dead,surely He can make mankind in an instant.!
      We ought not to underestimate what God can do if He wants to!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        ST Joseph, it doesnt say how long it took him…how long for the blood to begin to circulate again, how long for the nervous system to click in….When Jesus rose, what did he rise as do you think? A body dead but powered by spirit -or alive it its own life?

    • Quentin says:

      Yes, I am sorry that Francis Reilly didn’t post his letter on Second Sight as it’s not a subject which can be adequately debated in a newspaper correspondence page. In addition to the points which you make, I notice that he says: “Catholic belief is that the prototype of each single animal was created at once in its entire substance by God — and out of nothing.”

      While I am not at liberty to reproduce the whole, rather lengthy, letter here it would be good to see further discussion of his views.

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        Quentin – Well, for a start, that isn’t Catholic belief, and by claiming otherwise Francis Reilly is doing the Church a disservice by giving people like Richard Dawkins an excuse for condemning it.

        His letter is too long to rebut in detail, even if I were qualified to do so. Of course, God could have created mankind directly in an instant, but the overwhelming probability is that He did not. Maybe the purpose was to demonstrate that we are not a creation totally separate from the rest of the animal kingdom and so instil a modicum of humility.

    • tim says:

      Yes, absolutely. Very well put. If God is seen as ‘wasteful’ with time, why not also with space? I’m not clear whether the universe is finite or not (or whether only the bit we can know about is finite) but clearly there’s an awful lot of it. Are we to criticise God on the ground that (for any purpose we can understand) he could clearly have used a lot less space?
      More generally, I am deeply suspicious of any argument based on what God ‘must have’ done. A lot of what He’s done seems difficult to explain, and not what we might have predicted. We have to take it on trust.

  36. mike Horsnall says:

    When we think of ‘an instant’ I’m not sure what we mean. I often think of the scripture which tells us that with God a day is as a thousand years -and I like it. I like that scripture because it tells me that Gods ways are not my ways, that time and its measurement are in Gods gift and not mine. So when it is claimed that God could make us in’an instant’ I suspect that we are speaking of a God who we are making subject to the criteria of our own world and our thinking. Presumably God creates as God creates, inside or outside of time measurement. I agree with the notion above that the overwhelming probablitiy is that there is duration involved in creation-This makes sense in the material world we see about us and rings true with our own existence and the duration of things .I agree with Peter that the ‘each creature created at once and out of nothing’ is not,as far as I can see consonant with catholic belief. Does anyone know by the way if there is a difference between ‘time’ and ‘duration’..? I take time to be a way of measuring duration…??

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike ,my reply to your comment ended up on ‘I know just how you feel’.
      I dont know how that happened.
      My computer is doing odd things.

    • johnbunting says:

      ‘time’, I would say, is an abstract term denoting the succession of events, from past to present to future. Not reversible, as far as we know at present! Duration is the length of time that an event or process continues. (That’s with some help from my dictionary!)
      To say that with God a day is as a thousand years suggests to me the idea that God transcends space and time, so all events are equally present to God, no matter ‘where’ or ‘when’ they appear to us.
      We measure time by the intervals between repeated events, e.g. the revolutions of a planet round the sun, or the oscillations of a quartz crystal. We measure space by the intervals between material objects; anything from atoms to galaxies. No events can occur if there are no objects, therefore both time and space would be meaningless if no matter existed. Discuss.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        John Bunting!!
        “No events can occur if there are no objects, therefore both time and space would be meaningless if no matter existed. Discuss.”

