Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What does the Catholic Church teach on evolution?

There has been a lot of talk lately about how the Catholic Church as embraced evolution whole-heartedly and that the Church completely ignores the creation stories fond in Genesis. Let me try to explain where Catholics stand.

First, the Catholic Church has no official position on evolution. Did God create man in a day? We don’t know, we weren’t there. What Church does say is that IF evolution is true then it was guided by the hand of God, not random chance. Also, IF evolution is true then it is only true for the physical body; the soul was imparted as a singular action and the soul has not and cannot evolve.

A Protestant once asked me how this fits with the Bible. He said that it is important that humans did not evolve because if they did then Genesis is wrong to say that death was introduced only after the sin of Adam and Eve. If evolution is true then the creatures we evolved from had to have died over the ages that it took for us to evolve. To him, this is a direct contradiction to the Bible.

Does Genesis really say that sin caused death? Yes, but what kind of death? God said “the day you eat the fruit you will surly die”. Adam and Eve ate and did NOT die! Hmm, was God wrong? Or was he talking about another type of death?

I mentioned above that Catholics believe the soul did not evolve and cannot evolve. The soul is the eternal part of the human person, the part that either spends eternity with God (lives) or is separated from God (dies). Catholics say that yes, Adam and Eve died when they sinned, they broke their connection with God, they killed their eternal part, they killed their souls.

Did our human bodies evolve from some other creature? I don’t know or care. What matters to me is that my soul was given to me directly by God and that never changes.


Anonymous said...

strange, but catholics are usually pretty good on social issues so I was surprised to see them not take genesis literally (eg 7 days etc .

Michael said...


It is heretical to claim that the Creation Story in Genesis is myth or not human history. Go read the PBCs documents in the 1900s. It is very clear. No Church council can undo the declarations. With that, though, I do agree with yours and the Churches position that evolution does not conflict with Church teaching because evolution can not be proven right but has been proven faulty. The Pope was just giving lip service.

Was mankind created in a day? You better believe it. That is what the Holy Spirit tells us in Sacred Scripture via Moses. Was it a day you are familiar with? Maybe, Maybe not. But is was surely a day? The Church has been very clear on this up till our decent into Modernism, which as the Church has declared, "the synthesis of all heresies".

Pax Christi,

Dan 'n Tara Brooke said...

Thanks for your comment, Michael.

However, I have to admit my ignorance; what are these "PBCs documents from the 1900s" that you're talking about? If you'd like us to read for ourselves please provide a way for us to do so apart from an acronym readers may or may not know.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to our article.


Uriel Cool said...

Not sure if this will get read since it's so late after the initial post, but I had to jump in here. First, if you read the account of Genesis, days were defined by sunrise, then sunset. Or evening, then morning... the first day. Evening then morning... the second day. This is how we still define a day in 2011. If you look in the book of Genesis, the Hebrew word that is used for 'day' is yom. Every other instance in the Bible where Yom is used, it means a literal 24 hour day. We have to believe that it also means a literal 24 hour day in Genesis 1 as well. So yes, God did make man in 1 day, on day 6. God also made every creature who walks the earth on day six, which means that dinosaurs and humans must have been created on the same day. If this is the case, then there cannot be a timeline differentiation of millions of years between dinosaurs and man. Therefore, either evolution is correct, or creation is correct. They must be mutually exclusive if you believe the Bible, which I do. I also find it interesting that the phrase you use, "did God really say?", is the exact same phrase that the serpent used in the garden to tempt Eve. That argument is still dangerous. Yes, God said we would surely die. And the New Testament writers backed it up. "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--" Romans 5:12 The Greek word Paul uses for death is a death that commits the sould to eternal death, not just physical death. What's more, if you read the New Testament, you will see that Jesus Himself preached a literal Genesis and Flood, giving validity to everything written there. Read Luke 17:27, Matthew 24:39, or 2 Peter in its entirety. Now at this point you're in a real bind. If Jesus was God, who died for your sins, and He Himself states that the Genesis account is true, do you then believe Jesus, or do you believe the bad science?

Dan said...

Thanks for the comment, Uriel,

I emphatically agree that the creation accounts (remember, there are two) are true. By this I mean the message they intend to convey is true. I do not believe that the intended message was the number of literal hours it took to create creation. Isn't it odd to you that God created light on the first day but didn't create the sun or other sources of light until the fourth day? Isn't it odd to you that God made the world differently in Genesis 1 and 2? In the first story he made humans last, in the second story he made humans before plants and animals.

Now, did God create the entire universe? Yes he did. Did God imfuse man with a soul greater than the rest of creation? Yes he did. Did God make mankind in his divine, Trinitarian image ("Let 'us' make mankind in 'our' image")? Yes he did. All of the Bible is true and has no contradictions when understood as the authors (human and divine) intended. Did Jesus take the flood literally? I don't know, but he certainly reinforced the POINT of the story; be ready and watchful at all times and don't let yourself believe that you have time to repent.

Thanks for reading the blog and God bless!

zuma said...

Despite Pope Pius XII did not forbid evolutionary theory, he treated it to be the new erroneous philosophy.

