Some Thoughts On Evolution
The recent words of the Unholy Father concerning Evolution would, perhaps, justify some words. The problem with that is that the topic is absolutely vast, and not apt for a blog post. I will, therefore, limit myself to expressing some of my thoughts on the matter.
“Evolution” is used in many and confusing ways. I mention today three which, in my experience, are the most commonly found:
1. The idea that species evolve.
Today’s cat is different from the cat of many years ago. Japanese are, on average, 20 cm or more taller now than they were before WW II. The smartphone evolves into, say, the Sony Z3. The Porsche 911 evolves in the “991” iteration currently on sale. An awful lot “evolves” in life, and it is clear that this is in God’s plan. The human body himself evolves from a tiny and defenceless being into a strong being able to give and protect life, etc. This isn’t rocket science, and is nothing unorthodox. In my experience, most people who say they “believe in evolution” think of this. Asked whether they really believe that a dog evolved from a monocellular organism, they would stop and pause.
2. The theory of evolution.
This is the idea that, for some reason unknown to me, from something that is not there something should suddenly be there. Out of the simple genetical structure of the amoeba, a more complicated structure would, one day, have been born. Just so. How from nothing something can be born was never clear to me. It defies a rational, scientifical explanation. It is, in fact, unproven (which is why, 150 years after Darwin, we are still talking of “theory”). It is the idea that from nothing something is born. If cars were able to reproduce, it would be like saying that a Toyota Prius, one day, begets a Ferrari, the Ferrari a jet fighter, and the jet fighter an aircraft carrier. How can it be that out of a Prius comes a Ferrari? “Evolution”.
The logical absurdities of this are, in my book, many. Why are dogs still unable to drive a motorbike? Why have mice not evolved microweapons against cats? Why are some insect-like animals able to evolve into dogs, or apes, but the world is still full of insects that keep going into the spider’s net? Where are all the intermediate species between the dog and the very simple animal that would be his pro-pro-pro-progenitor? How could this simple progenitor create something from nothing, which is: a more complex genetic code out of thin air?
I don’t buy the theory of evolution. I am just not sold. But I would not accuse of heresy someone who would defend this strange theory, if he manages – as it is certainly possible – to make it someway compatible with Scripture.
Here I must open an aside: don’t be a Protestant (those who scream loudest about the Scripture generally come from there) and read attentively Humani Generis and Providentissimus Deus. You will find here the proper hermeneutic expressed out of many examples, and with brilliant quotations from St. Augustine.
Say, for example, that a Catholic would see in God’s Divine Intervention the progressive enrichment of the genetic code from that of the very simple animal to the dog; that would, certainly, be worthy of consideration as an exercise meant to make the theory compatible with Catholicism, as only Protestants tend to fall in the error and heresy of Literalism. Only, at that point it would not be a theory of evolution anymore; merely an explanation of the Genesis in light of the fact that God spoke, in those times, to less enlightened people in a language they could understand. Which is, before you scream, what the Church has always believed, and if you disagree the priest who cared for your conversion could have done a better job.
God’s scripture has only Truth in it. It has, because Scripture is Divinely inspired, which means that in the Scriptures that and only that went in, which God wanted to get in. Which does not mean that God would – much less: should, in order to please the Literalists – explain to simple people the immense complication of His cosmos in the Book of Genesis. The Divine Revelation is presented in the way God wanted it to be presented, and God wanted it so presented so that the Truth may be understood. Scripture is, though, still Divine, and True in its entirely. It merely is not a scientific treatise.
How can you know, then, what is what? How can you know what of the words of the Bible is divinely revealed Truth, and what is a way used by God to let your average, not-so-terribly-smart Jew get it? The Church tells you.
The Church, as the custodian of the Truth in the Scripture, will tell you in which way this or that passage must be read; and when in the exegesis a “progress” should be made, it would never be in contradiction of what was said before. It would be, rather… an evolution. Again, refer especially to Providentissimus Deus for the methods used, and learn that apparent conflicts between science and faith are not new to our age, but were very well known to the theologians of old and to the Church Fathers.
It is, for example, de fide that God created man, it is not de fide that He used clay (see Humani Generis if you have any doubt), albeit we must not rush to espouse theories that exclude the clay, which is in the Bible, unless we have a solid evidence rather than a nebulous theory. It is de fide that we are all children of Eve, it is not de fide that the world was created so and so many years ago. It is de fide that Man is the result of a willed Creation of a good Creator, instead of the result of a mad mixing of genetic codes which, miraculously, improve and expand itself from itself, creating something from nothing; & Co, & Co.
Darwinism is not a scientific theory, but a philosophic position. It has been, since the XIX Century, the atheists’ Creed. It maintains that everything evolved from (ever) lower species, with no exceptions, and no God involved. Men are glorified apes, and all species are evolved from extremely primitive organisms. It is in the atheist’s view a great pity, and a merely provisional stand of things, that in 150 years and an immense amount of excavations no freaking shred of evidence has been found to prove this very extraordinary claim, and I often suspect the only ape-likes humans are the ones who believe in this outlandish idea. Similarly,the atheist believes there was never a point where God created man by giving it an immortal soul (which is what distinguishes a human from every other animal; for a Christian an hypothetically “evolved” ape, similar in all to a man but without a soul, would still be an ape), and obviously there was, for the atheist, no common descending from Adam and Eve.
This is utter blasphemy, because all these credences go against Divine Revelation. Darwinism cannot be accepted without refusing Truths of Catholicism. If you’re Catholic you reject Darwinism.
This is a panorama to the best of my knowledge. I will stand corrected and gladly modify it or rephrase it more accurately as the argument against it is taken from Church tradition and past encyclical. But do not come to me bashing a Bible, because you are not a Protestant anymore. You are a Catholic now. You must see Scripture in light of what the Church tells you, not of what you learned years ago at Sunday School.
Again, Providentissimus Deus is a wonderful document. Read it first, comment later.