Re: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!

From: Robert Schneider <>
Date: Tue Apr 26 2005 - 10:59:37 EDT

I agree entirely with Keith's caution about leaping to conclusions about the
new pope and his position on evolution. I too was troubled about the
statement that appeared in his inaugural homily. But here is what he wrote
as Cardinal Ratzinger in the 1980s, in "Human Persons Created in the Image
of God" (prior to the rise of the ID movement, so take care in reading ID
into it).

Cardinal Ratzinger: (bold face texts are added by the commentator who
excerpted these passages).

63. According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe
erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the "Big Bang" and has
been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the
conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the
condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the
formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5
billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of
life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin
of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general
agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about
3.5-4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living
organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all
living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging
evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes
mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development
and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the
pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is
complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology
combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in
Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic
lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins
was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo
sapiens. With the development of the human brain, the nature and rate of
evolution were permanently altered: with the introduction of the uniquely
human factors of consciousness, intentionality, freedom and creativity,
biological evolution was recast as social and cultural evolution. ...
70. With respect to the immediate creation of the human soul, Catholic
theology affirms that particular actions of God bring about effects that
transcend the capacity of created causes acting according to their natures.
The appeal to divine causality to account for genuinely causal as distinct
from merely explanatory gaps does not insert divine agency to fill in the
"gaps" in human scientific understanding (thus giving rise to the so-called
"God of the gaps"). The structures of the world can be seen as open to
non-disruptive divine action in directly causing events in the world.
Catholic theology affirms that that the emergence of the first members of
the human species (whether as individuals or in populations) represents an
event that is not susceptible of a purely natural explanation and which can
appropriately be attributed to divine intervention. Acting indirectly
through causal chains operating from the beginning of cosmic history, God
prepared the way for what Pope John Paul II has called "an ontological
leap...the moment of transition to the spiritual." While science can study
these causal chains, it falls to theology to locate this account of the
special creation of the human soul within the overarching plan of the triune
God to share the communion of trinitarian life with human persons who are
created out of nothing in the image and likeness of God, and who, in his
name and according to his plan, exercise a creative stewardship and
sovereignty over the physical universe.

Denyse's Catholic colleague wrote:

"The nice thing about breaking decisively with Darwinism now (not that we
ever fully adhered), is that
Catholics will find themselves at the emergent edge of science. This is
because, even in the academy, strict Darwinism is in the act of receding,
back into the primordial ooze."

I think this guy is talking ID-speak, and his statement does not represent
an accurate take on Catholic higher education, or on the new pope's
position. A lot of wishful thinking in this statement.

Bob Schneider

----- Original Message -----
From: "Keith Miller" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 10:17 AM
Subject: Re: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!

> Denyse O'Leary wrote:
>> A fellow journalist advises me that Pope Benedict XVI has made the
>> Catholic
>> Church's stand on Darwinism quite clear in his installation homily. (John
>> Paul II's views have often been misrepresented in this area.)
>> B 16 has said, "We are not some casual and meaningless product of
>> evolution.
>> Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each
>> of
>> us is loved, each of us is necessary."
> It is not at all clear from this what the Pope's position is on the
> science of evolution. I don't believe that we are a "casual and
> meaningless product of evolution" either. We are a product of evolution
> to be sure, but the goal of God's creative action through evolution is
> filled with purpose and meaning.
> So, I think that caution needs to be taken in interpreting the remarks.
> Some people even interpreted the comments of John Paul as not supporting
> evolution.
> Keith
Received on Tue Apr 26 11:00:04 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Apr 26 2005 - 11:00:08 EDT