        Yes thats right John…minor epiphany going on here by the way..Thats precisely it. I’ve been coming round to this conclusion for some time now in my own thoughts regarding creation. Thats why it seems to me the whole idea that God would create ‘instantly’ is a kind of artefact in our own thinking. We instinctively grasp that time and matter are inseperable somehow. I’ve been blindly groping toward this for years so thanks for stating it so succinctly. As far as I can see God really does inhabit creation-eucharist is of course the prime ‘metaphor’ here. As human beings we find this hard to digest somehow-the scary immediacy of God I mean- so we like to abstract a bit …who was it said Mankind cannot bear too much reality? Because we have this tendency to abstraction we say things like ‘God could make us in an instant if He chose’ But its not true because God has involved himself in creation for better or for worse and ,in the main, seems to like the way things unfold, otherwise the crucifixion and the whole story might have turned out very differently. On the other hand I guess there are miracles and mystery etc…discuss!

  37. st.joseph says:

    I was told by a very learned priest many years ago, that different species evolved through a different environment and atmosphere, whereby some developed fur etc etct etc..
    That man was made in the image of God and a soul, conscience and free will!
    As the Church teaches.And Holy Scripture tells us.
    I think the Church tells us that it is not a sin to think otherwise.
    I find it personally insulting to be told that if I chose to believe what Holy Scripture reads that I will be doing the Church a great diservice,
    I have a free will to choose Holy Scripture above Darwin or Richard Dawkins.
    What does it profit a man to choose what ‘they’ say. Maybe it would seem to others that I am more intellectual than the myth thinking person who has evolved until they lose sight of God and His Creation all together.
    Who do I apologise to for my beliefs. The Church, to God.Or my .
    Maybe someone will tell me.

  38. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Letter just sent to the Catholic Herald:-

    SIR – Of course God could have created the world and everything in it in an instant. However, the overwhelming probability is that He did not; Francis Reilly’s denying the vast weight of evidence for evolution (April 13) apparently depends on a serious misunderstanding of the radiometric dating method by the author cited. He is perfectly free to believe whatever he likes for himself, but in mistakenly claiming his personal opinion on this topic to be Catholic belief he risks discrediting other teaching of the Church that remains valid.

    • st.joseph says:

      We all know that Genesis says that God created the world in 6 days, then rested.The animals ,fish etc first.We dont know how Gods 6 days compare with our time.
      That does not prove that we as humans evolved from animals.
      Richard Dawkins is an atheist, he will try to prove God does not exist next.
      I would still prefer to believe the prophets until the Church says differently.

      • st.joseph says:

        Francis O’Reilly is only one of millions to deny the vast evidence that the Church teaches on contraception being early abortifacants, against the Will of God.!

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        st.joseph – Please be assured I have no wish to offend you, but Genesis also says (chapter 2) that God first created Man (v. 7) and afterwards (v. 19) the wild animals and birds. Do you believe that as well as chapter 1 (as would take more mental contortions than I could manage) and if not, why choose one rather than the other?

  39. st.joseph says:

    The above to deny meant to say ‘who’ deny! I dont know whether he believes it that or not!

    • st.joseph says:

      Peter Wilson, I dont give too hoots whether God Created Man before animals or animals before man.
      There is a lot of the Old Testament that were stories, but I prefer to believe that God made Man in His own image, perfect, without sin.Then the Fall.
      Jesus spoke of Adam, I am sure He would have said something other than that if He did not believe the Prophets.
      I can not see for the life of me what difference it makes.
      What ever way God did it.
      Is the Tree of Knowledge a myth too, does man now want to be God!! That is what it seems to me.
      There are far more important things in this world in the name of science for the peoples good.

      This is a blog for faith and science, we have to know our faith, we dont have to know the mind of God .
      We all ask where we came from I am satisfied with the knowledge that we came from God, a New Creation,not like our ancestors in the desert who ate manna and are dead.
      We can say we are Abrahams children and we come from the House of David.
      That is where Our Lady came from.The Immaculate Conception,conceived without sin .
      Instead of lifting the Church up it is being dragged down by secular thinking.
      Sorry if this offends people, but that is how I feel.

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        st.joseph – I don’t want to get into polemics, but I do want to understand you.

