Catholicism Must Evolve genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Snapshot Thoughts

Science tells us that humans evolved over millions of years and will continue to evolve. History and the positions of the new Pope, Benedict XVI, tells us that the Catholic Church is still struggling to evolve...often holding fast to institutional traditions despite being confronted by new challenges. The position of the Church is that Catholic teachings are not secondary to cultural influences...or said more clearly...what they believe to be right and wrong rarely changes.

Notwithstanding, a review of history demonstrates that the Church has held wrong views and taken inappropriate and misguided positions on a number of issues. Sadly, it still relies on the infallibility of the Pope in establishing doctrine, regardless of numerous examples disproving the notion. In doing so, it often lags the rest of society in accepting and acknowledging new information. One can argue that this makes it easier to view the Church as a follower rather than a leader since they are frequently espousing dogma until they can no longer do so in good conscience. In addition, their need to remain viable has on occasion facilitated a voluntary recantation.

In my opinion, the Catholic Church views unchallenged authority as one of its most cherished possessions...and it has no doubt proven a valuable tool in maintaining control over the beliefs and values of its followers. After a brief period of conciliatory gestures by the new Pope, he has begun to assert the authority many anticipated might become the hallmark of his papacy. The following excerpts are from an Associated Press article found at 365gay.com:

(Vatican City) After sliding smoothly into his job as pastor of his flock, reaching out to dissidents, other faiths and countries long hostile to the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict has started drawing the line.

With his 80th birthday and the second anniversary of his election as Pope approaching this month, he has rebuffed calls - including by bishops in his native Germany - to let divorced Catholics who remarry participate fully in the Church.

He has warned Catholic politicians who must decide on such issues as abortion, euthanasia and marriage that Catholic values are "not negotiable.'' And he has closed the door on any relaxation of the celibacy requirement for priests.

Benedict's persistent defense of the "traditional family'' based on marriage between a man and a woman has emboldened Italy's bishops, who are waging a fierce battle against the government's proposal to extend some rights to non-married couples, including same-sex unions.

One of the Pope's prime targets for a rekindling of the faith is Europe, which he recently described as "going down a road which could lead it to take its leave from history.''

Having already lost a battle in predominantly Catholic Spain, which went as far as approving gay marriage, Benedict has now turned his sights on his own backyard.

Enrique Miret Magdalena, a respected moderate Spanish theologian who is himself 93, said Benedict is "an old man, and the papacy weighs heavily upon him. He's afraid of change.''

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I agree with Magdalena's assessment; but the legacy of John Paul II set in motion a clear shift to the right. Benedict was widely seen as his theological enforcer and John Paul's appointment of numerous conservative Cardinals assured that his doctrinal precepts would be sustained well into the future. Benedict's election further entrenches this move to the right. What remains to be seen is whether the Church can turn the tide of religious complacency and secular momentum that is found throughout Europe. If the Church continues to see authority as the means to reestablish the relevance it seeks, I would anticipate their continued decline.

I believe that the widespread access to education and its appropriate reliance on the scientific method will require the Church to revise its arguments and conduct a reasoned dialogue with its followers. Fear and force must accede to an open exchange that recognizes facts over faith when the evidence is compelling.

The following graphic is not intended to suggest that the Catholic Church is responsible for all that ails the world nor all the conflicts that have transpired during its existence. Nonetheless, it is intended to point out that if the Church is, as it argues, an agent for good, then it must stand up for the oppressed, the weak, and the abused…when it happens; not years later when it decides an apology is warranted.

Leaders act…and if the Church wants to have a voice in leading the world, then it must reverse its propensity to sit on its collective hands when so many in the world are in desperate need of a hand. Far too many people have suffered or lost their lives at the hand of those who take liberties under the guise of self- righteous symbols. If the Catholic Church wants its symbols to be respected, then its symbols must stand for more than arbitrary authoritarianism. Evolution is necessary.

The Evolution Of Catholicism

Daniel DiRito | April 5, 2007 | 6:00 PM
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Comments

1 On May 5, 2007 at 12:01 PM, John wrote —

First, the science is wrong. Those millions of years are not earth revolutions around the sun, the are c14 radiometric decay points on a parabola. A parabola looks good at the vertex for linear extrapolation but at the edge watch out for errors. You can also learn about red shift and polystrata fossilization. Second, the catholocis are wrong also. People should read the bible for themselves and see all the problems with any church they go to.
They dont even have bibles in the catholic church here.

2 On May 8, 2007 at 12:43 PM, Daniel wrote —

John,

Thank you for your comments.

Stating "science is wrong" seems like a giant leap of faith. If science is wrong, how can believers conclude when the Bible was written or when or if Jesus actually walked the earth? What tangible evidence or research can be cited to support that the earth is 6,000 years old? Criticizing the incomplete nature of science does not disprove it nor does it prove any alternative hypothesis.

Do you accept carbon dating for those facts that support your beliefs but not for those items that contradict them? Just what scientific evidence exists that the Bible is the word of God? How has that hypothesis been tested and what does the data conclude?

