Should a Catholic Accept Evolutionary Theory Without Qualifications?

101013-PopeThe Genesis accounts of creation provide a rich field for controversy and discussion. I have posted before focusing on the question of the genre of the Genesis texts. In this post I would like to ponder another point for discussion: The theory of evolution’s relationship to the Genesis text. I have also discussed elsewhere the  question of polygensism (the theory that Adam was not one historical man but, rather, a euphemism for “mankind”).

Disclaimer– I do not intend to answer all the questions about evolution and Genesis here. This is a blog, not a theological or scientific journal. I am not a dogmatic theologian, neither do I have an advanced degree in Scripture. Neither am I a trained biologist. My MA is in moral theology. What I intend to do here is open a discussion. I would like to suggest some parameters to the topic which Catholicism requires of us. But in the end, I am going to depend on the comments section to broaden the discussion, make distinctions, suggest further limits, or clarify and quote other sources. Many of the commenters on this blog are theologically skilled and provide a valuable service to the rest of us. Likewise there are some with a scientific background who read here and can help clarify on the topic of evolution. I would only ask that all of us not rush to use words like heresy etc. and that the science folks not treat me or the rest of us like a bunch of ignoramuses. The Genesis accounts are very prototypical and archetypal. It is a true fact that the Church gives us guidance on how to interpret them but there is also some freedom to differ with each other as well. So let me set the table and then open the comments.

Sobriety about Evolutionary Theory – It is common to experience a rather simplistic notion among Catholics that the Theory of Evolution can be reconciled easily with the Biblical accounts and with our faith. Many will say something like this: “I have no problem with God setting things up so that we started as one-celled organisms and slowly evolved into being human beings. God could do this and perhaps the Genesis account is just simplifying evolution and telling us the same thing as what Evolution does.”

There are elements of the truth in this sort of a statement. Surely God could have set things up to evolve and directed the process so that human beings evolved and then, at some time he gave us souls. God could have done that.

The problem with the statement above is less theological than scientific because there is a word in that sentence that is “obnoxious” to evolutionary theory: “God.” The fact is that most Catholics who speak like this over-simplify evolutionary theory and hold a version of it that most Evolutionary Theorists do not hold. They accept the Theory of Evolution uncritically.

But, at the heart of evolutionary theory are the concepts of natural selection and genetic mutation. Notice the word “natural” and notice the word “mutation.” Generally speaking, evolutionary theory sees these processes as random, (though influenced by the environment). It sees them as chance mutations that happen to survive because they confer some benefit. But the process is natural, random and not directed by any outside intelligence with a design or purpose in mind.

Mutations in DNA are random, and in natural selection, the environment determines the probability of reproductive success. The end products of natural selection are organisms that are adapted to their present environments. Natural selection does not involve progress towards an ultimate goal. Evolution does not necessarily strive for more advanced, more intelligent, or more sophisticated life forms. Organisms are merely the outcome of variations that succeed or fail, dependent upon the environmental conditions at the time.[1]

Now what this means is that God is excluded as a cause by an unqualified evolutionary theory. It would be fine if evolutionists (as natural scientists) were either silent on the question of God. Or, perhaps if they simply stated that things may be acted upon by an outside force or intelligence but that is beyond the scope of their discipline. But that is not what is being said by many proponents of classical evolutionary theory. They are saying that biodiversity results MERELY from natural selection and random (i.e. non intended or non-purposeful) genetic mutations. They are saying that observable effects of biodiversity are wholly caused by something natural, random and without any ultimate goal or plan.

But a Catholic cannot accept all of this. Even if a Catholic wants to accept that things have evolved in some way (whether through macro or microevolution) a Catholic cannot say that this process is simply random, chance, blind, or with no purpose. We believe that God alone created all things, and that he sustains all things. Neither do we confess some sort of “deist” God who merely started things off and then lets them take their own course. Rather, God sustains and carries out every detail.

The Book of Genesis depicts God as being personally involved in every stage of creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1). The text says further “God made the wild animals, each, according to their kinds (Gen 1:25). In other words, God specifically created each animal and person that is in an intentional way. The text of Genesis, while not scientific, states a truth that we cannot set aside: That God created (and sustains) all that we see. That what is, cannot MERELY be explained (as most evolutionists state) by blind, random natural selection. The Genesis text is clear to state that God alone creates and in doing so he is present at every stage, is personal, purposeful and acts with intelligence and goal in mind. He creates everything according to its kind.

This is our faith and so we cannot simply accept evolutionary theory without some distinctions. Evolutionary theory at least as classically proposed, presents itself as a complete and closed explanation for the biodiversity of this planet. Catholics ought to be sober about who and what we are dealing with here. This theory sets aside important things we believe about creation and God, which are described in Genesis and believed by the Church. The theory sets aside God. Things are not the result of a rational, orderly and directed processes, they result from a process that is merely random, blind and tending to no purpose or end. We cannot accept such a theory merely on these terms. If we accept aspects of the theory, such as that things gradually evolved, we have to carefully distinguish this from mainstream evolutionary theory. But a simple, uncritical acceptance of evolutionary theory is for a Catholic problematic in terms of faith.

This does not mean that Catholics therefore run to the creationist school of thought.  There are important insights of science in the matter of creation and the material world that Catholics are free to accept and wise to accept. The Catechism stakes out a middle ground wherein a Catholic may be able to accept certain aspects of evolutionary theory in terms of secondary causality. But this must always be balanced with a deep reverence for God as the first cause of all that is:

God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan…..The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes.” Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace. (CCC 306-309).

Hence, a Catholic ought to be careful to avoid  acceptance of the Theory of Evolution without disttinctions.  An old maxim comes to mind: Seldom Affirm, never deny, always distinguish. Not a bad approach when it comes to this great debate about Evolution, the Bible and faith.

OK Have at it. I know much needs to be added. But that’s the point of a blog. To start a discussion, not end it.

85 Replies to “Should a Catholic Accept Evolutionary Theory Without Qualifications?”

  1. I think you’ve put your finger on it, Monsignor, when you say “unqualified” acceptance. I believe in NATURAL selection only to the extent that I define NATURAL as anything behaving the way the Creator made it to be. Natural doesn’t mean accidental, it means done according to Nature, which is created to be as it is.
    Proofs of God in Cosmology (Anthropic, Entropic, and Finite Beginning) as well as Philosophical Proofs for His existence all have a bearing on this question.
    The answer is, ultimately, that we believe in God AND Science and therefore we have an open mind to where the EVIDENCE leads. We don’t subscribe to THEORIES and defend them, we follow facts. And one of the facts is that we know that HOWever it happened, we know WHO caused “us”.

  2. If the creator willed it to exist, then regardless of how it came to be, the creator is responsible for having made it. So who willed everything in motion. It was the Father on behalf of the Son, the Holy Spirit cooperating alongside.

    Here’s a better question…Was David born of natural causes or created by God in his mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13-15)?

  3. Fr,

    Here’s a book. In his encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII stressed the importance of preserving the traditional Catholic approach to philosophy. In his work The Metaphysics of Evolution, Fr. Chad Ripperger demonstrates that the theory of evolution is incompatible with the metaphysics of the Catholic tradition.

    Here’s a sermon on “The Golden Calf of Evolution”

    In John 5:46-47 For if you did believe Moses, you would perhaps believe me also; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?

    Since Genesis is Moses writings how can we say “no they aren’t true”?

    God said it, God did it, who are we to question that?

    Sermon on the “errors in big bang cosmology”

    I love the line by another priest “ever seen an explosion? Where is the beauty & order that comes from that?”

    God love you

    1. Steve, unfortunately, I’ve discovered that according to the professors at the Catholic seminary I am taking classes for a masters, Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch. It was some person (either the P or the D author, I can’t remember now) in the northern kingdom after Solomon and all those stories in the OT are just stories. To most Catholics the OT evolved. Don’t try to disprove evolution with the OT, mercy. This is what we’re up against, really.

      1. The four source theory is a theory. While we need not think that Moses wrote the whole Pentateuch, especially the parts that describe his own death and events that took place after (!) the four theory has problems of its own. At any rate, I am not sure of the relevance of authorship in this discussion. It is what the Sacred Text is saying that is pertinent, rather than Who God inspired to write it. As for your comment that these things are “just stories” I surely hope you jest that the the professors in your “Catholic” seminary are not teaching you that. Even the passages that are stories, e.g. Jesus’ some of Jesus’ parables, they are not “just” stories. They teach truth. Maybe you should find another seminary if what you say is really true. But, at bare minimum, if you get ordained, or earn a degree to teach, spare the people of God your little theories, and preach/teach the Word.

        1. God bless you, Msgr. Pope, for this very seasoned and Catholic response to this seminarian’s seeming exasperation with the Old Testament.

          For what it is worth, David, this, that is what you outlined in your posting, is what we, the Faithful, are up against. Have mercy on us all. And that is a prayer directed to the highest authority.

  4. Yes, absolutely. God was and continues to be in control of the evolutionary process. I would say that the Holy Spirit is in the genetic arrangement process every time a sperm and egg meet to form a new living creature of any species. That arragement of DNA does not involve any creature’s free will, and so is in God’s complete control.

    That said, science classes cannot integrate theology into scientific theory. You can’t expect scientists to speak about God or metaphysics. It’s up to theologians and philosophers to integrate and synthesize scientific knowledge with metaphysical. Science only deals with the physical.

  5. There seem to be a number of seeming insurmountable obstacles for a Catholic who investigates evolutionary theory.

    The first, and most important, is that in holding up an evolutionary theory, one must engage it as a matter of faith in its proper meaning– it cannot be a science in the strict sense, because its principles are not observable.

    Further, to believe in evolution leads to the problem of an erosion in metaphysics. Now, surely, if it were true, we would need a language to describe the truth. However, since the 24 thomistic theses are binding on us as Catholics, it seems we must view reality in a certain sort of manner. Since metaphysics and evolution are incompatible– indeed, evolution denies the fundamental principle that the soul is the forma corporis, and replaces it with a modern sort of notion of progress, rooted in the DNA being that which enforms the body– it seems that in accepting on faith a notion of evolution, one consequently must re-explain all of the truths of faith in light of a new cosmology.

    Finally, the theological problems of original sin coming from one man and one woman, and also the final end of man (ie the resurrection of the body), not to mention an objectivity in the moral life (the “how you get there”) all take on new difficulties that may be irreconcilable with Catholic Faith.

    All of that said, perhaps it is still acceptable for us to reasonably accept some tenents of evolutionary theory– keeping in mind that the truth of the matter will never be in contradiction with the Faith, we may develop our understanding of theological truths along side of a further refinement of scientific principles regarding the natural origins of man, and find that what we have always held remains; namely, that they are not at all at odds with each other.

  6. The empirical evidence for variation within a species came from Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel.
    Mendel is the father of modern genetics.

    Here is a 1901 translation of Fr Mendel’s paper of 1865.

    Evolution remains a hypothesis. For example different DNA or DNA modifier may have arrived in an ice shower during sea formation.

