In the Land Where Everybody is a Protestant, Including the Catholics….

Marco Rubio makes his pitch for the fundamentalist right crowd by talking nonsense about young earth creationism:

GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?

Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

Part of being President is deferring to people who *do* know what they are talking about in fields where you wield no expertise. Since this man is obviously being groomed for us as the Next Mitt Romney by the rich people who tell us who we get to pretend to choose, he should learn this.  In the field of the sciences, the overwhelming evidence is that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and that the universe is about 13.5 billion years old.  In the Catholic Church, to which Marco Rubio belongs, this consensus is not controversial among educated people (including the Pope and all the bishops of the world) and only causes a stir with cranks and people who think they are Catholic but in fact are still fundamentalists.

But it still causes a stir with scientifically and theologically illiterate Americans who think  that accepting the evidence for the age of the earth or the universe is somehow to reject Scripture.  It’s not.  It’s merely to reject a particular Protestant human tradition *about* Scripture to which no Catholic is bound.  It is a Protestant human tradition that has done massive amounts of mischief, not least of which is that it blinds Christians to what Scripture is really saying, while needlessly giving ammunition to atheist fundamentalists who differ from their Christian fundamentalist brethren in only one detail: they categorically reject Scripture on the basis of this false reading instead of categorically accepting it on the basis of this false reading.

Solution: stop reading Scripture as a fundamentalist and start reading it as a Catholic.  Suddenly we find that science and revelation don’t conflict and we don’t have to play silly games like pretending the massive evidence for the age of the universe is utterly unknowable.  Is it essential to salvation?  No.  But it *is* very important for credible evangelization.  Take it away, Auggie:

“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?” St. Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, translated and annotated by John Hammond Taylor, S.J., 2 vols. (New York: Newman Press, 1982).

I could not care less which side of the Duopoly win in 2016.  I do care, however, that Catholics stop talking and thinking like Fundamentalist Protestants and start thinking like Catholics.

Update: Ross Douthat steals my Auggie quote, or I steal his, or we both steal from Auggie.

  • http://holydormition.blogspot.com John R.P. Russell

    To be fair, using Scripture to date the beginning of the world predates Protestantism. Several early Church Fathers state that the world was created between five and six thousand years before Christ. Of course, they did not have the benefit of modern scientific research and you are correct to say that Catholics need not argue with the conclusions of rational scientific observation. However, Catholics have always disagreed among themselves about the proper interpretation of Scripture regarding this issue. Furthermore, they are _free_ to disagree about it. The Church also makes no particular demand that her children accept dominant scientific opinions.

    • http://stevenadunn.wordpress.com Steven Dunn

      “The Church makes no particular demand her children accept dominant scientific opinion,” I agree, but that isn’t carte blanche to reject any mainstream scientific theory one disagrees with, either. I’m not saying you’re doing that in your comment, but it’s an important corollary: I see this in my own parish and when unchecked it leads to a profoundly damaging breakdown of intellectualism whose importance cannot be grasped by the kinds of minds pushing these bizarre theories. While one’s salvation doesn’t hinge on a belief in, say, phlogiston theory, one’s credibility (and arguably in some cases sanity) most certainly does. As St. Augustine points out above, a belief in ludicrous and unfounded ideas, like a 6000 year old Earth, are very damaging to the perception of the faith.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    Funny how different people come away with different things. For me, reading the interview, the part that bothered me was him saying that Eminem is the only guy that speaks at any sort of depth. Woof. The above was just an awkward attempt to avoid being pulled in by an obvious setup question, at least IMHO.

    • Bob

      But it’s only a set-up if your goal is to sound like a reasonable man who does not reject science but who also, most definitely, does not wish to offend any young-Earth wackadoos.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        Sounds like that is probably what he was trying to say, though I’m usually not too keen on calling fellow believers wackadoos, since outside of religious faith, many see any belief that God even exists, let alone had anything to do with creation, as simply a different form of wackadoo.

  • http://www.LifeAfterLiberalArts.com What Can I Do With A Philosophy Degree?

    Actually, it’s possible to reconcile a literalistic 6 day approach with the appearance of an older earth, which can then in turn be an argument for either side…
    http://www.oram.us/young-earth-creationism-vs-old-earth-evolution-the-catholic-position/

    • Doug

      “6 day approach”
      Not in the Douay and most other Bibles. “These are the generations of the heaven and the earth, when they were created, in THE DAY that the Lord God made the heaven and the earth” Gen 2:4
      1 day.

  • Raul De La Garza III

    Just based on reading the particular question and his response I would write, “Much ado about nothing”. Move along.

    However, I do agree with Mr. Shea’s final statement.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    George W. Bush … Mitt Romney … Marco Rubio …

    Tell me again how the GOP isn’t completely bereft of leadership. If this is their best, then they’re done.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      From what little I know of Rubio, I’m pretty confident he’s significantly better than Bush or Romney….that’s not too difficult to achieve, however.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      Not knowing much about Rubio at this point, exactly how is he that bad? Inexperienced perhaps, I’ve heard that tossed about. But otherwise, what is it that puts him in that group?

      • Peggy R

        The people rejected experience and decency for Barry and his bag of goodies.

    • D.A. Howard

      Yes MarkS. Keep typing your talking points for Obama. LOL!

    • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

      Frankly, no matter what theory of Genesis or creation held by some Republicans–it is still an utter disgrace that so many Americans –including Catholics- have voted repeatedly for a man who-i n his state legislature not only supported abortion-on-demand but also led the fight to allow healthy born babies be exterminated if something went wrong in the abortion. A doctor was hired to kill a baby in the womb and a dead baby shall be the result no matter what. How bestial and savage a road are we on???? And now, even though the Republicans held onto the House by a massive margin (and most of those Republicans strongly pro-life). So now the media is in full attack mode demanding Republicans become nothing but a second liberal party on the social issues so there can be no choices other than Planned Parenthood certified candidates. Yet constitutional experts say the House is the best indicator of where Americans are. After all they run in the smallest federal districts and they all run every two years.

  • Julie

    I suspect Marco Rubio is a CathMorProt in order to cover all bases and get votes from all 3 – Catholics Mormons and Protestants.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      You don’t know that. And unless you have evidence to support it, you shouldn’t say that.

      • Julie

        No, I don’t know that. I just suspect. Only my opinion. :)

    • Peggy R

      I have read that Rubio attends an evangelical church. He was raised Catholic. He’s been straddling Catholic/Prot for some time. He’s got to take a stand, I’d think, and decide what he is going to claim to be.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        Perhaps he’ll take a poll to see which is more desirable to the electorate.

        • Peggy R

          Probably. I really have nothing more to add on this point, but the filter is seeking more words of wisdom…

          • D.A. Howard

            Your news is outdated. That was years ago. He has been attending a Catholic parish for five years. He has, however, been wandering religiously. However, he never stated his position. He is a politician, he is acting like one. He wants people’s votes. He is not running for pope-in-chief.

            • Peggy R

              He’s too inexperienced, but clearly the GOP wants to wash away the scarlet “R” (for Racist) and nominate a brown/black skinned man to attract the diverse electorate. And the public doesn’t care for competency and accomplishment anyway, as they showed 2 weeks ago.

              Rubio still appears to frequent an evangelical community. Is he neglecting his Sunday obligation for that? I dunno.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Take it away, JPII: “We know, in fact, that truth cannot contradict truth.”

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp961022.htm

    • D.A. Howard

      J.P. II said that evolution was the most probable position. Indeed he did. However, he was not running for President, where you have to build a coalition to get elected. This is why Rubio is tip-toeing around the issue. Go ahead and offend a significant minority of people and see if you get elected. It is all about the numbers.

