Can Catholics Believe in Evolution?

95 comments

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” — John Paul II (Fides et Ratio)

We live in a culture saturated with constantly changing, un-Apostolic tenets of confused Christian denominations who deny Sacred Tradition and, instead, are left to rely solely on their own fallible interpretations of scripture. So it’s not surprising that many of the beliefs that come about are in contradiction with scientific discoveries – in contradiction with our reason.

The Catholic Church never has and never will hold any doctrine that contradicts science (good science anyway). This is because our faith and our reason both approach the same, objective Truth. They simply do so from two different, but necessary, perspectives.

So it’s unfortunate when there are Christians that feel they have to deny their reason for the sake of their faith. They are living a contradiction. God didn’t give us our reasonable intelligence just to have to ignore it. It seems He gave it to us to discover more of His creation – more of His Truth – which only enhances our gift of Faith. They work together. God is not unreasonable. He is just beyond our reason. That’s why we need both our reason and our faith to approach the fullness of the Truth.

The issues of biological evolution and Christian faith have seemed contradictory, rightly and wrongly so, for many Christians. There are aspects on both sides of the argument that need to be addressed.

First, the simple scientific idea that we may have biologically evolved into what we call human is not contradictory at all with the Catholic Faith nor with the existence of a Creator. Those that take the interpretation from scripture that the world was created in 7 literal days, and therefore contradictory to biological evolution, are reading their own fallible interpretation into scripture.

While Christians are free to be open to that possibility, The Church has never held this as doctrine. And when one views the Bible in its proper context and uses it as the Church has set forth from the beginning, then there is no problem reconciling such scriptural texts with the scientific advances that support a theory of evolution.

The Bible was not created as historic narrative or as a science report. It is much more like a love letter to the world. And we must interpret it in light of Apostolic Tradition, it’s context, and in communion with the Magisterium of the Church.

On the other side, however, we have “scientists” that have taken evolution beyond that of a scientific theory. The instant evolution tries to deny the Creator or attempts to answer questions like “did a Being create this natural world within which science exists?” it has left the scientific world and entered the realm of metaphysics, philosophy, and perhaps religion.

So not only are these scientists entering areas of which they are no longer experts, they are being unfaithful to their own scientific principles. In other words, it’s bad science – or not science at all. They are coming to conclusions that are not even able to be scientifically supported. They are using natural science and coming to conclusions about the supernatural. This is not logically possible.

This is when evolution becomes what some call “evolutionism.” It is no longer a scientific theory, but an ideology. It’s a materialistic world view that denies a Creator or any other meaning in the universe. They are totally entitled to hold these beliefs, but it’s not science.

And let’s be clear.  Biological evolution has to do with how life changes.  The mechanisms that drive evolution (natural selection and genetic drift) speak to how life has changed over time and what drove that.  It says nothing of how life first began.  It says nothing of how biology came about in the first place.  So when “evolutionism” implies that since we have a seemingly sound theory to explain how life changes over time that it also means we can explain the origin of life – it does so fallaciously.

So yes, Catholics can believe in a scientific, biological evolution. This does not contradict the teachings of the Church. In fact, it enhances the beauty of creation by revealing the depths of the wonders of God. It draws us closer to the Creator through His Creation.

However, once this great scientific theory crosses its proper boundary and attempts to explain something that it does not and can not explain, not only does it lose credibility, but it can dangerously undermine the basic tenets of our Christian Faith.

Issues like this highlight the need for the authoritative Church. We see perfectly well how confusing issues like this become when Christians who have broken away from The Church go off and come up with their own unreasonable doctrine. It presents a faith to the world that is unreasonable. It’s a false faith. And reasonable people will reject an entire faith if even a part of it is unreasonable.

But this only further emphasizes the great witness of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has never held doctrine contradictory to reason. And therefore it has always (in its doctrine) been a friend to true science – and has often led the world in scientific discovery, education, and invention. Though much is still beyond our reason, it is a reasonable faith.

Update: Just wanted to further clarify something that is hard to fully explain in a short blog post – especially with all of the complex language used on such a subject. Cardinal Schonborn said it best in saying that while Catholics are free to believe in certain interpretations of biological evolution, common ancestry, and the biological methods that bring them about, that does not mean we can reconcile with our faith “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.” In essence, a “neo-Darwinian” evolutionism ideology that pretends to explain the Cause of the universe and deny the mind behind how everything unfolded is total bunk. You can read his whole New York Times article on the matter here. It’s excellent!

95 comments Add comment

Jason February 12, 2009 at 11:20 am

There is a contradiction in stating that we started as worms and transformed into people via millions of years of evolution vs the Biblical teaching that God formed humans in his image.

Also, the church does (and rightly so) hold truths that are in direct contradiction to science ie… Eucharistic miracles in which the wine and host have physically turned into blood and flesh.

While I usually 110% support just about everything you write I think you went a little too far left on this one…

Dana February 12, 2009 at 11:23 am

As a Catholic, I belive that faith and evolution can co-exist. I have always thought that, yes, God created our world in 7 days, but those were His days, not ours. His days are in the context of eternity, so they may be centuries or milleniums long. After all, our “days” are based on the rising and setting of the sun He created.

So when the Bible says that God created man from the dirt, it didn’t say that it was an instant thing. For all we know, God took that dirt and created ameobas or bacteria or whatever those tiny organism were. And God directed those organisms to “evolve” (literally, to change) into other organisms and grow and change into others and so on.

When I look at the complexity of our world, and specifically our bodies, I cannot fathom it all being accidental or coincidental. Have these people not seen the complexity of a healthy newborn baby, the marvel and miracle of holding such a tiny whole person?

Sorry to ramble, but this is a subject about which I feel strongly. As a Christian and a reasonably intelligent person, I do believe in evolution – all artfully directed by our Heavenly Father.

Dana February 12, 2009 at 11:25 am

Jason:

Yes, we were formed in His image? Do you know what God looks like?

Me neither.

Robert August 12, 2009 at 10:25 am

God looks like Jesus Christ.

sage July 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Robert what did Jesus look like? You can guess, since he was Jewish, that he probably wasn’t blond and blue eyed. But I’ve never seen a painting or a photo of him. You have?

Bill February 12, 2009 at 11:33 am

There is no contradiction Jason. Read Genesis you see that God “creates” man twice…once in his own image and then He “formed man out of the slime of the earth” and then “breathed life into his nostrils”. I don’t know about you but I take that as God creating our soul in his image and then once man had formed through whatever natural process we were ensouled, our “life” was imbued within the crude matter of our earthly flesh. I could be wrong but that’s pretty much how I read it. It is interesting how the bible says man was formed out of the earth which is; water, carbon, iron, etc. and what is a man but water carbon iron etc? When the bible reads “Let the waters BRING FORTH living creatures” that reads to me as a natural process of some kind rather than an instantaneous feat of “magic”.

