Gerry Keane: "The Current State
"The Current State of the Origins Debate"
Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation
Paper given by Gerry Keane at the Kolbe Center First International Conference, Manassas, Virginia, USA - June 2001
In response to the question, “What is the origin of man and of the Universe?”, there are four main alternative sets of beliefs competing for acceptance in modern Christendom. It is of no small importance as to which one will win out in society, for the salvation of souls may be at stake. What beliefs are being handed on to our children? What will the state of Catholicism be like in 25 years time?
Before proceeding any further, I first want to define evolution as, “molecules-to-man natural transformation in which new, ‘higher’ genetic information is gained which was not possessed by one’s ancestors”. In public perception, evolution is thought intuitively to involve change beyond kind, such as would allow reptiles to change into birds. But if reptiles never had the genetic information to grow wings, they could never change into birds and give rise to the avian lung. The field evidence shows that evolution did not occur. The fossil record is devoid of intermediate stages; this is acknowledged by the famous evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould. Laboratory evidence shows that evolution cannot occur; transitional forms tend to be conceptually impossible as they involve horrendously complex transitions. Great variety occurs in life-forms but always within “kind”, never beyond. Cats are cats, and dogs are dogs, and platypus will always be platypus!
I would now like to discuss aspects of Atheistic Evolution, Theistic Evolution, Progressive Creation and Special Creation in light of scientific discoveries and truth known from Catholic Tradition. As one would expect, some things overlap across the alternative beliefs. (By “Tradition” I mean Apostolic Tradition as outlined in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 74-100.)
The first alternative, Atheistic Evolution, may be defined as the theory that material forces alone can account for the existence of the Universe and of all life forms. Atheistic evolutionists believe that all we observe is the interaction of matter and energy; they regard the notion of a transcendent creative force as naïve wishful thinking and unnecessary to explain the cosmos. To them, evolution ultimately “explains” everything-the unfolding of this Universe over billions of years and the unfolding of molecules-to-man transformation of matter in “upwards” complexity. However appealing at a superficial level, this scenario starts to unravel when subjected to detailed analysis.
Agnostics are unsure about the existence of the transcendent God. Their question, “what came before God?” only pushes the idea of a First Cause back a further step, and so they are still open to persuasion that He does exist. But atheists deny His existence and some zealots seem intent on eradicating belief in God. The human originators of the concepts of Communism, Nazism, and Secular Humanism all appear to have been strongly motivated to reject God. Given the bad fruits resulting from militant promotion of Evolutionism, is it going too far to suggest that they were driven by hatred of God and their motivation was Satanically inspired?
Atheists are convinced of the “fact” of evolution, even though its supposed mechanism remains ever-missing. The “fact” of evolution is taken as a “given”; it must have occurred because the alternative belief in a Creator cannot be tolerated. Not surprisingly, atheists tend not to define “evolution” with precision. Walter ReMine shows in his book The Biotic Message that the very concept of evolution is elastic, capable of explaining almost anything one wishes to ascribe to it. He also argues that life-forms have been designed to look unlike evolution. For example, the platypus has a unique and fascinating combination of traits-where can it be placed in the evolutionary tree or bush? The cherished idea of natural selection is under increasing challenge since it tends only to conserve the existing; no truly new genetic information is actually gained. And “survival of the fittest” has been challenged as little more than tautology; it could also have been “survival of the luckiest” - the survivors were in the right place at the right time.
Some atheists, such as Stephen Hawking (ironically, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences), believe that there was no moment of Creation. Universes must unfold eternally one into another, perhaps via wormholes within black holes where time gets distorted. So an age of billions of years for this Universe is taken as a “given”, accepted as being beyond serious dispute. All this despite the fact that no-one has been able to figure out how the Solar System could have formed naturally, following the supposed Big Bang.