      You give others views while not giving your own. You HAVE to do it to build a coalition. If you want an evangelist-in-chief, vote for it at your local parish. If you want a commander-in-chief, vote at your local polling booth.

      • BLake Helgoth

        Yes, JP II actually said this. You bring it up because the science keeps positting that the earth is older and older to back up their evolutionary ideas (this stuff takes time you know). However, just because a pontif utters something does not make it part of the deposit of faith. The whole issue here is that. in order to maintain the doctrine of Original Sin we must also hold that there existed one set of parents for the entire human race. How you reconcile that with evolution I have no idea. I think what is going on here, when you dig more deeply, is that the science isn’t actually that good or rational in regards to the old 4.6 billion yera old earth view (or how ever old they say it is now) or the evolutionary one. Of course, we do know, from Scripture, that the earth was not created in 7 days, for there was no Sun or moon on the 1st day. So, we Catholcs are not fundamentalists, but I would not be so quick, as Mark seems to be, to jump into the everyone knows that there is a huge amount of creadible evidence that the earh is at least 4.6 billion years old view either.

        • BLake Helgoth

          Or 6, or 5 or however many days. Scripture does not say because it is not speaking in a strictlly historical manner at this point (sorry, my original correction was rejected for being too short).

  • The Deuce

    Mark:

    Part of being President is deferring to people who *do* know what they are talking about in fields where you wield no expertise. Since this man is obviously being groomed for us as the Next Mitt Romney by the rich people who tell us who we get to pretend to choose, he should learn this. In the field of the sciences, the overwhelming evidence is that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and that the universe is about 13.5 billion years old.

    I agree, for the most part. At the same time, evolution is one area where many scientists – probably *most* scientists – extrapolate unwarranted and incoherent conclusions from the physical evidence to the effect that man was unplanned and is a material automaton programmed by impersonal forces, and present that unwarranted extrapolation as part of the science itself. Knowing exactly where to “defer to people who do know what they’re talking about” can be a tricky thing, because this a field that is heavily, heavily influenced by politics, culture war, and materialistic philosophy, and most scientists aren’t going to tell you where precisely they’re speaking in their actual area of expertise and where their (incoherent) philosophy is coloring what they say. Most of the time, they’re probably too poorly trained in philosophy to know the difference themselves. So it can be a dangerous thing for a layman in both science and philosophy to simply “defer to the experts” on whatever topics they claim to be experts on.

    • Liz

      Yes. I agree, Deuce. These thoughts you are expressing here have often floated through my own head.
      Mark:
      Since most (but not all) scientists are atheists and claim the evidence supports atheism, your “defer to the experts” stance seems to pose a problem for us theists. What is your response to this? I am in no way trying to be rude or hostile, nor am I a young earth creationist. I am sincerely wondering about this and am struggling in my own faith life right now with this question and a number of other issues. Thanks, Mark!

      • Mark Shea

        Fr. George Lemaitre, Fr. Stanley Jaki, Br. Guy Consolmagno, and Fr. Robert Spitzer are not atheists. All of them would sign off on the fact that the universe is about 13.5 billion years old and the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. None of that represent a threat to the Faith. Recommended viewing: Cosmic Origins.

        • SpasticHedgehog

          I have such mad love for Br. Guy. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak take it! When he came to the Planetarium of the Hinterlands a few years ago he sold out both sessions so they added a third one — and that’s in a state full of atheists and pagans.

          We now return you to your regularly scheduled programing…

        • D.A. Howard

          As a social scientist, Mark, the position of science is the majority of scientist’s positions (peer review and experimental replication). You just took the atheist position. Stick to your field, please.

          There are many wholes in evolutionary arguments. In fact, scientists who oppose evolution and frequently outed and cannot get tenure if they are not whole cloth evolutionists.

          Psychology has the same problem, if you do not think homosexuality can be cured, you are marginalized and cannot get a job. However, the new research has show (e.g. reparative therapy) that it can, so the A.P.A. has had to change it guidelines. In fact, most Psychologists accept homosexuality as normal, moral and just a lifestyle. This puts your assertion about scientific authority contrary to your Catholic faith.

          The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a TRULY SCIENTIFIC MANNER and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #159).

          What if it is Kensey’s research on homosexuality that is widely accepted and quoted but was performed on a skewed prison population? He thinks homosexuality is just an adaptation with no moral import. Does not seem scientists are being very scientific by accepting him, does it? Are prisoners representative of the whole United States? Do you think most people behave like prisoners and are in that kind of environment? In Science you have to be critical of an experiment, not accept it whole cloth, or you would cease to be Catholic.

  • Jamie R

    I don’t know if this is really Rubio being some sort of fundamentalist, or if he’s just trying not to rule himself out of the GOP primaries. Nearly 50% of Americans, and a significant majority of GOP primary voters, believe in young earth creationism (as a side note, this number is consistently, significantly higher than the number of Americans who attend church on a regular basis; there’s a significant bloc of non-observant fundamentalists, which is bizarre). Admitting that the earth is old would alienate Rubio from GOP primary voters, but coming down hard on a 6,000 year old earth won’t help in a general election.

    The weirder issue is that this is a question. No policy choices depend on the age of the earth. None of the executive branch’s powers involve knowing whether the earth existed at all before recorded history. Rubio’s Catholic; no one would reasonably expect him to believe in a young earth. It’s a nakedly cynical gotcha question, that Rubio deflected as well as he could. We might want a politician who wouldn’t even play along with these games, who would just answer the question honestly (the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and created by God, but the earth’s age doesn’t really affect political questions, and people of good faith can disagree), but this is at least better than a politician who would just completely pander and believe in a young earth through the primaries and an old earth after.

    • Kristen inDallas

      I’d honestly rather he were just a young earth creationist, ignorant of the facts than the explanation you give here. If he’s a well read Catholic, who DOES know better, and is simply playing to what he thinks the base wants to hear… what a shame. To whom much is given, much is required. At least with a real fundamentalist, there’s a chance of enlightenment. For someone who knows the truth, to willfully put it aside rather than take the opportunity to thoughtfully explain how a deep understanding of scripture does not lead to conflict with scientific progress, well that’s just putting personal political ambition before God. How is that better, excactly?

    • Kristen inDallas

      Agree that it was an odd ball question though, I’d just prefer a politician with a little sass, rather than squish. Something like “Well gee, I don’t know, I suppose it depends on which rock you’d like me to carbon date. You DO have a carbon dater in your briefcase right? Or would you prefer to ask me a question about politics.” Would have deflected it nicely, without compromising any scientific or spiritual truths, and would show a bit of chutzpah to boot.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        To be brutally honest, I’d like to see someone ask the interviewer ‘exactly what particular theories regarding evolution, or methods for understanding the prevailing theories, were you wanting me to address?’ It’s an opinion of mine that many a flat earth creationist probably has spent more time reading over the science (if not rejecting it while doing so), than those who use evolution as some form of take down. Sort of like atheists who understand religion better than some religious people. I remember James Carville once threw out something like ‘the GOP doesn’t believe in science when it comes to evolution.’ I would have loved for Wolf Blitzer (who was doing the interview) to say, ‘Gee James, that’s an interesting observation. Could you take a couple minutes and unpack just what it is you do agree with, and why you agree with it – citing some actual scientific theories and the data that is a basis for those theories would be a great place to start.’ Maybe he could. But I often wonder just how many folks who default to the scientific consensus actually understand it any better than the creationists they love to lampoon.

      • SpasticHedgehog

        I want someone to ask Chris Christie about YEC. I have a feeling his answer would be epic.

        • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

          Ha! Yeah, I’d pay to see that.

        • D.A. Howard

          Christie accepts abortion in cases of rape and incest. I would not put money on him being orthodox.

    • kenneth

      “The weirder issue is that this is a question. No policy choices depend on the age of the earth. None of the executive branch’s powers involve knowing whether the earth existed at all before recorded history….”

      EVERY policy choice in these times turns on the scientific literacy of our elected officials, and the people who elect them. The primary issue is not whether Rubio knows this particular fact of geology, although I would argue that any educated man should know the answer, at least in ballpark terms. The issue is his willingness or ability to use scientific reasoning and to evaluate evidence properly. Young earth creationists, and the politicians who pander to them, reject reason altogether and celebrate ignorance as a virtue. Allowing such people to run our country will absolutely destroy our ability to compete in the 21st Century. We are already rapidly losing our edge as a center of innovation in most sectors. If we don’t have a leadership culture that understands these challenges and the value of science, we will, before very long, become an impoverished backwater republic, like many of the former Soviet states. It’s really just as simple as that.

      At a more basic level, people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old or proudly quip that “I just don’t know”, are saying it’s ok to disconnect from reality anytime reality is inconvenient. Crack open any book and you can see the results of policies which were based on defining reality by political fiat versus evidence: Communism and the Iraq War are two that spring to mind.

      • Jamie R

        Yeah, but I don’t know how believing the earth is 4.5 billion years old prevents the Iraq war. G.W. Bush went to Harvard and Yale. He knows how old the earth is. Barrack Obama knows how old the earth is, and that hasn’t stopped him from waging a war against the civilians of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

        I can’t think of one relevant policy decision where a belief in a young vs old earth or creationism vs evolution would cause someone to come down on the right side of an issue.

        • kenneth

          It’s not the belief in evolution or not that makes the difference. It’s what that understanding indicates about the person’s approach to reality. Belief in evolution in no way prevents a person from making poor decisions, but it gives them a fighting chance. Those who accept evolution and science generally acknowledge that the world and universe around them exists as it does, and not how they wish it does. They also believe in the power of reason to understand that world and respond appropriately to it.

          The creationist, in contrast, believes that the world around us is utterly unknowable and that rules of evidence and logic must be bent or ignored at will to preserve pre-conceived beliefs from any new information. Bush was a classic example of this. He was a creationist, or at least believed that it was just as good a theory as evolution. He also believed, clearly, that reality had no objective facts, but rather was subordinate to will. He went into Iraq because he truly believed he, and America, could ignore the lessons of history and facts on the ground by sheer force of will. When someone told him inconvenient facts about WMD or the prospects of success, he replaced them with someone who would find other “facts.”

          That is the difference that belief in evolution makes. It’s one marker (not the only one, by far), of whether a person is willing to treat with reality or not.

          • Lindonp

            I’m sure reading this wrong, but I think you inadvertently hit on something. “Belief in evolution in no way prevents a person from making poor decisions, but it gives a fighting chance.”

            Your broad brush characterizations have it backwards. As a Catholic creationist, I take the Church’s advice and look to the Angelic Doctor (St. Thomas). The world around us is knowable and we can use our senses to draw conclusions about that world. As a result, I find creation much more believable based on evidence and logic. It is the evolutionists who are taking evidence and logic and bending them to their pre-conceived beliefs. Evolutionists ignore the fossil record and the total lack of evidence for beneficial mutations among other facts that don’t support their position.

          • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

            FWIW, a note on terminology. I’m a creationist, as I hope all Catholics are. That is, I believe that the universe was created, that it didn’t just happen out of blind, dumb luck. Sometimes I think we’re a little fast and loose with these terms and how we apply them, and who we apply them to. Do you mean Bush was a 7 literal day creationist? Young earth creationist? What exactly did Bush believe?

  • Kirt Higdon

    I’m certainly no fan of Rubio, who is a hardline war-monger among other things. But I don’t have any problem with how he answered the question. He said he didn’t know. I don’t know. Had someone forced me to estimate, I would have tried a SWAG of several hundred million to a couple of billion years, which would have put me closer to the “young earthers” than to the current scientific consensus, but I’m not obliged to agree with either. The scientfic consensus changes; it’s been different in the past on this and many subjects and is bound to be different in the future. It may often be prudent to defer to the experts, but not always. One instance where I did not was when all the experts and practically everyone else was saying that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I stated often that they did not; I was right and the experts were wrong. All Catholic Christians must be creationists or they simply don’t believe the words of the creed which they say. As far as the age of the earth is concerned, unless you’re a geologist or paleontologist, what difference does it make?

  • Joanna

    Presently it goes without saying that you are entitled to your opinion, but that’s all it is. Science does not have the last word on anything, since only God does. I find you’re knit picking on Rubio’s answer petty, he states he doesn’t have the expertise to give an exact answer to the question, but neither do you. “Since this man is obviously being groomed for us as the Next Mitt Romney by the rich people who tell us who we get to pretend to choose,” your own assessment of reality gives away your underlying biased assessment of Rubio and his response. Please if you’ve so cleverly figured out what’s going on politically with the so-called Duopoly, maybe you should recuse yourself.

  • Christopher Sarsfield

    Mark,

    I think you are being a bit naive if you think Catholics should defer to science on the this question. For if we did we would cease to be Catholic. Science mocks “theistic evolution” as much as they mock “creationism”. I have pious faith that the universe is around 10000 years old. I have debated this question with many “scientists” and none of their proofs are convincing to me as a Catholic. I know that if God created a world in a day with full grown oaks and deep river beds, and grand canyons, and full grown animals and then placed a scientist there the scientist would be a fool to determine the earth was only a day old. But if God told him it was a day old, he should believe. How old do you think a scientist would have said that a fish was that Our Lord provided in the miracle of the loaves and fishes? Creationists are wrong. Science can not prove that God created the world in 7 days, but they are right that science can not prove a 5 billion year old earth. I have pious faith based on scripture and the creed, and if you think that makes me an “uneducated” “crank”, well then you can answer for that on Judgement Day. I am no creationist/fundamentalist. I am a Catholic, who will not be bullied by “scientists” who are out to destroy the faith, and most likely feel that you are a bigger fool than me, because you believe in theistic evolution with it criteria of monogenesis ie Adam and Eve and the fall.
    I do however agree that Rubio is not a candidate whose views have been informed by the Church.

    • Mark Shea

      Science, properly speaking, has nothing whatsoever to say for or against theistic evolution since science cannot comment on things that transcend time, space, matter and energy. Some bad philosophers, using science as a fig leaf, reject God. But truth does not contradict truth and the fact of the age of the earth in no way contradicts revelation. Your embrace of the Omphalos theory is the embrace of the idea that God lies through the book of nature. There is no need for that hypothesis and the Faith does not commit us to it.

      • current lector

        Mark,
        As a biologist I can only agree with you. I am glad that you pointed out the very serious theological issue in which young-earth creationists and their ilk insinuate that the Creator is deceptive in the making of creation to appear old. It is also a separation of faith and reason, in that creation is not seen as intelligible, so we get into a whole can of worms about an arbitrary, fickle non-Logos God. Indeed, I think this is grave stuff, and should give us big reservations about a leader who endorses such a view. This arbitrariness has consequences, in that many of the old-earth creationists adopt an impulsive, unreasoning approach to problems (unjust war, anyone?)
        No, we should not give this silliness a free pass.

        • current lector

          I meant “young-earth” creationists

  • Christopher Sarsfield

    Mark,

    First, Science does have something to say about “polygenism” and “monogenism”. That topic has nothing to do with philosophy but is essential for original sin.

