Wednesday, October 29, 2014

First Full Text of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Message of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
for the naming of the reformed Aula Magna
of the Pontifical Urbaniana University

October 21, 2014 

I would like to in the first place express my heartfelt thanks to the Rector and to the academic authorities of the Pontifical UrbanianaUniversity, to the staff and to the student representatives, for their proposal to name the rebuilt Aula Magna [Main Hall] in my honor. I would like to thank in a special way the Chancellor of the University, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, for having organized this initiative. It is a cause of great joy for me to be able in this way to be always present amidst the work of the Pontifical Urbaniana University.

In the course of a number of visits that I was able to make as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was always struck by the atmosphere of universality in the very air that one breathes in this University, where young men and women coming from practically all the countries of the world are preparing for service to the Gospel in the whole world of today. I also see today facing me in this lecture hall, a community formed by so many young people, a community that makes us see in a living way the stupendous reality of the Catholic Church.

This definition of the Church as “Catholic”, which has been part of the Creed since ancient times, possesses something of Pentecost. Let us remember that the Church of Jesus Christ has never related to only one people or only one culture, but that from the beginning she was ordained to the whole of mankind. The last words of Jesus to his disciples were: “Make all people my disciples”. (Mt. 28:19). And at the moment of Pentecost the Apostles spoke in many languages, in this way being able to manifest, through the power of the Holy Spirit, all the fullness of their faith.

From that time the Church has grown in a real way on every Continent. Your presence, dear students, reflects the universal face of the Church. The prophet Zechariah had announced a messianic reign that would extend from sea to sea and that would be a kingdom of peace. (Zc. 9:9) And in fact, wherever the Eucharist is celebrated, as from the Lord, and men, become among themselves one body, there is present something of that peace that Jesus Christ had promised to give to his disciples. That you, dear friends, be collaborators with this peace is becoming more and more urgent within a violent and lacerated world in which Christ’s peace needs to be built up and safe-guarded. For this reason the work of your University is so important, in which you desire to learn how to draw closer to Christ in order to be able to become His witnesses.

The Risen Lord gave this task to his Apostles, and through them disciples of every time, to carry his Word to the ends of the earth and to make all men his disciples. The Second Vatican Council, reprising in the Decree “Ad Gentes” a constant tradition, has illuminated the profound rationale for this missionary effort and has called upon the Church of today to take on this task with renewed strength.

But is this still possible? Many ask this question, both inside and outside the Church. Is this mission really possible in the world as it is today? Would it not be more appropriate that all religions get together and work together for the cause of peace in the world? The counter-question is: Can dialogue substitute for mission? Today many have the idea, in effect, that religions should respect each other, and, in dialogue with each other, become a common force for peace. In this way of thinking, most times there is a presupposition that the various religions are variants of one and the same reality; that “religion” is a category common to all, which assumes different forms according to different cultures, but expresses, however, one and the same reality. The question of truth, which at the beginning of Christianity moved Christians more than anything else, in this mode of thinking is placed within parentheses. It presupposes that the authentic truth about God, in the last analysis, is unobtainable, and that at best one can make present what is ineffable only with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems convincing and useful for peace among the religions of the world.

This is, however, lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and seriousness, if everything is reduced to symbols that are at the end interchangeable, capable of referring only from afar to the inaccessible mystery of the divine.

Dear friends, understand that the question of mission places us not only in confrontation with the fundamental questions of faith but also with the question of who man is. In the context of a brief address meant to greet you all, obviously I am not able to try to analyze in an exhaustive way this set of problems that today we all face. I would like, however, at least to touch on the direction upon which we should embark with respect to our task at hand.


1. The common opinion is that religions are, so to speak, side by side as the Continents and the individual Countries on a map. This, however, is not exactly true. Religions are in a state of movement on the level of history, just as are peoples and cultures. There are religions that are “on hold”. The tribal religions are of this type. They have their moment in history and nevertheless are waiting for a greater encounter that brings them to fullness.

