Evolution & the catholic church


#1

I want to get some discussion going on the Church and how they view evolution. As you probably know, the Church(through at least two popes) has said that Catholics can believe in the biological aspect of evolution, as long as God the Creator is involved in the general process(i.e., infusion of the soul into the first man). However, if Genesis says that out of clay Adam was created by God, then how do we answer our Protestant(especially Fundamentalist) brothers on biological organisms evolving?

They claim that it was just as Genesis said it was. To them, this would preclude any biological evolution whatsoever as far as the first man is concerned. So, please give me and the rest of our readers some scholarly input on this sticky issue.

Thank you, and I will be waiting for the discussion to open up.

Art Granville
Hemet, CA


#2

My view has always been that God knew that the early readers of Genesis were not scientists. He gave us the first book of the bible to teach us some truths not give us a history or scientific lesson.

Maybe I am wrong about this, but doesn’t the order of biblical creation roughly corrrespond with the steps of creation? for example, don’t scientist believe that animals evolved in water first and then came onto dry land? In Gensis, this is what happened. In my bible it says that God said"Let the eath bring forth". Evolution is exactly the earth bringing forth. I don’t see why the evolution of animals would be anti Christian, at all.


#3

Hello, Art.

I would tell them that if their faith depends on it, then believe that Genesis is literally the way man was created.

Peace

Tim


#4

I would tell them that the Word contains much more truth than meets the eye on the surface. Even though the Bible is not written as a science textbook it nevertheless contains historical, theological and scientific truths.


#5

[quote=Orogeny]Hello, Art.

I would tell them that if their faith depends on it, then believe that Genesis is literally the way man was created.

Peace

Tim
[/quote]

This works best in my mind. The Church definitely does not deny the literalness of the Creation account.

My problem is that I can never get over no death before the Fall.
If there was no death before the Fall, how could evolution take place? Maybe I’m just dense…

Blessings
Richard


#6

[quote=algran]I want to get some discussion going on the Church and how they view evolution. As you probably know, the Church(through at least two popes) has said that Catholics can believe in the biological aspect of evolution, as long as God the Creator is involved in the general process(i.e., infusion of the soul into the first man). However, if Genesis says that out of clay Adam was created by God, then how do we answer our Protestant(especially Fundamentalist) brothers on biological organisms evolving?

They claim that it was just as Genesis said it was. To them, this would preclude any biological evolution whatsoever as far as the first man is concerned. So, please give me and the rest of our readers some scholarly input on this sticky issue.

Thank you, and I will be waiting for the discussion to open up.

Hi All
How can the Pope say that it’s ok to believe in something that is opposite of what the scriptures teach. Scripture clearly says that God created man. The Pope’s you are talking about are wrong, and this should not be taught.
Thanks
[/quote]


#7

" 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. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution."
Then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XIV

So this is what we have for the views of the Church. As Pope John Paul II said, there is no contradiction for a Catholic to accept evolution, so long as he does not assume that the soul is a “mere epiphenomenon” of the body.


#8

[quote=The Barbarian]" 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. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution."
Then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XIV

So this is what we have for the views of the Church. As Pope John Paul II said, there is no contradiction for a Catholic to accept evolution, so long as he does not assume that the soul is a “mere epiphenomenon” of the body.
[/quote]

Why is anyone surprised that living creatures share the same building blocks and are genetically related? This by itself does not prove descent.


#9

[quote=The Barbarian]" 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. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution."
Then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XIV

So this is what we have for the views of the Church. As Pope John Paul II said, there is no contradiction for a Catholic to accept evolution, so long as he does not assume that the soul is a “mere epiphenomenon” of the body.
[/quote]

Why is anyone surprised that living creatures share the same building blocks and are genetically related? This by itself does not prove descent.


#10

Keep in mind that “evolution” isn’t just dealing with first creation, but with ongoing alterations that are happening even today of creatures adapting to their environments. Also, there is macro-evolution and micro-evolution, and I don’t recall there being a definative statement saying which one they were talking about, or that ALL aspects of this scientific THEORY were fine.

Also, it is not contradictory to scripture to say that evolution was part of the creation process. Scripture says God created man, (and everything else) but it doesn’t contain scientific instructions on the process he used to do it. So we are free to speculate if He used aspects of what we call evolution as part of that creative process. We are not as Catholics bound to believe either in strict literal interpretation or in any speculated theories.


#11

[quote=NonDenom]Hi All
How can the Pope say that it’s ok to believe in something that is opposite of what the scriptures teach. Scripture clearly says that God created man. The Pope’s you are talking about are wrong, and this should not be taught.
Thanks
[/quote]

NonDenom,
There is no contradiction. The Bible is not a science text. Evolution does not preclude the Truth that "God created everything from nothing."
If “Scripture clearly says,” that God created man, did He create man last, as in Genesis 1, or first, as in Genesis 2?
Also, evolution in no way contradicts Scripture. Evolution, folowing the physical laws of God, with man as its end, would have taken place in the order of Genesis 1, over a just somewhat longer time period.
Catholics have always been free to believe in either direct creation or evolution, with God breathing a soul into the first true man who "evolved."
As the pope says, biochemical evidence as well as geological and other physical evidence support an evolutionary development of man.
I’m a biologist and a Catholic and have always believed that God set us a wonderful mystery, not only as to the origin of the universe, but our own origins as well.
As a side note, “directed evolution,” as I understand it, is not a counter-theory to Darwin. Neither is satisfactory, as Darwin has too many holes and the total dependence on randomness does not give enough time for develoment of higher animals.
Directed evolution is just creationism dressed up in fancy clothes.


#12

Hello Algran,

Do you confine our spiritual, all Powerful, God to the physical time which He created? Time is the measure of change between matter, energy and empty space. Time has no constraints on our Omni-Present to the whole of physical time, spiritual God.

If God wills to destroy Sodom and Gomorah with meteorites then meteorites will have been heading toward Sodom and Gomorah for tens of thousands of years. If God has meteorites heading toward Nineveh for tens of thousands of years to destroy them for their wickedness, but they repent and God decides not to destroy Nineveh, now there have never been meteorites heading toward Nineveh for tens of thousands of years. God is this powerful! The past of time has no power over our all powerful, Omni-Present to the whole of physical time God.

The creation of a free from the will of God being with the capacity to choose to love God is what God desires out of creation. When all past and future physical time obey Your Command, You do not have to sit around for hundreds of octillions of years waiting to bring Your free willed creation into existance.

From God’s focus point of love for God capable free willed Adam, infinite past of physical time and infinite furture of physical time came into existance. Infinite physical past and infinite physical future flow out from God’s focus point of free from the will of God, love for God capable Adam.

If evelution flows out from the creation of Adam into the past then so be it. The first free willed being God named man. If homosepian beings, with no free will, flow out into the physical past from the creation of Adam, by the All Powerful Hand of our spiritual God, then so be it.

Our world with tens of billions of years, if not infinite years, of physical past was created into existance thousands of years ago. Before creation there was nothing; no matter, no energy, no empty space. From nothing, God created into existance a universe with infinite physical past and infinite physical future through the creation of empty space, matter and energy, which even science will tell you they cannot imagine a “time” when these things did not exist.

Please visit Jesus Loves God and Creation


#13

[quote=Strider]NonDenom,
There is no contradiction. The Bible is not a science text. Evolution does not preclude the Truth that "God created everything from nothing."
If “Scripture clearly says,” that God created man, did He create man last, as in Genesis 1, or first, as in Genesis 2?
Also, evolution in no way contradicts Scripture. Evolution, folowing the physical laws of God, with man as its end, would have taken place in the order of Genesis 1, over a just somewhat longer time period.
Catholics have always been free to believe in either direct creation or evolution, with God breathing a soul into the first true man who "evolved."
As the pope says, biochemical evidence as well as geological and other physical evidence support an evolutionary development of man.
I’m a biologist and a Catholic and have always believed that God set us a wonderful mystery, not only as to the origin of the universe, but our own origins as well.
As a side note, “directed evolution,” as I understand it, is not a counter-theory to Darwin. Neither is satisfactory, as Darwin has too many holes and the total dependence on randomness does not give enough time for develoment of higher animals.
Directed evolution is just creationism dressed up in fancy clothes.
[/quote]

But how do we explain the fact that according to Scripture death comes only after the Fall?

Wouldn’t death have to be introduced before the Fall in order to make the evolution that allegedly led to Man possible?

We certainly cannot do away with the Fall. No Fall, no Sin.

It also occurs to me that your response relies on a false choice;
“did He create man last, as in Genesis 1, or first, as in Genesis 2?” this seems to pose a no-win choice to the believer. Either Genesis 1 is correct and Genesis 2 is incorrect or the opposite choice is true - in either circumstance - a portion of Holy Scripture must be wrong.

Why can’t these verses be harmonized? In fact they can.

Keil and Delitsch sum it up like this:

The consecutive arrangement (in Gen. 2:19) may be explained on the supposition that the writer, who was about to describe the relation of man to the beast, went back to the creation, in the simple method of the early Semitic historian, and placed this first instead of making it subordinate; so that our modern style of expressing the same would be “God brought to Adam the beast which He had formed.”

A striking example of this style of narrative is in 1 Kings 7:13. The building and completion of the temple we noticed several times in chapter 6, and the last time in connection with the year and month, chapter 6:9,14,37,38. After that, the fact is stated that the royal palace was 13 years in building; and then it is related that Solomon fetched Hiram from Tyre, to make 2 pillars. If we are to understand the (WAW/VAV) consecutive here, Solomon would be made to send for the artist 13 years after the temple was finished. It only expresses the thought, "Hiram, whom Solomon fetched from Tyre. -Also note Judges 2:6. "

They go on to make the point that Gen 2:19 was written purposedly to emphasize the dominion of Man over the rest of the Created order.

Blessings
Richard


#14

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]But how do we explain the fact that according to Scripture death comes only after the Fall?

Wouldn’t death have to be introduced before the Fall in order to make the evolution that allegedly led to Man possible?

We certainly cannot do away with the Fall. No Fall, no Sin.

It also occurs to me that your response relies on a false choice;
“did He create man last, as in Genesis 1, or first, as in Genesis 2?” this seems to pose a no-win choice to the believer. Either Genesis 1 is correct and Genesis 2 is incorrect or the opposite choice is true - in either circumstance - a portion of Holy Scripture must be wrong.

Why can’t these verses be harmonized? In fact they can.

Keil and Delitsch sum it up like this:

The consecutive arrangement (in Gen. 2:19) may be explained on the supposition that the writer, who was about to describe the relation of man to the beast, went back to the creation, in the simple method of the early Semitic historian, and placed this first instead of making it subordinate; so that our modern style of expressing the same would be “God brought to Adam the beast which He had formed.”

A striking example of this style of narrative is in 1 Kings 7:13. The building and completion of the temple we noticed several times in chapter 6, and the last time in connection with the year and month, chapter 6:9,14,37,38. After that, the fact is stated that the royal palace was 13 years in building; and then it is related that Solomon fetched Hiram from Tyre, to make 2 pillars. If we are to understand the (WAW/VAV) consecutive here, Solomon would be made to send for the artist 13 years after the temple was finished. It only expresses the thought, "Hiram, whom Solomon fetched from Tyre. -Also note Judges 2:6. "

They go on to make the point that Gen 2:19 was written purposedly to emphasize the dominion of Man over the rest of the Created order.