        I had thought that you based your position on a belief that Genesis is broadly accurate on facts, but there I was evidently mistaken since you are happy to accept a direct contradiction right at the start. Nevertheless you seem to maintain that Man was directly created without biological progenitors, and I wonder on what grounds when the appearance is otherwise. Is it simply because of the difficulties that acceptance of evolution presents in connection with the doctrine of original sin?

  40. Rahner says:

    Peter, frankly, I’m not sure its worth the effort…..

    • st.joseph says:

      Rahner, why so rude. I dont think Peter would need your advice.
      It would do you good to read Philip Trowers book-you might learn something to wards the little you know already.! And that isn’t much.We can all throw insults around.

  41. st.joseph says:

    Peter Wilson.
    I will write below what I feel I have to so that you will know that I am not speaking out of the top of my head.But the fact is- Jesus came to show us the way to Salvation through His Life Death and Resurrection, His Ascension into Heaven -our Heavenly home. But however I will write for you what I believe.

    ‘Darwin and Evolution’ taken from ‘Turmoil and Truth’ by Philip Trower (whom I know quite well)Chpt 19 Beliefs and Disbelief. The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church’

    Quote ‘By giving an apparently different account of the creation of species from the Bible, and a manifestly different account of the origin of men, Darwin’s The Origin of Species(1859) and The Descent of Man (1871) seemed apparently to challenge the Bible’s truth and reliability. And since by the same act , a number of fundamental doctrines constantly taught by the Church like original sin appeared to be called into question,belief in the Church as a trustworthy teacher also began to be shaken . If Adam and Eve ,the Garden of Eden ,and the Fall were myths and had to go,where did the process stop? A thread had been cut and the whole fabric of revelation seemed about to come apart
    As for the idea that living things came into existence through the interplay of accident (natural selection) ,it seemed to reduce God ,when not extinguishing belief
    in him altogether , to a cold and remote First Cause and implicitly to repudiate his providence. What room was left of him to care about sparrows? unquote.

    That book can be read on the web.It means nothing to me-it is how I feel it in my bones. But I wanted to express myself better for your understanding.

    I know that you all who expressed an opinion of evolution in answer to Quentin’s post, believe in Gods Creation, and I believe that you are saying evo lution in iself has its own beauty especially seing the video clip of conception to birth.Nevertless we have all heard the readings at the Triduim Mass for Easter, and the beauty of those readings excell all the videos of conception to birth.
    But we must remember that whilst pregnancy is a gift f rom God and a miracle.Childbirth brings pain and it is h arder than it looks. So is bringing up children it does not end there. We must get real.

  42. st.joseph says:

    Peter, Thank you.
    As long as we know what each other is saying and respect each others point of view-all is well.

  43. mike Horsnall says:

    ST Joseph

    “….,If Adam and Eve ,the Garden of Eden ,and the Fall were myths and had to go,where did the process stop? A thread had been cut and the whole fabric of revelation seemed about to come apart
    As for the idea that living things came into existence through the interplay of accident (natural selection) ,it seemed to reduce God ,when not extinguishing belief
    in him altogether , to a cold and remote First Cause and implicitly to repudiate his providence. What room was left of him to care about sparrows? …”

    This is a really good quote and sums up well something I used to worry about a lot. But there is a huge error in its way of thinking and this is it: The bit about cold and remote first cause shows very clearly that the author of the book has not grasped the fact that the ‘cold and remote cause’ he speaks about is in fact the warm caress of the spirit of God breathing life upon the waters…only it just took a bit longer than we thought and demonstrated that Gods ways were truly truly far more magnificent than ours…to the extent than it has taken Mankind over five thousand years to put a bit of flesh on the bones of his thinking about creation and how things come about. I know that it may seem that the falling away of the ‘literal truth’ of those first chapters in Genesis SEEMS to threaten our confidence in Gods revelation but in fact it does not.When I go to Mass on sunday I am, without fail, close to being overwhelmed by the pure naked beauty of what is before me…and what is before me? A miracle is before my eyes. In simple surroundings, unvarnished and plain there is the miracle of God taking place in the hearts and souls of ordinary people. Taking place quietly and without fuss-as did the incarnation of Christ. Taking place now as it did the first time when Jesus said ‘this is my body…Taking place through simple faith and trust in the presence of God. It has made no difference to me that I cannot eplain the wonder of God through pointing to a simple story in the bible that was probably never written to carry the literal scientific truth with which our ‘scientific’ culture with its fear of mystery.has loaded that story even to the modern day. You go on earlier about feeling ‘insulted’ about being told what to may believe as you wish St Joseph, we all do and according to our own revelation be it great or small,frankly speaking none of it matters much compared to the all surpassing Glory of the God whose we are…because God is far greater than any ‘truth’ you or I might care to summon. All theology can do, as the centuries accumulate, is try and winnow out that which is false.