If the Bible isn't the basis of your beliefs, then what is the source of your beliefs and what have you done to test your hypothesis and what evidence exists to support those beliefs?

If one simply wants to know more about how the age and dating of objects is ascertained, then I would recommend a book called Bones, Rocks, and Stars: The Science of When Things Happened, written by Chris Turney. It goes well beyond carbon dating to explain how we determine the age of objects...including the earth.

Further, if you support the notion that one ought to be leery of extrapolation and errors at the edges, then how do we know that those who received and translated the word of God (the Bible) properly extrapolated what they heard?

The biggest problem with creationism and the theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old is that they are almost solely based upon efforts to deny the existing science. Those who support these theories have little, if any, scientific data to support their contention.

The bottom line is that science may be incomplete...but that certainly doesn't make it wrong. Those who attempt to nullify science will need far more than hyperbole to do so. If one wants to defeat the existing science, one ought to be offering scientific research and evidence that can supplant the existing data. That simply isn't happening.

I welcome differing opinions and I enjoy the opportunity to engage in reasoned dialogue. Thanks again for sharing your views and feel free to provide any further evidence of your contention.

Regards,

Daniel

3 On May 23, 2007 at 9:46 AM, thehipi wrote —

I'm no Catholic but many of the characterizations made here are questionable and border on the outright slanderous. To believe that the Catholic views on whatever issue are wrong is one thing, to argue that until they change their views to match yours they're relying on "force and fear" (as opposed to your superior rational ability) is a baseless attack. Catholic beliefs, like all religious beliefs, are a matter of faith - faith that involves reasoning with revelatory truths. Your request that these revelatory truths be changed to match your own premises-equally faith based or axiomatic- seems intolerant and even hypocrital. What distinguishes your request that Catholics alter their beliefs from Benedict's request that they not? Catholic "authority" is no different from any belief system -secular or religious. All equally start with basic assumed values or premises and then construct a view they label as the truth. I can see no logical argument which even makes it possible to claim religious or revelatory based beliefs are less rational than any other-whether atheism or environmentalism.
It also seems important to distinguish between instances where the Catholic Church's beliefs may be wrong (e.g. infallibility of the Pope) and where the Catholic Church has acted out of step with it's beliefs - such as Holocaust complicity. The latter instances seem more common imho, whereas actual Catholic beliefs rarely are clearly wrong or damaging. Those beliefs also underwent a major evolution with Second Vatican Council reforms - recognizing the legendary nature of some traditions and moving towards increased acceptance of other religions. While I may applaud this drastic step already taken, I don't know that it's fair to say those who oppose it are controlled by fear or authoritarianism.

4 On May 23, 2007 at 1:09 PM, Daniel wrote —

thehipi,

Thank you for your comments.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I never asked the Church to change their views to match mine. I did state that a number of their views in opposition to science are antiquated and unsubstantiated...and may well lead to the diminished relevance of the Church...and if you feel that is slanderous, I can live with that though I strongly disagree with your rationale.

With regards to my suggestion that the Church uses force and fear, you counter with the concept of faith. I have no problem calling it faith but the underlying premise is that followers must believe in the precepts put forth within that faith or run the risk of the prescribed negative consequence. I view that as fear and force...in other words, the message being delivered is that one will accept and believe what one is told as a matter of faith if one wants to receive the benefits that the Church has attached to the demonstration of that faith. Conversely, if one doesn’t, one will suffer the designated adverse consequences.

One can believe whatever one wants for whatever reasons one chooses...but that doesn't change the underlying construct...which in the case of the Church is primarily fear and force...to be manifested as faith that has as its origin, revelatory truths which the Church defines as "Truth".

You ask "What distinguishes your requests that Catholics alter their beliefs from Benedict's requests that they not?" Well, scientific evidence would be the best answer...and the use of the scientific method.

I understand your belief in revelatory truths...but I reject them when they conflict with valid scientific evidence. You're certainly entitled to believe whatever you choose or whatever you are told to believe by whichever authority you deem appropriate...but that doesn't negate science and its methods...methods whereby a hypothesis is tested and if supported by evidence, can be relied upon as the best confirmed truth currently available.

Faith primarily starts and finishes with conclusions of fact...fact that for the most part hasn't been put through the rigors of the scientific method...nor do those who champion faith often accept facts that have been ascertained accordingly (through the scientific method) that are in opposition to its established “Truths".

My contention that the Catholic Church risks its validity when it holds to truths that conflict with science may not please you or the Church...but it certainly doesn't equate with slander nor does it overrule the validity of the overwhelming body of scientific evidence.

Frankly, your argument of slander is a representation of how the Church and its followers frequently defend against opposing views and matters of fact…it begins with the premise that the Church’s “Truth" is absolute and infallible…and those who oppose it are not only wrong, the very utterance of disagreement is an actionable offense…whether that be through the use of secular recourse (ironic) or through the imposition of doctrinal punishment.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I welcome your views and I enjoy the dialogue.

Regards,

Daniel

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