As Christians, we are convinced that, in silence, they are waiting for the encounter with Jesus Christ, the light that comes from him, that alone is able to lead them in a complete way to their truth. And Christ is waiting for them. The encounter with him is not a barging in of a stranger that destroys their 
own culture and their own history. It is instead the entrance to something greater, towards which they are journeying. Consequently this encounter is always at the same time a purification and a maturation. Furthermore, the encounter is always reciprocal. Christ waits on their history, their wisdom, the way they see things.

Today we see ever more clearly another aspect as well: while in countries with a great Christian past, Christianity in many ways has become tired, and some of the branches of the great tree that grew from the grain of mustard seed of the Gospel have withered and fall to the ground, but from the encounter with Christ in the religions that are looking forward in expectation new life is springing forth. Where at first there was only tiredness, new dimensions of faith are arising and bringing joy.

2. Religion in itself is not a unitary phenomenon. It always involves a number of distinct dimensions. On the one side there is the prominence of reaching out beyond this world towards the eternal God. On the other side we find elements that have arisen from the history of men and from their practice of religion. Among these elements certainly there are beautiful things but also things that are base and destructive, wherever the egoism of man has taken over religion and, instead of an opening, has transformed religion into a closure within its own space.

Therefore, religion is never simply a phenomenon that is only positive or only negative. Both aspects are en-mixed within it. From its beginnings the Christian mission has discerned in a very marked way especially those negative elements in pagan religions that it encountered. For this reason, the Christian proclamation at its very beginning was extremely critical of religion. Only by overcoming those traditions that the Christian faith understood as demonic could the faith develop its power of renewal. On the basis of these types of elements, the Evangelical theologian, Karl Barth placed religion and faith in opposition, and adjudicated religion in an absolutely negative way as an arrogant behavior of man that tries, on his own initiative, to lay hold of God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer took up this formulation in his advocating a Christianity “without religion”. Without doubt we are dealing with a unilateral way of seeing things that cannot be accepted. And nevertheless it is correct to affirm that every religion, to remain on the side of what is right, at the same time must also be always critical of religion. This is clearly valid, from its origins and according to its nature, for the Christian faith, which, on the one hand, looks with great respect upon the great expectations and deep richness of religions, but, on the other hand, the Christian faith looks at what is negative with a critical eye. It stands to reason that the Christian faith again and again must develop such a critical power even with respect to its own religious history.

For us Christians Jesus Christ is the Logos of God, the light that helps us to distinguish between the nature of religion and its distortion.

2. In our time the voice of those who want to convince us that religion as such is obsolete is becoming louder and louder. They say that only critical reason should be the basis for man’s actions. Behind similar conceptions stands the conviction that with the positivist way of thinking reason in all its purity has achieved supremacy in a definitive way. In reality, even this way of thinking and living is historically conditioned and bound to a specific historical culture. To consider it as the only valid way of thinking about things diminishes man in some way, taking away from him dimensions that are essential for his existence. Man becomes smaller, not greater when there is no longer any room for an ethos, that, by its authentic nature, goes beyond pragmatism, when there is no longer any room for the gaze turned towards God. The proper place for positivistic reason is in the great spheres of technology and economics, but this does not exhaust all that is human., And so it is up to us who believe to open wide the doors again and again that, beyond mere technology and pure pragmatism, lead to the wonderful greatness of our existence in the encounter with the living God


1. These reflections, perhaps a bit difficult, should show that even today, in a world that is profoundly changed, the task of communicating the Gospel to others remains a reasonable one. And, moreover, there is a second way, more simple, to justify this undertaking today. Love demands to be communicated. Truth demands to be communicated. Whoever has experienced great joy cannot keep it simply for himself. He must pass it on to others. The same thing is true for the gift of love, through the gift of recognizing the truth that manifests itself.

When Andrew met Christ, he could not do anything but say to his brother: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). And Philip, who was also given the gift of this encounter, could not do anything but to say to Nathaniel that he had found him of whom Moses and the Prophets had written (John 1:45). We proclaim Jesus Christ not to get as many members as possible for our community, and least of all for the sake of power. We speak of Him because we feel that we have to share that joy with others that has been given to us.

We will be credible proclaimers of Jesus Christ when we have encountered him in the depths of our existence, when, within the encounter with Him, we are given the great experience of truth, of love, and of joy.

