Ask Father Paul 032509

Father Paul Massey's picture

Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible

Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few that I have received during my years of ministry and via email for this column.

Dear Father Paul: I have a girl friend who is a believer, but I find that we do not agree on several issues of Christian doctrine. I like her a lot and can see possible matrimony on the horizon, but it is important to me that my wife and I be in alignment in our religious views. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. — Clint

Dear Clint: You do not give the nature of your disagreements. There are two kinds of faith/doctrinal issues. Those that are “essential beliefs” of the Christian faith like, for instance, the virgin birth of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus, and those that are “non-essential” to being a Christian like the amount of water used in baptism and whether or not women can serve as pastors. All orthodox (right believing) Christians must agree on the former, while it is possible (and OK) for men and women of good will to disagree on the latter.

What orthodox Christians should believe (the essentials of the faith) was set forth in writing in 325 A.D. when 318 bishops of the church met in council in the city of Nicaea. Their meeting was held in the context of numerous false teachings which were being spread by heretics of the day. They met for almost a year and their meeting came to be known as the First Council of Nicaea. Through much prayer and discussion they came up with a yardstick of beliefs essential to calling one’s self “a Christian.” This rather short document has come to be known as the Nicene Creed and is in regular use ... i.e. confessed out loud by over 1 billion believers in weekly worship services all over the globe down to the present time.

A few orthodox Christian denominations do not recognize or use the Nicene Creed per se, but do subscribe to every one of its doctrines. May I suggest that you Google Nicene Creed and review it for yourself. You will find that you and your girlfriend probably agree on almost all of the essentials. It is unrealistic for any two people to totally agree on every single (minor) point of Christian doctrine. My precious wife Judy and I have been married now for almost 44 years and we still find ourselves on opposite sides of the fence doctrine-wise from time to time. We agree, however, on the essentials.

Dear Father Paul: Do you believe in evolution? — Mary

Dear Mary: If you are asking whether or not I believe in the changes which naturally take place within a species over thousands of years, the answer is yes. One simply cannot argue that change does not in fact take place within species over time. For instance, historians have noted that the tallest soldier in the Roman Army during ancient times was about 5 ft. 6 inches. Today, 2,000 years later, the average American man is over 5 ft. 10 inches. Loss of hair on our heads is another change that has taken place over the centuries. Baldness used to be rare. Today it is very common. Again, this is change...evolution taking place within a species. We see lots of evolutionary changes over eons of time within individual species of the animal kingdom as well.

If, on the other hand, you are asking me whether or not I believe that horses can evolve into chipmunks or foxes can evolve into fish, my answer is no ... I do not.

If, in fact horses could and do evolve into chipmunks or foxes can evolve into fish ... or vice-versa, or if, for that matter, monkeys could evolve into humans, then the fossil remains of a creature that was halfway evolved from one species into another species would be abundant. A kind of “horse/ chipmunk” if you will. Science’s embarrassing little secret, however, is that no such fossil has ever been found. Not a single one. For this reason, and for other good reasons, including the story of God’s creation of plants, animals and man in Genesis, I must say that no, I do not believe in the Darwinian concept of evolution.

Dear Father Paul: As I study the New Testament, I can’t help but think that the men Jesus chose as his disciples were incredibly dense. Time, after time, after time they just “didn’t get it,” and Jesus had to rebuke them and set them straight. I am amazed at his patience. My question: Why do you think Jesus didn’t pick some smarter guys? — Howie

Dear Howie: Maybe he chose such men so that you and I could relate to them better.

Do you have a question? I will try to answer your question in the paper. Email me at or call me at 678-457-3050.

Do you need prayer for an issue that you or a loved one are dealing with and have no one to pray for you? Email me and I will be glad to pray for your need. I do not need to know your name.

Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is catholic, evangelical and charismatic...together...and is modeled after the ancient, historic New Testament church. Information, worship times and directions are available at

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sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 6:59pm.

Father Paul states categorically that there are no transitional fossils. He is mistaken. Talk Origins (a creationist debunking site) has a rebuttal HERE

At the local level, one could make a plausible argument that Citizen columnist Terry Garlock could conceivably be considered a missing link between primitive Neanderthals and modern man. Eye-wink

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 7:12pm.

And at the local level, there's a very good chance that not many around have flown Cobra helicopters in a combat zone as did Terry Garlock. You should be thanking him for his service, not denigrating his opinions as stated in this venue. Ah, I forget, the traditional liberal tactic of attacking authors.\/messengers. I would venture Terry knows something about attacking too, seeing as that's something the Cobra was quite capable of. And even if some have indeed flown Cobras, perhaps none have been shot down in one and broken their back and had to be hauled from the crash scene by the "Heliborne Angels" also known as "Dustoff." That's the simple version. But Terry's tough, you go ahead and criticize and I'll bet you'll never see Terry play the "I did it all for you" card. Because that's just not something we ancient vets do.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 6:44pm.

If the fossil record were the only potential line of evidence, I would remain quite unconvinced that anything like Darwin's theory is true.

I always enjoyed Stephen Gould's stuff. In The Panda's Thumb he noted that the impoverishment of the fossil record with respect to transitional forms is "the trade secret of paleontology."

"The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils."

Produce an occasional griffin-like hybrid--or something that looks like a gator mated with a gar--and I'll take notice. The trouble, though (and this, I think, is what Gould had in mind) is that the gradualism (and vast amounts of time required) of Darwin's theory predicts an abundance of such evidence--not the occasional oddity.

I'll put it like this: perhaps the fact of the relative impoverishment of the record is not a decisive objection to Darwin's theory. But the fossil record by itself lends shaky support at best for the theory.

