The Pope and Evolution Theory

by Peter Wilders
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The Holy Father’s October 1996 message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Evolution theory made headlines accross the world. The secular media announced a significant change in the Church’s position . The Catholic press in general limited its coverage to publication of the text of the message and a short editorial comment to the effect that the Pope had said nothing new. Which was right ?

Consider as an example the article of « Fidelity », a Catholic magazine in Australia, entitled « Pope’s Recent Statement on Evolution Causes Confusion » .

The article says the « Holy Father has not said anything new » regarding the Church’s position on Evolution. This is incorrect. His message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences included the phrase : « knowledge has led to the recognition that the theory of evolution is more than a hypothesis ». This at least is the meaning of the original French text. Unfortunately it was mistranslated into English by the ‘Osservatore romano’ as « knowledge has led to the recognition of more than one hypothesis in the theory of Evolution».

The mistranslation has been taken by some as suggesting a more mitigated approach to evolution by the Church. The original : « nouvelles connaissances conduisent à reconnaître dans la théorie de l’évolution, plus qu’une hypothèse » says that there is « new knowledge» which has led to evolution being considered not just a hypothesis but « more than a hypothesis ». So the Holy Father is telling us that what the Church thought was just a hypothesis has become more than that.

The growing body of scientists who have abandoned evolution having found it to be devoid of facts, would very much like to know what is this « new knowledge ». The Holy Father learned about it from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Its members are his privileged advisors in scientific matters. To show they are objective, they include in their number non-Catholics and atheists. They do however have a common faith, which is belief in the « fact » of evolution. Non-subscribers to this faith are ‘ipso facto’ excluded from the Academy. Members enjoy complete liberty of expression provided the central tenet of the faith is respected. Questioning evolution theory as the only possible explanation of origins would be opening the door to a divine cause, and this would be unscientific.

The real new knowledge, however, is that evolution theory is in turmoil. The Sovereign Pontiff should know this, but who is going to tell him ? Not the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, because they believe there must be a naturalistic explanation of everything, so evolution must be true. To them it would not be scientific to examine evidence which might admit the supernatural. His scientific advisors, therefore, deem it their duty to censor from information destined for the Pope, all data critiquing evolution theory.

The Pope’s message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences refers to « the state of scientific research at the time of... ‘Humani Generis’ » in 1950, inferring that the advance in scientific knowledge since then has produced more evidence for evolution. True, great progress has been made in science, but the number of scientific arguments against evolution that were then being voiced, are insignificant compared with those today. The progress in scientific knowledge, particularly in molecular biology, geology and information theory, has led to a mounting attack upon evolution theory. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences does not consider it necessary to pass this information to the Pope.

The fact is that thousands of scientists are now exposing the weaknesses of Evolution theory. The Holy Father is kept unaware of this fact. He has been convinced by his scientific advisors, that exactly the opposite is true, and that advances in science have strengthened the theory. There is much « new knowledge », but it is so damaging to it, that books are being published entitled « Evolution : A Theory in Crisis » by top geneticist, Dr Michael Denton, « Darwin on Trial » by Prof. Phillip Johnson of California University at Berkeley, «Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution » by Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, « Blowing the Whistle on Darwinism » By Lester McCann Professor Emeritus, St. Thomas University, Minnesota etc. etc..

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has locked the Vicar of Christ in an ivory tower, and its naturalistic philosophy is being openly taught in the Church’s schools and seminaries throughout the world. This Luciferian situation, has been going on now for several pontificates, when is it going to be exposed ?

Pope Pius XII wrote « Humani Generis » to expose the inherent dangers of evolution theory. It was written at the height of the Marxist terror. He referred to the fact that the theory of Evolution gave rise to speculations « eagerly welcomed by the Communists, who find in them a powerful weapon for defending and popularising their system of dialectical materialism ; the whole idea of God is thus to be eradicated from men’s minds ». The state of scientific opinion, at the time, was already oriented towards belief in evolution, and heavily influenced by «Piltdown Man ». This was the name given to the fossil remains of a human skull and an ape’s jaw-bone found in 1915 at Piltdown, England. It was considered by many scientists to be the proof that man evolved from the apes. Pressure upon the Pope to take « Piltdown Man » into account when writing his encyclical must have been great. It was not until 1953, nearly forty years after its discovery, and three years after « Humani Generis » was published, that the fossils were found to be a fakes.

