Hey, I’m wondering if anyone knows a good place to discuss evolution from a Catholic viewpoint. (Or a good book on the theological side of it.) I’m asking beacuase what interests me is getting to the theological side of seeing which parts of evolution/ ideas I’m having fit the Catholic view beyond basic polygenism vs. monogenism. (Ideas like if A&E could’ve been pre-homo sapiens, whether or not Neanderthals had souls, ect.) While CAF may have some interesting contributors, it feels like any discussion about such topics would get sidetracked to debating whether evolution happened, hence why I’m trying to see if there’s a good place where the basic premise is accepted and discussions go into to discussing within an evolutionary viewpoint.
You would probably benefit from
Chance or Purpose?: Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith
Nov 23, 2016
by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn
A more Tradition-minded forum (I won’t name them here, because I don’t want to start a futile debate with those inimical to that mindset) would be a good place to have such discussions.
For resources, the Kolbe Center presents things from a young earth creationist, Catholic perspective:
Currently, there are two separate areas of evolution. There is the general biological material world evolution and there is the Science of Human Evolution which is what you are looking at. Both are based on the Evolution Model per se.
The Catholic theological position is that God is the Creator, period.
Respecting the difference between the material world of decomposing physical anatomies and the spiritual world of God, Genesis 1: 27, we find that the Catholic Church does not have specific science doctrines regarding the material processes within solely material living organisms. We are peerless.
The Catholic theological difficulty with the evolution model is not necessarily the existence of evolution. The difficulty comes when the Science of Human Evolution intersects with Divine Revelation. It is precisely the basic evolution premise (species evolve from large populations) that Catholic theology (two founders of humankind) denies.
In my opinion, Pope Pius XII laid out the most reasonable guideless for dealing with the Science of Human Evolution. He did this in 1950 with his encyclical *Humani Generis. A quick scan will lead you to the pertinent paragraphs. * w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis.html
The key to Catholic theological discussion is a sound understanding of the truths in the first three amazing chapters of Genesis.
“It is precisely the basic evolution premise (species evolve from large populations) that Catholic theology (two founders of humankind) denies.”
That incompatibility would be the case if evolution of the human species from a large population were incompatible with the Catholic doctrine of two founders of true humankind (Adam and Eve). Many Catholics think those are compatible rather than incompatible, according to official Catholic doctrine (not just their personal opinions). See
for more information.
As far as places to discuss where one can avoid the distractions mentioned by the OP, see
Note: that post was made when I mistakenly thought the topic was still banned on CAF. Despite the ban being lifted, apparently, I agree with the OP that other fora might be useful in addition to CAF.
(Ideas like if A&E could’ve been pre-homo sapiens, whether or not Neanderthals had souls, ect.)
The first thing is to completely explore “Homo” as used in the Science of Human Evolution. humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-family-tree
This website is one of the best.
This particular link is one I often refer to.
Once the original speciation event is recognized, then it is obvious that the evolution model contradicts Catholic theology. Adam and Eve could not have been pre-homo sapiens.
However, the decomposing anatomy of Adam and Eve belongs to the material world of science.
Humani Generis 36. “For these reasons 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, on the part of men experienced in both fields, 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 - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.”
Address by St. John Paul II newadvent.org/library/docs_jp02tc.htm
“Pius XII stressed this essential point: If the human body take its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God (“animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides nos retinere iubei”; “Humani Generis,” 36). Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person.”
Reading the above quotes carefully, we find that we cannot reconcile the evolution model with Catholic theology.
Whether or not Neanderthals had souls is a different ballgame. Given the length of female fertility, Eve and Adam could produce eventual populations which, over time, genetically would react to various geographic locations. Survival of the species results in various genetic distinctions. The key to the Neanderthal discussion would be clear definitive evidence that Neanderthals had rational spiritual souls. Genesis 1: 27.
The fact of evolution, and I do consider that evolution in many ways is a fact of nature, – is that it could lead us to an amazing Divine Creator. I am not referring to a god of the gaps.
The Homo/Pan split leads to humans as the end product. We may be the final earthly product on a cladistic diagram. Still, more important, we are the first in God’s love.
We as Catholics cannot admit the emergence of ensouled persons as an epiphenomenon of otherwise natural evolution. However, we can view the emergence of physiological humans (absent the gift of a soul or truly rational capabilities) as possible, and from this population of physiological humans, God chose to “breathe” a soul into our parents. Perhaps they were then separated from the rest, but after the fall, would have been physiologically capable of reproduction with them (Abel, Cain, Seth, etc…, and it should be noted that in a very primitive society the gap would have been less. The children of a union between a true human and a physiological human would produce a true human). All truly humans, then, with rational souls, would still be descended from our first parents, would still inherit the consequences of the fall from Adam and Eve. No rational person could be outside of that lineage.
But backing off from that, seeing evolution in strictly material terms as accounting for everything about our humanity would be incomplete. It cannot explain the soul or rational function as simply an emergent property, in Catholic doctrine.
Dr. Bonnette, among others, argues that Adam and Eve - the first true humans - may have preceded the biological species Homo sapiens and that descendants of Adam and Eve may have included not only Homo sapiens but also Homo neanderthalis and perhaps other species.
“I may propose a solution which I have published elsewhere. One must realize that, philosophically speaking, Denisovans and Neanderthals were in fact true human beings. Paleoanthropology offers evidence of intellectual activity on the part of both, and hence, that they were true human beings, since man is a rational animal and every rational animal is a true man. That granted (and it can be philosophically demonstrated in the science of philosophical psychology), sexual union between the descendants of Adam and Denisovans and/or Neanderthals is not interbreeding, but simple intrabreeding – normal relations between members of the same natural species. Yes, that implies that Adam lived before the split between modern human beings and Neanderthals, some six hundred thousand years ago. I deal with these matters in my book, Origin of the Human Species.”