No, reddit, the Catholic Church has not accepted Darwinian evolution since 1950

The website reddit has recently been making notable shifts in its behavior. While it was once a place for open discussion and the relatively free exchange of ideas, the past several years have seen the owners change gears in an attempt to attract far more advertisers. We see this most blatantly when they suddenly shut down a forum, known within the site as a “sub” or “subreddit”, after a reporter (such as Anderson Cooper) sheds light on some questionable content being peddled on the site. Sometimes this is actually the right move by the reddit owners, but they almost never do it for the right reasons. Again, they’re interested in advertiser money. That’s it.

But merely shutting down bad content isn’t the only way the site has taken to putting on an ad-friendly face. When one of the owners went on Jimmy Kimmel’s show last year, he made it a point to push the ‘wholesome’ content of the website (despite a sizeable portion of its traffic coming from porn). Not long after, subreddits with the word “wholesome” in them began growing and growing. Some of this can likely be attributed to the national exposure they were given, but much of it is likely due to content manipulation where the reddit owners and employees push preferred content to the ‘front page’. This is surely why the site transitioned from being open source to close source – there’s no longer any way for users to confirm whether or not voted-on content has been altered to appear more popular than it is. And that vote manipulation (which has endless examples from just this past year, it seems) continues with this objectively incorrect post from the subreddit “Today I learned” (or TIL):

TIL the Catholic Church has accepted Darwinian evolution as compatible with Christianity since 1950.

Many of the top comments in the thread talk about how people who attended Catholic schools were taught evolution without issue, or how Catholics themselves have been responsible for many scientific theories and ideas. And, ‘naturally’, one prominent comment talks about how nice the thread is.

Of course, it’s all bullshit.

The reality is that the Catholic Church believes in the magic that is theistic evolution. This is not Darwinian in any sense of the word. This is an entirely made-up version of evolution that says humans were destined to exist. That is not what evolution says at all. Nothing in the theory dictates that humans or human-like beings will come into existence.

But let’s look at what Pope Pious XII actually had to say about evolution in 1950:

Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution.

He goes on to insult communists after this, so it isn’t easy to parse the politics of the writing from the commentary about biology, but it is clear that the Catholic Church did not believe that evolution had been proven. Saying something like that is equally as wrong as saying the theory of gravity has not been proven. Furthermore, the Church also didn’t believe that evolution was still occurring. This, of course, was and is wrong. Evolution does not stop so long as life continues. Humans are not its culmination – it has no culmination. It has replicators that replicate and change over time.

For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.

Here is a great example of where the Church 1) does not understand evolution and 2) holds a position in contradiction to evolution. Notice where the Pope says the Church holds that souls are immediately created by God. That is, souls are immortal and eternal while bodies are mortal and temporal. The soul, per the Church, has always existed and will always exist. It is merely joined to an earthly human body for a brief period. But there was no first human body. Evolution occurs on a spectrum and we are only able to define what makes a species its own species because of time and separation. One generation of Species A does not give birth to a generation of Species B. So that forces the issue: does the Church believe there was a first human? If so, did its mother and father not have souls? And what about neanderthals? Or our other human-like cousins? Did they have souls?

The bottom line is that theistic evolution requires that 1) humans were inevitable, 2) humans are the culmination or peak of evolution, and 3) there was a distinct, definable first human. Darwinian evolution, on the other, correct hand, tells us that none of those things are true. Nothing in evolution, aside from change itself, is inevitable. Legs? Lungs? Brains? Fingers? Speech? Fins? Wings? None of that is inevitable. And nothing, including humans, can constitute the culmination or peak of evolution. And, again, species are fluid. Species A will always give birth to another generation of Species A.

But I’m sure the reddit powers-that-be are happy to know their advertisers are seeing positivity and a favorable view being given to religion, so none of these pesky facts really matter.

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Doctor arrested for child pornography; no extensive organization comes to his defense

A doctor in Boston has been arrested for receiving child pornography:

A search of Richard Keller’s home turned up more than 500 photographs and as many as 100 DVDs full of pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston said in a statement. An associated complaint described the content of some of the DVDs, which mostly featured young boys in a variety of situations.

The complaint noted that on multiple occasions, orders for pornographic DVDs were delivered directly to the Isham Health Center on Phillips’ grounds.

Keller, 56, was medical director of Phillips for 19 years, ending in 2011. A prestigious boarding school that dates to the 1780s, it counts both former presidents Bush among its graduates.

Interestingly, and in contrast to the Catholic priests, no extensive or prominent organization has come to the defense of Keller. No one is getting up and standing in front of this man, defiant to the charges against him. The only people who will be defending Keller are those he hires and, perhaps, close family and friends.

Weird how things work in the normal world, huh?

