The FAITH Movement was initiated in England by Father John Flanagan when he realised that young people would need help if they were to understand the Truths of the Faith now that they were no longer being taught in Catholic schools. Heavy work commitments soon forced Fr. Flanagan to pass the responsibility for FAITH on to Father Alan Clarke. When Fr. Clarke was appointed auxiliary bishop of Northampton in May 1969 he asked Father Edward Holloway to take over the reins.
Initially he started a monthly called "Cephas" but soon changed it to FAITH magazine which gave so many bewildered Catholics the Truth about the Church in England and world-wide. This served to inform and to console many faithful Catholics all over the country who were feeling isolated and needed the guidance and spiritual support of Fr. Holloway's Editorials as well as the enlightening articles by scholars at home and abroad - viewpoints which in England at the time were only otherwise available from Christian Order. The Movement together with FAITH magazine has continued on since Fr. Holloway's death in March 1999.
Priests associated with FAITH are loyal to the Holy See, their Masses reverent and churches well kept. FAITH talks are organised regularly both in England and Scotland while FAITH Summer schools offer young Catholics the opportunity to study the Faith. Many parents feel sure their offspring are only still in the Church because they were fortunate enough to get involved with FAITH during their youth.
Nonetheless, without in any way detracting from these positive aspects, FAITH also displays an aversion to the Traditional Latin Mass; supports sex/chastity-education of the notorious TeenSTAR variety, rejecting Pope Pius XI's 1929 magisterial prohibition of sex-education as passe; and champions theistic evolution, the foundation and raison d'etre of the entire Movement.
These major (interconnected) flaws, and the neo-Gnostic ambiance of the Movement in general, however, are merely disturbing symptons of the much deeper, underlying flaw: the private revelation allegedly received by Fr. Holloway's mother in 1929, when a "voice" supposedly gave her God's scientific "Master Key" to the Catholic faith and the universe.
It is precisely because of the FAITH Movement's influential, formative role among Catholic youth in the post-conciliar British Church that it is essential to bring to light and make widely known this incredible foundation upon which the Movement rests. To that end, the ensuing critique, which includes an excellent summary review of the Evolution-Creation debate over the past century, tells us all we need to know. The author is the Editor of Daylight, the journal of the Daylight Origins Society.
Theistic Evolution and The Mystery of FAITH
ANTHONY NEVARD B.Sc,
FOR over a century, there has been controversy in the Church over the doctrine of Evolution. Though most Catholic theologians at first opposed it, they could not agree that the Magisterium had ever explicitly condemned the idea that the formation of the body of Adam might have involved some secondary natural causation, which some of the early Church Fathers believed, rather than by an immediate ex nihilo Divine Act. Progressive theologians, despite some official discouragement, argued that this would allow for evolution to have occurred. Their increasing influence has led to the present widespread belief that even the Pope accepts Evolution as a fact, and the Church no longer opposes it. While some Catholics believe that Evolution does contradict Christian doctrine, others think it is purely a matter of personal opinion, or even believe it should be taught as the official Catholic position.
This article will consider these views in the light of the Church's reactions to evolutionism over this century, and also examine the rationale of a Catholic organisation in England which promotes a diametrically opposite theory of Origins to our own. While Daylight rejects Evolution as a false philosophy, dangerous to Christianity and damaging to society, and defends traditional doctrines, the FAITH Movement insists that Evolution must be accepted by the Church and seeks papal approval for a new theology of creation. Yet both groups claim to respect the evidence of modern science, to be loyal to orthodox doctrines, and to oppose Humanist and Modernist influences. Both Daylight and FAITH believe they promote essential answers to contemporary problems in the Church and society at large, despite their mutually contradictory positions in matters related to Origins and Scripture. The leaders of FAITH maintain that their ideas "... are developed for the needs of the Church in a scientific world at this time of crisis in faith..." But is it really in tune with the times to preach the evolutionist gospel despite the increasingly widespread apostasy against it by thousands of modern scientists?(1) Their recently published book provides an answer to this paradox - their unshakeable conviction is actually based on a private revelation, as yet unapproved by the Church, claimed to have been received in 1929 by a laywoman, who heard 'voices from God' telling her that evolution was true!
Revolution to Evolution - and back
Since the late nineteenth century, as the evolution doctrine became generally accepted in the academic community, more theologians began to contend that Catholics ought simply to accept evolution as a proven fact. They recalled that the Church had suffered in the past from being perceived as hostile to the progress of science - 'we dare not risk another Galileo case!' Dogmas, they argued, must be up-dated to meet the expectations of modern well-educated people, lest they reject Christianity as obscurantist and opposed to truth.