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike Horsnall.
      Tell me something new!!

      ‘ My going on earlier’ as you put it-when it is called doing the Church a diservice by believinig in the wonders of Creation in Scripture, equal to the bland definition of Richard Dawkins.
      Yes my intellect may be inferior to ‘yours’, but I do have at least the humility to express in.
      And not try to be something that I am not!!
      I hope the Lord wont judge me ‘by what you consider sometimes’ my brains.

  44. mike Horsnall says:

    Hi St Joseph,
    Sorry, can’t understand what you are getting so heated about, frankly baffled in fact!! Never mind.

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike don’t worry, we cant all understand everything.
      Are you having the Divine Mercy service in your church.?
      If you dont know about it-it is all on the Web.But I am sure you do!.

  45. Iona says:

    All that science has done, – with its revelation of the vast number of life forms that existed (and became extinct) for millions of years before humans made their appearance, and even beyond that with its revelation of millions of stars beyond our sun, and millions of galaxies beyond the one where our sun is located – is to demonstrate that the power and creativity of God is beyond anything we had imagined, and indeed probably beyond anything we can imagine.

    And by the way, St. Joseph, I really like your Grandma, – St. John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena – I’m with her all the way!

    Don’t know what’s happened to my computer, or maybe it’s the website; – I have no cursor, which is making it quite difficult to correct mistakes or change what I’ve said. Like trying to find things in the dark.

  46. tim says:

    It is not necessary to interpret Genesis literally (days, order in which species were created, etc.). But it is even more wrong to think of God setting the whole thing up and then going off and doing something else. He is outside Time (St Augustine was on to that). He sustains the universe from moment to moment. Physical laws are not self-enforcing (or if they are, I have seen no proof of this) and may occasionally be suspended by their Author, if He sees fit. Why anyone thinks that evolution is a random process and therefore cannot be divine creation I fail to understand. The best you can say is that it might be a random process – and if you reject God on other grounds, you won’t feel the need to acknowledge Him as Creator of the diversity of life.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      “Physical laws … may occasionally be suspended by their Author” – I think it more helpful and less repugnant to suppose that the laws are not quite what we have so far understood and may therefore on occasion have results that don’t fit our ideas. This, after all, is the basis on which science has always developed.

    • Rahner says:

      What is a “physical law” such that it can or needs to be “suspended”?

    • mike Horsnall says:

      ‘Physical laws are not self enforcing…’
      That sounds interesting, what did you have in mind?

  47. mike Horsnall says:

    Yes I sort of agree on this…to say that God suspends the law now and then indicates a degree of wanton behaviour to say the least and is kind of unsatisfying…God presumably is not a capricious magician.

    • st.joseph says:

      There has been lots of time in the past where prayer has worked miracles- how would one think that God would makes decisions in cases like this.
      I may not quite get the idea of what Peter and Mike are saying . so just a thought on God intervening in history or developments in the future?

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        st.joseph – My idea is that the physical and spiritual worlds are not quite so strictly separated as we tend to believe; that in some areas where purely physical explanations work for most of the time, there are occasions when the spiritual becomes decisive. I see it as rather like the way that in most ordinary circumstances Newtonian mechanics describe the behaviour of moving bodies as closely as we can tell, but at extreme speeds relativity must be taken into account.

