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Evolution: Facts, Assertions, Theories and the Catholic Faith Comments

Although evolution is often taken by some as an hypothesis proven beyond doubt, the scientific debate over the theory is one which, due to lack of empirical evidence, shows little if any signs of subsiding. John Bonner, a biologist at Princeton, writes that traditional textbook discussions of ancestral descent are "a festering mass of unsupported assertions". Continue Reading

1 - 10 of 48 Comments

  1. zuma
    1 year ago

    Did Pope Pius XII support evolutionary theory?

    The following is the extract from Catholic Church and evolution, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

    “In the 1950 encyclical humani generis, Pope Pius XII confirmed that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces.”

    Let’s analyze the above paragraph as below:

    The phrase, Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation by God, as mentioned above gives us the truth of God’s direct involvement in creation of individual soul. As the phrase, there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, is mentioned before the phrase, PROVIDED that Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation of God, it gives us the conclusion that Paul Pius XII only supported evolutionary theory provided that it supports individual soul was a direct creation of God. However, evolutionary theory does not support individual soul was the direct creation of God. Instead, it supports that God only assisted in the evolution instead of He created individual soul by Himself directly. Indeed, evolution assumes material force, i.e. natural selection, that causes one animal to be transformed into another.

    As the phrase, provided that, has been stressed before the phrase, Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces (natural selection), it gives us a conclusion that Paul only encourages Christians to believe in evolution on the condition if it supports that God was a direct creator of individual soul, and that each of the creation was not the result of the product or the end-result of purely material force, such as, natural selection that drove the animals to be transformed.

    As evolutionary theory does not support a direct creation from God and that it supports that it was the end-result of purely material force, such as, natural selection that drove animals to transform, Paul Pius XII did not call Christians to support evolutionary theory.

    Paul Pius XII only called Christians to support evolutionary theory only if the teaching supports that it was God that created individual soul. Besides, they have to support that the existence of individual soul was not the product of material force but God’s direct creation.

    Nevertheless, Paul Pius XII did not support evolutionary theory since this teaching does not support God’s direct creation. Besides, this teaching supports the end-result of evolution was the product of material force, such as, natural selection, that drove animals to transform.

  2. Debbie
    3 years ago

    All I want to know is how can we have sinned (original) if we came from slime or whatever evolutionary thing with no brain. How would we have known right from wrong in that state.

  3. TomEK
    4 years ago

    MikeFP: I think your "bottom line" is right on and gets to the crux of most of this discussion, if I understand properly what you mean by the term "Grand Theory of Evolution." The Catholic Church does not object to evolution as a scientific theory, as it does not object to science. It objects to the use of evolutionary theory for making claims of a philosophical or theological nature, what might well be termed "Grand Theories of Evolution." Such claims are made regularly, if perhaps not always consciously, and Richard Dawson, who has been quoted several times above, is a good example. He uses the findings of science as a springboard for claiming that there is no God, a claim well outside of the realm of science.

    I do, however, object to your unsupported statement that "Catholicism in particular has been correcting itself since the very beginning." Church doctrine has never set a timetable for the second coming, limbo has never been more than a theological postulate, and purgatory was not "introduced."

    F. K. Bartels: I would like to add two observations to your nice summary of Church thought. First, John Paul II also strongly encouraged dialogue between theologians and scientists. In a 1988 letter to the director of the Vatican Observatory, he maintained that we have the opportunity for a “common interactive relationship in which each discipline [religion and science] retains its integrity and yet is radically open to the discoveries and insights of the other.” “Science" he said, "can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.”

    Secondly, Benedict XVI has not been silent on this topic either. Although he strongly agrees, in concert with his predecessor, that both faith and reason aim toward the same truth and can never ultimately contradict each other, he also has a deeper perspective on the implications of evolution to theology due to his long theological background. In a mini-conference at Gandolfo which is documented in Creation and Evolution (155-6), he observes that “It is not yet time to reconcile the two realms [of faith and evolutionary science]. We are glad to hear this message. I have always been of the opinion that overhasty attempts at harmonization are usually not very durable." In summary, while Catholics do in fact hold that faith does not conflict with evolutionary science, the full contours of that compatibility are not yet evident.

