What is the Church's teaching on the origin of the world?


#1

I need to know. What is the Church’s teaching on evolution? I need the definite answer. I can’t accept, “Well, She doesn’t say it’s true, and She doesn’t say it’s false.” And I know already that the Church is completely against atheistic evolution. But I need the definite answer: does the Church believe in evolution, creationism, etc? What is the Church’s official stance?


#2

Why does the Church need an official stance on everything? The church doesn’t take a stance on scientific matters.

But, OK, the Church’s stance is this: God created the universe, including mankind.


#3

[quote=Vanus Empty]I need to know. What is the Church’s teaching on evolution? I need the definite answer. I can’t accept, “Well, She doesn’t say it’s true, and She doesn’t say it’s false.”…
[/quote]

why not?


#4

The Church is definitive that God created the universe out of nothing and sustains the universe and all that is in it, but has not made any definitive doctrinal statements as to the methodology. There is to date no definitive Church position as to whether God created us as is, or used a process like evolution to arrive at modern humanity.

The fact of the matter is that the Church indeed does not say it is true and does not say it is false. You may not like it, but that’s how the matter currently stands.

It is also why it is such a hotly debated topic amongst interested Catholics.


#5

We all know that God created the universe. Our minds can’t understand how this could be but our faith tells us that it is true. It’s not important for us to know HOW He did it - only that He created all of this out of nothing.


#6

Vanus << But I need the definite answer: does the Church believe in evolution, creationism, etc? What is the Church’s official stance? >>

The Church is not going to take an official stand on a science issue, but if you want the most recent detailed statement on how evolution, creation, design, God’s providence, image of God, etc is reconciled see the International Theological Commission statement published in 2004 under the direction of Cardinal Ratzinger (who became the Pope the following year).

Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God (see especially paragraphs 62-70)

This is my version on white background, the Vatican version is linked at the bottom. Also see the Wikipedia article I helped edit which covers the relevant Popes

Evolution and the Roman Catholic Church

Anyone can contribute if they notice mistakes, see also links at the bottom.

Also Cardinal Ratzinger’s / Benedict XVI own commentary on Genesis is found here with excerpts, he can be seen supporting both evolution and “intelligent design” depending how you read him.

Phil P


#7

Thank you very much, PhilVaz.

I know that the Church does not take a stance on science issues, but the issue of evolution is a philosophical one.

If evolution is true, not atheistic evolution, then it would say that humans have evolved from previous organisms. Not monkeys or apes. That is the popular misconception. But it would say that monkeys and humans share a common ancestor. However, if evolutions is true, than humans have evolved from that ancestor, specifically a mammal from millions of years ago. We know that humans are created in God’s likeness. Other animals are not. Animals do not have souls. Humans do. So how can humans, who are created in God’s likeness and who have souls, evolve from a mammal that does not have a soul?

That is what I want to know. What is the Church’s stance on the philosophical view of evolution? It must have a stance on that.


#8

Another thing. All I am asking for here when I started this thread are Church documents and decrees or sources on evolution. I don’t need people’s smart-alek remarks or their opinions. So if you have nothing to contribute, please don’t respond.


#9

The soul does not and cannot evolve because it is a spirit.
And, the soul is what makes us human, having the faculties of intellect and will. The Church teaches that the soul is directly created by God–each soul–Adam and Eve’s as well as yours and mine. So as long as we are not saying that we obtained our souls by evolution, the Church takes no stance on whether or how our bodies might have evolved.


#10

[quote=JimG] So as long as we are not saying that we obtained our souls by evolution…
[/quote]

No such theory exists.


#11

[quote=Vanus Empty]No such theory exists.
[/quote]

I agree. That’s why the Church seldom involves itself with this matter, because the details of it are more a matter of science.

Of course, some scientists would dispute that man even has a soul, taking him to be a material being only. And so they would not distinguish any member of the species homo sapiens of whatever geological age from true human beings (i.e. those having a soul.)