For some years before « Humani Generis » theological opinion had also been bending towards evolution theory. It was fired by the twin influence of the evolutionary writings of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and « Piltdown Man ». Pius XII felt obliged to bow to the intellectual climate by including in his encyclical the clause : « In the present state of scientific and theological opinion this question (Evolution theory) may be legitimately canvassed by research, and by discussion... ». He added the proviso : « At the same time, the reasons for and against either view must be weighed and adjudged with all seriousness, fairness, and restraint ». One wonders if he would have included the clause at all, if he had known that three years later Piltdown Man would be found to be a hoax.

Did the Pontifical Academy of Sciences step down when the Piltdown swindle was announced? Did they cease pressurising the Church with their evolutionary speculations ? On the contrary, instead of following Pius XII’s instructions to examine the data, both for and against evolution, they stiffled all opposing arguments. There is no indication that information of the accumulating scientific evidence against evolution reached the Popes. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences was, and still is, the official organ for advising the Church of what is happening in the world of science. As that organ siphons off scientific data not supportive of evolution, the papacy inevitably believes that evolution has the support of all scientists.

Who can blame the Pope for believing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences when it says, «Holy Father evolution theory is now more than a hypothesis » ? That statement would certainly seem to fit the facts he had received. After all, no one had shown him any evidence to the contrary. Is there any reason why he should stop evolution being taught in Catholic schools, when according to his elite body of scientific advisors it is virtually an established fact ?

The reaction to the Pope’s message amongst the media was immediate. It hit the headlines throughout the world. Why ? Because everyone knows that the traditional teaching of the Church regarding Adam as the first man, the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib and Original Sin which brought death and suffering into the world is not compatible with evolution theory. This is no longer a secret other than for those who keep their head in the sand. The editorial of France’s prestigious newspaper ‘Le Monde’ included the comment : « From the moment that it is accepted that man is not born from the finger of God, but evolved progressively from the animal state, the way of understanding the existence of evil, sickness and suffering in the world must be revised. Keeping up with the demands imposed by the scientific community, leaves the Church with an abyss opening under its feet ».

That abyss appears when the solid doctrine of the Church’s magisterium is replaced by teaching compatible with evolution. This teaching says that Adam is not one single man, but a symbol for all of mankind. He is not the perfection of mankind, but primitive man starting to evolve. The Garden of Eden is a myth. Original Sin equates with awareness of good and evil by the first grunting « hominid ». Forget the Book of Wisdom which states that God did not make death. According to evolution, death and suffering instead of being the punishment of Original Sin, are part and parcel of God’s creation. Evolution requires that God created an imperfect world !

Not surprising then that the Church’s statement: « Evolution is more than a hypothesis » should excite the media. They saw in it an implicit recognition of the new theology that had been replacing traditional teaching over the last several years.

In the light of the above the charges against the Pontifical Academy of Sciences are :

Denying the Sovereign Pontiff knowledge of the scientific arguments against Evolution theory.

This charge is serious because the information withheld was urgently needed by the Popes since Pius XII to comply with the stipulation in ’Humani Generis’ « that the reasons for and against either view must be weighed and adjudged with all seriousness, fairness and restraint ».

2. Inducing the Church to believe the theory of Evolution to be an established fact, when it was, and is, no more than a hypothesis without proof.

The consequence of the first charge is obvious. Deprived of information to the contrary, the Popes believed that the evolutionary paradigm was accepted by all scientists. The statement made in October 1996 to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences was inevitable. It was based upon an absence of knowledge.

The second charge affects the teaching magisterium of the Church.