    Second, the Omphalos theory, is not where I got it. One day in conversation with a Thomist, I made the mistake of saying Christ created the loaves and fishes out of nothing. No! says the Thomist. God respects the nature he gave things, and only speeded up the natural process. He then referred me to St. Thomas’ treatment of the loaves and fishes. Perhaps the protestant of the Omphalos theory had read Thomas, but St. Thomas would have held that if God created a full size oak it would have been indistinguishable from from one that was 50 years old. Just has Our Lord’s fish were indistinguishable from the others. And I am fairly certain he did not come up with this principle to defend against the evolutionists. As for lying through nature, you can bring that up to Our Lord and St. Thomas. I think St. Thomas has a better grasp of the subject than you, so I hope you don’t mind if I side with him and reject your personal understanding.

    Third, I did not say I had divine faith in the age of the earth. I have pious faith. It seems you do not understand the difference. I would suggest that you look up what pious faith is, and then read what Saints say about those who make it their habit to belittle pious faith. I would recommend starting with St. John Eudes and St. Louis Marie de Montfort. They both had a great deal to say on the topic.

    Finally, the point I most object to is your use of “uneducated” “crank” (I can assure you that I am neither) and read scripture as a protestant. This is how I interpret Scripture:

    First, with in Scripture. Did Our Lord give a meaning to a passage, well then obviously that is a good place to start.
    Second, what have the Doctors and Saints said about a particular passage?
    Third, how does the Church use the passage in its liturgy? If the passage is in the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, you can be assured that it is somehow referring to Our Lady.
    Fourth, has the Church ever rendered a definitive interpretation in the sense of Jn 3:5
    Fifth, how have the Popes used the scripture in their encyclicals
    Finally, I consult commentaries of orthodox reputation that do not blatantly contradict those above.

    Perhaps you could direct me to the protestant fundamentalist who interprets scripture in the above ways.

  • Robb

    In the beginning God created. Beyond that I can’t know. Hubble et. al. not with standing.

  • Jmac

    Man, the GOP really is trying its darnedest to repulse me. There’s nothing even close to an actual argument on how old the earth is, and the republicans are showing once again that they either know nothing about science, or are at least willing to completely deny it when it’s politically feasible.

    As for why this was a reasonable question, I’m going to completely agree with Kenneth. EVERY major decision in this country has become dependent on scientific literacy, and if your knowledge of science is so shallow that you can disregard facts to shore up your favorite ideology, it’s scary to a lot of people.

    Everyone keeps telling me a technocracy would be a bad thing, but it’s looking more and more desirable the more I see politicians like Rubio pontificating stupidly on proven facts.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Apparently, idiocracy will be simultaneously implemented top-down and bottom-up. Better buy stock in Gatorade now.

      • Jmac

        I think you mean Brawndo, the thirst MUTILATOR. Nah, I’m a Seattleite, I’d totally be a Starbucks pimp.

        But seriously, Idiocracy freaked me out a whole lot more than it made me laugh.

        • ivan_the_mad

          Doh! –nerd_cred for me.

          Yeah, like all good satires, it hit a little too close to reality.

          • ivan_the_mad

            That was supposed to be a prefix decrement, but Patheos decided otherwise.

            • Jmac

              Compiler error, but points for trying.

        • kenneth

          Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho in 2016! Actually Camacho would stand as an intellectual giant next to the Tea Party’s usual A-team…..

          • ivan_the_mad

            So would the A-Team :D Mr. T 2016!!!

    • c matt

      The problem is that EVERY decision in society – and even individually – depends even more heavily upon philosophical literacy (and I include theological literacy as its queen). If you think our leaders are woefully inadequately schooled in scientific literacy, their philosophical deficiency is 1000 times worse.

      • Jmac

        Well, as was Mark’s original point, accepting young-earth creationism is kinda illiterate for a Catholic, so I guess Rubio hit the trifecta of illiteracy there. Unsurprising, really, seeing as he’s the Republican front-runner and the GOP is hellbent on not learning anything from the last election.

  • David Zacchetti

    I for one would be thrilled if the Republican Party nominated Marco Rubio in 2016.

    • Mark Shea

      Then congrats because they are already nominating him in 2012. In 2016, you’ll get to have the illusion that you had something to do with it.

    • kenneth

      So will the Democrats and any halfway progressive people in the nation. If they nominate Rubio, they won’t even have to change out of their PJs or leave the house during that election cycle to win.

  • Miriam

    Ain’t it great? Everyone is so smart except Rubio and Republicans.

    Get a life and stop being so snarky.

    I’m thinking it may be a sin. Otherwise known as holier than thou.

    • kenneth

      Republicans are not inherently stupid. In fact, they once produced some of our nation’s most educated and finest thinkers in the areas of economics, foreign policy etc. They abandoned that legacy with the rise of neo-conservatism and embraced an anti-intellectual ethos as extreme as that of fundamentalist Islamism.

  • yan

    I do take issue with your saying that the SSPX are not Catholics. I doubt the Pope would agree with that statement.

    You say that 6-day creationism is a product of a certain tradition of protestantism to which we are not bound. That much is true. But neither are we bound to reject that tradition. Though you would like to class people that accept that tradition as being amongst the unwashed embarrassing people that St. A. says would be better off keeping their mouths shut for the gospel’s sake, there are very many intelligent and thoughtful people, both Catholic and Protestant, that believe in a 6-day creation and/or that find that the idea has scientific support. You have insulted them and also classed them with a group that you wrongly think is excommunicated [or 'not catholic' in your words], thus excommunicating them by association.

    I agree 100% with what Rubio said. Both opinions should be tolerated and insofar as the government interferes with that toleration in respect to the choice of parents to have the education that they want for their children, especially if it is for such parents a matter of conscience, the government should be restrained from forcing poor parents to put their children into schools that will teach their children a scientific and philosophical basis for materialism and materialism ONLY, to the detriment of their souls.

    I thank God I don’t live in Germany, where they believe it is wise for various policy reasons to insist that everyone have the same public education, which is based on what the majority of smart people think is correct, even in matters affecting conscience and without regard to parental opinion about such things. When this issue came up in America in the 20′s, the Court made it clear that the parents, not the state, are number 1 when it comes to the education of their children. I agree, and by the way so does the catechism.

    It’s fine to disagree with 6-day creationists but it is not right to cast them away or insult them or, in my opinion, to have the state prevent them from rearing their children according to their parents’ conscience.

    Rubio is echoing the classic American model for dealing with these issues; there is absolutely no reason to denigrate his statements as being merely pandering to voter blocs. There will be plenty of time and opportunity for that in the future, perhaps….

    • kenneth

      “I agree 100% with what Rubio said. Both opinions should be tolerated…..”
      If scientific knowledge is really all just a sort of free-form improvisational jazz/interpretive dance, does that mean one “opinion” is as good as the next? Would you board a plane designed by an engineer who didn’t bother with calculus and aerodynamic theory because it wasn’t proven to his satisfaction? Would you “tolerate” a surgeon who didn’t wash his hands or glove because he wasn’t satisfied with germ theory? There’s no basis for yanking his license under your paradigm if one opinion is as good as another.

      • yan

        I never said one opinion is as good as another.

        Of course, you are making the type of comparison you believe to be apposite. But I think the comparison is to competing theories, both of which have explanatory power, rather than to rejection or acceptance of a single theory, which you believe to be the theory of evolution. If you don’t see that, perhaps you should be open-minded enough to attempt to understand the scientific explanations of those that disagree with you, rather than assuming that their adherence to a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 makes everything else they have to say about the interpretation of scientific data unworthy of your consideration. They have quite a lot to say, actually.

