In the Beginning...' : A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall

Walmart # 558389223

In the Beginning...' : A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall

Walmart # 558389223
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Cardinal Ratzinger, today's best-known Catholic theologian, discusses God as creator, the meaning of the biblical creation accounts, the creation of human beings, sin and salvation, and the consequences of faith in creation.

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This very short (100 page

This very short (100 pages, with rather large print) book is an explication of the Catholic doctrine of the creation, the Fall (of Adam and Eve), and the beginning of sin. I suppose one ought not to quibble with the Pope's assertion that "This is Catholic doctrine." On the other hand, I must say that the doctrine itself is highly quibble-able. Benedict begins each of the first two chapters with extensive quotes from the creation account in the Book of Genesis. He seeks to refute the assertion that "the history of Christianity in the last four hundred years has been a constant rearguard action as the assertions of the faith and of theology have been dismantled piece by piece." He argues that the Bible cannot be interpreted literally, but its essential meaning is simply that God is responsible for the existence of the universe. Benedict sees the Bible as a unified whole that leads to an inevitable conclusion, the divinity of Christ. He asserts that "[f]or the Christian the Old Testament represents, in its totality, an advance toward Christ; only when it attains to him does its real meaning, which was gradually hinted at, become clear." How the Pope arrives at this latter conclusion is a mystery to me-it must be just one of those (possibly infallible) assertions popes are wont to make. His argument, if it can be called that, is belied by the fact that the Bible consists of many books by many different authors writing separately. Moreover, it took several hundred years and several church councils to decide what books to include in the biblical canon. This book contains some very odd stuff. For example, the author writes: "...the biblical creation account is marked by numbers that reproduce not the mathematical structure of the universe but the inner design of its fabric, so to say, or rather the idea according to which it was constructed. There the numbers three, four, seven, and ten dominate. The words "God Said" appear ten times in the creation account. In this way the creation narrative anticipates the Ten Commandments. This makes us realize that these Ten Commandments are, as it were, an echo of the creation...." This appears really weird in light of the fact that Catholics, Protestants, and Jews all number the Commandments differently-although they all come up with ten. Depending on how you group them, you can find as few as nine and as many as 13 commandments. I'd hate to think that mystical numerology was a basic tenet of faith. The pope also picks an unnecessary fight with the theory of evolution. He is not willing to concede that current scientific thinking provides a sufficient explanation of the current state of the human genome. He says : "...we must have the audacity to say that the great projects of the living creation are not the products of chance and error. Nor are they the products of a selective process to which divine predicates can be attributed in illogical, unscientific, and even mythic fashion. The great projects of the living creation point to a creating Reason and show us a creating Intelligence, and they do so more luminously and radiantly today than ever before." My apologies to Mr. Darwin, but the last pope appears to believe in Intelligent Design! I haven't read anything written by Francis, the present pope. But if this book is any indication of Benedict's thought process, the Church almost surely is in more competent hands today than it was under Benedict. (JAB)
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