Catholic Theologians on Biblical Accuracy

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Pope Benedict XVI has said (24 April 2005), "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution." This did not please the atheist-minded scientists in our society, who maintain with vehemence that we are as Richard Dawkins asserts: "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference."

But before you get too excited, only this week The Time of London, 5 October 2005 (Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent) reports the catholic church has warned people they should not expect the Bible to be trustworthy: “The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true. The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect "total accuracy" from the Bible.

"We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision," they say in The Gift of Scripture. The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US. Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing "intelligent design" to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began. But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be "historical". At most, they say, they may contain "historical traces".

The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.”

Editorial Comment: The biggest flaw in such catholic theology, whether it be in dealing with Galileo or evolution is also seen in many Protestant churches. Church leaders read (and teach) the scriptures only in the light of whatever the current popular most acceptable view of the world is, usually the one they bowed the knee to in order to get their Ph.D. In all these areas those of us who are teachers must remember the New Testament injunction that Teachers will be judged (by the Creator) more strictly (James 3:1), i.e. for our own errors, and for the errors we teach others to believe.

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