What is the Church's teaching on evolution?

Hi all,

Does the Church take a stand on the creation vs. evolution controversy? Is there a common doctrine that is taught in all public schools? What does the Church require the faithful to believe regarding God’s creation of the universe and evolution?

Thanks for your help.

Gene C.

[quote=Gene C.]Hi all,

Does the Church take a stand on the creation vs. evolution controversy? Is there a common doctrine that is taught in all public schools? What does the Church require the faithful to believe regarding God’s creation of the universe and evolution?

Thanks for your help.

Gene C.
[/quote]

Churches have doctrines, not evoloution.

There are nine things that the Church requires us to believe about the creation account and the fall of man as recorded in Genesis. The following are paraphrased, because I am away from my reference at this time:

  1. God created all things visible and invisible out of nothing.
  2. The immediate creation of man’s soul. (Man’s soul does not evolve, for example.)
  3. Eve was created from Adam’s rib.
  4. All mankind is descended from Adam and Eve.
  5. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were immortal, and in the state of grace.
  6. The loss of the state of grace through the first sin at the suggestion of the devil.
  7. After the fall, Adam and Eve (and all their decendents) became mortal and lost the state of grace.
  8. (Sorry, I can’t remeber this one off hand. It may come to me later. It has something to do with the fall, but I’ll look it up when I get home.)
  9. The promise of a Redeemer.

Editorial.
Editorial from the FAITH Magazine Sept-October 2004

Evolution And The Doctrine Of Creation

faith.org.uk/Publications/CurrentMag/edSeOc04.htm

The theory of evolution is not an article of faith, of course. We may accept it or not, while still remaining good Catholics, a fact which creationists too often seem to forget. You do not need to be a ‘creationist’ in order to defend the truth that the world is created. In fact this position should more properly be called ‘special-creationism’, for what it really teaches is that every life form is made by a discrete act of special creation. This actually undermines the original Judeo-Christian insight that formed the seedbed of modern science in the first place. That insight was that creation has an integrity, consistency and potency of its own under God. Far from this detracting from God’s glory, it manifests more powerfully than ever the power and majesty of his creative Mind.

Evolution, rightly understood, confirms this truth and deploys it in a depth and detail that St. Basil and St. Augustine could barely have imagined, and which they would have greeted with delight. Of course we must answer the likes of Dawkins and the Darwinists. And we can do so now without retreating into a pre-scientific huddle. Those who reject the basic truth of evolution, apart from anything else, are missing a beautiful opportunity to present God again to the world through the majesty of his Logos: transcendent, perfect intellect which decrees all creation in one Law of Wisdom and providential Love that leads ultimately to communion with himself incarnate in Christ Jesus.

I don’t believe it is a matter of faith that we must accept that Eve was made from Adam’s rib, nor do we have to believe that Adam was made directly out of clay. I’m pretty sure those fall under the heading of “figurative language to describe a real truth” that the Catechism talks about concerning the Genesis accounts.

Ah ha, another evolution thread. I guess its been a couple days since the other ones finally disappeared from the front page. :smiley:

  1. Eve was created from Adam’s rib.
  2. All mankind is descended from Adam and Eve.
  3. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were immortal, and in the state of grace.

All three of these would be rather difficult to reconcile with the standard theory of evolution or common descent, if we take Adam/Eve as a literal historical couple. The bodily immortality of Adam/Eve I have no idea how to reconcile myself. Unless we are talking highly figurative language in Genesis 1-3 or that Adam/Eve were created in another universe entirely which was not effected by the billions of years of death and evolution which we know occured in this world (and did occur if you accept an ancient earth).

Former young-earther now theistic evolutionist Glenn Morton reconciles (5) by suggesting Adam/Eve never had bodily immortality since they would not be promised it in the Tree of Life if they already had it. Catholics don’t have that option of private interpretation unfortunately. Documentation of those points above from De Fide Catholic sources would be appreciated. They were probably presented in the past, but I’m too lazy to look them up. :stuck_out_tongue:

Phil P

[quote=Ecce Homo]There are nine things that the Church requires us to believe about the creation account and the fall of man as recorded in Genesis. The following are paraphrased, because I am away from my reference at this time:

  1. God created all things visible and invisible out of nothing.
  2. The immediate creation of man’s soul. (Man’s soul does not evolve, for example.)
  3. Eve was created from Adam’s rib.
  4. All mankind is descended from Adam and Eve.
  5. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were immortal, and in the state of grace.
  6. The loss of the state of grace through the first sin at the suggestion of the devil.
  7. After the fall, Adam and Eve (and all their decendents) became mortal and lost the state of grace.
  8. (Sorry, I can’t remeber this one off hand. It may come to me later. It has something to do with the fall, but I’ll look it up when I get home.)
  9. The promise of a Redeemer.
    [/quote]

1909 Biblical Commission Decree
Reinforced traditional Catholic doctrines on Creation.

 Creation by God at the beginning of time
 Special creation of Man; the formation of the first woman from the first man.
 The unity of the human race
 Their initial state of justice, integrity and immortality
 The testing of Adam and Eve by a positive precept
 Their temptation and sin under the influence of the Devil
 Their expulsion from Paradise
 The promise of a Redeemer.

