What does the Catholic Church teach about Evolution?

In itself the theory of evolution, which asserts the variability of species of animals and plants, is by no means opposed to religious truths.

It neither includes a necessity of assuming the origin of the human soul from the essentially lower animal soul, nor is it an atheistic theory. On the contrary, such an evolution would most clearly certify to God’s wisdom in laying such a wonderful basis for the progress of nature, provided this theory could be proved by scientific facts; indeed, for an evolution within narrow limits, circumstantial evidence is not lacking.

That there is no contradiction between the theory of evolution and the fundamental tenets of the Christian Creed is sufficiently shown by the representatives of the theory.

Lamarck (died 1829) and Saint-Hilaire, (died 1844) both of them representatives of the theory of evolution long before Darwin, believed in God. There were, prior to Darwin, two celebrated Catholic scientists, to wit, Ampere and d’Omalius, who had decidedly taken the part of Saint-Hilaire in his controversy with Cuvier.

And also after Darwin, a number of Christian and Catholic scientists have contended for the idea of evolution, as, for instance, the Swiss geologists, Heer; also Quenstedt, Volkmann, and the American geologist Ch. Lyell.

More recently Catholic scientists have expressed themselves in favor of the theory of evolution; for instance, the noted zoologist Erich Wasmann, S.J., and the geologists Lossen and W. Waagen, both of whom had to bring bitter sacrifices in their career on account of their Catholic faith.

-J. Donat, S.J., The Freedom of Science, p. 223


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