        Creationists don’t offer a different theory of mathematics nor of practical physics nor or molecular biology than other scientists.

        If creationist theory fails when put to the test of explaining the data that we have and which we use to explain the world’s origins, then it should be rejected on that basis. But it should not be jettisoned solely because it is associated with a biblical hermenuetic that you think is declasse.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          It sounds like you’re trying to be way too open in your approach to the topic.

          • yan

            Would you mind explaining your criticism a bit more thoroughly. Or am I trying to be way too open to your criticism? :)

        • kenneth

          I understand the scientific basis offered by creationists quite well, and it is on that basis that I reject their theories as wrong and unworthy of serious consideration. Their theory has no reasonable explanatory power and, as it appeals to supernatural causes, is not a scientific theory anyway. You say that “Creationists don’t offer a different theory of mathematics nor of practical physics nor or molecular biology than other scientists.”….

          Well, it’s true, they don’t offer different theories on these things, but their theory of a young Earth requires radically different theories in all of these areas. In fact it demands that we throw away everything we thought to be true about physical processes of the universe. There is simply no way to arrive at a 6,000 year age without radical retooling of things like gravity, the speed of light, rates of radioactive decay, the age and life cycle of stars etc. Creationists assert that these things are not constant nor even predictable in any way. They have no plausible or testable theory to explain how such wild fluctuations occur, but young Earther’s theory absolutely requires acceptance of such things. It requires that we abandon the very idea of trying to understand the natural world, because everything we thought we knew was an illusion, created either by God to test us (or for some other unknowable reason of His) or Satan to deceive us. Their idea’s root in the Bible is neither here nor there, except that they believe the Bible demands rejection of all reason and evidence that might question their literal read of it.

          “Creation scientists” are not doing science at all. They’re doing dogma, and trying to sell it as science. They open the debate by telling us this whole area of universe origins science is beyond debate because God says so. They reject out of hand the rules of evidence and other methods of science. They reject science and in the same breath insist what they’re doing is good science.

          • yan

            You exaggerate somewhat about the creationists, and in so doing make it difficult for yourself to look objectively at what they are doing and saying. Their theories certainly do not ‘demand that we throw away everything,’ etc. That is hyperbole. Their ideas are a challenge to mainstream ideas and would require altering of those ideas. There is nothing per se wrong with that.

            Then y0u are just conclusory in order to dismiss them: ‘they are not doing science at all,’ ‘they reject out of hand rules of evidence,’ etc. There is very little truth, if any, in those statements.

            And it is completely wrong to assert that they are not trying to understand the world. In the past there have been a few unfortunate ones that alleged dinosaurs to be a deception of the devil but I don’t think there are any such people now; certainly no creation scientist living of which I am aware. The Cath0lic church was rightly afraid of Galileo and Copernicus once, too. Be a little compassionate. Sometimes piety is not prepared for the encounter with true science; we don’t want to overthrow the former in our zeal for the latter.

            The only supernatural causes that creationists assert is that God made the world in six days out of nothing, and that He flooded the earth in the time of Noah. They don’t assert that the world doesn’t obey natural laws, just that God sometimes interferes with their operation. Certainly we Catholics can accept that premise as being a reasonable one, and moreover one which can be sanctioned both by a fair reading of Scripture and also that has been supported through many writings by many wise men throughout church history.

            Certainly it is reasonable to posit that God’s actions in the world would wreak havoc with conclusions based upon uniformitarian assumptions about the history of the world. But that is not bad science; it is an attempt to do faithful science.

      • c matt

        Well, one difference with your comparisons is that the rejection/acceptance of aerodynamics/germ theory is directly and immediately related to the actions being performed. YEC does not dictate any particular political course – one could be a YEC and pro Iraq war, or anti-Iraq war, pro Obamacare, anti-Obamacare, and any number of other things.
        It was a cynical trap question that Rubio handled reasonably well if perhaps not perfectly or with sufficient chutzpah to put the questioner back in his place. He rambled a bit – probably somewhat pandering. I would have just stopped at “I don’t see how that factors into any policy decisions. Next question.”

  • Lindonp

    I must wholeheartedly agree with Christopher Sarsfield. I should not be surprised in this day and age, but it is disconcerting to hear Catholics make arguments for an old earth and evolution. This is especially ironic given the lack of scientific evidence in the fossil record, the mathematical impossibility of enough favorable mutations to make evolution possible, as well as the debunked theory (U of Colorado study) that geological strata represent long periods of time. Faith and reason are perfectly compatible for those that actually look at the science.

    • j. blum

      What is this U. Of Colorado study to which you refer? And what has kept it from geology textbooks at backwards places like the University of Michigan?

      • Blake Helgoth

        “What” has keep it from the textbooks is that it is considered heresy by the scientific community because it contradicts an irrationally held belief of theirs.

  • Chris

    I’m not going to leave an opinion, only a suggestion for reading. “Creation and Evolution: A Conference with Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gondolfo”.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Yeah, straw man, I bet you’re really in league with Axelrod!!!

    *straw man says nothing because it’s made of straw*

    Oh ho, qui tacitus consentire, don’t you know! You’re really a paid secret Democrat shill, aren’t you???

    *straw man still says nothing because it’s still made of straw*

    QED, you ignoramus!

    • Jmac

      Just saw this. By far the best comment on this thread.

  • Aegis

    “They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.”

    St. Augustine, The City of God, Book XII Chapter 10.
    Link: http://newadvent.org/fathers/120112.htm

    • yan

      hah! What a dummie! Obviously understands nothing about how to properly interpret figurative, non-literal, sui generis passages in the Bible. Well I take back the ‘sui generis’ part, since the Bible is full of cockamamie unbelievable things which ‘contradict’ science….

      And don’t forget this quote from the same chapter, in which he discusses the different lengths of time assigned by different nations to the lengths of various empires, and then compliments those that reckoned various histories to be the shortest in duration: “And therefore the former must receive the greater credit, because it does not exceed THE TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE DURATION OF THE WORLD, AS IT IS GIVEN BY OUR DOCUMENTS, which are truly sacred.”

      St. A. could be wrong about that but if we would dare not criticize him for being a literalist in respect to Genesis 1-11, why do we freely villify those that share the same respect for the Bible as he did, which leads them to interpret it also in the manner he did?

      And if the answer is ‘we give him a pass b/c he didn’t know about modern science and the theory of evolution,’ doesn’t the respect for the opinions of this the greatest Father of the Church behoove us to hesitate before we condemn the same opinion in others before we investigate the empirical bases for the science they believe supports those claims?

      • Scaevola

        St Augustine was far from being a literalist in the modern young-earth sense. Just saying. He outlines an interpretation in the City of God where the days symbolize the angels’ understanding of God’s creation. Just sayin.

      • JWH

        Yan,
        I’ve skimmed through the comments and just wanted to say thanks for your humility and respectfulness. Personally, I liked Rubio’s answer because I also don’t know know the answer to that question. I do know that I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. I was a young-earth creationist in the past. Today, I honestly am not sure. If that makes me an ignorant, fundamentalist, I guess I’ll have to accept the label. However, having had science teachers throughout my life present evolution in an atheistic manner and ridiculing religious belief of any kind, I am not quite ready to just defer to the experts.
        Happy Thanksgiving!

        • yan

          Thanks JWH for your very kind comments. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. May God enlighten us all!

