samedi 14 janvier 2017

Catholicism is Creationist - even if Hekatolykism isn't

Apostasy is howling like a hundred wolves:

NCR : Eucharistic prayer in the 21st century
by Thomas Reese | Jan. 12, 2017

Let us quote and comment in a somewhat calmer tone:

Traditional liturgical prayer, based on biblical imagery, presumes a pre-scientific worldview where Earth is the center of the universe and the world was created quickly and perfectly. Everything was wonderful until Adam sinned.

In fact, the universe is some 13.8 billion years old, with organic life appearing about 3 billion years ago, and humans evolving relatively recently. Rather than appearing in an idyllic paradise, humans crawled out of the mud fighting, scratching out an existence in a brutal and highly competitive environment.

Current liturgical worship requires that we park our scientific minds at the church door and enter into the pre-scientific world of our ancestors when we pray. This schizophrenic existence is not viable in the long run.

Thomas Reese, thank you for notifying us you are an apostate. Or, if you were just reporting empathetically, that "Jesuit Fr." Robert Daly is.

Thank you for notifying us, that to you or at least to "Jesuit Fr." Robert Daly, using a liturgy with references to the Paradise and Original Sin is "schizophrenic".

To me it is not. To me the kind of liturgy you hanker for would not be schizophrenic either, I hope, since for me it would be a very unproblematic signal I should leave the service illico.*

Daly finds inspiration for his work in theologians like Elizabeth Johnson (Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love), Dawn Nothwehr (Ecological Footprints: An Essential Franciscan Guide for Faith and Sustainable Living), and Dennis Edwards (Partaking of God: Trinity, Evolution, and Ecology). ... These theologians are imitating the great theologians of the past — Augustine and Thomas Aquinas — who used the intellectual thought of their times to explain Christianity to their contemporaries. Augustine used Neoplatonism and Aquinas used Aristotelianism because these represented the intellectual worldviews of their times.

This is historically false.

A thing which was as challenging against traditional Orthodoxy (reflected in liturgy sensibly similar if not quite identic in all detail to ours), a thing which was as challenging against it back in their times as 13.8 billion year old universe in ours, was, for St Augustine not Neoplatonism, but rather the Manichaean sect which he left with horror. And to St Thomas Aquinas, it was not Aristotle expurgated via Plato and above all Orthodoxy (including literal Biblicism), but the "Aristotle" of Averroism, as it was represented by Siger of Brabant, or by Boëthius de Dacia.

Today’s theologians who use science and contemporary thought are very traditional; they are simply following in the footsteps of Augustine and Aquinas.

They are not. The two saints you mentioned have so to speak world record among Fathers and Doctors for acceptance of "science and contemporary thought", for one, so it is (rather than 2) 5 against 31**, if that were the issue.

But not only that, the point is the precise two you mentioned were also far more critical against "science" and "contemporary thought" than you pretend.

You see, in the day of St Augustine, Astrology was being touted as science. Not just any Astrology, but one which was deterministic about human characters and fates, as, on that view, determined by horoscopes.

In his day it was to some (and he had been among them) as shocking to believe the story of Jacob and Esau who ought to have been as same (and at best as harmonic) as Castor and Pollux who were born twins, under same horoscope, or as same and (at worst) as disharmonic as Romulus and Remus, also born under same horoscope.

Instead one of them has smooth arms, one has woolly arms. One is heavily irascible, one seeks out peaceful means in all situations. They also acquire very different kinds of wealth, Jacob living in a fertile land ruled by strangers to him, while Esau probably was his own lord, but in a stony land.

That is as impossible to a 4th C. Manichaean as God creating the first stars, biological life and men, all of them 7215 (going on 7216 for March 25th) years ago.

So, no, the parallel simply does not hold. It is injurious to Sts Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, precisely as it would have been injurious to them to say of the one that he defended Averroism and of the other that he was a stout Manichaean all of his life. It is as injurious as saying of St Robert Bellarmine that he was a Heliocentric.

I'll quote part of the proposed liturgy I will want to avoid:

Father, we praise you, with all your creatures
great and small,
from measureless galaxy
to tiniest particle.

