Monday, December 17, 2012

When the media writes about religion, just assume that everyone's IQ dropped 70 points.

Mark Shea notes:

Whenever the Church restates something every educated Catholic–but no ignorant reporter–knows, the news is always treated as though the Church is finally capitulating to the beseiging hordes of modernity.

So a week or so ago, the Pope pointed out the perfectly obvious fact that Jesus was born a couple of years before 1 AD. The UK press treated this as though the Pope was prostrate on the mat with 15 modernist scholars wringing a confession out of him, instead of offering a commonplace statement any biblical scholar worth his salt would make. The real mystery is how anybody could *not* know that the date of Jesus birth is somewhere in the neighorhood of 5 years (I think 3-2 BC). Have these people never watched the History Channel any given Christmas for the past 30 years?

Now Rome reiterates the utterly uncontroversial (outside fringe six day creationist circles) statement that Catholic faith is basically compatible with Darwin and evolutionary theories. Theistic evolution basically means “grace perfects nature” and “God made Adam from the dust of the earth reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally slowly.” The mystery is why this is treated as news, but it is. And the Telegraph informs us that the Vatican has “admitted” this. One awaits further “admissions” such as the equal dignity of men and women in the eyes of God, the admittance that the Bible was written by human beings and not dropped from heaven, and the “admittance” that Jesus was fully human.

Every time the media learns some elementary fact of Catholic teaching, they treat it, not as though they just learned it, but as though the Church just invented it.
 
Here is the story that sparks Shea's dudgeon:

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said while the Church had been hostile to Darwin's theory in the past, the idea of evolution could be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas.
 
Father Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, Professor of Theology at the Pontifical Santa Croce University in Rome, added that 4th century theologian St Augustine had "never heard the term evolution, but knew that big fish eat smaller fish" and forms of life had been transformed "slowly over time". Aquinas made similar observations in the Middle Ages.
Ahead of a papal-backed conference next month marking the 150th anniversary of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, the Vatican is also set to play down the idea of Intelligent Design, which argues a "higher power" must be responsible for the complexities of life.
 
The conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University will discuss Intelligent Design to an extent, but only as a "cultural phenomenon" rather than a scientific or theological issue.
 
Monsignor Ravasi said Darwin's theories had never been formally condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, pointing to comments more than 50 years ago, when Pope Pius XII described evolution as a valid scientific approach to the development of humans.
 
That's quite a newsflash.  The Catholic Church's fundamental non-opposition to evolution was noted in 1958 in James Blish's Hugo winning novel, "A Case of Conscience."  Blish was an atheist, but not of the New Atheist variety.

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