Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Catholic Perspective on Creation and Evolution / Charles Darwin's Religious Beliefs: Some Thoughts

By Dave Armstrong (8-19-09)

From exchanges on the CHNI board:

David W. Emery, fellow moderator:

Catholic dogma on creation states only two things: Whatever exists came into being because of God’s creative and providential action; and Adam and Eve were real people, the sole progenitors of the human race. How God created and formed the universe in its present form, or whether some sort of evolution of species took place under the guidance of his providence is for science to discover. So far, all we have is theories, so the divine revelation that has come down to us is all we know for sure. You can therefore believe what you will concerning the scientific part.

Whether we were created from dust and dirt and clay in one second or created from dust and dirt and clay via other living creatures over millions of years seems to be no different in terms of what is more "objectionable" -- going into any sort of scientific inquiry. I think we need to make sure our opposition isn't merely emotional. Who's to say God couldn't have done it over millions of years?

I think our real battle with regard to science is with scientific materialists, who think there is no God and that science can explain everything whatsoever. That is the bottom line. The materialist view cannot be squared with a Christian view, but an evolutionary view easily can. It's a matter of determining what science has demonstrated or not.

And I write, by the way, as one who has been (most of my life) a "progressive creationist." That has been my position but now I am more of an agnostic on the whole question. I'm far more concerned, as an apologist, with atheism.

I am wanting to become Catholic, unfortunately I have come upon a huge road block for me. As a creationist I was happily going to join the church, assuming like some other evangelical churches, that the Catholic Church taught Genesis as historically accurate. I recently found out that the Church allows evolution. Evolution was Darwin's way to support his atheist views, and to discredit God's wonderful work of creation. Evolution mocks God and his existence. It’s like an artist who painted a picture and told us how he painted it. To then come along and say "I don't agree with how you say it happened. You were just writing a poem, and I think the painting formed and changed over the billions of years." It also mocks us as being made in His image. Did He evolve too? I was so excited to be Catholic, and though it was really hard to understand some teachings, I was able to embrace them. I told people I was becoming Catholic, even in the face being of ridiculed, mocked, etc. My heart is deeply saddened. I know the Church is seeking the truth. They have made Mary's Assumption dogma, and I am fine with that. Why can't they make creation dogma for Elohim who made the heavens and the earth, the animals, and lastly man in His Image? It is mockery of God to deny His majestic work of creation. Now to make things worse, my husband and my children are all excited about becoming Catholic, and I can no longer do so (until I can reconcile these opposing viewpoints). I wish the pope would just state that the Bible is true, that God created the heavens and the earth, and man did not evolve because God made Him in his image. How can one even call themselves a Christian, and deny the creation account? I am deeply saddened. I love the Catholic church, but I can't join and lie by saying I agree with everything they teach.

I understand that some Protestants and Catholics embrace theistic evolution. I don't know if I could join a church that denied the creation account laid forth in Genesis. Please enlighten me on what exactly does the Church teach on creation. Since the Church only teaches ex cathedra on faith and morals, is it possible they could err in their teaching on science? Saying both sides believe in theistic evolution, doesn't help explain what the Church teaches. I am wanting to join the Catholic Church but have this stumbling block in my way.

The Church has not denied the notion of God as Creator at all. It is Catholic dogma.

How He created is a different matter. Our true enemies are those who deny that God created and that He is involved in the natural world at all (or those who deny that He exists at all), not those who believe that He used evolution as the means to create.

The Church teaches that God created, that there was a primal human pair, Adam and Eve, and that they fell, and the human race fell in and with them. If that is denied, original sin would go with it. Theological liberals believe that, but not the Catholic Church. We teach that the fall was real and literal. We are also required to believe that God creates a human soul at conception: an act of special creation that cannot be measured by science, since it is not dealing with matter.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church treats the question of creation extensively (#279-314).

Anyone is perfectly free to believe in creationism and be a Catholic. No one is required to believe in evolution. All of that involves scientific questions beyond the purview of the Church (dogmas have to do with faith and morals).

I reiterate in the strongest terms that our true enemy is the materialistic atheist view. Evolution is not synonymous with that. We need to get beyond the merely emotional reaction against evolution. Argue against it from science (I do myself, by citing Intelligent Design), but not strictly an emotional plane. This need not be any stumbling block to being a Catholic. It's not a question of denying the Genesis accounts, but of how to properly interpret them. The language has a latitude that doesn't require, e.g., believing that "day" (Hebrew, yom) has to mean 24 hours. It does not. We need to watch that we are not importing Protestant fundamentalist dogmas into Catholicism.