2. The deep tension between the mystical offering to God, in which one gives oneself totally to him, and the responsibility to one’s neighbor and for the world created by God, is a natural part of religion. Martha and Mary are always inseparable, even if, time to time, the accent can fall on one or the other. The point of encounter between the two poles is the love in which we touch God and his creatures at the same time. “We have come to know and believe in the love that God has for us”. (I John 4:16) This phrase expresses the authentic nature of Christianity. That love, which is realized and reflected in multiform ways in the saints of all times, is the authentic proof of the truth of Christianity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Natural Law: By J. Maratain

Maritain: Natural law, the gnoseological element

NATURAL LAW is not a law written by men. Men know it with greater or less difficulty, and in different degrees, running the risk of error here as elsewhere. The only practical knowledge all men have naturally and infallibly in common, as a self-evident principle intellectually perceived by virtue of the concepts involved, is that we must do good and avoid evil. This is the preamble and the principle of natural law; it is not the law itself. Natural law is the ensemble of things to do and not to do which follow therefrom in a necessary fashion. That every sort of error and deviation is possible in the determination of these things merely proves that our sight is weak, our nature course, and that innumerable accidents can corrupt our judgment. Montaigne remarked that, among certain peoples, incest and thievery were considered virtuous acts. Pascal was scandalized by this. All this proves nothing against the natural law, any more than a mistake in addition proves anything against arithmetic [or, the mistakes of certain primitive peoples, for whom the stars were holes in the tent which covered the world, prove anything against astronomy].

By the very fact that the Natural law is an unwritten law, man’s knowledge of it has increased little by little as man’s moral conscience has developed. The latter was at first in a twilight state. Anthropologists have taught us within what structures of tribal life and in the midst of what magic this knowledge of the natural law was awakened, and how it was primitively formed. This shows simply that the knowledge men have had of the unwritten law has passed through more diverse forms and stages than certain philosophers or theologians have believed. At the same time, we become aware of the fact that the knowledge which our own moral conscience has of this law is doubtless still imperfect, and very likely it will continue to develop and to become more refined as long as humanity exists. Only when the Gospel has penetrated to the very depth of human substance will natural law appear in its flower and its perfection.

[So the law and the knowledge of the law are two different things.] Yet the law has force of law only when it is promulgated. It is only insofar as it is known and expressed in assertions of practical reason that the natural law has force of law. The gnoseological element is therefore fundamental in natural law.

It is important to recognize that human reason does not discover the regulations of natural law in an abstract and theoretical manner, as a series of geometrical theorems. Moreover, it does not discover them through the conceptual exercise of the intellect, or by way of rational knowledge. I think the teaching of St Thomas here should be understood in a much deeper and more precise fashion than is usual. When he says that human reason discovers the regulations of natural law through the guidance of the inclinations of human nature, he means that the very mode or manner in which human reason knows natural law is not rational knowledge, but knowledge through inclination.

Saint Thomas largely developed this notion of knowledge by inclination, but elsewhere—in the Summa theologiae, II-II, 45, 2. Knowledge by inclination or by connaturality is a kind of knowledge that is not clear, like that obtained through concepts and conceptual judgments. It is obscure, unsystematic, vital knowledge, by means of instinct or sympathy, and in which the intellect, in order to make its judgments, consults the inner leanings of the subject—and listens to the melody produced by the vibration of deep-seated tendencies made present in the subject. All this leads to a judgment—not to a judgment based on concepts, but to a judgment which expresses simply the conformity of reason to tendencies to which it is inclined. […]

~Jacques Maritain: from Natural Law: Reflections On Theory & Practice.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Post Synodal Pontifications: III

Problems with The Relatio
It should come as no surprise then that the manner in which the Synod was conducted led to a document that has been called by some the absolute worst document every produced by the Church. This blogger could not have agreed with that sentiment more. There are many difficulties with the Relatio as it was written.

As it turns out those with same sex attraction are already welcome in the Church. Provided that they are honest with themselves and willingly refer to their struggle with same sex attraction as sin. I am a sinner. As such, I make frequent confession and I try to live in accord with the revelation of Christ. It is not easy! According to the Church and her tradition, these attractions are "intrinsically disordered." In other words, the very existence of the inclination is not a good. The paragraph 50 of the Relatio however, would have you believe that:

50. ..... Are our communities capable of this, accepting and VALUING THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

Troubling does not begin to describe this paragraph. In one sentence it is suggested plainly that we ought to find value in an "intrinsically disordered"attraction. 