Daniel September 26, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Bill your outlook on Evolution contradicts the Catechism, you probablly never realized it but Im here to enlighten you on this subject so please dont take offense.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: Profession of Faith II. ” Body and Soul but truly one” (362-378)

I believe in evolution too, but I let the teachings of the Church override my personal oppinions.
God Bless.

Bill September 26, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Nothing I said contradicts the Catechism and nothing you said changes my outlook. Try again.

Bill February 12, 2009 at 11:35 am

I like your blog’s title, BTW.

Regarding Jason’s comment, I don’t know that I’d go as far as to say that the teaching on the Eucharist contradicts science, given that the Church doesn’t claim that the physical properties of the Eucharist have changed, but rather its essence, for a lack of a better word without digging into my reference books. Church teaching fully acknowledges that any scientific analysis would show that the Eucharist appears to be bread and wine.

Some other miracles lack scientific explanation, but the Church doesn’t contradict science by acknowledging such miracles, either. The Church simply states that certain events with no explanation based on current scientific understanding have occured, and that these events are possible because God made them so. (This is also true of many events that CAN be explained by science.)

It’s worth pointing out that the Church gives scientists every opportunity to investigate possible miracles and see if there is a plausible explanation, particularly if said miracle is going to be used as evidence in a case for canonization.

Bill February 12, 2009 at 11:44 am

Dana…the word “image” is used in a figurative way in Genesis. It does not intend to suggest that God has physical properties to have an “image” in the same way we might.

Matthew Warner February 12, 2009 at 11:51 am

Bill – Thank you! And I agree with your thoughts…Just to clarify, the Church believes the Eucharist truly changes into the body and blood of Christ (it’s essence, as you said, is Christ). But the “accidents” of it remain that of bread and wine. So scientifically (science measures accidentals, not essences) it appears to be bread and wine.

And Jason, I would ask you to reconsider your comments.

The Church believing that some things can happen supernaturally or are unable to be explained scientifically is something very different than something “contradicting” science. Science has a proper realm. When it’s left to apply to the natural world (its proper realm) it does not contradict at all with our faith.

Attila February 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Dear Matthew, I must agree with Jason on this one. You used a lot of words but have said nothing… This article will just cause greater confusion! Furthermore: it is just stupid to think that God needed millions and millions of years to create all He did! He is God and therefore He didn’t “play and experiment” with DNA, cells etc.,just so that He could eventualy get it right! Where is the omnipotence and diviniti and all godly atributes in this?! If we say that God needed to play in a sandbox for millions of years,so that He could create something by acquiring knowledge,we deny his omnipotence! This is not an easy subject to discuss,and if not lead by an expirienced theologist,it can give us all a big headake,not to mention high bloodpreasure… I refuse to believe in the sandbox theory, I refuse to believe in millions of years. God created us in seven days,God created us on His image,and not from worms,monkeys or any other soulless living being by continual “experimenting”.

Eric W February 12, 2009 at 12:02 pm

There’s nothing contradictory in saying that man was formed over millions of years in God’s image. Clay takes on many forms before a sculpture is through. A lot happens to raw materials before they become paints, canvases, brushes, etc. and result in work of art. Also, “image” refers to intellect and creativity, not physical embodiment.

Terry Fenwick February 12, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I have such a busy day and I want to read all of these – I know I will love them – but I will be back. Matthew you are terrific. Just the best!

Matthew Warner February 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Attila,

I never said God “needed” to do any of it. And I certainly said nothing about a sandbox. But I’m also not going to limit God as you are doing.

God is outside of time. To suggest he had to wait within time is silly. Further, it is YOU who are limiting God’s patience, power, and plan if you propose to know for sure that he created the world in 7 literal days (Earth days I presume, Attila?). The Catholic Church holds no such dogma – so where do you draw this authority from to declare with such certainty?

If you want an “experienced theologian’s” thoughts on it – read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/07/opinion/07schonborn.html

God bless you sir!

Attila February 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Where did my comment go? I’ve sent it from my cell-phone, and there it wrote that it was posted…

Dear Matthew,
You used a lot of words, but actually have said nothing. This is not an easy topic, and it is pointless to carry on discussion without an experienced theologist! Before we start praising the sandbox theory (believing that God actually needed millions and millions of years of playing and experimenting with DNA, cells, etc., just that He could eventually get it right), let us think about this: WHERE IS THE OMNIPOTENCE IN THIS?! By this we degrade God to a human level, because we suggest that He also needs time to acquire knowledge from experimenting, learning from errors, etc.! I’ve read some books from protestant writers, who have calculated that the World’s age is measured in ten thousands of years, and not millions! And as someone said in a previous comment, that God created only our soul on His image… It would be interesting to know why He would let this soul to exist first in a cell, and then in a worm, or monkey, or what not, before it got into this body as we see it now… No. I refuse to believe in this sandbox theory.

Matthew Warner February 12, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Attila – your comment is still there. Now you have two comments saying about the same thing! :-) See my response to your first comment above.

Oh, and I think it’s interesting that you are ready to accept without reservation what some protestant writer calculated as the age of the earth, but you are not willing to listen to millions of other scientists around the earth? Or to what the very credible scientists in the Catholic Church say? That seems a bit unreasonable.

Further, the Church doesn’t say anything definitely on the matter except where it impacts our faith and morals. And we should not limit one way or the other in our faith if we don’t need to. Which is what I did say in this post – despite you saying that I said nothing at all. Maybe you should read it again! Or better yet, read what Cardinal Schonborn wrote.

Attila February 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Interesting. Now it appeared again.

Dear Matthew,
I am limiting God? Interesting theory. I only believe in what stands in the Creed: Credo in unum Deum, Patrem OMNIPOTENTEM. I believe in Gods omnipotence.

And you quote me Cristoph Schönborn?!!!! The modernist cardinal who celebrates mass with so many liturgical abuses, that one can not count them, and, and, and… I can’t believe my eyes.

I’m clearly in the wrong place then. I abstain from further commenting.

God bless you too, Sir!

Eric W February 12, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Attila, it’s not a sandbox. Think of it as a work of art in progress. Alternately, consider that it was all done for our benefit. Coal, petroleum, and natural gas are available to us because of organisms that lived and died in mass extinctions millions of years ago.

Eric W February 12, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Where’s Mark Shea when we need him? ;)

Obsydian September 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Mark Shea is an Obnoxious & Arrogant wannabee !

& is certainly not needed in this debate !

His biased views, wedded to Theisic Evolution are lamentable !
& his contempt to all those who hold different to him is simply disgusting & Un-Christian !