Though many great Christian scientists, such as Pasteur and Mendel, had rejected Darwinism, their opinions were treated as religiously biased, and so worthless as science.(2) Thus evolution could be portrayed as unanimously accepted by science and so became the prevailing secular dogma, to be adopted as an unquestioned principle in all disciplines of research, with any opponents routinely relegated to academic obscurity. This was inculcated by the publishing houses, the Press, education, and later radio and television, most effectively by the continued policy of excluding any authoritative opposition.(3) Belief in Special Creation was considered anti-science, and ridiculed as on a par with astrology and 'flat Earthism."(4) As some products of such social and cognitive conditioning entered the ranks of the clergy, their sincerely held convictions gradually influenced ecclesiastical circles and eroded traditional doctrinal beliefs, sapping the confidence of priests in defending the historical inerrancy of Holy Writ and the related doctrines of the Church. Seminarians increasingly were merely told that Evolution was a proven fact, and not permitted freely to examine and discuss the scientific evidence and rational arguments for and against it. Their liberal professors could not allow these young men their pious faith in the literal sense of Genesis, written for 'primitive people'. Biologists, paleontologists, Biblical exegetes, archeologists, linguists, historians - all the experts were arrayed to oppose their common enemy: Biblical Fundamentalism! Students were encouraged to study theological works that argued that Christianity could be harmonised with modern Science. Progressive Biblical scholars were 'demythologising' Genesis on the basis of belief in the evolutionary origins of mankind. Few students could have been equipped to challenge their professors in all these fields of expertise! Would-be literalists could readily be dismissed as adopting a Protestant attitude to the Scriptures, or ridiculed as ignorant of Science and modern scholarship.(5)
But the attempts of theologians to force the body of supernatural dogmatic truths of Christianity to fit the materialistic straitjacket of the evolution paradigm left profound contradictions unanswered, or required the twisting of a doctrine to the point of fracture. Several clerics in the past, working on the principle that Evolution was a proven fact, were disciplined by the Church, most famously and frequently Fr. Teilhard de Chardin.(6) Yet in recent decades, there has been a spate of books written by highly credentialled scientists attacking the theory!(7) Creationist publications, though excluded from secular bookshops and shunned by the media, can now quite easily be obtained by mail.(8) It can be shown that the growth of Evolutionism has borne deadly fruit both in the Church and society at large.(9) Consequently an increasing number of Catholics are no longer held in thrall by Darwin and his disciples, and have sought a rational alternative.
Catholic Creationism - a coherent resistance movement
Traditionalists believe that the Catholic Church has never given her official support to the Theory of Evolution because its principles and implications are opposed to the essential historical truths of the Genesis account of origins and the doctrines of Creation and Original Sin, which form the very foundations of the Faith. At the first Faith of our Fathers Conference, held in London on 4th May 1996, thirty-five Catholic organisations gathered in sharing in the proclamation of the authentic Catholic Faith. The only one stating a particular interest in science was described in the programme thus:
"The periodical Daylight claims to demonstrate that the traditional Catholic doctrines relating to Creation, Holy Scripture and origins are supported by the discoveries of modern scientific research."(10)
This approach welcomes the natural reading of the Word of God in the Bible, as interpreted by Christian Tradition and reason, subject to the Church's rulings and guidance. The word 'discoveries' above refers only to established scientific data, not to untestable materialistic hypotheses and naturalistic speculations falsely masqueraded as facts. Some Catholic experts, having closely examined both sides of the origins issue, have become convinced that the evolution model is not credible, and believe that recent Divine Creation is far more compatible with the fruits of modern research than the outworn arguments of atheists, bunkered by their anti-supernaturalistic bias.(11) Based on this conclusion, they have no need to attempt to harmonise evolution with Christian dogma by "theistic evolution", which employs God as the Cause of the process.
The Catholic Church opposed to Darwinism
From the publication of Origin of Species in 1859, evolution was perceived as an attack on the Church. Historically, Darwinism served the anti-biblical speculations of a Victorian age taken up with a philosophy of scientism. It was adopted as the pseudo-scientific basis of Marxism, Communism, laissez-faire Capitalism, Nazism and Secular Humanism.(12) While Christ's enemies continue to use evolutionary propaganda to attack the Faith and moral teachings of the Church at their foundations, by destroying the rational basis of belief in the Creator and the, credibility of the Bible, the theistic Evolutionists attempt to weld their personal interpretation of Christianity to this godless materialistic hypothesis, and even consider their efforts an invaluable boon to the spread of the Gospel. Yet there have been many private and public decrees by Catholic authorities related to the implications of the theory of evolution since Darwin's day, and although it is true that none of these were in themselves ex cathedra dogmatic declarations, all of them have, in essence, been opposed to evolution.
