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Catholic Answers Focus - Ancient Rome

Catholic Answers Focus - Ancient Rome

August 14, 2019

Who were these Romans who play such a big part in the New Testament and in the life of the early Church? How did they get to be a world power, and what did they make of these new Christians?

Catholic Answers Focus - Joseph in Egypt

Catholic Answers Focus - Joseph in Egypt

August 7, 2019

immy Akin joins Cy for a conversation about the historicity of the Joseph story in Genesis. Is the biblical depiction of Egypt believable? What does modern scholarship add to the story?

Cy Kellett: Hello and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I am Cy Kellett, your host, and last time we had a today’s guests on. Jimmy Akin is our guest and the last time he was on, we talked about ancient Egypt and it turned out that was very, very popular. People really enjoyed hearing about that and it’s something that Jimmy knows a great deal about. So we asked him back to talk about just that. First of all, Jimmy, welcome back.

Jimmy Akin: Thank you. How are you, Cy?

Cy Kellett: I am very well, thank you. If you don’t know Jimmy, he is Senior Apologist here at Catholic Answers. He’s the author of many books and he’s the a podcaster behind Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World, where I assume you have talked about, I think I remember you talked about ancient Egypt.

Jimmy Akin: Oh yeah. We’ve talked about it a number of times. I think most recently, the theory that King Tut was murdered. There’s actually a good case to make for that.

Cy Kellett: Talk about a cold case though.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah, really.

Cy Kellett: Well, nothing’s that cold in Egypt, but this time we talk about Joseph.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah,

Cy Kellett: In Egypt.

Jimmy Akin: So this is a story from the Bible.

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: It takes place in Egypt.

Cy Kellett: And I find all of this interesting because there’s that, you know, the Bible taking place in a place that now we’re getting, so I mean by now, I mean that was over the last century or so, more and more insight into Egyptian history. That means it gives us real insight into certain parts of the Bible.

Jimmy Akin: Right, that nobody right before the mid 1800s, let’s say, or more recently, would have had that extra context because we couldn’t read hieroglyphics.

Cy Kellett: And so well first of all, maybe just tell us a little bit about who this Joseph guy is.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. So he’s the founder. He’s, he’s kind of an unusual guy. So when we hear about the Old Testament Patriarchs, we always hear about three of them: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: And Jacob is also known as Israel. That’s where the name Israel comes from. It was Jacob’s other name. And then he had 12 sons who became the Patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel, except for Joseph. Joseph is kind of an unusual case. There is no tribe of Joseph in Israel.

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: What happened is Joseph was a child born to Jacob in his old age and he was kind of his father’s pet, you know, his favorite son.

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: And by the way, you want to read this, it’s all in Genesis 37 to 50.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: That’s the Joseph Story. And in terms of when this, well we’ll come back I guess and talk about exactly when this was in history, but what happened was Joseph kind of tattled on his brothers and gave Israel or Jacob a bad report about what they were up to. And that didn’t endear him to the brothers. Also because his father liked him, he gave him this special robe. In the King James version, it’s translated a coat of many colors, but it’s not exactly what the Hebrew says. In fact, the Hebrew is kind of ambiguous. So …

Cy Kellett: Can I just guess that the Hebrew?

Jimmy Akin: Okay.

Cy Kellett: Does it say amazing technicolor dream coat?

Jimmy Akin: It does not.

Cy Kellett: Oh, okay. Yeah. Alright.

Jimmy Akin: The words are a little obscure. Some people have translated it, a coat or a tunic with long sleeves.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: Or an ornamented tunic.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: And it’s unclear what it means, but it some kind of fancy robe or fancy tunic, basically.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: So he got the special clothes and that didn’t endear him to the brothers.

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: And then he starts having dreams. And dreams are really important in the Joseph Story. Joseph has this connection with dreams while he’s living on the Ponderosa there with his 12 brothers in Canaan, he has a dream that he and his brothers are out in the field and they’re harvesting grain and the sheaves of his brothers all bow down to his sheaf. And, and then to make matters worse, he dreams that 11 stars and the Sun and the Moon are bowing down to him and the symbolism is obvious. And he tells his brothers in essence, I mean, “You’re all going to bow down to me one day.”

Cy Kellett: He is the pain in the neck little brother, isn’t he? He’s kind of that little know it all.

Jimmy Akin: He is asking for it.

Cy Kellett: Yeah. Okay.

Jimmy Akin: And he gets it.

Cy Kellett: Poor Joseph.

Jimmy Akin: Because they get so mad, they throw him down a well and then they sell him into slavery and take his amazing technicolor thing a ma bob and, and tear it up and smear blood on it and give it to the father and say, “Do you recognize this?”

Cy Kellett: “Ever seen this before?”

Jimmy Akin: And so, you know, Jacob is just incredibly grieved and he’s very sorry. And the brothers I guess mostly are enjoying their advantage. Although one of them Ruben said don’t do anything bad, but they did it anyway. So the slave caravan takes Joseph down to Israel and he gets sold to a man named Potiphar and Potiphar is a pretty well off guy and Potiphar’s wife takes a shine to Joseph and wants Joseph to do interesting things for her. And Joseph, being a righteous man, does not want to do those things. And so she frames him. She accuses him falsely of rape, which gets Joseph thrown in prison. And while he’s in prison, he meets a couple of high officials or officials anyway from Pharaoh’s court. They’re actually more servants than officials, but one of them is Pharaoh’s cup-bearer. And so he’s the guy that minds Pharaoh’s cup. This was actually a job. I mean it was a thing to be a cup bearer.

Jimmy Akin: So whenever Pharaoh wants to drink the cup, bear gets the cup and fills it up and gives it to him. Also, Pharaoh’s baker is in prison and both of them have just had dreams, but no one knows what they mean. And they, they’re talking about this. As we’ll find out, this is a thing in Egypt. And so Joseph interprets the dreams for him. The cup bearer had a dream about there were three vines, three branches of a grapevine in front of him. And he took the grapes off the third and squeezed him into Pharaoh’s cup. And, and so Joseph says, “Well, the three branches symbolize three days, and in three days you’re going to be Pharaoh’s cup-bearer again.”

Cy Kellett: Ah, out of prison.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah, you’re going to be restored. And so the baker says, “Ooh, that was good. He gave a good interpretation. I’m going to tell him my dream now.” So he says, “I dreamed I had three baskets of baked goods that I was carrying on my head,” presumably in a stack because otherwise it’d be really hard to keep them up there.

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: “And the top basket is like stuff baked for Pharaoh and birds kept coming down out of the air and pecking on the stuff I’d made for Pharaoh and eating it.” And Joseph says, “I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. The three baskets are three days and in three days Pharaoh’s going to take your head off your body and birds are going to eat your flesh.” So …

Cy Kellett: Thanks, Joseph.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah, so then these interpretations come true. Pharaoh throws a big party. He restores his cup bearer, he executes his baker and the cup bearer had promised to remember Joseph and tell Pharaoh about him, but he forgets until Pharaoh has a dream and Pharaoh doesn’t know what it means. And he consults his magicians, whose job it is to interpret dreams, and they don’t know either. And that’s when the cup bearer remembers, “Okay, so there was this guy back in jail who knew how to interpret dreams. Why don’t we ask him?” And so Pharaoh summons Joseph and he tells him the dream. There were two dreams. Notice how there’s two dreams in each of these cases. “I first dreamed that there were seven fat cows and seven scrawny cows came and ate them. And then I dreamed that there were seven years of grain that were consumed by weak winds and stuff.” And so we have this recurring motif of seven good things being devoured by seven bad things. And Joseph says, “Well, here’s what’s going to happen. They’re going to be seven really good years of harvest and then there’s going to be a seven year famine and that undoes all that.”

Jimmy Akin: And so they decide to plan the economic policy of Egypt based on this interpretation. And they store up grain in the seven good years so that they’ll have it in the seven years of the famine. And Pharaoh actually appoints Joseph as a high official in his kingdom. He’s basically the vizier. Gives them a gold signet ring and lets him ride in a chariot. And whenever he’s riding in the chariot the crowds that people will shout, “Abrek, abrek” to him. And then when the famine hits, it’s not just Egypt that’s affected. Oh, by the way, I was once attending a synagogue and it was a learning experience and I was at one of their Bible study discussion groups and one of the gentlemen there described Joseph at this point in his career where he’s become the vizier as the Henry Kissinger of Egypt.

