Objection #4. YOUCAT Places greater weight on modern scientific speculation than on the Church Fathers’ unanimous interpretations of the first chapters of Genesis.
...a note in the margin of page 37 [of YOUCAT] defines "creationism" as "the idea that God himself by his direct action created the world all at once, as if the book of Genesis were an eyewitness account." But the authors of YOUCAT do not tell their young readers that virtually all of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church took this "naïve" view, including the greatest Doctors of the Church, men like St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Ambrose.
VI. True, "naive" is an inaccurate descriptor of exegeses done by the Church Fathers/Doctors, as it is argued. Yet the petitioners still give an impression that the Fathers/Doctors subscribed to Creationism, which they did not, since that term more properly belongs Protestantism, as in the works of James Ussher (1581-1656) or John Lightfoot (1602-1675). The accurate and correct word to use here is Concordism, meaning the reading of some scientific cosmogenesis into Genesis 1, i.e. introducing science, however indirectly, when explaining the biblical account of Creation. Why Concordism is a fallacy is clear enough: the Bible does not teach science. It is not a textbook, in a astronomical or biogeophysical sense, on how all that is came to be. Thing is, Concordism was an error persistent from the beginning, if you'll excuse the pun. Circa 1900, prominent exegetes Fr. Franz von Hummelauer and Fr. Marie-Joseph Lagrange made a shocking admission: the previous 1800 years of Catholic exegesis on Creation in Genesis 1 was not credible, unpersuasive. Why? Concordism. Fr. Stanley Jaki explained further:
Concordism kept a hold on the minds of most Catholic theologians and in fact became a quasi-official position in Catholic seminaries. Concordism, which produced an immense literature, fell merely into official disfavor with the publication November 18, 1893, of Leo XIII's Encyclical Providentissimus Deus on the interpretation of the Scriptures. The Pope emphasized that the inspired authors did not mean to teach about the workings of nature... the subsequent grappling of theologians and exegetes with this task did not improve a bit on the dismal picture that had emerged from their previous efforts.
VII. Fr. Jaki, in my opinion one the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century, tells of the proper context to which Genesis 1 must be considered:
The unusually systematic character of Genesis 1 should suggest that it contains a literary device to make very explicitly the message about the total dependence of all on God. Written as Genesis 1 was in such a way as to instruct and enlighten the uneducated, that device had to such as to be instinctively grasped by them [the Hebrews]... Contrary to preconceived notions about the irremediable primitiveness of the biblical world view, it has one major advantage over all those scientific world views.[...and it is here where the Recall people should take note] It represents an all which has a dynamic character, or an all that is not at the mercy of the fallible character of precise confines, however sophisticated. For that world view is anchored in an elemental conviction about the all which rests on God's omnipotence. Such an all is presented to man not so much as a unit to be circumnavigated easily by the mind's eye but rather as a horizon that challenges the mind to see beyond the apparent boundaries and forces him to pursue it as it keeps escaping his grasp for one reason or another. At the same time it also assures the mind that the all is never lost while one constantly loses hold of its actual confines.
NOTES / REFERENCES
1. See various reports: D. Kerr, "World Youth Day catechism suggests endorsement of 'contraceptive methods'", Catholic News Agency, April 11, 2011; J.H. Westen, "Italian version of official World Youth Day Catechism errs on contraception: report", LifeSite News, April 11, 2011; M.A. Kreitzer, "Catholics demand recall of Youth Catechism", Spero News, August 15, 2011.
2. S.L. Jaki, Genesis 1 Through the Ages (London: Thomas More Press, 1992), p. 238.
3. Cf. ibid., p. 242. See also Sum. theol., i, qq. 65-74, passim.
4. Ibid. pp. 63, 285. See also Fr. Jaki's analysis in his Angels, Apes and Men (Peru, IL: Sherwood Sugden & Company, 1990), pp. 199-203. Originally published in 1984.