Tuesday, August 10, 2010



I can take little credit, beyond the stylistic, for this particular blog post. I am merely reporting on an idea conveyed to me last week. The curious thing about this idea is that it was expressed on two consecutive days by two old friends of mine who don’t know and, as far as I know, have never met each other. One is a practicing Catholic. The other is what we used to call, no longer call, but, the way the Church is going, soon will be required to once again call, a “fallen Catholic.”

On both occasions, we were discussing (Surprise!) politics and various candidates, some of whom we like and some of whom we don’t, who hold fundamentalist Christian views, most saliently, in this case, creationism and/or its supposedly less controversial and more reasonable variant, intelligent design. It’s easy to ridicule the notion that the world was created 6,000 years ago according to the precise formula outlined in the first two chapters of Genesis. But, both my friends pointed out, as Catholics, we believe that, in the Eucharist, simple bread and wine are transformed into the real flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Anyone looking at this contention from a purely rational perspective would say that the entire notion is absurd, certainly at least as absurd as the idea that the world was created 6,000 years ago and nothing became everything in seven days. Once outside the bounds of faith, transubstantiation, and its mainline Protestant variant, consubstantiation, for that matter, is a beyond a tough sell. It simply does not stand up to the test of reason; it requires faith. The same can just as easily, if not more easily, be said for creationism.

There are plenty of people (most people, really), who do not believe in creationism, transubstantiation, or consubstantiation, and they are certainly entitled to their beliefs; after all, their beliefs on this subject are more rational than ours. But Catholics who believe in transubstantiation, and even mainline Protestants who believe in consubstantiation, should have a very difficult time ridiculing the fundamentalist doctrine of creationism while not looking awfully hypocritical.

This is not to say that I believe in creationism; I don’t. I believe in evolution and, like my Church, see no contradiction between the theory of evolution and a firm belief in a loving and caring Creator. Further, I don’t expect fundamentalist Protestants to believe in transubstantiation or pure rationalists to believe in either. But the notion expressed by my two buddies, completely independently of each other, is worth contemplating before dismissing ideas that, on the surface, make little sense to those who don’t hold them.

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