Cy Kellett: Oh yeah, fair enough. Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. If you remember the 1970s and so forth, when Henry Kissinger was kind of an elder statesman. In any event, so the famine doesn’t just hit Egypt. It’s Israel also, where the family is. And so Joseph sends all of his sons down to Egypt with money to get grain, except he keeps Benjamin. Benjamin is Joseph’s younger brother. He was born even later in Jacob’s life. And so he’s even the more special son. And so all of them, except Joseph go down to Egypt and they end up meeting with Joseph who’s in charge of the grain, but they don’t recognize him. It’s been years and years. And so he’s grown and changed. He’s wearing Egyptian stuff and he’s not talking to them in Hebrew. He’s talking in Egyptian and using a translator. And so they don’t know that he understands everything they say to each other, but he kind of is testy with them.

Jimmy Akin: He accuses them of being spies and he eventually gives them the grain, but he asks lots of questions about their family/ They’re kind of a little suspicious. Like, “Hey, is your father still alive?” and, “You got any other brothers?” and cause you know, Dad and Benjamin aren’t there so of course he’d ask about them.

Cy Kellett: But I have to say in the traditional arc of a story at this point, Joseph would get his revenge on his brothers.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah, well he kinda is, but he’s setting up the revenge.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: The revenge is not he’s gonna kill ’em all or sell them into slavery, but he is playing a trick on him and they’re gonna go through a little bit of anguish as a result of this trip. So he says, “Okay, here’s the grain and don’t ever come back and ask for more unless you bring me this other brother to prove me you’re telling the truth. I’m kinda trusting you on this one, but I want proof next time.”

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: And so they go and on their way back, they discover all of our money is still in our bags. It’s been secretly replaced and we could be accused of stealing this grain because they don’t have the money we agreed to pay for it, but it’s a little late to deal with that. So they go back and they eat up all the grain and then they’re hungry again. And Jacob is like, go down to Israel and get more grain. And they’re like, “Well, okay, we would, but the man said we’ve got to bring Benjamin. And Jacob is like, “No way are you bringing Benjamin. I mean I would just die. You would bring my gray head down to shoal in grief if anything happened to him.”

Jimmy Akin: And so eventually they get so hungry that they send him down and they send gifts with them to give, as well as all that money that showed up mysteriously and some of the gifts they give are almonds and pistachios. And I’m like, if you have to almonds and pistachios, what do you need grain for? Paleo Diet, man.

Cy Kellett: I know, yeah.

Jimmy Akin: But presumably there weren’t enough to feed everybody indefinitely.

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: So they, they go back down, they take Benjamin and this time Joseph has a feast and Joseph is really having a hard time keeping it together. He’s so emotional about seeing Benjamin again and knowing his father’s okay. And he has to go off and cry privately, but then they have this big feast and he sends the brothers off again with more grain and has the money put in their sacks and his own silver cup is to be put in the sack of Benjamin. And then after they’ve left, he sends his guards after him to search their bags. And whichever one of them has the silver cup is going to become his slave. Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention one of the brothers after the first trip got kept back in prison until they would send Benjamin. So he was in prison for a good while. It was Simeon, but now Benjamin’s going to be the one who’s going to become Joseph’s slave because it’s in his bag that the silver cup is discovered. And at this point, Joseph reveals who he is and says, “Everything is okay, don’t worry. And you meant this thing against me for evil, but God meant it for good so I could protect all these people from the famine.”

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: And so, you know, “Bring Mom and Dad on down. It’s going to be safe. You can live here in Egypt, we’re going to have lots of grain to eat.”

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: And also, “By the way, I married this Egyptian priest’s daughter and I have these two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh,” and they become the Patriarchs of two tribes in Israel. That’s why there’s no tribe of Joseph. There’s the tribe of Ephraim and the tribe of Manasseh. And so Jacob comes down, they bring all the rest of the family. They go to live in a place called Goshen and Jacob ends up dying while he’s there and they mummify him and it says they spent 40 days embalming him and 70 total days mourning him. And Joseph lives out the rest of his life. And this is all setting us up for the Exodus.

Cy Kellett: Okay, so when would this have been? Well, first of all, is this a parable or is this a real historical story? And if a real historical story to the degree that is, when did this happen in the Egyptian history that we know?

Jimmy Akin: Okay. So in terms of when it happened, the answer depends on the chronology you accept. There is a kind of an early dating and a late dating that scholars have proposed and according to the early dating, this could be somewhere around the 1800 BC. If it’s the late dating, it could be as late as the 1500 BC or so. And in terms of how that matches up to to Egyptian history, so Egyptian history had several major phases. The first one is called the Old Kingdom and that’s when the pyramids were built. Then everything kind of fell apart and we had a shorter period, like a couple of centuries or so, called the First Intermediate Period. It was a kind of time of anarchy in Egypt.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: Then they re-establish things, they got everything back on track and we have what’s called The Middle Kingdom.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: And then things fall apart again as they do, the center cannot hold and we have a Second Intermediate Period. Then we had the New Kingdom and the New Kingdom is where the pharaohs that you’ve probably heard of live, like King Tut and Ramses The Second and so forth.

Cy Kellett: Okay. Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: They live in the New Kingdom and so the Joseph Period, depending on whether it’s the early dating or the late dating, it could be either the end of the Middle Kingdom or the Second Intermediate Period or the beginning of the New Kingdom. It is not the Old Kingdom. The Old Kingdom was hundreds and hundreds of years before this. The pyramids had been standing for hundreds and hundreds of years, so none of these Hebrews had anything to do with building the pyramids at Giza, but that’s when it was. When it was recorded in Genesis is probably 500 to 800 years later. It looks like Genesis was written around the year 1000 BC. So about during the time of David and Solomon.

Cy Kellett: Is it fair to say these are oral stories then? Just passed down?

Jimmy Akin: These were family stories that were passed down and undoubtedly there’s some degree of literary license that’s taken with them because ..

Cy Kellett: To shape them.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah, because human memory doesn’t preserve exact detail over that period of time. Even in cultures that are based on oral tradition, like this one, where they take care in how they tell a story and keep the gist of it the same.

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: The gist of stories will be accurately passed down, but the details that are used to give them verisimilitude will vary a little bit.

Cy Kellett: Can we recognize any of real Egypt in the story?

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. Egypt is all over this.

Cy Kellett: Oh, okay.

Jimmy Akin: So for example, you know the guy who Joseph gets sold to, Potiphar?

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: That’s an Egyptian name. It’s probably Pa Di Re.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: And it gets brought over into Hebrew and then into English as Potiphar, but it’s Pa Di Re. Pa means that and Di means given and Re is the Sun God.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: And so his name would mean that which has given by Re or given by Re. And that’s a very typical type of Egyptian name. You’d have lots of names based on this god is pleased or this god has given me this child or things like that.

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: So that matches up. Also, it’s interesting, there’s a short story that we have from Egypt called the tale of two brothers, where one of the wives of one of the brothers takes a shine to the other brother and, when he doesn’t go along, frames him just like Potiphar’s wife frames Joseph.

Cy Kellett: Oh, okay.

Jimmy Akin: So this is not an isolated thing. This is something that may have happened in Egypt well enough to find its way into their literature.

Cy Kellett: Right. Okay.

Jimmy Akin: Also the dreams are a huge deal in Egypt. Joseph’s key function here is not that he has these dreams. I mean he did have a couple, but his key function as he’s a dream interpreter.

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: But everybody can have prophetic dreams and in the view of Egyptians, everybody did have prophetic dreams and every dream was prophetic and so they had these books of dream interpretations. One example, I remember I got this from Bob Brier’s course on the history of Ancient Egypt. In one of the dream interpretation manuals we have if a man dreams of a dwarf, it’s a sign his life has half over. Cause the dwarf is like half a man. And if he dreams his enemy is making offerings, that’s bad because it means people are working against him magically and stuff. So they would have these manuals and the presumptive reason why Pharaoh’s magicians couldn’t interpret the dream is there wasn’t anything in their dream manuals.

Cy Kellett: Oh, that doesn’t fit.

Jimmy Akin: About seven scrawny cows eating seven fat cows or things like that. So also there’s the name of the magicians. So in Coptic, which is a development of the Egyptian language and it’s used by Christians in Egypt today, Coptic Christians. In Coptic, the word for magician is Sesh Pur Ankh. And that’s actually three words. Sesh means scribes, pur means house. And ankh means life. You know that ankh symbol?

