Fr. Paul Robinson v. Robert Sungenis
Sola Scriptura is not Catholic!
Congratulations. Sola Anything is not Catholic, including the
Sola Science that Fr. Robinson often follows on questions of science that
overlap with the Bible.
The Kolbe Centre and Robert Sungenis add to the confusion Catholics
face in the debate on science and religion with their biblicism.
So it appears Fr. Robinson believes the Bible “confuses” the
issue. We can see why. Since the Bible contradicts Fr. Robinson’s belief in the
Big Bang, long-ages (billions of years for the universe), heliocentrism and a
local Noachic flood, either the Bible has to be demoted or Fr. Robinson has to
demote those who trust the Bible’s declarations.
Fr Robinson refutes their claims and articulates a well-researched
argument on the Church’s position. A must read for any Catholic who wants to
accept reasonable science and the Church’s authority.
Much of Fr. Robinson’s book is not “Catholic.” It is filled with
modernism and liberalism. Anyone who ignores the consensus of the Fathers
on these particular subjects (as Fr. Robinson does) is not being Catholic.
Anyone who ignores the magisterial decrees against these particular subjects
(as Fr. Robinson does) is not being Catholic. Anyone who accepts, uncritically,
the views of modern science on these particular subjects (as Fr. Robinson does)
is not being Catholic.
Is Biblicism Catholic? In my article “St. Maximilian Kolbe’s
Disagreement with the Kolbe Center”, I pointed out that St. Maximilian Kolbe
held positions on science that are directly contrary to positions which the Kolbe
Center holds to be “clearly” taught by Scripture and so the only views allowed
to Catholics. Robert Sungenis, whose books are promoted by the Kolbe Center,
wrote a rebuttal to my article in order to come to the defense of the Kolbe
Center. This rebuttal was posted on the “Catholic Layman’s Theology” group’s
Facebook page. The main contention of my article was that, while Catholic
creationists—I will refer to them as ‘biblicists’ in the rest of this article to be
clearer—pretend that only their views are orthodox, it is, in fact, difficult, if not
impossible, to find those views among the perfectly orthodox Catholic exegetes
of the first half of the 20th century.
That’s because most of them, like Fr. Robinson, have abandoned
the traditional faith and have chosen the unproven theories of modern science
as their authority. Apparently, Fr. Robinson has no shame in admitting that
only 1/40 of Catholicism takes his view of the world, and that 39/40
Catholicism before him had a totally different view than he does.
Biblicism is the practice of using the Bible as an exclusive determinant
of truth, especially in its strict literal sense. The biblicist begins by holding that
certain passages of the Bible can only be interpreted in their proper literal
As I said above, Fr. Robinson is afraid of the Bible. Unfortunately
for him, the very reason we have the sacraments is because the Fathers weren’t
afraid to interpret the Bible literally. When Jesus said, “This is my body, take
and eat,” the Fathers unanimously interpreted it literally. It was the body and
blood of Christ, regardless what science said about it then or now. This view of
the Eucharist was finally confirmed at the Lateran Council in 1215. But like
most modernists today, Fr. Robinson forgot his heritage and made popular
science his god of choice. So, as the Fathers rejected the long-ages and
heliocentrism of the Greeks because they all interpreted the Bible in unison as
teaching a short-age for the Earth and geocentrism, and the Church confirmed
the former at Vatican 1 in 1870 and the latter in 1616 and 1633, Fr. Robinson
rejects the patristic Tradition and the magisterial decrees following, and
chooses to follow the unproven theories of modern science.
Then, clinging to that sense as infallibly true, he refuses to allow any
information from outside the Bible to deny that interpretation.
That is false. My books are filled with science, but it is science
properly interpreted instead of the one-sided view that Fr. Robinson promotes
in order to agree with the Big Bang, long ages, a local Noachic flood,
heliocentrism, etc. Let’s look deeper. Does modern science agree with the
Eucharist? Certainly not. They think it is impossible. But we hold the
Eucharist as “infallibly true” nonetheless. Why? Simply because Jesus said so
in Mt 26:26. That is where the Fathers began their work – from what the Bible
stated as the truth.
Such information would include the data of science, arguments of
reason, and even statements of the Church’s Magisterium.
Data from science gives us nothing but data. That data needs to
be properly interpreted, just like Scripture needs to be properly interpreted.
Those interpretations were already given to us by the Fathers and the
Magisterium, and no amount of human reason can or will change them. Suffice
it to say, none of them teach the Big Bang/long-age worldview of Fr. Robinson.
In the end, biblicism is simply a species of the Protestant doctrine of sola
Hardly. What Protestant interprets the Eucharist to be the body,
blood, soul and divinity of Christ, which doctrine we get from a literal
interpretation of the Bible? What Protestant believes in papal primacy and
infallibility, which we Catholics get from a literal interpretation of the Bible? It’s
not “Biblicism” that is the issue, but what verses the Church has already
decided to be interpreted literally. The die has already been cast, but Fr.