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.

Problem? Those who were pushing the marriage for the divorced and remarried agenda at the synod, were also, pushing an agenda of ambiguity. There has been a great deal of discussion about softening the language of the Church. In softening they have made a statement that is so utterly unclear that it is on it's face untrue. There cannot be value in a disorder that is intrinsic. It is in fact the definition of the absence of what ought to be there. We can love them, we ought to love them, we can encourage them to be chaste and to abstain and we ought to, what we cannot do, is suggest that there is intrinsic value in their disorder. What about pedophilia? Is it intrinsically disordered? Are we ready to say that the Church should "value the sexual orientation" of the pedophile? After all they are human beings, with feelings, whom God would like to convert. Perhaps, their lobby is not large enough in the Vatican yet.  I have dealt with this problem only cosmetically. An entire dissertation is necessary to dissect the asinine fatuity of paragraph 50.

How about paragraph 20:

  "Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings."

This paragraph is the fruit of modern psychological nonsense. It is the equivalent of saying that the Church should not speak at all if She is not going to "keep it positive." Be positive, be encouraging! There is nothing more positive than the truth. Co-habitation, while it may have some "elements" of truth, is not the fullness of truth about how human relationship are to be lived out. the word imperfect actually implies the truth. These relationships are errors in praxis. Why are there errors in praxis? Because there have been errors in worship. Which has led to errors in  belief, which always as Cardinal Burke recently said, leads to errors in living. They are errors! Certainly, a prudent pastor would not simply tell them that their whole lives are one big error. That seems like common sense. Rather, gently and honestly, he would convey to them the beautiful truth about sacrifice and marriage in God's design. Calling them out of their erroneous and sinful rejection of God's design for them. 

This document is a fundamental re-shaping of Catholic thought. It is worse than ambiguous. In this document those Cardinals and prelates who reject Church teaching, not only come into the light, they document their disdain for Christ and His bride the Church and then sign their names to it. They aggressively push an agenda that is of this world and expressly seeks to glorify sin and the actions of those who by their own free will are not in full communion with the Church. Rather, than holding fast to the truth, they exchange that truth for a lie and then pedal at as tradition. The simple fact that this document was published on Vatican stationary and signed by a few Cardinals, should not in any way soften our view of this document. These are only two problems with it among many others. The failure of the heirarchy to maintain the position of both/and, mercy and justice, has reached a fevered pitch in this document! Every reasonable person faithful to the revelation of Christ ought to openly reject this document. 

Pray The Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Post Synodal Pontifications: II

If we were paying attention to the Church, if we were listening and watching. Our concern may have began the moment the Holy Father stepped out onto the balcony. The vestments or the absence thereof, and his call to the faithful to give him a blessing signaled a new direction. Like every good Catholic, hopefully we prayed for the Holy Father and his intentions and we sought to trust in him and the Church. We should still be offering our rosary for him daily! We can keep praying for that and we ought to. Nevertheless, rational men cannot deny that there were red flags leading up to the council. Certainly there were many troubling things that were done and said. But, perhaps the most troubling of them all was the prominent podium given to Cardinal Walter Kasper.  Cardinal Kasper immediately seized the moment and began to speak of divorcing praxis from dogma. Truth from practice. The divorced and remarried he said ought to be able to receive communion. There is a great deal of trouble with his premise. 

First, it denies Christ's declaration in Matthew 19 that Marriage is indissoluble. It presumes that "regret" is enough for the dissolution of a supernatural bond between a man and a woman. By presenting "regret" as the foundation for this dissolution, he implies that Jesus was harsh or rigid. He implies in fact, that Jesus may have been wrong about the indissolubility of marriage. Of course he has not said these things, but, in suggesting that "regret" can be a good reason for dissolving and contracting a second marriage, the implication is that Jesus words not to be taken literally. This was not the position of the disciples to Our Lord, their response was rather, "Lord if this is so, it is better for a man not to marry." They seemed to take it literally. Yet, Cardinal Kasper when pressed on this question has suggested that to hold the position that Jesus taught in Mt. 19, is to be a rigid "fundamentalist." He aggressively asserts that the position of Christ is not "Catholic." When asked about communion for the divorced and remarried he lacks clarity:

“Christians who want to live by faith with the Church, who acknowledge that they have made ​​mistakes by the breaking of the first marriage, which they also regret - for them it should be a way back fully to participate in Christian and ecclesial life.” Cardinal Walter Kasper

Catholics in full communion with the Church are the only people who ought to be receiving the Eucharist. Yes, Catholics are "christians," however, for modernists, these lines are blurred. It should be noted that simply "breaking" a first marriage does not preclude anyone from receiving holy communion. Contracting a second marriage, when the first is still valid, now that precludes a Catholic from remaining in full communion with the Church and therefore, from receiving holy Communion. You cannot participate fully in ecclesial life, simply because you have "regret." Living in a perpetual state of adultery is not rectified by having regret. Either the Cardinal knows that or he is not competent to maintain his position as Cardinal. Either way the moment this became public we should have all been very concerned for the Synod on the family. Because he was thrust into this position by the Holy Father, himself. In fact, in speaking of Cardinal Kasper the Holy Father, suggested that he was unable to sleep:

"Yesterday, before falling asleep, though not to fall asleep, I read, or re-read, Cardinal Kasper’s remarks. I would like to thank him, because I found a deep theology, and serene thoughts in theology. It is nice to read serene theology. It did me well and I had an idea, and excuse me if I embarrass Your Eminence, but the idea is: this is called doing theology while kneeling. Thank you. Thank you.”

Concern? "serene theology" is that theology which departs from the living magisterium? If an idea departs from the traditional understanding of the Church can it honestly be said that it has been done "while kneeling?" Only if by kneeling he did not mean union with the One True God in prayer. The Holy Spirit is the Third person of the Holy Trinity, He is not going to inspire anyone to deviate from the mind of God the Father or God the Son. Whether they are kneeling or doing cartwheels.  If this was not concerning to those following the Church in months leading up to the Synod, perhaps, we were not paying close enough attention.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Post Synodal Pontification's Part I

Following the Synod
Admittedly, I am a bit of a Catholic nerd. I never miss an opportunity to read, watch, and listen, to news regarding the hierarchy of the Church. I am bound to the great treasure that is, the divine revelation of Jesus Christ as safeguarded and traditionally taught by the successors to the Apostles. As a cradle Catholic, who had no respect for the Church, primarily because my only experience of the priesthood was grounded in the homoheresy. I am painfully aware that the hierarchy of the Church has been infiltrated by priests and prelates who simply do not believe the things that Christ has revealed for our salvation. In spite of my awareness of the imperfection of men, I returned to the Church, She is the barque of Peter after all, not to mention, the Pillar and bulwark of all truth. However, knowing that and giving assent to it has been made increasingly difficult by the modern day Bishop Iscariot's. The evidence of this interior schism can be seen plainly in the implementation of liturgical reform. Even if a person had no earthly idea of the goings on behind the curtain at the Second Vatican Council a reasonable person with the ability to read, and an open heart could not go a day without calling into question the origin of the Norvus Ordo. Much can be deduced from the obvious disparity between it and the Traditional Latin Mass. In the Norvus Ordo, we see perhaps for the first time the divorce between theology and pastoral activity or dogma and praxis. For example, from Sacrosanctum Concilium paragraph 23:

" That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing."

This one paragraph could be the source of an entire article. But, in summary it explains why we ought to follow closely the work of the hierarchy and question anything that is not of sound doctrine. It clearly says that "sound tradition" ought to be retained and that the investigation into changes should be "theological, historical, and pastoral." It says clearly that there must be no "innovations" unless the good of the Church requires them and the million dollar line "new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from the forms already existing." 

