The Pope on evolution again


Speaking to a group of Italian priests on July 24, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI again addressed the topic of evolution. Referring to debates over creationism in Germany and the United States, he suggested that evolution and belief in God the creator are presented "as if they were alternatives that are exclusive -- whoever believes in the creator could not believe in evolution, and whoever asserts belief in evolution would have to disbelieve in God," as the New York Post's article (July 26, 2007) translated it. "This contrast is an absurdity," he continued, "because there are many scientific tests in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and enriches our understanding of life and being. But the doctrine of evolution does not answer all questions, and it does not answer above all the great philosophical question: From where does everything come?" A transcript of his remarks, in Italian, is available on the Vatican's website.

The Pope's most recent remarks, although brief, suggest that he is continuing to maintain a form of theistic evolutionism, as he reportedly did in his contribution to Schoepfung und Evolution, the proceedings of a seminar on creation and evolution that he conducted with his former doctoral students in September 2006; according to Reuters (April 11, 2007), "In the book, Benedict defended what is known as 'theistic evolution,' the view held by Roman Catholic, Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches that God created life through evolution and religion and science need not clash over this." Although Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn's 2005 New York Times op-ed "Finding Design in Nature," which seemed to express sympathy for "intelligent design" creationism, was widely feared to herald a possible shift in the Catholic Church's attitude toward evolution, subsequent developments, including a series of clarifications from Schoenborn, have for the most part indicated otherwise.