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: So the Sesh Pur Ankh were the Scribes of the House Of Life. And a temple was a house of life. And so they were the scribes associated with the temple, which is where you’d find the books of dream interpretation.

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: Oh, also we have a record. So you know, you kind of wonder, “Would there be seven year famines in Egypt?” Yeah, there would be and we have a record of one. There’s an island, Today, it’s called Sahel island. It’s got all these boulders and people would go and carve memorable things on the boulders and one of the boulders there records a seven year famine when the Nile didn’t rise high enough to re-fertilize the fields for seven years.

Cy Kellett: Ah.

Jimmy Akin: So now that’s not saying that’s Joseph’s seven year famine, but it is saying we have historical evidence of seven year famines in Egypt.

Cy Kellett: Right, right.

Jimmy Akin: So that checks out. So does the fact that a pharaoh gave a Joseph a golden ring as a seal. That was a real thing. They would do that. It’d have your name on it in hieroglyphs.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: And you would use it not just to seal letters or documents, you’d also use it to seal jars of grain. Yeah, to keep them secure. So because Pharaoh owns all this grain, but it’s gotta be put in jars to keep it safe and dry and everything. And then you’d put a piece of cloth over the top of the jar and take some mud and seal it so no one else can break in and steal the grain without it being obvious this has been tampered with. And then the person whose seal is used as the one certifying, “I closed this and it was full of grain at the time.” And that goes along with Joseph being in charge of the grain. Also, when he rides on the chariot and detected genesis as people would shout out Abrek after him.

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: You know what Abrek means in Hebrew?

Cy Kellett: No.

Jimmy Akin: It means nothing. That’s not a Hebrew word.

Cy Kellett: Oh.

Jimmy Akin: And so it’s given scholars a real runaround trying to figure out what this means. And there are some possibilities, but one of them, and this is the one that Bob Brier advocates, it’s Egyptian for Ob, that means heart. And then the Re symbol means to, and the ke in Abrek is … Hebrew had the same kind of thing. It’s called a pronominal suffix. And the Ke in Egyptian means you so heart to you or your heart to you. May you live.

Cy Kellett: Oh, okay.

Jimmy Akin: You know, it’s like life to you and so forth.

Cy Kellett: Yeah. Right

Jimmy Akin: And so it’d be like an Egyptian salutation that you might shout at a high official that’s popular and in charge of all your food as he’s riding down the street in his chariot.

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: So that fits. Then we’ve got Joseph’s silver cup and he uses the cup. Well, he obviously drinks from it, and the text says he drinks from it, but he also has his, officials or his soldiers that he sends after the brothers say, “Not only does he drink from it, he uses it for divination.” And this is a thing in the ancient world, people would use cups to divine the future. How they would do it, there were several different techniques, but one of them is called hydromancy and they’d have like the cup filled with oil and then they’d pour in water and look at the patterns of the water. Kind of like reading tea leaves.

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: But with the liquid still in the cup or they do oilomancy where they’d have the cup filled with water and they’d pour a little oil in and look at the patterns of the oil. There was also winomancy where they’d use wine and things like that. So this is a real thing and so this cup is doubly precious. It’s precious in several respects and therefore he would want it back. It’s not just an ordinary drinking vessel.

Cy Kellett: Then people would know the value of it.

Jimmy Akin: Right, exactly. Oh this is divination cup.

Cy Kellett: Come on, man.

Jimmy Akin: His personal cup. And the thing is it’s made out of silver. That’s significant because how valuable a metal is depends on how easy it is to dig it up out of the ground and refine it. People in America will be shocked typically to learn this today, but you know, we tend to think of platinum is really expensive. Gold is a little less expensive. Silver is less expensive than that. But you know what used to be more expensive here in America than all of those?

Cy Kellett: What?

Jimmy Akin: Aluminum.

Cy Kellett: Oh yeah, I’ve heard this.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah.

Cy Kellett: Because the top of the …

Jimmy Akin: The Washington monument is a little aluminum pyramid and …

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: And back in Napoleon’s day, they would eat with aluminum forks and knives.

Cy Kellett: Cause they were so fancy.

Jimmy Akin: Because they were so fancy. This is more precious than gold because aluminum is so reactive as a metal. It bonds with almost everything. So since it’s really common on earth you can, you can never find it in its pure state. So it’s really rare. Well, in Egypt, silver was more rare than gold, [crosstalk 00:26:53] so thus more valuable than gold. So this is a really special cup.

Cy Kellett: What about Goshen?

Jimmy Akin: Oh, well Goshen is a real place. It’s up in the Nile Delta.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: Which is where we know a bunch of Semites live, the Hyksos. Also, Goshen is a place in Arkansas that’s right next to the town where I grew up. And so I would go to the land of Goshen periodically.

Cy Kellett: Really?

Jimmy Akin: Yeah.

Cy Kellett: You sojourned in the land of Goshen.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah.

Cy Kellett: It strikes me that the part about embalming Joseph is again, and we’re almost at the end.

Jimmy Akin: Right, sure.

Cy Kellett: So I want you to tell me about what does this mean?

Jimmy Akin: Okay, so it turns out, and we didn’t really know this until recently, but that 70 day mourning process with something happening at the 40 day mark, that’s real. That’s how they mummified people. Mummification has two stages. In the first stage, they’re trying to dry out your body as quickly as possible so it doesn’t rot. And so they take out all the internal organs including the brain and they do various things and they bury your body in this stuff called natron, which is kind of like baking soda and salt.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: And it helps get the moisture out of the body.

Cy Kellett: It desiccates them.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. And you leave it in the natron for 40 days, but then you take it out and you do the second stage of mummification, which involves like putting it in the right posture and stuff cause it still has the flexibility. It’s not completely desiccated.

Cy Kellett: Okay.

Jimmy Akin: At this point, so you can still move it and do the other procedures including some magical ones that you need. And then, and then you wait another 30 days, at which point you bury it and you have a farewell dinner when you’re burying it and stuff. We even have the stuff including the bird bones they ate at King Tut’s farewell burial dinner.

Cy Kellett: Cause they get buried with him or?

Jimmy Akin: No, no, no, cause they put him in a pit outside his tomb along with the like floral head dresses and stuff they were wearing. So the details of Jacob’s mummification match up to what the Egyptians actually did.

Cy Kellett: Yeah, and it’s interesting to me that nobody really knew that for a few thousand years until modern.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. It was lost knowledge.

Cy Kellett: Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: So what this tells us is whoever wrote this story really knew about Egypt and how stuff worked. This story preserves accurate traditions of Ancient Egypt.

Cy Kellett: Jimmy Akin, thank you very, very much.

Jimmy Akin: My pleasure.

Cy Kellett: And thanks everybody who joins us here on a Catholic Answers Focus. Please give us a like or a share wherever you get this podcast. That really helps us to grow and invite people to join Radio Club at We’ll see you next time on Catholic Answers Focus.

Catholic Answers Focus - Why Evolution Doesn’t Eliminate God (Part 3)

Catholic Answers Focus - Why Evolution Doesn’t Eliminate God (Part 3)

August 1, 2019

Cy concludes his interview on evolution and God with the author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming Obstacles to God, The Gospel, and The Church. Here, Karlo explains why greater complexity coming from apparently lesser complexity is not a problem, and why arguments that a wise God just wouldn’t have done it this way don’t hold water.

Catholic Answers Focus - Why Evolution Doesn’t Eliminate God (Part 2)

Catholic Answers Focus - Why Evolution Doesn’t Eliminate God (Part 2)

July 24, 2019

If evolutionary theory is correct, then chance plays an important role in the evolution of life. But how could God be the designer of life if things really do depend upon chance? Karlo Broussard continues is explanation of why Evolution does not eliminate God.

Catholic Answers Focus - Why Evolution Doesn’t Eliminate God (Part 1)

Catholic Answers Focus - Why Evolution Doesn’t Eliminate God (Part 1)

July 17, 2019

Cy sits down with Karlo Broussard, author of Prepare the Way, for a conversation about God and evolution. Karlo lists six common ways people use Darwin’s insights as the basis for arguments against God.

Cy Kellett: Have Darwin’s theories done away with God? Next on Focus.

