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?
He drove past me once on the feast of the Assumption in Rome, but I missed most of it, as no one knew it was coming.
I think that the TOE(of DNA) is(or has become) an assault on "spirit" generally and MY spirit and the Holy Spirit specifically.. And that ALL life on this planet are DNA-o-saurs and that "life"(all life) is and was not given with a BREATH from Gods(Spirit)..
BUT HAPPENED some other way.. That life came about in some other way.. Life from NoN life..
AND THAT- life is NOT spirit BUT flesh.. <<- I reject that..
I reject that too, 'pipe! To my way of thinking, flesh is "the donkey" that bears Spirit ("the rider") during the mortal phase of Life, or what we call "existence," which refers specifically to life experience within space and time. But what we mean by Life is not exhausted by considerations of bodily nature in space and time; for the Spirit reflected in and through the soul is eternal: This is what we mean by Life. It is both prior to and posterior to physical incarnation.
And more: We are not truly "alive" or truly human unless we experience our existence as a participation in the divine Life....
Well, FWIW. My Platonic roots are showing here. But the Gospel of John basically says the same thing: He speaks of the helkein, of the "drawing" into mutual participation of the human soul by God, just as Plato did. Indeed, John puts the insight into Jesus' speech directly....
Phases of LIFE.. exposes TOE(of DNA) as myoptic..
Evolution by blind chance would go out the window in that view.
Some would favor Intelligent Design, other would favor Young Earth Creationism. Still others would say God created an old looking universe some 6,000 years ago (Gosse Omphalus hypothesis.)
IMHO, theistic evolution and/or the idea the God created the initial conditions and then walked away from it --- would be among the least favored by Protestants.
AMEN! WELL PUT, imho.
Wow! Talk about getting your facts wrong. Father Coyne retired because he was diagnosed with colon cancer (he's also 73 years old, so he would have good reason to retire even if he weren't sick). Either this journalist is incompetent or a liar.
At this pace, we should be back to an uncompromising exegesis of Bereishis by 2207.
That's about par for the course - it's much easier to destroy than to rebuild.
The Curia may accept a resignation on the Pope's behalf, of course.
But the Supreme Pontiff is hardly Donald Trump.
I point out the hypocrisy of invoking uniformitarianism with regard to Genesis but rejecting it elsewhere. I point out the inconsistency of bowing to "science" in one area while dogmatically refusing to listen to it an another. I point out the illogic of expecting the world to come into existence in a way governed by natural laws that were not even fully created until the creation process was complete, not to mention the idea of G-d using a naturalistic, uniformitarian method to create a paradise of immortal humans and talking snakes. All I get are cackles of amusement that imply "oh well, you can't help it, you're one of those simple-minded rednecks." And the thing that really gets me is that the atheists who consistently reject any and all miracles seem to treat these hypocrites with greater respect than they do us honest and internally consistent creationists.
There are still a very few Catholic creationists here at FR. But there isn't a single solitary Eastern Orthodox creationist here, and considering the Alice-in-Wonderland things they believe in other matters that is very hard to stomach. Oh well. So the Orthodox now believe that "Adam and Eve" (who never really existed despite being Orthodox saints) were created mortal and there never was a paradise of any kind. Oh yeah. That's unchanged, unaltered, ancient doctrine of the fathers all right. And I'm a mere rationalist modern under the influence of modern positivism.
Let 'em go. There's no need even trying to converse with these people.
That being said, the words He wrote are true. They are facts, and things happened precisely as He describes them. He was the witness and the actor. He was there.
Once we start trying to scientifically "explain" Scripture, the thread is lost.
Biological science needs to make a Scriptural account of itself.
Scripture does not need to make a bioscientific account of itself.
St. Thomas Aquinas' take is right, as usual.