The bit about Mivart

I did that hour-long livestream yesterday, so as I’ll try to continue to do, I yanked out a much shorter segment for those who don’t have any patience for chit-chat. Also, the whole thing got instantly demonetized, I think because I talked about mammary gland development and evolution (YouTube is capricious and stupid — there was nothing prurient or explicit in what I said). Let’s see what they think of just the historical bit, where I talk about that unfortunate 19th century weirdo, St George Jackson Mivart, who got blocked by Charles Darwin and canceled by both the scientific community and the Catholic Church. See? There’s nothing new about cancel culture.


  1. williamhyde says

    At about this time bishop Colenso of the Anglican church was also finding the traditional concept of hell to be inconsistent with his idea of a loving god.

    In part because he could not imagine that consigning millions of Africans (he was bishop of Natal) to hell was in any way tolerable.

    He was summoned to a theological trial over this and other issues but by a 3-2 margin, the five most senior bishops of the Anglican church failed to convict him thus, according to one conservative Anglican:

    “Depriving Anglicans of their hope of eternal damnation”. A sentence I will never comprehend.

    So not only was he not excommunicated, he remained a bishop, though opponents in the church did their best to interfere with his career and even stop his pay.

    He is better known, though, for his advocacy of African causes and African prisoners.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Mivart’s views on hell seem to be related to those held by many early Christian theologians, like Origen, who embraced universalism; the idea that no-one would be eternally damned.

  3. says

    Discrimination against Catholics was widespread. In the days of Australia as a Brutish penal colony convicts were required to attend Mass but there was no Catholic mass. The first public Catholic mass was not until 1803 and up until the 20th century discrimination was common. There were certain government departments and agencies where Catholics were unofficially excluded and Irish were also subject to discrimination in part because of their Catholic background.

  4. PaulBC says

    RobG@2 I never understood the default assumption of eternal damnation, since you can only carry out a finite amount of evil in your lifetime. Eventually, you’ll have paid your dues. Of course, the reverse goes for eternal salvation. Why would anyone expect an infinite reward? Reward for what? But you can at least argue that is by God’s grace. (I’ve had a reasonably enjoyable life and feel that if I were met by anything upon dying it would be like a large restaurant tab and no way to pay it off, not as bad as hell but a discomforting thought.)

    I remember hearing in numerous Catholic homilies that “Gehenna” referred to a place where waste was burned and that the proper interpretation was the destruction of the wicked, not their eternal punishment. I suspect this is heretical, despite being preached from the pulpit.

    To be clear, I don’t believe any of this. I think dissolution is what follows life for everyone (which is also not a fair outcome, but what do you do?). It is interesting to ask why people choose to believe one version over another. The idea that our “merciful” God runs an eternal chamber of horrors seems extreme to me. Funny how it became the default.

  5. kingoftown says

    Oxford banning Catholics back then isn’t surprising. Trinity College Dublin banned Catholics from entering until the end of the 18th century and didn’t employ them as academics until the end of the 19th. Look up the Penal Laws if you want to see how horrendously Catholics (and to a lesser extent other non-Anglican Christians) were treated in the UK, especially Ireland, prior to the 20th century.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    PaulBC @4:

    I never understood the default assumption of eternal damnation

    If you can convince the rubes that that’s how it goes down (so to speak), you have more power over them. If you’ll be ‘saved’ eventually no matter what, the powers that be have less hold over you.