Where is Evolution in Catholic Teaching?
by Anthony Nevard

Thank you, Matt16_18, for posting the correctly worded doctrines. These can be found in Sources of Catholic Dogma #2123 by Denzinger.

Thanks for the link. That puts my position into a eloquent read. I have and will continue to contend that I cannot see how evolution and Catholicism are compatible. Even Christian evolutionists cannot explain how to reconcile the two.

Therefore, until the two can be reconciled, I must continue to reject macro-evolution entirely, based on the fact that it contradicts Catholicism. I make this decision because I know Catholicism is true. Therefore, anything which contradicts it, logically, must be untrue. Regardless of how much “evidence” is presented for the theory of evolution, it cannot be true if it contradicts the truths of Catholicism.

Perhaps that is merely a statement of faith…so be it. It is at the very least logical. What I cannot accept is the position that both Evolution and Catholicism are true, all the while being unable to explain how they can both be true.

Evolution is an attempt to explain how a mortal body is formed in the Fallen world. There is room for legitimate speculation about that process.
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. …

It is impossible to dismiss the events of Genesis 1 as a mere legend. They are accounts of real history, even if they are told in a style of historical writing that Westerners do not typically use.

Adam and Eve: Real People

It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37) …

Adam, Eve, and Evolution

Catholic AnswersConcerning 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.
Adam, Eve, and Evolution
Catholic Answers


1950 Pope Pius XII’s Encyclical Humani Generis:

Permits research and discussion into the doctrine of evolution regarding the question of the origin of the human body from pre-existing living matter. [para. 36]

Where is Evolution in Catholic Teaching?
by Anthony Nevard

Evolution is the biggest scandal in the Catholic Church today is allowing the Godless theory of evolution to be taught in our Catholic schools as if it is a fact! there is a steadily increasing number of top scientist around the world who have stopped teaching evolution and now belive in Special Creation, Gods Word from the very beginning. Yet we have our own catholic principals, teachers (not all) defending evolution as a fact. If you think God used evolution to create us. Then you have been fooled by the biggest deception-lie of our times!. 75% of our christian children will have their faith in Jesus destroyed because of evolution and most of those who don’t will just try to fit God into the evolution equation.

Jesus said: St Mark 9.41: Whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that belive in me; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Douay Rheims Bible.

A God who uses Blind chance, Random Chaos, Millions of Dead Ends, Death Before Sin, Millions/Billions of years to do it in! is Not the God of the Holy Bible!.

The God of the Bible is Pure and Perfect in everyway he said he Created us as simple as he can in Genesis. Dont be fooled by academics and Liberal theologians who will try to convert you to compromise Gods Word.

I challange you all to search out the many false assumptions/Lies/frauds/circular reasoning that the evolution Hypothosis full of conjecture is based on and then you will understand it is only a atheistic religion and not real Science!

Timothy 6.20: O Timothy, Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain bablings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.

Its time to Stop compromising our Catholic faith with this science falsely so called “evolution”. The Catholic Creation Genaration is coming lets get back to Gods Word! and not mans fallen opinion.

Trust in the Lord thy God

In Christ service the Creator!
Darren NZ

Hi all, again my humble thoughts tossed into the ring of reason. We need to define our terms right off the bat cuz if we don’t then we are going to be stepping all over each other.Someone had already mentioned ‘macro-evolution’.

This is system that holds that one species can and has ‘evolved’ into a completely new species. i.e. fish to lizard…lizard to bird…yada yada. This is also referred to as Darwinian uniformitarianism…or gradualism if you like that better. The short story is…simple to complex, over time, through multiple favorable/beneficial genetic mutations. Again this is the very dumbed down version. But I believe its wrong on multiple levels. And just one is the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. The fossil record is a complete embarassment to evolutionists…or should be. And thats because there aren’t any!

Something else in the mix now is ‘Punctuated Equilibrium’…a theory developed by Stephen J. Gould and his buds that detail why there are no transitional forms in the fossil record.
Think about it, a whole theory developed that describes why something doesn’t exist!

If evolution wasn’t bad enough now we have ‘theistic evolution’ which factors God into the mix…We have two ideas here…

Evolution: Chaos, randomness, purposlessness. Where ‘chance’ is god…nature rolls the dice and whatever happens, happens??
The bad thing with theistic evolution is that now we place God in the back seat and let ‘chance’ drive! Thats just crazy.

