Catholicism staunchly believes in Creation, that God created the world, the universe, and especially the human soul. It believes that God created man and woman in the image and likeness of God, as told to us in Genesis. Creation is to make something out of nothing. It is not changing one substance into another; it is making something which did not previously exist. Genesis 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Verse 27 of that same chapter says “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed also profess a belief “in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
That said, what about evolution? Does the Catholic Church condemn or embrace evolution? Atheistic evolution, which denies the existence and the necessity of a Supreme Being and Creator, is very much condemned. However, a modified theory of evolution that retains the existence and the necessity of a divine creator is allowed. God could use evolutionary processes to change aspects of His creation.
This would imply that God created evolution just as He created the laws of physics, the laws of chemistry and mathematics, and the laws of gravity. If evolution does exist and operate, it must be part of divine will since nothing can or does exist or happen outside the will of God.
What Pope Pius XII (1939–1958) taught in his encyclical letter Humani Generis (1950) was that Catholic faith demanded a belief in monogenism-that the human race originated from one set of human parents (named Adam and Eve in the Bible).
Polygenism is the theory that the human race came from several sets of parents.
Thirty-three years later, a group of biochemists in California, avowed agnostics, discovered that mitochondrial DNA showed that every human being on the earth who ever lived or will live is related, since all men and women can genetically be traced back to one original biological woman. She is the genetic mother of the human race.
When proponents of evolution leave God out of the equation, it is considered antithetical to the Catholic Christian faith. Any scientific theory proposing that human life is nothing more than a chance mixture of amino acids under favourable conditions independently evolving into higher forms of life is not acceptable to Catholicism. If a theory maintains that natural forces were underway, but does not deny the intelligent design behind these physical and biological operations, that is acceptable. Claiming that humans evolved from apes is one thing, but to deny that at some point the Divine Creator endowed human beings with a rational and immortal soul is considered heresy. Genesis 2 says God took the dirt of the earth and breathed into it the breath of life, and man was thus created. Dirt by itself will never evolve into an immortal soul. Nature may or may not change entire species of animals, but the spiritual dimension of mankind that makes men and women the image and likeness of God lies in the immortal soul created by God. Apes and all other animals do not have immortal souls. Only human beings do.
Some Christians maintain God created the world in exactly six days of twenty four hours each. Others maintain that the word “day” used by Genesis in the Bible is a figure of speech-an analogy or metaphor. Catholicism teaches that it is for the scientists to discover how Creation took place. Religion explains who did and why.
Science merely discovers how and when. A day could represent a period or epoch, or it could mean a day as we experience it. Before Creation, there was no time and no space, so it is difficult to explain and describe where and when before there was a where and a when. God existed from all eternity, and He exists outside of time and space, so He is not limited to nor constrained by the same spatiotemporal reality you and I are stuck in.
Rev. John Trigilio Jr., Ph.D., Th.D. & Rev. Kenneth D. Brighenti Ph.D.