Cy Kellett: Hello and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I am Cy Kellett, your host. I’ve got to say, I am very excited about this series of conversations we embark upon with this episode of Focus. We’re going to talk a bit about evolution and what does evolution do to God? Does it have any effect on him? Does it maybe even eliminate the need for God? To help us do that is apologist here at Catholic Answers and the author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming Obstacles to God, the Gospel and the Church, Karlo Broussard. Hello Karlo.

Karlo Broussard: Hey Cy.

Cy Kellett: I’m looking forward to this because as you may know, I don’t know if you know this, evolution is somewhat controversial. Had you heard this?

Karlo Broussard: I think I may have caught wind of that.

Cy Kellett: Okay. For years and decades and everything, Christians put a little fish on the back of their car and that little fish meant Jesus.

Karlo Broussard: Right.

Cy Kellett: And then about two decades ago, I started noticing people with the little fish had feet coming out of it or the little fish was eating the other fish and it had little feet coming out of it. All of which seemed very strongly to suggest this is a science minded person who says, “I believe science, not the Gospel.” I would say that’s probably the basic meaning. So does God damage … I mean, is God damaged or is our, should our faith in God at all be shaken by evolution?

Karlo Broussard: Well, the short answer would be no.

Cy Kellett: Oh, that’s the one I was looking for. I’m so glad.

Karlo Broussard: Yeah, there are a variety … In conversation, somebody might bring this up and say, “Well I don’t need God because I have evolution.” Or, “I believe in evolution, not this whole Christian God thing.” Right?

Cy Kellett: Right.

Karlo Broussard: Now there are two more reasons. These two reasons claim that evolution contradicts God’s wisdom. So some will say that evolution makes for a wasteful universe because things come and go to no purpose. You would think that if God were all wise, he would have just created the universe as it is, or created the universe without this long history of things coming and going to no purpose. So it seems wasteful. And if it’s wasteful, that’s not characteristic of how an all wise God would create things because they’re to no purpose, these things of the past that have come and gone. Like the dinosaurs, what purpose? We don’t have them anymore.

Cy Kellett: They’re awesome. That’s the purpose.

Karlo Broussard: Well that’s actually very philosophical of you, as we’ll see in a future segment. And then the next reason is evolution makes for a wasteful universe relative to the goal of bringing about the human race. So if the human race is the climax of the physical cosmos-

Cy Kellett: Could have got there without wandering around all these billions of years.

Karlo Broussard: That’s right. You think if God were all wise he would have just created the universe as it needed to be for human beings to exist. Why go through this long history without that for which the universe exists, namely the human species? So it would seem, or some argue that this wastefulness of time and resources and going though this evolutionary process contradicts God’s wisdom. And of course, if the wastefulness of the evolutionary process contradicts God’s wisdom, God’s supposed to be all wise, so apparently he ain’t. And if he ain’t all wise, well then guess what, he’s not the God of classical theism, which in our case we’d say he must not exist.

Karlo Broussard: So these are, if you tally them up, there’s basically six reasons here why some atheists think that evolution is incompatible with belief in God. And of course over this series of segments, we’ll try to address-

Cy Kellett: Each of the six.

Karlo Broussard: … each of those six and share how we can respond to these arguments and show that in light of these six reasons, evolution is not incompatible with God. In fact it is compatible with God.

Cy Kellett: All right. I think for this particular episode, we’ve only got time to get to one. So we’ll start with the arguments from chance.

Karlo Broussard: Yeah, one of the arguments that appeals to chance.

Cy Kellett: And chance in evolution proves there is no intelligent designer.

Karlo Broussard: That’s right. So just recall as I had mentioned earlier, if there is genetic mutation in the evolutionary process by chance, then there’s no design because notice the underlying assumption here is that chance and design are mutually exclusive. You see? And if there’s no design, well then no designer. So evolution shows there’s genetic mutation by chance, and therefore no designer. Okay.

Karlo Broussard: How do we respond to this? Well here’s the key. Chance and design are not mutually exclusive. See, we can challenge that underlying assumption and show that chance and design are not mutually exclusive because chance, so it’s argued, and I think very persuasively, presupposes or assumes the reality of design, or we might say directed activity. You see, Cy, chance is not some existing thing that acts in such a way to bring about some effect. Chance occurs when there’s a convergence of causes that results in some effect beyond what the causes directly intend. So it’s not some thing existing out there. It’s an effect that goes beyond what two causes are going to converge, lines of causality. One thing acting and another thing acting and they’re going to intersect. And the effect of that intersection of these causes goes beyond the directed activity of these causes, so it’s chance, but nevertheless that chance occurrence presupposes or assumes the causes acting in such a way that they’re going to intersect.

Karlo Broussard: Let’s flesh this out with a couple of stock examples. Okay. Let’s say I go to the grocery store to get some milk for my kids for breakfast tomorrow. Tim Staples, colleague and friend here at Catholic Answers, he goes to the grocery store to get some bread for toast for his kids’ breakfast tomorrow.

Cy Kellett: He needs a lot of bread and you need a lot of milk.

Karlo Broussard: And we happen to meet at the grocery store. And of course, we start geeking out into mystic philosophy, right?

Cy Kellett: Yes, that would happen. I’ve seen that happen.

Karlo Broussard: All right. Now notice, the meeting is a chance occurrence, but that chance occurrence assumes, or presuppose, my directed activity. I had a goal in mind, go to the store, get milk. Tim’s directed activity, go to the store, get bread. And the intersection or the convergence of those activities results in this chance occurrence because our meeting was beyond our intentions, and the directed activities of myself and Tim.

Karlo Broussard: Here’s another stock example of a gravedigger digging the hole in the ground for a grave, and he stumbles upon a treasure. Now that’s a chance occurrence. The gravedigger did not intend to find the treasure, nor did, on this scenario, the person who stashed his loot-

Cy Kellett: Intend for it to be found.

Karlo Broussard: … intend to be found by the gravedigger. So it’s a chance occurrence, but you still have the directed activity of the gravedigger and the directed activity of the person stashing the loot. Now this same line of reasoning can be applied to evolution. Chance is no different when we’re talking about evolution. The genetic mutations that give rise to new species via natural selection may be random, but that random occurrence presupposes a host of ordered activity or design. So for example, there’s got to be living things that are acting, right?

Cy Kellett: Okay, so for any evolution to happen at all, you’ve got to start with living things.

Karlo Broussard: You’ve got to start with something existing. Well not necessarily living things. You can even have inanimate things that are acting and interacting with things in such a way.

Cy Kellett: Oh, I see.

Karlo Broussard: Here we’re talking about, for example, in biological evolution. You’re going to have to have some existing living organism that’s going to act in such a way to strive to survive and produce offspring. That’s directed activity. We can call that design. Certain things have tendencies to change into one thing rather than another, and evolve into one thing. So you might have a fish. The fish hypothetically may have had this tendency or this potency or potential to evolve into a bird over many, many years under certain circumstances, under the right conditions. But not evolve into a flower. So that directed action, that tendency, that direction to evolve into one thing rather than some other thing, from a philosophical perspective, that’s direction. That’s design because there’s an order there toward a certain specific effect rather than some other effect.

Cy Kellett: Right. A fish can’t just evolve into anything.

Karlo Broussard: That’s right.

Cy Kellett: It can’t evolve into a rock. It can’t evolve into a planet. It can only evolve into a certain number of things.

Karlo Broussard: Correct. And that very order itself, from a philosophical perspective, we see as design, and which we would argue ultimately will require not only a intelligence, but the supreme intelligence, namely God. So another example is the genetic mutation itself always involves some existing thing that acts on another. So, you may have effects brought about by radiation. The effect that radiation brings about is a specific ordered activity and design, bringing about certain effect rather than some other effects. Just even the sun. The sun giving off heat rather than cold and chill, or even frozen water giving off cold and chill rather than heat. Even those very activities of inanimate things bringing about specific effects rather than other effects, we say is directed activity. The fancy word for that is teleology, coming from the Greek telos, end or goal, the study of ends or goals.

Karlo Broussard: Whether we’re talking about inanimate things that act and interact with each other in certain ways or even animate things, such as plants and animals, and of course us as human beings, although we as human beings do so with intelligence, with knowledge and we know what we’re acting for in these ends, etc. So the bottom line is that when you analyze it, chance really is not something primary, but it’s secondary. That is to say-

Cy Kellett: There’s got to be already a whole bunch of stuff there for chance to even happen.

