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Catholics and evolution

Proponents of evolution have made much of Pope John Paul II’s statement, which "noted that the scientific case for evolution was growing stronger and that the theory was ’more than a hypothesis.’" Well, if they had read the whole statement, they would have noticed this as well:

Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the mind 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.

And then they would not have been so surprised by this op-ed, which contains the following statement:

The [International Theological C]ommission’s [2004] document, however, reaffirms the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church about the reality of design in nature. Commenting on the widespread abuse of John Paul’s 1996 letter on evolution, the commission cautions that "the letter cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe."

Furthermore, according to the commission, "An unguided evolutionary process - one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence - simply cannot exist."

The commission, I should note, was headed by Cardinal Ratzinger.

There are, of course, complicated issues here, far beyond my theoligical and scientific ken, but one thing seems clear: those evolutionists who do not leave room for a designer cannot find any comfort in anything Pope John Paul II said or in anything the Roman Catholic Church teaches.

Rick Garnett has more.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Today’s New York Times has an above the fold article on Page one that expands on the position of the Catholic Church redarding Darwin’s theory of evolution.

That article was the occasion for my post.

For the most part, Catholics - as Catholics - are indifferent to the ID/evolution debate. We reject any materialist philosophy that tries to ground itself in Darwinian evolution. We assert the common ancestry of humanity as a matter of revealed faith. We affirm the modern scientific enterprise - which is rooted historically in Western Christianity - and see it as profoundly compatible with a Catholic world view.

Since, unlike evangelicals, we do not see the Bible as a self-interpreting book, reconciling possible interpretations of Genesis with modern theories on the origin of life are a matter for experts.

Since God works normally through secondary causes, the presence of design in no way implies that a natural process cannot be fully understood through scientific methods.

A simple analogy with the believer’s personal history and experience may help. IHe may sees evidence - as I do - that God has loved and protected him from the beginning without ever having experienced what might be called a miracle.

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