In 1860, the provincial Council of Cologne declared:
Biologist Dr. Mivart wrote The Genesis of Species in 1871, in which he criticised Darwinism, but offered a modified evolutionary theory which accepted the creation of the human soul. Though severely criticised by Catholic writers, no action was taken against it.(14)
In 1891, Pere M. D. Leroy, O.P., published a work entitled L'Evolution restreinte aux especes organiques. His theory resembled that of Mivart, but he took the view that Scripture does not exclude the idea of bodily evolution, and that the Fathers are not conclusive on this point. He argued that the Council of Cologne only excluded spontaneous evolution, reasoning thus: according to St. Thomas's principle, the form determines the matter, so that God had only to create a human soul and infuse it into an animal body for it to become human. No other Divine intervention would then be required. In 1895, Rome ruled that his thesis "has been judged untenable, especially in so far as it concerns the body of man, being incompatible alike with the texts of Holy Scripture and with the principles of a sound philosophy." Leroy complied with orders to disavow and retract all he had published in favour of the theory, and to withdraw and forbid further sale of his book.(15)
In 1898, the Holy See's Congregation for the Index condemned Dr. John Zahm's book "Evolution and Dogma." He believed that no compromise was possible between being evolutionist or creationist, and therefore proceeded to reinterpret the Fathers and Doctors of the Church to bring them into line with his evolutionary thinking.(16)
Other cases could also be cited that show that Catholic authorities at the turn of the century viewed the hypothesis of the evolution of the human body from animals as a rash and unproven novelty, especially in the light of the condemnations of Modernism emanating from Rome. The Holy See did not thereby explicitly condemn the theory by a public act, but did discourage it privately. However, the decree of the Biblical Commission in 1909 reinforced the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis in regard to certain facts, including the special creation of man and the formation of the first woman from the first man. Some theologians nevertheless argued that what was special, or peculiar, was the mode of formation of Adam's body from the slime of the earth, which certainly implies pre-existing matter, and need not necessarily exclude an evolutionary origin.
Pire Hugueny, O.P., in his Critique et Catholique, published in 1914, remarks:
In Evolution and Theology (1931), Dr. Ernest Messenger writes that theological manuals of the late 19th century stated that "evolution is theologically untrue, philosophically absurd,, and so on." However, as less intolerant opinions have since been set forth by other authors without ecclesiastical interference, he concludes that the avoidance by the Holy See of explicit condemnation of the doctrine of human evolution showed that its discussion had been judged inopportune rather than theologically erroneous.(18) He considered the scientific evidence sufficient to establish
He argues that, although lacking conclusive proof, it is logical to believe that man also has evolved. In his view, "...Scripture neither teaches nor disproves the doctrine of the evolution of the human body." Several of the Church Fathers had taught that some part was played by secondary causes in the formation of man, while others held that Adam's body was formed entirely by a Divine creative Act. Their attitude "was at least in part a consequence of their physical and scientific theories."(20)
However, Scripture and Tradition leave no doubt that Eve took her origin from Adam by some means, and could thus not have been a separate product of evolution. Messenger speculates along the lines of some mode of special asexual propagation, though admitting he could not imagine how it could actually have happened.(21)
Regarding Adam, he reasons that there must have been Divine intervention at least in the creation and infusion of the rational soul, and the raising of body and soul to the supernatural state. It seems probable that a special Divine intervention was required "to give the embryonic body of Adam the last disposition required before animation by a human soul."(22) If nature alone could produce bodies fit for animation by human souls, why should it only happen once? And anyway it is a philosophic truth that a human soul could not exist in an animal body but only in a human one. The hypothesis of the existence of pre-Adamites who had died out before Adam seemed useful at the time to explain "many apparently imperfect types of humanity which recent archaeology has revealed." But why should God, in His Wisdom and Providence, have willed such races to useless lives leading to ultimate extinction, when: "The Creation was meant from the first to lead up to the formation of man... "?(23)
In conclusion, Dr. Messenger reminds us of the need for a Catholic to submit to Church authority in matters of doctrine, both in the interpretation of Scripture and of Tradition. He thought the modem theologians, most of whom then opposed evolution, mistaken, and believed that freedom of opinion and discussion were still allowable. He was also insistent that "The theologians do not form part of the teaching church... The teaching church consists of the hierarchy, in union with the Sovereign Pontiff."(24)
Theological opinions in the early 20th century
Some theologians continued to oppose evolution outright, including the eminent writer Cardinal Lepicier. In his book De Opere Sex Dierum in 1928, though he admitted the idea of spontaneous generation as a hypothesis, he maintained that "the evolution of species is impossible, even as a hypothesis... it openly contradicts the sacred text, and the universal opinion of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church."(25)However, Mgr. Janssens was one who allowed the possibility of plant or animal evolution as not in principle contrary to revelation, though seeing real problems in deriving the first human being.
P. Pignataro, S.J., in De Deo Creante (1905), p. 259, affirms:
Dominican theologian P. Hugon, in De Deo Creatore (1927), though allowing that the Church had not expressly defined anything, believed that Scripture and the Church did not permit the supposition that the human body was produced from an animal body. Van Noort argued that "no prudent person would contend that the body of Adam was formed by evolution, and that of Eve without evolution."(28)
In Dictionnaire Apologetique de la Foi Catholique, "the masterly survey of the whole subject" [Messenger's words], Pere de Sinety, S.J., observed three current opinions among theologians, briefly: those who reject evolution as theologically erroneous, those who consider Catholics absolutely free to accept transformism, and the great number who take a middle position.