Matthew Warner February 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Attila – I am not proposing anything as certain here in terms of evolution. I am pointing out that certain aspects of evolution do not contradict our faith. Further it is very harmful to our faith if one asserts too much – as you and others do in saying with certainty that the earth was created in literally 7 earth days.

Where in Church history or dogma does the Church proclaim in a literal 7 “earth” days for the creation of everything? It doesn’t. I am open to it. But I’m also open to other possibilities that are also consistent with divine revelation.

You, however, don’t seem to be open to any of the other ways God, in his infinite ability, may have created everything. That is why you are limiting God. Not me.

Attila February 12, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Again: “millions of years”! Come on, people! How can our scientists measure these millions of years when even the C-12 method is suitable only for measuring in grades of ten thousand years. I’ve learned physics, and I know what I’m talking about.

Jeff Falls February 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Using carbon isotopes is only one very limited methodology used to calculate the age of facies in the stratigraphic record. In fact, it’s rarely employed by geologists or geophysicists for precisely the reason that you suggested. Most of the absolute dating of the rock record employs the decay of radioactive isotopes found in crystalline, igneous rocks. Some expamples are the decay of Potassium-40 to Argon-40, Rubidium-37 to Strontium-37, and Uranium-237 to Lead-207. This is all stuff that you might need to take a lower-division geology course to discover, so being unaware of these techniques is totally forgivable. Appealing to a false authority on the other hand…

Attila February 12, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I believe we’ll have to agree to disagree. :)

William February 12, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Ha ha ha…there are two Bill’s posting…I didn’t post about the Eucharist…but that Bill makes a good point!

William February 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

On the subject of DNA and God’s “needing” millions of years. I don’t know why we need to question God’s purposes for setting into motion a natural system that takes millions of years to play itself out…and seems to have been fine tuned across all those millenia for the purpose of creating us in this absolutely rare condition of life and cognition. Wasn’t it Paul who wrote about God’s ways being so far above our own? Whatever Providence is, we can surmise that it’s “rules and laws” were written in their entirety within the singluarity from which the universe sprang at the moment of the Big Bang.

William February 12, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Atilla…I think science arrives at the measurment of millions of years in the same way that Philo, Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Aquainis all arrived at the realization of a single divine Logos…through reason.

Jason February 12, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Let me first clarify my point about the Eucharist. I was referring to the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano: http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/lanciano.html in which the bread and wine is truly physically transformed – an act that defies and contradicts laws of modern science.

Matthew and Others,
Why are we so quick to accept the THEORY of evolution? Even it cannot be proven by science as it is merely a guess based on human observations, and as with most science changes over time.

Why must you also claim that those that disagree with you are ‘unreasonable’, ‘limiting God’, ‘silly’, and ‘harmful to our faith’?

As you have the right within the faith to believe in evolution you must also respect those within the faith who are as justified in choosing not to. I have always enjoyed and highly respected your postings but have been deeply disappointed by the way which you chose to respond to Attila’s thoughts.

William February 12, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Jason, evolution is not a theory. Darwin’s “Origin of Species” is a theory that many of us (including myself) deny because the evidence is not there. However the act of evolution…things changing over time…is an observable fact and to examine what extent that evolution and natural selection have played in the history of our world is important and neccessary. But there is alot of fear in the knee jerk reactions against “evolution” as a whole, as if the act of inquiry and scientific learning will somehow threaten the existence of God. I think that is the overarching point people are trying to make to Attila.

Matthew Warner February 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Jason, all I did was say that the theory (in some forms) is compatible with our faith. Attila is the one that said it was “stupid” to believe in evolution.

I think it’s quite easy to make the argument that most reasonable people on the planet disagree.

That being said, it is indeed harmful to our faith if we treat anything as absolute truth that is not necessarily so. Because later if/when we find it is not necessarily true (such as believing in a literal-ist interpretation of the creation story) then our entire faith appears to be undermined. That’s the harm.

I’m quite open to either interpretation. I’m not limiting what God perhaps chose to do in his infinite wisdom. But to deny at least the chance that some type of evolution may have occurred not only attempts to limit God in this way but is also unreasonable – in my opinion. Sorry to disappoint.

Jessica February 12, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Dear Matthew,

I absolutely love this post. I’ve always thought about science and religion as two sides of the same coin: religion explains why God did what He has, and science is a HUMAN explanation for how God did it. But in the end, science is still perfectly human, and therefore imperfect in explaining things God’s way.

Why would God give us reason if he created the universe in such a way that we wouldn’t be able to understand it? I don’t pretend to speak for God, but God made us to worship Him and we can do that even better when we figure out how things work in the universe and then wonder at His genius.

And why can’t God have played around in a “sandbox”? God created the universe in “days”, but I don’t think time means the same to God as it does to humans. To say that God follows human constructs is limiting Him in the extreme. He might laugh at the human idea of “time” for all we know (:

Toni February 13, 2009 at 12:49 am

Wow…just reading all of this now. Matt thank you for your daily witness on these blogs. When we go about doing the business of God we are called to suffer as in the SMG Youth Note…please continue your outstanding work. Although so much of the commentary above seems charged, we each spent time today examining our faith, which is a blessing. I would add this…God’s ways are so beyond me, and if time is a line, the he resides above that line eternally present. Nothing takes him any time at all…

Cindy February 13, 2009 at 9:22 am

Reading through these comments reminds me of the danger posed to catholics and all christians when we allow the fundamentalist sects to do all of the talking about the bible in America. We believe that the bible is comprised of words inspired by the Holy Spirit and informed by tradition. It’s not blasphemous to suggest that God exists outside time and space and that His plans are so often inscrutable that evolution & creation are probably one and the same.

William February 13, 2009 at 10:10 am

Cindy…you are so right. Fundamentalists and evangelicals have forged a false impression of Christian belief upon the national consciousness…that we all take the bible completely literally and reject all earning outside it. On the flip side, though, the fundamentalists and evangelicals by virtue of their holding fast to Sola Scriptura often have a greater command of the text and can manipulate it it’s meaning to suit thier point of view more efficiently. As Catholics we have a greater responsibility to not only know the scriptures, but the non-catholic views of scripture so that we can articulate the catholic point of view. It does get tiresome having to hold a dissertation on catholic teachings every time a subject of conversation butts up against religion.

Christian February 15, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Great Post!
I recently had a problem in believing in evolution and God at the same time… and i very well knew that i wasn’t gonna give up God. A very good book that helped me grow in my faith and scientific knowledge was a book by Kennith R. Miller (a devout Catholic micro-biologist) titled ‘Finding Darwin’s God’.
It is a great book and you feel more confident in God and amazed his infinite wisdom and power…Its worth a look.
Pax…

Christian February 15, 2009 at 7:53 pm

To Attila and others…
Lets Both our interpretations of God are great pool players…they can sink all 12 balls in a row…
The difference is that the God of literal interpretations and Creationists has to take 15 shots to sink the 15 balls…My God only needs one…

Sean February 16, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Another good book on the subject is “The Language of God” by Francis Collins (http://www.amazon.com/Language-God-Scientist-Presents-Evidence/dp/1416542744/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234812990&sr=8-1)

In it, he talks about both sides, about the vast wealth of scientific evidence for evolution, and also about the role of God and Faith. Francis Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project and also has a strong personal faith in God through long searching.