And now for the patterns

I posted yesterday about why the Catholic Church’s coverup for sexual abuse is especially egregious. Today I want to toss up a rather lengthy list of the Church’s failings:

Here are some details of some major developments in the Roman Catholic Church abuse scandals in Europe in the last two years:

IRELAND:

— November 30, 2011 – Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, agreed to a legal settlement over his role in administering an oath of secrecy to a teenage victim of clerical sexual abuse in 1975, the victim’s lawyer said.

— July 13, 2011 – The Catholic Church in Ireland concealed the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, a decade after it introduced rules to protect minors, and the Vatican was complicit in the cover-up, a government report into the handling of sex abuse claims in the diocese of Cloyne, in County Cork, showed.

— May 31, 2010 – The Vatican named two cardinals and three archbishops from England, the United States and Canada to lead its inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in Ireland.

— March 24, 2010 – Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, accused of mishandling reports of sexual abuse in his diocese. He later accepted the resignation of two other Irish bishops.

— March 20, 2010 – In rare letter to Ireland’s Catholics, the pope told abuse victims he felt “shame and remorse” over the scandals and announced an official Vatican probe of Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious orders.

AUSTRIA:

— November 11, 2011 – Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn faced down calls for radical change in the Church from priests and lay people at a four-day meeting. Catholic rebels made calls for “disobedience” and changes in the Church, after a record 87,000 Austrians deserted it in 2010, many of them in response to allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

BELGIUM:

— December 14, 2011 – Victims of sexual abuse by priests in Belgium should be able to claim up to 25,000 euros ($32,700) in compensation from the Church, with assessments made by an independent panel, a parliamentary commission concluded.

— Hundreds of victims of abuse in the Belgian Church came forward after the former bishop of Bruges admitted in 2010 to abusing his nephew for years. Almost 500 people filed claims with an earlier commission set up by the Church but this was disbanded after police seized its documents.

— September 10, 2010 – Widespread child sexual abuse in the Belgian Church drove at least 13 victims to suicide, a Church commission reported. Of the 475 cases it recorded, two-thirds of the victims were male, with boys aged about 12 most vulnerable.

BRITAIN:

— Sept 18, 2010 – Pope Benedict made one of his strongest apologies to abuse victims while on a state visit to Britain, expressing his deep sorrow to innocent victims of “these unspeakable crimes.”

GERMANY:

— Jan 10, 2012 – A Catholic priest admitted in a German court to sexually abusing three boys over eight years, during trips that included to Disneyland in Paris.

— In April 2011 a survey said that some 180,000 German Catholics left the Church in 2010, a 40 percent rise over the previous year, amid allegations that priests had sexually abused children for decades.

— Aug 31, 2010 – The German Church unveiled new, tougher guidelines on dealing with sexual abuse of minors, obliging church authorities to report suspected cases to police.

— June 11, 2010 – A Jesuit investigation, commissioned in January, cited on May 27, 205 allegations of sexual abuse against priests at its schools in Germany, revealing decades of systematic abuse and attempts at a cover-up.

ITALY:

— Feb 18, 2010 – Italy has had dozens of cases of clerical sexual abuse involving about 80 priests over the past decade, a priest who runs an anti-pedophilia organization told Vatican Radio.

NETHERLANDS

— Dec 9, 2010 – A Church-commissioned report said 1,975 people had declared themselves victims of sexual and physical abuse while minors in the care of the Dutch Church, and criticized the Church for not responding to the scandals more promptly.

SWITZERLAND:

— June 2, 2010 – Swiss bishops said they received reports between January and May of 72 perpetrators abusing 104 victims, up from 14 perpetrators and 15 victims in 2009.

With so many people with so much power and influence, the systematic nature of these coverups points to some common denominator which goes beyond simply “institution”. Here’s a hint: It’s religion.

The sexual abuse patterns of the Catholic Church

There is sexual abuse that happens all over the place. It can happen between any two sort of people and within any organization. We’ve seen it from teachers, from coaches, at the college level, in the workplace, and from just about any sort of individual in just about any sort of profession. Sometimes it even gets covered up. People will go to great lengths to protect the people and institutions which are important to them. It’s disgusting and I don’t think any rational person is ever happy to hear about it.

One thing, however, that we don’t tend to see is a widespread culture of abuse and subsequent coverups within a field. The Penn State abuse with Sandusky, for instance, was awful and there are plenty of questionable things which happened with that, but that doesn’t mean it’s a staple of colleges to protect predators. That will happen on the individual level and in specific circumstances, but no one can say that there has been a national higher education sexual abuse scandal. Moreover, when abuse does it exposed, heads role.

In contrast to all this is the Catholic Church. The sexual abuse happens at the individual level and is not something which the Church condones, but the coverup has been systematic. It hasn’t been at just one Church or one Sunday School (like Penn State was at just Penn State), but rather the entire, far-reaching organization seems have had a hand in protecting itself. The moral compass of the Church has been awry for decades upon decades now.

I’m going to end this post here because it’s a little longer than I intended, but I have scheduled a post for tomorrow which will list out a number of examples of the systemic failure of the Catholic Church across Europe.