    1. Does anyone know anything more about Mendel’s family and schooling background, other than the oft-repeated “father of modern genetics”?

      1. There is an account in the Catholic Encyclopaedia in the volume of 1911.

        The same article also details that as Abbot he resisted religious oppression that has echoes of Kulturkampf* in Bismarck’s Germany.

        “Mendel, however, in addition to the multiplicity of his duties as abbot, became involved in a lengthy controversy with the Government which absorbed his attention and embittered the last years of his life. The Government had imposed special taxes on religious houses, and these Mendel refused to pay, alleging that, as all citizens were, or should be, equal in the eye of the law, it was unjust to ask one kind of institution to pay a tax from which another kind was free. At the commencement of the struggle several other monasteries sided with him but one by one they submitted, until at last Mendel was left alone in his opposition to the tax. Great efforts were made to induce him to yield but he refused, and even allowed the goods of the abbey to be distrained upon rather than submit. In the end — though not till after Mendel’s death — the obnoxious tax was repealed.”

        * Kulturkampf

  7. When biologists talk about random mutations, they are not arguing against determinism. They are using random as a short-hand. Natural Selection is entirely consistent with a deterministic view of the Universe. Therefore, it is entirely consistent with a Universe in which the initial conditions were set providentially by God.

    So the term “random mutations” here is not itself a problem for God’s omnipotence or for God’s providential watchfulness over creation whatsoever.

    There may be a problem with certain interpretations of the randomness in Quantum Theory, because of potential incompatibilities between those interpretations and God’s omnipotence. But that’s a different story.

  8. A great deal of evolutionary thought emerged in a world where “Nature” had been nearly deified. One of the crazy inconsistencies in classic Darwinian evolution is that, philosophically, it assumes a semi-divine drive toward the bigger and the better and then says that chaos was in fact this driver. Scientifically, I’m aware that some of this is due to faulty language – personalization is brought in when the key idea is of a billionth of a billionth chance. But the fact that so much evolutionary description relies on a personalization of natural objects is, I think, telling. Chaos cannot “struggle upwards”. To be clear, I’m only speaking of the concept of random mutation, not to other issues like the age of the Earth, etc…

    Of course, Genesis in its beautiful language communicates a very different idea: that God is the root of the grandeur we see in the balance and order of the universe. One of my favorite passages in Scripture is when God breathes into Adam the soul of life. God molds Adam’s body and then, like Elisha and the boy who was resurrected, puts his mouth to Adam’s and gives him life. You cannot get more personal than that. And just imagine – Adam’s first vision when coming to life would be the Beatific Vision, the face of God. Personally, though I understand the Church teaching leaves room for various interpretations, I believe this did actually happen whether in a new world or an ancient one. John Paul II beautifully wrote of this passage in his Theology of the Body. As a new Catholic, I was and am deeply impressed by the Church’s wisdom in pinpointing Adam as the key pivot of belief. We all of us are Adam, and so all of us can enter into Christ. Ultimately, God is all about saving the human soul which is worth far more than many planets or galaxies.

    1. Benjamin, I think you helped put into words what I was forming as my response. I am Catholic … because the Church is Truth. Real Truth, with a capitol “T”. Manny’s comment is chilling to me. “Science only deals with the physical.” In one statement, Manny has summed up the problem. Somewhere, somehow, our modern culture allowed western education to equate “science” with “all physical Truth” As a result, men and women in the sciences are not allowed to “speak about God or metaphysics.”

      The image Benjamin and I have of the real Adam being brought to life by the breath of God is only “True” in theology class not science class or history class and therefore is not really true at all. I suggest Catholics and all men of good will should challenge the modern assertion that “Science only deals with the physical.”

      1. Regarding the notion that Science = all physical truth

        Sometimes it helps to name the enemy. This idea is called “naturalism.” Naturalism is the default philosophy underpinning modern science.

  9. The Genesis account has nothing to do with science or evolution. It was written as a refutation of belief in pagan gods. Only the real God is Creator, all other gods are human-made and have no potency whatsoever. The ancients had to guard their gods from theft. The real God is author of creation and shepherd of evolution.

  10. I think I agree with most of this, but as you said, we need to distinguish.
    Here is where an important distinction needs to be made: Between the “philosophical” evolution so to speak and the actual scientific theory.
    The theory itself does not tell us about a designer. From the scientific perspective, mutations are random and natural. This simply means there is no correlation (as far as I understand it) between variables.
    The philosophical evolution builds on this and says that it follows that because there is mathematical randomness, there must be no designer or purpose. That is a philosophical step that does not follow from the science however because it is entirely possible that from a scientific standpoint something is random but from God’s standpoint something is governed by providence. We believe God is in control of all things including the things we see as coincidences in life. So the science is not so much the problem as the philosophical conclusions drawn from the science.

    1. This is precisely correct. I cannot agree enough. “Randomness” in science says nothing about the traditional doctrines of God’s Providence.

  11. I think that a Catholic can be a bit more accepting of mainstream evolutionary theory that you say here, though with some other distinctions. Evolutionary theory, as you say, states that biological organisms arose by chance processes of mutation and environmental pressure, not by being naturally directed to an end. And you take that proposition to be incompatible with the proposition that God guided all things to their end and was the direct and primary cause of their coming to be, which He guided by a rational process. But I don’t think those two statements are incompatible, so long as we distinguish, as the Catechism does, that with the former proposition (and with everything that the natural sciences tell us) that we are dealing with the order of secondary causality, not primary causality. One can square the two propositions like this, I think: On the order of secondary causality, there are chance events i.e. events that have no particular, secondary cause. But even those events are contained within the order of the primary cause’s providential, rational guidance (see e.g. St. Thomas, Summa theologiae, I q22 a2 ad2, and Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics book2 lectio 10, for arguments like this). So, if we take as our frame of reference (as the natural sciences do) the created order alone, then there is no particular, per se cause for the arising of biological species i.e. no nature, no principle of motion and rest internal to some creature, is ordered toward their arising, but rather it is just the chance intersection of several causal orders. But if we take as our frame of reference (as theology and metaphysics do) the whole order of being, then God is rationally directing all such events, by His direct, per se, primary causality. On such a view, it seems to me, we Catholics can hold everything that modern evolutionary theory holds, so long as we keep in mind the fact that all these claims are made in a restricted frame of reference, which is surely in accord with any plausible philosophy of science.

  12. I’ve had a longtime interest in this question, being both a college graduate in the biological sciences and an adult convert to the Catholic faith. My sense is that one) evolution in the sense of ‘common descent with modification’ by whatever means is almost certainly a real phenomenon, and two) we’re a long way yet from understanding precisely how it works. The problem with classical Darwinism is that Darwin himself designed his theory from the get-go to be non-teleological (that is, evolution as a non-guided, purposeless process), even before there was sufficient evidence to suggest that evolution was happening at all. For most modern scientists who at least implicitly share Darwin’s philosophy (God, assuming he exists at all, is at best irrelevant to the day-to-day workings of the universe), evolution by DEFINITION is not a process that is or can be guided towards certain ends, like human origins; and anyone who suggests otherwise is likely to be suspected of sneaking creationism in through the back door.
    This is a double-edged sword, though, because it puts them in the position of saying that any evidence for common descent is also evidence for the only mechanisms that they’re willing to consider (random variation by whatever genetic means, combined with natural selection) as being more than adequate for the task, since otherwise we wouldn’t be here to remark about it. My own views have ranged widely, from the sort of vague ‘theistic evolution’ you describe, to Intelligent Design theory, and more recently, to classical Thomistic notions of formal and final causes existing in nature (whereby Divine guidance doesn’t replace natural, or efficient causes, but is ultimately necessary to their very existence). Precisely how these work with respect to evolution, I don’t know yet. I doubt that any of us does. Thoughts?

  13. I liked your discussion, Monsignor. Like you evolutionary theory is not my strong suit, but I have always been puzzled as to how the committed evolutionist explains the jump from inanimate matter to life and then again from life to rational life. All living things have souls, which is the principle of life. If it’s living, it’s got a soul. I think it was St Thomas who argued that matter itself cannot be the principle of life or if that were true all material things would be alive, which is false. Therefore, life cannot emerge from matter itself but some other principle. I suppose the evolutionist might agree with that and say the principle of life is random chance or some kind of mutation, but such thinking merely begs the question: either the evolutionist assumes life as a kind of pre-condition for his theory or he has to explain where the principle of randomness and chance come from. If randomness is the principle of life, what is the principle of randomness? And that principle cannot be randomness itself lest we get lost in a cosmic tautology. Similarly, I’ve been puzzled as to how the evolutionist explains the emergence of rational life from sentient life. Man is a rational creature and the evolutionist would have us believe that his rational faculty evolved over time from the higher animals. But how can something rational, the human soul, emerge from something not rational, the soul of a higher animal? How can irrationality be the principle of rationality?

  14. With an M.S. in Microbiology & Molecular Biology, and as the Program Chair for Natural Sciences in a small private college (and long-time science instructor in higher education), I think that this topic, when intelligently and respectfully addressed, promises to be instructive to all of us. At its best it is exciting and informative. At its worst it wallows in misinformation and narrow, dogmatic messages.

    In my opinion, in order to obtain understanding of who we are as people, both material and spiritual beings, we must be deeply invested in both the scientific methodology of exploration and the spiritual substance of discovery.

    Much of the published “controversy” surrounding science & religion over the past decades is, I believe, largely insubstantial and misses a critical point. These are not necessarily mutually exclusive ways of gaining perspective on the world around us. In simpler terms, there need not be an argument at all.

    As you well know, the “debate” has a deep and often (mostly?) acrimonious history. We are challenged, I think, to overcome that dark history of narrow contention and bring this discussion into better light.

    As a life-long follower of science in both theory and practice, I have never believed that science alone is sufficient to explain our world or who we are as humans in it. It is, of course, extremely useful and we have all benefitted from scientific methodology greatly. The domain of science is necessarily well-prescribed and dares not venture beyond certain constraints – that data must be reproducible in some agreed-upon manner, that a mutually agreed-upon method of interpretation, optimally with quantitative support, be adhered to. That peer-reviews challenge and filter weak methodology and conclusions. In short, it is a systematic method of exploration of the tangible world – measurable, observable and importantly, reducible to component parts.

    As a human endeavor, scientific methods are necessarily not perfect. Humans are, of course, not perfect. Would anyone argue that religious agendas and interpretations always resulted from human perfection?

    I cannot, as no one can, do justice to the range & scope of topics that should be addressed in this discussion in a single comment, nor in a hundred comments. However, I will make one observation – something that caught my attention as I read through this article.

    Under the bold heading entitled: “But at the heart of evolutionary theory …” the author quite nicely summarizes a perspective of modern science that appears to me to be quite reasonable. However, the next section begins with the bolded title: “Now what this means is that God is excluded as a cause …”

    I take exception to that (not emotionally, just intellectually), and suggest that we can address that conclusion as an interesting starting point to deeper, more philosophical discourse.

    That discourse, for my part, will need to wait for continued conversation.