I borrow here from Cardinal Burke, one does not have to be a "rocket scientist" to see that the form that the Norvus Ordo ought to have grown from was the Traditional Latin Mass. If we know anything about organic growth, we know that it does not mean "complete overhaul" or aggiornimento without resourcement. No rational person, can say that the Norvus ordo, with the removal of communion on the tongue while kneeling, latin as the primary language, the sacred chant of the propers, and the introduction of ad populo (facing the people), could be considered an "organic growth" from the already existing rite. That already existing rite being the Traditional Latin Mass. The two should look so closely related that to the untrained eye a difference is hard to detect. And yet, the Norvus Ordo, looks frighteningly akin to a lutheran service on Sunday. Hardly, "organic gowth." Pope Benedict XVI referred to the Norvus Ordo as a "fabrication" on more than one occasion, here is just one:

“[W]e have a liturgy which has degenerated so that it has become a show which, with momentary success for the group of liturgical fabricators, strives to render religion interesting in the wake of the frivolities of fashion and seductive moral maxims. Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God in whose presence all the ‘doing’ becomes insignificant since only this encounter is able to guarantee us access to the true richness of being.” (Cardinal Ratzinger’s preface to the French translation of Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Monsignor Klaus Gamber, 1992).

Why do I follow the Synod? Why Should you follow the Synod? Because Christ is calling you, he is dispensing his actual grace to you in an effort to inspire you to get yourself into a state of grace and begin making your mark on this world by living a in a profound state of holiness. In order for that to happen we have to be honest about the Church and have the courage to confront the Bishop Judas Iscariot's or our time. There are priests, bishops, and Cardinals that have left the narrow path in favor of dancing with wolves. We can no longer simply trust everything that every ordained man says. We must now know the truth or where we can find the truth, so that, we can discern whether or not a particular priest or prelate is actually conveying that truth accurately. We can no longer simply say "I prefer to let God run the Church." He left it in the hands of men and if they will not do God's will, who will? Blind obedience and an absence of honesty in the media led to the failed and dishonest reform of the marriage supper of the lamb. Do we want to live through the failed reform of the marriage between a man and a woman?

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!
Pray for Me! I pray for you daily!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chesterton on Faith and Science

Great article by Chesterton on faith and science.
Science and Religion by G.K. Chesterton
IN these days we are accused of attacking science because we want it to be scientific. Surely there is not any undue disrespect to our doctor in saying that he is our doctor, not our priest, or our wife, or ourself. It is not the business of the doctor to say that we must go to a watering-place; it is his affair to say that certain results of health will follow if we do go to a watering-place. After that, obviously, it is for us to judge. Physical science is like simple addition: it is either infallible or it is false. To mix science up with philosophy is only to produce a philosophy that has lost all its ideal value and a science that has lost all its practical value. I want my private physician to tell me whether this or that food will kill me. It is for my private philosopher to tell me whether I ought to be killed. I apologise for stating all these truisms. But the truth is, that I have just been reading a thick pamphlet written by a mass of highly intelligent men who seem never to have heard of any of these truisms in their lives.

Those who detest the harmless writer of this column are generally reduced (in their final ecstasy of anger) to calling him "brilliant;" which has long ago in our journalism become a mere expression of contempt. But I am afraid that even this disdainful phrase does me too much honour. I am more and more convinced that I suffer, not from a shiny or showy impertinence, but from a simplicity that verges upon imbecility. I think more and more that I must be very dull, and that everybody else in the modern world must be very clever. I have just been reading this important compilation, sent to me in the name of a number of men for whom I have a high respect, and called "New Theology and Applied Religion." And it is literally true that I have read through whole columns of the things without knowing what the people were talking about. Either they must be talking about some black and bestial religion in which they were brought up, and of which I never even heard, or else they must be talking about some blazing and blinding vision of God which they have found, which I have never found, and which by its very splendour confuses their logic and confounds their speech. But the best instance I can quote of the thing is in connection with this matter of the business of physical science on the earth, of which I have just spoken. The following words are written over the signature of a man whose intelligence I respect, and I cannot make head or tail of them—

"When modern science declared that the cosmic process knew nothing of a historical event corresponding to a Fall, but told, on the contrary, the story of an incessant rise in the scale of being, it was quite plain that the Pauline scheme—I mean the argumentative processes of Paul's scheme of salvation—had lost its very foundation; for was not that foundation the total depravity of the human race inherited from their first parents?.... But now there was no Fall; there was no total depravity, or imminent danger of endless doom; and, the basis gone, the superstructure followed."

