Readers have probably caught on by now that I consider the theory of evolution to be the best current theory we have concerning biological origins of species on this planet (one tries to be careful and avoid phrases like "believe in evolution"), but it struck me this gets to some of the discomfort that many Christian parents have with allowing schools to present evolution to their children in science class.
Leave aside, for a moment, the question of what the history of life on earth actually is. Clearly, someone who believes that science can demonstrate that God created the world and all life on it via a miraculous event has less room to lose his faith in God than someone who believes that life on earth developed via a natural process -- but that God created the universe and the laws of order that allow it to be a welcoming place for life on earth. The more direct you think the evidence of God's hand in the universe is, the less room you have to doubt God's existence. (Now, if God had given us all "Child of God" birthmarks, we'd really be set...)
Legends of the Fall
One of the things that strikes me, however, is: If the suffering resulting from an earthquake or a hurricane is somehow the result of the fall, what would things have been like had man not fallen? Would there simply be no earthquakes of hurricanes or disease? And yet (unless you're the most literal of young earth creationists) the Earth and the physical processes that make it work were formed long before the fall. There could be a world without hurricanes and earthquakes, but it would be a world that worked a little differently than our own. So unless you want to posit that the physical nature of the Earth changed with the fall (an idea that I think Aquinas would certainly have rejected, since it is as incompatible with Aristotelian natural philosophy as with modern science) that leaves us to wonder what natural disasters would have been like had man not fallen, and why they would have existed at all.
In the past, I've toyed with questions about how perhaps natural disasters would have occurred, but man's reaction to them would have been radically different, because man would not have had the inherent fear of death and lack of trust in God that fallen man has....
But here's another thought: To what extent was the nature of the universe changed because of the fall of the angels?
The Eternal Now
Maybe it's the result of growing up on Science Fiction and then reading Augustine, but one of the things I latched on to tight when I ran into it in college was Augustine's reconciliation of God's foreknowledge with Man's free will. In City of God XI, 21 Augustine says:
"It is not with God as it is with us. He does not look ahead to the future, look directly at the present, look back to the past. He sees in some other manner, utterly remote from anything we experience or could imagine. He does not see things by turning his attention from one thing to another. He sees all without any kind of change. Things which happen under the condition of time are in the future, not yet in being, or in the present, already existing, or in the past, no longer in being. But God comprehends all these in a stable and eternal present.... Nor is there any difference between his present, past and future knowledge."
Why must God experience things in an eternal present? Allow me to play wannabe mathematician for a moment.
The Desire to Bear Arms
If you do not experience it yourself, I am not sure I can explain to you the hold that knives, guns, bows and all things dangerous hold upon my mind. The bow, of course, is a noble instrument, dating back farther in our history than writing, rice pudding or income tax. Guns are perhaps no more pleasurable to use than bows, but they infinitely more fascinating, since they combine the joy of a complicated yet elegant mechanical construction with noise and destructive power.
(With apologies to Evelyn Waugh and, of course, all of you.)
She talked to herself, because hers was the only voice she could trust, when it assured her that she was still alive; what she said was not for the children, nor for any ears but her own.
"Better to-day. Better to-day. I can see now, across the expanse of the living-room, the fibers of the carpet, faded and grey, where yesterday I was confused and took the floor for a repository of broken toys and stuffed animals. Soon I shall see the tabletops and couch and know where it is that the ants get in.
"Better tomorrow. We live long in our family and talk early. Three is no age. Julia is only two and can remember where her candy is hidden and how much of it I ate, her 'tandy'; that was the name they had for it in the nursery and in the back-yard where unlettered girls have long memories. You can see where the big weedy shrub used to stand: the corner of the yard where the fence is uneven and half the grounds are waste, nettle and brier in hollows too deep for filling. We dug to the roots to hack it out and lay the foundations for the rose-bed planter. Those were our roots in front of the new house when the men in the orange truck came to cart them away to the dump .
Miss Marple and the Case of the Superfluous Lesbians [Due to the magic of Google, this is actually one of our most read posts of all time.]
This is something I've been mulling over for a few weeks, but I was prodded into writing by seeing Steven Riddle address the same issue (hat tip: Happy Catholic).
Mystery, the ever-popular series on PBS, recently ran a set of four new Miss Marple mysteries, all based on books that I'd read years ago. (I went through an Agatha Christie kick in my early teen years and churned through most of her works.) The four mysteries were Murder at the Vicarage, A Murder is Announced, What Mrs. McGillicudy Saw, and The Body in the Library. Murder at the Vicarage (barring the odd flashback sequences) and What Mrs. McGillicudy Saw were substantially the same tales I remembered. A Murder is Announced had some slight differences, and the denoument to The Body in the Library was so drastically unlike anything Dame Christie wrote as to send me out to the library searching for the original.
(I am sorry if I throw out any spoilers discussing the mysteries.)
Gay Marriage: Sin and Inclination
[I]t seems to me that the problem here is that this justification for gay marriage relies on making inclination the basis of the morality of the act. It also seems to either make a distinction between some inclinations as more valid than others, or else open the door to nearly any form of sexual behavior imaginable.
On the advice of friends whose advice in these matters is to be trusted, I've been reading Josef Pieper's The Four Cardinal Virtues. I'm only a few chapters into the first section, on prudence, and I'm finding it fascinating. Pieper states that prudence is somewhat of a "lost" virtue now, seen often as weakness, cowardice, or "small-minded self preservation". But nothing could be farther from the truth: prudence is "the mold and 'mother' of all the other cardinal virtues, of justice, fortitude, and temperance. In other words, none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good man is good insofar as he is prudent."
Prudence is the ability to make right decisions that are based on and informed by reality -- both objective reality, and the facts of a particular circumstance.