Pope Pius XII teaches on Evolution
Over the ensuing years, reputable progressive theologians like Dr. Messenger, who were not disciplined by the Vatican, had much influence in seminaries and religious houses. Papal teaching on Biblical exegesis was thought to encourage a more flexible approach to Scriptural interpretation. Clergy anxious not to appear obscurantist were ready and willing to adopt a theology of origins acceptable to Science, which appeared unequivocally to have proved that evolution was a fact as certain as the rotundity of the Earth, though still not officially accepted by the Church. Thus was fertile ground prepared for the radical speculations of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, whose works have since been condemned by Rome. [See footnote (6)]
In 1950, Pope Pius XII responded to the situation with his encyclical Humani Generis, intended to quell the disorder resulting from "doctrinal errors outside the Church and their effects among Catholics," which he identified as arising from "false evolutionary notions." Despite the anti-evolutionary tenor of the whole document, we may regret that the Holy Father had been advised not to close the debate absolutely. He permitted evolutionary research to continue, but only in respect of the possible emergence of "... the human body from pre-existing living matter." He did however clearly warn:
Many contemporary theologians already considered the question closed - in favour of Evolution! Since there had been no previous restrictions on their publications or debate, many clergy ignored these Magisterial warnings, using the excuse that not every statement in an encyclical has to be held as infallible teachings.(31)
Believing there was an urgent need for the Church to 'update' doctrines that appeared to conflict with modern science, they preferred to believe the encyclical allowed them to pursue such studies as the 'evolution of dogma,' closed to the Modernists by Pope St. Pius X in 1907.(32) They often quoted the Pope as stating: "The Teaching of the Church leaves the doctrine of Evolution an open question..." Some modernists, ironically, seem to treat just this phrase like an infallible dogma, even, arguing that creationists are disloyal to the Pope by claiming that Evolution cannot be reconciled with Catholic doctrines! This is not only an unfair distortion of the document as a whole, which solemnly warns us of the evil consequences of the philosophy of evolutionism, but even more cogent is the fact that the words "an open question" are totally absent from the original Latin text, and must have been inserted by the translator, Mgr. Ronald A. Knox.(33) In fact, the Pope clearly warned the Bishops that it was wrong to believe and teach that Evolution was a proven fact. While in stark contrast, never have Catholics been forbidden to believe and teach that Evolution is false, a danger to Faith and Morals, and contrary to Scripture and Doctrine.
Assenters and dissenters to Humani Generis
By no means all the clergy and hierarchy accepted evolution. Cardinal Ruffini's book published in 1959, The Theory of Evolution judged by Reason and Faith, sought to show that:
He argues that the Fathers of the Church unanimously interpreted Genesis literally in respect of the formation of Eve from Adam, and that the notion of God intervening to infuse a human soul into an animal body departs both from Catholic tradition and excludes scientific transformism. One wonders how many seminarians in the 1960s ever had the opportunity to study and discuss this work.
In 1988, the review Christ to the World published detailed theological articles by Fr. Peter Fehlner, OFM Conv., entitled In the Beginning, which reiterated that Pope Pius never gave permission for the rejection of the literal or historical sense of the whole of Genesis. Dr. Fehlner also concluded:
Our third expert, Fr. Andre Boulet, with qualifications in both science and theology has reached the same conclusion in his 1995 book Creation et Redemption: that evolution theory is bad science and incompatible with creation theology. Among his arguments are the problem of disorder, suffering and death before the Fall; the deception of Genesis in asserting the perfection and value of all created kinds if most of them became extinct; and the opposition of a brutish origin of man by evolution as a source of our evil tendencies, with the physical perfection corresponding with the privileges of creation with which our first parents were endowed by God.
Such voices of reason and Tradition have been largely drowned out by the large, powerful and vocal group of dissenters who continue to clamour for a major upheaval in Church teaching in regard to creation, original sin and Scriptural interpretation. They include very elevated members of the Hierarchy such as Cardinal Ratzinger, whose opinions may be read in his Principles of Catholic Theology (1982): "Tbe impetus given by Teilhard de Chardin exerted a wide influence. With daring vision it incorporated the historical movement of Christianity into the great cosmic process of evolution." (p. 335). In the Beginning (1990) includes the following: "... for science has long since disposed of the concepts (Gen. 1- 19) that we have just now heard ... we hear of the Big Bang, which happened billions of years ago .... it was rather in complex ways and over vast periods of time that earth and the universe were constructed." (p. 12). "We cannot say: creation or evolution. The proper way of putting it is: creation and evolution." (p. 65). Contrast such ideas with the Catholic theology and Papal teachings already quoted.
The Pontifical Academy of Evolutionists
Despite being widely accepted even at the highest level in the Church, there has never been any authoritative teaching approving of evolution. Hence the reaction of the worldwide media to the Pope's message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 25th 1996. The ambiguous phrase that evolution is "more than just a theory" was greeted with glee by the materialistic press as an official admission of the collapse, under the weight of scientific research, of the Church's traditional beliefs in Adam and Eve and any literal sense of Genesis.(37) Yet by no stretch of wishful thinking can the Pope's message, arguably not even written by him personally, be considered a Magisterial teaching, still less an infallible new dogma of faith, overturning previous doctrine.