God: design, purpose, identity. There is absolutely no ‘chance’ with God. He knows everything from eternity to eternity.

That is what i believe we are stuck with…those two options…and as far as i’m concerned they are mutually exclusive…but its just my 2 cents:)

I am a Christian fundamentalist who is currently enrolled in RCIA. On Sunday I asked the Priest if Catholics believe the Genesis account is true - that God created Adam & Eve and that they sinned and were cast out of the garden. He said no. He went on to say that the Church doesn’t take a stand either way really … it’s OK to believe in evolution, that we crawled out of the swamp & up onto the shore, so long as you believe that God made it all happen. Several sponsors in the class agreed that’s just what they believe - the story of Adam & Eve was just one of the many “myths” floating around when the book of Genesis was written and it’s not to be taken literally. I raised my hand and asked if I could be Catholic AND believe that God DID create Adam & Eve. The Priest sort of smiled and said, “Oh sure… if you want… go ahead…” It sounded very similar to the tone I use when my kids ask if Santa is true… why sure it is sweetie… wink wink. So here’s my beef. If Eve never existed why the heck is Mary called the 2nd Eve??

Here we go again, the same old misunderstandings of evolution. :smiley: Anyway, not going to deal with those at this time.

Thanks for the link above from the Theotokos.org.uk Catholic creation site. I was hoping for the statements directly rather than a paraphrase. It looks like that site is paraphrasing the 1909 Biblical Commission rather than quoting it directly.

Also, it is wrong on the Catechism not mentioning evolution. They write:

<< “Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place… they express the truths of creation its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation.” [para. 289] >>

<< Evolution: No mention of evolution anywhere in the text or in the Index. >>

That’s from the bottom of that same link here

I would suggest this paragraph below clearly mentions evolution, and also commends the modern scientific theory of evolution, without specifically using the word “evolution” :

283. The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers…

See the full section here

To what “many scientific studies” which have “splendidly enriched our knowledge” about “the development (read: evolution) of life-forms and the appearance of man” is the Catechism referring? Modern biologists and geologists who accept evolution or the ICR, AnswersInGenesis, Theotokos.org.uk, Dr. Dino who don’t? :stuck_out_tongue:

In addition, the following paragraph 284 suggests that science deals with the study of physical origins, while religion and faith deal additionally with the purpose and meaning of creation. That is precisely Stephen Jay Gould’s position NOMA (the Non-Overlapping Magisteria idea). One deals in nature (science), the other in super-nature, with design, purpose and meaning (religion).

And paragraph 159 suggests there cannot be a contradiction between the true and honest findings of science and the true doctrines of the Church. “Truth cannot contradict truth” is what I believe, but reconciling them can be difficult. But I won’t give up by denying or misunderstanding modern science like some of you. :confused:

159. Faith and science: “…methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” [Vatican II GS 36:1]

And for the 4.5 billioneth time, here is my article on an old earth and evolution :smiley: Now I need to write a follow up specifically on Genesis 1-3 and the Adam/Eve question, how to interpret that, and the 1909 Biblical Commission and reconciling all of it. Not so easy. :stuck_out_tongue:

Phil P

Catholics and Evolution

One of the most important questions for every educated Catholic of today is: What is to be thought of the theory of evolution? Is it to be rejected as unfounded and inimical to Christianity, or is it to be accepted as an established theory altogether compatible with the principles of a Christian conception of the universe? We must carefully distinguish between the different meanings of the words theory of evolution in order to give a clear and correct answer to this question. We must distinguish (1) between the theory of evolution as a scientific hypothesis and as a philosophical speculation; (2) between the theory of evolution as based on theistic principles and as based on a materialistic and atheistic foundation; (3) between the theory of evolution and Darwinism; (4) between the theory of evolution as applied to the vegetable and animal kingdoms and as applied to man. Scientific Hypothesis vs. Philosophical Speculation

As a scientific hypothesis, the theory of evolution seeks to determine the historical succession of the various species of plants and of animals on our earth, and, with the aid of palæontology and other sciences, such as comparative morphology, embryology, and bionomy, to show how in the course of the different geological epochs they gradually evolve from their beginnings by purely natural causes of specific development. The theory of evolution, then, as a scientific hypothesis, does not consider the present species of plants and of animals as forms directly created by God, but as the final result of an evolution from other species existing in former geological periods. Hence it is called “the theory of evolution”, or “the theory of descent”, since it implies the descent of the present from extinct species. This theory is opposed to the theory of constancy, which assumes the immutability of organic species. The scientific theory of evolution, therefore, does not concern itself with the origin of life. It merely inquires into the genetic relations of systematic species, genera, and families, and endeavours to arrange them according to natural series of descent (genetic trees).

carolmarie << I raised my hand and asked if I could be Catholic AND believe that God DID create Adam & Eve. >>

Well the harder question you need to ask yourself:

Is the evidence for human evolution sound, and what is that evidence?