Scientists should be open to having cherished theories challenged and eventually overturned, but in reality scientists are fallible and naturally have their own individual biases, as we all do, and being truly objective is easier said than done. Once trained in certain ways, how many of us are loath to embrace new techniques? Once taught evolution as fact in school, how hard it is to see that one has been misled with false science. In reality, of course, truth tends not to be always welcome to the supposedly objective scientific mind. How often in history have gifted inventors had to struggle against entrenched peer opinion; validated only after years of suffering? Where theology was once regarded as the queen of sciences, some modern thinkers seem to regard physics as superior to theology.
The materialist belief system known as Naturalism, or Scientism, is promoted in pursuit of the goal of eliminating religion. But “religion” is a broad term, open to various definitions which can overlap. Every belief system requires faith by the adherent. Naturalism requires faith to believe there is no transcendent Creator God, and total faith in random chance-time and time again-against mind-boggling odds. (Are we not told that the evolution of eyes took place many times, separately, in different creatures? Think about the colossal odds against such possibility). No belief system can avoid offering an explanation for why things exist and why certain standards are either right or wrong. Regarding the lamentable murderous excesses of Social Darwinism, even zealous proponents of Naturalism are unavoidably drawn into discussion of human rights, and this leads on to discussion of what “rights” are and what is their ultimate source. Thus, consideration of the existence of conscience and of a possible moral source “beyond” human beings eventually become fair subject matter for reflection, even for advocates of Naturalism. Given the range and nature of issues regarded as faith-defining criteria, especially the appeal to Mother Nature in place of the Creator God, should not Naturalism itself be regarded as religious belief?
In our largely neo-pagan world, evolutionary propagandists generally get a dream run in the secular media. Several cable TV channels provide a steady diet of pro-evolution documentaries, and there seems to be endless newspaper and magazine articles writing up some new supposed discovery. A whole industry centered on evolution has arisen and career jobs are involved in fostering the myth of evolution. Turning this around requires a major paradigm shift. How many Christian schools have simply follow suit, instead of imparting the pros and cons of, say, typology versus transformism to students? Contrast this to the often-hostile attention and misrepresentation given to those who favour Creation.
The advent of the Intelligent Design movement has resulted in a superb set of arguments being presented, from within science itself, which profoundly challenge evolutionary beliefs of proponents of Naturalism. The strength of the ID writers is twofold: (1) the compelling arguments that Design is empirically detectable, of which Michael Behe’s concept of “Irreducible Complexity” is a superb example, and (2) the arguments against the zealots of Naturalism who insist that only science shall be addressed. Phillip Johnson has shown incisively that evolution beliefs are really philosophical beliefs, not to be swayed too much by actual scientific findings.
Atheistic censorship of views favourable to the existence of a Creator is considered by zealots of Naturalism as warranted on the ground that such views are anti-science. Even the idea of deducing an unseen Designer-as a detective can deduce what took place at the crime scene-is considered intrusion of religious views upon science. The entrenched power exerted by them in the Academy means that careers and funding can be destroyed if one takes a public stance against evolution. Happily, most scientists are not zealots and many probably do not care for evolution; they simply want to get on with careers in chosen disciplines. If enough individuals keep standing up against intimidation and speak up for objective truth long enough, evolution theory will eventually be seen as outmoded science.
Let us now consider the second alternative of Theistic Evolution. In seeking a synthesis of evolution and theology, this concept holds that God created the Universe billions of years ago and used the process of evolution and/or divine intervention in the creation of life forms and subsequent changes beyond kind.
Theistic evolutionists are vague about their definition of “evolution”. Is it not fascinating that something over which so many heated arguments have taken place turns out to be so poorly defined? To evolutionists, is evolution “change over time” either slowly through imperceptible changes or rapidly in intermittent bursts via punctuated equilibria? Is it “natural selection”? As noted already, in public perception evolution is not about micro changes between tabby cats and black cats; intuitively it’s held to involve change beyond kind-but this perception of supposed evolution is contradicted by the actual findings of specialists. Gould’s case for punctuated equilibria has been challenged on grounds that (a) it attempts to prove something by its absence and that (b) the odds against it are stupendously high.