One Catholic apologist, Robert Sungenis, has arguably done that, by insisting that geocentrism is true (the entire universe rotates around the earth). Not only that; he also thinks that the earth doesn't rotate. 99.999% of scientists would reject such notions, but because he is interpreting the Bible hyper-literally in places that do not require that at all, he arrives at such questionable conclusions. It's a faulty method of Bible interpretation that has led him to this.

* * * * *

By the way, Charles Darwin was definitely not an atheist at the time he wrote On the Origin of Species in 1859. It is thought that he increasingly lost faith later on, but the work that had such influence was already written, and it was not from an atheist perspective (at least if we take his words at face value). This is easily seen in his mentions of a "Creator" in the book. For example, from Chapter Six: "Difficulties of the Theory":

    He who believes in separate and innumerable acts of creation may say, that in these cases it has pleased the Creator to cause a being of one type to take the place of one belonging to another type; . . .

    Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man?

    . . . may we not believe that a living optical instrument might thus be formed as superior to one of glass, as the works of the Creator are to those of man?

In Chapter 15: "Recapitulation and Conclusion," he writes:

    Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual.

The very last sentence of the book, in the same chapter, mentions God as Creator:

    There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

The Wikipedia article, "Charles Darwin's Views on Religion" is instructive:

    On the Origin of Species reflects theological views. Though he thought of religion as a tribal survival strategy, Darwin still believed that God was the ultimate lawgiver, and later recollected that at the time he was convinced of the existence of God as a First Cause and deserved to be called a theist. This view subsequently fluctuated, and he continued to explore conscientious doubts, without forming fixed opinions on certain religious matters. . . . Though reticent about his religious views, in 1879 he responded that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God, and that generally "an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind." . . .

    There was close correspondence between Darwin and his American collaborator Asa Gray, a devout Presbyterian who discussed with him the relationship of natural selection to natural theology and published several reviews arguing in detail that they were fully compatible. Darwin financed a pamphlet publishing a collection of these reviews for distribution in Britain. In one 1860 letter to Gray, Darwin expressed his doubts about the teleological argument which claimed nature as evidence of god, though he was still inclined to vaguely believe in an impersonal God as first cause:

    With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me.— I am bewildered.– I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I (should) wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonid√¶ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & especially the nature of man, & to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.— Let each man hope & believe what he can.

    In his autobiography written in 1876 he recalled that at the time of writing the On the Origin of Species the conclusion was strong in his mind of the existence of God due to "the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist." . . .

    In a letter to a correspondent at the University of Utrecht in 1873, Darwin expressed agnosticism:

    I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause, the mind still craves to know whence it came from and how it arose. Nor can I overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the world. I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to me to be that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man's intellect; but man can do his duty. . . .

    In November 1878 when George Romanes presented his new book refuting theism, "A Candid Examination of Theism" by "Physicus", Darwin read it with "very great interest", but was unconvinced, pointing out that its arguments did not rule out God creating matter and energy at the beginning of the universe, with a propensity to evolve. If theism were true, "reason might not be the only instrument for ascertaining its truth".

    In 1879 a letter came asking if he believed in God, and if theism and evolution were compatible. He replied that a man "can be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist", citing Charles Kingsley and Asa Gray as examples, and for himself, he had "never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God". He added that "I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be a more correct description of my state of mind."

    Those opposing religion often took Darwin as their inspiration and expected his support for their cause, a role he firmly refused.

The article contains several footnotes to corroborating sources.

So sure, the record is quite mixed and ambiguous, but it seems clear at least that Darwin was not a flaming atheist. He was inclined to a vague theism (certainly not trinitarian Christianity) but was ultimately agnostic as to the absolute proof of the existence of God. That's still quite different from a hostile atheist position, though it is quite arguable that he was inclined in that direction, especially in later years. As usual, the truth is far more interesting and stranger than the myths that surround influential figures like Darwin.


bob said...

I would bet, if Darwin was alive today, he would be more willing to speak out against religious insanity (including the weirdo Catholic religion), because he would be disgusted with today's Christians, who despite mountains of evidence for evolution, still deny this extremely important scientific fact.

bob said...

How He created is a different matter. Our true enemies are those who deny that God created and that He is involved in the natural world at all (or those who deny that He exists at all), not those who believe that He used evolution as the means to create.

