Saturday, May 26, 2012

Correcting Radical Catholic Reactionary Lies About Dave Armstrong's Supposed Denial of a Literal Adam and Eve, Original Sin, Etc.


By Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong 

The following comments were made on a post, entitled, Cardinal Pell, Richard Dawkins, Adam and Eve, from a mainstream "traditionalist" page called Unam Sanctam Catholicam. RadCathR Steve Dalton's words will be in blue; "Affe's" in green.

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Cardinal Pell was quoted, from his recent debate with the atheist Richard Dawkins:

Well Adam and Eve are terms that mean ‘life’ and ‘earth’. Like an Everyman. It’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science. But it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and universe. Secondly that the key to the whole universe is humans. And thirdly it’s a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and the suffering in the world….It’s a religious story told for religious purposes.

"Boniface" sums up his article as follows:

It is good to have dialogue for the purpose of defending our faith and giving an answer to the heathen. But if the result of the debate is going to be that Christians go away more confused than before, then it becomes folly. Trying to present sophisticated, modern interpretations of the Faith that explain away or mythologize the Scriptures do not help Catholics strengthen their faith; it simply confuses them and makes us look like idiots.

I fully agree. But Steve "scotju" Dalton: a Catholic RadCathR (radical Catholic reactionary) who takes it upon himself to frequently bring up my name in public Internet venues, and almost always in a derogatory sense, thinks I would disagree with Boniface and agree with Cardinal Pell.

"Boniface" and Dalton first yucked it up about my turning up on sites where distortions of my beliefs are bandied about, with the former observing:

Are you trying to goad DA into showing up here and debating about it, LOL? I have noticed that mentioning DA's name in any combox inevitably conjures him up - we call it "getting Armstronged."


I show up when I am lied about (something that Dalton seems particularly prone to, in cases of anything remotely involving me). He can't tell the truth about what I believe to save his life, even though he's been corrected time and again.

I do searches to see what claptrap is being written about me precisely because of people like Dalton, who lie and distort things (about myself, and, no doubt, others) unashamedly, and who refuse to contact the people they are lying about, so they can present another side of the story (or to ever be corrected).

I happen to believe that truth, honesty, and fairness are highly important. It's important to set the record straight if it is falsely portrayed. I am a Catholic apologist after all, who defends and represents the faith to many thousands. It's my responsibility to get things right, or else I'll stand accountable to God.

But I guess I'm not supposed to correct baldfaced lies about what I believe and teach (which is Catholic orthodoxy, all down the line). To do so is a cause for uproarious laughter and mockery: lighthearted, granted, but still absurd and off-mark, since it is a serious thing (not a laughing matter at all) for someone to be slandered in a public place, and the target of such hogwash has a right to set the record straight. Bearing false witness is, after all, prohibited by the Ten Commandments, and if deliberate with full reflection and knowledge, a mortal sin.

Dalton started in with his nonsense:

Lay evangelists and apologists like Mark Shea and Dave Armstrong also believe in this nonsense as well. One the reasons they believe in this foolishness is due to people like Cdl. Pell who try to be 'modern' or 'sophisticated'. 

"Affe" added:

I understand the temptation of believing something like this, for people like Dave Armstrong or Mark Shea, while ignoring the theological difficulties it creates. For some reason it is easier to do that than to ignore apparent contradictions with modern scientific findings.

The nonsense here is Dalton's clueless statement, which is the exact opposite of the truth. Of course I believe in a literal Adam and Eve and original sin, etc., and have defended both for 21 years as a Catholic, and before that, as a Protestant. Fr. Hardon believed the same, and I have cited his words to that effect. Hence I have posted on my site articles like the following:



Catholics and the Historicity of Jonah the Prophet (June 2008)

I was recently involved in a huge stink on this very issue, when I criticized Fr. Robert Barron for seemingly denying a literal Adam:


Defending the Literal, Historical Adam of the Genesis Account (vs. Catholic Eric S. Giunta) (Sep. 2011)

See also:
The Biblical Evidence for Original Sin (Jan. 2006)
  
Is it so difficult for Dalton to do a search on my site for Adam and Eve, or original sin? It takes all of, say four seconds? But that would be too fair and normal. He would rather lie and let loose with his usual vapid fictional and imaginary viewpoints that I supposedly hold.