Robinson is trying to change it. Fr. Robinson has chosen NOT to interpret
Genesis literally just as the Protestants have chosen not to interpret Mat 26:26
literally. They come from the same mold—the mold in which the individual
chooses what is literal instead of the Church. The Fathers, backed by Leo XIII,
told us that everything in the Bible is to be interpreted literally, unless it is
unreasonable or impossible to do so. The science Fr. Robinson attempts to use
to deliteralize the Bible is nothing but unproven theory. Without the slightest
critical evaluation, Fr. Robinson accepts what they claim about the Big Bang
and long ages, and they become is “sole” authority.
In The Realist Guide to Religion and Science, I point out how dangerous
it is for humans to isolate one particular mode of knowing and make it the only
way to discover truth. Doing so leads the mind to form a priori ideas about
reality and then forbids reality itself to teach the mind anything different from
those ideas. In this case, biblicism reduces all knowledge to Biblical knowledge.
As he does many times in his book, Fr. Robinson creates his own
straw man to beat up. Catholics don’t believe the Bible alone gives us all we
need to know. The Bible gives us some knowledge. But the point at issue is:
when the Bible gives us knowledge on any particular subject, what are we
going to do with it? Are we going to claim, as Fr. Robinson frequently does, that
it isn’t true or real knowledge and we
can interpret it any way we want? No,
whatever the Bible says on a given topic we trust it as true because it is
inspired and inerrant, and God cannot lie. That is what the Fathers did, and
they are our guide. That’s what it means to be Catholic, at least until the
modernists and liberals got hold of the Bible and turned everything upside
The Catholic Church has always fostered a realist view of reality, one
which balances the modes of human knowing: sense knowledge, conceptual
knowledge, and the knowledge obtained from revelation.
No Catholic would disagree. But it’s not the knowledge that is the
issue, but how one interprets the knowledge. Do we interpret in line with what
the tradition has given us, or do we make up our own interpretations, as Fr.
Robinson frequently does?
As such, she has never employed a biblicist model of Scriptural
Fr. Robinson continues to build his straw man. He stated earlier:
“Biblicism is the practice of using the Bible as an exclusive determinant of
truth.” But there is no Catholic on our side of the fence that does so. I have
dozens of lectures, papers, and books saying that to base truth on the Bible
alone is heretical, but Fr. Robinson simply ignores that stipulation. True
Catholics simply trust what the Bible says on a given topic. They also trust
what the Tradition and the Magisterium have stated on that topic. That’s all
there is to it. But Fr. Robinson thinks he can buck all three simply because
modern science has a theory that the Earth is 4 billion years old.
This is why she has allowed for varying interpretations of Genesis 1 over
the ages, as long as those interpretations remained within the boundaries of
Another straw man. The Church has not “allowed varying
interpretations of Genesis 1.” As of 1909 PBC, the only “variation” She allowed
was that the days of Genesis 1 could be 24-hours or a “certain space of time.”
She didn’t deny the 24-hour interpretation, but Fr. Robinson wants to
eliminate it from our interpretive repertoire. And although She did allow “a
certain period of time,” all this shows is that the Church decided not to be
definitive, at that time, about the question. But the Church’s indecisiveness
does not mean Fr. Robertson has the right to say, with any certainty, that the
Days of Genesis were billions of years. The reason is that Fr. Robinson doesn’t
follow the chronology of Genesis 1’s “days.” For example, he doesn’t believe the
Earth came first on the First Day, before the sun and stars on the Fourth Day
(as do all liberals and modernists), in direct contradiction to Genesis 1. So it
doesn’t matter whether “Day” refers to 24-hours or billions of years. Fr.
Robinson isn’t going to say that Day 1 allowed the Earth to exist billions of
years before the sun and stars, since he believes, from the Big Bang theory,
that the stars came billions of years before the Earth! So all this argument
about what the 1909 PBC said about the word “Day” is just a canard.
It would be heretical to hold that
Genesis 1 is a myth, that is, a pure
invention of humans with no truth value. But it is not heretical to hold that
Genesis 1 teaches certain religious truths, necessary for our salvation, but
does not teach that the universe is a certain age,
So, in Fr. Robinson’s worldview, it’s alright to mangle the history
of Genesis 1 and turn it into a total falsehood (e.g., Genesis 1 says the Earth
came before the stars, but Fr. Robinson says the stars came before the Earth),
but in this pseudo-history Fr. Robinson somehow extracts “religious truths,
necessary for our salvation.” What does he mean? Read his book. He will tell
you that the only truth we can get out of Genesis 1 is that “God created the
world,” period, full stop. All the detail is just window dressing. Wow. Some
exegesis. This is the same thing that the liberal, Raymond Brown, said about
Genesis 1. He said that when we read Genesis 1 to a child, we are to simply
say, “God created the world,” and don’t entertain any questions the child might
have on the details. This is why I say Fr. Robinson is a liberal through and
Conversely, the Bible gives us details for a reason, and they are just as true as
the general truths it gives. As such, the Bible certainly DOES give us an age to
the universe, but it is an age that Fr. Robinson doesn’t like. Genesis 1 provides
six days, and Genesis 5-11 allows about 4000 years between Adam and Christ.
