Page 2, 8th May 1953

8th May 1953
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Page 2, 8th May 1953 — I CATHOLIC . '
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I CATHOLIC . '

EVIDENCE

Answer8 to your Questions

"No small portion of the Old Testament is illusion or fraud." Is there any truth in th1s statement?

THE statement is simply untrue, since it refers to writings inspired by God. who is the Truth.

But this does not mean that a person reading the Scriptures cannot be deceived over what he reads. even apart from misunderstandings due to possible mistakes in copying or translation. There is no illusion or fraud in the Scriptures themselves, but there may well be illusions in the mind of the reader concerning the meaning which any passage of Scripture is intended to convey; he may he quite mistaken about the kind of knowledge with which this part of the Scripture is concerned and about the kind of writing which is being used to convey it.

For instance. at the very beginning of the Bible we are given the theological teaching, in a series of pictorial scenes, that all things were created by God. The passage teaches us the doctrine of creation; if a person read it as a lesson in astronomy, physics and natural history he would be making a mistake. The Scripture would not be defrauding him, but he would be deceiving himself.

If a person read the line of poetry "The hills skipped like rams" as a factual description of a miraculous event. he would not be deceived by the Scriptures but by his own inability 1.0 understand a poetic image. The important thing always is to understand that meaning which the writers, and through them the divine Author intended to convey : that is always the truth.

But we must realise that in much of the Scriptures this is not at all easy to do; growing knowledge of Hebrew forms of literature shed more and more light, but also make the difficulties plainer. We must not therefore expect that answers will always be ready for every difficulty. There is plenty of food for us in the divine word of Scripture without our having to work out all these problems.

Can a Catholic believe that the ancestors of Adam were two apes?

THERE is nothing in this theory 1 contrary to Faith. In his encyclical Humani Generis, the present Holy Father explicitly said that the evolutionary hypothesis is one with which Catholics can work. But, if we usc the word "believe" in such a way, it would be well to remember that it has a very different meaning here from the meaning it has when we say that we believe the teachings of the Faith.

A scientific theory of this kind cannot be more than the best way anyone has been able to think out of covering such facts as are known; there is always something provisional about it. In the case of some such theories-and most scientists would probably say that this applies to evolution-so many facts are so satisfactorily covered that it is impossible not to feel certain about the theory.

But our belief in the truths revealed by God belonss to a quite different order of certainty. This, of course, applies to revealed truth about the origin of man. No process in the natural development of matter can account for the rational soul of man. Whether or not the matter which God used for Adam's body was in the form of an already living animal, the act by which He made him a man-a rational creature, in God's image. capable of knowledge and love-was a special creative act.




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