Questions and Answers on Evolution, Creation, and Faith
by Apolonio Latar
Q. How should a Catholic face the issue of evolution?
A. I do believe in evolution. I believe in micro as well as macro-evolution. I believe the evidence is there. This does not, however, negate the existence of God at all. The human body may have evolved, but there are things in the human person I do not believe that did. For example, there is the human mind. Why should I trust my mind if it came from non-rational objects? Imagine using your calculator, hitting 7+7. But before you hit “=” I told you that they were made from alligators. Should you trust the calculator? It seems to me that if we hold to evolution without God, we shouldn’t trust our minds.
Q. How then do you feel about the intelligent design vs. evolution taught in the schools?
A. I am an agnostic when it comes to that. The reason is because it seems to me that if we speak of intelligent design, we are going beyond science. We are going into philosophy. I mean, even if we take notions like “specified complexity,” the theory that specified complexity points to an intelligent design is a philosophical argument. I do not see it as a scientific answer. Science deals more with the physical or the material things. So I do believe in methodological naturalism. However, I agree with Christians who believe that there are textbooks which seem to point more into metaphysical naturalism and this should not be so. Metaphysical naturalism is as much a philosophical theory as intelligent design is.
Q. What then should we do?
A. I do not know. I think it may be okay to have criticisms of evolution in the textbooks. I guess we can speak of the missing links and so on, the ordinary creationist objections against evolution. The problem with that is, what is the other alternative? Intelligent design? Again, that seems to me more philosophical than scientific. I believe in the scholastic distinction of sciences, physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. There are different kinds of abstractions and should be dealt within their own realm. We should not insert metaphysics into physics nor should we insert physics into metaphysics. Many today create problems by doing this.
Q. What is left for the Christian in this scientific world?
A. I think the question should be restated as, what is left for the scientist in this scientific world? Yes, we can have as much medicines, machines, and technology, but it does not satisfy the deepest desire of the human person which is to become like God (1 John 3:1-3). The human person naturally desires to become like Him. If we are to limit ourselves to the material or scientific world, what we have left is an impersonal person. We would have made the person into a machine like all others, a body without a soul. This not only hurts his vertical relationship, his relationship with God, but also his relationship with his fellow man. We can take a look at Nazism and Communism and how these atheistic philosophies took man and made him fight against his fellow human being.
I am reminded of Catholic theologian Henri de Lubac’s comment that a world without God makes man turn against himself. And that’s what will happen. Man will no longer look at his wife with love. He will not give time to his children because he is stuck with his machines. He has found his relationship with the machines, not his fellow human beings. He would become impersonal to the point of “devolution.” Can’t you see that the more we have technology the less time we have for our family and friends?
Q. What can faith bring then?
A. Faith can bring our priorities back. The Christian faith is the most reasonable answer to the questions we all ask. Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is the meaning of life? The answer is what the old catechism said, “to know, serve, and love God so that we can be happy with Him forever in heaven.” Having faith in Jesus Christ is what will save the world. Also, faith produces in us hope (Romans 5:1-5). Suffering in this world cannot be avoided. But when we know that in the end, everything will be okay and that this is not my home, it will give me the strength to overcome it. Finally, it produces love. The more I have faith the more I will love God and my neighbor. God is not just some kind of distant being in the universe. He is near. He is in my very self. I can talk to Him and He talks back at me. I no longer live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20).
Q. What can you say to those who are wavering in their faith?
A. The late Holy Father taught us in his last encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia that there is a parallel between the words of Jesus, "Do this in memory of me," and Mary's fiat, "Do whatever he tells you." The Holy Father interpreted the words of Mary as "Do not waver; trust in the words of my son." And yes, are there not times when we waver and do not put our complete trust in Jesus' words? Are there not teachings of the Church that are hard to understand? Teachings on contraception, divorce, homosexuality, priesthood, and abortion may be hard to understand and make us waver in our faith. Are there also not times when our interests and God's word seem to contradict each other? We want to do one thing, but He is telling us to do another. Are not His callings, our vocations, sometimes hard to accept? We may lose family, friends, money, power, or popularity if we follow His will. Are there not situations in life that are hard to accept? Being betrayed by friends, losing a close family member or friend, or the sufferings we receive or the sufferings we see from our loved ones.
The late Holy Father says, "Do not be afraid. Do not waver; trust in the words of the son of Mary." "Do whatever he tells you," Mary says. Yes, we must not waver. We must trust in him. In order to love God, we must follow His commandments. Do not be afraid. Do not waver. Do whatever He tells you. Sometimes, we may even ask, "Why? Why shouldn't we waver? Why does it have to be so hard?" We may even become the disciples we read in the Gospel of John asking themselves, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" and leave Him (John 6:51-69). But St. Peter's question should remain in our hearts, to whom shall we go? Shall we follow our own desires, our own opinions? Shall we follow someone else? But who has the words of eternal life? Who can give us the joy we all long for? Who loves us the most? Who died for us? How can we look at a crucifix and say, "No, Jesus. I don't want to. Your commandments are too hard"? After all the good things he has done for us, and we can count many, after dying for us, after making Himself available for us at this very moment at every Mass and every Eucharistic adoration, how can we say No?
Do whatever he tells you, Mary says. Do not waver. Do not be afraid. There are many things that are hard to understand, but we should not turn away from His commandments. Our Lord said that he who saves his life will lose it and he who loses his life will be saved (Matt 10:38-39; 16:24-27). Like Mary, we should submit to God's word; we must lose our life. To do whatever he tells us is making our own fiat: may it be done according to your word. This is the faith we should all have -- the faith of Mary, the faith of the Church.
