I came across Stephen Sikora’s reflection on becoming an atheist (“Losing my religion,” March 19, 2014) at Boston College by way of Facebook, and I must commend Sikora for his courage in writing it. While he praises BC for intellectual openness, he must be aware that surely many Jesuits and other faith-filled professors are disappointed by his conclusions. Thinking for one’s self is good, taking courage, evidenced by his column, but no one likes to come to a conclusion for the wrong reasons. That seems to be the case here.
Sikora writes that he finds evolution and belief in the existence of God to be mutually exclusive beliefs. There is no reason for such a belief. While many are under the impression that the Church has only come to terms with a view of creation that was some other than seven literal days in light of scientific discoveries, one need only read St. Augustine’s On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis to see a different Christian view. Alister McGrath summarized Augustine’s view in Christianity Today a few years ago. Many would be surprised to read that “Earlier Christian writers noted how the first Genesis Creation narrative speaks of the earth and the waters ‘bringing forth’ living creatures. They concluded that this pointed to God’s endowing the natural order with a capacity to generate living things. Augustine takes this idea further: God created the world complete with a series of dormant powers, which were actualized at appropriate moments through divine providence.”
Not only St. Augustine but BC’s very own Patrick Byrne of the philosophy department has done much to show how evolution and faith are compatible. In 2006 he wrote in Theological Studies, “[The philosopher] Lonergan argues at length that God, conceived of as an unrestricted act of understanding, would be the author of a transcendent purpose for a contingent, dynamic, randomly evolving natural world that in its crucial aspects is comparable to the world of neo-Darwinian scientific theories.” Sikora may want to take all the further relevant facts into consideration and not end his BC education just quite yet. There’s still a month to learn.
Donato Infante III
BC ’09, GA&S ’11