Monday, March 15, 2010
Evolution and the Catholic Church
A great new issue of Catholic Update from St. Anthony Messenger Press just came out on Evolution and our Catholic faith. The idea is that proper science is in no way a conflict with proper theology and Biblical scholarship.
As people of faith, we need to encounter sacred scripture properly: the Church teaches that the Bible is "true in the literal sense". So we need to discern the type of literature (history, story, liturgical poetry, parable, prophecy), the intended audience (Jews, Christians, people under oppression, kings, peasantry), the author's intent, and so on. The Jews and the early Church never considered Genesis a science textbook.
As people in a science-based world, we also must be alert to the proper use of science. Science can only tell about the Creation, and can tell nothing about the Creator. Atheists consistently try to pervert the science of evolution in order to support their faith in no God ("There is no God, and Darwin is our Prophet!). When you spot atheists who are also scientists trying to disprove faith, rest assured it is because they have first put their faith in atheism. Atheism does not arise naturally and logically from science. I am an engineer, and rest assured, many, many scientists and engineers from a nearby national laboratory go to my parish and are devout Catholics.
Catholic Update is handed out monthly at my parish -- a really wonderful way to remind Catholics about the basics (e.g. Confession, Baptism) as well as hot topics (e.g. Marriage as between one man and one woman, stem cell research).
Here is the full description of the article on the St. Anthony Messenger Press website:
In this issue of Catholic Update, Sr. Paula Gonzalez tackles the age-old question of the compatibility of the findings of evolutionary science with the Catholic belief in a creator God. She writes, "Two major reasons for resistance to evolution are: 1) the mistaken idea that Darwin's theory of evolution excludes supernatural involvement in the development of the natural world, and 2) the general public's limited understanding of the scientific evidence that has made this theory universally accepted in the scientific community." She concludes that evolution need not threaten faith and cites various pontifical statements in support of this conclusion. One, by Pope Pius XII in the 1950 encyclical, Humani generis, states "biological evolution is compatible with Christian faith." In 1996, Pope John Paul II stated, "[N]ew scientific knowledge has led us to realize that the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis." She quotes the late Father Thomas Berry as we look to the future, "The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficent manner." In light of this, Gonzalez writes, "Our times require that all of us appreciate our part in this great work of co-creation."
SISTER PAULA GONZALEZ, S.C., Ph.D. taught biology at the College of Mt. St. Joseph for 20 years. She is cofounder and board member of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, and gives many workshops and retreats across the United States and Canada.