        Prayer may indeed call forth miracles. However, on one occasion I benefited from what seems to have been a minor physical miracle when far from having prayed for it, I hadn’t even thought of the possibility. Apparently the spiritual influence kicked in without my asking.

  48. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Peter.
    The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima seen by 70 thousand people is extradionary, what do you think about that ?

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      st.joseph – I’m baffled by it! If the sun had been physically affected as described, the event would surely have aroused some comment among astronomers as completely beyond explanation. I just don’t know what could have caused the impression on the crowd.

  49. st.joseph says:

    What do you think about the Star of Bethleham and the Thunder that was mentioned in Scripture when our Lord was Crucified?Also other miraculous eventsrecorded, like for instance Our Blessed Mothers recorded messages at Fatima,with the predictions of oncoming war in 1939 and so on?
    Peter I am not only asking for your thoughts on these events ,but all those who believe that God may not be able to work miracles in an instant, and seem to maybe think they know and understand how He works!

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      st.joseph – I don’t for a moment deny that God can work miracles when and how he wishes. However, it is notorious that scriptural writers took greater liberties with facts than would now be considered acceptable, and it may well be that decades after the events a certain amount of pious folklore was mistaken for objective reality: I’m not saying that it was, but it seems a distinct possibility. Luke, who claimed to be particularly careful, doesn’t mention either the visit of the Magi or the thunder at the crucifixion, nor St. Peter’s trying to walk on the water which strikes me as a typical kind of nightmare later recounted as an excellent lesson on trusting God.

      Mike – the minor miracle. Some years ago I strained my back in a way that for about three weeks made walking more than a few paces unbearable; I had to drive even to the church only a kilometre away. At that time our priest occasionally added a blessing of the sick to our single mid-week mass, taking the consecrated Host host around for veneration by individual members of the congregation (usually a dozen or so – it’s a very small parish). At my turn I suddenly felt rather better, to the extent that I might walk to the post office a few hundred yards away and back; so it proved. On the next occasion to visit the church I could do it on foot. Within a week the problem had completely disappeared.

      Of course I told the priest about it. He no longer holds such blessings.

      • st.joseph says:

        Peter Wilson.
        Thank you for your reply’
        We are on a very slippery slope when we doubt what the New Testament says.
        Vatican 11’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation ( Dei Verbum 19):

  50. mike Horsnall says:

    Peter…What was the minor miracle?

  51. mike Horsnall says:

    ST Joseph,
    When I worked in China I knew a chap who had spent 30 years in gaol for a variety of reasons among them being very vocal about his faith. He used to go round hospitals praying for peoplke even though it was illegal. One day he dragged me along with him and we prayed for this chap who was literally just dying from a heart attack. Wu Lao got down on his knees and prayed while I looked nervously around fearing imminent arrest…the next day the chap we prayed for was awake and up……. We are not saying that God doesn’t have sway over His creation- just that God is not some mechanic fiddling with the controls and switching physical laws e.g of gravity or water hydraulics on and off here and there when he feels it best. I think what Peter and I are trying to get towards is an intuitive grasp of Gods oneness with the creation-rather like its impossible to seperate a person from their breath so God is with creation-creation is not a toy with which God tinkers so as to produce magic tricks for believers to be cheered up by.(I hope thats what you were getting at Peter!!!)

    • st.joseph says:

      I am not satisfied with your comment- ‘God is not some mechanic fiddling with controls etc’,
      St Peter walked on water, now faith alone I dont think would make him able to do that. God must have played a part in that. Water is water, and things will sink. How would you read the mind of God and the way He worked in that situation,or similar miracles?

      • Michael Horsnall says:

        Haven’t a clue StJoseph, if I did I would be even now showing off down at the local swimming baths!

