Evolution and Catholic Dogma
Our generation was raised upon the idea that evolution is the most logical and scientific way that the origin of living creatures can be explained. With complete confidence in what they taught us we were repeatedly told that our origin as human beings did not come about in an instant but rather that we are the present product of millions of years of evolution . According to the hypothesis proposed by "scientists" beginning with Darwin; our primordial ancestors were microscopic organisms which eventually evolved into air breathing animals capable of walking upon dry land. From the various species which developed, we can trace our first real mammalian ancestor (we are told) to tiny little shrew like creatures which existed nearly 65,000,000 years ago during the final stages of the Mesozoic era called the Cretaceous period.
We can define the general theory of evolution as the development of material things from the most simple of creatures to the most complex of creatures provoked by the necessity of adaptation. In other words, all living things developed from very simply living beings through a process of either slow or sudden mutation. This evolutionary process is call natural selection. From this process we get the term "survival of the fittest".
Pope John Paul II gave a speech in October 1996 to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences where he in essence affirmed the possibility of evolution as a legitimate scientific explanation of the creation of the world. In this speech he referred to the fact that there are "theories" of evolution and it would be wrong to say that evolution could be relegated to a single theory. This, of course, was picked up by the press and made to sound like the Pope had just come out to affirm evolution as a "scientific" fact. What in fact Pope John Paul said was merely a reiteration of what Pope Pius XII had said in 1950 with the publication of his Encyclical letter Humani Generis . But John Paul's statement was much stronger in its implication that supposedly the scientific research in evolution seems to lend more credence to its possibility. This is what Pope John Paul II said:
"Humani Generis, considered the doctrine of evolutionism as a serious hypothesis, worthy of a more deeply studied investigation and reflection on a par with the opposite hypothesis. ...Today , more than a half century after this encyclical, new knowledge leads us to recognize in the theory of evolution more than a hypothesis. ...The
convergence, neither sought nor induced, of results of work done independently one from the other, constitute s in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory."
In Humani Generis Pope Pius XII basically said that the concept of evolution was not in and of itself completely inimical to the Catholic Faith. Nevertheless, it had to be understood from within the context of the Revelation of Christ. This means that certain principles must be maintained for a Roman Catholic to accept as possible the theory of evolution.
#1. Nothing comes from nothing. Therefore, God's supremacy in the creation of matter and in design of the universe must be acknowledged. He is the first principle of all that exists.
#2. That God, if He used evolution, did so not out of necessity imposed on Him by nature itself (as if the nature He created had authority of its own) but rather because He chose to do so out of His infinite wisdom.
#3. That the human spiritual soul is not the product of evolution but is created directly by God and infused into the human body at the moment of conception. Therefore, the spiritual souls of Adam and Eve were created by God and infused into them when the natural evolution of the human body had reached its present state.
#4. That there is no such thing as polygenism, that is, multiple pairs of humans throughout the world. According to revelation there were only two progenitors of the human race whom we call Adam and Eve. To accept polygenism is to reject the dogma of original sin and consequently the need for a Redeemer.
According to Pope Pius XII, as long as one remains within the parameters of the above mentioned 4 limitations imposed by the knowledge of divine revelation, then real scientific investigation can speculate about how God chose to create the universe.
Intentions of Pius XII
This position of Pius XII was very well thought out and prudent. He did not wish to condemn as absolutely impossible the concept of evolution, first because the Sacred Scriptures were never meant to be a scientifically based journal on the creation of the universe in general and mankind in particular. They are rather the inspired insights given to man by God to reveal certain truths about Himself and His creation that we might come to know and love God more profoundly. In other words, the Scriptures are about man's relationship to God and His relationship to us. It is not supposed to be National Geographic . Second, because he wanted to avoid making the same mistake that his predecessor made when condemned the writings of Galileo.
(Note: A clear and objective reading of history shows that in reality Galileo was not condemned because of his scientific findings but rather because the Church wanted time to synthesize his findings with statements in Scripture which seemed to contradict scientific data. He published his findings as an "in your face" challenge to the authority of the Papacy. The Pope had no choice but to act in the way he did, his hand being forced by the disobedience and imprudence of Galileo.)
The subsequent fallout over the Galileo incident from the scientific community and enemies of the Church who distorted the real intentions behind the Pope's condemnation have been a sore point even since. Finally, Pope Pius XII wanted to clarify the most important teachings of Genesis and to correct errors which the theory of evolution had evoked due to the materialist and atheistic bent of those who proposed it as the only solution to the existence of the universe. In other words, Pope Pius XII wanted to address the reality of the spiritual nature of humanity and the sovereignty of God over His creation.
