Page 13, 13th March 2009

13th March 2009
Page 13
Page 13, 13th March 2009 — Private papal support for evolution doesn’t mean that Catholics have to support the theory

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Private papal support for evolution doesn’t mean that Catholics have to support the theory

From Mr Donal Anthony Foley SIR – Regarding Quentin de la Bédoyère’s latest Science and Faith column (March 6), in which he airily dismisses those people who have criticised his views on evolution, including myself, I note that he has made no coherent attempt to answer the points put forward in my letter (February 27).

Just because the Church hasn’t condemned evolution, that doesn’t make it true, nor does the fact that some recent popes have apparently shown some private support for evolution make it true. That support has to be judged in the light of the whole of the Church’s traditional teaching in this area, spanning nearly 2,000 years now.

He states that: “It might be as well to start by saying that biological evolution is simply a matter of wellevidenced fact.” In this statement he is confusing tangible facts with a theory which attempts to explain those facts in a particular way. Those facts can be better explained in Creationist terms, and this is what is increasingly happening as the flaws in evolutionary thinking become ever more apparent.

Quentin de la Bédoyère also states, regarding the Genesis account of creation, that “we know that it is both inspired yet cannot be a historical account”. However, in a teaching which it can be strongly argued is infallible, and thus immutable, Pope Leo XIII, in commenting on the origin of marriage, stated in the encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae (1880): “We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propa gated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time.” In saying this, Pope Leo was really just reiterating the whole traditional teaching on this subject since the time of Christ, and thus ruling out any form of human evolution.

Quentin de la Bédoyère’s statements about what Christ knew about or thought about creation are confused, but it would appear that he is saying that Christ went along with the traditional view of creation, even though he knew it was erroneous. Christ was both God and Man and to say that he was ignorant about such an important, indeed crucial, matter must simply be wrong. In fact, all the statements from him on this subject we have in the gospels clearly indicate that he considered Genesis to be straight-forward history.

Yours faithfully, DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Castle Donington, Leicestershire From Dr Douglas Darcy SIR – The controversy over evolution (Letters, February 27) is soluble for Catholics. Darwin’s discovery of evolution by natural selection is now part of the scientific canon.

There is a mountain of evidence for it and I know of no biologist who denies it. It explains how God populated the earth with plants and animals and filled every available niche. It does not conflict with Catholic doctrine.

What is debatable and a legitimate subject for controversy is all the extrapolations and speculations on the original discovery, even those made by Darwin himself. Catholics must be careful not to bring the Church into disrepute – we don’t want another Galileo debacle on our hands.

Yours faithfully, DOUGLAS DARCY Sevenoaks, Kent

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