If John Paul II is unaware of the contemporary crisis in the credibility of evolution, this could be related to the fact that his 80 scientific advisors in the Academy are all evolutionists, including Fr. Stanley Jaki and the atheist cosmologist Stephen Hawking. This bias must severely limit the competence of the Academy to fulfil the stated intentions of Pope Pius IX, on its foundation in 1936, "... who wished to surround himself with a select group of scholars, relying on them to inform the Holy See in complete freedom about developments in scientific research and thereby to assist him in his reflections."(38) In his 1996 Message, John Paul reminded the Academy that the Magisterium has already made pronouncements on these matters, and cites the encyclical "Humani Generis" in which Pope Pius XII: "considered the doctrine of 'evolutionism' a serious hypothesis, worthy of investigation and in-depth study equal to that of the opposing hypothesis." A comparison with the text shows that the Message paraphrases the encyclical in a subtle but misleading way and omits its explicit warning that the evolution of man must not be treated as certain fact.(39) It is also difficult to believe that "the opposing hypothesis," which remains unnamed but is presumably Special Creation, can have been given "equal investigation and in-depth study" by the Pontifical Academy if there is not one expert on Creation Science included among its members! A prudent Catholic cannot regard such pronouncements, especially in the contemporary post-Vatican II context, as of sufficient weight to overturn two millenia of Scripture, Tradition and Magisterial teachings.
The Mission of the FAITH Movement
- A new but orthodox theology? -
Could the Catholic Church have been misleading mankind for nineteen centuries by teaching the Genesis accounts of Creation and the Flood as real historical facts? Cannot modern science better describe and explain the origins of the Universe? Don't we have proof that time began with a 'big bang' about 15 thousand million years ago? Should we not seek an 'Hegelian dialectic' between these opposing truths, a new synthesis from Divine Creation and Materialistic Evolution, which will displace these naive traditional beliefs - in short, a New Theology? Modernists have attempted this since the last century. However, the FAITH Movement, founded in Surrey, England, in 1972, aims to achieve this end but also retain orthodox doctrines.
This Organisation of priests and laypeople works "...to foster the Catholic faith and spiritual life of many people, through youth work, adult education, retreats, conferences and publications."(40)
Most of the latter are pamphlets under some forty titles, including three on Science and Religion by [Rev.] Roger Nesbitt. The catalogue summarises his Evolution and the existence of God (first published by CTS in 1971) thus:
Evolution and Original Sin (FAITH pamphlets, 1977) is described:
A bi-monthly review is also published, edited for many years by Rev. Edward Holloway, and now by Fr. Timothy Finegan [since succeeded by Fr. Patrick Burke - Ed.], which continues to promote theistic evolutionism. Their flyer attributes the loss of faith in the Western world particularly to: "…the breakdown of the neo-scholastic synthesis of philosophy and " theology." In their view, evangelisation:
The flyer continues by explaining:
The work referred to is his 500-page tome: Catholicism: a New Synthesis, published in 1969. Like the pamphlets of Fr. Nesbitt, its entire raison d'etre is dependent on its basic premise: that evolution is a fact, so a new theology must be developed to accommodate it. The book does not provide any scientific evidence or rational arguments in favour of the theory. Fr. Nesbitt's pamphlet Evolution and the Existence of God offers the usual 'evidence' of comparative anatomy, likenesses of embryos and cells, genetics, classification and the fossil records, and argues that:
This statement fails to make the distinction between valid scientific theories which have had real practical application, and the philosophy of evolution, which is not even a proper scientific hypothesis, being unobservable, not empirically testable, unfalsifiable, and lacking predictability. Despite the indisputable link between evolution and atheism, both of these writers argue that, on the contrary, evolution should be understood as proof for the existence of God, and encourages a better appreciation of the grandeur of His Creation. They rightly point out that the interdependence of the components of the natural world and its operation by a highly ordered system of laws contradicts the argument that the Universe came about by chance events. However, instead of concluding that this manifests the supreme Creative power of God, their thesis is that Evolution is one of the laws God built into the Universe: what they call a 'Unity-Law of Control and Direction', which itself must have been derived from a Supreme Eternal Being. Fr. Nesbitt opines:
It is agreed, even by atheists, that the natural world shows the appearance of design, order and purpose. The real question for science is whether the evidence fits better the evolution model or the creation model. But the religious implications of evolution mean that a Catholic may not judge the issue in isolation from the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which come to us on the authority of His Church. We must note that Fr. Holloway does not claim his "new synthesis" to be inerrant, but submits his work to the ultimate judgement of Rome. In his conclusion, he even invites:
Documents previously cited in this article show that many scientists have already corrected the basic error of this "new synthesis" - belief in Evolution - and many theologians over this century have shown how it leads to errors in philosophy and doctrine. There is no purpose in analysing the theological ramifications developed by Fr. Holloway and Fr. Nesbitt if their arguments, albeit logical consequences of their-prior convictions, are based on false premises or unreliable authorities.
Evolutionist Fathers from the East?
According to the flyer, the FAITH Movement claims there is much support for their views not only from modern science but in the Bible and the early Church.