... Holy Spirit, we praise you,
who breathed over the primal chaos,
spoke to us through the prophets' voices,

Primal chaos is also a signal that we are no longer dealing with Catholic liturgy.

Wasn't Chaos the translation of Hebrew Tohu wa-Bohu, then? No. Here is the LXX for that verse:

ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος, καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου, καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος

What is mentioned is "ἀόρατος" - unlimited - and "ἀκατασκεύαστος"*** - and unconstructed/unstructured. While "primal chaos" is one thing which could be described that way, it is less ideal to describe Earth, darkness or water as "primal chaos". These too are mentioned in the Greek. And the word chaos is not.

Just because some noted a smiliarity between the Pagan concept of chaos and the Genesis concept of tohu wa-bohu, and hence we cannot even use the idea of "chaos" as a general concept being common to Genesis and to the modern "scientific" idea of "primal chaos".

True, of the translations of Tohu wa-bohu, one is "chaos and desolation" - but there are other ones. And wikipedians continue : "Precise translation of the phrase is difficult, since it is a Hebrew wordplay, like ve-ha-oniyyah hishevah le-hishaver in Jonah 1:4."

So, no the Hebrew text as such does not either warrant any "primal chaos".

And when we come to the next line about the Holy Spirit, Daly is committing blasphemy: "spoke to us through the prophets' voices" is parodic if you think that a Bible-based history is ridiculous compared to the Bible-conflicting one which you started out this essay on.

I'll confess that my first line was a pun on the Orthodox slur on Catholics. (He)kato(n) lykoi means "hundred wolves". It was used by schismatics to denigrate Western Catholics who were (most of them, unlike the English) not getting the theta of katholikoi correct.

Chesterton once said that the Catholics will one day be those who repeat what reformers said, when it really needs saying.

Against a man like Daly, repeating what Greek schismatics called us needs to be done, at least if he gets one hundred or more supporters.

We cannot simply in a preface praise God "with all your creatures".

  • One problem is that the creatures so to speak belong to the Son and are therefore mentioned at the end of the Canon.

  • One other problem is that the Latin has Quam laudant Angeli atque Archángeli, Chérubim quoque ac Séraphim: qui non cessant clamáre quotídie, una voce dicéntes: / Et ídeo cum Angelis et Archángelis, cum Thronis et Dominatiónibus, cumque omni milítia cæléstis exércitus, hymnum glóriæ tuæ cánimus, sine fine dicéntes: (in either case continued by the Sanctus).

    One class of creatures is specifically mentioned, and mentioned in the way which excludes the same type but damned ones. In other words, some creatures are implicitly excluded from praising God with us, namely the damned.

  • A third problem is that of the tiniest presumed particles we don't know if they exist, for most galaxies we don't know that "spiral nebula" (situated in the sphere of fix stars) isn't a better word, and for "our galaxy" only one part is traditionally called Milky Way or Galaxy.

So, Daly is proposing we praise God together with all creatures, to not mention angels or archangels, as if we weren't sure they existed or were very common in the universe, but of mentioning what risks to be fictional products of a contemporary scientific imagination, about as bad as the horscopes of the Manichees, which St Augustine didn't use to illustrate the faith, but rejected when illustrating the faith.

I am pretty sure Daly is not a Catholic with Th. But perhaps a "katolyk" or hekatolykos - a hundred-wolf.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Ember Saturday after Epiphany


* Don't take the etymology of illico or its German counterpart "auf stehendem Fuss" too literally, I don't mean I should leave the service while locally staying where it was held.

** Among the 5, add Sts Peter Canisius, Robert Bellarmine and Albert the Great. Or, instead of "against 31", if we stay with Doctors so named before 1950, before the date on which a private revelation said Pius XII ceased to be Pope, before death of Pius XII, against 24.

*** The ending -os does not mean that "ge" is masculine, but that negative adjectives in Greek typically vary between -os for M/F and -on for N in nominative singular. "He ge" is of course feminine. I gave my own impression what ἀόρατος & ἀκατασκεύαστος mean, wikipedia has translation info: The Septuagint renders it as ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατα-σκεύαστος, "shapeless and formless".

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