It used evolution?

Wow. Did it (your magic god fairy) also use gravity?

This is why religious stupidity needs to be stamped out. The Bible thumpers (including Catholics) just can't seem to separate their childish beliefs from science.

Giovanni A. Cattaneo said...

Bob you are just funny to us.

Dave Armstrong said...

Yep, I'm for stamping out all stupidity, just as you are: including atheist stupidities, endless implausibilities, and inanities.

Randy said...

Perhaps it would be good to point this person to the theology of the body or some other works that reflect on the first 3 chapters of Genesis. It would show just how much it does teach us about where we came from and where good and evil came from. For me, it was important to understand that Catholics were not ignoring those passages or trying to explain them away. They were mining every truth they could out of them. They just didn't happen to be scientific truths.

Paul Hoffer said...

Dear "bob":

G.K. Chesterton wrote in his magnus opus, "The Everlasting Man:

"On the assumption of that evolutionary connection (a connection which I am not in the least concerned to deny), the really arresting and remarkable fact is the comparative absence of any such remains recording that connection at that point. The sincerity of Darwin really admitted this; and that is how we came to use such a term as the Missing Link. But the dogmatism of Darwinian has been too strong for agnosticism of Darwin; and men have fallen into turning this entirely negative term into a positive image. They talk of searching for the habits and habitat of the Missing Link; as if one were to talk of being on friendly terms with the gap in a narrative or the hole in an argument, of taking a walk with a nonsequitur or dining with an undistributed middle. In this sketch, therefore, of man in his relation to certain religious and historical problems, I shall waste no further space on these speculations on the nature of man before he became man. His body may have been evolved from the brutes; but we know nothing of any such transition that throws the smallest light upon his soul as it has shown itself in history."

And "bob," that is the real crux of the matter ... . It is not Christians who have a problem with science. It is the so-called "bobs" of science who always seem to have a problem with Christianity. I hesitate to use "men of science" in your case because hurling insults behind the veil of anonymity is in my mind anecdotal evidence tending to disprove Darwinian evolution as it is suggestive that you have evolved from something like a nematode (that is spineless) as opposed to something from the phylum Chordata.

By the way, which version of evolution do you adhere to since your comments seem to exclude any theistic theories? Darwinism? Landmarckism or Neo-Landmarckism? orthogenesism? Saltationism? Can you point us all to some sort of of infallible corpi of scientific knowledge to which all scientists ascribe that demonstrates with 100% certainity the veracity of your as yet unspecified view?

Frankly, I think that the objective "scientific fact" that there is no consensus in the scientific community (if there is actually such a thing)as to the whole notion and premises of evolution demonstrates why evolutionary theories are just that---merely theories and not "scientific facts."

Anyways, I will pray that you grow backbone sometime soon and be man enough to actually engage in meaningful discussion rather than childish insults.

God bless!

Will said...

I think this question is one that must be asked not of evolution, but of scientific thought in general. To quote Carl Sagan: "what is there in the tenants of science is there to prevent a scientist from doing evil?" An excellent question, however I have an answer: the good of the human race should drive us, nothing else. The question responding to this is equally excellent: Who is going to decide that? You? I refuse that distinction personally and, furthermore, I hesitate to say that men like Al Einstein or Steve Hawking deserve it more than Jesus of Nazereth or Mohandas Ghandi. What I do know is that someday, maybe 10k years into the future, maybe tomorrow as some creationists believe, we will have a reckoning and will be able to look back over all human history and tell with mathematical precision what was good for us and what was bad. I don't presume to know anything concrete about this reckoning, but I am confident in an ability to make pretty good educated guesses. I can see that putting unshakeable faith in the written word, no matter what they are or what they purport to say, they are devilishly slippery tools, perhaps the most tricky ones we've ever devised. It seems to me that such insistence on examples of those tools put into use 2k years ago is very bad for the race. I question the veracity of those words before I question what my own eyes see when I take a good enough look around.

