October 28, 2009

The Audacity of Pope

I’ll grant Tom that Richard Dawkins (who’s made time between writing hysterical liberal op-eds to compose a 500-page tome on recent advances in evolutionary research) might be motivated by a residual Anglican prejudice against the Catholic Church. This prejudice also has a historical foundation: there was something about that Spanish Armada that made Elizabeth and her subjects suspect that, yes, foreign papists really were trying to take over their country. I guess what makes me dubious about a lot of contemporary Catholic trads is that I sense they want to have it both ways with the history and character of their church. Putting aside the issue of whether a Darwinian outlook might actually re-enforce many values and commitments Tom and I share, I think it’s safe to say that Richard Dawkins represents the very height of scientific, leftish modernity: there’s the atheism, the rejection of the past as mystical obfuscation, a little polymorphic sexuality thrown in, the dreams of a more rational global society in the future, the whole lot. Thus, why exactly would Catholic traditionalists get bent out of shape if this man dislikes their church and faith? Shouldn’t they expect him to do so? Shouldn’t this re-enforce the idea that their church is still on the right path—and still relevant? Shouldn’t the right response be, “There he goes again…” Doesn’t the church have a proud tradition of standing athwart history (or at least modernity) and yelling “stop!” Didn’t popes oppose the secularizing ideology of a great many nation-states, including England and America? Aren’t these aspects of the church some of the major reasons people become traditionalist Catholics?

Just this afternoon (providence perhaps?), I received an email about a fascinating anti-Darwin conference that shall take place in Rome in November:

Scientific Conference Refuting Evolution Theory to be held in Rome, Italy

In Response to Pope Benedict XVI’s Call for Both Sides to be Heard


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