  • http://www.geographictravels.com Catholicgauze

    ” people who think they are Catholic but in fact are still fundamentalists”

    Mark,
    As a Catholic who believes in an old Earth and evolution as the leading theory of life I find this statement very troubling. The various Papal statements on the matter allow for a wide range of belief include a literal interpretation. When it comes to politics you seem to have the desire to appear holy than thou when compared to candidates like Santorum and Rubio. While these people are not perfect, you statements are part of a troubling trend of denouncing people as if you view on the matter is the sole Catholic view of the matter. Please be a little bit more charitable to honest allowed differences of opinion.

    • Mr. Patton

      “Please be a little bit more charitable to honest allowed differences of opinion.”

      Issues like evolution and the age of our universe and the planet Earth are more than just differences of opinion, they are the great divide between faith and knowledge.

      • Mark Shea

        No. They are *a* relatively unimportant divide between ignorance and knowledge. Because atheist materialists place enormous false metaphysical importance on evolution as a fig leaf for their atheism, they inflate the importance of this branch of science, as well as making category mistakes like yours in order to insist that it is somehow necessary to Faith to deny evolution. It’s not, as any educated Catholic knows. But neither is expertise in evolution all *that* important to ordinary people, just as people have lived good and happy lives without knowing all that much about hydraulics, gravity, or particle physics. These things are not invested with metaphysical significance by atheist fundamentalists, so nobody makes the sort of rubbish metaphysical pronouncements about them like you just made about evolution.

        • Mr. Patton

          “…so nobody makes the sort of rubbish metaphysical pronouncements about them like you just made about evolution.”

          Oh my! I didn’t realize that the concepts I was discussing was abstract for you. Ignorance isn’t how one should coin the “metaphysical pronouncements” in question…:)

        • Jmac

          Certainly it’s not a branch of science that’s important to the daily functioning of most people. It’s become important though, because evolution deniers have built up a framework of extremely shoddy reasoning merely because they want to torture science into saying something they already believe. This isn’t just scientific illiteracy, this is trying to force reality to bend to your own prejudices. Many of the YECs I know are great people, sure. But the fact that they’re willing to throw out science in order to shore up their own interpretation of scripture is kinda scary from a scientific standpoint, and deeply embarrassing from a religious/rational standpoint.

          • yan

            I don’t think anyone is trying to ‘throw out science.’ What is at issue is the freedom to interpret data in different ways, within differing theoretical paradigms, and to come to differing conclusions. You seem to define ‘science’ as ‘what the majority of scientists conclude about the data.’ Different conclusions cannot be science, by that understanding.

            Certainly it is important to consider the fact that a majority of scientists come to a particular conclusion when deciding whether or not the conclusion is valid. But it is not the only fact to consider. Majorities can be wrong. And there are a number of facts about the make up of the scientific community that give reason for suspicion of those conclusions when they are, at times, rabidly opposed to the possibility of science being reconcilable with the theory of a young earth.

            • Jmac

              Nah, it’s way simpler than that. All forms of creationism outside of theistic evolution merely don’t adhere to the available data in any way. This has nothing to do with “consensus”, it’s merely a dispassionate look at the data we have available. Every evidence we have points to an old earth, and all those evidences agree on the age of that old earth. The fossil record demonstrates evolution to a degree nobody thought possible, given how rare fossils actually are. To get a young-earth creationist interpretation out of this, you need to make a constellation of a priori assumptions, move goalposts like crazy, and disregard the more damning pieces of evidence. Or just assume that God lied through the natural world, which I can’t accept theologically.

              Different conclusions are one thing, but creationism is not an intra-science debate. It’s about as acceptable scientifically as alchemy or geocentrism. If there’s more evidence to add that contradicts what we currently have, then we can talk. Otherwise, it’s a shoddy theory with bad theology and worse science.

              And yes, the evidence really is that overwhelming. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html

              I’m sorry if I’m coming on kinda strong in this thread, I just find the persistence young-earth creationism, especially in Catholic circles, to be deeply embarrassing.

              • yan

                The devil is in the details. If we want to make this thread about science, I confess that it will probably be above my pay grade after a certain point. Unless we have a debate on that level though, the response to your conclusory statements is simply, in the words of the Big Lebowski: “yeah, well, that’s just like, your opinion, man….”

                However, I could give the creationist response to the one statement of evidence that you make here: the dearth of transitional forms in the fossil record as a ratio of the amount of fossils actually found is a problem for evolutionism, not a support for it. The theory proposes that we should have an overwhelming amount of transitional forms in the fossil record. Logically, we should have more transitional forms than anything else. That’s right there in the Origin of Species. What we have in fact is very few alleged transitional forms, any of which might in fact not be a transitional form at all.

                Who is disregarding the damning evidence or lack thereof in this case?

                Often in these cases, the assumption of evolution effectively becomes the proof of evolution. A fossil is found which seems to bear some resemblance to a transitional form. The theory predicts transitional forms, and so the evidence which supports that it is a transitional form is given emphasis, and the evidence which would contradict that interpretation is minimized, or held in abeyance temporarily until we have a greater ability to show that the evidence supports the conclusion that it is a transitional form.

                That’s how theories work. Creationist theories too.

                But I wish you and all would not repeat the canard that creationists believe God lied through the fossil record. That is a slander.

                • Jmac

                  I really would prefer to have a scientific debate, since that’s what this whole topic really revolves around. I’ll confess to not being a biologist, but I’ve studied evolution extensively on my own time, especially because I was surrounded by creationists/ID folks growing up, and wanted to take a look at the evidence myself. Once I did, I realized quickly that there was no scientific argument to be had, so as I say, the persistence of creationism is puzzling and embarrassing to me.

                  I certainly wouldn’t agree on the lack of transitional fossils. It gets brought up by a ton of creationists, but we really do have far more transitional forms than we would have thought. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html

                  Please note in particular section 1.3, which outlines the predictions of evolution and creationism with regards to transitional forms. Also note the time spent discussing punctuated equilibrium, a competing mechanic to Darwinian evolution popularized by Stephen J. Gould. As an aside, citing Origin of the Species is not really relevant in this debate because Darwin’s ideas have been vastly expanded and made more robust with time and observation.

                  And I’m not saying that creationists necessarily believe that God lied through the fossil record, merely that it’s the only self-consistent way of interpreting the data at hand.

                  • yan

                    Thanks for the link. In order to respond properly from the creationist perspective, I would of course have to respond sentence by sentence, and have sufficient scientific knowledge. Responding sentence by sentence just can’t happen here; and if it could, I wouldn’t be sufficiently qualified to do so, I’m afraid.

                    I agree that this is about science. I suppose that is why this debate is ongoing: only true specialists have the ability to resolve the issue one way or the other.

                    You aver that after study that there is no longer any scientific argument to be had. I am sorry but I must point out that many others have made studies and have come to a different conclusion than you. I don’t think they are all idiots or blinded by a psychological need to have science confirm their literalist understanding of Genesis 1-11. But that is precisely the attitude required in order to discount creationist theory. I don’t think it is tenable; not to mention, I think it is very charitable.

                    I would like to point out one thing however, as regards scientific theory, which caught my eye in your link: creationists have no reason to reject natural selection as a means of winnowing out forms of life. It is the production of the new forms, from which nature selects, which poses a problem for evolutionary theory in their view.

                    Therefore creationist theory would predict that new forms of life would be very closely related to forms which have always existed. It would also predict that many more forms of life existed in the past than exist in the present, due to the action of natural selection.

                    So, it would predict that there would be grey moths and then white moths and then moths with very very big wings or very very small ones and so on which, over time, might not even breed with the original moths. That is what I was taught in biology as being the definition of a new species. Creationists don’t have a problem with that. They have a problem with the idea that the change can be unlimited, in any direction, given enough time.