I haven’t read a whole lot, aside from TalkOrigins, and a couple books, one recent one by Spencer Wells, but it appears quite sound and makes sense of the fossil hominids and species that we’ve found the past 100 years.

If that evidence is sound which it appears to be, then the truth “humans evolved” and the truth “Adam/Eve existed” should be reconciliable. Truth cannot contradict truth.

carolmarie << So here’s my beef. If Eve never existed why the heck is Mary called the 2nd Eve?? >>

Good question, that can also be asked of Jesus as the new Adam. I don’t have an answer. There are probably more sophisticated people on these boards who can answer this who do accept the findings of science on human evolution and are Christian. There are about 4.5 billion posts on this topic already on these boards. :stuck_out_tongue:

Phil P

Upon comparing the scientific proofs for the probability of the theory of evolution, we find that they grow the more numerous and weighty, the smaller the circle of forms under consideration, but become weaker and weaker, if we include a greater number of forms, such as are comprised in a class or in a sub-kingdom. There is, in fact, no evidence whatever for the common genetic descent of all plants and animals from a single primitive organism. Hence the greater number of botanists and zoologists regard a polygenetic (polyphyletic) evolution as much more acceptable than a monogenetic (monophyletic). At present, however, it is impossible to decide how many independent genetic series must be assumed in the animal and vegetable kingdoms. This is the gist of the theory of evolution as a scientific hypothesis. It is in perfect agreement with the Christian conception of the universe; for Scripture does not tell us in what form the present species of plants and of animals were originally created by God. As early as 1877 Knabenbauer stated “that there is no objection, so far as faith is concerned, to assuming the descent of all plant and animal species from a few types”

Passing now to the theory of evolution as a philosophical speculation, the history of the plant and animal kingdoms upon our globe is but a small part of the history of the entire earth. Similarly, the geological development of our earth constitutes but a small part of the history of the solar system and of the universe. The theory of evolution as a philosophical conception considers the entire history of the cosmos as an harmonious development, brought about by natural laws. This conception is in agreement with the Christian view of the universe. God is the Creator of heaven and earth. If God produced the universe by a single creative act of His will, then its natural development by laws implanted in it by the Creator is to the greater glory of His Divine power and wisdom. St. Thomas says: “The potency of a cause is the greater, the more remote the effects to which it extends.” (Summa c. Gent., III, c. lxxvi); and Suarez: “God does not interfere directly with the natural order, where secondary causes suffice to produce the intended effect” (De opere sex dierum, II, c. x, n. 13). In the light of this principle of the Christian interpretation of nature, the history of the animal and vegetable kingdoms on our planet is, as it were, a versicle in a volume of a million pages in which the natural development of the cosmos is described, and upon whose title-page is written: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” :blessyou:

DarrenNZ << there is a steadily increasing number of top scientist around the world who have stopped teaching evolution >>

Not correct. But how many of them are named Steve anyway? :smiley:

DarrenNZ << and now believe in Special Creation, Gods Word from the very beginning. >>

Definitely not correct. Please stay away from Dr. Dino. :stuck_out_tongue:

Special creation hasn’t been believed in geology since the early 19th century. Scientists knew the earth was very old well before Darwin’s time.

Many in science accept theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism. And no I don’t have an answer to all the sticky theological or Genesis questions yet. :stuck_out_tongue:

DarrenNZ << Then you have been fooled by the biggest deception-lie of our times!. 75% of our christian children will have their faith in Jesus destroyed because of evolution and most of those who don’t will just try to fit God into the evolution equation. >>

Um, how about you trying to understand a little about evolution first? :confused: This God and evolution article is quite good, even if a little short. And this 1996 statement by Pope John Paul II shows he is not as frightened and paranoid as you about the biological sciences. :cool:

Phil P

Northwind << And just one is the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. The fossil record is a complete embarassment to evolutionists…or should be. And thats because there aren’t any! >>

Completely demolished at least a dozen times in the 4.5 billion threads on this topic in here the past 6 months. It’s an old canard that has brought up in creationist literature for at least 40 years based on out-of-context quotations of paleontologists and others.

I commend to your attention these 4 articles:

Transitional Vertebrate Fossils (see especially the reptile-mammal transitions)

Transitional Whale Fossils (whales with legs)

Transitional Bird Fossils (archeopteryx)

The Case for Macroevolution or Common Descent (several lines of evidence)

I have summarized this last one here Cliffs Notes

Read those, and then come on back. :smiley:

Phil P

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