In Armstrong's case, it was Fr. John Hardon, who apparently believed in theistic evolution, so DA believed in it. 

First part true (I think); second part false. When I studied with Fr. Hardon [1990-1993] I was an old-earth creationist, and remained so from 1980 or so up to 5-6 years ago when I became an agnostic on the issue. I remain as fierce of a critic of purely materialistic evolution as I ever was. I don't believe that scientific laws alone, as we currently understand them, can account for the diversity of biological life. I'm also an advocate of intelligent design (I'm very fond of Michael Behe's work).

Armstrong calls anyone who believes in special creation a 'fundamentalist', implying that any Catholic who believe in special creation is a conservative Protestant. 

Nope; I say that anyone who believes in a young earth is a fundamentalist, and reasoning in many ways like fundamentalist Protestants do. It's an anti-intellectual and anti-scientific viewpoint.

Well, as far as I know, nearly everyone of the Church Fathers believed in a six day creation period that left no room for evolution, so they must have been 'fundamentalists'.

St. Augustine was the one who noted that yom ("day") was a word that could encompass much longer spans of time. John McCarthy, in his paper, "A Neo-Patristic Return to the First Four Days of Creation, Part IV," observed about Augustine:

This theory of primordial packages of forms later to emerge (often referred to by commentators as "seminal reasons") is certainly developmental, but does not correspond with Darwinian evolution. Essential to Augustine's theory is the idea that the order later to emerge was instilled by God in the beginning. Augustine also requires subsequent interventions by God to "plant" the forms whose "numbers" had already been instilled. Thus, as St. Thomas [Aquinas] points out, the ability of the earth to produce living forms was visualized by Augustine as a passive potency which disposed the matter to receive the forms but did not create the forms themselves. Augustine's theory of primordial packages deserves more ample meditation and analysis in another place, especially with reference to theories of the development of living things, . . . Genesis 1:6-8 witnesses in several ways to the creative action of God. As the divine Fashioner of the universe, God guided the energies that He had invested in the primal matter by his creative intervention on the first day to bring the cosmos to its structured state. This is the unfolding of the active potency contained in St. Augustine's "primordial packages." But there is also implied in these verses an upward progress in the order of inorganic being which seems to have required additional creative divine interventions. I leave it to more qualified thinkers to sort this out, . . . 

St. Thomas Aquinas taught something similar as well. See my November 2002 paper:

Dialogue on Materialist Evolutionary Theory and Intelligent Design (including an examination of St. Augustine's and St. Thomas Aquinas's Views on Creation and Evolution) (vs. five agnostics)


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11 comments:

Giovanni A. Cattaneo said...

To be honest Mr. Armstrong I have never heard of Mr. Dalton and may be there is a good reason for that :)

Still in all seriousness I believe that your name may just be one of those that gets tide to others such as being pronounced always in the same sentence. Meaning that if somebody brings up errors or things that they dislike about Mark Shea it is often that your name as well as that of Jimmy Akin get tide together for some reason.

This happens a lot in traditionalist circles. I would say that I blame such attitude on being kicked and shoved under a rock for the last 40 years. I know its not an excuse to make false witness I am just saying there is a reason for all things.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Dave, you may say you believe in a literal Adam and Eve, but you have made it clear you're a theistic evolutionist who believes in the millions of years nonsense. Evolution and creation are two contradictory concepts that can't be harmonized, it's one or the other. If one believes in a special creation that was perfect, but fell because of the sin of Adam, then salvation history makes sense. If one believes in any kind of evolution, then salvation history is nonsense, for if we're evolving toward perfection, we don't need a saviour. Nope, the literal, twentyfour hours in a day, six days of creation as taught by the vast majority of the church fathers is the correct orthodox understanding of the text.

Maroun said...

