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July 30, 2007

Pope Endorses Evolution

In light of the “many scientific proofs supporting evolution," Benedict XVI called the controversy between creationism and evolution an “absurdity.” Is the Bishop of Rome abandoning creation ex nihilo for the Darwinian narrative? Hardly, though that’s the impression one might get from a recent news release.

While Pope Benedict gives credit to evolution for our understanding of life, it’s not the “evolution” embraced by the Darwinian faithful or that portrayed by the media.

Like most knowledgeable theists, the Pontiff accepts the validity of limited change and adaptation through genetic variation and natural selection—namely, “micro-evolution.” (The development of pesticide-resistant insects and drug-resistant bacteria are textbook examples.)

What he (like most theists) clearly rejects is the catechistic creed of naturalism that a gradual, unguided process of Nature is responsible for the origin and panoply of life—that is, “macro-evolution.”

That Benedict endorses micro- versus macro-evolution is evident from his statement that while “evolution” answers certain questions about life, it fails to account for how “it took a path that arrived ultimately at man.” Curiously, the news article left out that qualification.

Such carefully chosen excerpts are sure to help religious naysayers overcome their resistance to the genius of Darwin. After all, even the Pope must admit “that evolution can co-exist with faith.”

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Comments

Bill

The modern world continually looks for an "either/or" argument or world view. The Catholic Church has ever and again embraced a "both/and" view of things. (Christ as True God and True Man being a prime example.)

And so we get confusion about how exactly the Church can blend science and faith. It's really quite simple, but requires one to be able to stand simultaneously in the world of reason and of faith. What is shockingly to some is that the Pontiff (etc.) holds science and God in the same mind.

The Church's catechism says: "Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth."37 "Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are."

Brian

The late Pope John Paul II also embraced evolution. From what I remember, I thought he accepted (or at least did not explicitly object to) Darwin's model of evolution.

If God designed the heaven's and the earth, created the laws of physics, math, biology, and everything else ... His creation is marvelous and divine and no amount of human investigation or understanding of it will ever diminish its glory.

In fact, the more we learn about the amazing universe we live in, the more our awe and wonder of its Creator ought to grow. Science and faith make excellent companions.

Regis Nicoll

Brian-- True, John Paul II called evolution (which he never defined) “more than a hypothesis.” However, he went on to say, “…rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution. On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the other, with the various philosophies on which it is based.” What John Paul suggests is that there are various ways of interpreting the evidence for evolution; and, how we interpret it depends on how we filter it through the presuppositions of our own philosophy.

For those committed to naturalism, evolution will always mean an unguided, materialistic process without need of the supernatural. Clearly, this is not what John Paul endorsed. Rather, as he stated in a more plain address in 1985, the doctrine of creation is “radically opposed to the theories of materialistic philosophy [like neo-Darwinism].”

pauld

I think that the debate regarding evolution would be more clear if the camps were divided into to just two groups. One group would be the naturalists who believe that life came about through random, chance events without any involvement from a creator.
The other group would be the creationists who believe that life came about as a result of the acts of a creator. The Pope would fall into this second camp even though he embraces parts of the theory of evolution.

Andy

Evolution: God's way of surprising himself.

Ronald Cote

The Pope, who claims to be infallible in all things doctrinal, has declared creation and evolution to be compatible? How can two concepts, in total opposition to each other be compatible? One is the antithesis of the other and now the chief theistic evolutionist has miraculously declared the controversy to be absurd. Asserting that there is a Creator who did not and does not need evolution to help Him is not an absurdity.
Does the Pope and his catholic flock base their beliefs on the same bible that other Christians do? What does he not understand about Genesis?
I guess with the thousands of defections resulting from the sex abuse scandals causing the expenditure of tens of millions of parishioners dollars to settle law suites, even to cause churches to declare bankruptcy, there needs to be concern about losing any more of the flock. His decision should avoid offending other theistic evolutionists. And so, in his infallibility, he is taking the politically correct path in the hope that the controversy will go away, which it will not.
It seems to me that there is a loose canon in the church!

Matt

Certainly God does not need (macro)evolution to help him. Similarly, he doesn't need Christians to spread the gospel and love of Christ, and yet, that's what he asks of us. Just because God doesn't need evolution doesn't mean He didn't utilize it in some form. It doesn't mean he did either. I don't think evolution and creationism are mutually exclusive concepts.

That being said, I don't really believe in (macro)evolution. But evolution, if true, is not a faith or God negating concept. If God created life through evolution, the fact remains that God created life.

Ian

Regis,

Would you explain to me how you come to your position? Considering the fact that there is not a debate in regards to the validity of micro-evolution, how do you come to the conclusion that the Pope is referring to this one definition of evolution?

Thank you,
Ian

Regis Nicoll

Ian--Thanks for the question. In addition to the Pope's statement here that evoution doesn't account how life produced man, Benedict stated at his installation as Pontiff:

"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

Amy P

Who was spoken of as being the greatest prophet beside John the Baptist and Christ himself? Moses. Who is given credit for authorship of Genesis? Moses. Who spoke to God face to face? Moses.