Karlo Broussard: Amen.

Cy Kellett: I got you. Okay.

Karlo Broussard: And everything that’s there is not only existing, which we’ll get to later, but actually acting in certain ways to produce certain effects rather than other effects, and that’s directed activity. That’s design from the philosophical perspective. Not just complexity, although that’s an aspect of design, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be entirely complex. Just the ordered activity of certain things to produce a certain effect rather than some other effect. The acorn producing an oak tree rather than a banana tree. All of these sorts of patterns, orders within the physical cosmos is presupposed by evolution. So the chance occurrences is just all of these things interacting with each other, and the convergence of these causes bringing about certain effects that of course do go beyond what the directed activities of these things are for, or ordered to. But nevertheless you still have directed activity.

Karlo Broussard: So if chance presupposes design, you can’t have chance unless you-

Cy Kellett: Unless something’s already designed.

Karlo Broussard: … unless you have the design. You can’t have chance unless you have the ordered patterns of things behaving in certain ways and acting in certain ways for certain goals and ends etc. Well if that’s the case, well then surely chance can’t be a reason to reject God because those ordered activities that chance presupposes, well that’s the very starting point for reasoning to God’s existence such as in Aquinas’ Fifth Way.

Cy Kellett: So that kind of got turned around. I mean, we started with you can’t have chance and design, but you ended with, and quite convincingly, chance only can happen in a system or in a-

Karlo Broussard: With design.

Cy Kellett: … where design has already happened.

Karlo Broussard: That’s right.

Cy Kellett: Yeah, all right. Okay so next time, we do have another one on chance to cover in the next episode.

Karlo Broussard: There is another argument that appeals to chance, yes.

Cy Kellett: Chance means that there’s God’s providence isn’t involved in it.

Karlo Broussard: That’s right.

Cy Kellett: So, he’s out of it. Then we’ll move to the naturalistic explanation, evolution eliminates the need for God. Why do I need God if I’ve got a perfectly natural explanation?

Karlo Broussard: Amen to that.

Cy Kellett: Karlo Broussard, thank you.

Karlo Broussard: Thank you, Cy.

Cy Kellett: I’m looking forward to that next one

Karlo Broussard: Okay, brother.

Cy Kellett: Thanks to everybody who has joined us here for Catholic Answers Focus. Make sure you share it with your friends. Well one way you can share it is wherever you get this podcast, if you would give us a like or maybe a comment, that is the way that this program grows. Also invite people to join Radio Club, and then they can get it in their inbox each week for free. Just go to and put in an email address, and each week you’ll be alerted when a new episode of Focus is out.

Cy Kellett: It’s starting to seem like God might not be in as bad of trouble as I thought he was at the beginning. In our next episode, we’ll try to continue extracting God from all the danger that evolution has put him in. I’m Cy Kellett, your host. See you next time on Catholic Answers Focus.




Catholic Answers Focus - A Golden Age for Teaching the Faith?

Catholic Answers Focus - A Golden Age for Teaching the Faith?

July 10, 2019

Drake McCallister, Coordinator of Catechetical Practicum at Franciscan University of Steubenville, came into the Catholic Faith because of what he heard on Catholic Radio. Now this father of five is to be ordained a priest. He talks with us about what really works in catechesis and apologetics.

Catholic Answers Focus - No Salvation Outside the Church

Catholic Answers Focus - No Salvation Outside the Church

July 3, 2019

Our Director of Apologetics and Evangelization, Tim Staples, says the magisterium never stopped teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church. This doesn’t sound very PC.

Catholic Answers Focus - Jesus’ Radical Call to Discipleship

Catholic Answers Focus - Jesus’ Radical Call to Discipleship

June 26, 2019

Tim Staples, author of Behold Your Mother, says people today have forgotten that Jesus asks radical things of his followers. Is this idea too dangerous for modern consumption?

Catholic Answers Focus - Did Jesus Institute the Seven Sacraments?

Catholic Answers Focus - Did Jesus Institute the Seven Sacraments?

June 19, 2019

Our Director of Apologetics and Evangelization, Tim Staples, makes the wild claim that each of the seven sacraments was, in fact, established by Jesus. Can he defend this thesis? Just like Bob the Builder — Yes, he can.

Catholic Answers Focus - Moses and the Egyptians (Part 2)

Catholic Answers Focus - Moses and the Egyptians (Part 2)

June 13, 2019

Who was Moses? Was he a real person? Is there evidence for the Exodus? Jimmy Akin continues our lively look at Moses among the Egyptians.

Did you miss Part 1 of this conversation? Listen here: Moses and the Egyptians (Pt.1)

Catholic Answers Focus - Moses and the Egyptians (Part 1)

Catholic Answers Focus - Moses and the Egyptians (Part 1)

June 12, 2019

What was Egypt like in the time of Moses? Did the Hebrews build the Great Pyramid? Jimmy Akin joins us for a lively look at Moses among the Egyptians?

Cy Kellett: What do we know about the Egyptians of Moses’ time? Right now on Catholic Answers Focus.

Cy Kellett: Hello and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I am Cy Kellett, your host, joined today by our senior apologist here at Catholic Answers, Jimmy Akin. Hi, Jimmy.

Jimmy Akin: Howdy, Cy.

Cy Kellett: There were these people in the ancient world called the Egyptians.

Jimmy Akin: Oh, yeah. They had a special walk. You had to learn how to walk like an Egyptian.

Cy Kellett: I had forgotten that, yeah. That must have been very uncomfortable to constant have to walk like that.

Jimmy Akin: Oh, you hand to wear bangles, too, when you did it.

Cy Kellett: [inaudible 00:00:33] if you don’t know what he’s referring to, you’re just going to have to look at up on the internet. Okay, so, at one point, this well known historical ancient people, the Egyptians, also served as the captors for the people we now know as the Jews.

Jimmy Akin: Yes.

Cy Kellett: Like, your eyes got big. How well developed was it?

Jimmy Akin: Well, we’re living two thousand years after the time of Christ, and Egyptian civilization goes back at last five thousand years before Christ. So it’s like seven thousand… we recently found a cemetery in Egypt that has… some of the bodies are seven thousand years old. Originally, Egypt was not the arid desert it is today. It was much more moist than it is now. But, over the course of time, it dried out so that the principle source, except for a few oases, the principle source of water is just the Nile River. And so you had the Nile River running down Egypt, or running up Egypt, I should say, because the Nile starts in the south and flows north to the Mediterranean Sea. That’s why southern Egypt is called upper Egypt.

Cy Kellett: Oh, because it’s [crosstalk 00:02:06] via the river.

Jimmy Akin: Up the river. And northern Egypt is called lower Egypt because it’s down the river. And that really shaped Egyptian culture.

Jimmy Akin: So every year, the Nile… they basically have three seasons. So I guess we’re kind of talking about the geography of Egypt right now. They have three seasons in Egypt. They have… the year begins when the star Sirius rises and that signals that the Nile is about to flood. Down at the origin of the Nile, they have mountainous snows that melt every year. And so, every July or so.

Cy Kellett: Those famous African snows we all know so much [crosstalk 00:02:52]

Jimmy Akin: … the snows of Kilimanjaro.

Cy Kellett: Oh, yeah, right. Okay.

Jimmy Akin: And, so every July or so, Sirius rises and the Nile begins to flood. That initiates the season called inundation. So the Nile floods and it brings all this topsoil down through the Nile Valley, and that fertilizes the ground, so it makes it very fertile for farming. And then, they have a season… each of these seasons is about four months. Then they have a season called emergence where the flood waters recede and the land emerges again and you can plant it. So the Egyptians would start growing crops, specifically wheat and so forth.

Jimmy Akin: Then you have summer, which is where it’s just all dry and you’re waiting for the next inundation. Because the Nile Valley was so fertile, the Egyptians could grow more than just subsistence level crops. They could grow more food than they needed to feed everybody. That meant not everybody had to be a farmer. You could have more complex, sophisticated ways of governing your society with people who could specialize in things besides farming. So you could have a standing army.

Cy Kellett: Oh, yeah. Because you’re rich, basically.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. You could have an established priesthood of people who just tended to religious things. You could have an established government. So, that led to the formation of the system of pharaohs, and starting with the first dynasty, the first notable pharaoh was a guy named Narmer. He was, if I recall correctly, about 3000 B.C. So, five thousand years ago, approximately.