  52. st.joseph says:

    You are correct Mike,God does not give all His secrets away or mankind would abuse them and use them for their own selfish use and not God’s.
    We can see what happens when they have misused the knowledge that the Lord has allowed .
    My grandmother used to say ‘Man will eventually destroy himself, from eating too much from the Tree of Knowledge.’ through pride.! I will not serve!
    I am not saying that we ought not to work for the benefit of future generations-however there are times when we need to draw the line.And find the essentials from the non-essentials.

  53. John Candido says:

    There has been a recent debate on the ABC’s Q&A program about the existence of God, evolution, etc, etc. The two guests were Professor Richard Dawkins and His Eminence, The Archbishop of Sydney, George Cardinal Pell. In the light of discussions in ‘The Eyes have it’, it is an interesting debate to watch. Despite a few minor faux pass by Cardinal Pell, I thought that he comfortably won the debate.

    • st.joseph says:

      Thank you John.
      This shows how the media can distort what people say. describing-jews-as-intellectually-inferior-20120412-1-wwng.html

      hope this come up I think I have done it right.

      • st.joseph says:

        I have tried it and it doesn’t. that is how it was sent to me on e.mail and it is ok. why I wonder?

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        st.sjoseph – I had a look at the smh site and found no sign of anything resembling that debate. Maybe it had already been deleted before you tried to open it – very frustrating for you! I sympathise.

    • Nektarios says:

      John Candido

      As a debate, it only proved one gets nowhere really. Both suggesting plenty, but not proving anything about God’s existence. This way of doing such things has been going on for centuries. It seems fruitless, but we enjoy the cut and trust of debate, don’t we?
      I felt both Cardinal Pell and Richard Dawkins were off their best form.

  54. st.joseph says:

    I could fwd the e.mail to Quentin if anyone is really interested-if Quentin didn’t mind.
    It is ony twisting what the Cardinal said.And making more of it,

    • Quentin says:

      St.joseph, I’d rather you didn’t. I don’t mind helping when there is a real need and exceptionally but not in the ordinary way. The necessary routine here is likely to be for you to copy and paste the essential bit into an ordinary comment. Q

  55. st.joseph says:

    I would if I could Quentin.But no problem!

  56. Rahner says:

    I note that Pell refers to Genesis as being “a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account.”

    • st.joseph says:

      Rahner I do wish you would show some respect and call him Cardinal Pell.
      It is so annoying when you do that!

    • John Candido says:

      ‘I note that Pell refers to Genesis as being “a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account.’

      The creation stories (plural, because there are two) in Genesis are figurative religious myths and nothing more. They had their use in a pre-Darwinian era of the Judaic and Christian faiths. They do teach some theology of God as creator. Humans and all other life are the result of God’s creative actions. They also teach us the pre-Darwinian doctrine of the ‘Fall’ and the consequence of original sin. Although original sin is still a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, it needs to be reviewed in the light of the Darwinian era, and in the light of Professor Jack Mahoney’s theological work, ‘Christianity in Evolution’.

      The genesis story cannot be relied upon to elucidate how we literally came to be; only Darwin and his evolutionary theory can. Genesis is not a science text; academic or popular. As Catholics, we are free to believe in Genesis or not and this certainly can accommodate to distinguish us from biblical fundamentalists.

      As the Roman Catholic Church is located in the modern world, it would be in the interests of the church to consider updating their theology to accommodate the modern educated mind. One such accommodation would be to completely remove the doctrine of original sin, and replace it with the God’s act of creation through evolutionary processes. To maintain the doctrine of original sin, which is completely counter-intuitive to modern men and women, would be a continuing source of cognitive dissonance and alienation for educated people everywhere.

      Is the church guilty of a lack of empathy towards modern society and contemporaneity? I certainly think so.

      • st.joseph says:

        John Candido.
        Perhaps if the Church updated the Bible,do you think lapsed Catholics would return to the Sacraments?