It is written with earnestness and in excellent English; it must mean something. But what can it mean? How could physical science prove that man is not depraved? You do not cut a man open to find his sins. You do not boil him until he gives forth the unmistakable green fumes of depravity. How could physical science find any traces of a moral fall? What traces did the writer expect to find? Did he expect to find a fossil Eve with a fossil apple inside her? Did he suppose that the ages would have spared for him a complete skeleton of Adam attached to a slightly faded fig-leaf? The whole paragraph which I have quoted is simply a series of inconsequent sentences, all quite untrue in themselves and all quite irrelevant to each other. Science never said that there could have been no Fall. There might have been ten Falls, one on top of the other, and the thing would have been quite consistent with everything that we know from physical science. Humanity might have grown morally worse for millions of centuries, and the thing would in no way have contradicted the principle of Evolution. Men of science (not being raving lunatics) never said that there had been "an incessant rise in the scale of being;" for an incessant rise would mean a rise without any relapse or failure; and physical evolution is full of relapse and failure. There were certainly some physical Falls; there may have been any number of moral Falls. So that, as I have said, I am honestly bewildered as to the meaning of such passages as this, in which the advanced person writes that because geologists know nothing about the Fall, therefore any doctrine of depravity is untrue. Because science has not found something which obviously it could not find, therefore something entirely different—the psychological sense of evil—is untrue. You might sum up this writer's argument abruptly, but accurately, in some way like this—"We have not dug up the bones of the Archangel Gabriel, who presumably had none, therefore little boys, left to themselves, will not be selfish." To me it is all wild and whirling; as if a man said—"The plumber can find nothing wrong with our piano; so I suppose that my wife does love me."

I am not going to enter here into the real doctrine of original sin, or into that probably false version of it which the New Theology writer calls the doctrine of depravity. But whatever else the worst doctrine of depravity may have been, it was a product of spiritual conviction; it had nothing to do with remote physical origins. Men thought mankind wicked because they felt wicked themselves. If a man feels wicked, I cannot see why he should suddenly feel good because somebody tells him that his ancestors once had tails. Man's primary purity and innocence may have dropped off with his tail, for all anybody knows. The only thing we all know about that primary purity and innocence is that we have not got it. Nothing can be, in the strictest sense of the word, more comic than to set so shadowy a thing as the conjectures made by the vaguer anthropologists about primitive man against so solid a thing as the human sense of sin. By its nature the evidence of Eden is something that one cannot find. By its nature the evidence of sin is something that one cannot help finding.

Some statements I disagree with; others I do not understand. If a man says, "I think the human race would be better if it abstained totally from fermented liquor," I quite understand what he means, and how his view could be defended. If a man says, "I wish to abolish beer because I am a temperance man," his remark conveys no meaning to my mind. It is like saying, "I wish to abolish roads because I am a moderate walker." If a man says, "I am not a Trinitarian," I understand. But if he says (as a lady once said to me), "I believe in the Holy Ghost in a spiritual sense," I go away dazed. In what other sense could one believe in the Holy Ghost? And I am sorry to say that this pamphlet of progressive religious views is full of baffling observations of that kind. What can people mean when they say that science has disturbed their view of sin? What sort of view of sin can they have had before science disturbed it? Did they think that it was something to eat? When people say that science has shaken their faith in immortality, what do they mean? Did they think that immortality was a gas?

Of course the real truth is that science has introduced no new principle into the matter at all. A man can be a Christian to the end of the world, for the simple reason that a man could have been an Atheist from the beginning of it. The materialism of things is on the face of things; it does not require any science to find it out. A man who has lived and loved falls down dead and the worms eat him. That is Materialism if you like. That is Atheism if you like. If mankind has believed in spite of that, it can believe in spite of anything. But why our human lot is made any more hopeless because we know the names of all the worms who eat him, or the names of all the parts of him that they eat, is to a thoughtful mind somewhat difficult to discover. My chief objection to these semi-scientific revolutionists is that they are not at all revolutionary. They are the party of platitude. They do not shake religion: rather religion seems to shake them. They can only answer the great paradox by repeating the truism.

~G.K. Chesterton: All Things Considered.