If evolution is a scientific fact the Church must take it into account in interpreting Scripture. As with the Galileo commission a few years ago, in matters of science the Church turns for advice towards one of its greatest theologians, St Augustine. His « rule » was :

« Whatever they (the scientists) can demonstrate by genuine proofs regarding the nature of things, let us show that it is not contrary to our Scriptures ; but whatever they set forth contrary to our Scriptures, that is to Catholic faith, let us show by some means, or let us believe without hesitation to be most false » (D. 1947)

In referring to this « rule » of Augustine, Pope Leo XIII wrote in ‘ Providentissimus Deus’ :

« As what is true can in no way contradict what is true, we can be sure that an error has occurred either in the interpretation of the sacred text or elsewhere in the discussion »

When the Pontifical Academy of Sciences talks about the ‘fact’ of Evolution, the Church understandably assumes Evolution to be a proven fact. She knows that the interpretation of ‘Genesis’ by the Fathers of the Church, does not correspond with Evolution theory. Augustine provides the solution. Re-interpret Genesis to show that the ‘truth’ of Evolution « is not contrary to our Scriptures ».

One of the consequences of this decision was to adopt the « Documentary Theory » of Protestant scholar Wellhausen. The Theory claims that ‘Genesis’ was the work of several authors who lived at different times, and that it could not, therefore, be taken literally.

The teaching of nearly two thousand years had to be changed. Whilst maintaining the Scriptural and theological terminology, such as ‘Original Sin’ and ‘Adam’, familiar words were given a new meaning compatible with Evolution theory. Needless to say this reinterpretation of doctrines whilst respecting the traditional terms has led to confusion. A text referring to Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the serpent and Original Sin, has all the appearances of orthodoxy. Its meaning, however, depends upon whether it was written after ‘Humani Generis’ or before. If it was after, these terms must be considered as having a symbolic character.

Reverting to the words of St. Augustine, attention should be paid to the second part of his « rule » :

« but whatever they set forth contrary to our Scriptures, that is to Catholic faith, let us show by some means, or let us believe without hesitation to be most false ».

In other words if evolution is not a fact, and it threatens Catholic teaching, the Church must use its resources to show it is false.

Now those many scientists who have rejected evolution as unproved and bad science know that the Church has been misled into believing it to be true, and there was no need for it to modify its traditional teaching. They know that if the second part of Augustine’s teaching is applied, as it should, the Church should be denouncing Evolution as a danger to the faith. But the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has seen to it that these scientists are not heard, and that their arguments do not reach the Holy Father. They know that if they did, he would be both obliged and relieved to halt the new theology that has caused so much distress and confusion.

It is not the theologians of today who should be blamed for doctrinal errors being taught, they like the Pope are victims of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences policy of withholding the truth and giving false information to the Church. Evolution is not a fact, as they say, it is a purely naturalistic hypothesis to explain origins to the exclusion of the supernatural.

Thanks to the painstaking investigation of Professor of Law, Phillip Johnson we now know that when evolutionary scientists refer to the « fact » of evolution, they do not mean that there is any proof, but simply that there is no alternative naturalistic explanation. When the scientists talk to the Pope about the « fact » of evolution, they know that he, as a non-scientist, understands a « fact » to be something proven as certain. They are guilty of misrepresentation. They know that if they were to admit the truth that evolution was without proof, the Church would refer to Augustine’s rule and reject it.

As far back as 1859, Professor Sedgwick of Cambridge, warned Darwin that through evolutionary teaching, « humanity would suffer a damage that might brutalise it and sink the human race into a lower state of degradation than into which it has fallen since its records tell us of its history ».

Evolution has now permeated all human thought ; its fruits of abortion and moral decadence are plain to see. The Church is society’s only hope for recovery. But for that hope to be realised the Holy Father must be rescued from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and given free access to the work and research of scientists uninfluenced by evolutionary philosophy.

Where is the knight in shining armour ?

This article originally appeared in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review

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