Jimmy Akin: By the time of Moses, there had already been Egyptian civilization for like 1500 to 1700 years.

Cy Kellett: Okay. So, let’s just real quick, then, give a date for Moses, an approximate date for him.

Jimmy Akin: Well, you could say… there are sort of two theories that are commonly advocated. The traditional one is that Moses lived in the 1400s B.C. and that the exodus occurred around the year 1446 B.C. The more recently popular theory is that Moses lived in the 1200s B.C. and that the exodus occurred no later than 1250 B.C.

Cy Kellett: Okay. All right. So, for these Jews, then, living there, they wouldn’t have been called Jews at the time; right? They would have had [crosstalk 00:05:37]

Jimmy Akin: No. They were called Hebrews or Israelites, because they were descended from Israel. Jew is a later term. It means an inhabitant of Judah because of the kingdom of Judah, one of the twelve tribes became prominent.

Cy Kellett: So, they’re living there in Egypt, and Egypt is, I guess, the heart of the world at the time? Like there would have been people all around…

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. One of the cradles of civilization. It’s not the only civilization at the time. In fact, Egypt was… you know, as I mentioned, they have a standing army.

Cy Kellett: Yeah, right. Why do you need that?

Jimmy Akin: Why do you need that? Because there are other people out there. They didn’t just use their army defensively. They used it… they had a kind of view of the economy that was… It’s a zero sum game. Wealth does not get created, it only gets taken. And so, one of the jobs of the Pharaoh was to go take wealth from other people. And so, every year or so, Pharaoh would lead the army out, they’d beat up on some foreign nation, take everything that wasn’t nailed down, bring it back to Egypt, and require what was called tribute of the people they had conquered. And any time the people… every year you’re supposed to send some of your stuff to Egypt to keep them from invading you. It’s like a protection racket. And if you don’t, then they’re likely to come back and re-invade you.

Cy Kellett: So for, say a tribe, like the Israelites…

Jimmy Akin: And, by the way, there’s a famous picture. You see it in Egyptian art. Egypt was amazingly conservative socially. Once they set up their artistic system and their governmental institutions, they kept them for three thousand years. And, so, right back on the Narmer pallet, we have Narmer depicted in what’s called the smiting position where he’s got a foreigner by his hair and he’s got one of his… his other arm raised up with a club. He’s ready to smite this foreigner to show the dominance of Egypt. This smiting position you see in Egyptian farm from Narmer forward.

Cy Kellett: All right, then the [crosstalk 00:07:59]

Jimmy Akin: They’re kind of like the Goa’uld.

Cy Kellett: That’s from Atlantis.

Jimmy Akin: Stargate SG1.

Cy Kellett: Sorry, yeah. So, what we think of as ancient Egypt, probably the primary image that you might get is the pyramids at Giza.

Jimmy Akin: Yep.

Cy Kellett: So, would the Israelites have been a part of building those?

Jimmy Akin: No. No. Absolutely not.

Cy Kellett: Why not?

Jimmy Akin: The pyramids are interesting. The way they got started, originally… So originally, Egyptians buried their dead in pits. They didn’t have any special way of protecting the bodies or anything. They would bury them in pits and they would naturally mummify because of the arid climate. Later, they found out ways to mummify them even better and it became a special profession. It actually took 70 days to mummify somebody. And they later did it for Joseph.

Cy Kellett: Oh, they did?

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. Oh, yeah. And Jacob. Some of the biblical patriarchs were mummified in Egypt. In any event, they initially buried people in pits, but if you don’t protect the bodies, animals are going to come and predate them. So, they said, okay, let’s try to protect the bodies. Let’s put a big stone thing over them. It looks like a bench or shoebox. It’s a big stone thing, kind of like a shoebox or a bench. And the Arabic word for bench is mastaba. And so, they would put mastabas over the dead as their tomb, as kind of like their coffin. Even today, when you bury someone in a coffin, they usually put a mastaba-like thing over it before they fill in the dirt.

Cy Kellett: Right.

Jimmy Akin: In any event, people naturally say, okay, how can we make this fancier with the course of time? And somebody got the idea, well, okay, I don’t want just a mastaba for my tomb. I want a smaller mastaba on top of the big mastaba.

Cy Kellett: Because two mastaba’s better than one. Yeah.

Jimmy Akin: It’s going to be fancier than everyone’s else’s tomb. And that got a competition going where the stylish thing to do was to start stacking mastabas on top of each other like [crosstalk 00:10:18]

Cy Kellett: I see what shape we’re heading towards.

Jimmy Akin: … like the layers of a wedding cake. And that, eventually, gave us pyramids. And pharaohs, of course, being at the top of the food chain in Egypt, they need the biggest burial structures of all. So they need their stack of mastabas to be really huge and impressive. And they didn’t always, at first… they’re experimenting how you do this. And, they didn’t always get it right.

Jimmy Akin: There’s one pyramid where they started building, and they wanted to put casing stones on it to make it smoother, so it’s not just a steppe pyramid like the wedding cake, they wanted it to be smoother. They built it at too steep an angle and it all slid off. There’s another one called the Bent Pyramid where they started building at one angle, but as they got high up, they realized it’s too steep and they had to change it to a shallower angle.

Cy Kellett: That’s the way I build things.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. So that’s why it’s called the Bent Pyramid. There’s another one they had to just abandon because it’s structurally unsafe on the inside. If you go in it today, you’re not allowed to unless you have special permission because it’s so dangerous. But you go into the burial chamber, and they’ve got big cedar logs from Lebanon holding the stones apart to keep it from collapsing.

Cy Kellett: No way I’d go in there. I don’t want permission. Okay.

Jimmy Akin: But, by the reign of… the time of a guy named Khufu, or Cheops, to use his Greek name, they got it right. So they started building on the Giza Plateau, which is right outside of Cairo, in fact, Cairo has actually grown around it. So it’s kind of fun, if you’re driving down the freeway in Cairo, you’re looking at all these more modern buildings, and then peeking up in the background, oh, there are the pyramids.

Cy Kellett: That’s some good construction.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. So, you had the Pharaoh Khufu build the Great Pyramid. And then, his successor built one that’s actually a little higher up, but it’s not quite as tall. And then, one of the grandsons also built another slightly smaller one there. And then, there are some ones that were built for queens, but those were all built in what’s called the Old Kingdom, around the fifth dynasty, if I remember correctly.

Cy Kellett: So that would be?

Jimmy Akin: This is more than 2000 B.C.

Cy Kellett: Oh. So they’ve been there for hundreds of years by the time Moses is there.

Jimmy Akin: Yes.

Cy Kellett: I think some movies might have gotten this wrong.

Jimmy Akin: They did, yeah. There are several different major periods in Egyptian history. The first is called the Old Kingdom because it’s the earliest. Then, their civilization kind of fell apart and they had what’s called the first intermediate period. Then they got it all back together, they restored all those old institutions that had worked for them, and they had the Middle Kingdom. Then it fell apart again and you had the second intermediate period. Then you have the New Kingdom.

Jimmy Akin: Well, we’re living in, by Moses’ time, in either the 18th or the 19th dynasty. So, the pyramids have been there for hundreds of years. So, they did not build the pyramids. The would have seen the pyramids. [crosstalk 00:13:32]

Cy Kellett: Okay. So Moses himself would have seen the pyramids?

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. And they would have looked more impressive than they do today because back then, they had white limestone casing stones on them. So they would have been smooth and white.

Cy Kellett: Wow.

Jimmy Akin: Unfortunately, those stones later got taken off, and if you want to see them today, they were what was used to build the mosques of Cairo.

Cy Kellett: So you can go read the graffiti, you can go read the inscriptions.

Jimmy Akin: Yeah. I’ve read a little bit of… I’ve trained myself to read a little bit of hieroglyphics. I can look at stuff.

Jimmy Akin: One of my favorite characters, my favorite hieroglyphs, is the evil bird. It’s a little, small bird they put at the end of things to indicate that this is evil or bad or worthless.

Cy Kellett: We need that. An angry bird. We need an angry bird for…

Cy Kellett: Jimmy Akin, senior apologist here at Catholic Answers is our guest for Focus this time and next, where we will continue our conversation by looking at the historical… or I should put a question mark. Historical? Person named that we now know as Moses. We’ll do that next time Catholic Answers Focus. Thanks so much for being with us.