Ev February 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Hey Matt -

I like your writing style & the obvious thought you put into your blogs. On this one, I say, “Faith should have married a reason a long time ago.”

It is a provocative subjective, but we have to remember concerning faith “we see through a glass darkly” and concerning science it’s pretty much the same thing. We humans cannot contain & explain everything clearly 100 percent of the time because our Creator is greater than us.

The main thing is that, if we have faith, then our faith ought to determine our science, knowing that our loving Father would leave us answers in medicine & science that were consistent with His laws. The temptation is, since we are partly “in the dark”, to make choices that are immoral in science’s name because we don’t want to wait for our other, more moral experiments to bear fruit.

Of course, the perfect example here would be adult stem cell research vs embryonic stem cell research. One is moral; the other is not, and the moral choice has been the one to bear fruit thus far. If only we had the patience to keeping working at it and Trust God that the answer is there.

Ruben Zamora June 11, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Its quite to easy to measure some items. For instance, go to any of the Large CAVES in the US. You can see where water drops have causes large columns. They measure the current rate at what they grow and can guess more or less how old they are. I don’t see whats so hard about that.

Holly June 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Oh. My. God. Science is proving more and more every day that the earth is YOUNG. VERY YOUNG. Evilution absolutely contradicts the bible. THANK GOD I HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE CULT OF CATHOLICISM.

Carol November 30, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Hate much Holly?
May God rebuke the demon of lies that has a hold of your soul. In the name of Jesus Christ.

Chris Morgan June 26, 2009 at 6:36 am

“The Catholic Church never has and never will hold any doctrine that contradicts science (good science anyway).”

Galileo Galilei, for one, would disagree with you.

As for evolution versus creation, remember that an eyewitness account trumps hearsay or second-hand evidnce every time. God says (Genesis 1) that He accomplished creation in six days. He was there and did it. Where are the eyewitnesses for the evolution?

William Bengle June 26, 2009 at 8:54 am

Chris Morgan:

Actually, in the case of Galileo is was HE who was acting contradictory to science. He was teaching Copernicus’ theory (it was an unproven theory at the time) as if it were setttled scientific fact. It was not. The church warned him repeatedly not to teach a theory as if it were fact…which seems quite a reasonable standard. He chose to defy the church who, as the creators of the university he taught at, were in every legal and ethical position to correct his behavior. In fact it was the church, through the astronomy work of the Jesuits, who later actually confirmed Copernicus’ theory. Galileo may have been proven correct eventually but he could not provide the evidence and proof himself. This whole Galileo vs. the Vatican bit has been a well-worn bit of anti-vatican propoganda for years and years.

I don’t understand the fear of science inherent in evangelicals. It’s as if the discovery of natural processes at work in the universe will threaten your faith in God as the source of all things. Fairly silly and it sounds like a weak faith to begin with if you must cling to a metaphor and not recognize figurative language in order to stay faithful to Him.

Artie June 30, 2009 at 7:21 am

William Bengle that was an excellent post. I actually cannot help feel sorry for those who point to Galileo and say, “See the *ROMAN* Catholic Church is against science!” These people cling to pseudo WASP history, much like the accusations against Pope Pius XII and the holocaust.

In reality faith and reason coexist beautifully. The science vs. religion debate is usually amongst atheist humanist and fundamentalist protestants. I sit back and grab a bag of popcorn with a refreshing soda pop to listen to both sides arguments and think to myself both sides are missing the point.

Carol November 30, 2009 at 11:49 pm

Amen Artie. It’s kind of sad and pathetic really, but at least it distracts them from slinging mud at the true Church for a while.

sage July 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Yes, until they see the church covering up for pedophiles and chastising nuns for doing social service work!

Bill July 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm

@sage…well, true EXCEPT that it wasn’t the Church covering up pedophiles, it was certain Bishops transferring gay (that’s 90+ % of the abuse cases) men who accosted teenage boys. Pedophila involves pre-pubecent children of both sexes no adolecent young men. The term is ephibophilia…or just plain homosexual with no sense of boundary or respect. Not the same thing…in fact, totally different. The vast majority of the sex abuse cases, which spanned across nearly 50 years, were not “covered up” nor did they involve sketchy transfers. So, no you are wrong on that tip. As far as the nuns being “chastised for social work”, well…wrong again. They were no chastised for that. The Vatican studied the writings and teachings of this certain order of nuns, who are openly and actively radical and anti-authoritarian, for nearly 6 years before making their recommendations that some of their teachings are not in line with Church teachings and therefore not Catholic. They have been given every opportunity to amend their positions and come back into communion with the church. That is an act of mercy by the church…and certainly not “chastisement” for social work. They are free to do as they choose…but they canot call themselves Catholic and operate in opposition to the Church. It’s that simple.

So…that’s 0 for 2 for you. I’d suggest more reading on issues before making smarmy, snide comments about subjects which you are obviously not versed in.

Steve July 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

@sage this website addresses some of the issues you’ve brought up. http://www.themediareport.com/fast-facts/
@Bill what a fantastic word: smarmy!

Robert August 12, 2009 at 10:30 am

I believed in evolution for decades and couldn’t reconcile what I was taught in science class and what the bible teaches. Things didn’t clear up until I read “Creation Rediscovered” by the late Gerry Keane. Meeting him and reading more and more I came to the realization that macro-evolution is extremely impossible and that the Bible is historical, not a gneral piece of theological myth. By the way, I am Catholic and now totally believe in a young Earth, the Flood, the true existence of Adam and Eve. It’s unfortunate the Church still sides with the liberal mentailities of the evolution crowd.

Obsydian September 23, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Robert,
Good Answer ! – Thank God – for the voice of sanity on this blog !
Thank God for Gerry Keane (RIP), & Hugh Owen !

This Blog is very good on most / all things Catholic, – However, like most Catholics, this Issue of Creation Vs Evolution – is the one that brings us all undone ! – no thanks to Satan & his earthly minions, weaviling their way into the church’s institutions, – esp the Pontifical Biblical Commision !

The Holy Catholic Church has taught for over 1,800yrs in Creation & defending the literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 ! – It’s only in the last 150yrs or so that the PBC has been White-anted & corrupted, even confusing / brainwashing the last few Popes !

