(CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture has said that evolutionary theory is “not incompatible” with the teachings of the Catholic Church, insisting that the theory of biological change over time was never condemned by the Church.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: I've written on this extensively. The teaching of the Church is that God created - period. Beyond that, most scientific theories are acceptable provided one acknowledges the basic premise that God created. How God created things is another matter. The Biblical accounts of creation should be taken as truth, but they don't have to be taken as literal scientific truth. The Bible is not a scientific textbook. The truth contained in the Biblical accounts of creation can be taken as moral truth and theological truth. Meaning these texts are designed to convey an important moral and theological message, not necessarily a literal scientific one. I say "accounts of creation" in plural, because there are three. The first is in Genesis 1, the second in Genesis 2 and the third is more general in John 1.
Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi made such remarks while presenting the new interdisciplinary conference to mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species. The conference, which is a Vatican initiative to promote dialogue between scientists and theologians, is scheduled to take place in Rome in March 2009.
“Evolutionary theory is not incompatible a priori with the teaching of the Catholic Church, with the message of the Bible and theology, and in actual fact it was never condemned,” Archbishop Ravasi said....
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The most important thing for Catholics to remember is what separates humanity from the animal kingdom. Our bodies may be fashioned of the same stuff animals are made of. Our genetic code may have indeed evolved from lower forms of ape like creatures. However, our souls are NOT the product of evolution at all. They are a direct gift from God, complete from the beginning, and in no need of "evolution." The second creation story accounts for this in Genesis chapter 2. Therein we learn that God created the man out of the "slime" of the earth. One could take this as a literary reference to evolution if one wants to. But then God blew his breath (Hebrew: "Rauch" meaning spirit) into the nostrils of the man, and the man from then on became a living soul. This is a reference to the "divine spark" if you will, the moment when mankind ceased to be a member of the animal kingdom, and became a member of the spiritual kingdom. It is when man turned into a creature that could have an actual relationship with the living God, something animals can never have (read more here). That's the difference. That's what we must remember about ourselves, no matter what we learn about scientific theories and fossil evidence.
I've written on this topic extensively here, and here. They are excellent articles on the subject, and I think they give a much more balanced view on science from a Catholic perspective. Those links again are here...