Cy Kellett: If you like Focus, would you maybe make a comment wherever you get this podcast, whether it’s at iTunes or wherever else you get it? Or leave us a thumbs up or some kind of a positive comment and share it with other people. We’d really like Focus to grow and be shared with more people.

Cy Kellett: I’m Cy Kellett, your host. We’ll see you next time on Catholic Answers Focus.
Catholic Answers Focus - Helpers on High (Part 3)

Catholic Answers Focus - Helpers on High (Part 3)

May 29, 2019

Is it even appropriate to talk to the saints when we can just go straight to God? Karlo Broussard the author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming Obstacles to God, the Gospel, and the Church joins us with an answer as we end out three-part series.

Catholic Answers Focus - Helpers on High (Part 2)

Catholic Answers Focus - Helpers on High (Part 2)

May 22, 2019

Karlo Broussard the author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming Obstacles to God, the Gospel, and the Church joins us for part two of our conversation about the saints, this time answering the most common objections to the intercession of the saints.

Catholic Answers Focus - Helpers on High (Part 1)

Catholic Answers Focus - Helpers on High (Part 1)

May 15, 2019

Karlo Broussard is the author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming Obstacles to God, the Gospel, and the Church. He joins us for a three-part conversation about our friends in Heaven, the Saints, and why we should befriend them.

Catholic Answers Focus - The Status of the Society of St. Pius X (Part 2)

Catholic Answers Focus - The Status of the Society of St. Pius X (Part 2)

May 8, 2019

Jim Vogel, spokesman for the Society of St. Pius X in the United states, stopped by our offices, and we thought we’d like to hear, in their own words, what the Society sees as their current status. Our chaplain, Father Hugh Barbour, joined us in the studio for a conversation meant to tease out how the Society sees this moment, this pope, and the possibilities for regularization.

Catholic Answers Focus - The Status of the Society of St. Pius X (Part 1)

Catholic Answers Focus - The Status of the Society of St. Pius X (Part 1)

May 2, 2019

Jim Vogel, spokesman for the Society of St. Pius X in the United states, stopped by our offices, and we thought we’d like to hear, in their own words, what the Society sees as their current status. Our chaplain, Father Hugh Barbour, joined us in the studio for a conversation meant to tease out how the Society sees this moment, this pope, and the possibilities for regularization.

Catholic Answers Focus - Counterfeit Christs (Part 2)

Catholic Answers Focus - Counterfeit Christs (Part 2)

April 25, 2019

Trent Horn’s new book explores the many ways Christ is falsely presented. He discusses these “counterfeit Christs” and why the real Christ is so much better.

Catholic Answers Focus - Counterfeit Christs (Part 1)

Catholic Answers Focus - Counterfeit Christs (Part 1)

April 17, 2019

Trent Horn’s new book explores the many ways Christ is falsely presented. He discusses these “counterfeit Christs” and why the real Christ is so much better.

Catholic Answers Focus - God Wants You to Rest

Catholic Answers Focus - God Wants You to Rest

April 10, 2019

Cy Kellett:                           I imagine someone might say, well this is going to lead to a much less productive society in home, if I follow what Michael Naughton has to say about this.

Dr. Naughton:                   Right. So one of the things, when I talk to my students at St. Thomas and when I talk about leisure and the importance of leisure, there is this idea that, yeah, you know, that means we get to take time and smell the roses and take it easy and things of that sort. And that’s not the point, right. That’s not the point. It does mean that sometimes … actually one of the … what it does actually confront with my students, particularly it confronts them with how they spend their leisure.


Cy Kellett:                           Oh yes. Okay. Right.


Dr. Naughton:                   Listen, we are a leisure culture. I mean, we love to be entertained. We spend a lot of time playing video games. We spend a lot of time watching screens. We spent a lot of times, you know, college sports, pro Sports, whatever it might be. And the question is that that form of leisure, when it becomes overly done, right, it doesn’t mean that in and of itself it’s a problem, but it does mean that it doesn’t provide life. And so yes, it may mean that we may be working too much, but I actually think what it really means is how we look at our leisure. Because here’s the challenge, right. Ask people when you have free time, what do you default to? And most of the times they default to a screen. And they spend way too much time on it. So I think the leisure question is actually the question that will need kind of re-vision.


Cy Kellett:                           So in a weird way, you could be enslaved to your work, but you can also be enslaved to your leisure.


Dr. Naughton:                   Absolutely.


Cy Kellett:                           Okay. So what frees us from those things then? Is it prayer, is that what you’re-


Dr. Naughton:                   Right.


Cy Kellett:                           … leading us towards?


Dr. Naughton:                   So if you look at the question of leisure, we have a couple of different things that go along with it. One is we tend to see it as an amusement, right? There’s a great song by Billy Joel, The Piano Man. So “they know it’s been me they’ve been coming to see to forget about life for a while.” And so leisure is a form of escape. And so we escaped to Las Vegas, and we think that whatever happens in Vegas, will stay in Vegas. But we know whoever said that should be sued because it’s libel. The only thing that stays in Vegas is your money. Everything else comes right back with you, right? And that’s often … but that form of leisure, particularly how we often will look of living for the weekend also distorts our celebrations, right? So the commercialization of Christmas, the trivialization of Easter, the gluttony of St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras. All those things start to distort leisure. And here’s the thing, people don’t get satisfied by it.


Cy Kellett:                           No. Right. It’s a kind of treadmill or something where you got to get more and more for less and less return.


Dr. Naughton:                   I’ll often ask my students, I say, “How do you feel when you watch those? How do you feel when you play the video games? And how do you feel when you watch the Netflix movie [inaudible 00:12:16] did you have there? And you know what they often say, they’ll say guilt. There’s a sense that did not provide the rest. And I actually probably know that that’s probably what I shouldn’t have been doing. So people are actually dissatisfied with the leisure. And one of the things you have to do is … but they just kind of keep going with it because it’s a default system. They just default into it. Their friends are doing it, they start to do it. It’s just the way you’re doing it. And if you can just get them to kind of raise up a little bit and say, well wait, maybe I ought not to do that. And then the question is, it does become more … instead of the amusement question, it’s about the contemplative dimension. That there’s a question of contemplation that’s occurring. That there’s an ability to receive.


Dr. Naughton:                   And then the question is, well, what does contemplation look like? And I would say there is a couple of habits. One is the habit of silence, right? That they can have … by the way, on our campus, and I think this is true everywhere you go on all these campuses, and I often jokingly, although maybe not jokingly, I say, “Listen, I’ll bring back smoking on campus if I can get rid of earbuds on campus.”


Cy Kellett:                           More poisonous.


Dr. Naughton:                   Exactly.


Cy Kellett:                           Because the social life certainly.


Dr. Naughton:                   Exactly. First of all, they’re all isolated. They all got this music going into their heads, right? And it’s all this noise, and they know that it’s not satisfactory. So the question is how do they get the silence, the ability to stop all the tapes that they have going on in their heads to hear the things that they’re supposed to hear.


Dr. Naughton:                   And this is why Lectio Divina is so important. And it’s an attempt to stop what one’s doing, create that form of silence, and then to receive God’s word and to see that’s what I need to hear now. Because I don’t know about you, but I got all these tapes going on in my head, right. I’m the unappreciated genius at Saint Thomas. You know, if they would just listen to me, I would get it, right. I have debates-


Cy Kellett:                           I’m sure that that’s true.


Dr. Naughton:                   I’m sure it’s true, right? I often think that, too. I have all these debates with my colleagues. I win every debate by the way, right? But all of those things, as good as they may sound, create a false image of who I actually am.


Cy Kellett:                           Okay. Yes. Right. Right. And if I just stay in there, in that world, I’m not going to get the … whatever, the feedback or whatever the word is, that I need to know my true self.


Dr. Naughton:                   Right. And you know what Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will give you rest.” Because I can’t give myself rest. I just exhaust myself through all the tapes. And that’s why the reality of prayer becomes that particular form of leisure that is kind of a bedrock. And now that’s on a personal level. On a collective level, I would say the second form of habit of leisure is the habit of celebration or the habit of Sabbath or the habit of the Lord’s Day. That we have a one full day, right? It’s one of the big 10 Commandments. We’re called to this. And when we violate that commandment, serious problems begin to occur.


