virus: The pope and Darwin

David McFadzean (
Tue, 29 Oct 1996 10:02:47 -0600

Forwarded from the darwin-l mailing list....

>The london times internet edition - available via
>Oct 25. In World news tells us that (note the name of the reporter!?!);
>Pope places some faith in Darwin's theory of evolution
>THE Pope risked the wrath of the religious Right yesterday by declaring
>that Darwin's theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith. In a
>message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which advises the Vatican on
>scientific matters, the Pope said the theory of natural selection was "more
>than just a hypothesis".
>The Pope, who appears fully recovered from his appendix operation two weeks
>ago, was responding to requests for clarification from the 80-member
>Academy, which is holding its 60th anniversary meeting on "Evolution And
>The Origins Of Life".
>Darwin's theories, as formulated in Origin Of Species By Natural Selection
>and The Descent Of Man led to bitter controversy in the late 19th century,
>with leading churchmen denouncing them as incompatible with the account
>given in Genesis.
>Pope Pius XII broached the subject in 1950 in his encyclical Humani
>Generis, indicating that the Church should not reject Darwin's "serious
>hypothesis" out of hand. But he said that it could be misused by Communist
>"dialectical materialists" whose aim was "to remove any notion of God from
>people's minds".
>Pope John Paul II went further than Pius XII yesterday, saying: "It is
>noteworthy that the theory of evolution has progressively taken root in the
>minds of researchers following a series of discoveries in different
>He added: "The convergence, neither sought nor provoked, of results of
>studies undertaken independently from each other in itself constitutes a
>significant argument in favour of the theory [of evolution]."
>The Pope appeared to side step the vexed theological question of whether,
>if the theory of evolution from apes and Australopithecus afarensis through
>Neanderthal man to Homo sapiens is correct, creatures before modern man had
>But he said that, whatever man's origins, his soul was a divine creation,
>declaring: "If the human body has its origin in pre-existing living matter,
>the spiritual soul is immediately created by God." No theory was acceptable
>which held that the spirit emerged from "the forces of living material".
>Marghareta Hack, a leading Italian astronomer, said the pronouncement was
>an important step "because for the first time the Church is accepting
>evolution as a proven fact".
>Francesco Barone, a scientific philosopher, told Il Messaggero that, after
>Galileo's rehabilitation, acceptance of evolutionary theory was the latest
>in a series of steps which were "mending the tears" in the Church's
>relationship with science.
>Opposition to Darwinism remains staunch in the American Bible Belt.
> Jeremy C. Ahouse
> Biology Department
> Brandeis University
> Waltham, MA 02254-9110
>ph: (617) 736-4954
>fax: (617) 736-2405

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus