The Holy Father & Evolution


This is a quote from the Holy Father’s new book:
When someone buys into evolution, says the Pope, “the ‘dragon’ really has won.”

In some of his writings and speeches, the Holy Father has stated his thoughts on evolution. He exclaims that Catholics can accept the theory of(for lack of a better word) Theistic evolution, e.g., God infused a soul into existing beings(Adam and Eve), and they became the first human beings.

My question is: Doesn’t the Holy Father’s statement(as in his book) on evolution contradict his and the Church’s opinion on evolution?

Please comment and advise. Thanks.


What is the title of the book and which Pope?


I haven’t read the book. The evolution of the body and of feelings and behaviour is as certain as any scientific theory can be. The evolution of the soul is a different matter. Some scientists would go so far as to say that there is no such thing as the soul, therefore it cannot have evolved.


Cite page number and book title. Thank you.:thumbsup:


Does the Pope refer to himself in the third person?


I haven’t seen the book but if your quote is accurate then, in context, the Holy Father must have meant atheistic evolution since, as you say, Catholics can accept a theory of theistic evolution.



Before discussing evolution, the term should be defined. Without definition, the term means only what the reader thinks it is. Use the definition of its orginators (Huxley and Darwin) and it takes on a more sinister note. Macroevolution is the focus issue for us as it denies God’s creation. Catholics may (but not recommended) consider Theistic evolution as indicated in Pius XII encyclical “Humani Generis.” A “Catholic” doctrine is not easily formed except in light of the several Biblical encyclicals that exists. Pope John Paul’s address to the Biblical Commission did not clarify any doctrine and was not expressing doctrine. Patrick


I think the guideline for Catholic theologians is that they are permitted to explore the possibility that some type of evolution is the means by which God formed our flesh. To teach that evolution is the means as a fact is not permitted.


I bought the book, on what page is this quote so I can read it in full?

I assume you mean “Jesus of Nazereth”?


The problem again is the practice of saying the word evolution without defining it; eg. in your quote, do you mean athestic macroevolution? I doubt it. This lack of presicion in words leads to misunderstandings about what Catholics believe. Patrick


Don’t forget that the events of creation of man are beyond the scope of man’s observation. God wants us to understand it just as he said (up to the point in Genesis where there are observers). Theologians or scientist have no way of examing the prior events. For teaching purposes, it is best to say what Genesis says and not try to create our own version. That is how Jesus, who was there, uses Genesis. Patrick


It does no such thing
As with all scientific work it is silent on Supernatural matters.

Technically speaking that micro/macro distintion is a false one. Either is happens or it doesn’t; you can’t be just a little bit evolved.

The Church has not expressed any doctrine on the matter, nor should She.

Would you expect her to make a doctrinal statement with regards to steel beam construction or computer memory?


That’s true for our spiritual creation
But there is quite a lot of observable data on physical creation

it is written on every molecule in your body


what do you mean?
From archeology to “CSI” on TV we have many tools for examining the past.

we do it all the time.

Jesus had a non-technical audience so He had to work with what they knew and understood.

To my mind the details of Creation were, frankly, not important to the fact of Creation.


Evolution is quite simply descent with modification.

As steveandersen mentioned above, you cannot separate small-scale and large-scale evolution. Also, evolution doesn’t have to be presented in a manner that is overly complicated (though the study of evolution can become extremely complex).

Basically it works like this: all living things on earth have a history, that has changed over time, and different species share a common ancestor.

From that point we can get into more specific branches of evolution such as speciation, mutation, genetic drit, migration, genetic variation, coevolution, natural selection, differential reproduction, gene frequency, gene flow, somatic mutations, morphology, adaptation, sexual selection…and about three dozen more separate conversations!

I think there are a few issues that trip people up about evolution.

  1. It is not necessarily progressive. That is a stipulation some people read into evolution (and a connotation of that word), but scientific evolution has nothing to do with qualifying terms like “better,” “improved,” “good.” Those are human judgements.

  2. Evolution is a scientific theory. People that say “it is only a theory” need to remember that there is a huge difference between a scientific theory and Jim Bob’s theory on UFO abduction or zombification.

A Scientific theory does not mean an unsubstantiated guess or hunch. A scientific theory is a logical, self-consistent model of observed data that is predictive and testable. The theory of evolution is often refined, tested, and debated by modern scientists, especially as more technologically advanced equipment has made more data available. Yet, the model remains and is well established as basic biological fact.

I’m glad the Church has no problem with Theistic Evolution. Why deny the obvious?


I would say that the “dragon” mentioned by the pope refers to the ape of evolution, the ape of evolution without God, that is.

I could go on and on, explaining myself, but all I have to say is that with God, anything is possible. Anything would include humans being made by God through his previous creation. :yup: People seem to think that evolution rules out God, when in actuality, it reaffirms Him and His existence in our lives.


Until I see the Pope’s teaching on evolution I am not inclined to comment. But, my understanding was as a strong admirer of Bonaventure Benedict sees the cosmos as a beautiful sign of divine wisdom at work. I think we can include evolutionary processes occuring over time into this framework (both biological and non-biological) as this seems consistent with the teaching of the Fathers and tradition as a whole. St Basil’s Hexameron on Genesis comes to mind here (where the order of the universe proceeds from the work of divine wisdom occuring over a period of time, though not rejecting scientific theories in all cases).


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