In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.The rhetorically explosive opening of the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Hebrews draws a very sharp distinction between the faith "of old," communicated to the new Christians' Jewish forbears "by [their] prophets," and the new faith expressed "by [the] Son" of God. This epistle thus expresses, in very concise form, the Christian belief in the supplanting of the old Jewish covenant by a new covenant. Catholic dogma states the triumph of this novus ordo seclorum in the bluntest terms possible: Jesus and his mother Mary are the new Adam and the new Eve.
Americans overwhelmingly profess a Christian faith. Yet American Christians -- who, lest we elite academics forget, dominate politics and culture in this country -- are so ignorant of their own faith that 75 percent believe that "the Bible teaches that 'God helps those who help themselves.'" Hell no. This saying is properly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. A more anti-Christian sentiment can scarcely be imagined, in a faith whose second of two remaining commandments (Matthew 22:37-40) directs its adherents to love their neighbors, not themselves. (To its credit, the Christian website Acts 17:11 acknowledges the profound and profoundly destructive nature of this false belief: "[T]his 'verse' is unbiblical in its meaning. It is exactly the opposite of the message of scripture.")
In light of such rampant ignorance, nonbelievers and more ecumenically minded Christians might forgive the astonishing inability of many American Christians, including many Catholics, to distinguish the Immaculate Conception (of Mary) from the Virgin Birth (of Jesus). Frankly, these are arcane theological details on which Christendom is sharply and irreconcilably -- and irrelevantly -- divided.
What should matter, at least in the emotionally contentious space where biology collides with belief and science not only denies but also defies revelation, are these rather inconvenient truths:
- Virgin birth doesn't happen in humans.
- Assuming parthogenesis in humans, the child wouldn't be a boy.
- Dead organisms don't revive. Period.
It is therefore surpassingly strange that so many Americans, professing adherence to some form of Christianity (albeit one that often bears scant resemblance to the teachings of Jesus), are obsessed with biology's mote in creationism's eye when the life sciences cast a prodigious beam into Christianity's heart. Cf. Matthew 7:3. To restate the problem in artistic terms, the political economy of American Christianity places the man and woman at left at the heart of that religion ...
|... rather than these figures:|
Editor's note: Marc Roark offered an insightful commentary on the relationship between Hebrews 1:1-2 and the first chapters of Genesis. Since I could not do it justice here, I have placed his e-mail message to me, in relevant part, in the comments accompanying this post.