                    From what I understand the fossil record supports the idea that there were more species in the past than in the present. I seem to recall that we are losing species all the time, not gaining new ones.

                    Therefore it is likely that many of what are called transitional forms were simply forms that died out but which lived alongside the ancestors of the forms which remain. But as I stated above, that is not the only problem with claiming that something is a transitional form. And I don’t think you are correct to say that we have more transitional forms than we could hope for. Moreover we don’t have the amount that the theory would predict should exist in the fossil record.

                    Cheers, my friend…

                    • Jmac

                      ” I am sorry but I must point out that many others have made studies and have come to a different conclusion than you.”

                      I can respect that, but I think that they’re very wrong. That doesn’t make them all idiots, no, but I really can’t relate to being a creationist at all, and most if not all of the creationists I know most certainly do make the a priori assumption that Genesis is literally true. As a scientific proposition, all the evidence I’ve seen says that’s not the case.

                      “I would like to point out one thing however, as regards scientific theory, which caught my eye in your link: creationists have no reason to reject natural selection as a means of winnowing out forms of life. ”

                      It sounds to me like you’re going for the classical microevolution/macroevolution dichotomy, but I can’t see any evidence that there’s any difference between the two. All evidence points to the fact that macroevolution is just microevolution + time. The mechanism really is no different. The way I see this argument used mostly is as a handy way of moving the goalposts whenever new evidence is introduced. I’m not saying it’s done maliciously or even intentionally, but the dichotomy really is set up to make moving the goalposts easy to do. If there was a more rigid definition of the difference between the two, then it would be a testable proposition. As it currently stands, it’s not.

                      “From what I understand the fossil record supports the idea that there were more species in the past than in the present. I seem to recall that we are losing species all the time, not gaining new ones.”

                      I’m really not sure where you’re getting your data from, but no, that’s not the case. The Cambrian explosion, for one, shows rapid speciation. So too would the aftermath of any major extinction event. More recently, just to draw one example, bacteria were discovered in 1975 that could consume nylon, an artificial product that did not exist prior to 1935, and the biological structures necessary to consume nylon were vastly different than anything similar bacteria had. That’s a clear example of rapid speciation in my book, and certainly seems to be a candidate for a proof-positive of macroevolution, if I could get a creationist to define what macroevolution means.

                      I definitely do appreciate the fact that you’re being incredibly civil, I know these conversations tend to get people angry really fast.

        • yan

          “No. They are *a* relatively unimportant divide between ignorance and knowledge.”

          I’m glad you think the divide is relatively unimportant. A fair reading of your post led me to think that you think that the divide is very important.

          But there is still the issue of your unwarranted [in my opinion] presumption that people that hold to the one view are ignorant, whilst those that hold to the view that you favor are the knowledgeable ones.

  • Barbara

    Marco Rubio’s “above my pay grade” moment.
    Here’s what I find tiresome: that all Protestants are tarred with this creationist brush. And that Marco Rubio must be Catholic and therefore must talk like a Catholic. From what I’ve read, he was a Catholic, was a Fundamentalist, is going back to Catholicism. Why do I get the impression that the flavor of Christianity isn’t as important to him as not alienating a voting block?
    I think this answer is pathetic, but then, I thought the question was pathetic.

  • Adam_Baum

    The key phrase is “I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. “.
    I dislike politicians. I think that given enough time, all will become prevaricators, if not thoroughly corrupt. This is not an example of either. Acknowledging that a specific question is subject to irreconciliable and irresolvable opinions, but is outside the concern and competence of politics isn’t cause for complaint. It is prudent, especially in a time when politicians seem to think elections make them infallible expositors on all matters.

  • TG

    A whole article on Marco Rubio that I just want to say – so what? As Mother Angelica would say, does anybody really know how old the earth is – were you there. In National Catholic Register – this article is title “Is Marco Rubio Catholic?- No”. I wish you’d write more about the heretical Catholic politicans who support abortion. I never see anything negative on them, just the conservatives.

    • Joanna

      TG..well said. This article seems to be motivated more by Mr. Shea’s grievances with the political system than theological conerns. Calling the system a ‘duopoly’ is a weak capitulation of a catholic’s responsibility to particiapte in the political process, albeit highly flawed. There are numerous catholic politicians who warrent real admonishon regarding grave issues like supporting abortion, gay marriage etc. May I suggest for future reference “Is Nancy Pelosi Catholic?-No” The Catholic Church has bigger challenges than when the earth was created.

      • Mark Shea

        Wrong. It’s motivated by my interest in Catholics presenting a credible witness in the public square by knowing their faith–just as I say it is.

        • andy

          Well, Mark, you seem to be able to mind-read Rubio’s motivations (in your very first sentence). You go even further than that and accuse him of casting off catholicity by not agreeing with smart Catholics on a question not essential to the faith. Just because the Pope has no problem with the generally accepted science on the age of the earth does not make one “protestant” for not saying the same thing. Knowing your faith? This is a matter of knowing your faith? There is no church teaching on what we are to believe on the age of the earth.

          This whole thing is a huge over-reaction. You come off as very touchy about statements that sound like something a “fundamentalist” would say. You are an awesome apologist and leader and this is quite unbecoming.

          • Mark Shea

            I said nothing about him “casting of catholicity”. I said he doesn’t know the Catholic faith very well.

            • andy

              OK, then the title of your post means what, exactly?

              And this is not a matter of knowing the faith. OK, so he’s either not savvy to or is otherwise not in agreement with the intellectual position of the Pope, Mark Shea and Fr Spitzer on an issue that’s not essential to the faith. How does this mean that he needs to better learn his faith?

              Elevating this question to a test of knowledge of the Catholic faith is a serious error.

              • Mark Shea

                It’s a reference to a quip Cardinal George once made that, in American, everybody is a Calvinist, including the Catholics. For the humor-impaired, what this means is that huge numbers of Catholics get their catechesis, not from the Church, but from American culture, both Protestant and post-Protestant. Those who get their catechesis from the Church know that there is no conflicted between science, properly understood, and Faith, properly understood.

  • Nick Boggs

    Ok everyone, this whole thing is ridiculous. He’s doing an interview with GQ people! The interviewer is the one trying to get Rubio to make some fundamentalist (and as they see it..’wacko’ statement), so they can portray the GOP’s new poster-boy (whom I like actually ) as a loon. Right from the jump Rubio said the question has NOTHING to do with current U.S. problems and policies. So please..get off his back (Mark). Mark, if you were running for office, the first thing they’d ask you is if you believe in ‘no exceptions’ for rape, incest, and safety of the mother in relation to abortion. The question is inherently designed to expose you (and all good Catholics), as pro-life cooks who don’t care about women. So please try to sympathize with what he’s trying to accomplish for the greater good of the country. And please don’t try to equate good Republicans with liberal-democrats like Obama…they’re not the same, they’re different. Saying they’re all the same and useless to us as a country is not true and does not help anything get solved.

  • Bill

    I have no problem with Sen. Rubio’s answer. He honestly and humbly said he didn’t know the answer to the question.
    I have great difficulty with the Register’s statement(in the Tito title) that Sen. Rubio’s response showed he was not a Catholic. Whether or not he is, the Register had absolutely no basis for defaming him in this way.
    Same for Mark Shea, who will have us all believe that he is the all knowing scientist and can tell us all about creation and when it was formed. Baloney!!!

  • Joann

    Scanned the comments and I’m a bit surprised not to see the obvious question: Why did GQ ask such a question? All of you are so busy criticizing or trying to support Rubio’s answer. Focus should be on journalists who are already trying to tip the scales come 2016. What would this possibly have to do with his ability – or inability to be President? If we want better choices – start demanding better journalists. Stop giving the media a pass.