The FAITH position is the synthesis of human evolution with Catholicism. It would be interesting to read documented evidence to support the opinion that many writings of Scripture and the Church Fathers outline belief in the evolution of man from an animal, and that several saints and doctors of the Church defended this view!
It is true that the Church Fathers held various opinions on the best interpretation of the Days of Creation in Genesis. The Alexandrian school favoured an allegorical exegesis, believing that God created all things simultaneously, while the literal school, centered in Antioch, attempted to relate the six days to contemporary scientific understanding, including belief in the four Aristotelean 'elements' and 'spontaneous generation'! In this 'concordist' approach, such natural secondary causes, were employed to explain the reiterated commands of God, e.g. "Let the earth bring forth...". However, these are given only on the real days of the Creation week, not delegated to an evolutionary timescale. The acts of God are successive additions ex nihilo, not developments from the previous forms of life. Scientists since Pasteur have rejected the possibility of spontaneous generation. Attempts by Christians in the 18th and 19th centuries to reconcile vast evolutionary ages with the Creation days (day-age theories) were rife with contradictions and now gain little credence among theistic evolutionists.
There is no evidence that any of the Church Fathers, even Scotus, believed that man evolved from an ape, yet this is a basic premise of the FAITH position. According to authorities, Scotus was not an evolutionist, and did not question Traditional beliefs.
While it is certainly possible that the understanding of a doctrine may be deepened or developed through research, insights or even private revelation, the Church has laid down strict safeguards against any attempt to contradict previously held beliefs. This was recognised long ago as a pretext of the Modernists, especially under the influence of their adherence to the doctrine of evolutionism.
Key to the Mystery of FAITH
The aforementioned works of Fr. Holloway and Fr. Nesbitt provide no new evidence for evolution from scientific research or Biblical exegesis. Their ideas had been proclaimed from public platforms and printed literature for over twenty years, even in a Catholic Truth Society pamphlet, without mention of their true source. No Church Father, canonised Saint or Magisterial teaching has ever taught that the world evolved over 15 billion years or that Adam had animal parents. What authority could gainsay the Word of God, which the Theory of Evolution appears to contradict?
The answer was revealed in a booklet published in 1988, entitled God's Master Key: The Law of Control and Direction by Mrs. Agnes Holloway, "a humble South London housewife and mother."(46)She claimed to have received a new revelation from God in 1929 - "which unlocks the wisdom of modern science and the full orthodox Catholic Faith." She understood that her son, the future Fr. Edward Holloway, was to disseminate this message to the world.
While not judging the sincerity of mother and son, one is bound in prudence to question the basis of any new doctrine which requires us to jettison traditional beliefs in the foundational texts of Holy Scripture. Any comments made herein should not be taken as personal criticisms; as Fr. Holloway says:
We also humbly claim to belong to the Church and mankind, and intend to exercise our right to examine more closely the claims of FAITH which appear to be inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Readers are welcome to check the facts for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
The booklet contains about forty A5 pages in which Mrs. Holloway expounds on science, theology and an exegesis of Genesis 1-3, followed by 15 pages of "Answers to certain questions," and 30 pages of autobiography. Fr. Holloway provided a 6-page introduction, and commentary by footnotes. It must be appreciated that it is on the authority of this private revelation that the credibility of the FAITH position depends, as we do not find theistic evolution to be in agreement with true science, reason, Scripture or Tradition.
Uncritical acceptance of popular secular science
In his introduction, Fr. Holloway explains that his mother's ideas took shape from their conversations in 1940 in which she attempted to understand the language of scholastic philosophy he had learned in Rome.
It appears that the parish clergy were unable to supply answers to the problems for the Faith posed then by rampant rationalists like Wells and Huxley, who were like the TV pundits (e.g. Attenborough and Dawkins) of today. Edward had such ideas in mind at junior seminary, when he read modern psychologists - Freud, Jung and Adler - and later in Rome, when he first studied physics.
Edward, now convinced that evolution was true and prepared by his mother's claims, readily absorbed novel ideas in the seminaries in Rome and at Stonyhurst:
We now know that this "New Synthesis" actually came into being in the 1930s, and was based on the naturalistic Darwinist doctrine of secular rationalists, uncorrected by sound Catholic philosophy. Its proponents had no formal training in science, but derived their understanding of evolution from popular magazines. With the conviction that they had been inspired by God, their philosophy and theology had become conditioned to reject ideas of origins which discounted evolution.
Is it impertinent to wonder if no Catholic scientist, philosopher theologian, Pope or canonized Saint in 1900 years had been given this "correction," without which "the Church must falter," because none were so holy and humble as Mrs. Agnes Holloway and her 'beloved son' Edward?
Inspiration of the Holy Ghost?
The 'Master Key' statement of Mrs. Holloway, dated 1940, does show some logical progression of ideas in an attempt to relate evolution to Genesis, though each section consists mostly of very short paragraphs or sentences, some reasonable or banal, others obscure or 'profound'. We shall only comment on the most significant passages.