  4. vance
    4 years ago

    After taking Anthropology in college, I was convinced that evolution is not a fact. If man's origin began in Africa, there would be no migtation out of the climate to which man was adapted. A polar bear does not wander out of his adapted environment. A grizley bear does not wander north to the polar bear's enviroment. Why? Instincts for survival. If early man wandered north to the European continent, he would have evolved by growing fur coats like the bear. But instincts would tell him not to go into a cold climate because he will die of exposure. I believe God in his infinite intelligence created multiple species aroumd the globe. Today's scientists are amazed how complex tiny organisms are. I am surprised how Hawkins uasn't taken into account how exact and prefect earth's orbit and it's axis. It is like a precition machine.

  5. Mike FP
    4 years ago

    MICHAEL HEMET, sounds about right to me. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in fact, puts it this way: "Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries." I enjoy being a member of a church confident enough to make that kind of statement.

  6. Michael Hemet
    4 years ago

    If I understand Mike FP correctly I have to agree with him. God is our creator is enought for me, how he did it does not matter for this simple man. Yes, Catholicism is evolving and correcting itself. The objective truth passed on to mother church, by Jesus Christ has not changed, but our understand of that truth may change. Does that make sense.

  7. Mike FP
    4 years ago

    FOLKS (including HARSHMAN, BARTELS, O'BRIEN et al), maybe I'm just an ignorant fool (okay, I'm probably an ignorant fool). But it seems that the bottom line is whether what some call the Grand Theory of Evolution applies and that God does not exist, right? I mean, other than that, this is really a quibble about the details of how God (my preference) or random events brought about the origin of species. This seems to involve a theological claim -- God exists -- that science is not really structured to address, versus an unsupportable scientific claim that God does not exist. So, my questions for the science guys are: 1) why do science types insist on making theological claims about God that science just isn't designed to address? 2) why are these claims most commonly found in the shakier areas of science? What I mean by "shakier" is that the methodologies available to support such claims lie as the other end of the scientific method from controlled experiments. For the more religious: why do you insist on making believers look so silly public by clinging to nonessential details? Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular has been correcting itself since the very beginning (see: timetable for Second Coming; elimination of Limbo; introduction of Purgatory, etc.) St. Paul did advise that we see things as through a darkened glass, no?

  8. RickK
    4 years ago

    Mr. Bartels said: "Those who insist that there is no controversy around Darwinian evolution (often termed "macroevolution") are simply refusing to admit to the facts." He then goes on, like he did with Bonner, to post quotes that are meant to convey the supposed controversy around "macroevolution". Except that none of those people he has quoted (with the possible exception of Behe) have any doubt that macroevolution (common descent) is absolutely true. I'm excluding George Sim Johnston, of course, because he is a Catholic apologist and not a scientist. Mr. Bartels quotes Bonner as if Bonner doubts macroevolution, which he doesn't as seen from the other posts above. Mr. Bartels quotes Nelson and Platnick as if they doubt macroevolution, when they are the authors of a book that some considered the best proof ever that common descent is true! He quotes Michael Denton, who has looked at the data and has changed his position, and who now agrees with common descent or "macroevolution". He quotes Wolfram who, while he may disagree with Dawkins on the "selfish gene" principle, accepts completely that macroevolution is true. So once again we see Mr. Bartels using out of date or out of context quotes to portray a controversy in scientific circles that doesn't exist. The only controversy is in religious circles with people like Mr. Bartels who are uncomfortable with the fact that they share ancestors with chimpanzees. I'm sorry the fact makes you uncomfortable, Mr. Bartels, but it doesn't change the fact.

  9. John Harshman
    4 years ago

    If there is no conflict between the Bible and science, I'm at a loss to explain why you're trying to manufacture a controversy within biology about whether macroevolution actually happens. Can you explain?

  10. F. K. Bartels
    4 years ago

    Todd: You're right. There is no conflict between the Bible and science. Sacred Scripture is not a science textbook, and should not be read like one. Rather, the Bible is a book about ourselves and our relationship with God as His people; it expresses truths that were written by the sacred authors under the breath of the Holy Spirit for our salvation. The trouble arises when people incorrectly interpret the Bible, as if it laid down scientific facts, which it clearly does not. If you believe God used a process of evolution in creating man, that is compatible with the Church's magisterial teaching provided the proper qualifications are made. See the explanation on Theistic Evolution in the article.

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