A hypothetical example: imagine discovering a huge asteroid was heading for earth, maybe its not an asteroid but a small planetoid the size of our moon. An object that huge would be a mixed blessing for it would, first of all, be plenty large enough to destroy the entire planet, lock, stock, and barrel. That means the extinguishing of all life. I'd like to point out that such a scenario is not mentioned at all in the bible. The reason it would be a mixed blessing is that if this phantom killer is actually that gargantuan, we would probably have several hundred years to do something about it, maybe more maybe less but a long time anyway. We could without a doubt do something, but our tool would be science. John of Patmos tells his followers to "be not afraid" he never says "do nothing to preserve yourselves and your families" Humans are expected to protect themselves as far as possible from the "trials and tribulations" God is expected to visit on us. To do otherwise is to commit suicide, which I will agree to the wall with any so-called "Bible-thumpers" is the most heinous act you can commit against the race.

Richard said...

The Catholic Church does not teach, as a matter of Dogma or Doctrine, that God created a literal Adam and Eve, one only couple as the origin of the human species or race. The Church teaches that "Adam and Eve" may or may not represent an original couple, for the expression may actually refer to a founding population of first humans. Through Her ordinary Magisterium, The Church teaches that the whole question about how many (2 or 2,000) humans originated the human species is more of a scientific biological question than a theological one. See "The Church's Confession of Faith: A Catholic Catechism for Adults" approved, per canon law, by the Holy See and published by Ignatius Press, 1987 p. 112. As far as I am aware, Pope Paul VI was the first Pope to recognize this line of reasoning as one way to understand the Meaning of the Expression "Adam and Eve." Respectfully submitted in Catholic solidarity, Richard

Dave Armstrong said...

It's not possible to start the human race with more than two, for this would affect the doctrine of original sin, which is dogma.

Pope Pius XII stated this; it isn't just my opinion:

"37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own."

(Humani Generis, 1950)

Catholics are required to give the teaching here their assent, according to principles laid down in the same document:

"19. Although these things seem well said, still they are not free from error. It is true that Popes generally leave theologians free in those matters which are disputed in various ways by men of very high authority in this field; but history teaches that many matters that formerly were open to discussion, no longer now admit of discussion.

20. Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me";[3] and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to Adam and Eve eight times, and ties in their rebellion to the fall of man at least three times (#399, 404, 417).

See also a post on my blog:

"Adam and Eve: Defense of Their Literal Existence as the Primal Human Couple, by Catholic Philosopher, Dr. Dennis Bonnette"

Dave Armstrong said...

What exactly did the book you cite, say? And what has Pope Paul VI written, that you think has relevance to this topic?

Richard said...

Concerning Pius XII (truly a great Pope), many noted theologians have pointed out how carefully Pope stated the problem concerning polygenism and original sin. The Pope DID NOT SAY that it is impossible to reconcile polygenism with the Dogma of original sin, but that as of 1950, he most seriously, noted that it was not at all apparent (did not appear) that they could be reconciled. We know that in 1950 The Pope was saying, in no uncertain terms that active PUBLIC speculation along these lines was not allowed. The were those, like Teilhard de Chardin, who were promoting the hypothesis that it was easy to solve this dilemma, or simply drop the Dogma of original sin all together. I will follow up with more detailed information soon. Richard

timothy said...

This comment is coming in a bit late but it is directed at Dave Armstrong. Have you every read "Genesis, Creation, and Early Man" by Fr. Seraphim Rose? Having studied the matter of Creation v. Evolution myself I can find no room for Darwinian Evolution, as an Orthodox Christian. Nor could I see any Catholic doing the same. Though there has been many scholars concede to this naturalistic philosophy the tradition of the Church Fathers do not allow for it. The compromise has its own roots in the antitheistic philosophy that arose during the later half of the Renesaunse and was a break, on the part of some, from a tradition that has its roots in the beginning. Fr. Rose does an excelent job in breaking this down. I have done some work in this area myself, when I did my thesis, focusing on the Torah/Pentateuch. I suggest you read Fr. Roses book and reconsider your position on this matter.

Dave Armstrong said...

As I stated in the paper:

"I am more of an agnostic on the whole question. I'm far more concerned, as an apologist, with atheism."

Dave Armstrong said...


zuma musa said...

Did Pope Benedict XVI provide any view of his support of evolutionary theory?