This Law of Control and Direction, mentioned fifty times in the statement, is used to impute some process to having been caused by God, as part of His evolutionary plan. It says much the same as "God makes evolution happen," which is no more a scientific explanation than saying "God did it." As a religious doctrine, it is a complete novelty, nowhere to be found in Scripture or Tradition.
Agnes's authenticity as a seer was doubtless built upon her piety and reputed supernatural gifts. In her autobiography, she reports several "strange things" from when Edward was about ten years old, including answers to prayers, a vision of a lost object, a talking statue of Our Lady, the voice of her guardian angel, and pre-cognition of future events. She attended Catholic Evidence Guild meetings, though she was not an outdoor speaker. She describes the 'moment of truth' thus:
She reports that the voice spoke again the next day and she was able to ask it questions.
It is not necessary to analyse the whole of God's Master Key here, but simply to quote two passages which particularly give reason to doubt its authenticity as "the inspiration of the Holy Ghost."(55) They also typify the peculiar stylistic qualities and scientific understanding of the visionary.
The argument seems to follow this logical fallacy: 1. Of all animals, only man is rational; 2. Reason and intelligence are sited in the brain; 3. Therefore the only material distinction is his larger brain.
In fact, the normal human brain is neither the largest among animals in proportion to body mass nor by direct comparison, and there are many other unique human physical and other features."(57)
The account she gives of the origin of our first parents differs considerably from the inerrant Word of God in Genesis:
The unresolved logical problems of the development of a true human being from animal parents were recognised a century ago, and are not answered by mere assertions. Nor are their implications unrelated to moral issues. One of the FAITH clergy at a meeting was once asked the question: As according to you, Adam and Eve's parents were only animals, would they have been entitled to kill their father or mother and eat them for dinner? The answer given, not without some hesitation, was - "YES!"
Spiritual influences - how may we judge if they are from God?
There are many ways in which a person can be affected by the supernatural. Not all apparent miracles, visions and locutions are necessarily holy, nor need they be signs of sanctity in the recipient. The devil uses subtle tactics in tempting more spiritually advanced souls under the appearance of good. Even some canonised Saints have at times had some visions judged to have been deceptions of the devil. The golden rule is that the Deposit of Faith, and the hierarchical and official Church, are above private revelation. In other words, true obedience and the rule of faith are used to judge the truth of a vision. Opposition to them proves the vision to be false.
St. Ignatius Loyola wrote several Rules for Discerning Spiritual Influences, and points out that the evil spirit, after moving us to do good, tries gradually to drag the soul to his secret designs and corrupt purposes. When the soul is prepared by preceding awareness or knowledge of anything which might induce consolation, the bad spirit can produce such consolation in the soul. The fruits must be considered as a whole - if they be not entirely good, it is a sign of an evil spirit. Even Saints have been fooled by evil in the guise of good.(59)
Even if the Church were to approve this vision, there is no precedent for thereby changing the meaning of the public revelation of the deposit of Faith. "Private revelations do not belong to the Catholic faith strictly so called.. Such revelations can often help a Catholic in his devotional life, but they are not an essential part of the Christian Faith."(60)
Reactions of Fr. Holloway's superiors
Mrs. Holloway recalls in her autobiography:
Fr Holloway notes that he sent to Pope Pius XII,
It is difficult to see how Pope Pius XII could give his approval to a book that forthrightly disobeyed his clear demands expressed in Humani Generis that evolution was not to be taken as a proven fact. Yet, clearly, Fr. Holloway did not see it that way. In his mind, the Church had lost its way. Why? Because Rome had not heeded the advice of Agnes Holloway and her son. With quite breathtaking arrogance he states:
Our Rule: Respect the Mind of the Church
Obviously, Evolution is not the only doctrinal issue on which Catholics have become confused in the recent past, nor is such a situation unique in the history of the Church. However, this theory was recognised by Pope St. Pius X as of fundamental importance as being the root of Modernism, which has re-emerged as the neo-Modernism of our day. It is not difficult to see the parallels with Fr. Holloway's 'new synthesis' when reading these words of the Holy Father:
Over the past century, many theologians have claimed that evolution can be reconciled with the teaching of the Church, but not one has been able to answer the serious problems that theistic evolution has raised. Evolutionists in secular science continue ever more stridently debunking religious faith, and entirely ignoring the "new synthesis" supposedly revealed by the Holy Trinity nearly seventy years ago. Now that thousands of scientists the world over have recognised evolution as an atheistic 'creation myth,' this is no time to claim it as Christian doctrine! If our youth are not to lose the faith, we must have realistic answers to contemporary scientific ideas. If we are to reach out to convert fellow Christians, we must return to the foundation of Biblical truth, the Faith of our Fathers. As St. Ignatius Loyola guides us:
May Christians rediscover sound Creation philosophy and theology, which are only found in unity with the Catholic Church, and let Natural Science again be their servant, so that our Faith may be true and worthy of Our Creator.
(1) Scientific evidence and arguments opposed to Evolution may be found in previous issues of Christian Order and Daylight e.g. Evolution - Fact or Faith, by David Bird; Catholic Doctrines of Creation and Original Sin, A. Nevard, Daylight No. 29, pp. 13-20. Index of articles and lists of sources available.