But the Church’s position is that no matter how the human body may have evolved, it wasn’t a human being until God infused a soul.

That being the case, it is entirely possible that a group of human-like hominids from the paleothic period, for example, might be called human beings by anthropologists, yet not be true humans from a philosophical standpoint. After all, written history, which is indicative of humanity, didn’t begin until around 6,000 BC.

(Any historians or anthropologists please correct me here.)


#12

Vanus << No such theory exists. >>

There are Catholic theologians who argue the soul evolved, contrary to Pius XII. Here is something from John Haught of Georgetown.

“Perhaps, then, Darwinian science compels us now to reconsider what we mean by the ‘soul.’ … But even in a scientific age it is not too speculative to attribute an interior aspect to each living being. Maybe all living organisms have an aspect of ‘subjectivity’ hidden from scientific objectification. In each of us this interiority would be associated with a distinctively human soul. But other living beings may possess a hidden ‘subjectivity’ – widely varying in the degree of experiential awareness – where they are intimately touched by and participate in the divine Spirit whom we may refer to as Life-Itself. Once we allow for this broader understanding of soul, we may interpret evolution as the momentous story of soul-emergence. Evolution is the adventure of life gradually becoming more conscious, centered, free and capable of love – but also capable of great evil. This understanding allows us to move beyond the artifice of thinking that God abruptly ‘injects’ prefabricated ‘souls’ into our species or into our bodies at certain artificially defined points in evolution or embryogenesis. Instead we may understand the Spirit of God as present in all of life, animating each species in a manner proportionate to its characteristic mode of organic or informational complexity. The emergence of the human soul, then, would not be a glaring exception to this animating process, but instead a most intense exemplification of a general aspect of creation and evolution.” (Haught, Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution [Paulist Press, 2001], question 19, page 27-28)

Though somewhat sophisticated, I think there are problems with this…

Phil P


#13

[quote=Vanus Empty]Thank you very much, PhilVaz.

I know that the Church does not take a stance on science issues, but the issue of evolution is a philosophical one.
[/quote]

How so?

[quote=Vanus Empty]If evolution is true, not atheistic evolution,
[/quote]

What is the difference?

[quote=Vanus Empty]then it would say that humans have evolved from previous organisms. Not monkeys or apes. That is the popular misconception. But it would say that monkeys and humans share a common ancestor.
[/quote]

That is what evolution says

[quote=Vanus Empty]However, if evolutions is true, than humans have evolved from that ancestor, specifically a mammal from millions of years ago.
[/quote]

Yes

[quote=Vanus Empty] We know that humans are created in God’s likeness.
[/quote]

Yes

[quote=Vanus Empty] Other animals are not.
[/quote]

Do we know that? The bible specifically mentions humans but says nothing about animals. They are Gods’ creatures and animate so they must have some sort of divine spark of life in them

[quote=Vanus Empty]Animals do not have souls.
[/quote]

I’ve heard various opinions on that. The most common is that yes they do have souls but not eternal souls like humans. But I could be wrong

[quote=Vanus Empty] Humans do. So how can humans, who are created in God’s likeness and who have souls, evolve from a mammal that does not have a soul?
[/quote]

Because God can do anything he wills.

How is giving a soul to an evolving mammal any different from the Biblical account of giving a soul to an inanimate lump of clay?

Seems to make a lot more sense to me that man is part of Creation.

[quote=Vanus Empty]That is what I want to know. What is the Church’s stance on the philosophical view of evolution? It must have a stance on that.
[/quote]

IIRC their position is that God made humans (weather it took 6 days or 14 billion years is unclear but the odds are on the longer figure) and then gave them souls.

Philosophically evolution is compatible with that. (Or not incompatible)


#14

According to Pope john Paull II and Cardinal Ratzinger. We may accept whatever ‘truths’ evolution holds. There is no mention of what these truths are… because creationists also believe in evolution on a small scale ‘constant changes in living things’ and not ‘large scale changes ie simple cells to amphibians to mammals to ape like creature to modern day human being’ Micro Evolution Vs. Macro evolution. So in a way,. the Church officially is really silent over the field as a whole and will continue to let scientists do their thing.