Some Christians argue that God created matter with inherent natural properties that would change imperceptibly over time and thus “evolution” takes place as continual creation. George Sim Johnston promotes this view in his book Did Darwin Get It Right?. If this belief were true, there should be innumerable findings of intermediate stages in the fossil record (as Darwin hoped for, in vain) and we should by now have great trouble in identifying distinct species. Instead, no fossils of transitional forms have been found in the strata; they do not exist.
In view of horrendously complex conceptual problems involved in the idea of intermediate stages, shown by Michael Denton in Evolution: A Theory In Crisis, other theistic evolutionists are forced to resort to the possibility that God intervened many times over many years to tinker with life forms and thus implement evolution with a helping hand. But this belief contradicts the popular notion that evolution is a purely natural process. Since naturalistic evolution has to be abandoned, this concept would be better defined as Theistic Intervention rather than Theistic Evolution.
If one argues that Adam arrived as a baby boy after God tinkered with the genes of his animal parents so that they gave rise to a new kind, there would be no one to adequately nurture him to maturity. Hardly a convincing scenario. He must have been created as an adult, for the destiny of all mankind depended on his awesome choice of obedience.
If one argues that Adam and Eve were not real human beings-the first parents-but instead were many “first parents” then one encounters the problem of polygenism. This position is effectively impermissible for loyal Catholics to hold. Fr. J. Franklin Ewing SJ (Prof. of Anthropology and a theistic evolutionist) wrote in 1956 that he was personally convinced that Pope Pius XII, in the encyclical Humani Generis (1950), held polygenism to be irreconcilable with the doctrine of Original Sin.
The choice of obedience seems likely to have been given to one man only. On Adam’s shoulders rested the future destiny of mankind. If God gave the choice to a group of first parents, He would have to consider the possibility of disagreement and that the minority choice would miss out. That party could feel betrayed and charge that God had let them down because their choice was never going to count, even though they may have voted for obedience.
Pope Leo XIII taught in the encyclical letter Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae (1880) that the bodies of Adam and Eve were specially created and that Eve’s body was created from a portion of Adam’s body. This Papal teaching effectively doomed any future attempted synthesis of evolution and theology. What evolutionist would accept the idea of evolution of males but not females?
Who were the supposed ape-like progenitors, lacking in rational souls? Pope Pius XII taught in Humani Generis that Catholics were not free to believe there were “Pre-Adamites” from whom we have descended. The non-existence of any intermediate stages descended from a supposed common progenitor of man and apelike creatures in the fossil record has been well shown by Marvin Lubenow in his book Bones Of Contention. The field evidence is either fully animal or fully human, but there have been fakes (Piltdown Man) and mistakes (Nebraska Man). And what actually constitutes a human being? The 1994 CCC (364) informs us that, “it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul”; to be raised up on the day of general judgement. A good reason why God would not use evolution as part of the means of Creation is that it could convey the wrong signals. Since evolving life-forms would in time reach a stage when it would be very confusing and difficult to discern separate species, it would thus be much easier for some to argue falsely but persuasively that there is no transcendent God-that things have always been this way on Earth and there is no need for a Creator.
Some researchers believe that the Cambrian “explosion” was a rapid (i.e., five million years) evolutionary burst of new life forms; on the contrary, it was an “explosion” of death during the global Flood of Noah.
Evolutionary beliefs favour an “upwards” tendency from imperfection to perfection; Catholic Tradition teaches a “downwards” corruption since the Fall. Evolutionary beliefs hold that we came into being above a vast museum of death, and death was always part of the “good” Creation; Catholic Tradition teaches that we were created in a state of tranquillity but this earthly state of paradise was lost by Adam’s sin. Henceforth individuals would have to struggle to exist against such things as an often harsh climate, devastating diseases, sinful human beings, and subtle Satanic attack from fallen angels.