Until anyone can make that claim I have to put my trust in the account of the greatest prophet beside John and Jesus and reject evolution. Jesus spoke of a literal Jonah and the whale experience, a literal Adam and Eve, and never gave any indication that any form of life evoled from another. I'm puzzled by the Pope's statements and would be interested in hearing what "scientific proof" he's speaking of. I have yet to see a transitioning species in fossil, bone or any other form.

It is greater to trust in the words of the prophets than to err on the side of so-called science.

Ian

Regis,

I appreciate the response very much. Please bare with me on this train of thought that I am on. I believe that the Pope is a very intelligent man. Taking this stand point, my assumption is that he realizes that the debate that is taking place in the U.S. (and I guess Germany, also) is in regards to macro-evolution.

The easiest way that I can define micro-evolution is this: My parents have a child. I am not an exact duplicate of either my mom or dad, thus micro-evolution has taken place. The same would go for any animal, as well. I do not believe that there is a debate about this between "evolutionists" or "creationists."

It appears then, since he prefaces his comments in regards to this great debate that is taking place, that he is endorsing a God-inspired version of macro-evolution. Obviously, he isn't saying that we derived from an ape-like ancestor by chance.

Given this train of thought (which I admit could be flawed somehow) I do not see how you've come to the conclusion that he is referencing micro-evolution.

Again, thank you for the time that you've given me on this topic.

- Ian

Regis Nicoll

Ian—Thanks for clarifying your question. I think the problem here is that when the term “evolution” is used either by the Pope, the media, or the scientific establishment, it is never defined. All we hear is the latest evidence for or incidence of “evolution” without regard to whether it is purely materialistic or intelligently-directed process. Statements from Benedict, JPII and even Pius XII all seem to “leave the door open” for the latter type--theistic evolution. Of course that is not the media or evolutionary scientists mean when they use the term. To them “evolution” means “the origin and complexification of life bereft of any intelligent agent.”

Ian Grigsby

Regis,

I appreciate your time and thoughts on the matter.

Correct, the "evolutionist" has been trying to prove "the origin and complexification of life bereft of any intelligent agent" for years. The "creationist," using science, is trying to prove the literal creation spoken of in Genesis. This is the debate that the Pope is referring to.

You would be right in saying that the Pope is speaking against the pure theory of evolution.

However, since he was speaking against the actual debate, it seems very difficult for us then to assume that he was actually referring to micro-evolution. You and I have just determined that that science is not actually in debate, for it is observable and therefore, testable.

My ultimate concern and worry is that the Pope is endorsing this idea that we derived from an ape-like ancestor but that we were still inspired by God, "fearfully and wonderfully made." I worry that he is endorsing this idea that we can believe in (macro)evolution and still have faith in the God of the Bible. The problem is that in doing so, we lose our faith in what the Bible actually says. Take the first couple chapters of Genesis, for example.

Scientists in general, have made enough discoveries about the complexities of the human body, that we no longer have to fear the evolutionist's definitions and theories about how we got here. Take the discovery of DNA, for example, DNA has all of the information necessary for each of us to be "created." When DNA was broken down, scientists discovered that DNA actually looked like a spoken/written language, consisting of letters, words, etc... This obviously can't just happen by chance, God has literally "spoken" us into existence.

God bless you,
Ian

Kim

So it would seem that, rather than making a distinction between micro and macro evolution, the more correct distinction would be between, random, meaningless, unguided evolution, or, God-directed evolution. I really think this is the kind of distinction the Pope has made--not whether it was micro or macro.

Ian Grigsby

Kim,
I agree, it appears that that is the distinction that he is attempting to make.

Les

The Scripture says to let our "Yes" be "Yes" and our "No" be "No".

The Pope's statements concerning evolution are not clearly "Yes" or "No".

Why is it so difficult to say, "In the beginning God created..."?

"Micro-evolution" should be stated as "adaptation" to clarify the point.

Evolution is not a possibility. Why would God, who consistently refers to Himself as creator, Lord, all powerful, all knowing use a process of randomness. God is orderly, not sporatic in all He does!

How many times does the Scriptures have to say, "and the evening and the morning was the x DAY" for us to understand that He created everything in 6 days, not 6 years nor 6 billion years.

Evolution adds nothing to the Scriptures nor our understanding of it. But acceptance of evolution demands a doubting of Scripture.

I'm not amazing that God created the heavens and earth in 6 days. He took His time. He could have done it in 6 seconds (and still would have been taking His time.)

james jones

the ana-baptist believed the antichrist would be the pope. if he can believe evolution and creationism are any way related,he could sell his soul to satan for the good of the church.

liza

I'm sure that the pope is a good person. Know I'm not sure if he is or isn't i can only hope so. His thoughts on such subjects should probably reflect what the bible tells us and anything else is just one mans opinion. After all unless God says so he is just another one of his children and that is special enough.

Zel

What evolutionists are after is that there is no God and that man and all other things are chance results. I don't think the Pope's 'micro-evolution' mini theory would appease them. Why does a leader of his capacity leave his ground and dabble in a turf where he throws ambiguous notions? I wish he would stand firm with what the Bible says!

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