It is wise to point out that our faith entails that Original Sin is the cause of death and sufferring . Adam and Eve were made whole. The Bible is God’s word and He has inspired its writers and it is inerrant. That said, it can be shown that the Book of Genesis is historical literature from studies of the Hebrew language. Christ, the apostles and early Church believed in and defended creation. Christ affirms that in the very beginning God made them man and woman and that Scripture will stand even when heaven and earth pass away.

If you want to study this area more, I recommend looking at sites like www.answersingenesis.org or www.icr.org and for the opposing view there is www.talkorigins.org . The first two sites are by Protestants, but there are no ventures or articles into anything having to do with Catholicism Vs. Protestantism. There are Catholic sites, but I recommed those two as being the best on the subject.


#15

answersingenisis and ICR.org are horrible sites with regards to science

To its credit talkorigins is quiet on religious matters

IIRC PhilVaz from this forum has a personal site where he covers both the science and religion in depth and with accuracy


#16

Here’s my 2 cents:

At the wedding feast of Cana, Jesus turned water into wine. Specifically, wine that tasted like it was aged wine. Yet, it was created on the spot.

As Creator of the universe, our Lord Jesus could have done the same thing. It looks old but it is really recent. After all, if He did it with wine, why couldn’t He have done it with the universe?

Just my theory, nothing more.

Peace,
Gene

P.S. I also believe that the language of Genesis 1 is poetic language and is not necessarily saying that the universe was created in six literal days. Although, it could’ve been.


#17

[quote=steveandersen]… (weather it took 6 days or 14 billion years is unclear but the odds are on the longer figure) …
[/quote]

Weather :confused:
whether **WHETHER **

I am so stupid some days
sorry folks :o

darn that spell check


#18

[quote=PhilVaz]Vanus << No such theory exists. >>

There are Catholic theologians who argue the soul evolved, contrary to Pius XII. Here is something from John Haught of Georgetown.

“Perhaps, then, Darwinian science compels us now to reconsider what we mean by the ‘soul.’ … would not be a glaring exception to this animating process, but instead a most intense exemplification of a general aspect of creation and evolution.” (Haught, Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution [Paulist Press, 2001], question 19, page 27-28)

Though somewhat sophisticated, I think there are problems with this…

Phil P
[/quote]

What’s the problem with it?


#19

[quote=Ahimsa]What’s the problem with it?
[/quote]

The problem is that a human soul, as normally understood, is a spirit. It has no parts, no DNA, no physical properties, nothing capable of evolving or changing.

Still, we also speak of animal souls and plant souls, which are material, not spiritual, so the theory could have some application there.

One might speculate that when a material soul has attained (through evolution?) a high degree of complexity, allowing consciousness to develop*, it may at some point be ready for a spiritual soul, which according to Church teaching, must be created by God. Still, I don’t think that we have to think of that as a sort of mechanistic process, God creating and injecting souls into zygotes like a production line. God could work in sync with biology.

*(Philosophically, self-consciousness is a property of human beings and angels, but simple consciousness is also a property of some animals. That is, they are aware, but not self-aware. Not self-reflective.)


#20

Thank you for all your replies and help. Most of you were very helpful, and for those who had theories, thank you for those.

It has become apparent, however, that the Church does not have an official stance on evolution. I asked this question for academic reasons, something that is going on in my university.

However, the guy who posted on post #13 is in error. First off, all you did was contradict everything I say. All you were doing was trying to prove me wrong. All you had to do was supply what I requested: some Catholic sources and documents and some comments of your own.

I am majoring in biology. I KNOW that the theory of evolution does not say that humans evolved from monkeys or apes. Like I said, that is the common misconception.

I still have my doubts as to whether evolution is philosophically compatible. Science is not greater than philosophy.


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