  15. It might be helpful to make a sharper distinction between evolution as a scientific theory (science can only observe empirical reality and so cannot observe divine causality) and the philosophical ideology often called evolutionism, which is based on the assumption that what we can empirically observe is ALL there is to know. In the quote you offer, consider the following assertions:

    – “Mutations in DNA are random, and in natural selection” – What is meant by random? Unable to be determined by us or unable to be determined and therefore proof against a transcendent divine cause?

    – “The environment determines the probability of reproductive success.” – Of course – how probable is it that reproductive success will occur for organisms whose environment has become hazardous to them?

    – The end products of natural selection are organisms that are adapted to their present environments. – Of course again.

    – “Natural selection does not involve progress towards an ultimate goal.” – Correct – there is no rigid predetermined plan that science can tell us about. But philosophical reflection can tell us that in man it did reach an ultimate goal, even though it wasn’t rigidly pre-determined to do so.

    “Evolution does not necessarily strive for more advanced, more intelligent, or more sophisticated life forms.” Correct. Evolution is not a thing; it is a material, biological process involving numerous factors, and processes don’t “strive.” That doesn’t mean that the process cannot be understood as meaningful from a non-scientific perspective.

    “Organisms are merely the outcome of variations that succeed or fail, dependent upon the environmental conditions at the time.” – Of course they are the outcome of variations. But why add the “merely”? The “merely” squashes all the biological sciences into one causal explanation, when in fact biological reality is a lot more complex than that. Some outcomes are neutral, and then later become significant. This is fundamentalism of the secular variety – it must be this and only this, and it errs against science before we even raise the question of whether it is tenable philosophically (which of course, it isn’t).

    It might be helpful to add a quote from the International Theological Commission:

    “Catholic tradition affirms that, as universal transcendent cause, God is the cause not only of existence but also the cause of causes. God’s action does not displace or supplant the activity of creaturely causes, but enables them to act according to their natures and, nonetheless, to bring about the ends he intends. In freely willing to create and conserve the universe, God wills to activate and to sustain in act all those secondary causes whose activity contributes to the unfolding of the natural order which he intends to produce….

    “Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent [i.e. random] natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation. According to St. Thomas Aquinas: ‘The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency’ (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1). In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process – one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence – simply cannot exist because ‘the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles….It necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence.’ (Summa theologiae I, 22, 2).” -ITC, Communion and Stewardship #68-69

  16. As a scientist and Catholic it has always struck me as odd those that either demean evolution or unequivically accept the current version. It appears that evolution is a natural phenomonom; white to brown moths, wisdom teeth, etc. but these data are very restrictive. It is as if I tried to describe some chemical reaction with only one data point. Consider the extraordinarially large set of circumstantial exposures that must have occured to produce the first one amoeba. We can assume that there was time for those exposures to have occured after only 3 billion years of the earths existance. Next consider the time for reproduction processes to form. I am not a biologist but the development of self splitting seems to be very complex. Next consider the exponential increase in the simultaneous natural exposures that are required to develop the more complex creatures. It seems to me that if the universe were as old as the number of atoms in the universe there would not be adequate time for the “chance” encounters. It appears to be unreasonable. Faith is an extraordinary part of life but faith without reason and reason without faith cannot “comfort” the soul that searches. I believe it is important to know that science is not the search for truth. Many people are confused about this because for what ever the reason people want science to trump faith. Science is the search for reproducable results that at some future time may point to the truth. Therefore, science must rely on positive data and only then can a “theory” be postulated.

    1. I totally agree. Science has nothing to do with truth (validated proposals). And I agree that one should live by faith and reason. Reason purges one from idiocy, wive’s tails, superstitions, irrational assumptions, contradictions, etc. Faith enables one to believe in Divine Revelation. God and His activities defy reason and are unapparent. One needs faith to accept them and correct reason on occasion. It is a really a beautiful wedding put it can get ruined pretty easily because we are fallen and sinful.

  17. Monsignor,
    I think that the game was rigged from the very first moment of the explosion of our universe. Every particle and “bit” of energy is biased toward the emergence of life and spirit. Nothing appears fully formed except in Greco-Roman mythology. Our Divine Creator wove a tapestry that is very difficult to see if you are one of the threads in that fabric. Genesis tells us what God did but the details of His methodology are another matter. I love Einstein’s comment that, in the end, scientists and theologians will point fingers at one another and say, “see… I told you so”. There is a great deal to be said for the idea that we are “given knowledge sufficient unto our understanding”.

    1. Good article and good site. Thank you William. Theistic evolution just does not hold up to close examination. It seems to me an appeasement position used by those who wish to avoid criticism. I fear they only remove themselves from serious consideration in the market place of ideas.

  18. Evolutionary theory presumes death is the prime actor in the emergence of new life forms: Death wipes away some “unfit” forms, and permits the emergence of mutations that eventually lead to higher forms.

    If Adam’s creation is forced into the evolutionary framework, it implies failure and death actually set the trajectory for his particular ascent. Was death always Law in the natural world, so it even governed Adam’s rise from the dust? That seems problematic. How may that be squared with the idea that Adam was created immortal, yet lost his immortality by sinning?

    1. Adam was created with the prototypes in the light-event of Genesis One. Evolution is a fallen process brought about by Adam’s sin. That is why species go extinct. God cursed the Earth as a punishment for Adam’s sin. I think the million dollar question is when Adam and Eve appeared back down on the ground from Paradise. Blessed Anne Catherine suggests that it was a mystical event, and I assume that Adam and Eve were created prior to the evolution of all the types and yet transferred back down to the ground after the Earth had been cycling in a fallen course for many a year. Is this possible? For God all things are possible. And if one accepts the theological idea that Enoch and Elias were taken up to Paradise awaiting Antichrist, this is a similar idea. They are taken up to Paradise, the Earth cycles for thousands of years and then they are transferred back to the ground toward the end of the Tribulation.

  19. I think Tom D is correct, the genetic mutations described by scientists as “random” mean they are nor correlated with things we can predict. They are not random at all in the sense that as chemical reactions they must occur when the right chemicals in the right concentrations encounter each other at the right temperature and pressure (all genetic mutations are ultimately chemical reactions involving nucleic acids). The evolution argument is irrelevant in terms of how it impacts our view of God’s role in the universe. A detailed argument that demonstrates this can be found in Ed Fesser’s book the Last Superstition, available on Amazon which discusses what we mean by causation and such from a philosophical view point. If you want to see a detailed proof for the existence of God which makes evolution irrelevant one way or another you can see it, I would note however to Thomas Aquinas all of the laws/ scientific principles that would govern natural selection are contingent, and thus require a cause to sustain them in existence, and this cause would be God.

  20. At the risk of sounding completely untutored, I will impart what I learned decades ago in seventh grade about evolution from Sister Rose of Lima. How fragile is the human mind that it thinks that God, can only work in the twenty four hour concept of a DAY. Any one of God’s days can last an eon, and it is only mans inability to understand that concept that makes men think the world is 6000 years old. “So in answer to your question,and since I have a degree in Science, we will learn about Science. And as is usual take your questions about religion to Father”.

    1. the days in Genesis One have nothing to do with the Western temporal concepts. Its not as if the sacred prophet of Genesis One had a clock and decided to trace the time of the events as days because 24 hours passed or even billions of years for that matter. In the Genesis One context the word day refers to the phenomenal manifestation of God. God manifested Himself in his work of transfiguring the face of the Earth. Daytime is when the Spirit is sent and working a miracle for one to see or when Jesus was manifest to men before He ascended.

  21. Here is Aristotle’s refutation of the theory of evolution, from Chapter 8 of Book II of Physics (

    “A difficulty presents itself: why should not nature work, not for the sake of something, nor because it is better so, but just as the sky rains, not in order to make the corn grow, but of necessity? What is drawn up must cool, and what has been cooled must become water and descend, the result of this being that the corn grows. Similarly if a man’s crop is spoiled on the threshing-floor, the rain did not fall for the sake of this-in order that the crop might be spoiled-but that result just followed. Why then should it not be the same with the parts in nature, e.g. that our teeth should come up of necessity-the front teeth sharp, fitted for tearing, the molars broad and useful for grinding down the food-since they did not arise for this end, but it was merely a coincident result; and so with all other parts in which we suppose that there is purpose? Wherever then all the parts came about just what they would have been if they had come be for an end, such things survived, being organized spontaneously in a fitting way; whereas those which grew otherwise perished and continue to perish, as Empedocles says his ‘man-faced ox-progeny’ did.

    Such are the arguments (and others of the kind) which may cause difficulty on this point. Yet it is impossible that this should be the true view. For teeth and all other natural things either invariably or normally come about in a given way; but of not one of the results of chance or spontaneity is this true. We do not ascribe to chance or mere coincidence the frequency of rain in winter, but frequent rain in summer we do; nor heat in the dog-days, but only if we have it in winter. If then, it is agreed that things are either the result of coincidence or for an end, and these cannot be the result of coincidence or spontaneity, it follows that they must be for an end; and that such things are all due to nature even the champions of the theory which is before us would agree. Therefore action for an end is present in things which come to be and are by nature.

    Further, where a series has a completion, all the preceding steps are for the sake of that. Now surely as in intelligent action, so in nature; and as in nature, so it is in each action, if nothing interferes. Now intelligent action is for the sake of an end; therefore the nature of things also is so. Thus if a house, e.g. had been a thing made by nature, it would have been made in the same way as it is now by art; and if things made by nature were made also by art, they would come to be in the same way as by nature. Each step then in the series is for the sake of the next; and generally art partly completes what nature cannot bring to a finish, and partly imitates her. If, therefore, artificial products are for the sake of an end, so clearly also are natural products. The relation of the later to the earlier terms of the series is the same in both. This is most obvious in the animals other than man: they make things neither by art nor after inquiry or deliberation. Wherefore people discuss whether it is by intelligence or by some other faculty that these creatures work,spiders, ants, and the like. By gradual advance in this direction we come to see clearly that in plants too that is produced which is conducive to the end-leaves, e.g. grow to provide shade for the fruit. If then it is both by nature and for an end that the swallow makes its nest and the spider its web, and plants grow leaves for the sake of the fruit and send their roots down (not up) for the sake of nourishment, it is plain that this kind of cause is operative in things which come to be and are by nature. And since ‘nature’ means two things, the matter and the form, of which the latter is the end, and since all the rest is for the sake of the end, the form must be the cause in the sense of ‘that for the sake of which’.”

    All of Chapter 8 is worth reading, imo. Incidently, traditionally metaphysics is understood to be called so because that book was place after Physics in the corpus of Aristotle’s works.