  • Rick

    This article is a disgrace. It is perfectly Catholic to believe that the world was created 6-10k years ago and that this does not reject modern science. It does reject modern scientific theories. Yet these same theories require one to reject known laws of science like the 2nd law of thermodynamics. It also requires that we believe in spontaneous generation and for a universe to self assemble by itself with no higher power or intelligence.

    We should not be quick to forget that scientists theories change like the wind. In my lifetime I’ve seen them go from a global ice age, to global warming to climate change. It was not long ago that a steady state universe was the common belief of scientists and only later did they have to admit that the universe had a beginning…just like scripture says.

    The author should actually read St. Thomas Aquinas, on his dissertation of creation. However, my guess is that the author is more Catholic than St. Thomas, and that St. Thomas is a Protestant who distorts the meaning of Scripture. To my knowledge St. Augustine was the only father of the church who did not believe that the universe was created in six literal days…he thought it happened instantly and that the days referred to revelations of angels.

    Modern science can not tell us what energy is, what the fundamental cause of gravity, or the strong and weak forces are. They don’t know what cases inertia, or what the underlying car of the universal gravitational constant is. They come up with theories that have no observational or experimental evidence. Mark proposes that we blindly believe all such theories without question.

    Theses same scientists propose a multiverse system with an infinite number of universes, and we happen to live in the one that works. They require that something comes from nothing and that entropy can arbitrarily be overcome by chance and time. They deny Adam and Eve’s existence, and therefore original sin and therefore render Christ’s death on the cross meaningless.

    Mark, I suggest you learn what Catholic Traditional actually says, and become aware of how fragile modern science is. I suggest you look at the assumptions going into their dating of the universe. I also suggest you read the introduction to the Summa for a proper understanding of faith and science. I also suggest you read scripture. Moses poses: did God not create heaven and earth in six days?”

    Thank God Mark was not tree because he would have answered, not really, perhaps figuratively.

    • Jmac

      The 2nd law of thermodynamics does not contradict evolution, since the earth is not a closed system, and the 2nd law only applies to closed systems. Spontaneous generation and abiogenesis are vastly different concepts. And science does not make any metaphysical statements about the formation of the universe as you seem to think it does.

      Also, can we please get rid of the idea that since science changes, it must have no idea what it’s talking about? Scientific theories change based on new evidence, which we’ve been able to collect a whole lot better over the last several centuries. One would expect science to change rapidly in the face of better data. At any rate, evolution is so well documented by the fossil record that it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

      Finally, the multiverse is one interpretation of quantum mechanics. It’s popular now since it makes the math work out really well, but until we can observe them, it’s still in the theoretical physicist’s realm.

      Also, as has been pointed out many times before, “Catholic Traditional” never subscribed wholesale to literal six-day creation, and may of our greatest thinkers thought differently.

      • yan

        But isn’t the UNIVERSE proposed to be a closed system to which the 2nd law of thermodynamics would apply?

        Also, I don’t see how abiogenesis and spontaneous generation can be described as ‘vastly different concepts.’ They both try to explain how life arises from non-living things. The main difference between them is that the progress of science has discredited spontaneous generation. So far as I know it has not yet successfully propounded a complete theory of abiogenesis.

    • Mr Martin Savage

      Well said and well written!

      Evolution, old Earth and old Universe theories are so puffed with sophist knowledge it’s a wonder their promoters haven’t told us about gods and heavenly creatures yet. (Although, I suppose there was that mention by secularist Crusader, Stephen Dawkins, of the universe becoming “self-aware”; and the Friends of the Earth believe in Mother-Earth; and then life just came into existence; and what ever you do, don’t mention the ‘aliens’ thing…)

      Note to self: at Private Judgement repeat, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth…”

    • Imrahil

      If I remember correctly, St. Thomas treated, with St. Augustine, the Creation as happening (from God’s point of view that is) in an instant, unfurled in Genesis in six days.

      And, of course, there is no such thing as a Catholic Tradition against St. Augustine, except for points where St. Augustine has been contradicted by the Magisterium. We can speak of dissenting Church fathers, but they do not decide by majority. Anyway, I hear sometimes from Creationists about an “overwhelming consensus” of the Fathers but I have not yet come across an actual citations where a Church father defended as literal (!= quoted) the First Chapters of Genesis.

      All the same, I don’t think what Mr Rubio said taken as it stands is wrong – unlike a “the Bible says some 6000 years and so obviously our scientific consensus is wrong”, which would be wrong. The image such an answer will create is a different thing, but then again, let’s face it, the blame is on the question, and I’m not a politician to decide how to answer such a question in case one does opine what Mr Rubio opines.

      • Imrahil

        Annotation: even an overwhelming consensus if it did exist would mean nothing binding, if against St. Augustine and not backed up by Magisterium.

  • Christopher Lake

    Rubio stating that he is not a scientist and, therefore, not qualified to give a definitive answer on the age of the earth, is *not* Rubio stating that he is a 6-day creationist. It is also not *necessarily* him trying to placate 6-day creationists. Could it, just possibly, be his humility speaking on the question of the earth’s age? Would that not be the charitable interpretation of his words? Why should we not interpret his words charitably?

    • phil

      If Rubio were asked what how many people killed Kennedy and he said.” It’s a great mystery, I’m not a historian”, would that be an exceptable answer? Or Couldn’t we infe he’s dappling in conspiracy theories?
      Anyway, I think this answer may have brought out the Baptist mega church attendee in Rubio more than the Catholic.

  • Walt

    Mark: The “crank” Robert Sungenis is offering $1000 to you if They Can Prove the Earth is 4.5 Billion Years Old. This should be easy money for you from what I’ve been reading. Please hurry and let me know when you collect.

    • Hans-Georg Lundahl

      And if you don’t need the money you can give it to a soup kitchen – if you get it.

  • Monty Lee

    To use this incident to bash Rubio is specious. I am not endorsing him, but this was obviously an attempt to spring an unexpected, “gotcha” question on him. While it is important for potential leaders to be scientifically literate, how many of us walk around with factoids like this in our heads? “Quick! What’s the age of the earth? What’s the atomic number of Mandelevium?” Awwwww and you think you can be President? You call yourself a Catholic?” Ridiculous.

    • Surprise123

      For some of us, the question of “how old the Earth is,” is not a “Gotcha” question, anymore than asking a liberal what his or her favorite Bible verse is. Well-read people know that most scientists believe the Earth to be over 4 billion years old (whether they agree with them or not is another matter). I’m sure Rubio knows what most scientists believe regarding the age of the Earth. The answers to these questions are cultural markers, and provide understanding of whether or not a candidate significantly shares one’s values.

  • Elmwood

    It’s not a great mystery that intellegent design and creationism are not science. It’s a great mystery rather that so many americans don’t know the difference between science and philosophy and that fundamentalism is what makes islam violent and the GOP stupid.

  • annabanana

    Yikes, where’s the love of Christ in this?
    You seem to have written some hard-hearted slamming of folks who don’t agree with your Catholic views.
    Why is what Rubio said “nonsense?”
    Is it because you want your own theory supported and Rubio’s answers didn’t suit you?
    Hmm. I thought the whole point of the Renaissance was to become OPEN to the possibilities of God’s good earth and the various opinions that He has given us about His truth.

  • Johnson Steele

    This was a fantastically-written article, and all of your detractors are either genuinely clueless idiots or else disingenuous trolls who know that what you’re saying is the truth, but they have a vested personal interest in a lie.


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