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Elliott the Evolutionist wrote:

Hi, guys —

This article caught my eye:

Pope Francis says evolution is real and God is no wizard

  • Is this true?

I turn for help to you guys because I want to know your opinions on this issue.

Elliott

  { Can you believe in evolution and still be a faithful Catholic who believes in Genesis? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Elliott —

Well, the guy who came up with the Big Bang was a Catholic priest.

Catholicism is not fundamentally opposed to evolution if it doesn't exclude the existence of God and/or the direct creation of the soul. This goes back at least to Pope Pius XII in the 1950s with Humani Generis.

St. John Paul II supported evolution as well; in one famous statement he called it more than a theory. I think Benedict XVI supported it as too but I can't think of specific citations or instances.

Nevertheless, you can still believe in direct creation and be a Catholic.

The purpose of Genesis is not to make a scientific statement. It is written in symbolic language, in literary forms. That's not to say that elements are not literally true. Pius XII averred that he could by no means see how polygenism, that is, the theory that man descended from multiple parents rather than one pair, i.e., Adam and Eve, was compatible with the faith.

I found a statement from Pope Benedict on evolution in a very nice article:

Eric

Elliott replied:

Hi Eric,

Thanks for the reply.

I read the statement by Pope Benedict.

  • So then do we believe there actually was an Adam and Eve?

Elliott

John replied:

Elliott,

Adam is just the Hebrew word for Man but, yes, we had two original parents from which the entire human race came from.

Let me just expound on Eric's excellent, to-the-point answer.

We are free to take the account of Genesis literally but it's almost impossible in many respects just from the account. For instance, when we talk about days, we normally talk in terms of the 24- hour periods in which the earth rotates on its axis and the sun rises, sets, and rises again. So right there we have a problem in the text. The sun wasn't created until Day 4. . .

  • See what I mean?

So if we put a lot of time and effort and into proving or disproving the science and history in Genesis, we often wind up missing the deeper theological truth or Divine Revelation that the author intended to convey.

For example, looking at Genesis 1 we see parallels in the first 3 days. We see God creating realms and in the latter 3 days we see God creating those things that would rule those realms. Then finally we have the establishment of the Sabbath . . . the 7th Day.

  • So what's the point of the Sabbath or the 7th Day?

Well, Seven is the same Hebrew word for Oath. It is the first, essential element of a Covenant so by saying that God created everything in 7 days, the author intends to reveal that after God created it, He swore an oath by establishing Covenant with Creation.

In order to do that, because Covenants must be made among equals i.e. husband and wife, God promises to both that they will become part of His Own Creation . . . the promise of the Incarnation . . . and through the Incarnation, He also promises to elevate man to be participants and partakers, by Grace, in the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ. So He reaches down to us, in order to give Himself to us and in so doing He elevates us to Himself.

That is the point of Genesis 1. Genesis 2 likewise use figurative language so that we further understand the Covenant . . . the Covenant of Marriage . . .

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:23-24

This covenant mirrors salvation. It mirrors the relationship between:

  • Christ and Church
  • Christ and those who wind up saved for all eternity, and
  • indeed the Love of the Trinity Itself.

The Love of the Father who begets the Son and the Son who gives Himself to the Father and the Spirit is the Bond of Love between the Two.

So in Genesis we look for Covenant language as the entire Bible is based on the Covenant.
God giving Himself to us and through us to His entire Creation. A complete and total act of self-giving love.

Now we are probably going to miss that if we waste time trying to prove or disprove the science and history. Treat the text as though it is literal because it teaches salvation history . . . not actually history like the daily news. Yes, every word is important. It is there for a reason but don't get hung up on whether or not Noah got all those animals on the Ark or not.

I've attached an [MS Word|PDF] document. It's notes from the RCIA Class I used to teach on Scripture and the way it should be approached as Catholics.

  • How God Reveals Himself through the Bible. [MS Word|PDF]

John

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