Blessings
Richard
[/quote]

Well then we must have got it wrong all these years -

DID WOMAN EVOLVE FROM THE BEASTS?
A DEFENSE OF TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC DOCTRINE

Why Human Evolution Can Never Become
Part of the Deposit of Faith


#15

[quote=buffalo]Well then we must have got it wrong all these years -

DID WOMAN EVOLVE FROM THE BEASTS?
A DEFENSE OF TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC DOCTRINE

Why Human Evolution Can Never Become
Part of the Deposit of Faith

[/quote]

Am I missing something?

These articles seem to be making the point that Evolution is antithetical and contradictory to Scripture, I’m in agreement with that.

If I phrased things unclearly - I apologize.

Blessings
Richard


#16

Hi All
How can the Pope say that it’s ok to believe in something that is opposite of what the scriptures teach. Scripture clearly says that God created man. The Pope’s you are talking about are wrong, and this should not be taught.

The Pope did not say it is ok to believe in something that is the opposite of what the Holy Scriptures contain.

You need to understand that Catholics read Holy Scripture - both the OT and the NT - differently than a fundamentalist Christian. We read it in a literal sense, and not as in a literalist sense. What is the difference, you may ask? Well, if I say to you that yesterday in Modesto, California it was “Hotter than the Hinges of Hell” outside, and you think I know the exact temperature of the hinges holding the gates of Hell, then you are listening to me as a LITERALIST. If, however, you hear what I say and you conclude that yesterday it was incredibly warm in Modesto, then you have listenned to me with a literal sense of history, culture and language.

So, it is possible for us to believe in the inherent truth of Holy Scripture as well as entertain the possibility that there was an Evolutionary process which shaped the world. We understand, as Catholics, that there is NO clash between Holy Scripture and Truth - scientific or otherwise - because God is the author of ALL TRUTH (scientific, Biblical, historical, Sociological, etc.). The problem lies NOT in the apparent discrepancy between the Bible and Science. Instead, the problem is that we are unable to reconcile the two.

God is fine with it.:slight_smile:

I personally believe that there is enough evidence to show that God set the Universe in motion with a design in mind, and that at some point He took specific actions to get us to where we are today…I believe that God is the author of all Truth and that I am the one caught up in the mystery of understanding.

Does that make sense?


#17

As far as death is concerned, since the souls of Adam and Eve were creted in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26), and animating soul of plants and animals had always been subject to death, there is no contradiction. In their perfected, pre-fall state, Adam and Eve would not have died.
I, myself, have no trouble integrating Genesis 1 and 2 as literary styles, but my question was to a non-Catholic and directed to his prior post.
I do not argue for Darwinism which includes absolute randomness nor do I argue for intelligent design, which, as I posted above, is just fancy creationism.
I argue for evoloution (slow change over time), but with man as the intended end product. I believe God designed the physical laws that keep the cosmos in existence and organized and I believe he used those same laws to “create” us, but in such a manner that, if one chose, he could postulate the system Darwin did.
This is not the deism of the “watchmaker,” variety. No, God has counted every hair on each man’s head, but, as I wrote above, he set us a marvelous mystery, just one among many.
I do not believe in direct creationism, but the Church says you are free to do so.


#18

[quote=Strider]As far as death is concerned, since the souls of Adam and Eve were creted in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26), and animating soul of plants and animals had always been subject to death, there is no contradiction. In their perfected, pre-fall state, Adam and Eve would not have died.
I, myself, have no trouble integrating Genesis 1 and 2 as literary styles, but my question was to a non-Catholic and directed to his prior post.
I do not argue for Darwinism which includes absolute randomness nor do I argue for intelligent design, which, as I posted above, is just fancy creationism.
I argue for evoloution (slow change over time), but with man as the intended end product. I believe God designed the physical laws that keep the cosmos in existence and organized and I believe he used those same laws to “create” us, but in such a manner that, if one chose, he could postulate the system Darwin did.
This is not the deism of the “watchmaker,” variety. No, God has counted every hair on each man’s head, but, as I wrote above, he set us a marvelous mystery, just one among many.
I do not believe in direct creationism, but the Church says you are free to do so.
[/quote]

The argument always comes down to evolution or not.

Another option: God could have just inserted man in the timeline wherever He wanted, regardless of any natural processes taking place at the time.


#19

Richard << Am I missing something? These articles seem to be making the point that Evolution is antithetical and contradictory to Scripture, I’m in agreement with that. If I phrased things unclearly - I apologize. >>

Yeah you’re missing the tiny fact that the Popes from Pius XII to Benedict XVI don’t have a problem with evolution and Scripture.

International Theological Commission statement July 2004

Ratzinger (Benedict) on Genesis 1-3

Adam, Eve, and the Hominid Fossil Record

The death before sin objection is a minor theological problem. I’d like to see a Church document (or a biblical verse) produced that actually defines the idea that no cockroach, no plant, or no cell could or did die before Adam/Eve. I don’t think the Church (or the Bible) ever gets that specific.

If God created the carnivores (the meat eaters), he created them as carnivores. The “lions roar for their prey” (Psalm 22:13; 104:21; etc) and have always done so. Otherwise you’ll have the opinion that T-Rex was originally created as a plant eater and Adam/Eve had a pet Brontosaurus in their backyard like the Flintstones.

Phil P


#20

From Buffalo’s article:

Additional Theological Reasons

Moreover, as shown below, the literal and historical meaning of the passages in Genesis, Chapter 2, concerning the special creation of our first parents, are upheld (a) in Sacred Scripture itself, (b) in the opinions commonly expressed by the Holy Fathers, and © in the Magisterium teachings of Popes Pius IX, Leo XIII and Pius X. It is therefore further submitted that for each and every one of these reasons human evolution must be rejected by all Catholics. These will now be elaborated.

versus

Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

"The doctrine of evolution based on the theistic conception of the world, which traces matter and life to God’s causality and assumes that organic being, developed from originally created seed-powers (St. Augustine) or from stem-forms (doctrine of descent), according to God’s plan, is compatible with the doctrine of Revelation. However, as regards man, a special creation by God is demanded, which must extend at least to the spiritual soul [creatio hominis peculiaris Denz 2123]. Individual Fathers, especially St. Augustine, accepted a certain development of living creatures…

“The question of the descent of the human body from the animal kingdom first appeared under the influence of the modern theory of evolution. The Biblical text does not exclude this theory. Just as in the account of the creation of the world, one can, in the account of the creation of man, distinguish between the per se inspired religious truth that man, both body and soul, was created by God, and the per accidens inspired, stark anthropomorphistic representation of the mode and manner of the Creation. While the fact of the creation of man by God in the literal sense must be closely adhered to, in the question as to the mode and manner of the formation of the human body, an interpretation which diverges from the strict literal sense, is, on weighty grounds, permissible.” (Ott, pages 93-94, 95)

At least the following points, among others, are accepted by Ludwig Ott. If anyone is familiar with the dogmatic sources he is, and he sees no necessary conflicts between modern science and Catholic dogma:

– the creation of the world and the biblical hexahemeron (the “six days” of creation) of Genesis need not be taken literally or scientifically

– the Fathers who spoke on the “six days” were acting as private scientists, not passing on infallible dogmas on faith and morals

– both the Fathers and the Bible authors wrote in a pre-scientific age and need not be taken literally when speaking on science matters

– theistic evolution as guided by God is not opposed to the biblical text nor Catholic faith

– the creation of man can be seen in a symbolical or non-literal sense concerning the mode and manner of the formation of the human body

– reason (science) and faith (doctrine) cannot conflict since God is the source of both

I’ll go with Ludwig Ott (and Pius XII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, etc).

Phil P


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.