Pope Benedict’s 2007 Statement on Evolution

THIS ISN’T an article about religion. We don’t do that here. But we do sometimes discuss the unfortunate conflict between religion and science.

For example, here (Conservatives and Intelligent Design) we mentioned a number of non-Christian religions that believe in creationism or Intelligent Design (ID), as well as a number of Christian denominations that don’t teach creationism. More articles dealing with this aspect of religion can be found in our Table of Contents. Here’s another: Hindu Creationism, Just Like Our Own.

Also, tucked away in our List-O-Links is a whole section of links under the heading of “RELIGION ISSUES,” including a reference to and excerpts from a statement in 1996 by Pope John Paul II, to the effect that evolution is “more than a hypothesis.” You can read that here: Message from the Pope, 1996.

When the current Pope (Benedict XVI) assumed his office, there was considerable speculation as to whether he’d reverse the pro-science position of his predecessor. We are pleased to report that he’s been a disappointment to the creationists. This is a link to some remarks that Pope Benedict made a year ago, but which we just now learned about: MEETING OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI WITH THE CLERGY OF THE DIOCESES OF BELLUNO-FELTRE AND TREVISO (24 July 2007).

That link is to a lengthy discussion between the Pope and a group of Catholic clergy. We don’t know about Church governance, but we assume such a discussion doesn’t establish official doctrine. It’s revealing nevertheless.

Benedict clearly has no problem with the theory of evolution. He observes that it doesn’t answer the great philosophical issues, but that shouldn’t surprise us. Science doesn’t try to do so, having no methodology for such an endeavor.

We are necessarily extracting a small portion of the Pope’s remarks for inclusion here — but this isn’t quote-mining; you can verify that with the link we’ve provided. We’ve added paragraph breaks to make this easier to read:

Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called “creationism” and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God.

This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such.

But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance.

There you have it. We could have taken issue with some things said, but we’re not qualified for that. Our only purpose here is to point out that the theory of evolution isn’t a problem for the Roman Catholic Church.

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