In Romans 5:12 we are informed that death came only after the sin of Adam, not before (CCC 400,1008). We would not have known death if Adam have been obedient to God. Since the Fall human nature is wounded in the natural powers proper to it (CCC405).
What if Adam had remained obedient? The question of animal death in a state of tranquillity and of the present predatory behaviour of wild creatures remains a mysterious area awaiting further clarification from the Magisterium. The notions of “kill or be killed”, “red in tooth and claw”, and of sharks killing seals in frenzy right next to non-fallen human beings swimming in the sea all seem most inconsistent with what we know about our gracious Creator/Redeemer.
Because non-human creatures do not possess rational souls, Catholics need not hold that they were not intended to die, but perhaps their death would have involved peaceful processes if Adam had been obedient. Regarding predatory behaviour, it is possible that the behaviour of wild creatures was affected by the Fall; wounded in their natural powers while their intrinsic nature remained intact. Just as the bodies of human beings were made with the possibility of death yet this would have been overridden by grace, perhaps the possibility for vicious behaviour would also have been overridden by grace had Adam remained obedient. As indicated in Genesis, we all could have lived together happily as vegetarians.
Pius XII declared in Humani Generis that evolution must not be taught as though proven fact, and the 1994 CCC (389) warned that, “we cannot tamper with the revelation of Original Sin without undermining the mystery of Christ”. Theistic Evolution does tamper with this central doctrine; it should be regarded as impermissible belief for Catholics. In view of the strong link between the spread of Modernist beliefs and the teaching of evolution as fact in so many Catholic schools since the 1960’s, and the massive falling away from practice of young Catholics after leaving school, it is no wonder that the theologian Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner FFI described evolution as, “a doctrinal error parading in scientific guise”.
The third alternative concept, Progressive Creation, holds that God created the Universe billions of years ago and much later specially created each kind of life form with repeated divine intervention, at great intervals of time apart, and set genetic variation into operation to allow subsequent changes within kind.
Evolution is generally rejected by long-age proponents but, again, it tends to be ill-defined by them. To draw a distinction against Darwinism but in favour of evolution is false. It’s a very misleading strawman argument. Surely Darwinism is only one variant of evolution theory; punctuated equilibrium is another. Evolution is not natural selection or “change over time”, nor is there evidence that matter contains inherent properties which allows change beyond kind to unfold naturally. Not only are there are no fossils of intermediate stages, but also the Cambrian Era cannot be regarded as an explosion of new creation-it was an explosion of death! So what exactly is the definition of “evolution” which conforms with an age of billions of years for the Universe?
It is disappointing that the ID writers themselves tend not to define clearly what they mean by the term “evolution” and instead leave it open to interpretation. Conceding evolution via common descent, as compatible with Intelligent Design, only plays into the hands of zealots of Naturalism who have not been slow to seize this concession and hurl it back in rebuttal. William Dembski, in his book Intelligent Design, states (p.252) that “Intelligent Design … can accommodate any degree of evolutionary change”. So what does he mean by the term “evolution”? Identifying Darwinism as the problem, while allowing evolution to remain ill-defined and elastic, has undermined the potential effectiveness of the ID movement.
Several prominent ID writers clearly distance themselves from the idea of the Universe being less than 10,000 years old. The presuppositions involved in the long ages view go largely unquestioned by these researchers, and this contrasts greatly with their otherwise rigorous analytical approach. They expect atheists and creationists to refrain from using selective argumentation, yet seem highly selective themselves. Dembski not only leaves the term “evolution” loosely defined but also (p.248) wrongly accuses creationists of treating the opening chapters of Genesis as a scientific text. They don’t believe that God is teaching empirical science per se in Genesis, and he misrepresents their position. In reality, most non-Catholic creation researchers treat Genesis primarily as historical revelation, and so does Catholic Tradition. Let us not forget a crucial point in our neo-pagan times: the more remote in time we think of Creation, the more irrelevant does God seem to modern man. If Creation took place in the not-so-distant past, then Christ’s Second Coming is likely to occur in the not-so-distant future; not when our Sun supposedly balloons up into a Red Giant millions of years from now.