  22. St. Maximillian Kolbe reminds us that Our Lady provides some insight into the exploration of human origins. When she appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous she identified herself distinctively as “the Immaculate Conception.” The use of the definite article “the” is significant. She is the only human conceived without the stain of original sin. (We can exclude Jesus, since He is eternally begotten before all ages, and only His human nature originates with a conception.) So if (as some postulate) Adam and Eve were two primates in a line of advancing primates into whom God decided to infuse human souls, and Adam and Eve thereby became the parents of the human race, Mary’s name for herself would not make sense. In this scenario, Adam and Eve would have been conceived by their respective primate parents without original sin (which only comes into play when Adam and Eve are on the scene and able to commit it). Each of them would have been an immaculate conception preceding the Blessed Virgin’s. So, if Mary spoke accurately, and St. Bernadette accurately related her words, Adam cannot have been conceived. Nor can Eve. Even accepting all of the usual caveats that apply to private revelations, including those such as Lourdes that have been approved by the Church, the strong indication here is that Adam and Eve were brought into being by a means other than what we understand as conception.

    1. You are exactly right and I believe someday, if the LORD tarries, we will have a dogmatic statement to that effect. It’s the only logical belief. If in my ignorance I’ve missed something or new info comes into light, and the Church declares otherwise, I’ll believe it. What the Church declares is always the logical belief.

  23. Wiiliam: kolbecenter says it all. End of story and debate. I also recommend Ben Steins documentary, which kind of reminds me of this blog, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” because it shows the strong connection between evolution and abortion and how evolutionists like Pope John Paul II and other Catholics actually help promote abortion.

  24. I believe that mathematical probabilty analysis has a voice in this discussion. As early as the centennial of Darwin’s great work (1959), mathematicians were saying that the supposed outcomes claimed by neo-darwinism were unlikely under a random assumption about evolution’s processes. More recent analysis has claimed that the random theory of modern theorists should be placed, at a lower bound, of about ‘ten to the 500th power’; a truly astounding number and a thoughtful cause to doubt that this part of the evolutionary theory is sound. For all believers in the Father-Creator, until contemporary scientist come forth with a better explanation than natural selection with ‘random’ mutation as a full explanation of evolution theory, they should be seen as proposing an incomplete theory.

  25. Although what follows is a bit deistic, this is how the quote would look like if we did not know (or did not care) whether a skilled carpenter was involved in making (and maintaining) tables of any kind:

    [Alterations] in [tables] are random, and in [table making], the environment determines the probability of [commercial] success. The end products of [table making] are [pieces of furniture] that are adapted to their present environments. [Table making] does not involve progress towards an ultimate goal. Evolution does not necessarily strive for more advanced, more intelligent, or more sophisticated [furnishings]. [Pieces of furniture] are merely the outcome of variations that succeed or fail, dependent upon the environmental conditions at the time.

    Following this line of thought, those convinced that there is no intelligence behind the making of a mahogany desk, will spend their days studying the saws, the carving tools, and the screw drivers used in the task, without giving the artisan a second thought.

  26. I would suggest checking out the work of Stephen Barr, a physicist at the University of Delaware, who has written some wonderful articles on topics like this in the journal First Things (
    I remember one comment about chance and randomness, I think taken from St. Thomas. What is chance is a matter of statistics and perspective. Example: a debtor and his creditor meet by chance at a particular time in a public market; but unknown to either of them was the fact that a mutual friend had sent them there. Another point is that the created universe and all its doings exist in time; God, the first cause, exists in eternity. An analogy would be the relationship of an author to his novel. The author is really the cause of everything in the world of the novel in the strictest sense of the word, but what goes on in the world of the novel is entirely dependent on everyone and everything doing its own thing.

  27. Chris has it spot on. Evolution as a scientific theory about the facts of biological history, or even adopting a “pragmatically materialist” framework for empirical study…is not wrong. What’s wrong is a PHILOSOPHY based on making epistemological or value claims based around this, as if science can say that mutations were “random” rather than providential (they’re only mathematically random) or that there is no sort of intentionality behind the whole process on the ultimate level of transcendent cause.

    Sarah in WA: according to Aquinas, the fall caused only HUMAN death. Animal death already existed, and even Thomas Aquinas believed this well before Darwin!

  28. What is the “telos” of evolution? Has the process of evolution ended or is it still ongoing?

  29. Evolution fails when the concept of randomness is introduced. Randomness is not a trait of the natural world; it is simply an anthropogenic observational device confected to bestow a semblance of rationality on an impossibly (from man’s point of view) complex system. There are two bodies of mathematics – natural and constructed. Natural maths are deduced from reverse engineering natural systems such as shapes and processes (e.g., gravity). Constructed maths are best-guess diagnoses, tending with bias towards prognostic prediction, of complex systems. But Einstein was precisely right; The Old One does not play dice. More precisely, each particle (sorry, all you quantum physics fans) knows all about itself. It is our limited and interfering measuring devices and methodologies that lend an air of credibility to a wholly concocted system (garbage in; garbage out), and not the nature of the system itself. Mankind has constructed probability and statistics to help understand complex systems. But God Himself has no need for such irregular tools, no matter what the scale of the system. By extension, all of this is to say that evolution has no scientific basis whatsoever. It is based on faulty, even false, analysis. It is less factual than the flat-earth theory, since observing from some points the earth does appear flat. There is never any point where evolution coincides with real science. Never. It is complete bunkum for egoistical people who are simply mad at God for being smarter than they. I believe in intelligence and purpose while evolution is merely irreducible magic.

  30. Please allow me to offer some theological speculation (from a paper I wrote several years ago):

    Recall that in the Book of Genesis, God literally makes and also creates man: “…God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…” and also, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Isn’t it possible to understand this such that God is making the body of man from matter which already exists (formed from dust), and isn’t it true that God is creating the soul of man (breath of life) out of nothing (ex nihilo)? Isn’t this also how humans are born everyday? Isn’t it true that a husband and wife, through the act of pro-creation, each give of their own bodies to provide the perfect environment for the human soul which is immediately created by and placed into the human embryo by God?

    With this thought in mind, and before moving in to theological speculation, one should understand that the matter of the corporeal origin of Adam is open for speculation. Considering the scientific theories and supposed evidences abounding on the evolution of man, this is an important topic. Pope Pius XII, in his 30 November 1941 address at the beginning of the year to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences stated:

    “God has placed man in the highest place in the scale of living creatures; endowed, as he is, with a spiritual soul, the chief and the highest of all of the animal kingdom. Manifold investigations in the fields of paleontology, biology and morphology regarding other questions concerning the origin of man have thus far produced nothing clear and certain in a positive way. Therefore, we can only leave for the future the reply to the question, whether some day, science illumined and guided by revelation will offer certain and definite solutions to so serious a question.” [emphasis added]

    Given the evidence found in various discoveries of hominid species in the sediments of the earth, it would seem plausible that, in God’s plan for Creation, the hominid species could evolve in some way over time. It would also seem plausible that there could be many varieties of hominid species, especially since scientific evidence shows that several human-looking varieties existed. However, it would not be plausible to believe that all of these hominid species each had a human soul, that is, a soul created by God in His image. Pope Pius XII did not explicitly rule out Evolution theory; he did rule out any thought that would seek to counter the truth that the human soul is created immediately by God within the act of human conception.

    Polygenism proposes that there were multiple possible pairs of first human parents through which Original Sin would be passed. But, how could this possibly be? Original Sin could not possibly have been passed down through multiple different pairs of parents. Not only would that theory be at complete odds with Sacred Scripture and Tradition, but alludes good reason to think that all potential pairs of first human parents would follow the same historical course of events as set forth in the Scriptures. More importantly, if one removes the one element that makes a hominid animal essentially human, that is, the soul which bears the image of God, then polygenism seems to become less of a threat to the faith of the Catholic Church. The following scenario and discussion will show how.

    Imagine that there was a time before Adam and Eve came to be. Assume that during this time, there was one or more different types of hominid animals walking the Earth. They would all simply be instinctive animals with the souls of animals. They would be able to survive just as well as or maybe better than apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, or orangutans have been shown to do, but they would still be lacking. They would not have been given that element which would make them truly human, in the image of God. That element is the human soul which is unique from all other souls because it carries within it the intellect and the will, the image of God. God then completes the creation which seems to scientists to have been “in the works” or evolving for some time. He completes Adam by giving a hominid being the dignity of a human soul.

    But how does Adam get that human soul? Is it that a hominid male went to sleep and then woke up as a man with a new, human soul? Or, is it plausible to believe that God chose a pair of finely-developed hominids, perhaps what one would term “near-Homo sapiens without an ex nihilo human soul”, which had conjugal relations, conceiving the first human boy, Adam, and at another time, the first human woman, Eve with the intervention of God who immediately created and placed the souls of Adam and Eve into their respective embryos? The second option seems worth repeating.

    Worth repeating is a tried and true method for conceiving a child without original sin. The Immaculate Conception brought forth a blessed child who was conceived without the stain of original sin and who is full of grace. That child is the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Annunciation and conception of the Holy Spirit brought forth the divine, Incarnate Jesus who is the “Second Adam”, both divine and human, and without original sin. It seems fit that God, the Father would have used this method, childbirth, in also bringing forth Adam and Eve in the beginning by immediately creating and positing the first human souls into the embryos within their hominid parents. In all scenarios (Adam, Eve, Mary and Jesus), God personally intervenes in a special way. He brings forth Adam and Eve to be the first human parents; He brings forth the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the “Tabernacle of the Lord” and the human parent of Jesus, the one and only Savior; He graces the world through His Holy Incarnation and birth to the “Mother of God”. All of these events are worthy of great dignity; the method by which the Lord chooses to bring about these events is worthy of great dignity as well.

    Some may ask, “How dare someone claim that Adam and Eve were born of animals!” But, that exclamation would certainly be out of place here. Consider the following questions. How is it that the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of the graces of God, can be a creature without original sin born to parents who may not have been free of that original sin? How is it that the Lord, God Himself, could humble Himself to be born of a human parent and having humanity of His own? If God can humble Himself in these ways, however pure the Blessed Virgin Mary is, how much the less humbling it would be for the first true humans to be born of non-human, yet human-like animals? And, isn’t it true that God has often worked miracles through the granting of children to otherwise barren women or women who were supposed to be too old for children when they became pregnant? This is not new. Remember Sarah the wife of Abraham, Elizabeth who gave birth to John the Baptist, and the Blessed Virgin Mary who retained her virginity through childbirth. God has worked his greatest miracles of human creation through the process of human fertility and childbirth. These have been singular events of great significance to the world.

    1. “Isn’t it possible to understand this such that God is making the body of man from matter which already exists (formed from dust),”

      the dust or clay of anterior existence was on the surface of the Earth. The word that the sacred author was not figured to refer to matter. Matter is a vague Western concept begun by the Greeks. Throughout history this concept has been ill-defined. I mean did the sacred author go to school in Greece? And besides you are really suggesting that the word that the sacred author used refers to M and F gametes if you are going the polygenism route. That is absurd.

      “Imagine that there was a time before Adam and Eve came to be. Assume that during this time, there was one or more different types of hominid animals walking the Earth. They would all simply be instinctive animals with the souls of animals. They would be able to survive just as well as or maybe better than apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, or orangutans have been shown to do, but they would still be lacking. They would not have been given that element which would make them truly human, in the image of God. That element is the human soul which is unique from all other souls because it carries within it the intellect and the will, the image of God. God then completes the creation which seems to scientists to have been “in the works” or evolving for some time. He completes Adam by giving a hominid being the dignity of a human soul.”

