The basic problem with fundamentalist interpretation of this kind is that, refusing to take into account the historical character of biblical revelation, it makes itself incapable of accepting the full truth of the incarnation itself. As regards relationships with God, fundamentalism seeks to escape any closeness of the divine and the human. It refuses to admit that the inspired word of God has been expressed in human language and that this word has been expressed, under divine inspiration, by human authors possessed of limited capacities and resources. For this reason, it tends to treat the biblical text as if it had been dictated word for word by the Spirit. It fails to recognize that the word of God has been formulated in language and expression conditioned by various periods. It pays no attention to the literary forms and to the human ways of thinking to be found in the biblical texts, many of which are the result of a process extending over long periods of time and bearing the mark of very diverse historical situations.
Fundamentalism also places undue stress upon the inerrancy of certain details in the biblical texts, especially in what concerns historical events or supposedly scientific truth. It often historicizes material which from the start never claimed to be historical. It considers historical everything that is reported or recounted with verbs in the past tense, failing to take the necessary account of the possibility of symbolic or figurative meaning.
Fundamentalism often shows a tendency to ignore or to deny the problems presented by the biblical text in its original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek form. It is often narrowly bound to one fixed translation, whether old or present-day. By the same token it fails to take account of the "re-readings" () of certain texts which are found within the Bible itself.
In what concerns the Gospels, fundamentalism does not take into account the development of the Gospel tradition, but naively confuses the final stage of this tradition (what the evangelists have written) with the initial (the words and deeds of the historical Jesus). At the same time fundamentalism neglects an important fact: The way in which the first Christian communities themselves understood the impact produced by Jesus of Nazareth and his message. But it is precisely there that we find a witness to the apostolic origin of the Christian faith and its direct expression. Fundamentalism thus misrepresents the call voiced by the Gospel itself.
Fundamentalism likewise tends to adopt very narrow points of view. It accepts the literal reality of an ancient, out-of-date cosmology simply because it is found expressed in the Bible; this blocks any dialogue with a broader way of seeing the relationship between culture and faith. Its relying upon a non-critical reading of certain texts of the Bible serves to reinforce political ideas and social attitudes that are marked by prejudices—racism, for example—quite contrary to the Christian Gospel.
In yet another sign that Mexico's educators and students embrace Darwinism, my associates and I are often invited to speak in public and private schools, including those run by Catholic nuns and priests, to talk about the origin and evolution of life. The list of venues includes a conference at the oldest Mexican Catholic seminary. Many of the students and professors at the seminary may have seen evolution as the unfolding of a divine plan, but they also saw no doctrinal conflict between their own personal faith and Darwin's scientific ideas. They even found hilarious the idea of teaching creationism based on biblical literalism.
As shown by the opinion article published on 7 July 2005 in the New York Times by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, not all members of the Catholic hierarchy feel comfortable with the premises and results of evolutionary theory. It is equally true that some Church thinkers and theologians have tried to criticize the philosophical tenets of evolutionary theory, but most tend to accept the results of experimental research and the general evolutionary framework, while maintaining a spiritualist stand. This attitude, which has been prevalent among Vatican theologians especially since the times of Pope Pius XII in the middle of the last century, owes much to the intellectual sophistication of orders like the Jesuits and the Dominicans.
In his famous 1996 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the late Pope John Paul II acknowledged that the theory of evolution is not a mere hypothesis, while also reiterating the supernatural origin of the human soul. By shifting emphasis from creation per se, to the origin of the soul, Pope John Paul II found a relatively safe common ground to stand on, since scientists are entirely unable to prove (or have no interest in proving) the existence or nonexistence of the soul. In spite of such subtleties, most Mexican Catholics clearly do not view the premises and developments of evolutionary theory as a battleground or as major theological risk. Stealing the spotlight for the moment for Mexican Catholics and other Christians are ethical controversies associated with new and emerging biotechnologies, especially those based on stem cells, fertility research, and genetic manipulation
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