Justice Antonin Scalia spoke on Thursday at his granddaughter’s graduation from a Catholic high school in Bethesda, Maryland. During the speech, however, the sitting Supreme Court justice offered a subtle nod to young earth creationism, the belief that that the earth was created by God and is only several thousand years-old.
“Class of 2015, you should not leave Stone Ridge High School thinking that you face challenges that are at all, in any important sense, unprecedented,” Scalia said, adding that “Humanity has been around for at least some 5,000 years or so, and I doubt that the basic challenges as confronted are any worse now, or alas even much different, from what they ever were.”
Humanity began to develop much more than 5,000 years ago. Early human ancestors began to diverge from the chimpanzee lineage about six million years ago. The first members of the species Homo sapiens are believed to have lived in Africa about 100,000 years ago, and cave paintings and other evidence of human culture exist that are believed to have been created 50,000 years ago.
Young earth creationists generally believe that God created the earth within the last 10,000 years. This is a fringe view, however, within Scalia’s Catholic faith. In 1950, Pope Pius XII wrote in a letter to bishops that the Catholic church “does not forbid” research or discussions regarding “the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter.” More recently, in 1996, Pope John Paul II wrote a similar letter to bishops saying that evolution is “more than a hypothesis.”
The current pope, Pope Francis, warned in 2014 that creationist narratives lead to a kind of magical thinking about God. “When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining that God was a magician, with such a magic wand as to be able to do everything,” Francis said. “However, it was not like that. He created beings and left them to develop according to the internal laws that He gave each one, so that they would develop, and reach their fullness.”
Scalia, for his part, has not only stated that he believes that the Devil is a “real person,” he’s also speculated as to why the Beast That Is Called Dragon does not manifest in obvious ways. “You know, it is curious,” Scalia said in a 2013 interview, “In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.”
The justice said that the Father of All Lies no longer causes pigs to fall to their deaths because “he’s smart.” “What he’s doing now,” according to Scalia, “is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.”
(HT: Mike Sacks)