      The immortal soul is simple. It does not ‘carry within it’ an intellect and will. Intellect and will are concepts. Intellect is the interrelations of the immortal soul and the Adamic brain. Will is interrelations of the immortal soul and Adamic heart organ. Man is a Divine Word Concept that resolves to the relation of God and immortal soul and Adamic body. Man is a little trinity. Man is one object yet a relation of three objects. They are God and soul and body. For a man in ‘sanctifying grace’ God stimulates the body via the soul from within. This is how God conceived Man.

      Hominids were given mortal souls that ceased to exist at their death. And their brains were not derived from Adam. They had no ability to conceive of word concepts and use them in context to their utility. They could not utter, gesture or trace characters.

      Human soul given to a hominid is an oxymoron. The hominid would have to be given an immortal soul in your hypothetical. But what if his brain did not have the ability to conceive of word concepts? Point is that Adam and Eve were given immortal souls that interfaced unique physical bodies. And they were qualified by grace. They were related to God from the first moment of their existence. This is not something the hominids were given.

      “Some may ask, “How dare someone claim that Adam and Eve were born of animals!” But, that exclamation would certainly be out of place here. Consider the following questions. How is it that the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of the graces of God, can be a creature without original sin born to parents who may not have been free of that original sin?”

      How? Mary had a virgin conception. In other words she was conceived without sexual relations between Joachim and Anne. Joachim and Anne met underneath the Temple, simply hugged each other and a miracle occurred. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich:

      I saw Joachim and Anne embrace each other in ecstasy. They were
      surrounded by hosts of angels, some floating over them carrying a
      luminous tower like that which we see in the pictures of the Litany of
      Loretto. The tower vanished between Joachim and Anne, both of whom
      were encompassed by brilliant light and glory. At the same moment the
      heavens above them opened, and I saw the joy of the Most Holy Trinity and
      of the angels over the Conception of Mary. Both Joachim and Anne were in
      a supernatural state. I learned that, at the moment in which they embraced
      and the light shone around them, the Immaculate Conception of Mary was
      accomplished. I was also told that Mary was conceived just as conception
      would have been effected, were it not for the fall of man.

      When Joachim and Anne met under the Golden Gate, they were
      surrounded by dazzling light, and the Blessed Virgin was conceived without
      original sin. A wonderful sound was heard; it was like a voice from God.
      Men cannot comprehend this mystery of Marys sinless conception in Anne,
      therefore is it hidden from them. (from Mysteries of the Old Testament)

      The simple fact of the matter is that we are children of God set apart from the animals. But because of the Fall of Adam and Eve we became less like children of God and more like animals. We have to live like animals too some degree as a punishment and a test. But if it were not for the Fall, all conceptions would happen miraculously by a simple word and hug between the married spouses. Men cannot conceive of this now but I think we should start now because the world has become so full of sexual sins.

        1. Critical Thinking 101:

          * Intellectual honesty in a debate requires that you directly quote the statements that you are addressing in your arguments.

          your response is unacceptable.

          and what is theology? Define it ______________

          who decides what is acceptable????? YOU?

          1. In your first paragraph you go from dust to matter to M & F gametes without any justification or rationale. How can ‘clay from the ground’ go from their ontological referents to matter and then to M & F gametes of hominids in the mind of the sacred author or even God? Magic? You are proposing a figure of a figure. Clay does not normally refer to matter. Matter is a Grecian concept. Did the sacred author learn from Aristotle and figure clay to refer to matter but then really refer to M & F gametes of a hominid after all??? You are dreaming.

            Sacred authors are forthright. They dont fop around with philosophy and biology.

            You would have been better off not referencing the Sacred Text at all.

  31. Is evolution science? I know it would seem that question is a stupid one, but, evolution cannot be challenged – this in and of itself is not science. If we are dealing with science, then hopefully agendas are left at the door.

    Evolution is used as a tool to make the case for an impersonal universe. Evolution may or may not be true. It’s a process of impersonal forces of matter and energy. That’s it. It’s not God. Common sense will tell you that impersonal forces of matter and energy cannot make the personal. It just can’t.

    Natural selection is science. The study of mutations is science. But to say that purpose and direction comes from these doesn’t make sense, and all that we see has to be the result of purpose and direction. Again, just common sense.

  32. Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for opening this important topic for discussion. I am a Catholic, a veterinarian, and have blogged about Intelligent Design Theory and Creationism at my blog, (and would welcome anyone interested in these subjects). Biology is experiencing an explosion in new data and it is difficult to keep up with the information even for experts. Yet it is very important for Catholics to think as clearly as possible about evolution.
    Because of the Galileo affair, many intelligent individuals seem to fear going against the flow of the culture of science, known now as “scientism.” That is the claim that science either does or will explain everything. We must remember that the “Big Bang” theory of the Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre was introduced at a time when Albert Einstein, already famous for his genius, believed that the universe was eternal. I think that cell biology could be a wonderful door to the New Evangelization as long as we let our minds be open to amazing possibilities.
    Though I don’t agree with Intelligent Design Theory (ID) in every way, the proponents have been excellent in informing people about the science that is being revealed. And people are interested: the latest book of ID advocate Stephen Meyer, Darwin’s Doubt, debuted in June 2013 at number 7 on the New York Time’s best-selling list.
    One of the other Intelligent Design advocates, Douglas Axe, has been working in a biology lab and publishing papers that verify what more and more others have been discovering. That is that functional proteins are very, very rare when it comes to combinations of the building blocks that make them. Proteins are the molecules that do the work of the cell and are formed by the code given by DNA. Axe has found that only about one protein in 10^77 average-length proteins can carry on a real biological process. The number 10^77 (10 to the 77th power) is a one with 77 zeroes following it. The proteins consist of rows of chemically connected molecules called “amino acids.” You will find Axe’s work described in another of Stephen Meyer’s books, Signature in the Cell.
    Another recent huge finding from a continuation of the world-wide Human Genome Project was reported in the journal Nature on Sept. 2012. It was previously thought that much of DNA was “junk” from evolutionary random mutation, but now a study called ENCODE has revealed that a much greater percentage is likely to be functional. Beyond making protein, DNA is involved in regulation of cell development.
    Though Mendel started to demonstrate the genetic underpinnings of living organisms, we have come a long way since then. Darwin and the people who formulated the latest version of evolution, called neo-Darwinism, were unaware of even the structure of DNA. They did not know about codes being copied in order to make the protein. That was suggested by Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of the double-helix along with James Watson in 1953.
    I do not find totally materialistic, naturalistic evolution theory to be logical, nor the attempt to reconcile it with God’s creativity. The concept of randomness is rather slippery. What people assume to be random shuffling of DNA is supposedly transformed into complex molecules performing specialized jobs. A composite comment which attempts to combine God’s hand with completely random evolution is: “Evolution by chance mutation LOOKS random to us humans, but God could still have directed it.” Now, in neo-Darwinian theory, the mutation is random. Though natural selection is not chance (survival of the fittest), it depends on the random mutations bringing along something to select and the evolutionary outcome is therefore by chance. But the biological product does NOT LOOK like it was made by a random process. We are just assuming the chance mutations made the biological product. We must be very careful to see that cause and effect get mixed in together semantically instead of being scientifically proven. Though some experiments have shown slight changes in molecules, there are more losses of function than gains. We should not simply accept whatever the evolutionists tell us.
    It is critical, I think, for Catholics to learn more about the physical details of life. It is time well spent. Believe me, the more we know, the more we can marvel at the sheer genius of the Designer.

  33. Here is a summary of my Gen 1 interpretations and evolution (in no particular order)

    * evolution is a rational theory however it is un-critical in context to first origins. Darwin was right to propose his hypothesis and theory, but like most great thinkers he got greedy and took his thought too far. In his one common ancestor idea he inferred from an analogue assumption. He even admitted that this is not a good way to think:

    Analogy would lead me one step further, namely, to the belief that all animals and plants have descended from some one prototype. But analogy may be a deceitful guide. Nevertheless all living things have much in common, in their chemical composition, their germinal vesicles, their cellular structure, and their laws of growth and reproduction. We see this even in so trifling a circumstance as that the same poison often similarly affects plants and animals; or that the poison secreted by the gall-fly produces monstrous growths on the wild rose or oak-tree. Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed. (Origin of Species, n. 484)

    The one prototype assumption is the Big-Bang of biology. It is ridiculous. Now Darwin’s disciples are in the heat of love with the idea trying to prove it using statistics and other charlatan methods.

    * according to my understanding of physics living objects are not supposed to exist. Life has been ill-defined through the centuries. I use the definition: an object moving on its own against the pull of all other objects. Living objects resist the pull of universal gravitation. Life is unpredictable anti-gravitational motion. Living objects defy gravity. Only their physical bodies are formed of those objects that mediate gravity. But that which is formed of the mediators cannot resist the pull of the mediators. Thus there is a contradiction that points to the existence of souls interfacing the physical bodies of living entities. Souls are objects that are anti-gravitational. And they cannot exist without a miracle of God that defies Mother Nature. A soul cannot come out of a rock. So living objects are a rational basis for the Creator and his act of Creation. This is why the scientists are looking for E.T.s. They think the discovery of aliens will disclose to them the secrets of life. But they have no definition of life and they do not assume souls. Thus they are lost.

    * Genesis 1, 2, & 3 are not myths. They are prophecies written by two different authors. The authors were given a prophetic 3D movie of the events they scripted faithfully without error. Genesis 1:2 does not use figurative concepts. The sacred author simply describes the Earth just prior to when God transfigured its face.

    * I reject Big-Bang theory with its time constraints (i.e. 13.8 billion years and so on). I also reject solar nebular hypothesis. I dont have room to point out their contradictions here. It is rational to assume that the universe is eternal however faith corrects this assumption. God created the fundamental object of matter from nothing and weaved it into the fundamental units of matter (matter is a concept). Space refers to nothing. It has no shape. It contours matter. The network of atoms could have existed for trillions of years. Its all the same to God and the angels could care less.

    * I suppose that the Earth is a black dwarf or a dark star. Her core was forged by stellar nucleosythesis and compression. Planets are stars; stars are planets. Stars are new planets, planets are old stars. There is no possible way a spherical object with an solid iron core could form in a stellar disk of dust and gas. There are many other contradictions in nebular hypothesis. But the supposition I use is that stars pass through a curve of transformation. They go through a fusion and compression phase. Then they cool and shed outer layers. They synthesize molecules and compounds. They swing around the galaxy passing through interstellar clouds and this diversifies their essences (core to surface). E.g. Earth probably assumed her uranium from an interstellar cloud she passed through while she was cooling to form a crust. Not all stars transform into planets. Some stars that began orders of magnitude greater in size end up exploding and leave behind a neutron star. But supernovae are rare events. Most stars simply transform into planets then moons. Moons are dead stars. The Moon is older than the Earth.