Don’t Beleive Me ?
Well….. For all Those Theistic Evolutionists out there – please goto:
http://www.kolbecenter.org/

I Dare You ! :-)

Bring it On ! – & May the Light of TRUTH (Christ Himself) Prevail !

All Men Fear What They Do Not Understand,
& Hate What They Can Not Conquer !

Carol December 1, 2009 at 12:02 am

Agreed. It’s nice to see well formed contradictory viewpoints. And it’s really important to emphasize that evolution is in no way Catholic dogma. We can believe how we want to concerning this strangely touchy subject.

What I DON’T get is how come all these fundamentalists believe Genesis absolutely doggedly tooth-and-nail fight-to-the-death; yet think John 6 is just a metaphore; or think that the “wine” in the wedding at Cana was really “grape juice”?

But, in contrast, why are we to believe through blind faith that humans evolved from goo when the linking evidence really isn’t there?

Gerald August 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Christopher West makes a great point in his Created and Redeemed series. He says that a scientist and a lover have two different perspectives. The scientist looks in a womans eye sees a cornea. The lover when he looks in his wife’s eye sees beauty and speaks poety. The Bible is not written from the view of the scientist, though it will not contradict valid science. Evolution is a theory. Far from proven and as a scientific theory it is fine. Creationism is not unscientific as if God is then he is a part of science. He is a scientific power of the universe that must be taken in to account. God could have created the world in 4 billion years or he could have made it look that way to our feeble minds. I tend to believe the 4 billion view simply because of my Geology background. Though I am open to the other. God clearly had a hand in it either way.

Obsydian September 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Dear Gerald,

Thanks for having a balanced view on this.
As a student of Geology, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this then !
:-)

The Influence of Geology on the Deviations of Catholic Exegesis
by Dr. Dominique Tassot =>
http://www.kolbecenter.org/tassot_symp02.htm

Obsydian September 23, 2009 at 1:07 pm

What Does The Catholic Church Teach about Origins?________________________________________________

God created everything “in its whole substance” from nothing (ex nihilo) in the beginning.
(Lateran IV; Vatican Council I)

Genesis does not contain purified myths.
(Pontifical Biblical Commission 1909[1])

Genesis contains real history—it gives an account of things that really happened. (Pius XII)

Adam and Eve were real human beings—the first parents of all mankind.
(Pius XII)

Polygenism (many “first parents”) contradicts Scripture and Tradition and is condemned. (Pius XII; 1994 Catechism, 360, footnote 226: Tobit 8:6—the “one ancestor” referred to in this Catechism could only be Adam.)

The “beginning” of the world included the creation of all things, the creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall (Jesus Christ [Mark 10:6]; Pope Innocent III; Blessed Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus).

The body of Eve was specially created from a portion of Adam’s body
(Leo XIII). She could not have originated via evolution.

Various senses are employed in the Bible, but the literal obvious sense must be believed unless reason dictates or necessity requires (Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus).

Adam and Eve were created upon an earthly paradise and would not have known death if they had remained obedient (Pius XII).

After their disobedience of God, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. But the Second Person of the Trinity would subsequently pay the ransom for fallen man (Nicene Creed).

Original Sin is a flawed condition inherited from Adam and Eve
(Council of Trent).

The Universe suffers in travail ever since the sin of disobedience by Adam and Eve. (Romans 8, Vatican Council I).

We must believe any interpretation of Scripture that the Fathers taught unanimously on a matter of faith or morals (Council of Trent and Vatican Council I).

All the Fathers who wrote on the subject believed that the Creation days were no longer than 24-hour-days. (Consensus of the Fathers of the Church)

The work of Creation was finished by the close of Day Six, and nothing completely new has since been created—except for each human rational soul at conception (Vatican Council I)

St. Peter and Christ Himself in the New Testament confirmed the global Flood of Noah. It covered all the then high mountains and destroyed all land dwelling creatures except eight human beings and all kinds of non-human creatures aboard the Ark (Unam Sanctam, 1302)

The historical existence of Noah’s Ark is regarded as most important in typology, as central to Redemption. (1566 Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Evolution must not be taught as fact, but instead the pros and cons of evolution must be taught.
(Pius XII, Humani Generis)

Investigation into human “evolution” was allowed in 1950, but Pope Pius XII feared that an acceptance of evolutionism might adversely affect doctrinal beliefs.

[1] In 1909, the PBC was an arm of the Magisterium and dissent from its decisions was tantamount to dissent from the teaching of the pope himself.

http://www.kolbecenter.org/church_teaches.htm

Matthew Warner September 23, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Obsydian, thanks for the thoughts. But none of those quotations from the Church you provide necessarily contradict a belief in most aspects of biological evolution. Which is why it is possible for a Catholic to believe in evolution under certain circumstances. And why it’s important to allow reason its place to fill in and enhance doctrines concerning faith and morals.

We have to make a careful distinction between simply scientific “evolution” in different capacities and “evolutionism” which is something entirely different.

Rob Lattin September 26, 2009 at 2:05 pm

The title of your blog is very good in that it elicits a reesponse from just about anybody. “Can CAtholics Believe In Evolution?” can be answered yes or no. As a creationist and someone who looks at logic and reason as an anchor, I can answer and say “Yeah, sure , Catholics can believe in evolution and they can also believe in the Easter bunny or UFO’s.”

“Good science” was the term you mentioned. Evolutionists are by and large an arrogant lot who refuse to look at the evidence or lack of. There is no evidence any where to scientifically support the theory of (macro) evolution. There is only circular reasoning. As a Catholic I prefer to read the works of Gerry Keane, Robert Sungenis, and Wallace Johnson among others.

As a former evolution-believer, the more I read and thought with reason I realized that evolution is an impossibility, no matter which way you slice it.

Bill the lesser September 26, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Rob Lattin:
The funny thing about UFO’s is they’ve left us with more evidence, both physical and anecdotal, than…oh I don’t know…let’s say; Jesus of Nazareth. I’d go so far as to say that the UFO phenomenon is a very real thing worth further study. As to what it actually is, that’s anyone’s guess at this point.

And I believe the term you may want to use in this case is “Neo-Darwinist” rather than evolutionist. Evolution simply means “change over time”…and is an observable process that is far from an impossibility and it implies nothing more than physical matter is subject to changes and is not antithetical to the faith. No offense, but it is foolish to say you are a “former evolution believer” since evolution is indeed a fact and if you claim to disbelieve in it then you sound plain dumb to atheists and, by virtue of association, make us all sound like uneducated dingbats. The “Neo-Darwinists” are the folks who insist that there can be no other answer to the problem of speciation than Darwin’s theory and it’s by products and they are the ones who are arrogant and, not unlike Galileo, teach that theory as if it were already proven science and that it disproves God etc etc.