Dr. Naughton:                   And all you have to do is look at the other commandments. What if I said, “You know, honey, I tried adultery this week and it didn’t quite work, you know, and I kind of fell into it. I’m sorry about that, but I’ll try next week.” I mean, what would happen to one’s marriage? But we tend to do that with the Sabbath.


Cy Kellett:                           And that is destructive of which relationship then? With ourselves, with God, with each other?


Dr. Naughton:                   I think everything. I think it has created a … you know, Bishop Barron has this great line. He says, “When we create false worship, we create false social relationships.” And what the Sabbath and what the Lord’s Day was always attempting to do is try to get at this idea of right worship, right relationships on a weekly basis. And I think what we need to do is retrieve, reclaim the Lord’s Day and reconceive it in terms of the habits that we have on that day.


Dr. Naughton:                   I don’t know about you, but for years, my wife and I … I was a young professor. We had no money. I had a lot of debt. We had an old dilapidated house, and Sunday was the mop-up day. We had five young kids who are trying to deal with things and Sunday was a different kind of day, but it wasn’t a special kind of day. And it was actually in 1999, we said, we’ve got to think of this in a different way because things are not going well. Things weren’t going well in our relationship. Things weren’t going well with the kids. Things were just kind of over … just too frenetic and too chaotic. And we decided to take the day more seriously.


Dr. Naughton:                   And every year we’ve had to renew it, but we’ve developed a way of saying when I wake up, I don’t do work. It’s a day of receptivity. And we have a whole series of practices that we try to implement in that day to make it a special kind of day.


Cy Kellett:                           When you talk about prayer and contemplation as leisure, many people I think will hear that and think, “Is he doing the same thing I’m doing because it’s work,” and I wonder if that’s because any kind of interiority is a bit painful for us when we have not done it or when we have not been … It’s almost like becoming acclimatized to it. If it’s not part of anything you’ve done, and I think there’s lots of young people who have had … they can get to their adulthood with virtually no interior experience because it was never necessary. There was always something outside of them that they could treat as an input and they didn’t ever have to meet themselves.


Cy Kellett:                           So it strikes me that a lot of people will say that is not leisure, Dr. Naughton, that’s work.


Dr. Naughton:                   Right. It’s kind of like, if you think about it, the piano play. If I’m going to learn how to play the piano, it is kind of awkward. It is a lot of work at the beginning. And it is uncomfortable. And so, you’re right, there’s particularly … you mentioned, and I think you’re absolutely right about this, that in this country we are heavily focused on the idea of achieving things. And probably one of the most difficult habits we have to kind of realize is that I have to learn how to not just simply achieve, but to receive. And so that habit of receptivity is a habit that for some of us is going to be harder than others. But we have to realize that we’d just gotten into a very bad habit.


Cy Kellett:                           But we’ve kind of been moralled into it, like that you’re morally better. The more achieving you’re doing, the more moral life you’re living.


Dr. Naughton:                   Exactly. You know, Josef Pieper in this book, Leisure, the Basis of Culture, chapter three, he talks about the sin of leisure and it’s called acedia. And this is … you were talking about the Middle Ages. Aquinas calls acedia the sin against the Sabbath. And what’s interesting is the sin is not … acedia, by the way, is translated from the Latin into the English sloth, laziness. But what Aquinas recognized is that the laziness is not a physical laziness, it’s a spiritual laziness. And the symptom of acedia is workaholism. Because the workaholism gets … it distracts you and it enables you not to confront the spiritual reality that you have … the interiority that you mentioned.


Dr. Naughton:                   And so you’re exactly right. These are the kind of distractions. Again, but we now see acedia as physical laziness. You know, what do they say? The idle hands are the workshop of the devil. Get busy, right? Because if you have idleness, you’re going to fall into sin. And this is what Pieper says, this is the modern kind of corruption that’s occurred. We’ve actually reversed the sin. Because it’s not physical laziness, it’s spiritual laziness.


Cy Kellett:                           I wonder what the relationship in your mind then is to leisure properly spent and maturity. Because the other consequence, it seems to me, of this lack of interiority, this constant input, is an immaturity. We don’t seem to be growing up as … like adulthood is delayed later and later. Marriage and family delayed, if embraced at all. Is there something stunting about this inability to be at ease and receive and be receptive?


Dr. Naughton:                   No, I think you’re right. Again, it’s kind of an amusement culture that we’re dealing with. There is a sense that people, like any have … I mean, I smoked for 20 years and, and I knew that smoking was not a good thing. I didn’t want to give it up, right? Like all our fixations, and there is, within the culture, these types of habits of amusements that people think that they just can’t quite give up. And thus they’re not ready to take full responsibilities of particular things. And thus the guys still want to hang out with the guys, you know, and they may live with the girl, but they don’t want to get married because they don’t want children, they don’t want to … because somehow, you know, but what happens is they’re living in a culture that’s fostering it.


Dr. Naughton:                   We lived in a culture that was actually encouraging us to be men, to get married, to take responsibilities. But I think we’re now increasingly living in a culture that’s just the opposite. And thus we increasingly find people disconnected from institution, disconnected from the church, disconnected from the family, and even disconnected to work institutions. They disconnect-


Cy Kellett:                           [crosstalk 00:22:41] economy kind of thing?


Dr. Naughton:                   Well, some of that, but it’s also, it’s a thin relationship they have. They’re not committed to those organizations. And they’re always looking for something else to go to if something’s better and they’re ready to opt out and ready to go to that area. So I do think you’re right. There’s a sense that leisure is to foster a greater interiority, a greater sense of who I am. And what I am is, of course, that first of all, I’m a first of all, a child of God. I’ve been created for something. I’ve been created for a work. I’ve been created for a purpose. And part of that is found within the purpose of the family, if that’s where I’m called in terms of the lay life. It could be in a religious life or priestly life. And then, but I’m also called to a work, And that is also something that needs to be done as well. But leisure is that which fosters those things and that deep sense of one’s vocation.


Cy Kellett:                           The book, you said about a month it would be out?


Dr. Naughton:                   About that, yeah.


Cy Kellett:                           Getting Work Right: Labor and Leisure in a Fragmented World from Dr. Michael Naughton. That would be the first thing to do to start getting work right. So someone says to you, look, you’re describing me, this is my life. I am addicted to the screens and the ear buds, and I have tons of leisure, but I feel I’m guilty cause I’m wasting my time. What are the first steps you suggest to people in a practical sense?


Dr. Naughton:                   Right. You know, everyone obviously is a little different in these types of things. It will depend, but I would say I have found the reclaiming of the Lord’s Day very powerful in my life. I think sometimes you have to start with the commandments, and if you want to say-


Cy Kellett:                           Sometimes?


Dr. Naughton:                   Yeah, right. You know, if I am cheating on my wife and I want to have a better relationship with my life and my wife, I’ve got to stop the cheating. And I would say reclaim that Lord’s Day. And I think in part that’s where you can find the silence. I mean that’s when, by the way, I love this phrase, right? Become a techno Sabbatarian.


Cy Kellett:                           Oh, take a break from all that.


Dr. Naughton:                   Take a break from the technology. And I think for a lot of folks … and here’s the thing, try it for an hour. And if you can’t do it for an hour, it owns you and you don’t own it. And you got a problem. But if you recognize the problem, you’re just one step closer to where you need to go. And that day is a day that I think has a way of having an impact on the rest of the week. So my one thesis in the book is if we don’t get leisure right, we won’t get work, right? If we don’t get Sunday right, we’re not going to get Monday right.


Cy Kellett:                           All right.


Dr. Naughton:                   And Sunday is the first … we can think about it in one sense as the first day of the week, but it’s also the eighth day. It’s the kind of internal day, but it’s a way of … instead of seeing Sunday as the last day of the week, the mop-up day, see it as the day that actually helps us to move into the rest of the week. And I think the idea of disconnecting … because the Jews … you know there’s a wonderful conservative Jewish rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, wrote a book called The Sabbath. It’s a beautiful book. And he says the Jews would be detached from consumption and production not because they were bad, but they did not define the core of who I was.



Catholic Answers Focus - The Divine Mercy (Part 2)

Catholic Answers Focus - The Divine Mercy (Part 2)

April 3, 2019

Fr. Hugh Barbour and Cy continue their discussion on the Divine Mercy.