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BOOK EXCERPT: Evolution, Faith and the Future of Catholicism

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
©Catholic Online 2005

Anytime you enter a Church, you are engaged in a form of four dimensional thinking. [The three dimensions of the visible world and the fourth dimension of faith] Indeed, if you are atheist you may enter a Church as if it is a museum, but you are unable to fully understand what surrounds you because your level of thinking does not match that of the builders of the Church. Yet, you are participating in their four dimensional thinking, even if you do not understand it.

If we are to take evolution at its face value, then it may be time to look at the current revolutions in faith and science as the next stage in evolution. One of my favorite stories is one in which future planners at the end of the nineteenth century put together their predictions of what supplies would be needed to deal with transportation issues in the upcoming new century. How much hay would be needed for the horses, how many clean up men would be needed to deal with the increased traffic caused by an increase of horses and carriages on the city streets.

Of course, none of that happened and it did not happen because they could not foresee the course of history that would make each of their predictions not only inaccurate but also absurd. Indeed, today they are a source of humor. However, the men at the time had no idea that the transportation industry was going to take a new turn and that pollution would not be a street problem in the twentieth century but an air problem.

We are in the same position today. Science has taken over all planning and direction and in doing so has put the future of our world into a three dimensional environment. Yet, faith is slowly becoming a stronger factor in our world and as such although science did not account for this, the fact is it is real.

Presently, our whole society is in flux. We are in the midst of a revolution of thought. Many who were part of the science fiction community of the late twentieth century are hoping that the utopian science fiction concepts of the future are our future. Others who are part of the faith community are hoping that the holy nation is our future. Yet, we are experiencing a new factor that was not planned for in our society, a faith based terrorism not rooted in the Judeo-Christian nor the science based community. Indeed, some are predicting that what is in our future is actually another Dark Ages. They are saying that we are so much on the border of such intense human revolution that our world is at the edge of plunging into a world wide civil disorder sparked by Radical Islamic Terrorists.

As I write this, we are living in the aftermath of a terrorist attack by Radical Islamic Extremists in Russia who have taken over a school and in the ensuing attack by Russian Security Forces the local Boston papers are reporting over 300 are dead. When I woke up this morning, I thought of one report in which children were shot in the back as they ran from the hostage situation in which they were the bargaining chips. The rebels for three days would not feed them, would not let them have anything to drink and finally would not allow them to use the bathroom.

Clint Eastwood is recognized for many accomplishments in the movie industry, one of which is what is considered his masterpiece, The Unforgiven. The movie is classic western lore and symbolism, I have always interpreted its message to be "If you play with evil, evil will come." A town of evil folks, including the Gene Hackman corrupt sheriff, plays with evil and evil comes. The townspeople's demise comes in the form of the persona of one who "Kills women and children and men in the back." In classic western storytelling, there is no more evil act than to commit such terror. That, however, is not much different than what happened at the school in Russia. Terrorists killed men, women and children and many in the back.

This terrorist factor is quickly becoming a theme for the twenty-first century and it is not science based. Indeed, it is a faith-based action uninformed by reason. If we do not get this evolution thing down, our world may be converted into two camps, a science based one that seeks the destruction of faith based communities and a faith based one that seeks the destruction of science based communities. The end result is what we used to call during the cold war Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

Catholicism is rooted in what my professor at the Seminary used to call Theological Dance Partners. These are two pillars of opposites to bring the whole to a balance. Scripture AND Tradition, Institutional AND Charismatic, Faith AND Reason. It is when we are operating on the principles of Faith and Reason that we are entering the next stage of human development, when we are becoming more fully human and more fully alive. Both Faith and Reason are based on a constant, the reality of truth. Yet, both although do not change, our understanding of them does.

Let me give you an example. Over the past five hundred years, there has been a great change in the understanding of our planet. We have gone from believing the Earth was flat to having absolute proof of its roundness and its size with pictures from the moon and space. Our understanding of our planet changed radically and constantly over the centuries, but the planet did not change.

Outside of that since 1492, the world has seen the discovery of whole civilizations and continents that previously were not even known to the Europeans and the movers and shakers of Western Civilization. Meanwhile, peoples in the Americas were living in advanced societies completely unaware that anything existed outside of their shores. Yet, in all these discoveries and renewal of our understanding of our planet and the people who inhabit it. The Earth never changed.

Now we see the same thing with faith and reason. Faith and reason are two tools or even pillars, if you will, that allow us not only to understand the world around us, but also explore it and seek it. Faith and reason assist us in coming to know the who, what where, when, why and how of human existence. They exist in conjunction with empirical evidence and divine revelation. Yet, both are two parallel tracks to the one destination truth. They need to be used in conjunction. However, truth itself does not change. God and his creation does not change, our understanding of Him does.

Every generation seems to fall into the problem that it believes it is the smartest of generations. I see this further in the twenty-first century with all the great discoveries we have. Yet, each generation had no idea what its future was. Further, each generation had its own set of problems and good or bad solutions. We are no different.

Faith is the science of the future. It is the science that teaches us to understand what we cannot perceive, Science is the science of the present, it teaches us what we can perceive. The future is filled with people of faith in theological union with science or with the ignorant in darkness of faith or of science in mutual isolation that will form humanity deeper and deeper in darkness.

The choice is ours, but it is becoming clearer and clearer that those who chose a science uninformed by faith or a faith uniformed by science are not the people that promise a bright future.

[From Evolution, Faith and the Future of Catholicism by Rev. Robert J. Carr.]


Catholicism Anew MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Parochial Vicar, 617 625-0029



evolution, catholicism, faith,

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