Rob Lattin October 2, 2009 at 10:31 am

UFO’s? Like Mulder from the X-files, I would say “I want to believe.” Evolution, i.e. MACRO-evolution, has not presented a shred of evidence anywhere. If there is evidence, then I want to see it.

I want to see proof that a reptile became a mammal. I want to see proof that a sub-human became an intelligent being.

UFO’s left us more evidence than Jesus of Nazareth? What do you call eyewitness accounts of Him, a theory?

Too any Catholics are discounting their faith and religion and easily and blindly accepting the propaganda that we all evolved from some earlier sub-species.

Not to burst any bubbles, but I am unconcerned what atheists think about me or Catholic Creationists. I am more concerned about what I believe because that is what concerns my eternity.

As a side note: If there was plenty of evidence of UFO’s, I think that NASA would be the first organization to try and capitalize upon it. If there was evidence they wouldn’t be wasting our money searching for water on other planets but be looking for the so-called intelligent beings who sent these UFO’s and tracing which direction they came from.

Bill the Lesser October 2, 2009 at 11:17 am

Rob,

I want to see that kind of proof myself, and wait breathlessly for more knowledge. I have huge problems with Darwinism as it is presented and…like any good Catholic who isn’t afraid of marrying faith and reason (unlike the poor weak Catholics who recoil from science and reason for fear it would disrupt their already shakey lukewarm faith)…I fully recognize that these are THEORIES. But how would they become more than theories if we shrink from inquiry wholesale? I am glad the good catholic doctors of the middle ages weren’t afraid to push the envelope of medicine and move beyond leeches and bleeding and prayer theory!

As far as UFO’s / Jesus evidence is concerned other than scripture and apocrypha we have a handful of historic records about Jesus including Josephus and Trajan etc….and no one is disputing that (but thanks for reading into what I said and trying to depict me as a doubter, you hapless dingbat!). Clearly we have more evidence for the life of Jesus than, say, Alexander the Great. We don’t doubt that either figure existed. My only point is that, given the voluminous amounts of evidence for the existence of the UFO phenomenon, by your own logic then you should also believe in UFO’s. Obviously you didn’t grasp the point I clearly made about the difference between the existence of a phenomenon and not knowing what UFOs exactly are. I never claimed that they are “so-called intelligent beings” who “sent UFOs” or “Came from another planet.” Again you are taking what I wrote and adding your pre-concieved notions and prejudices onto it.

By the way…my father was in the Air Force through the 60′s and early 70′s and worked on the infamous “Project Blue Book” and believe me, your government is spending a whole lot of money investigating the UFO phenomenon. NASA’s a complete waste of money it’s true…but their mission is not investigating UFOs so why would you conclude that they would be an organization to capitalize on it? That’s like saying the Post Office should capitalize on the Auto Industry bailout. Silly.

Rob Lattin October 3, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Matt, how about having a part 2 blog with this title “Is It OK for Catholic students to refuse to believe in evolution?” Here’s my background: Catholic school educated from kindergarten through college. From 7th grade through high school we were taught Darwinian evolution as fact, as well as the so-called Big Bang. We had no choice but to accept the theory as fact (we were taught other objectionable things in school then too, including artificial birth control with “statistics” provided by Planned Parenthood).

In college, it was my choice to study evolution and in all my Anthropolgy and Biology courses we were taught the theory as fact. This again is Catholic education, mind you.

Today, with the advances in scientific discovery which keeps chipping away at Darwinian evolution, Neo-Darwinian adherents, and other modified theories such as punctuated equilibrium, I find that many of our Catholic institutions are still teaching macro-evolution as fact.

When my daughters objected in science class that evolution was still unproven, well, you can understand the phone calls we had to field from the principal. We eventually pulled our kids out of the Archdiocesan school.

If the schools want to teach evolution, they still need to teach Creation and even intelligent design because kids are only getting part of the story.

So is it OK for students to object or challenge teaching evolution (as fact) in school?

BTW. My kids former school also taught that abortion was OK in certain circumstances among other things. Thank God the school closed down 2 years ago.

Drew October 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I enjoyed this very much. Thanks for posting!

Snow Flake March 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm

I disagree with what you write. Personally I do not under all means believe that religion and evolution can exist. Evolution is stupid.

It should not be taught in public schools. In the constitution it says all men are “created equal” yet when your an evolutionist you believe in “survial of the fittest” and “more desirable traits.” This does not make sense, students’ science and government classes contradict themselves.

People who are “catholics who believe in evolution” call Genesis a Parable. It is not a parable. Don’t you guys think God meant to put this part first because it is true? Frankly, I believe it is much more reasonable that God created people instead of evolving fom “apes.”

Evolution is being disproved each day. Lucy is not true, chromosomes cannot fuse together, oh and quess what? Those fossils that the Discovery Channel said where proove that evolution exists were studied by an evolutionist, yes and evolutionist who found out a Japanese man sold that fossil to Americans for a big number $$$ of money. The evolutinist also found out that this Japanese man put parts of different fossils and rock together to make it look like the missing link, yet there were no similarities in the bone. Yes and once Discovery Channel found out about this, did they do anything about it? Well, no they didn’t. They published false information so you guys can be decieved and fall away from God. So please pray to God and I hope you will realize the point of what I and others are writing. Study evolution in depth with skepticism and tell me if you still believe it is true.

To think we came upon this by chance? Natural Selection, haha. Why do you believe in something a man who turned away from the Christian faith came up with? But fine let’s think about it. There was a monkey then what? Over billions of years we evolved by random mutations. Interesting, especially since almost 0% of all mutations are for the better. Amino Acids do not posses the ability to arrange thmeselves and put themselves in proper sequence. Please there will be a time and when you will have to pick between evolution and religion, and I hope you all make the right choice. May God bless you and help you realize we did not evolve.

Catholic debating pro-life April 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm

When did we say that God didn’t create humans? While evolution isn’t DEFINITELY true, what you fail to realize is that there is a a way to interpret evolution so that isn’t doesn’t contradict what the Church teaches. Only that specific interpretation is allowed by the Church.

Matthew Wood April 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I really like what you say about beauty. To me, evolution seems to make God more powerful. I do take issue when you seem to try to speak for every Carholic. You say that Catholic teachings are open to all sciemce, but I have a few Catholic friends who believe in the strict teachings of Genesis as a creation account. Also, when you say that the Catholic Church has ALWAYS been open to science, the first thing I think of is Galileo. Other than those small details, I completely agree and I’m happy to see so many open minded Christians.

Bill April 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm

@ Mathew Wood…try to remember that the church was not against the science when it came to Galileo and the Heliocentric theory. Galileo got himself in trouble for teaching that theory at catholic universities as if it were fact, when it hadn’t yet been proven. Can’t blame the Catholic Church for insisting that what is being taught in it’s institutions is fact…anymore than you can blame your math teaching for wanting you to show your work when you get a correct answer. Fact is, it was the Jesuits working out of the Vatican’s own observatory who helped provide the factual evidence that later proved Heliocentric theory was, in fact, a fact!

