Catholic Evolution?

We have recently been going over evolution in my biology course. It got me thinking about what type of evolution can a Catholic adhere to? I’ve heard it said before that an evolving world makes God seem deistic–as if he just pushed the first domino and let things unfold by themselves.

I, however, like to picture our evolving world as something that makes God seem all the more powerful, involved, and intelligent. Think about it, what if an artist set up a series of fans in just the right direction, at just the right speed, in just the right place in order to roll some splattered colors across a canvas. Now imagine all those colors, just following the air movements, formed a beautiful picture. We would praise this artist. He would be inexplicably gifted.

Now imagine some being doing the same exact thing but on the grand scale of a universe and all the little critters that may inhabit it.

God did set up the initial conditions of the universe, yes. We know that he created the universe with a discernable order. So it is reasonable to assume He knew very well how evolution would unfold. At the same time, God is present in the world. He doesn’t just sit back and watch the dominos fall. That certainly would contradict Jesus appearing on the scene. It would go against the multitude of powerful conversions, including Paul.

what you are describing can be considered divine evolution

Hmm, I think a lot of skeptics like to think evolution shows that God is impersonal because it just makes him out to be the bang in the big bang, just the pusher of the first domino. And a god like that would be impersonal. But God set up the laws of nature, he instilled order into the universe. He knew exactly how to govern his creation through the workings of cause and effect.

A child sets up dominoes in a particular fashion so when they all fall they will be in the shape of a star. The child is the pusher of the first domino but he setup all the dominoes to achieve a certain end. The whole setup of the dominoes was intelligently ordered from the beginning.

Similarly, God pushes the first domino but he intelligently ordered all potential outcomes. He set up of the laws of nature. He knew every cause and effect and how things would end up because he made sure they would end up that way. Just like the child who knows how the dominoes will fall, he made sure they would fall that way.

Genesis 1:26 God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground.’

We didn’t evolve from animals.

The Church does not require us to accept that proposition.

Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul. Pope Pius XII declared that “the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36). So whether the human body was specially created or developed, we are required to hold as a matter of Catholic faith that the human soul is specially created; it did not evolve, and it is not inherited from our parents, as our bodies are.

While the Church permits belief in either special creation or developmental creation on certain questions, it in no circumstances permits belief in atheistic evolution.

The Catholic Church does not endorse or reject this position. The Church is simply not in the business of proposing scientific theories about how our bodies came about scientifically. The scriptures are certainly not a science textbook, and were never intended to be.
The Church accepts the biblical framework for God’s creation, including the fact that we are made in God’s image.
But the Catholic Church does not read scripture in a fundamentalist, literalist way.

The Catholic Church is open to any legitimate scientific inquiry. We do not make pronouncements on or endorse any specific science, but rather allow science it’s proper sphere of competence. The Church, despite popular (misinformed) opinion, is not at odds with evolutionary science.
What does become a problem is when scientists make a leap from it’s proper sphere to theology, for instance to say that the human soul somehow evolved from the material world (this can never be proved by science one way or the other).
Or to use science to disprove the existence of God.
The Church rejects that sort of overreaching science.


What? This thread hasn’t been closed yet? In that case, I’ll put in my two cents.

How great God is, who created a universe with matter and energy and forces and laws which not only make life possible, but inevitably lead to the generation of living things which can love their creator!

An evolving universe seems so beautiful to me; it’s much more complex and mysterious. It seems exactly like something a brilliant mind would think of. You are exactly right, life is in a constant state of journeying towards God.

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