Because of reluctance to address in detail the question of the age of the Universe, Progressive Creation proponents of eons of time are driven, ironically, to rely upon evolutionist reasoning for origin of the fossil record. Whether the vast museum of death buried in the rocks came before or after the sin of Adam remains a profound conceptual problem for them. So, in their view, was it a “good” Creation or not?
An age of billions of years for the Universe has serious theological and scientific arguments against it. Since naturalistic evolution is rejected, it becomes necessary to resort to countless divine interventions to account for how life-forms kept coming into being. In contrast, Tradition holds that the Creation events reached finality soon after the events of Creation. The interdependence within diverse bio-systems necessarily requires fairly rapid creation. Fruit trees created on Day 3 need birds and bees to arrive on Day 5, not millions of years later. Why the quest to supplant direct creation with direct intervention, and which Scripture passages can be cited in support? “A day is as 1,000 years” (2 Peter 3:8) refers to timeless eternity rather than to the Creation events. We know that God instantly created space, time and matter, and instantly turned water into wine and instantly brought the dead back to life. In keeping with Scripture passages, why not allow Him to instantly stretch out the heavens (i.e., the Universe) and lightwaves on Day 4, less than 10,000 years ago?
It seems likely that, at the tiniest level of matter, God keeps sub-atomic particles coming and going all the time, while allowing us to exercise Free Will. But the teaching on Secondary Causes (CCC 306,308) holds that God acts through his created life-forms and does not constantly intervene to tinker with Creation and produce new species by direct guidance. This is not to deny miracles; we know that they occur but few would argue that they occur in the multitudes required for the concept of Progressive Creation.
The global Flood of Noah is usually denied by advocates of Progressive Creation in favour of local floods. But this means that God’s “rainbow” promise, to no more destroy mankind through a flood, has been broken many times. (eg The Bangladesh tidal wave flood of 1971 killed 300,000 people.) How can Catholics loyal to the Church founded by our great Creator/Redeemer Himself, ignore or revise the words of Christ about the Genesis revelation, and similarly ignore the Scripture statements of the first Pope, St Peter, about the reality of Noah’s Flood? If a global Flood were to be conceded, the next question waiting to be addressed is this: did it occur before or after the sin of Adam? Genesis reveals that it occurred after Adam’s sin, thus it must have occurred less than 10,000 years ago. The strata and fossils thus cannot be any older than 10,000 years.
Those who favour eons of time have to address Leo XIII’s benchmark teaching in Providentissimus Deus (1893). He taught that there are various senses used in Scripture but insisted that the literal, obvious sense must hold ground until shown to be disproven. Since a meaning of 24 hours natural days was held by most of the Fathers and was permitted by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1909 as the proper sense and thus is unlikely to be overturned, the onus of responsibility of proof lies entirely with those who prefer eons of years. It may not be possible to prove a young Universe scientifically but I contend that, ultimately, the long ages view is contradictory of Catholic Tradition.
Where is the proof beyond doubt that the Universe is billions of years old? Where is the indication in Genesis that a meaning other than natural days was intended to be conveyed and understood by the reader? The sacred writer could easily have informed us that the Creation took place over millions of years. Did the Fathers and Rabbis get it wrong, in holding that Genesis is primarily historical revelation, until the revisionist theological impact of the Darwinist era suggested otherwise? Where is the consistency of reasoning in arguing that the Days of creation were much longer, but the hundreds of years ages of patriarchs were much shorter than that?
Hugh Ross, a leading non-Catholic proponent of Progressive Creation, claims in Creation And Time that the bondage to decay following Adam’s sin refers only to entropy, yet entropy would have been in operation even if Adam had been obedient. He also asserts that the death brought on by Adam’s sin was only spiritual death, and physical death was always part of the good Creation. The 1994 CCC (400,1008) rejects this view; the original sin of Adam definitely brought on physical death as well as spiritual death.