I spent years kicking this stuff around. I read Philip Johnson's book, and then stuff by people like Gould, Dawkins and Dennett. Johnson argues that the theory functions like a religious dogma in that, as it is maintained, it is impervious to potential negative evidence. Seeing many evolutionists in action, I think there is something to this.

But I believe the best evidence for the theory--for common ancestry in particular--is genetic in nature. One may construct "phylogenetic trees" from the evidence, and the patterns that one gets--regarding the apparent interrelatedness of the species--is largely what is predicted by the theory. Some will say that an argument like this commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent. (After all, the hypothesis that there is a deity named Sheila, and that Sheila was particularly interested in creating a world in which the creatures that seem, under observation, to be closely related would also show close genetic relationships, is also confirmed by such evidence.) But this is, in fact, how hypotheses are confirmed, and the facts that (a) the patterns themselves are complex and (b) the theory was in place long before anyone knew anything about genetics take us along way toward confirmation.


"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 7:24am.

"Father Paul states categorically that there are no transitional fossils"
He said where are the "Transitional links" the half human /half ape fossils??
Your own "factoid" from your link does not explain it either..
"There are many fossils of human ancestors, and the differences between species are so gradual that it is not always clear where to draw the lines between them"
and besides a site "DEDICATED to debunking Creationism would not adjust the Science.. or report findings to fit their Ideological beliefs.. would they?? Sounds like someone else we all know...

I will not lower my standards.. So UP YOURS.. Evil


TonyF's picture
Submitted by TonyF on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 7:11am.

no "missing links" because evolution is incremental, quantum leaps, as it were, not an immediate major change. These people should realize evolution and The Bible can coexist. The Devil is in the details.

"Your, yore, you're all idiots." (T.Floyd)

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 12:28pm.

"no "missing links" because evolution is incremental, quantum leaps, as it were, not an immediate major change."

You're right Tony. Evolution is incremental - a long process over time - and doesn't take quantum leaps, therefore, the fossil record will show small changes in a particular species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Like so many other creationist's, Mr. Massey's disbelief in evolution stems from the lack of "horse/chipmunk" fossils. His lack of knowledge in evolution science, and how to interpret science in the first place, is the reason he is behind a church podium and NOT in the classroom - thank goodness! What's really sad is that *intelligent* people still look to religion, and the Mr.Massey's of the world, to answer scientific questions, which is reminiscent of the ancient churches handing down laws in such a way that scientists like Galileo and Descartes were vilified and silenced for their discoveries.

Until there is proof of a creationist or ID theory, as well as a virgin birth and rising from the dead, turning water into wine, walking on water, a great flood, and a sky-daddy who created the earth in seven days, many of us will continue to *cling* to science, and for good reason.

And since Mr. Massey has never seen a transitional fossil, here are 7 more, in addition to those in sniffles' list, that have been discovered since Darwin:

7 Major "Missing Links" since Darwin

A great quote from 19th century English social scientist Herbert Spencer states, "Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all."

TonyF's picture
Submitted by TonyF on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 12:49pm.

I am a believer in creation and evolution. I feel The Bible was written in simpler times, for simpler people. 2,000 to 6,000 years ago we could not have begun to comprehend all that God did when He decided to create our world, so His Word was written for and by the people of the time. As an example of simple answers for simple people; would you tell a 2 year old the complete facts of life, or would you simplify it until the child became old enough to understand?

BTW, a quantum leap is, by definition the smallest change possible and occurs within the atom when an electron "jumps" around changing the properties of that atom.

From Wikipedia:"In physics, a quantum leap or quantum jump is a change of an electron from one quantum state to another within an atom. It is discontinuous; the electron jumps from one energy level to another instantaneously. The phenomenon contradicts classical theories, which expect energy levels to be continuous. Quantum leaps cause the emission of electromagnetic radiation, including that of light, which occurs in the form of quantized units called photons.

In the vernacular, the term quantum leap has come to mean an abrupt change or "step change", especially an advance or augmentation. The term dates back to early-to-mid-20th century, coinciding with the discoveries of quantum mechanics. The popular and scientific terms are similar in that both describe a change that happens all at once (revolutionary), rather than gradually over time (evolutionary), but the two uses are different when it comes to the magnitude of the change or advance in question.

In real physical systems a quantum leap is not necessarily a large change, and can in fact be very insignificant. A good example of this can be taken from the Bohr model of the hydrogen atom, where the observed energy shifts associated with shifts of different quantum states (quantum leaps) span a wide range from large to small (when compared to the energy required to completely free an electron). In the popular sense, the term is usually applied to mean a large or significant change, which is thus not strictly correct".

The rocks don't lie.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 1:28pm.

Tony F wrote "I am a believer in creation and evolution. I feel The Bible was written in simpler times, for simpler people. 2,000 to 6,000 years ago we could not have begun to comprehend all that God did when He decided to create our world, so His Word was written for and by the people of the time."

Exactly! I don't understand why so many people have such an extremely hard time grasping this common sense concept.

Side note: In the past 3 days, you, Get Real and Muddle have all agreed with me on an issue, and now I'm agreeing with you on one. What on Earth is going on here?

TonyF's picture
Submitted by TonyF on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 5:22am.

The light shines on us all, some just choose to close their eyes.
As to our being in agreement; oh well, stranger thing have happened.

"Your, yore, you're all idiots." (T.Floyd)

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 1:19pm.

There are many Christians, like yourself, who believe in BOTH the Bible and Evolution. The two "theories" have coexisted just fine for decades in this country but why is it that the religious-right has tried to invade the schools with their I.D. junk theories? This is why there are religious schools and churches, so that THOSE parents can indoctrinate THEIR children into THEIR own belief system, without instilling it in other children who are in school to learn about the various sciences.

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