The following are the extracts from the speech of Pope Pius XII at St. Peter’s (Rome) on 12th August 1950:

Pope Pius XII: “5. If anyone examines the state of affairs outside the Christian fold, he will easily discover the principle trends that not a few learned men are following. Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that EVOLUTION, which has not been fully proved even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution. Communists gladly subscribe to this opinion so that, when the souls of men have been deprived of every idea of a personal God, they may the more efficaciously defend and propagate their dialectical materialism.”
6. SUCH fictitious tenets of EVOLUTION which repudiate all that is absolute, firm and immutable, HAVE PAVED THE WAY FOR THE NEW ERRONEOUS PHILOSOPHY which, rivaling idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, has assumed the name of existentialism, since it concerns itself only with existence of individual things and neglects all consideration of their immutable essences.

Comment upon the speech of Pope Pius XII as listed above and observe those letters that are placed in capital letters. As the phrase, evolution…have paved the way for the new erroneous philosophy, is mentioned above, it implies that he treated evolutionary doctrine to be misleading and erroneous. As evolution was treated by Pope Pius XII to be the new erroneous philosophy, he did not treat it to be the truth of God.

Pope Pius XII followed his speech: “8. IN ALL THIS CONFUSION OF OPINION it is some consolation to Us to see former adherents of rationalism today frequently desiring to return to the fountain of divinely communicated truth, and to acknowledge and profess the word of God as contained in Sacred Scripture as the foundation of religious teaching. But at the same time it is a matter of regret that not a few of these, the more firmly they accept the word of God, so much the more do they diminish the value of human reason, and the more they exalt the authority of God the Revealer, the more severely do they spurn the teaching office of the Church, which has been instituted by Christ, Our Lord, to preserve and interpret divine revelation. This attitude is not only plainly at variance with Holy Scripture, but is shown to be false by experience also. For often those who disagree with the true Church complain openly of their disagreement in matters of dogma and thus unwillingly bear witness to the necessity of a living Teaching Authority.”

Comment upon the speech of Pope Pius XII as listed above. The phrase, In all this confusion of opinion, as mentioned above should refer to his speech as mentioned earlier pertaining to his thought of evolution. The phrase, In all this confusion of opinion, as mentioned above, gives us the impression that he treated evolution to be full of confusion.

Pope Pius XII followed his speech: “9. Now Catholic theologians and philosophers, whose grave duty it is to defend natural and supernatural truth and instill it in the hearts of men, CANNOT AFFORD TO IGNORE OR NEGLECT THESE MORE OR LESS ERRONEOUS OPINIONS. Rather they must come to understand THESE SAME THEORIES well, both because DISEASES ARE NOT PROPERLY TREATED unless they are rightly diagnosed, and because sometimes even in THESE FALSE THEORIES a certain amount of truth is contained, and, finally, because these theories provoke more subtle discussion and evaluation of philosophical and theological truths.”.

zuma said...

Comment upon the speech of Pope Pius XII as listed above. As the phrase, cannot afford to ignore…these…erroneous opinions, is mentioned above, it implies that he demanded Christians to be alert and beware of these erroneous opinions instead of ignoring them to let it has the influence upon the Church. The phrase, these false theories, gives the implication that he treated evolutionary theory to be a false theory and should not be treated as part of the truth of God.

Pope Pius XII followed his speech: “10. If philosophers and theologians strive only to derive such profit from the careful examination of these doctrines, there would be no reason for any intervention by the Teaching Authority of the Church. However, although We know that CATHOLIC TEACHERS generally AVOID THESE ERRORS, it is apparent, however, that SOME TODAY, as in apostolic times, desirous of novelty, and FEARING TO BE CONSIDERED IGNORANT OF RECENT SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS, TRY TO WITHDRAW THEM FROM THE SACRED TEACHING AUTHORITY and are accordingly in danger of gradually DEPARTING FROM REVEALED TRUTH and of drawing others along with them into error.”

Comment upon the speech of Pope Pius XII as listed above. As the phrase, Catholic teachers…avoid these errors, is mentioned above, it implies that Catholic teachers should avoid these errors especially evolution had been treated by him as the new erroneous philosophy. As the phrase, some today…fearing to be considered ignorant of recent scientific findings, is mentioned before the phrase, departing from…truth, it implies that he treated some people that involved in evolution (recent findings) to be those people that depart from the truth of God.

Pope Pius XII followed his speech by: “36. For these reasons THE TEACHING AUTHORITY OF CHURCH DOES NOT FORBID that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to THE DOCTRINE OF EVOLUTION, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the CATHOLIC FATIH obliges us to HOLD that SOULS ARE IMMEDIATELY CREATED BY GOD. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith.[11] Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question.”

As the phrase, the teaching authority of church does not forbid…the doctrine of evolution, is mentioned above, it implies that Paul Pius XII did not interfere the doctrine of evolution despite he treated it as new erroneous philosophy.

As the phrase, souls are immediately created by God, is mentioned above, it implies that he supported that Catholic faith should be based on the concept that all souls are immediately created by God. This teaching certainly contradicts evolutionary theory that teaches that all souls could not be created immediately by God but it would take many years to evolve so as to come into being. Besides, evolutionary theory supports that God do not create directly all souls but have assisted in the process of evolution. This concept is certainly wrong since it implies that God do not involve in the creation of souls but to stand aside just to assist them to be formed. A question has to be raised. Did God create the souls personally or He just stood aside to assist their formation?

zuma said...

Nevertheless, Paul Pius XII did not support that evolutionary theory is the truth of God despite he did not forbid its teaching.