This past Wednesday at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, Father gave his presentation on the Church’s teaching of evolution versus creation. In presenting this teaching, Father discussed the 1955 play, a play written during the year I was born, Inherit the wind. This play is about the Scopes Monkey Trial. It is also about the McCarthy trials of 1955.
In Inherit the Wind, Matthew Harrison Brady stands in for William Jennings Bryan, the very liberal prosecutor who tried John T. Scopes for teaching evolution in the public schools. In our class at the Cathedral in Reno, Nevada, it was correctly linked that William Jennings Bryan was a very progressive, liberal from what in his day was very progressive Nebraska. Why would he want to represent the ultra-conservative proponents of creation theory?
The answer lies, not in support of evolution, or a literal reading of Torah and Gospel. The answer lies in the writings of Herbert Spencer. In 1864, at the end of the American Civil War, Mr. Spencer wrote Principles of Biology where he coined the term, “Survival of the Fittest.” The problem is that for Mr. Spencer, humans are the fittest animal because they are a social animal.
We have before us, the robber barons of the late 19th century, the robber barons of the early 20th century, the proponents of Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the robber barons of today. These barons are that richest 20% of the population controlling 85% of all wealth, who bring home half of all the income, received in this country today. They also use the concept of survival of the fittest to justify robbing the poor of their share of the American and the world pie.
It is this this justification of theft that has William Jennings Bryan prosecuting John Scopes. Father Francisco presented the view that the play, “Inherit the Wind,” is about reconciling science and religion. As such, Father emphasized the view that science and religion need not compete against each other. Science is knowledge as seen through the prism of human nature. Religion is trying to understand our world through the prism of human nature.
Father Francisco correctly related that Creation Science has the same fault of Evolution Science. Science does not deal in cause and effect. It tries to describe the present, what we see around us, to use it in some meaningful way. When Creation Science posits a necessary creator, it transcends science, and engages in the philosophical field of Metaphysics. It engages in the Metaphysics of Ontology or describing the world as we see it.
Neither Creation Theory nor Evolution belongs in the Science textbook. They belong in the Metaphysics textbook. We need to do science, gather information, as in, “On creation science versus evolution part 1 limits on the evolution theory.” After we need to gather facts, we need to build those facts into an understanding of our world, and we need to analyze what we conclude, retesting our ideas against the real world, but we must also let Science be Science and Metaphysics be Metaphysics.
Father Francisco related in his class, which he presented this past Wednesday at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, that the problem with creation theory is that it wants to use a literal translation of Torah as science. The problem is that Torah is much like the play, Inherit the Wind. The article, “Father Francisco’s Bible Study class, formation of Torah as we know it Part 1, and Part 2 relate that Torah, like Inherit the Wind, is a political work with political goals, set in the past, but about the present. Father Francisco agreed, the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic verbs do not properly speaking have past, present, or future. All is in the present.
Exodus 1:13-14 states Pharaoh made the Hebrew people’s “lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field.” Exodus 5:6-7 relates the details of brick making, using straw and water not generally available where Pharaoh had the great cities built in Egypt. The problem is that in Egypt, and in Eretz Israel, they did not build using mortar and brick. They used cut stone to build. In Babylonia, they used mortar and brick.
Deuteronomy 4, and Exodus 19 describe the giving of the Ten Commandments. In detail, the writer describes an active volcano, with fire coming from the top of the mountain, the thick cloud, lightning coming from the cloud, the earth shaking, the ground opening and swallowing people and so on. The problem is that there are no volcanoes in Sinai, where Moses and Israel received the Ten Commandments. There is a mountain peak northeast of Mosul Iraq that is an active volcano. A person visiting this peak, some 300 miles northeast of Baghdad, would be very able to describe a volcano.The closest volcano to Sinai sits between Mecca and Medina of Muslim tradition, in Saudi Arabia, far south of the route Moses would most likely of taken.
When we read Genesis 2, we read of four rivers. Two are the Tigris and the Euphrates, in Iraq, the start in Turkey. First-century Jewish historian Josephus associated the third river, the Gihon with the Nile in Jewish Antiquities, 1.39. Research seems to indicate a fourth river, now a dry riverbed that starts in Yemen, and meandered north toward Israel. This means Eden could be Israel. The problem is that Israel in no way resembled Eden. Still, we must conclude that the writers of Torah, including Genesis, were writing about their time, and not their past. They were describing the world of the Babylonian diaspora, not the creation of the world.
The writer of Genesis may have taken The Epic of Gilgamesh, with Eden being near Basra Iraq, and used it to describe his homeland for which he waxed nostalgic. To sell Torah to the Israeli (Northern Kingdom) and Jewish (Southern Kingdom) people of his time the writer also incorporates stories from Israeli and Jewish tradition. This is similar to what Inherit the Wind is doing, taking one story set in one time and place, and using it to describe the events of his own time.