Common Ancestry: A Question


Okey-dokey, guys… Here’s my question.

I was reading in my science textbook about Archaebacteria, which are supposed to have evolved 2 billion years or so ago… (I don’t know, I’d have to look.) I was wondering, does the Church object to the proposition that we share very, very primitive links with other animal lifeforms? Going back to the bacterial stages of existence, even?

I ask because I’d like to know, especially after reading the Holy Father saying:

“Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism…”

What does this imply? What’s more, as what he’s saying is a very good point in my mind, what does this have about our First Parents? How did they develop at all (as evolution, which the Pope seems to accept by-and-large, would imply) if polygenism is, as of now, still a rejected hypothesis?

If you don’t know the Church’s position–are not 100 percent sure, in a word–then please don’t reply. The same goes even more so if you don’t think you can control your biases.

I’m curious. Evolution fascinates me. Churchgoers confuse me.



The Church teaches we must believe we all descended from Adam and Eve, because that is the teaching the apostles learned from Jesus and handed down through the Church.

The Church teaches we can believe in a God-directed evolution, that happened in a few seconds or in thousands of years.

The Church teaches we cannot believe in an evolution of blind chance that occurs totally without God.

I think the Church teaches that God could set things up so that, with the understanding that God keeps all things in existence, evolution could flow by chance from what He created in the beginning and from the laws of nature He established in the beginning. Then God would have had to infuse a human soul into Adam and Eve as the first humans .

That is what I used to believe. But the more I study and learn, the more I agree with others. Evolution from chance is a fairy tale for adults who want to try to explain the universe without God. There is really no basis in genetics or physics behind it. The only reason such a foolish thing is pushed is because it is the only way for those who reject God to explain the universe.

Those who push this evolution from pure chance seem very similar to me to those Muslims who think by yelling and shouting and by using force whether by rhetoric, legal, political or ad-hominem attacks, they can make some belief be true. It turns me off totally. The more they simply assert, “evolution is a fact” without any reasonable way to explain the numerous difficulties in the theory the more I reject it.

What the Pope accepts is or believes is NOT Church teaching. All Popes believe all kinds of errors. It is only when they teach for the whole Church, in their many, many encyclicals, or talks, that they are infallible or when they authorize teachings such as in the Catechism or Vatican I and Vatican II that the teachings are infallible.

I think Pope JPII believed in a God-directed evolution from a common ancestor, as does Michael Behe,  who believes in Intelligent Design.  

Michael Behe, who introduced irreducable complexity, certainly does not believe in an evolution by chance, in which God set up laws so that life just naturally evolved. All the genetics and structure of living things is totally against that theory. He believes in an active God directed evolution from a common ancestor.

Pope JP II may believe in an evolution by chance in which God set up things and laws so that life naturally evolved by chance. I don’t think he was ever clear on this. But again, his personal beliefs on this would only be personal beliefs. Science seems to indicate intelligent design everywhere.

I don’t even necessarily believe in a common ancestor. There is no reason that God had to start with simply life and from that develop more complex life, simply because all life has common molecular structures.

There is no reason that, with the understanding that much of Genesis is symbolic, that God could not have created life just as described in Genesis. And the Church does teach that scripture is to be taken literally unless there is a good reason not to do so.


[sign] " … When men of science learn all that there is to know about science, they will find themselves looking into the Eye of God … " [/sign]


I’ve never come across this statement. (Have subscribed to L’Osservatore for years and read it pretty thoroughly, but not 100%; obviously, since I missed that statement. :slight_smile: .) Which pope said it, and could you give any kind of reference that might help me track down the whole speech/or article?




Oops! It was a statement made by the International Theological Commission in 2004 and* endorsed* by Pope Benedict XVI.



Must have signed it as Cardinal Ratzinger since he wasn’t elected pope until April 2005 :wink: . Do you happen to have a link to the Commission’s statement?



Never mind about the link. Just did a google search and found it. Will sit down and read it now.

Sorry for the confusion - but what can you expect, I’m a Churchgoer!

Happy Advent


It’s not as though Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) made the statement. He did however give his consent to its publication. Below is the footnote to the document as it appeared on the website:

** Preliminary Note

The theme of “man created in the image of God” was submitted for study to the International Theological Commission.** The preparation of this study was entrusted to a subcommission whose members included: **Very Rev. J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Most Reverend Jean-Louis Bruguès, Msgr. Anton Strukelj, Rev. Tanios Bou Mansour, O.L.M., Rev. Adolpe Gesché, Most Reverend Willem Jacobus Eijk, Rev. Fadel Sidarouss, S.J., and Rev. Shun ichi Takayanagi, S.J.

As the text developed, it was discussed at numerous meetings of the subcommission and several plenary sessions of the International Theological Commission held at Rome during the period 2000-2002. The present text was approved in forma specifica, by the written ballots of the International Theological Commission. It was then submitted to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the President of the Commission, who has given his permission for its publication.*

By the way, it’s possible to give permission to print something even tho one’s own opinions may differ.



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