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

In the Land Where Everybody is a Protestant, Including the Catholics…. November 20, 2012

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.


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