Creationist Wisdom #552: The Theologian

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Duluth News Tribune of Duluth, Minnesota. It’s titled Some free thoughts on freethinking. The newspaper doesn’t have a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. But today’s letter is written by Father Richard Partika, a retired priest. You can read about him here: Meet the man behind the many letters. Excerpts from the rev’s letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

I have been doing some free thinking about freethinking. Sometimes this can be a very intelligent enterprise and sometimes very idiotic, whether intentional or not. History has given us some wonderful examples of great wise thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle and St. Albert the Great and his pupil, one of the two greatest thinkers of all times, St. Thomas Aquinas … .

The rev drops a lot of names. We’re impressed. Then he says:

On the other hand, we have such idiotic syllogisms coming from the atheists which can be stated as, “Once upon a time there was nothing and nothing worked on nothing and produced everything.”

Uh huh, we all run around saying that. Let’s read on:

Albert Einstein labeled this by saying, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”

Yeah, Einstein the fundie. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! With everything Einstein wrote, creationists always come back to that — a quote mined from Einstein’s essay Science and Religion. But he also said in that same piece: “During the youthful period of mankind’s spiritual evolution human fantasy created gods in man’s own image, who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate to influence, the phenomenal world.” At no time that we’re aware of did Einstein declare his belief in a deity, only in the utility of religion in the sphere of morality.

Okay, the rev continues:

Various natural species may and sometimes do evolve within their own natures. For example, whales seem to have once been land animals, and some small birds seem to have been related to larger flying animals. Yet their species remain.

Lordy, lordy. The rev denying all the evidence for evolution, and he’s dancing the micro-macro mambo, which we debunked in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Here’s more:

If nature is so accidental and haphazard, let us then wonder why, for instance, a horse does not give birth to an elephant or a dog to an oak tree.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Moving along:

I think I will stick with Aristotle, Aquinas and Einstein. I freely think that is more consistent with reality and intelligence.

The rev will stick with them? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! But the question is: If they were still around, would they stick with the rev?

In case you have any doubts about the rev’s opinions, he concludes his letter with a reference to his superb education:

And yes, natural theology is one of the courses we studied in St. Paul Seminary in the 1940s.

We’re convinced. Great letter, rev!

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #552: The Theologian

  1. If God is so powerful, let us then wonder why, for instance, a horse does not give birth to an elephant or a dog to an oak tree.
    Or why God chooses to use the laws of physics, chemistry and biology to give us sight by means of a naturally operating eye, when God could have just “said the word”, and humans would see.
    Or why God chooses to give us a body most similar to that of a chimp or other ape, among all of the body exemplars, or countless possibilities.

  2. michaelfugate

    I have been doing some free thinking about freethinking. Sometimes this can be a very intelligent enterprise and sometimes very idiotic, whether intentional or not.

    Is he referring to freethinking in general or his own? – given the rest of the article, I would vote for the latter.

  3. Stephen Kennedy

    Fr. Patrika must have retired a long time ago because the Catholic Church has long supported the Big Bang Theory and more recently indicated that the Theory of Evolution and Catholic teaching are compatable.

  4. Old guy the Reverend.I am going to take a shot at geologist level math here. If he was in seminary in the 1940s, (lets say 1945ish) and he was 20ish when he was there, that makes the good reverend around 90 years old.
    And the Old Red sandstone is still around 500 millionish, give or take a couple of dozen million. They build churches with the Old Red Sandstone in Scotland. Apparently, none of it reached Duluth if we are to believe the rev.

  5. James Chapman

    Go easy on the Rev. From the biographical article that SC linked to, we learn that he is 89 years old and suffering from dementia. Instead, I would spank the newspaper editor for running his letters in the full knowledge of his mental condition.

  6. Ahh, dementia. That explains it. Now, what’s the excuse for the rest of the creationists.

  7. If nature is so accidental and haphazard, let us then wonder why, for instance, a horse does not give birth to an elephant or a dog to an oak tree.

    Don’t know about the dog, but a horse might have a little trouble carrying a baby elephant to term.

    Father Patrika seems to be spouting a version of the creationist view that randomness means lawlessness–that is, that anything could happen. This is a cartoon view of the concept. Applied to evolution it’s even more so, because evolution isn’t “random”; it’s driven by natural selection, which operates within the framework of the environment within which organisms live and reproduce.

  8. Once upon a time there was nothing and nothing worked on nothing and produced everything.

    My dear Père Paprika, while certainly idiotic, the above is not a syllogism, even by the loosest meaning of that term.

  9. For example, whales seem to have once been land animals, and some small birds seem to have been related to larger flying animals. Yet their species remain.

    I’m pretty sure that modern whales are not classified in the same species as their land-dwelling ancestors. Also, those “larger flying animals” are probably different species than small birds of today.

    The rev acknowledges that modern creatures evolved from completely different ancestors but justifies it by claiming the ancestors were the same species – so it doesn’t matter if they underwent a transformation in form. I don’t think I’ve read that argument from a creationist before.

  10. @Stephen K: “the Catholic Church has long supported the Big Bang Theory and more recently indicated that the Theory of Evolution and Catholic teaching are compatable.”
    Actually the RCC did both around the same time – in the 50’s. Of course the RCC being a very liberal institution (cough, cough) the believers are still free to reject both the Big Bang and evolution.

    @EricL: “This is a cartoon view of the concept”
    What they don’t (want to) get is that randomness equals a correlation of 0,5, while probability ranges from 0 to 1 (and hence includes causality). Ah well, math is hard, so hence is probability theory.

  11. Regardless of whether or not Richard Partika suffers from dementia, there is another factor to consider. He has lived or worked in Catholic institutions nearly all of his life. There is a word for someone who has had this kind of life experience: we call them institutionalized. When one is institutionalized, whether in prison, a mental institution, the public education system, or the Catholic church, one’s view of the world takes on certain characteristics that are seemingly absorbed from the institution. Partika is a good example of this.

  12. Hmm.. I only meant for the first occurrence of institutionalized to be in italics above.

    [*Voice from above*] I understand your hidden desires.

  13. @Eric Lipps
    creationist view that randomness means lawlessness–that is, that anything could happen.
    When it is the concept of an omnipotent supernatural agent answerable to no one, who makes and breaks the laws according to ineffable will – that means anything could happen.
    I think that the identification that materialism means random is a left-over of atomiism, Epicurianism, which was the signature philosophy of materialism, which had the atoms combining by random motions.
    But the mathematics of chance has been worked out in the last few centuries and shows that the primitive common sense notions are inadequate.

  14. I think we should take a page from the book of Nye and give the old codger a pass. (Based on Nye’s emphasis on children understanding science even if their parents don’t)
    To me even the act of writing a letter to the editor is quintessentially old school, as are all his ideas, not to mention the moniker “Dick”.
    I have to laugh at him being dubbed the “most dangerous man in Duluth”. I suppose his naive old school letter a month (drummed out on a manual typewriter) drivel must drive the local liberals nuts, but I suspect time has rendered him harmless, possibly even quaint.
    While the sarcastically dubbed “Creation Wisdom” does seem to be popular you have to realize unless you’re writing about a local issue, writing a letter to the editor pretty much is a flashing sign that a person writing it is an antique with antique ideas.