Thus in 1981 Pope John Paul II addressed the same Pontifical Academy of Sciences with the following words:
"The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its makeup, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer.... Any other teaching about the origin and make up of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible,
which does not wish to teach how the heavens were made but how one goes to heaven."
To add further to this line of thought it must be noted that Roman Catholic doctrine has never said that we must take the story of a magic tree and talking snake to be literal historical events but that the how of creation and the particulars of Adam and Eve's sin can be seen through stories developed to explain the fact that God is Creator of all that exists, that He established and directs the order of His creation, that He created spirit directly and infused it into matter thus creating a first man and woman from whom all other humans come, that these first human's were innocent and filled with knowledge and the life of grace from God Himself and that finally they used their individuality in opposition to God's will and sinned. Whether or not the devil spoke through a snake or appeared to them as an angel of light it doesn't matter. Nor does it matter if they ate a forbidden fruit or stepped on forbidden grass or simply chose their own will over and above God's. The point is that they chose self rather than God and did so deliberately and with the malice of pride.
Darwin's Concept of Evolution
The Darwinian concept of evolution is based purely upon the premise that the whole process of creation was not started or directed by an Omnipotent God but rather was the product of random chance with no direction or design. For the materialistic atheist "design" is simply the product of adaptation nothing more or nothing less.
The Darwinian theory of evolution has some incredibly difficult problems to overcome for it to be taken seriously as a theory based on fact. This will be discussed further on in this article. Nevertheless, it is important to note that whether or not evolution was a process of imperceptible mutations which contribute to the natural selection of the species or was a process of sudden mutations which produced new species it still does not account for how the being now known as Homo sapiens learned how to be human. From whence came their sense of culture? The ape ancestors of the Darwinian humans could not have possibly passed on human culture, speech, and human behavior to their mutant offspring! So, how did man learn to act like man and not just another ape?
Christian Theories of Evolution
I would like to make it crystal clear that I do not subscribe to any theory of evolution presently given as an explanation for the origins of living matter. I will give my reasons below. However, it is useful to understand what those Christian "scientists" say who speculate that God may have used evolution as the means by which He created the universe and ultimately man. By understanding their hypotheses I believe it is much easier to show how even these theories are contrary to the revelation given to us through Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition.
Both Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II have come out to specifically address the problem of evolution as a scientific theory which has been used by atheists to promote atheistic thought and to give a "scientific" explanation of the universe that those who do not believe could have some basis for their unbelief.
Christian evolutionists have tried to synthesize the theory of evolution with Christian doctrine. Today the Modernists do not even try to make this blending of apparently opposing view points but what the Popes have said is that in order to remain Catholic you must follow the above mentioned principles when postulating the existence of evolution. So what would that look like. Well there are several ways those theories could be presented, but let's look at a brief scenario:
When God created matter He did so in a natural form of chaos. He then "molded" it into the stars, planets and the whole physical universe through natural mechanisms which He had woven within all things. This was a slow process in time and space. When the earth had been formed and was ready God created the first forms of life. By His direction of the long process of evolution and the various stages of mutation within each original species and their subsequent species God ultimately brought to completion the creatures He had intended to create from the beginning. The ultimate goal of evolution was to be found in Man. Once evolution had developed the physical bodies God designed to receive a human spirit then He chose two of this new species (male & female) and infused into each one a human spirit; that is a spirit with the ability of self-reflective and abstract thought. In other words, a creature who knows and knows that he knows. At that moment humanity was born. Now since He gave them a soul that reasons and is not simply moved by instinct God would at the same time have to infuse them with intellectual knowledge to know whatever was necessary. Otherwise they would have simply imitated the animals with which they were surrounded. Also without this infused knowledge they would not have been able to communicate with each other through language. They were also filled with God's sanctifying grace because they were innocent and God's desired for them to be in intimate union with Himself through their own free choice. It is from this first pair of humans that all humans would have descended.
Problems of Evolution
At a first glance the Christianized concept of evolution, when looked at through the eyes of Christian revelation seems to dovetail nicely with the supposed progress of science in the many different areas where it seems to accept the concept of evolution as a fact. It allows Catholics to look both educated and sophisticated when it comes to Mankind's progress in science and technology. For many scientists the idea of "creationism" as opposed to evolution is tantamount to believing that the world is flat or that the earth is the center of the universe. Experience tells us that everything in this world is in flux and constant change which also lends a certain amount of credence to the concept of evolution. In fact, we use the word evolution about a variety of changes where we recognize the development from one form to another even within the same individual.