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        John Candido – I agree conpletely with your categorisation of the creation stories in Genesis. Nevertheless I should be reluctant to abandon the doctrine of original sin despite the difficulties in its traditional formulation, since I see within myself a permanent tendency to evil in forms that if indulged would confer no evident evolutionary benefit to me personally, to my society or to any progeny. Have you any alternative suggestion to account for it? It seems to me that the cause must lie outside time altogether, as must presumably be the fall of Satan.

      • John Candido says:

        Peter D. Wilson.

        All people, including myself, have a tendency to sinfulness. There is no getting around this inconvenient and at times embarrassing fact. There are a number of antidotes should theology call for the removal of original sin in the light of the church’s acceptance of evolutionary theory. One is simply to follow Christ! He was the perfect sinless man. He gave us all a perfect example of how to live our lives. He also gave us the supreme example of accepting and in occupying suffering, which in his case, was entirely underserving, as he was without any fault.

        Secondly, all reasonable people have an intuitive acceptance of human imperfectability. This is, by and large, universally acknowledged across all cultures and religions. Even if the doctrine of original sin was removed, the church can always state the obvious fact of our individual and collective imperfectability, in any number of Papal encyclicals, or statements of doctrine by any Congregation, Curial representative, Vatican committee, or dicastery.

        Do I have an exact account of the origin of our sinfulness or imperfectability, and an account of the fall of Satan? No, I do not. What I do have is an understanding, with others, of human freedom. Animals seem to have no or little freedom to act morally. Humans have the freedom to act morally or otherwise, as has been amply demonstrated throughout history. I don’t see the need to necessarily go outside time to offer an explanation for our imperfectability, or to understand the fall of Satan. We can believe all of this without discounting in any measure, the existence of evil in our world, or in the culpability of humans for sinful acts.

        Without listening to reasonable contemporary theology on the need to reformulate original sin, the fall of man, the redemption of humanity through the crucifixion of Christ, in the light of evolutionary theory, the Roman Catholic Church will lose an opportunity to grow, progress, and develop into a more contemporary and relevant religious body. Remember a crisis is a crisis, but it is also an opportunity for progress.

  57. Iona says:

    Thank you for that reference, John Candido, I’ve been wanting to read the debate and now I have. But most of the questions, let alone the answers, hardly touched on the topic of whether or not religion has been a force for good in the world. Which is what the debate was billed as.

    • st.joseph says:

      John Candido.
      Are you still thinking about it, or do you not know the answer to my question?
      I would really like to know your opinion.

      • John Candido says:

        ‘John Candido. Perhaps if the Church updated the Bible, do you think lapsed Catholics would return to the Sacraments?’


        The laity would come back to the sacraments if there were a serious and wide ranging renewal and reform of the Catholic Church. But it is not a simple matter, as there are a number of components that need to be present together, before we can restore the laity’s confidence in the church, both as an institution and as a sacrament.

        Firstly, textual revision of scripture is an ongoing matter for lexicographers and scripture scholars working as a team. The underlying dynamic here is the communication of the essential meaning of scriptural passages, using the lingua franca of the day (contemporary language). As language changes over time, the rewriting of scripture is a perennial task for these scholars. This is important and necessary work.

        Secondly, our hermeneutical or scriptural understanding of the bible is an ongoing project that emanates from the work of scripture scholars on behalf of the whole church. This important work would relate to a revival of the laity’s involvement with the church and its sacraments through a communication of contemporary hermeneutical scholarship, which focuses on a revisiting of the gospel and its explicit values. It is also our answer to and buttress against the biblical fundamentalism of various other Christian denominations.

        Thirdly, the church needs to consult with the research of contemporary theologians, in order to re-express our ancient truths in contemporary language for a modern world. This is absolutely essential if the church is to survive as a healthy and vigorous body, energised by the gospel and the spirit of God. Contemporary theologians consult a number of disciplines to help inform, develop, and re-express their theological understandings. These disciplines are past theological understandings, current affairs, ecclesiastical and secular history, philosophy, science, and technology.

