Skip to comments.Pope stokes debate on Darwin and evolution
Posted on 04/13/2007 5:58:38 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
Evolution has not been scientifically proven and science has unnecessarily narrowed humanitys view of creation, Pope Benedict has said in his first reflections on the origins of life.
In comments to students, published yesterday in German, the Pope who took office in April 2005 stopped short of endorsing intelligent design and said faith alone could not explain the whole picture.
But, he said: We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory.
He advised the students not to choose between creationism and evolutionary theory but to adopt an interaction of various dimensions of reason.
He said: I find it important to underline that the theory of evolution implies questions that must be assigned to philosophy and which themselves lead beyond the realms of science.
Benedict reflected on comments of his predecessor, John Paul II, who said that theories of evolution were sound as long as they took into account that creation was the work of God, and that Darwins theory of evolution was more than a hypothesis."
He said: The pope [John Paul] had his reasons for saying this. But it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.
Benedict added that the immense time span that evolution covers made it impossible to conduct experiments in a controlled environment to verify or disprove the theory.
Evolution has come under fire in recent years by proponents mostly conservative Protestants of intelligent design, who believe that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher power.
In the United States, supporters of both camps have often clashed over what students should be taught in state schools. New attention has been focused on Roman Catholic views of the issue since Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said in a speech that restricting debate on Darwins theories amounted to censorship.
The Popes comments, recorded in the new book Creation and Evolution, appear alongside the reflections of Cardinal Schönborn and others who attended a meeting of students at the papal summer estate at Castelgandolfo outside Rome in September.
His remarks were consistent with one of his most repeated themes, that faith and reason are interdependent and that science, however vital, should not rule out God.
Science has opened up large dimensions of reason... and thus brought us new insights, he said. But in the joy at the extent of its discoveries, it tends to take away from us dimensions of reason that we still need.
Its results lead to questions that go beyond its methodical canon and cannot be answered within it.
Since taking office, the Pope has sent mixed signals on evolution. In November 2005, Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told a press conference that the Genesis account of creation and Darwins theory of evolution were perfectly compatible if the Bible was read correctly.
But last year, Benedict fired his chief astronomer, Father George Coyne, after the American Jesuit priest made similar comments in The Tablet. The sacking was interpreted by commentators as a clear endorsement for intelligent design.
The comments of this Pope, like those of John Paul II, best adhere to the doctrine of theistic evolution, which sees God creating by a process of evolution. This is accepted openly or tacitly by Roman Catholicism and the mainstream Protestant denominations.
Other than the fact that they report a rumor that turned out not to be true (Pope Benedict did not fire Father Coyne) this seems like a fairly good article.
“in matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision ... we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture.”
-St. Augustine of Hippo
ROTFL! St Augustine argues in favor of sola scriptura...
For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church.  So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manichæus, how can I but consent? Take your choice. If you say, Believe the Catholics: their advice to me is to put no faith in you; so that, believing them, I am precluded from believing you;--If you say, Do not believe the Catholics: you cannot fairly use the gospel in bringing me to faith in Manichæus; for it was at the command of the Catholics that I believed the gospel.
St. Augustine was such a kidder.
good one. :)
The underlined part is wrong. "Mainstream" protestantism has changed considerably from what this author thinks it is.
There are very few adherents in those old protestant denominations compared to huge numbers in the conservative, evangelical churches -- whether denominational or independent.
The single largest faith type in the US is baptistic.
On maybe patterns of inference or whatever one wishes to call it. I have read a short biography of Newton whose author I cannot now recall who relates that even as a child Newton was intrigued by patterns of light he saw and as he mastered the math of the day used it began to build his theories of reality. After all, by the age of twenty he had substantially formulated them. Whatever “insight” is, it plays a larger role than the simple piling up of evidence.
Gotta love Pope Benedict — relying on the Bible!
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I don’t see evolution as such a problem. The “of their kind” in the creation accounts take care of that. I have no doubt God would have used something like micro-evolution within these “kinds” in order to insure survival of his creation in a dynamic, ever changing world. I don’t think science supports macro-evolution. I don’t want to turn this into an evolution thread, I just want to say I believe a thinking person can have faith in the Genesis account without feeling for a second they are compromising their intellect. I like this Pope.
I couldn't agree more.
Great catch, dear brother in Christ!
You want to explain this post ?
I don’t have to explain jack squat.
Pope JPII was cool, hence the photo.
Thanks for your reply.
I thought he was cool, too. I had a chance to meet him personally and it was a great experience. It was before he became so weakened by Parkinsons.
12 years of Catholic school, huh? Hm-m-m
Hi, xzins! I readily accept that your characterization is true. But your reply doesn't tell me anything about what the mainstream protestant view of evolution is, assuming there is such a consensus view. Can you give me a quick "heads-up" on that?
I don't want to make any rash assumptions about protestant belief here, though I would really like to discuss evolution theory, especially with regard to whether evolution theory is "complete." I think it is not complete, for two reasons: (1) it gives no plausible account of the origin of life; and (2) it gives no explanation of man whatever. Still, it might have been a tool in God's toolkit for the development of the physical side of (lower-order?) creature -- if I might put it that way.
Please let me make it clear: I hold no brief whatever for macroevolution. I think it is a "myth" in the strict sense of that word. Microevolution, on the other hand, might have something going for it.
I suspect Pope Benedict rejects both the materialism and the insistence on randomness of the Darwinist account. As do I. But I didn't have to hear this from him first. It just seems evident to me that a reasonable person of faith would see on the evidence that these requirements of Darwinist orthodoxy do not comport with and cannot explain what we actually see in nature; i.e., the created world.
What do you think?