THAT is what the biblical text says, and
it is inspired and inerrant. So, in order
to get to what Fr. Robinson suggests for the age of the universe (13.7 billion
years) he has to ignore what Genesis literally teaches and/or claim that what
Genesis teaches is not inspired and inerrant. He then has to impose another
form of interpretation on the text. What form is that? For lack of a better term,
I’ll call it the “salvation interpretation.” That is, according to Fr. Robinson and
his liberal colleagues, the history, chronology, geography, and time-scale of the
Bible are not important because they don’t talk about salvation. So, salvation
becomes the ultimate criterion of how we judge whether other statements in
the Bible are either true or worthy of our attention. Where did this cockamamie
idea originate? From the liberals coming out of Vatican II, of course. They
twisted Dei Verbum 11’s words “for the sake of our salvation” to mean that only
passages that speak about salvation are inspired and inerrant. Everything else
is just story-filler made up by some uninspired author or subsequent redactor.
This doctrine comes right from the Devil himself.
a question that has no direct bearing on salvation.
As we can see, Fr. Robinson fulfilled my description. Unless the
biblical passage in question speaks directly about salvation, Fr. Robinson and
his ilk reserve the right to regard it as either untrue, myth, legend, figures of
speech, historiography, fiction, or just plain false. But as Bellarmine told
Galileo, if the Scripture errs in one place, it can err in all places, and it
becomes worthless. But Fr. Robinson thinks he can dichotomize Scripture into
two compartments (e.g., salvific and non-salvific) to allow himself to dismiss or
interpret non-literally those that are non-salvific. The Church nowhere teaches
such a hermeneutic.
With the advance of science, it became clear that the universe has a
history, that it is much older than 6000 years, that it was not created by God
in a fully formed state.
No, it didn’t become clear, at all. In fact, the more science
advances the more they find the Big Bang simply doesn’t work. Please read
pages 535-574 of my book,
Scientific Heresies and Their Effect on the Church
Moreover, the more science advances, the more they realize that the human
population would outstrip its room and resources if mankind inhabited the
Earth for more than 7000 years. For example, if we used a conservative human
growth rate of 150 years to double the population, and we used the
Smithsonian’s estimate for the arrival of homo sapiens at 300,000 BC, there
would be two trillion people on Earth as early as 293,000 BC. Imagine what it
would be 295,018 years later in 2018? We would have enough people to
populate 1000 earths. Nowhere do we find Fr. Robinson dealing with these
kinds of anomalies in his book.
Catholics had no problem utilizing this information to assist in finding
the right sense of the Bible.
The reality is, the only “Catholics” who were accepting popular
views of science were the liberals and modernists, of which de Chardin,
Lemaitre and Jaki were the leaders. They chose to believe Scripture’s history
and chronology were not inspired and inerrant, just like Fr. Robinson does.
Specifically, Pope Leo XIII and the Pontifical Biblical Commission
clarified that there is no need to interpret Genesis 1 as saying that the universe
was created in six, 24 hour days.
Notice how Fr. Robinson twists the PBC. The PBC did not say
“there is no need to interpret Genesis 1....as 24 hour days,” but “...the word
‘day’ can be assumed either in its proper sense as a natural day, or in the
improper sense of a certain space of time...Reply: in the affirmative.” That
means exegetes can interpret it literally or as a certain space of time, and not
“there is no need to interpret it literally.” As we can see, Fr. Robinson forbids
you to interpret it literally, because, in his eyes, you would be scientifically
wrong to do so. But that is not what the PBC said.
Despite the freedom granted by the Church on these questions, Catholic
biblicists are convinced that the strictly literal sense of Genesis 1 is the only
Obviously we don’t, because the PBC said “day” could be “a
certain space of time.” But there was only one other view traditional
Catholicism offered than 24-hours, which was Augustine’s “one day” or
instantaneous interpretation, not evolution, progressive creationism or theistic
evolution. Moreover, Fr. Robinson doesn’t allow the 24-hour interpretation. See
if you can find one statement from him that says Catholics are allowed and/or
should interpret the “days” of Genesis as 24-hours. There isn’t a single one.
To assist their cause, they portray their position as authentically
Because that is what the Fathers taught; and that is what the
councils (Lateran IV and Vatican 1) taught; and that is what every saint,
doctor, theologian, pope or bishop taught, at least until the onslaught of
Darwinism and the JEPD theory claimed the Bible was not inspired or inerrant.
and, whenever upstanding Catholic figures disagree with them, they
attack them as being either ignorant or heterodox.
Rightly so. As St. Paul said to the Galatians: “As we have said
before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to
that which you received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:9).