News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: The Pope and Evolution

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Pope and Evolution

Update 11/15: Pat Robertson vs. the Pope By William Saletan
Is the intelligent designer loving or vindictive?
I love how this'll play in Peoria. In some ways, it'll feed rabid anti-Catholicism (those who think Rome is the Anti-Christ/Whore of babylon rolled into one), in other ways, it'll sound like those old jokes about the Soviets, who always seemed to be making up for their inferiority complex by saying that they had invented everything from electricity to any other modern gadget.

On the other hand, to the revelation that Augustine had a primitive form of evolution I'd add Origen's belief that life exists on other worlds than our own.
A pope for our times: why Darwin is back on the agenda at the Vatican, by William Rees-Mogg
In The Times Martin Penner reported the cardinal’s argument. He had said that the description in Genesis of the Creation was “perfectly compatible” with Darwin’s theory of evolution, if the Bible were read properly. “Fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim.”
Indeed, one can go back nearly 1,500 years before Darwin and find St Augustine of Hippo, the most commanding intellect of all the early doctors of the Church, teaching a doctrine of evolution in the early 5th century. In one of his greatest works, De Genesi ad Litteram, he stated that God did not create an organised Universe as we see it now, but in the beginning created all the elements of the world in a confused and “nebulous” mass. In this mass were the mysterious seeds of the creatures who were to come into existence.

Augustine’s thought does therefore contain the elements of a theory of evolution, and even a genetic theory, but does not have natural selection. St Augustine has always been orthodox. He did not foresee modern science in AD410, but he did have an extraordinary grasp of the potential evolution of scientific thought. Cardinal Poupard’s address to the journalists should not be seen as a matter of the Roman Church changing its mind and accepting Darwin after 145 years. ... Read more

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