How can one truly believe in the “creation story” in the Bible when there is evidence of evolution at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Natural Science?
This question would lead us to think that there is some conflict between science and religion, when, in reality, there should not be. Science and religion are always after one and the same thing – the truth. And we know that one truth to be God. The Catholic Church has never had a problem with the “theory of evolution” or any evidence of it at the Smithsonian or elsewhere. The fact is, there have been several theories of evolution, not just Darwin’s. In simple terms, the theory of evolution would have us believe that man developed from lower life forms. It usually speaks about the “process” of evolution and not origins. We should keep in mind that the Church has never taught that the first chapter of Genesis is meant to teach science. It is a religious story that tells us that God is the Creator of all things, and that is what we need to focus on.
Life is so mysterious and so is our faith. We want so much to understand. There should be no fear or worry about studying or considering the theory of evolution. In many ways, it has done much to unravel the mysteries of our development. At the same time, however, we must remember that it is a theory (an assumption based on limited information and knowledge) that has never been completely proven and may never be. The real problem comes when we begin to speak of the theory of evolution as if it were a religion of its own. Science is based on facts that must be proven before being completely accepted. Religion is based on faith and is accepted even without proof because it is revealed by God.
Our Holy Father John Paul II has stated that, “The Church insists that man is not an accident; that no matter how He went about creating man, God from all eternity intended that man and all creation exist in their present form.” Catholics are not obliged to square scientific data with the early verses of Genesis, and we are not opposed to any theory of natural evolution as long as it does not exclude the action of God and what we know from God’s own self-Revelation. We do know this: no human person was present at the Creation to record it and tell us about it today. However, Jesus Christ, as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was present at creation, and His very life and mission tell us that the “message” in the Book of Genesis is true.
© Copyright 2003 Grace D. MacKinnon
This article taken from Grace's new book, Dear Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith, now available in our online store! Faith questions may be sent to Grace via e-mail at: email@example.com. You may also visit her online at www.DearGrace.com.