The following is the extract of the speech from Pope Benedict XVI when he had his dialogue with Fr Alberto at the church of St Justin Martyr on 24th July 2007:

I think you have just given us a precise description of a life in which God does not figure. At first sight, it seems as if we do not need God or indeed, that without God we would be freer and the world would be grander. But after a certain time, we see in our young people what happens when God disappears. As Nietzsche said: "The great light has been extinguished, the sun has been put out". Life is then a chance event. It becomes a thing that I must seek to do the best I can with and use life as though it were a thing that serves my own immediate, tangible and achievable happiness. But the big problem is that were God not to exist and were he not also the Creator of my life, life would actually be a mere cog in evolution, nothing more; it would have no meaning in itself. Instead, I must seek to give meaning to this component of being. Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called "creationism" and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE CREATOR WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO CONCEIVE OF EVOLUTION, and THOSE WHO INSTEAD SUPPORT EVOLUTION WOULD HAVE TO EXCLUDE GOD. This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, THE DOCTRINE OF EVOLUTION DOES NOT ANSWER EVERY QUERY, especially the great philosophical question: WHERE DOES EVERYTHING COME FROM? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance. This is what I wanted to say in my lecture at Regensburg: that reason should be more open, that it should indeed perceive these facts but also realize that THEY ARE NOT ENOUGH TO EXPLAIN ALL OF REALITY. THEY ARE INSUFFICIENT. Our reason is broader and can also see that our reason is not basically something irrational, a product of irrationality, but that reason, creative reason, precedes everything and we are truly the reflection of creative reason. We were thought of and desired; thus, there is an idea that preceded me, a feeling that preceded me, that I must discover, that I must follow, because it will at last give meaning to my life. This seems to me to be the first point: to discover that my being is truly reasonable, it was thought of, it has meaning. And my important mission is to discover this meaning, to live it and thereby contribute a new element to the great cosmic harmony conceived of by the Creator. If this is true, then difficulties also become moments of growth, of the process and progress of my very being, which has meaning from conception until the very last moment of life. We can get to know this reality of meaning that precedes all of us, we can also rediscover the meaning of pain and suffering; there is of course one form of suffering that we must avoid and must distance from the world: all the pointless suffering caused by dictatorships and erroneous systems, by hatred and by violence. However, in suffering there is also a profound meaning, and only if we can give meaning to pain and suffering can our life mature. ...

zuma musa said...

Comments upon the speech of Pope Benedict XVI as listed above and observe carefully those words that are placed in capital letters:

Despite Pope Benedict XVI did mention above that there are too many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality, he did not state clearly of his stand towards evolutionary theory since nothing is mentioned whether he had found favourably towards this theory.

As the phrase, those who believe in the creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, is mentioned in his speech above, it implies that those people that uphold the truth that God should be the Creator of this world could not be able to identify whether there could be any link between the doctrine of evolution and Creator. This is by virtue of those people that support creationism would perceive that God was the One that directly created everything instead of being treated as everything would be the work of evolution and that He just stood aside just to assist without directly creating it.

As the phrase, those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God, is mentioned above, it implies that those people that support evolutionary theory would turn up to exclude God in their process of formation of everything. This is certainly true in the sense that those people that support evolutionary theory would turn up to support that God has to be excluded to be direct creation of this world since their belief is based on the assumption that He only stood aside and to assist in the formation of the world without directly creating it. If God would turn up not to be directly creating everything, how could he then call Him to be the Creator as mentioned in his speech above? As Benedict XVI called God to be the Creator, He should have supported that God was the One that had created everything directly.

Despite Pope Benedict XIV mentioned that there are many scientific proofs for evolution, he did not mention that all these evidences could be useful to prove the creation of this world. As the phrase, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, is mentioned in his speech above, it implies that he did not support evolutionary theory could be a useful source to answer every query that would bring towards it. As the phrase, where does everything come from?, is mentioned in his speech above with the phrase, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, it implies that the doctrine of evolution could not provide a suitable reason how everything would come about, such as, Was God the One that directly created this world? How would God create this world? As the phrase, they are not enough to explain all of reality they are insufficient, is mentioned in his speech above, it gives an absolute conclusion that the doctrine of evolution should not be treated as reliable and sufficient source to prove how everything would come about. As the phrase, they are insufficient, is mentioned in his speech above pertaining to the doctrine of evolution, it implies that Paul Benedict XIV did not intend Christians to treat evolutionary theory to be useful source to tackle answer as where everything comes about or how everything could be formed in the beginning.

Nevertheless, Pope Benedict XIV did not mention that evolutionary theory could be useful to support how everything could be formed in the beginning, such as, How could human beings be formed? Was God directly created them? This is by virtue of evolutionary theory could not provide sufficient source to prove it.

Dave Armstrong said...

I haven't worked through all that. I think the fall is primarily about spiritual death, though: if we aren't redeemed by Christ, we will go to hell.