Nevertheless, there are some apparently insurmountable problems associated with the theory of evolution particularly from a Christian stand point. The First and primary problem is the fact that God as the Infinitely All Powerful and Perfect Being cannot bring forth imperfection from Himself. In other words, it makes no sense that God who is omnipotent would choose to create things outside Himself incomplete and through stages of development instead of what He originally intends them to be in the first place. It must be remembered that for the evolutionist no living thing is ever completely what it seems to be but everything is actually in a constant state of becoming something else. So we can only be considered Homo sapiens now at this present epoch but what humanity will evolve into can only be speculated upon by the evolutionists. We have no experiential knowledge of evolution only a hypothesis or theories of evolution. It has never been observed that one species has evolved from another different species.
Only perfection can come from perfection. Therefore, when He Who Is Infinite Perfection itself created a finite creature His creation would have been by virtue of His nature perfectly what He intended to create. For instance, when He thought of creating a tree God thought of that tree in all its perfection. The perfect oak tree, the perfect cypress tree, the perfect redwood, every variety of tree was created immediately and perfectly as it was thought to be in the infinite mind of God before anything other than God existed. Finite creation therefore was created originally to perfectly express the thought within the mind of the Creator. What came first the chicken or the egg? The chicken, of course, the egg has to come from a chicken because an egg cannot reproduce itself.
According to evolutionist theories the process of creation to produce the first trees was an almost infinitely long process that when considered reasonably just doesn't make any sense. Even if God was directing evolution it would be contrary to the nature of infinite perfection to bring forth His creation in a state of imperfection and corruption. God can do anything. If it was God's intention to create human beings as the pinnacle of His creation does it make any sense that the All Powerful and All Mighty God would start with a microscopic amoeba?
By reason we can know that God exists and we can ascertain His attributes from the things He has made. We can determine by reason, for instance, that God is infinitely good and that he is the author of life. If we accept the general theory of evolution we would also have to say that He is the author of death, corruption and violence. Evolution assumes a violent cause to the universe and an incomplete result. Everything is always in the process of becoming something else. Therefore, according to the theory of evolution, whatever God may have originally intended to create has not yet become what it is supposed to be.
There is a natural evolution, as I stated above. But this evolution is not from one species to another but just a matter of development from within the species itself. Thus the Zygote becomes the embryo, the embryo becomes the fetus, the fetus the infant, the infant the toddler, the toddler the child, the child the adolescent, and finally the adolescent becomes the adult. The adult is in essence the exact same individual as the zygote the only difference is that the adult has reached the full perfection toward which the design was intended. True evolution then is simply development and adaptation from within the species itself, not an essential change in the species from one to another as claimed by the evolutionist.
Problems with Evolution
"Therefore as through one man sin entered the world and through sin death, and thus death has passed unto all men because all have sinned."
"For creation was made subject to vanity not by its own will but by reason of him who made it subject--in hope, because creation itself also will be delivered from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God. For we know that all creation groans and travails in pain until now. (Romans 8:20-22)
Note what has been quoted above. According to divine revelation not only man but all of creation which had been made subject to man was forced into futility, corruption and death by the sin of Adam. In other words, THERE WAS NO DEATH in the world before the disobedience of Adam and Eve. If you are a Christian evolutionist you are forced to contend with this obvious dilemma. Because evolution is based not on life but on death, corruption and mutation. Everything to the evolutionist was created in violence and through death. From the beginning of creation each creature vied with the other to dominate and to survive. Each fed upon the other. In the world of the evolutionist disease, corruption, death, mutation, pain and suffering have been the constant lot of every living creature as it supposedly wrestled to become something other than what it was created to be in the first place.
