On October 23, 1996, Pope John Paul II made a formal statement to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that “fresh knowledge leads to recognition of the theory of evolution as more than just a hypothesis.” The Pope stated that creation and evolution can work together without any conflict, as long as it is maintained that only God can create the human soul. The news media seemed to proclaim this statement as a triumph over creationism. Many throughout the world have been asking what significance this statement has on Catholic and Protestant theology. The following are a few thoughts on this topic:
Did the Pope really say that evolution was 'more than a hypothesis'? It's probable that the secular media misinterpreted the Pope's address.
The original French address says:
The trouble is, the French word “une” can mean “a” or “one.” The secular media translated it “a” hypothesis, while the official RC newspaper L'Osservatore Romano translated it as “one.”
This information comes from the Polish RC (Roman Catholic) creationist and eminent scientist Maciej Giertych, who has published over 90 scientific papers. It was published in his private publication Opoka (The Rock), December 1996, and we were told 'feel free to publish it if you find it useful'.
We thank Prof. Giertych for his analysis, demonstrating once again the distortions of the secular media. However, the Pope has long accepted the old earth theory, and most RC schools teach evolution, so it's in the Pope's over-all character to accept evolution. Especially as the RC church does not regard Scripture as its final authority.
Creation Ministries International response to the Pope's proclamation
It's not that surprising - the Pope has given indications that he likes to be thought of as 'scientifically' up-to-date. He is a philosopher by training, secondarily a theologian, but is not a scientist. So he has probably been persuaded by advisers.
After the Galileo affair, the RC church has been wary of disputing new scientific ideas. But they have learned the wrong lesson. In Galileo's time the Roman Catholic church had adopted pagan Ptolemaic and Aristotelian ideas. Galileo's discoveries challenged those ideas, not the Bible. The main opposition to Galileo came from the Aristotelians at the University. The church in those days made the mistake of trying to fit the Bible into Ptolemaic and Aristotelian theories; now it is making the same mistake of trying to fit the Bible into Darwinism.
The Roman Catholic Church has accepted evolution as long as it doesn't exclude God from the creative process, in particular from the creation of the human soul. But the whole motive for evolution is to explain living things without recourse to a creator. Most historians of science, e.g. Stephen Jay Gould, agree that this was the main motive of Darwin and Huxley, and is the driving force of Dawkins & company today.
The Pope's announcement contradicts the teaching of Jesus, the apostles, and even church tradition which means so much to Roman Catholics. These have agreed that Adam's literal Fall in a literal Garden of Eden caused death and suffering in the world. This made Christ's incarnation and death for our sins necessary. Evolution postulates that death, the 'last enemy' (1 Cor. 15:26) is actually part of God's 'very good' creation (Gen. 1:31)
The Roman Catholic church makes it clear that Scripture is not a sufficient guide for life, contradicting 2 Tim. 3:15-17. That's why it doesn't bother them that so many of their doctrines, e.g. Mary's immaculate conception and perpetual virginity, are contrary to Scripture.
Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist, in his news article stated (the following is an edited version):
“Pope John Paul II, who courageously stood against the tyranny of Soviet communism, has succumbed in his declining years to the tyranny of evolutionary scientists who claim we are related to monkeys… Was there a scientist present at the beginning?… God asks the ultimate question of Job that ought to be asked of evolutionary science: 'Where were you when I laid the Earth's foundation?'… Having surrendered to the evolutionary theorists, the Pope cannot credibly defend other doctrinal issues - such as the virgin birth, the deity of Jesus, His bodily resurrection, and our salvation - because the same book that says God created the world and everything in it out of nothing also testifies to these other things.”
“With his statement about evolution, the Pope has caught up to the times. In doing so, he has accepted a philosophy that stands at the core of communism. Why would he want to accept the heart of a world-view that he spent his life opposing.”
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