Catholic debating pro-life April 28, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Actually, the theory was wrong; the Earth evolved around the sun, but the universe is just far, far too large for the sun to be the center of it.

Robert May 11, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Actually, if you delve more into helio- vs geo- centric theory, you’ll discover that both are quite equal from a relativist viewpoint. We know the sun exists and we know the earth exists, however, which one revolves around the other? We don’t know until we can get solid proof somehow. I am even starting to believe the earth does not rotate on its axis. The more I want to learn, the more I realize a lot of things passed on to me as a child in science class is plainly incorrect.

Evolution of one species into another is one of those so-called teachings that I find as improbable, illogical, and impossible to occur. There is no proof of transition (missing links), there is nothing observable of one species to another. Biological systems cannot change without destoying themselves. Even if trillions of years were available, change could not happen, i.e. the development of electric eels harnessing electricity without killing themselves.

Ben September 16, 2010 at 12:49 am

@Robert
As stated before, evolution is change over time. There is nothing strictly stating that evolution is strictly species to species. If that is true then we are a different species from the humans 200 years ago who had smaller feet. We evolved based on our needs which is one of the basis of evolution.
As to your electric eel reference, electric eels’ skin has a higher electrical resistance than those of its prey and they don’t use their electrical capabilities long enough for them to actually harm themselves. It takes a minimum of 50 milliseconds to cause an arm spasm, which is the about the same size of an adult electric eel, but it only takes about 2 milliseconds to perform their stunning attacks; then factor in the higher resistance and you have an unharmed electric eel.
These are all opinions on the fact of evolution, but not on the evolution-ism theory that everyone talks about, that being that all life evolved from a single ancestry. It is possible that this is true, but until it is proven it is a theory. Evolution, how it should be defines, is a fact.

Kayla Cox June 21, 2010 at 11:29 am

You might also want to check out Ben Stein’s documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” There is a lot of censorship going on in the scientific community, and a lot of bad science is being taught in school. For the record, I do believe in an old earth, but not evolution.

Robert October 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Hi Ben, thanks for the comment. Let me further answer your reply

You stated “As stated before, evolution is change over time. There is nothing strictly stating that evolution is strictly species to species.”

Change over time is evolution, both the macro and the micro variety. Nobody is disputing adaptation. We are disputing the change from one creature to another and this change, as the evolutionists teach, is over time. They need millions and billions of years in order to affect such a gradual change. For example, the amphibian eventually evolving into reptiles took several million years, according to the evolutionists.

Then you stated “If that is true then we are a different species from the humans 200 years ago who had smaller feet. We evolved based on our needs which is one of the basis of evolution.”

Our needs have never changed. Let me ask you, then, assuming evolution were true, what shall we further evolve into based “on our needs”.

Then you stated, “As to your electric eel reference, electric eels’ skin has a higher electrical resistance than those of its prey and they don’t use their electrical capabilities long enough for them to actually harm themselves. It takes a minimum of 50 milliseconds to cause an arm spasm, which is the about the same size of an adult electric eel, but it only takes about 2 milliseconds to perform their stunning attacks; then factor in the higher resistance and you have an unharmed electric eel.”

I’m glad you know a lot about the electric eel, however you proved my point. The electric eel has electrical capabilities which are not simple, but complex, too complex to have arisen from gradual change (evolution) without making the creature extinct.

Then you finally stated, “These are all opinions on the fact of evolution, but not on the evolution-ism theory that everyone talks about, that being that all life evolved from a single ancestry. It is possible that this is true, but until it is proven it is a theory. Evolution, how it should be defines, is a fact.:

Here I think you are confused about what is opinion, what is theory and what is fact. Those that believe in (macro) evolution ‘believe’ in it – it is not a falsifiable science. For it to be a fact there has to be proof, of which there is none.

Rafa November 7, 2010 at 1:21 am

Whether evolution is real or not…and I will admit I am personally not greatly fascinated with its study…I think it best for all Christians, Catholic or not, to focus more on doing good works in everyday life and following the Bible than to argue over this.

Admittedly, though, this is used as a very powerful excuse by atheists against religion many times…if you think supporting evolution can turn people to God, though, I would have to politely but firmly disagree.

Robert November 29, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Rafa, It’s good to focus on good works. It’s also good to pursue the truth. The truth is that evolution is a total impossibility. There is absolutely no scientific proof of macro-evolution. Arguments, rather debates, are a Christian way of asserting the truth, Rafa. There’s no need to concede to a psuedoscience for the sake of avoiding argument. This is what Peter and Paul did.

Kandy February 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I do not get caught up the old Earth vs New Earth and I do believe that organisms evolve over time but I just really have a hard time believing that I came from Goo. I was teaching the a very small section on the beginning of life and my book actually says that life came from chemical reactions that occured near the hydrothermal vents in the ocean or from another planet. My students are expected to accept that reasoning. Truth is science cannot explain how life began and when people talk about Evolution that is what they focus on.

cesar July 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm

@Kandy, as you might suspect, much research in science of biopoiesis is in progress and continues to validate the that we “came from goo” as you put it. I ask you which is more of challenge to believe given the scientific data: biological life evolved from inorganic matter through natural processes OR the son of god was sent to earth to save all mankind?
Read on here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=primordial-soup-urey-miller-evolution-experiment-repeated

Delores March 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm

This is one thing that always bothers me on posts like this: you clearly indicate it is okay to believe in evolution and have faith in God and the bible. Why don’t you also indicate that it is okay to not believe in evolution and have faith in God and the bible? So many articles state the first but not the latter and it implies, to me, that the latter is not acceptable.

Matthew Warner March 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Delores,

In the post I quite clearly express just what you are suggesting. I said “While Christians are free to be open to that possibility” (that evolution is not true and the Earth was created in 7 literal days).

Also, if you read the comments, I re-iterate that it is certainly compatible with our faith and possible that evolution is not true. Additionally, it’s smart to expect that parts of the theory of biological evolution certainly aren’t true. It’s just a theory. Parts have been shown to be very likely. Others have not. Surely we have much more to learn.

But the main reason you probably don’t hear many people make the point that it’s “okay to not believe in evolution and have faith in God and the bible” is because nobody is challenging that point. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anybody argue that you had to believe in evolution in order to have faith in God and the Bible. So, as a result, you won’t hear many people defending that position. It’s a given.

Peace!

