By: Mr. Gardner, Religion Teacher.
This month the focus will be on the question of Scientific Evolution and the Catholic Church. This is an important topic that all Catholics should understand at a basic level.
The Church loves science and is heavily invested in science. As a matter of fact, the Church has an observatory on the University of Arizona Campus called the Vatican Observatory. It is staffed by priests and other religious that are astronomers, physicists and mathematicians. These Catholic scientists search for the wisdom of God found in nature through the scientific method. Many other scientists of faith search for this wisdom in other scientific fields, with one of those fields being scientific evolution.
These Catholic evolutionary scientists hold that the theory of evolution is a scientific tool to be used to study the material, physical world. In other words, they hold that the process of evolution can affect and change the material world, but they do not hold that material evolution has anything to do with evolution of a human soul. What is meant by that?
It means that material body could possibly* change over time through an evolutionary process, but the human soul can not change or evolve. The reason that the soul can not change is that the human soul is made in the image and likeness of God, and God – who is perfect- has actualized all potential. In other words, God who is perfect does not change; thus, human souls that are like God do not change. Furthermore, we hold that God makes each soul personally. We see this in the Bible (Genesis 4:1-2) when Eve turns to Adam after she gives birth to Cain and says, “With the help of God, I have made a man.” Adam and Eve are the biologic parents of the child whose soul is made in God’s image by God himself. No evolution happens in this instance.
So, yes evolution is a wonderful scientific tool used to explore the wisdom of God found in material creation; it is not, however, a proper tool for examining the human soul. The immaterial human soul allows us to love God who is the immaterial creator of the material world.
(*Note – the Church does not maintain that the Human Body has evolved. The Church allows for the scientific inquiry into evolution of the material body, nothing more.)