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This is something new

This is something new October 5, 2011

Both Ross Douthat at the New York Times and Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast link to a piece I wrote for the Register on whether Evolution (specifically polygenism) constitutes a threat to Catholic theology. Not a common experience for me.

The remarkable thing is that they both agree with me contra the flat-footed atheist fundamentalist Jerry Coyne that the story of the Fall is not supposed to be read as a newspaper account and they basically grok the fact that atheists like Coyne are, indeed, fundamentalists who read the Bible in a literalistic way–only for the purpose of imposing atheist fundamentalism rather than Christian fundamentalism on it. Sullivan’s rejoinder to Coyne is particularly tart.

I can, of course, cavil at some of the infelicities in both pieces. I would insist for instance that the story of the Fall *is* true. What it is not is *factual*, because telling the story of the Fall as a newspaper account instead of a myth is about the worst way in the world to convey what actually happened in that (thoroughly historic) moment when our First Parents destroyed our communion with God.

But basically, they both get the same point, and I’m glad of it. Atheist fundamentalists, like Christian fundamentalists, could really do with an introduction to the way in which Catholics read their own sacred texts rather than stamping their feet and shouting, “It isn’t in the Book!” The Bible is not supposed to be the Big Book of Everything.

Also, in case you haven’t read it, I really do recommend you go read the fine piece by Mike Flynn which occasioned my piece.

Also, Flynn’s hilarious attempt to get the denizens of Coyne’s comboxes to use their intellects rather than worship them is both instructive and hilarious. He writes as “Ye Olde Statistician” (keep scrolling down to see the full exchange) and wipes the floor with these poor shallow snobs.

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