(2) e.g. Isaac Asimov's Biographical Encyclopaedia of Science and Technology, 1975, p. 371: "Pasteur's religious feelings also led him to reject Darwin's theory of evolution..."
(3) Prof T. Dwight: "The tyranny of the Zeitgeist in the matter of evolution is overwhelming to a degree of which outsiders have no idea; not only does it influence (as I admit that it does in my own case) our manners of thinking, but there is oppression as in the days of the 'terror'," Thoughts of a Catholic Anatomist, 1911, p. 20.
(4) Prof. D.M.S. Watson: "The Theory of Evolution itself [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative is special creation, which is clearly incredible." Nature, Vol. 124, p.233, (1929).
(5) A useful little book on the spread of Modernism which focuses particularly on the part played by Teilhard de Chardin is Christ Denied, by Rev. Paul Wickens, TAN Books, 1982.
(6) For a list of critical works on Teilhardism, see Daylight No. 9, pp. 20-21. We note that FAITH refers to Teilhard uncritically as 'a major theologian' - distinguished Catholics have used other epithets, such as heretic, pantheist, false prophet, rebel, racist, pro-Fascist and pro-Marxist.
(7) e.g. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton.
(8) see footnote 1.
(9) e.g. Deadly Fruit of Evolutionism, A. Nevard, Daylight No. 23, Spring 1997.
(10) Daylight also had a stall at the 1997 and 1998 FOOF Conferences.
(11) e.g. in the award-winning video Evolution - Fact or Belief? and Drama in
(12) e.g. The Long War Against God, H. M. Morris, 1989.
(13) E. Messenger, Evolution and Theology, 193 1, p. 226.
(14) ibid p. 232.
(15) ibid. pp. 232-233.
(16) ibid. p. 233.
(17) ibid. p. 230.
(18) ibid. p. 80, 238.
(19) ibid. p. 274 (italics in original).
(20) ibid. pp. 275 (italics in original).
(21) ibid. pp. 269-273.
(22) ibid. p. 277.
(23) ibid p. 277 (italics in original).
(24) ibid. p. 240 (italics in original).
(25) ibid. p. 80.
(26) ibid. pp. 81, 244.
(27) ibid. p. 246.
(28) ibid. pp. 247-248.
(29) ibid. p. 249.
(30) Pope Pius XII, op. cit. para. 36.
(31) "In these letters the popes exercise their ordinary teaching office, and therefore all Catholics have the duty of accepting this teaching; but an encyclical letter is not necessarily infallible." Virtue's Catholic Encyclopaedia, 1965, Vol. 2, p.373.
(32)Pascendi Dominici Gregis.
(33) 'Open Question' Not Papal Teaching, A. Nevard, Daylight No. 12, July 1994, pp. 22-23.
(34) Quoted in Daylight No. 18, Winter 1995/6, p. 14.
(35) Vol. 33, No. 3-4, pp. 246-7.
(36) Quoted in Daylight No. 23, Spring 1997, p. 27.
(37) e.g. The Pope and the British Press, Daylight No. 22, p. 5. We may note that this Pope's Catechism of the Catholic Church reiterates traditional doctrines regarding Creation and Genesis.
(38) Pope John Paul II, L'Osservatore Romano No. 44, 30 October 1996.
(39) October Revolution? A. Nevard, Daylight No. 22, Winter 1996/7, pp. 8-10.
(40) The Faith Movement flyer.
(41) Faith pamphlets catalogue, Summer 1997.
(42) ibid. [It was in 1977 and 1978 that I exchanged some correspondence with Fr. Nesbitt about his pamphlets. His replies to my questions strengthened my conviction of the falsity of theistic evolution!]
(43) op. cit. CTS 1971, p. 3.
(44) ibid. p. 15.
(45) E. Holloway, Catholicism: a New Synthesis, 1969, p. 503.
(46) Agnes Holloway, God's Master Key - The Law of Control and Direction, faith keyway, 1988, back cover.
(47) ibid. p. 15.
(48) ibid. p. 6.
(49) ibid. p. 8.
(50) ibid. p. 8.
(51) ibid. p. 9.
(52) ibid. p. 14.
(53) ibid. p. 92.
(54) ibid. p. 94.
(55) ibid. p. 13.
(56) ibid. p. 22.
(57) The Uniqueness of Man, A. Nevard, Daylight No. 24. Summer/Winter 1997, pp. 28-31.
(58) Agnes Holloway, op. cit. pp. 35-36.
(59) The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, tr. T. Corbishley S.J., esp. 330-333. See also Rules for Discerning the Spirits, Rev. Fr. Ludovic-Marie Barrielle, Angelus Press, 1992.
(60) Virtue's Catholic Encyclopaedia, 1965, Vol. 2, p. 873.
(61) Agnes Holloway, op. cit., p. 99.
(62) ibid. p. 101.
(63) ibid p. 101.
(64) Pascendi, pp. 31-35.
(65) The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, tr. T. Corbishley S.J., The Mind of the Church, Rule 11 (363).