    * Some time long ago when Earth was a dark star (in her prophecy Blessed Anne called it a dark globe) swinging around the galactic core near the newer Sun: God miraculously transfigured the face of the Earth via the Missive Spirit. This is the main-event of Genesis 1. God established a singular-exclusive relationship with the Earth that was unprecedented and is not found among all other stars. We will never discover extraterrestrial life quite simply because God has not sent the Spirit and transfigured any other star (or planet).

    *The main event had a few courses. The Spirit stimulated Earth’s surface which at the time was froze over. It was an ice-planet that appeared to the sacred author as an astonishing-desert. God formed the modern atmosphere, prototype plants, placed Earth in orbit around the Sun and the Moon in orbit around the Earth. The stars refer to the other planets of our system that naturally got captured by the Sun before or after the main-event. God created the prototype animals, and then finally Adam from a hillock on Earths new surface and then Eve in Paradise. The first micro-organisms had a symbiotic relationship with the animals and plants. God didnt necessarily cover the entire surface with animals and plants in the light-event. He could have simply created a variety of pristine prototypes neatly spreading them out around the Middle East.

    * Gen 2 & 3 are a superimposition of Gen 1. God miraculously created Adam from a hillock on Earth’s surface. He took Adam up to Paradise which was a mystical enclosure somewhere in the mountains. God took some animals up to Paradise for Adam to name: the first language event. There he miraculously created Eve from Adam’s side. The serpent was an embodiment of Eve’s and then Adam’s conceptual processes and deliberation. They sinned. Then God delivered his punishments. One of the punishments was the cursing of the ground. This launched Earth into its fallen course. This in effect damaged the prototype animal’s food supply and the the pristine first generation eventually went extinct. But they had descendants from which all the types evolved over billions of years. Also the fallen angels were given some authority on Earth and that is why one can find some strange stuff happening in nature. But the Spirit of course also guides the processes of living objects and all phenomena of the Earth. The scientists study Earth’s fallen course but since they do not suppose faith they are a bit confused.

    * With the Fall Paradise was disconnected from the network of atoms and raised up from the mountains. It is still in existence and perhaps located up in the atmosphere. Perhaps a few of the pristine prototypes are still there. Enoch and Elias are there awaiting Antichrist. As for Adam and Eve their bodies were justly harmed as a result of their sin. They inherited germline mutations. They (and their descendants) became less like glorious children of God and more like the animals in particular the hominids. And God miraculously transferred them back to the ground after the Earth had cycled in fallen course for many years. The amount of years is a moot point. Who cares? But for Adam and Eve it was as if a blink of an eye. So they were created prior to the hominids but transferred back to the ground after the last of the hominids went extinct. I think they appeared back on the ground not long before the first alphabets appear in history. Look up modality-independence a concept of semiotics (and the case of the deaf children from Nicaragua). If Adam could conceive of and use word concepts you better sure as hell believe that the gestures and tracing of characters comes not long after. It didnt take 70, 000 years for an Adamic brain to invent traced characters. Something is wrong with some of their dating methods. Scientists assume that the radioactive decay rates are constant but they are not. A variety of light-signals can speed up decay rates. But in any case all that jazz is sophisticated guesswork. They are addicted to math. And their chronologies are all confused.

    * science tends to convert assumptions into facts of the Universal Movie. This is wrong. All evolution has are statements of facts, assumptions and explanations. They could be rational or irrational. Evolution is a sound theory but it cannot be used to explain everything that has occurred in Earth’s history. Like Chomsky said there are a lot of fairy tales in the evolutionary literature. They have gotten too arrogant with all this. Science does not prove. Science rationally explains using a statement of facts in an rational assumption. Truth is for religion, not science. The only validated proposals for first origins can possibly come from God and the sacred authors who were privileged to see the events of the prototypes coming into existence. And no human was there to see all the events of Earth’s movie. Science has become biased, addicted to proofs, math, predictions, prestige and all that. They have made themselves their own myth just like the ancients. They predict the age of the ‘Universe’ with six irreconcilable assumptions of gravity and they do not even know what light is. They are arrogant.

    Their story is not my story.

    *** These are roughly my views as a Roman Catholic. Been working on this stuff for years.

    1. I think that you could be a very good science fiction writer. Your imagination flows freely without being bound by a standard external to your own mind. Perhaps you should put your efforts there. Have you considered doing that before?

  34. I cannot believe that a comment accused Blessed John Paul the Greatest as being a promoter of abortion. Please get a life!
    The best book that I have ever read on evolution is Evolution and Other Fairy Tales by Larry Azar. The author received undergraduate and graduate degrees in math, physics, and philosophy from Boston College and a doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical Institute of the University of Toronto where he studied with Etienne Gilson, Anton Pegis, and Armand Maurer.

  35. See ” Darwin’s Doubt” by Stephen C. Meyer for the problems with contemporary theory and the philosophical case for intelligent design.

  36. Difficulties are inherent in the attempt to reconcile theology and the scientific method. Science is a process of observing empirical data and replicating it. It does not attempt to define God or include God. Science advances because it does not rely on explanations outside of its protocols and definitions. Theology does not try to explain the periodic table, the taxa classifying living organisms, or tectonic plate theory. Those concerned about the science of evolution’s apparent exclusion of God should read the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., scientist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, and mystic. We should all take comfort in the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., who wrote that “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Evolutionary theory actually enhances the belief in the existence of God. Trying to make science and theology congruent places an inappropriate limitation on both.

    1. “Science is a process of observing empirical data and replicating it.”

      are you serious? What you just described is data collection.

      And I disagree that science has advanced. Technology has advanced. Science has become a big bloated religion full of beliefs, ad hoc hypothesis and tautologies.

      Chardin had some good insights, but he was a poet and biased toward his evolutionary views. Critical thinking and rational analysis is detached from delusions of grandeur. Mother Nature doesnt care about grandeur, beauty, emotions and all that. She just keeps on rolling.

      Even so I agree that evolution, is beautiful albeit fallen.

  37. We need to take the offensive on evolutionary theory. It is theological for at least four reasons. First, it is a theory of change. You cannot have an infinite number of changes, and therefore it needs a starting point, or “First Changer”. The only rational answer for a starting point is theistic. Second, similar to the first, you cannot have something change out of nothing. It depends on Creation. Third, it is theory of progression. This assumes a higher order. What are we progressing towards? Why does greater even exist? The fact we can think of greater or worse, means that extrinsic quality exists. This is an aspect of the ontological argument. Fourth, life will not come out of non-life.
    We don’t have to defend our Faith, we can simply show them that evolution presupposes God, whether they like it or not.

    1. “life will not come out of non-life”

      I agree, but what we need to be is come up with a crisp, clear, and consistent definition of life and rationally explain WHY life will not come out of an inert object.

  38. Has anyone made the connection between evolutionary theory and our current tyranny of relativism? Part of the quote above says it all: “Natural selection does not involve progress towards an ultimate goal.” Both the beginning and ends of the creation account (which includes the ‘telos’) gives us our direction in this world, which is God as our end (we were made for Him, in His image and likeness). It even gives us a snapshot of salvation history in Gen 3:15. Without this telos (this view of where we are going and where we come from) everything is relative. It all comes down to all of those great classical questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? The creation account is the meaning of life in a nutshell. You “debunk” that and you can create your own universe with whatever kind of nonsense people will believe. That is exactly what Charles Darwin did. I would suggest to readers to get their hands on as many of Benjamin Wiker’s books as they can. He is one voice who is qualified to answer many of the complexities of our questions. His site can be found here:

    1. Could you not have – are there not examples in classical antiquity of philiosophers who had – a teleological ‘world’ conceived of as, for example, cyclical, and/or eternally existing? (I think St.Thomas Aquinas discusses such things, but have not stopped to try to go and find out where, before replying.) That is, teleology (in some senses) and “progress towards an ultimate goal” are distinct matters, with absence of such “progress” not necessarily entailing relativism (even though it can, in practice).

  39. These pro-evolution comments would be hilarious if they weren’t so sad. Instead of evolutionists placing so much confidence in science maybe they should study some historical “facts” and then they could learn about one of the biggest frauds in scientific history: “Piltdown Man.” (perpetrated by “mystic” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.) From 1912 to 1953 “science” had the world believing evolution was a fact. So for over forty years people were believing a big lie because the so-called scientific experts said it was so. Once fooled shame on me, twice fooled shame on you. Any Catholic should realize the fact that God didn’t make science infallible but only the authentic teachings of His Catholic Church and that’s why I’ll take the unanimous opinions of the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church any day over Darwin, Chardin, PJII “the Greatest” and any other agenda driven so-called scientist.

  40. Monsignor (or another reader better at searching for or keeping track of posts here than I am),

    Could you link the post(s) concerning polygenesis? While it is one among many parts of the discussion now undertaken here, it is one involing specific (indeed authoritative) teaching, is it not?

    To babble a bit in the meantime, the Fall of Man is the fall of two distinct created persons. Given the freedom of each of these when unfallen, to fall, there could have been the fall of one and not both.

    Why could there not, similarly, have been more than two of the same ‘species’ (which includes, capable of reproduction, so, a ‘reproductive population’ of more than one each), each free not to fall, but each of whom in fact fell? Would the fact that all fell not be equally decisive for all that follows?

    Is polygenesis philosophically as well as Scripture-textually excluded, and if so, why?

  41. Academia’s approved teaching on evolution is adamantly atheistic. Scientists who posited theistic evolution were drummed out of the field a hundred years ago. Only non-scientists wishfully speculate on hypothetical ways to reconcile religion and evolution. Because they are non-scientists for the most part, they fail to challenge the science of evolution. Or are intimidated by the tactics of evolutionists in denouncing challengers as fundamentalist creationists. The science of evolution falls apart under molecular biologist Mike Behe’s ‘irreducible complexity.’ Read his book, “The Edge of Evolution.” Read his book, “Darwin’s Black Box.” Recognize the position of evolutionary biology’s key thinkers, the field’s magisterium.When they who define their field say it is Godless, it is indeed a Godless field. Saying otherwise is like a non-Catholic hoping to redefine Church teachings according to a different vision than the Church’s Magisterium.

  42. There are 3 levels of discourse involved in this issue: science, philosophy and theology.

    Science has its own methodology, including certain methodological principles such as a prohibition on any explanations other than ones involving natural causes. Science establishes the facts about biology, and then seeks the best explanation for these facts subject to these methodological principles. If the conclusion of the scientific community is that evolution working by natural selection is the best explanation of the biological facts, then everyone should accept that as the best answer at the level of scientific explanation. If this turns out to be wrong, then it is science that will establish that it is wrong, not philosophy or theology. Neither philosophy nor theology are equipped to challenge the answers of science.

    Once science has given its answer, philosophy and theology can then ask whether they have anything to contribute. Some philosophers might argue that evolution can be explained only by an intelligent mind guiding the process. Theology might claim that God is behind everything that happens. Both of these claims build on the findings of science, which they leave intact. Philosophy and theology can add to science’s explanations; they cannot subtract from them. They might claim that the scientific explanation needs to be completed by a further explanation, but not that it is wrong given its methodological premisses.