Christina Dunkin March 4, 2011 at 6:36 am

As a Catholic who is, after several years of examining both sides of the Creation/Evolution debate, “on the fence” so to speak, (thus far finding arguments for either side to be unconvincing/uncompelling) I think we need to be charitable to both sides. I have found that many creationists are not trying to dodge science and reason anymore than many Christian evolutionists are trying to dodge the word of God. Let’s love one another in Christ, okay? And lets’ also remember to study the Scripture-from trustworthy Catholic/Christian sources- and judge Scripture by its context. The Genesis creation account as allegorical? Perhaps. The Gospel as merely figurative but not historical? No!

lozen March 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Of course you cannot be Catholic and believe in evolution!Just like you couldn’t be catholic in the 1300s and not believe in witches and burning them! Just like you couldn’t be catholic in Galileo’s time and believe the earth was round and went around the sun!

Matthew Warner March 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Lozen, your comment is complete fiction. I’d check your source of the information you’ve been given.

Steve October 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Matthew – love your posts and this one got me thinking…I doubt many would argue that adaptation doesn’t happen but evolution implies more then bugs changing colors to adapt to their environment.

Perhaps you could clarify about what you mean by evolution, good science, and what you believe to be true. I know you’ve indicated that you are open to God and however he created the Earth but because evolution is such a loaded topic it would help to have a line that we can draw that indicates what the Church believes and what it does not. Can you please post what has caused you to believe in evolution and what scientific proof you used to make that decision?

cesar July 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm

@Steven “Can you please post what has caused you to believe in evolution and what scientific proof you used to make that decision?” Are you kidding me… are you actually asking for proof/evidence to support evolutionary theory?

Steve July 13, 2012 at 8:32 am

@cesar
Perhaps a bit tongue a cheek but no…I was looking for the empirical evidence that all true science can demonstrate. Skeptics ask for the physical evidence that can prove God’s existence…why can’t I see the overwhelming evidence for evolution? I personally have never seen or even read about a successful mutation for an adapting animal.

Donovan November 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Thank you Dana!!! That’s exactly what I have been saying my whole life, it only makes the most sense. we were talking about it in a religious ed class and I brought that up and our group leader said it sounds possible, because it seems logical.

Jen June 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Thanks so much for this post. As a high school Biology teacher AND the Confirmation Catechist at my parish, this is a topic I have struggled with. Kids ask the best questions, and sometimes it is hard to put what I know and what is true into words that make sense! I am going to share your response with my Confirmation candidates next year! Thanks again!

Joshua September 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

In the way you present it, evolution and God can coexist. However, evolutionists present the theory of evolution as a way to eliminate God from the world. In that context they cannot coexist. Nobody knows the method of God’s creation. Evolution is quite possibly God’s method, but there are many points in the “evolutionary process” that would require direct influence of God and cannot be explained using any scientific facts as we know them. The first is life being produced spontaneously from non living matter. Scientifically speaking that is not possible and takes the direct hand of God to make it happen. Every time an organism changes to become more complex would also require direct intervention of God, as additional genetic information would be required, and reproduction either translates genetic information straight across, or loses genetic information, but can never produce increased information.

Paul Strait September 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm

This is a bit wrong. It is heretical not to accept neo-Darwinian evolution. The post should be worded “Can Catholics reject evolution?” and the answer should be a very very strong NO. There are several reasons for this, but I’d like to start with the psychological — for people so-called Catholics who reject evolution, its like saying that God put all of this evidence here of how he created the world as a trap to trick people. That isn’t how God works.

Secondly, for people who reject evolution in favor of some kind of protestant claptrap like “intelligent design,” they are even worse– they think that God is such a bufoon that he couldn’t create a world that would produce life without periodically having to intervene and make adjustments. The theology is bizarre b/c God is outside of time — His act of creation is eternal and instantanous, always-already creating. But so-called Catholics who believe in Intelligent Design are not very nuanced theologically, obviously, not the least of which because they are heretics.

His Holiness John Paul II delivered a *fundamental church teaching* in 1996 in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences– “New scientific knowledge has led us to the conclusion that the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis.”

Fundamental. Church. Teaching.

Stop excusing heresy. I invite you to investigate the work of Vatican Observatory Director Jesuit Father George V. Coyne, who is doing the Lord’s work purging the anti-evolution and “intelligent design” heresies from the Church.

Matthew Warner September 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Scientific theories that don’t concern matters of faith and morals are absolutely NOT “fundamental church teaching.” So I think you are off there with the whole heresy bit. But you do make some good points otherwise that I like.

Paul Strait September 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I think this is in a certain sense an issue of faith — if for no other reason (besides the fact that the Pope said so, which is a pretty good reason I think) than every alternative to evolution implicitly or explicitly diminishes the power of God. Father Coyne used the specific phrase “fundamental church teaching” here (http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=18524). I’m not saying that neo-Darwinianism is on par with, say, the contents of the Nicene Creed, but it is certainly more of a fundamental church teaching than, say, opposition to capital punishment. God calls upon us to learn about His Creation. The entire universe is a form of Revelation. Those who willfully reject it are rejecting God.

Matthew Warner September 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I love what Fr. Coyne had to say. But the fact there there is some debate among orthodox, solid smart people within the Church is a good sign that it’s not heresy to doubt certain aspects of evolution. Good article, though, thanks for sharing! Will take a look back over my post again soon and make sure I’m careful enough with my language. I appreciate the insights!

Paul Strait September 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I’m glad you liked it! And you are right, the accusation of heresy is almost certainly unnecessarily polemical. I just have strong feelings about this b/c I’m an academic and I very often find myself trying to persuade my secular colleagues of the contemporary relevance of the Church. God endowed us with the faculty of Reason that has lead us to make some rather amazing discoveries about the universe. Many of the questions being pursued by modern science have instrumental justifications, but some purely proceed from man’s intrinsic and fundamental desire to know. In that respect, I think that even the most ardent atheistic scientists are, without even being conscious of it, devoting their life to trying to understand and know God for its own sake. It kills me to see believers equally unconsciously push the opposite direction and close themselves off from this knowledge that God in his providence clearly meant for us to discover and understand and give meaning to. But you are right, I shouldn’t say that it is heresy to question aspects of evolution — but I do think there are very good orthodox theological reasons why we should be enthusiastic in our acceptance of it.

Apparently there has been somewhat of a reconciliation between Father Coyne and Cardinal Schönborn, as I just discovered watching this (outstanding) interview of Father Coyne by Richard Dawkins — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po0ZMfkSNxc. Definitely worth it if you have time.

This interview is great for a lot of reasons– I think that Dawkins and his cohort are almost always making their case for atheism against a theistic strawman. The ‘God’ that they go after is not the God of Aquinas, or Augustine. It is nice to see Dawkins engage an actual intellectual Catholic. The only thing disappointing about this interview is that Dawkins didn’t include it in his program (though I can see why — nothing in it furthered his case).

Matthew Warner September 30, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Thanks, that sounds fascinating! Will definitely give it a watch. Good stuff.

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