Steve,could you please quote 5 major church Fathers which believed the literal twenty four hours in a day , six days of creation please? it should be easy for you to quote 5 major ones , if the vast majority of them believed that a day in genesis means 24 hours. Thank you

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Maroun, go to http://www.kolbecenter.org/ They have many free articles on this subject. They also sell pamphlets, books, cd's and dvd's about evoltion and creation.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Maroun, go to http://www.kolbecenter.org/ They have many free articles on this subject. They also sell pamphlets, books, cd's and dvd's about evoltion and creation.

Nick said...

Dave,

This comment somewhat concerns me:
"I say that anyone who believes in a young earth is a fundamentalist, and reasoning in many ways like fundamentalist Protestants do. It's an anti-intellectual and anti-scientific viewpoint."

The first instance of the term "fundamentalist" here is ambiguous. If "fundamentalist" here means "Protestant" in any sense, then this translates into saying any Catholic believing in young earth creationism is in some sense a Protestant 'heretic'. That's making a doctrinal judgment that goes beyond any Church documents I'm aware of.

The only Magisterial document I'm aware of that touches upon evolution is Humane Generis, and it did not put YE Creationism on par with evolution, all it said was certain aspects of evolution can be tolerated by those competent to make that judgment.

YE Creationism has been the standard/default teaching throughout tradition. Even those who took an allegorical approach to Genesis 1 like Augustine were not speaking of evolution but rather speaking of an instantaneous creation with the various aspects of creation mentioned in Genesis 1 being a metaphor of sorts for sin, salvation, etc. (e.g. the waters representing baptism)

I also don't see why YEC is anti-intellectual and anti-scientific. Sure one could be those things, but there's also a history of secularists beating up Christians with similar comments for believing in anti-intellectual and anti-scientific 'nonsense' like Virgin Birth and Miracles. So such criticisms should not be used in such dogmatic fashion.

The biggest weakness I see to the theistic evolutionary scheme is that it seems to desire to attain that 'credibility' in the eyes of the athesitic evolutionary establishment, but in fact in their eyes it falls short because it terminates the evolutionary process on ad hoc grounds. In other words, why should the evolution of man have stopped? Why should there have been a single pair of first humans if (certain) atheistic scientists are calling for polygenism? How can there be an Eden and Supernatural Gifts in the evolutionary scheme? I don't see anything anti-intellectual about recognizing such things.

Dave Armstrong said...

"Fundamentalism" is not confined to Protestantism. It is an anti-intellectual mindset typified by a woodenly literalistic approach to biblical texts, ignoring literary genre, cultural backdrop, Hebrew forms and non-literal expression, etc.

The anti-intellectual motif is the same when we speak of, e.g., "fundamentalist Islam."

I'm not interested at the moment about some huge discussion about evolution. My concern was that my views were outrageously (and inexcusably) misrepresented, making out that I denied a literal Adam and Eve, and with that, original sin. All of this could have been ascertained in five seconds by searching my site, as I showed.

This lunacy about my views has been corrected. Dalton's "comeback" remarks above illustrate the intellectual vapidity and bankruptcy of fundamentalism more than any 10,000 remarks of mine could. It's all there, for all to see!

Nick said...

Thanks for that clarification.

I know you've never denied literal Adam and Eve.

I am interested on how you explain how evolution just stopped in regards to humanity in a way that mainstream science accepts.

Dave Armstrong said...

It's not required to "stop" under theistic evolutionary assumptions. But it would be so slow that we would hardly notice any change in a lifetime.

Banshee said...

Actually, I'm pretty sure that there were Fathers before St. Augustine that had pointed out the length of "day" being not just twenty-four hours (or a thousand years, for that matter, because "thousand" was another symbolic thing to bring up). I know for sure that Tyconius goes into all the "day" and "night" symbolism in his Book of Seven Rules, because St. A quoted him a lot.

I think there's stuff from Jewish scholars in patristic times, also, that goes into this.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Banshee, go to http://www.kolbecenter.org/ and you will see plenty of proof that Augustine's opinion on the lenght of a day was just that, an opinion. All of the other ECF's believed as dogma, that the days in Genesis were 24 hours in lenght.