    To suggest that theology has the ability, or the right, or the duty, to “correct” the “errors” of science is to commit the Galileo mistake once again. Theology or faith is no more able to determine whether the scientific theory of evolution is right or wrong than it is able to determine whether the Copernican theory is right or wrong. This is also the case for polygenism: whether it is true or not is for science to discover, not theology. If science establishes that polygenism is the best explanation for the appearance of human beings, then theology will have to find another explanation for original sin. This will not be the first time theology has had to dig deeper because of the findings of science, and the results have been a better theology.

    1. science does not establish facts. Science uses a statement of facts in a rational assumption. Science has nothing to do with truth. E.g. They discover a fossil and try to fill in the frames of the universal movie by assumption, explanation and conclusion. But they dont validate any proposals. Truth is proposal and validation. God is in the business of truth, not science. When scientists became witnesses to truth they started their own religion.

      Divine Revelation can correct a rational or irrational hypothesis, theory and conclusion. Science might conclude that something is rational and possible, but God defies reason and does the impossible. So it gets tricky.

      But I agree theology shouldnt seek to correct science. Scientists should just do their work and theologians should just do their work and never the twain should meet:

      no “real conflict could arise between the theologian and the physicist as long as both remained within the confines of their respective methods.” Pope Leo XIII in Providentissimus Deus.

      Faith and science will NEVER be reconciled because God defies reason. The Catholic definition of the Trinity defies reason. Miracles defy reason. One cannot scientifically explain miracles. And one cannot validate a miracle such as creation ex nihilo. Only God can do that.

  43. If I understand St Thomas correctly, he posits that God’s will can be carried into effect through contingent as well as necessary causes. Thus, just because the universe operates in a random manner to our observation does not mean that this operation is random to God. He foresees all random events and has foreordained their occurrences for the purpose of bringing His will into effect. Thus, the aspect of evolutionary theory which posits pure randomness as driving evolution is not, as a matter of necessity, incompatible with the idea that everything that happens in the universe is a result of God’s foreknowledge.

    Again, if I understand St. Thomas correctly, he uses this same concept in order to explain how our free acts in cooperation with God’s grace do not take away from the fact that the elect are all predestined to be so. God foresees our contingent acts and uses them in order to bring about our salvation which cannot occur without both grace and our cooperation therewith.

  44. Popular topic for discussion I guess! 🙂

    There is a book out called “The Scripture Documents” ( which reproduces in one volume, key documents that record recent Catholic teaching on the interpretation of the Bible.

    I have read through parts of this book, especially with questions that were put to the holy office with regards to the authorship of the Pentateuch and what a Catholic may believe (ie, one can believe Moses wrote it in part or in full, as well a person may believe that certain other authors may have as well). It also touches on creation and evolution. What I specifically remember is that a Catholic must believe that Adam was an actual person, and from him we all descended. Of course the documents go more in depth than that and I’d recommend the book for those interested in all the pertinent documents and responses from the Holy Office.

  45. Here’s an item some may find helpful in this discussion:

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010
    Creation Myths of the Tenured

    Without a doubt, the ultimate Black Swan is whatever it was that permitted merely genetic human beings to emerge into full humanness just yesterday (cosmically speaking), some 50,000 years ago.

    Prior to this there was existence, but so what? There was life, but who cares? With no one to consciously experience it, what was the point? Without self-conscious observers, the whole cosmos could bang into being and contract into nothingness, and it would be no different than the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it.

    One of the reasons why this is such a lonely and unpopular blog is that it takes both science and religion seriously. Most science and religion are unserious, but especially — one might say intrinsically — when they exclude each other.

    A religion that cannot encompass science is not worthy the name, while a science that cannot be reconciled with religion is not fit for human beings. And I mean this literally, in that it will be a science that applies to a different species, not the one that is made to know love, truth, beauty, existence, and the Absolute. Science must begin and end in this principle — which is to say, the Principle — or it is just a diversion.

    In taking science seriously, we must obviously take “evolution” seriously. I place the word in quotation marks not because I don’t believe in it, but for reasons we have discussed at length in the past (cf. here or there). Evolution was around long prior to Darwin, and the word didn’t even appear in the first five editions of The Origin of Species. It was only inserted later, after which time evolution and Darwinism (natural selection) became conflated, even though they are in many ways at antipodes. In other words, evolution disproves Darwinism, and vice versa, despite the semantic and metaphysical games materialists deploy to try to reconcile the two. (Here: or there:

    In our effort to demonstrate the essential unity of religion and science, we specifically want to avoid the superficial and metaphysically incoherent approach of the materialists, which essentially reduces to magic — no different than the young earth creationist who sees God as a kind of magician. But creation is not magic; rather, it is thoroughly rooted in, and infused with, order and Reason. Yes, there are myths that describe creation as if it were a giant magic act, but the purpose of myth is to awaken Truth within, not to force consent from without.

    This is something that used to be taken for granted by theologians, but as they have become increasingly intimidated by the findings of modern science, it seems that they have retreated further into a protective bubble of faith in the incredible — or faith in things that are not worthy of the intrinsic dignity and nobility of man’s seeking Intellect. The Intellect is noble precisely because it may know truth, so that anything short of an integral and total truth undercuts man at the root. It’s an insult, really.

    In The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, Ridley tries to account for the evolution of man in wholly naturalistic terms. In one sense, he recognizes a fatal problem with the Darwinian account, in that there is an insurmountable gap between our finite genes and our infinite capabilities.

    In other words, we know that human beings were genetically “complete” (which itself is an absurd word to apply to natural selection, since nothing can be complete or incomplete) long before the appearance of what we would call humanness.

    Furthermore, the suddenness (especially in Darwinian terms) of man’s psychospiritual transformation also surpasses anything natural selection can explain. It can try, but to say that a random genetic mutation accounts for the human capacity to know truth and beauty makes no sense whatsoever.

    Anyway, at least Ridley is honest in acknowledging the problem, although he doesn’t exactly name it or draw out its full implications. But the problem is this: that there is a literally infinite gap between man and animal (even though there is an obvious continuity as well), just as there is an infinite gap between nothing and existence or matter and life.

    One can say that this gap is infinite because man intuits the Absolute, or one can say that man intuits the Absolute because of this infinite gap. Either way, once man consciously enters the sensorium of time and space, he is implicitly aware of both Absolute and Infinite, and therefore Love, Truth, Justice, Beauty, Virtue, and Eternity. These are the things that define man, not his genome.

    Ridley notes an important fact that I discussed in my book, which is that early hominids remained trapped in their niche for “more than a thousand millennia.” They basically produced a single tool, the stone hand axe.

    Clearly, “the creatures that made this thing were very content with it,” in that it changed very little during the course of a million years, across three continents. As I mentioned in the book, it’s almost as if this tool were analogous to a bird’s nest or a spider’s web, i.e., something we were genetically programmed to produce.

    As long as 600,000 ago, there were hominids with brains nearly as large as ours, and yet, with no discernible payoff: “they did not experience anything remotely resembling cultural progress. They just did what they did very well. They did not change.”

    But again, this is normative for Darwinism. Once a creature successfully adapts to its environmental niche, there is no pressure to change. As we mentioned yesterday, “natural selection is a conservative force. It spends more of its time keeping species the same than changing them” (Ridley).

    And just what kind of “pressure” could force an ape to suddenly become Buddha, or Beethoven, or Shakespeare, anyway? What, is evolution the mother of all Jewish mothers? (Hmm, before you dismiss that outright….) Yes, there was a pressure, but as we shall see, it was from above, not below. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

    So quite suddenly “there appeared on earth a new kind of hominid, one that refused to play by the rules. Without any change in its body, without any succession of species, it just kept changing its habits. For the first time, its technology changed faster than its anatomy. There was an evolutionary novelty, and you are it” (Ridley).

    Yes, we are without a doubt an evolutionary novelty. But are we a Darwinian novelty, which is to say, a random accident? I don’t think so. In fact, a wholly contingent being could never know truth anyway, let alone its own truth.

    To be continued….

    posted by Gagdad Bob at 8/18/2010 08:08:00 AM [][]

  46. I can only know and sense what I can experience. Elements of the past, authorship etc, and sources of inspiration are beyond me. What I do know, somewhat, is that Evolution as described by Communists, many who reside in the church, is more a statement of atheism than it is a good and proper theory of evolution. This includes passing on some of the thinking of Darwin, and studies on African primates, monkeys, and black culture. Communists care more about atheism than they do about the content that conveys it.

    Details of the life process, reproductive details, and “evolution” are stilling evolving and missing in many details. There is a very active pursuit of knowledge in these areas, and a possibility that some elements will always remain obscure, in the strict scientific sense.

    In my personal relationship with God, he has never conveyed to me any sense of his involvement with evolving life. That might change, and the understanding of others may be different than my own. God has engendered life, nurtured it, guided it. And so like starting a campfire, the physics of the flames, complex as it is, does not hold all the answers of how the flame has changed, and came to be.

  47. Creationism vs Catholic Crationism vs Theisic Evolution vs Evolution

    It is a difficult question, what do you think about the following list by The Kolbe Centre. Not sure about the group, but there are some valid points none the less. What do you all think?


    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 andall 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. What do you all think?

      I think the Kolbe center is addicted to their 24 hour theory of Genesis One. They still think the Earth is 6000 years old which is clearly beyond ridiculous and they twist authority to support their claim:

      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)

      This is clearly ridiculous. Augustine wrote at least five interpretations of Genesis 1 and he contradicts himself in all of them! Some of the Fathers had nothing to say about the length of the days. The Fathers did not have the Hubble Space Telescope. The Fathers did not know that the Earth was not the center of the universe. The Fathers did not know that there are billions of planets in our Milky Way alone. In short they simply were not privy to the discoveries of modern man which have come into play in a rational analysis and critical thinking of Gen 1.

      The Kolbe Center is run by charlatans who parrot Authority. Genesis 1 is for the most part an undefined Text. If it was we wouldnt be arguing here.

      That said most of those quotes are pretty good when taken in proper context. But I think the Magisterium has a ways to go in drawing out the truths from Divine Revelation concerning creation and the history of the universe. There are so many teachings in the O.T. that can be used. For example why not answer the question of whether space is a concept that refers to nothing or an object: that which has shape? Did God create space? If the Magisterium define this alone then the fate of modern physical cosmology would be decided and Einstein idolaters humiliated. And the answer is clearly taught in the Book of Job. That is just one example of where the Magisterium could go with creation teachings.

  48. Scientific Method is definitions, statement of facts in an assumption, the assumption (or hypothesis) and theory or explanation with a conclusion.

    Mankind discover some fossils.

