Are You Being Too Harsh on Pope Benedict Regarding Evolution?

Dear Robert,

I was rather disappointed with your online article regarding Pope Benedict XVI and his 2007 statement on evolutionary theory.

You claim, for example, that Pope Benedict is not a scientist and therefore is ill-equipped to make such comments regarding evolutionary theory. This criticism is totally unfounded.

The purpose of his teaching in this case was on a theological issue: whether the scientific theory of evolution contradicts any aspects of Catholic theology. His answer is clear; a theory of evolution which denies the existence of a creator is incomplete and unable to explain all aspects of creation.

When he stated that there is scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution, he was simply asserting something which is held by the vast majority of (expert) scientists in the world. Do not criticise him for this. Criticise the scientists. Let those scientists also criticise the evidence which you claim contradicts the theory of evolution.

Benedict is an expert in theology and thus has all the expertise in the world to talk about the aspects of the theory of evolution which are compatible with our faith, and those aspects which are contrary. He is not a scientist, and therefore will not decide whether "evolution" is true or not. This is a job for scientists. But he will, and should, comment on these debates in order to highlight the theological issues involved.

It seems very naive to criticise an expert theologian by claiming that he has simply been misled by "scientists". Do 'scientists' teach the Pope theology???

David Youl

R. Sungenis: David, I stand by what I said, and I will even make it clearer and stronger in my follow up: Evolution is a heretical view of cosmogony due to the de fide statements from the magisterium given to us over 650 years that deny evolution and affirm ex nihilo creation. Those de fide statements are found in Lateran Council IV and Vatican Council I.

Lateran IV: “[God] who by his own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual and corporal, namely, angelic and mundane, and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body.” (Denz 428)

Vatican I “[God] immediately from the beginning of time fashioned each creature out of nothing, spiritual and corporeal, namely angelic and mundane; and then the human creation, common as it were, composed of both spirit and body” (Denz 1783)

Vatican I: Canon 5: “If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produce by God from nothing…let him be anathema.” (Denz 1805).

Evolution, whether atheistic or theistic, does not teach that “all things” were created “in their whole substance” from “nothing.” It teaches that “all things” have non-living or living antecedent forms which evolved into entirely different species by natural processes. Lateran IV and Vatican I insist that the beginning of each species did not have antecedent forms nor did it evolve but was created “in its whole substance,” that is, with every part needed for its species specific existence. For example, cows were created whole cows, out of nothing with no antecedent forms, and the same for every other living thing. The only subsequent development was the variation within the species of the original prototype (e.g., the first dog developed into a wide variety of dogs), but the original dog was created “in its whole substance” and did not evolve from a reptile or anything else. The theologians and prelates of the Patristic period and Middle Ages accepted all this without question. It has only been in the last 150 years, with the so-called “evidence” of evolution that clerics have begun to waver from the traditional belief. But the truth is, there is NO solid evidence for evolution. It is a bankrupt theory that even its own adherents have criticized as lacking sufficient evidence. Therefore, no one has an excuse to be even entertaining the theory of evolution, much less saying that we should accommodate it by reinterpreting Scripture.

As for whether we can criticize Pope Benedict for listening to the “vast majority of (expert) scientists,” we can do so if Pope Benedict has made a concerted effort to ignore the other scientists in the world who have shown that evolution is impossible. Unfortunately, Pope Benedict has decided to ignore the alternative evidence and give more credence to evolution, just as John Paul II did. I know from various colleagues who talked with Cardinal Ratzinger, face to face at the Vatican. The Cardinal was presented with scientific evidence on stratigraphy showing that the geologic column was not created over millions of years but was made over a matter of months, but he simply rejected the evidence and sided with the status quo of evolution, and he did so by his own private judgment, even though he has no scientific credentials. That is what I am talking about, David. I don’t make my accusations lightly.

Just last year in Rome the Pontifical Academy of Science, whose members are appointed by the pope for life, organized a conference on evolution and forbade anyone who believed in creation to attend, regardless whether they had scientific credentials equal to the evolutionists attending the conference. Every one of the hundred scientists on the Pontifical Academy of Science is a firm believer in evolution and they have refused to allow anyone with an opposing view to gain membership since the PAS’s inception. That’s called bias, David, pure and simple, and the pope is perpetuating it. As a result, the majority of Catholics think it is perfectly fine to believe that we descended from apes, and they also believe that Genesis 1-3 has more myth than historical truth. How sad when it is clear from our infallible de fide statements from the highest authorities in the Church that evolution is heretical. This is just another sign of the apostasy of our times. It goes hand in hand with every other theological aberration that has occurred in the last one hundred years in Catholicism.

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