Perhaps the Creator left clues within Scripture, on Earth, and within the Solar System to confound the modern doubters. As co-equal in the Divine Trinity , Jesus Christ has always known that in modern times there would be many doubters who would, wittingly or unwittingly, seek to deny the true historicity of Genesis. Genesis is foundational to crucial Christian doctrines, and so the Origins debate is all about the very integrity of vital foundational doctrines. Perhaps this is why Christ ensured that the mysterious polonium radiohalos were scorched into the granites around the world, suggesting rapid creation. Perhaps this is why Christ ensured that Janus and Epimetheus, two moons of Saturn which overlap by thirty miles, would swap places every four years instead of colliding. Perhaps this is why, in teaching on marriage, Christ asserted “from the beginning of the creation, he made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). Why mention “beginning of the creation” unless he deliberately intended to verify what he knew to be true.
The fourth alternative concept, Special Creation, holds that God created the angelic realm, the physical Universe, and all living things ex nihilo (out of nothing) by divine fiat less than 10,000 years ago, with subsequent changes within kind. After the Fall, He engineered a global flood that produced most of the fossil record.
In no way is this belief synonymous with fundamentalism nor is it slavish literalism. Just as mankind could not deduce the existence of the Divine Trinity and it had to be revealed by God, so also an account of the Creation events had to be revealed. Otherwise we would be in the dark. The laws of nature were not revealed but had to be discovered, painstaking, by human endeavour. Genesis is thus not a scientific text; rather, it contains a partial, historical account of what actually occurred, given predominantly in the literal, obvious sense. In reality, there can be no real clash between science and theology, because God is the principal author of the Bible and also created the laws of nature. The Genesis reference to kinds cannot be ignored; great variety occurs in life-forms but always within “kind”, never beyond.
As noted earlier, it seems likely that there are no discrete sub-atomic particles; God continually keeps us alive while granting us Free Will to reject Him. The Creator impressed complex genetic information onto cells, which can reproduce and pass on information to the next generation. The reality of Secondary Causes, highly praised in the 1994 CCC (306,308), shows that, while miracles do occur, God primarily works through already created life-forms rather than endlessly intervening to guide Creation. Human parents co-operate with God in the creation of new human beings, although God alone creates each new rational soul.
We can assert with certainty that all three Divine Persons were involved in the Creation of angels, of the Universe and all life-forms. But we are informed that the work of Creation was carried out by the Second Person in perfect obedience of the Father. Since His divine and human natures are inseparable, truly we can assert that Jesus Christ is Creator/Word/Redeemer/Judge. The Creed asserts, “I believe in Jesus Christ … through whom all things were made”. The Litany of the Blessed Virgin asserts, “Mother of our Creator, pray for us”, and the 1994 CCC (359) asserts that the second Adam created the first Adam. So why not trust Jesus Christ implicitly in all things, including his powerful affirmation of Genesis events.
Theological reality can inform us more truly about objective truth at a deeper level than can empirical science. Scientists can describe the laws of nature but science is silent about the origin of such laws. Leo XIII taught in Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae (1880) that Adam and Eve were the first two human beings, our first parents. According to Biblical genealogies, they must have lived less than 10,000 years ago. Adam was requested to name all the animals including “the beasts of the earth”, so he must have seen the dinosaurs. They couldn’t have become extinct 65 million years ago, because the inerrant Bible informs us correctly otherwise. Who are we to trust, the totally trustworthy Creator/ Redeemer who cannot deceive and who was there at Creation and who can implement creation of space, time and matter rapidly-or modern fallible scientists who were not there? All things considered, there is no need for the Church to declare further on the Age question; Leo XIII has taught enough.