    Scientists: Define Mankind as an animal. Point to the fossils and assume they existed 70, 000 years ago based on the assumption of constant decay rates based on an outdated model of the atom. They calculate the ages using tautological math. Then they set out to explain (theorize) how these fossils are related to all humans using a rational assumption of evolution but the irrational assumption that species cross bread. Offspring of cross-breading species are usually weak. They would not be viable candidates for everyone living today. Scientists do not discard assumptions. Instead they try to ‘validate’ the theory using tautological systems such as math and logic and computer models. They force the conclusion that Mankind is descended from Neanderthals, hominid Africans, and Devonisians. Then they propose their opinion to the world as if validated in effect converting their assumptions into facts. So they are really proposing beliefs to be believed in by the public under the guise of facts. They then run propaganda, censure-ship, advertising, etc. Soon the whole world believes that they descended from these species and ultimately a single cell. But science has no God-given authority to teach period especially in context to first origins. There is no authority in science.

    This hypothetical is something like how modern science works. They convert assumptions into facts and teach their assumptions as if validated proposals (truths). It happens in physics and biology all the time and they get rewarded for this slop.

    Faith: Defines Mankind as children of God. Believe God created Adam and Eve in a miracle thus assume Mankind did not descend from hominids, apes, and ultimately a single cell. In effect they hold to an assumption that is irreconcilable with what the scientists are proposing. They believe that what God said is a validated proposal.

    Theologians: assume Faith but use critical thinking and rational analysis to explain Divine Revelation and creatively solve problems and clarify truths proposed by God. They marshal information, pray, mediate and make assumptions using faith and reason. The assumptions are used to explain Divine Revelation.

    Popes and Bishops: teach truths drawn out of Divine Revelation with the authority of Christ Jesus. Use theology for support. Encourage scientists, but correct them on occasion using their authority.

    Lay Persons: confused as hell about all the conflicting teachings bombarding them from the public. Come up with their own opinions.

  49. Concerning Evolution

    There are no women and men in long white coats and horn rimmed glasses with pen protectors and slide rules in there pockets in the possession of complex and advanced scientific instruments and secret data that know more than we do about evolution. The information available about fossil evidence is easily accessible and understandable to the average person. One of the reasons this is important is that people of faith need to understand that science has not proven evolution to be true and that the teaching of the faith to be false. The Bible creation story is not a myth or a fairy tale and evolution a scientific fact. The believe that the God that wrote the Bible is the same God that created the universe and truth can not contradict truth is alive and well. There is no separation of faith and reality. It seems many times religious people withdraw from engaging people by using the faith defense. It is as if they are saying:”I know this doesn’t make sense I just believe it by faith.” By lack of knowledge of the evidence available sometimes faith can be shaken or an opportunity to witness can be lost. I really encourage people of faith to delve into the issue of evolution and examine the current information available. I believe it can strengthen their faith and improve their witness as well as being fun and educational. If one becomes knowledgable on this issue there is no reason to retreat from discussion because of intimidation by scoffers and mockers.

    Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying faith is not necessary or important. I understand that we are saved by faith through grace and that by faith we can know things we could not ordinarily understand. All I want to do is encourage people to study the current information on the evolution issue. If the terms “intelligent design”, “irreducible complexity”, the “generation of information'” and “intermediate “or “transitional” fossil forms are unfamiliar to you it might be time to check things out. It’s probably also a good idea to check out what some of those DNA headlines really mean. A good place to start is at for understandable explanations of the latest in science from a Christian perspective.

  50. In the Beginning – there was Physics – After a bigger than normal bang, they say.

    Before that Bang, Was Meta-Physics (literally Beyond Physics) – which Little is known about, like Dark Matter / Energy – only Maybe Different.

    Anywayyy, In the beginning of Western ‘science’ – the Greek Aristotle was top dog, until Galileo came along stating the Earth was Not the Center of the Universe; Rather Our Sun was. Ahem.

    Chesterton said an Atheist is someone who believes as a matter of Faith – Absolutely everything came from absolutely nothing.

    Myself, I am far too skeptical for such simplistic tautology, particularly given that Like ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ Descartes, –I at least know that I Am, if not always exactly where.

    Darwin should’ve named his book ‘Observations on the Evolutionary Mutation Within Species” – which Title might not have gotten as big a hype as “Origin of the Species”.

    For as Darwin Admitted – he had No Ultimate Answers to the true Origins of Life, and actually presumed God played some role somewhere in the Actual Origins themselves – Meta-Physically speaking.

    Genesis – as observed by those higher up the eccleastical Ladder than I, is Not a Science Textbook.

    However – This does Not detract as tool for understanding Creation, which is more just running the numbers – although Galileo did say
    “Mathematics is the Language with which God has Written the Universe.”

    The mixture of Metaphor, Allegory & Insight the Bible provides in to Witnessing God’s CREATION – is not simply quantifiable in Human physical metrics alone.

    1. Dear Readers,

      The more I study and research the accounts of Genesis, the more I truly believe with the early Fathers of the Church, that I created all things out of nothing, and it was through Jesus Christ the Lord. Hence we see in our Eastern Churches (from which all Christianity came from Originally), the Beautiful Icon of Christ creating all the creatures on earth.I believe that the God created things just as he says he did in the Holy Bible. The Theory of Evolution is only a theory and has never been proven. Darwin also believe that part of his theory was that certain races were less developed than others, white people being the most fully evolved and most intelligent. Spiritually speaking, if we look at the fruit of mankind having accepted this theory as truth,is has turned believers away from God,has been used by the Devil to prove that God is not true to many people and even nation, that God does not exist. Now it is a sacred Doctrine to Scientist and Atheist alike. I wont use the word heresy, but will use the words of St. Paul, “doctrine of devils”. And why was it ever taught in catholic schools is beyond me. One thing I do know, that the theory of evolution, I don’t have to accept at all to be a faithful orthodox Catholic. Evolution,when I first read about it, heard about it as a young lad, bothered me,I rejected it, because I think God was protecting me by revealing this to my heart.

    2. Dear Readers,

      The more I study and research the accounts of Genesis, the more I truly believe with the early Fathers of the Church, that GOD created all things out of nothing, and it was through Jesus Christ the Lord. Hence we see in our Eastern Churches (from which all Christianity came from Originally), the Beautiful Icon of Christ creating all the creatures on earth.I believe that the God created things just as he says he did in the Holy Bible. The Theory of Evolution is only a theory and has never been proven. Darwin also believe that part of his theory was that certain races were less developed than others, white people being the most fully evolved and most intelligent. Spiritually speaking, if we look at the fruit of mankind having accepted this theory as truth,is has turned believers away from God,has been used by the Devil to prove that God is not true to many people and even nation, that God does not exist. Now it is a sacred Doctrine to Scientist and Atheist alike. I wont use the word heresy, but will use the words of St. Paul, “doctrine of devils”. And why was it ever taught in catholic schools is beyond me. One thing I do know, that the theory of evolution, I don’t have to accept at all to be a faithful orthodox Catholic. Evolution,when I first read about it, heard about it as a young lad, bothered me,I rejected it, because I think God was protecting me by revealing this to my heart.

  51. I’m late to the discussion, however, I would like to suggest a book to read:

    Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by
    Stephen C. Meyer

    “It’s hard for us paleontologists to admit that neo-Darwinian explanations for the Cambrian explosion have failed miserably….Meyer describes the dimensions of the problem with clarity and precision. His book is a game changer.” (Dr. Mark Menamin, paleontologist at Mt. Holyoke College and coauthor of The Emergence of Animals)

    “Meyer demonstrates, based on cutting-edge molecular biology, why explaining the origin of animals is now not just a problem of missing fossils, but an even greater engineering problem at the molecular level….An excellent book and a must read.” (Dr. Russell Carlson, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia and technical director of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center)

  52. Hello and a blessed day to all of you.

    I am a catholic in philippines. I just wish to share in this topic msgr pope if i may.

    In our catholic movement, now worldwide, it was plainly explained to us that creation of man is as simple as adam (not a personal name or identity) is a depiction of a man only. And when god created humans, he created it in two’s (man with x-y and a woman with x-x). There are man-woman (white skinned and black skinned) total of 12 pairs, placed in different parts of the earth. The fact that a mango tree cannot bear (will never) bear a banana fruit is in same principle that our god did the creation (polygensism is what i believe your term?) well, we believe it is truth.
    Other bizarre creatures (humans and animals) was the attemp creation of lucifer (which god permitted him to do) for him still to realize he is wrong (god still wanted him to change and repent). But as god sees it enough, he destroyed them all (that is why we could still see proofs of their existence before). The way we see it and still try to resolved and explain these that it all came from one source is a futile act and waste of time (as god says, as we all know, that darkness cannot be a light). All of the living things that we see and that has good use for humans all came from god. Mutations and clonings are all not the works of god.
    God said humans was created in the image and of his likeness (we see that god is more like of an image of a man, yet we know he has no gender, what was the image of likeness then of a woman?) moreso, how god could know that a woman would be paired to woman? Was there an image of god who is a woman? As god has said it so, we were all made and created in his likeness.

  53. (This is a comment I made on another site that hosted Msgr Pope’s post, which I’m now posting on the original website)

    As a former evolutionary and agnostic geologist who is now a Catholic and a creationist, I paraphrase biologist Michael Behe, author of the seminal Intelligent Design book, “Darwin’s Black Box,” in saying that one can be a good Catholic and believe in evolution and an old age for the earth, but one cannot be a good scientist and blithely dismiss the evidence to the contrary. The irreducible complexity of even the smallest cell and the new discoveries of the contribution of epigenetics to the development of organisms all argue against the mechanisms of random chance and genetic mutation. In terms of the earth’s age, while radiometric dating provides the strongest support for the currently accepted age of the earth, it is contradicted by a mounting tide of discovery of preserved biomolecules in organisms whose ages are such that the organic material should have disappeared long ago. In addition, C-14 has been found in dinosaur bones presumed to be around 60 million years old, when it should have disappeared after 50-60,000 years. At the very least, these conflicting evidences suggest that the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has not been met by either the evolutionary or the old age camps.

  54. The Book of Genesis is far more convincing, logical and scientific than the theory of evolution. This is about Christianity, that is about God’s word and not about any particular Christian sect.

  55. The rest of Scripture doesn’t make much sense or hold together unless I actually believe Genesis. As for me, I not only believe God created all that is, just as expressed in Genesis, I thank and praise Him for being our Good and Intimately-Involved Creator. Praise be Abba, praise be Jesus Christ, praise be Holy Spirit, forever and ever. 🙂

  56. ps — special note to Monsignor Charles Pope: I came to your blog site because I was interested in reading what you have to say re the issue of Cardinal Dolan participating in the St. Pat’s parade that is embracing a gay image. But I wanted to see what you had to say about Genesis first. Isn’t that interesting? For me, I tend to test and then value a leader’s teaching if it’s rooted in ALL of Scripture; otherwise, what they have to say is ultimately just their opinion. I thought you might want to know this because, as a teacher, I would think you would be edified to know that what you’re teaching and how you are influencing others is being scrutinized (and received) by people who not only think deeply but also care deeply about the meaning of life (i.e. what you’re doing really matters — thank you.) May the Lord guide and protect you always.

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