The Catholic Church does not get it

A study relieving the priesthood of many common charges has been released:

Researchers hired by the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops to determine the causes of the sex crisis that convulsed the church dismissed all the usual suspects:

Few of the offenders were pedophiles. The abusers were not acting on their homosexuality. Mandatory celibacy did not turn clerics into molesters.

The first two points are incorrect. The offenders are pedophiles by definition – they raped and molested underaged boys – and the vast majority of instances involved men whose interest in children was limited to males. The third point may have nothing to do with many of the acts, but sexual repression is never good and almost always due to sexual immaturity, something the Church and many Christians have routinely displayed.

But I’m being a stickler for facts. The important point here is that the greatest complaints against the Church as an institution have to do with its record. It has again and again covered up its acts. It shifted priests from one church to another, fully aware of the accusations. Hell, even the current Pope did this before he reached his current place.

If the Church thinks that this in any way absolves it of its responsibility for its horrific acts, it’s wrong. It’s dead wrong. But that isn’t going to stop these monsters from making excuses:

Instead, most of the priest-offenders came from seminary classes of the 1940s and 1950s who were not properly trained to confront the upheavals of the 1960s, when behavioral norms were upended and crime overall in the United States spiked, the researchers said.

You see, it was just all that sex and junk from the 60’s. If society had have just listened to the Church, none of this would have happened. Hell, if you think about it, it was really those pre- and early baby boomers who raped all those boys, amirite?

This has to be the single most revolting study I have seen in quite some time. The Church has been pushing this gross narrative for years now where they attempt to absolve themselves by pointing out that people besides priests rape boys too. They don’t get it: That is not the point. The Church protected rapists and then tried to cover itself up after information started to come out. That is devastating to any sense of morality.

These antiquated rape-hiders need to understand what this is all about if they ever want to address the crimes of their institution in any way approaching adequacy.

Wow, some honesty in Biblical translation

I constantly see Christians making excuse after excuse over certain phrasings in their cultural holy book. It always happens that they argue in favor of the particular book and views their parents favored, as if by some magnificent stroke of luck they happened upon the One True Christianity. It’s pathetic. I mean, come on, let’s just look at the actual documents and actual words and translate them appropriately. No, that isn’t going to bring anyone to any cosmic truth, but it will at least bring some honesty to such a big piece of literary history.

The Catholic Church, while not known as the most truthful institution, especially if you want to look at their boy-rape record, and a council of its members made at least one honest change to one version of the Bible:

In a change in a passage in Isaiah 7:14 that foretells the coming of Jesus and his birth to a virgin mother, the 1970 edition’s reference to “the virgin” will become “the young woman,” to better translate the Hebrew word “almah.”

Of course, they aren’t going to alter their irrational belief in the magic of a virgin birth, but at least they have the wording correct now. And for everyone else it will be easier to point out that, hey, Mary had sex. Probably many times. Because that’s what happens not too long before babies are born.

Catholic Church: Double Effect is wrong

Well, they didn’t really say that. But they effectively stated as much when they stripped an Arizona hospital of its affiliation with the church.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center — recognized internationally for its neurology and neurosurgery practices — violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In fact, the woman was virtually guaranteed to die if she continued to carry the 11 week old fetus much longer. Now keep that in mind:

Double effect is the ethical principle which says something is ethical so long as it conforms to these four conditions:

1. The nature-of-the-act condition. The action must be either morally good or indifferent.
2. The means-end condition. The bad effect must not be the means by which one achieves the good effect.
3. The right-intention condition. The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect, with the bad effect being only an unintended side effect.
4. The proportionality condition. The good effect must be at least equivalent in importance to the bad effect.

This case in Arizona is textbook. The first condition is satisfied because the act was to save the mother’s life. The second condition is satisfied because the means is the removal of a physical condition, not the explicit murder of another person. The third condition is satisfied because the doctors only want to save the mother’s life, not destroy the fetus. The fourth condition is satisfied because even if the fetus is a human, the mother’s life must be equally considered.

In fact, double effect isn’t really important here because the fetus is not a human being, but I digress.

The church stripped the hospital of its status (and, really, that’s a good thing anyway) because it thinks the woman should have risked certain death (which isn’t really a risk, now is it?). We know the end result would be the death of her and her fetus. How that is considered good is a mystery.

And that raises another point, doesn’t it? What methodology, what guidelines, what anything does the Bible (or any holy book) offer in this situation? One person unfamiliar with basic, classic philosophical examples couldn’t come up with an answer. (In fact, he might say the problem here was just logistics.) It doesn’t look like the Catholic Church has an answer either.

It’s unfortunate that the hospital says it will still follow Catholic Church guidelines (not Biblical guidelines…since they do not exist), but this is an overall good incident. While I hate to see the sort of irrational arguments that say the saving of one life is really just abortion of another, it’s fantastic that the Church has severed its formal ties with an institution committed to actually helping people. I hope that whenever necessary the hospital will not hesitate to continue saving living humans.