Unfortunately, Eve was seduced by Satan and, through her, Adam was also seduced into disobedience of God through Pride. This Original Sin was a catastrophe for mankind well beyond human description. Banished from the Garden of Eden and from entering Heaven, fallen mankind since then has had to live in a flawed Universe and to contend with the sinful effects of Original Sin. Fortunately, God did not leave us in such wretched condition. In due course, our great Creator Himself paid the ransom for fallen human beings, taking on human form as the only way that God could suffer, and He obediently subjected himself to humiliation, torture and death out of love for mankind. How dearly must we be loved by the brilliant Designer of the Universe! How can we grasp this fully! Does it not draw us onto our knees in awe!
The evidence of a global Flood is all around the Earth. We live upon a vast museum of death, including huge deathpits with immense numbers of entombed creatures. The existence of polystrate tree-trunks, standing vertically through various strata, provides evidence of a cataclysmic, rapid, global flood. Fossilised fishes found at mountain tops and fossilised jellyfish found in hundreds on the central Australian desert are just some evidences left by Noah’s Flood. It seems likely that all the coal and oil deposits come from vegetation smothered during the Flood events. Christ himself spoke of his unhesitating belief in the Flood of Noah; why should we doubt him?
The Catholic Church has long taught that Genesis is revealed history and was not drawn from mythologies of pagan tribes. Genesis contains neither mythology nor errors. How could it, since God is the principal author of Scripture? Nor should we give credence to the false notion of the Documentary Theory of the Pentateuch, which was rejected by the Pontifical Biblical Commission (it was then an official arm of the teaching Magisterium) early in the 20th Century. And, as Cardinal Ruffini pointed out in the 1940’s, what plainer words could God have used to inform us about the creation days? How can modern scholars place doubt on the historicity of Genesis and assert that the first mention of the first Creation Day is metaphor; there is no prior basis for comparison. Again, this is not to assert fundamentalism or to be overly literalist, nor does it make Scripture say what is does not say. It is simply giving due regard to the benchmark encyclical teaching of a modern successor of St. Peter.
As noted already, in 1880 Leo XIII ruled out evolution of Eve’s body and thus doomed any attempted synthesis of evolution theory and theology. And Pius XII insisted in Humani Generis (1950) that evolution must not be taught as fact but he allowed discussion between specialists about the possible derivation of Adam’s body from previously living matter. Incredibly, this encyclical, which was aimed strongly against the subtle Modernist subversion being made by evolutionists such as Fr. Teilhard de Chardin SJ, has since been grossly misrepresented to suggest that the Church now officially accepts evolution! But Pius XII’s warning that polygenism (i.e., many first parents) was unacceptable because it endangered the doctrine of Original Sin has not been so ignored; polygenism was effectively rejected in the 1994 CCC (360, footnote 226, ref. RSV Book of Tobit 8:6) endorsed by Pope John Paul II. Let us not forget that the present Holy Father, in his encyclical Fides et Ratio (1998), warned strongly against Scientism and also praised Pius XII for his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis. His private statements on Origins have to be seen in light of earlier, weightier Papal declarations in Catholic Tradition. Let us hope and pray that the Holy Father will see fit soon to issue another encyclical on Origins, further clarifying Catholic teachings about the doctrine of Original Sin, especially for guidance of the young but also for all future generations to consult.
A final thought. Several years ago a pro-evolution book was written by Fr Denis Edwards of Adelaide, South Australia. The book’s title-The God Of Evolution-is especially apt for it speaks volumes about the confusion wrought by evolutionary consciousness within the Catholic Church. In contrast, let us indeed give praise to our great Creator/ Redeemer and reject the myth of evolution, and place Christ the King truly in the center of our lives, and ensure that the true story of Creation and Original Sin is taught clearly to our children and proclaimed to a troubled world. The salvation of souls is at stake and “Christ crucified” means little to those who do not understand why He paid the price of Redemption. Think of how things could be - of the many good fruits which would result in restoration of the Church founded by Christ Himself-if God the Creator were to return to center stage among Catholics generally and in society at large.
© Gerry Keane, 2001
Theotokos Catholic Books - Creation/Evolution Section - www.theotokos.org.uk