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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Catholics Created the World

Phillip Carey has an interesting non-Catholic commentary on Genesis, but one of the side-points he makes could be elaborated on in another way:
"In something close to a pun, the curse falls not on Adam but on the adamah, Hebrew for the ground. Humanity is not cursed because of Adam’s sin."
That is certainly the Jewish and Muslim understanding (neither system accepts original sin), but that is most certainly NOT the Christian understanding. Because Adam was made from the clay of the earth, not only did this sin affect the ground, it affected everything which finds its origins in the ground - both Adam and all of creation.

Precisely because the sin mars the ground, it mars Adam, who came from the ground; Eve, who came from Adam; and all of their descendants. In fact, it mars the entirety of creation. Which is why St. Paul points out that the whole universe is groaning with anticipation for the redemption.

As an historian, I am often asked why we say Columbus "discovered" America, given the irrefutable facts: the American Indians and the Vikings were here first. 

My answer: Columbus discovered the Americas in the sense that he put them into communication with the rest of the world. No one before him did that. In fact, we can say that Christianity discovered the entire world because it was European Catholics who first sailed around the whole world and put all peoples into communication with each other. We did some nasty things while we were accomplishing this feat, but in this sense, at least, there is no question that Catholics created the world as we know it, just as there is no question that Catholics created most of the major languages that the world's citizens speak.

What is true of Christianity and the modern community of nations is also true of creation as a whole. The universe may have existed prior to man, but it's existence had no meaning until man appeared and "discovered" it. In that sense, it is proper to say that the universe comes into existence when man does. Precisely because God chose to give the universe a particular meaning by creating and placing man into it, man's sin affects not only himself, but all that has meaningful existence because of him.

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