        Depending on their theological school of thought and using their freedom and integrity, theologians seek to find answers to such problems as permissible practice of human sexuality, the objective and subjective divide in moral theology, what are the existential exceptionalities allowing human abortion, what is the extent of religious freedom, the future possibility of women priests, can we allow divorced and remarried Catholics to freely receive the Eucharist, and what is the true extent of the freedom and primacy of the human conscience?

        Lastly, our understanding of the nature of the church, or our ecclesiology of the church, needs to be revised in the light of the Second Vatican Council, and the contemporary world that it abides in. Questions need to be freely asked such as the future role and function of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), mandatory celibacy for the priesthood, a universal child care policy for the church, transparency and accountability, the church’s processes of governance, introducing something of democracy through the possibility of having something like a Lambeth Conference for the Catholic Church, an emphasis on the human rights of all Catholics, is the church working as a team, and having a standing nonbinding committee of lay and clerical experts, that can freely report on the current standing of the church? All of these issues need serious work.

        It is when the bulk of the laity sincerely views the church as a thoroughly good, contemporary, and heroic entity, which unselfishly embodies a genuine concern for everybody else except itself; the laity will come back to the sacraments in droves. This will of course take a considerable amount of time and we are talking of generations of effort.

  58. Quentin says:

    Good to see Peter D Wilson’s letter (see above) in the current issue of the Catholic Herald. And it is accompanied by another excellent letter.

    • st.joseph says:

      John Candido.
      In answer to your reply.
      You left out the the main point you were making and that is the new head of the church would be JC not JESUS CHRIST but JOHN CANDIDO. the 1st.
      Where would your heaven be for those who believe in your redemption.Presumably in space somewhere, and souls would be taken there by spaceship.
      We could call it NEVER NEVER LAND.

      In your dreams!!!!!!

      • John Candido says:

        I will remember this the next time you feign genuine interest in my ideas and ask me another question.

  59. John Candido says:

    Where is Quentin de la Bedoyere when the editing of personal comments is required?

    • st.joseph says:

      John Candido.
      All Iwanted was a YES or NO, to my question. Perhaps an ‘honest’ answer from you would have been ‘I DONT KNOW’ That would have been more appropriate.
      If you give it-you ought to be able to take.

    • Quentin says:

      You see, I live in the hope that one or the other of you will grow up. At the moment your bickering does neither of you credit.

  60. st.joseph says:

    There are a few on the blog who need to grow up from bickering.
    There will ne one less now!

  61. John Candido says:

    What is required is that personal comments that are meant to hurt or demean others need to be edited out of Secondsight, before they are allowed to fester in their target. st.joseph could have offered her views as to why my points of view were mistaken. That would have been appropriate. She has failed to do so. st.joseph has equated me to another Pope or God, with the subtext being that I am an egomaniac. This has nothing to do with genuine criticism of my ideas. As she has offered personal comments first, it is hardly appropriate Quentin that you place us both in the category of immature children.

  62. mike Horsnall says:


  63. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Could this be an instance of “Least said, soonest mended”?

  64. mike Horsnall says:

    “….since I see within myself a permanent tendency to evil in forms that if indulged would confer no evident evolutionary benefit to me personally, to my society or to any progeny…”
    Nice to know I’m not the only one! But I do agree, if we had no creation myth we’d have to invent one on account of the evidence before our eyes. Thats why we need not worry unduly about the mythological status of some texts-we have the reality ever before us.


  65. Peter D. Wilson says:

    I’ve just got round to looking at that discussion between Richard Dawkins and Cardinal Pell that John Candido recommended on April 18, 2012 at 12:31 am. I noticed that at one point the cardinal seemed to confuse Hell with Purgatory. Was that, I wonder, just a matter of having difficulty in presenting his thoughts, or a genuine confusion of concepts? Any thoughts?

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