It is a dogma of the Faith that there was no death until the sin of Adam and Eve and without death there can be no evolution unless it happened after the fall in what might be called the post- cataclysmic age. But if that is the case evolution becomes a very complicated theory indeed and you will see that the whole theory does not stand up to the weight of evidence against it. Nevertheless, to postulate death before the fall is heresy and violates Canon 1. of the Council of Carthage 418 and Canon 2 of the Council of Orange II 529. It also violates Sacred Scripture:
"Do not invite death by error of your life, nor bring on destruction by the works of your hands; because God did not make death and He does not delight in the death of the living. "(Wisdom 1:12-13)
"...but through the devil's envy death entered the world..." (Wisdom 2:24)
It is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church that all of creation was originally made perfect and what God intended it to be in itself. God created all things out of nothing and brought forth living creatures in their finite perfection exactly as they were conceived in His infinite mind from all eternity. There was no death, not because they could not die but because God is the author of life and not of death. What He created to live He created to stay alive. The original creatures were in pure act. All of their potential was immediately and perfectly actualized in the moment of their creation.
Another theological problem that must be faced by the theistic evolutionist is that because man is in a constant state of becoming something else, according to the main premise of evolution. So one could say that Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, united His divinity with a lower species of humanity than what humanity is destined to become. Of course there are those theistic evolutionists like Teilhard De Chardin who espoused the idea that Jesus was the pinnacle of human evolution toward which all mankind is moving. The problem with this theory is that it looks at original sin as merely a condition of humanity's present state but that we are some how capable of evolving past this apparent "glitch" in humanity's present state of evolution.
Wrong!!! No matter what fantasies the Modernists may present for an explanation of their bastardized theology their Siren's songs cannot negate the truth of the Gospel. Humanity cannot evolve beyond the devastating effects of original sin anymore than it can grow wings and fly. Humanity has been wounded and the only remedy for that wound is the healing balm of Christ's Redemption. Our humanity will be permanently healed in the resurrection of the dead on the last day. Until then we will continue to struggle to conform ourselves to the human nature God originally intended.
To even begin to expose the web of lies and false scientific "finding" that have been used to promote the fantasy of evolution in such a brief article as this would be impossible. The real truth is that evolution has been promoted by those who are atheistic and wish to have an explanation of the universe that does not depend upon an Omnipotent Creator. In fact, even though Darwin at the end of his book The Origin of the Species tries to soften the blow of his theory by saying it would only give more glory to God if we found He created everything in this manner, he nonetheless, soon after the publication of his book publicly renounced Christianity and proclaimed himself an atheist. With evolution as their dogma three terrible evils came into the world: Marxism with its various forms of socialistic communism; Secular Humanism with its various forms of social liberalism; and Modernism.
The Second Law of Thermal Dynamics
The theory of evolution is based upon the predication that all living things are constantly becoming more complex and more superior to their ancestors. Yet we know that the whole universe is ruled by certain physical laws such as gravity. For science to ignore gravity would be folly since it rules the movement and stability of the celestial bodies, as well as what is on those bodies. A physical law which pertains directly to evolution is the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
This law states:
"Any system that is subject to random agitations will eventually attain its most disordered condition....The entropic progress from order to disorder may then be viewed as an example of the general tendency of chaotic disruptions to disturb organization and structure. ...The tendency toward equilibrium is so fundamental to physics that the second law is probably the most universal regulator of natural activity known to science." (Encyclopedia Britannica 1989)
The Second Law of Thermal Dynamics is considered the most fundamental law of physics. It says that everything by nature seeks balance and once this balance is disturbed the natural tendency is to go from order to disorder. This is in direct conflict to the theory of evolution. It means that science has always observed things falling apart not becoming more complex.
For example: In cases of intra-family marriages or the children of incest the tendency is not toward greater genetic purity but rather just the opposite. In fact, during the reign of kings in Europe many of their children were frequently stricken with genetic deformities or genetic diseases. Hemophilia or bleeding disease was quite frequent amount the offspring of royalty.
So in truth when observing the material universe science observes things "winding down" or falling apart rather than becoming stronger and better. We actually have empirical evidence of devolution not evolution.
In looking at the above law of thermodynamics the evolutionist will retort that we can see the process of evolution in the simplest living creatures known to man; viruses and bacteria. It would seem to be the case, because science is observing how bacteria and viruses which we thought we had conquered through antibiotics and antiviral medicines are now returning more virulent and destructive than ever. It seems that these creatures have evolved to protect themselves from our chemical warfare. In actual fact they have not evolved in the Darwinian sense but have rather adapted to the new environment into which we have placed them. Adaptation is not evolution in the Darwinian sense at all. These viruses and bacterium have remained viruses and bacterium. If they had evolved they would have changed into something completely different than what they remain. "Micro-evolution" is simply adaptation and there is no evidence that it leads to so called macro-evolution from one species to another. =
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