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April 24, 1998     The Message
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April 24, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 0 i• PI'IILLIP R. SLOAN Service straight on evolution and creation taught students at Dame about the of evolutionary t to me that discussion of the ry theory schools and ! people will become sit- of arguments by some scientists to accept two basic works in natural a process of from simplest forms s. It is the second students most vul- issue of con- theory in.a lim- t clarify the evolution- y the term debates have cen- a concept in which is interpreted as of the order of the manifestation of etc. Of creation is it is vulnerable to explana- design of organisms evolution and creation ac6ounts of the same , empirical data, with commit- Live. n divine cre- beliefs about how to do is to clar- an meaning of Christian meaning of as I understand it,  things: tence is outside the tempo- rality of events, including evolutionary temporality, is part of an eternal now to God. (This premise is not necessarily accepted by process theologians, but I need not enter this complex issue in this context). -- Second, the Christian vision of creation implies that the world is a free cre- ation from nothing, mean- ing it neither limits God nor exists independently of God's continuous creative act. -- Third, the empirically observable order of the world, the discoverable order investigated by sci- ence, is itself dependent upon God's creation. In my view, Charles Dar- win's theory of evolution does not directly bear on any of these points. Evolution and creation are not alternative hypothe- ses that offer competing explanations of the same body of data. Instead they operate at two distinctly dif- ferent levels of reality: Creation: It is concerned with the world's very existence. - -- Evolution: It is concerned with the natural causes of the empirically ascer- tainable order displayed bythe natural world. Consequently, the question for Chris- tians to ask about creation is not whether or not organisms display an obvious designed order. Nor is the Christian view of creation committed to the claim that the history of life on earth clearly displays some kind of a linear ascent from the sim- plest forms to human beings-- in a direc- tion that could be represented graphical- ly by a directional arrow or line. Rather, the doctrine of creation concerns the very existence of any order whatever, even if it is the chance-like order Darwin- ian theorists describe. e Marketplace .................. Point: do you view the relation of the sciences to faith? From Readers: to guide scientific inquiry in a responsible way. I think we of the unknown, and there are two ways to do that: science. Ultimately, I think we need both in order to come . ng of ourselves and our world." Mary Pat Tranter, M.D., Taunton, Mass. that are in the realm of faith, those things that can't be proven by of science, and in those areas, science is not applicable. It is be a scientist and a person of faith." -- Mary Lee Ledbetter, Worcester, Mass.(cell biologist) !7 r conflict between my scientific discipline and my Catholic faith. the atmosphere• is governed by physical laws, it is not hap- leap of faith to believe that this incredible complexity than to believe in a Creator, a higher intelligence respon- William L. Woodley, Littleton, Colo. (meteorologist) sks: Tell of an effort undertaken in your parish to serve • please write: Faith Alive! 3211 Fourth 20017-1100. "More education . . . of the issues sur- rounding evolutionary theory is needed in the Catholic schools and press," says Uni- versity of Notre Dame scholar Phillip Sloan. "Otherwise people will become sit- ting ducks for certain kinds of arguments commonly raised.., against a divine role in creation." -- CNS photo from Oleo Photography An opportunistic or chance-like view of evolution is not an argument against a theological interpretation of human existence. The opportunistic view does not prove that our universe lacks a larg- a .... ,. 0 C n evoluUo Continued from page 8 with God, who is infinite love, is an evolving one. Should we expect a world graced by divine love to be frozen imme- diately into finished perfection? Wouldn't such a "finished" world be lifeless and devoid of any genuine future? Theologically interpreted• evolution tells the story of God's gift to the world and the world's unforced response to this gift. In the person of Christ, according to Jesuit Father Karl Rahner, the noted • Catholic theologian, both of these move: ments meet ha a climax of unsurpassed passion: -- In the incarnation, divine love pours itself irreversibly into the cosmos, and er sense of purpose. Phillip Sloan is director of the Reilly Center for Science, Tectmol%n/ and Vah, at the Uni- versity of Notre D,m2e. The world freely opens itself, in Jesus, completely to God. The evolutionary portrait of nature • suggests that God somehow wants the world to "become itself." As the divine love gives itself to creation, the world's independence and freedom do not • decrease but intensify. When humans emerged in this most fas- cinating story, evolution became endowed with an unprecedented freedom and con- iousness. And through our own faith artd freedom in Christ, the evolving cos- mos continues its long journey to God. Professor Haught is chairman of the theol- ogy department at Georgetown University. Food u, u ,,.,,.,5, ,, .................... ......... What did Pope John Paul II actually say when he addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the topic of evolution in October 1996? The follow- ing quotations from a translation of the address cover key points in his pre- sentation: "How do the conclusions reached by the various scientific disciplLnes coincide with those contained in the message of revelation?.. We know, in fact, that truth cannot contradict truth." -- "New knowledge leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis." -- "To tell the truth, rather than "the' theory of evolution, we should speak of "several' theories of evolution." -- "The church's magisterium is directly concerned with the question of evolution for it involves the conception of man: Revelation teaches us that he . : was created in the image and likeness of God." : • .... "If the human body takes its origin from pre-existing matter, the spiritu- al soul is immediately created by God." "Theories of evolution which, in accordance with the phil tnspir- . ing them, consider the spirit as emerging form the forces of livinma or  - as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter are incompatible th the tluth about man." .... : David Gibson Editor, Faith Alive[