Q. The Church has definitely been wounded by the priesthood crisis. What happened?
A. Dissent. There were many people after Vatican II who thought that they were greater than the Church, that they can forget the teachings of the Church. Of course, I agree that some of the manuals were too dry and not applicable to daily lives, but they were still solid. Instead of developing what is taught in these manuals, we had people bringing new ideas to the Church that are contrary to her teachings, like Freud’s psychology. The whole sexual revolution and the acceptance of the manifestation of sexual behavior in the Church, in the seminaries is what went wrong. We had professors teaching that contraception and homosexuality are okay.
Q. So the problem is homosexual priests?
A. It’s not the homosexual priests in the sense that a homosexual priest cannot be a good priest. The problem is that we have not trained them to respond to their inclinations which are intrinsically disordered. I have no problems with a homosexual becoming a priest as long as we properly train them in the faith and have a proper formation which includes a good prayer and spiritual life.
Note: this was written before the official Vatican statement "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders" (4 November 2005)
Q. Many people do not trust the bishops and the priests. What do you think will renew the Church in America?
A. I think the whole situation in America is a paradox. The reason for the crisis is the bishops and the priests, and I think the solution, the renewal, will come from bishops and priests. I believe that there will be a great revival, a great reformation here in America where it will be Eucharistic-centered. I do believe that the lay people will have great roles to play, but I think it will be the bishops and the priests. We will see priests showing the mercy of God to people. We will see them celebrate the Mass reverently. We will see good priests. What we need in the Church in America are holy people especially holy priests. Once we become holy, once we ask for God’s mercy and spread it, we will see the beauty of the Catholic faith.
Q. What is holiness? What type of holiness are you speaking of?
A. Every member of the Church is called to holiness, called to be a beloved disciple. What does being a beloved disciple consist of? If we look at the Gospel of John, there are three unique things the beloved disciples received.
First, he received Jesus' Eucharistic heart. The beloved disciple was the one who leaned back against Jesus' chest during the Last Supper. He leaned towards the heart of Jesus, the heart filled with love and mercy. If we want to be a beloved disciple, we too must be close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And there is no better place to be close to His heart than the Blessed Eucharist. Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist does more good to the Church than all charitable works combined.
Today, with all the ugliness of dissent from the Church, the abortion-holocaust, lust, homosexuality, embryonic stem-cells research, cloning, pornography, liturgical abuses, the crisis in the priesthood, and relativism, what the Church needs is a reformation. We need a reformation which does not change or distort Church teachings, but change ourselves, to transform ourselves to be like Him. In order that there be a transformation of hearts, we must come to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus which is all merciful. The beauty and simplicity of the Eucharist is the answer to the ugliness of the world.
The second thing the beloved disciple received is Jesus' mother on the cross. Jesus is telling us today, "Behold your mother!" When the beloved disciple heard those words, we read that he took Mary into his home. So too must we take Mary into our homes. As I have said, the world is filled with ugliness. Pope Paul VI said that the smoke of Satan has entered the Church. We read in the Book of Revelation that the "dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus" (Rev 12:17). In other words, Satan is at war with us. We should always remember that our enemy is not the pro-abortion-holocaust, secularists, relativists, or homosexuals. Our enemy is Satan. Satan, the most intelligent of all angels, wasted his intelligence by disobeying God and tempting us to disobey God ourselves.
But we need not to be afraid. The woman clothed with the sun is with us. Those who take our Blessed Mother into their homes (John 19:25-27) will not despair. The woman clothed with the sun is our light when things become dark. She crushes the head of Satan, and leads us to the cross. In order to walk towards Calvary, we must take Mary with us. It is the Cross which conquered Satan. It is the Cross which all visible things need. Our God is so loving that He would die for us. And Mary should not be a barrier between the Cross and ourselves. Rather, we need her in order to walk to Calvary, to the Cross, the Cross which is a stumbling block for Jews and Gentiles, the Cross which Muslims deny. Mary guides those who have trouble walking towards Calvary, including those who do not accept the Cross like our Jewish brothers and Muslims. We should take her into our homes.
This is especially true for those who give us the Gospel through word and sacrament. St. John, the beloved disciple, was also a priest. This means that every priest must also receive our Blessed Mother. In a time where we do not need many priests, but good priests, let us pray to our Blessed Mother for good priests, to assist them in their daily lives especially when they are at the altar.
This leads me to my third and final point about the beloved disciple. The beloved disciple was the only disciple who was at Calvary. In other words, he received the gift of the Cross. We too must take up our crosses and carry them (Luke 9:23; Mark 8:34). Being a beloved disciple does not mean we cannot have many mistakes or trials in our lives. Being a beloved disciple means a continuous walk towards Calvary and gazing at the Crucified One with our Mother. It means abandoning everything for God, the very same God who became naked on the Cross, the very same God whom we have turned into a corpse that hangs on a tree. Only at the foot of the Cross can we understand the mysteries of the world especially the mystery of ourselves. Only at the foot of the Cross can we truly be human.
Being a witness of the Crucified One is difficult. It includes humiliation as He was humiliated. It includes persecution as He was persecuted. The more we read the beatitudes, the more we really see how it portrays the Crucified One. We too must portray Him. We too must be a people of the beatitudes. This includes the eighth beatitude which is being persecuted for His sake (Matt 5:10). In order to reform the Church, especially here in America, we must be a witness to the Crucified One even if we are going to be persecuted. At that point in our lives when we truly need a fiat, that decisive moment, we should be ready to die for Him as He died for us.
This is what it means to be a beloved disciple. It means standing at Calvary, gazing at the Crucified One, knowing that we may have to hang there with Him. That is what we should be meditating on when we are at Mass. We need martyrs; we need Christians who are willing to die for Christ and His Church. Only then will the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary triumph.