Do Catholics Believe in Evolution?

By | August 15, 2019


We go to Monica now in New Orleans,
Louisiana listening on Catholic Community Radio. Did you get hit there in
New Orleans with all this rain Monica? I actually live in Lafitte, Louisiana, but I
always say New Orleans because most people are familiar with New Orleans, but
it’s just about 20 minutes away. We did not get hit, thank God. Are you on the
other side of Lake Pontchartrain? We are on the west bank. Oh yeah. Yes. I only know
about that because I’m a big fan of Walker Percy do you know who Walker
Percy is? No? Oh, a great Catholic novelist, who–no no, this is years ago, he
lived down there on Lake Pontchartrain. Well I’m glad
you didn’t get swept away, what’s your question for Brandon Vogt? I’m trying to share the faith by
being a Catechist, and I was really dumbfounded when I found out that some
Catholics believe that, well, I guess we’re allowed to believe, the way they
talked about it, that we’re allowed to believe in evolution. I believed and I
was taught from kindergarten to eighth grade in Catholic school that we came
from Adam and Eve and that was the story. And now I’m learning, through going to
classes, that oh no, we came from apes and only difference is God put a
soul in one of them and there was the first man. And I was completely floored and I said I’m not teaching my Catechism student that way. So I’m just
wondering, what is the way? That’s a great question and a loaded one, a
controversial one. Let me say a few things: first of all, I think you were
told correctly that the Church doesn’t have an official position or an official
teaching on biological evolution, on whether various life forms
developed over time. Even concerning human evolution, the Church magisterially,
meaning officially, is neutral with a very important exception: that
even if man’s body developed from previous biological forms, man’s soul was
a special creation by God. So the soul didn’t develop out of natural causes; the
soul’s immaterial and was placed there by God. So the Church has a wide umbrella.
You can embrace evolution if you think the evidence points that way; you can
reject it if you think the evidence points that way. But even within
the umbrella of evolution there are all sorts of different Catholics who hold
different views. There are many forms of evolution, and so it’s important to get
into the particulars of what somebody particularly believes about it before
you either accept it or toss it away. Let me give you a couple of resources, though,
that I found very helpful on this question. The first one is probably the
one you want to start with, it’s Pope Pius XII’s encyclical “Humanae Generis,”
which talks about the origins of man, and in there I think it’s it’s sort of the
foundational Catholic teaching on these questions. So you want to start there,
it’s a fairly simple and short read, it shouldn’t take you too long. So
start with that document so you can get the foundation. Then from there, if you’re
looking for some good books, let me recommend two: one is a book by Cardinal
Christoph Schönborn, and I think it’s called
“Chance or Nothing,” or “Creation or Nothing,” something to that effect; but he
wrote a great book on evolution and the origins of man, so pick up Cardinal
Schönborn’s book. And then finally, Pope Benedict XVI has a book that’s
sort of a collection of essays called “In the Beginning.” I believe he wrote it
before he was Pope, and it was sort of based on a symposium held at the Vatican
about the question of evolution, and then Joseph Ratzinger collected his thoughts.
So pick up that book called “In the Beginning,” and I think these three
resources will give you a much clearer picture about what the Church does and
does not teach about evolution. Does that help you, Monica? Yeah, I have one more
little question if you don’t mind. Which– okay, so I get, you know, different
people’s opinion, but and I also saw this YouTube video from
Ian Catholic, and it was, you know, speaking on the matter, and he was saying,
well, if you kind of discredit the whole thing about Adam and Eve,
you whole–totally miss the Original Sin with, you know, that the serpent, and it
might not have been an apple and I understand that, but you kind of miss
that whole story of Original Sin. Yeah, again, I’d point you to Pope Pius XII’s encyclical “Humanae Generis,” because he takes up the question of the
historical importance of Adam and Eve. Also there’s a really really good tract,
or article, on Adam, Eve and evolution on Catholic Answers’ website. So go to
Catholic.com, search for either “evolution” or “Adam and Eve,” and you’ll
find a pretty lengthy but very clear and clarifying article on these questions,
especially on the historicity of Adam and Eve, so I’d point you there. Okay
Monica? Okay, God bless you, thank you. You too, thanks very very much. you

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