Vatican has problem with evolution only when it becomes an ideology

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin


Father Marc Leclerc, professor of Natural Philosophy at the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome, explained in a recent article for L’Osservatore Romano that there is no problem with the theory of evolution.  The problem, he said, lies in the ideology that is created as part of the theory.

In his article, the Jesuit priest said that in the past, and much more so in the present, “many, whether they are fans and foes of Darwin, have confused his scientific theory of evolution—which should be discussed at a scientific level by competent persons—with the reduction of it to an ideological system, a vision of the world that forcibly falls upon on all men.”

Father Leclerc underscored that “as then Cardinal Ratzinger rightly wrote, the controversy has not come from the theory of evolution as such, but from the turning some of its elements into a universal philosophy, in order to explain all of reality’.”

Darwin, he noted, “applied his theory of natural selection to how our species emerged, but not to the functioning of current human societies, underscoring instead as a beneficial aspect for the species the acquisition of moral and religious faculties that lead man to protect the weakest, contrary to the absurd pretentions of social Darwinism.”

“Evolution and creation pose no opposition to each other, but rather they show themselves to be complementary,” the priest added.

He went on to say, “Reflection on the place of man in evolution and in creation” is of particular importance. Man, as a living being, can find his own place in the evolution of species which, when read post factum, had prepared for his coming for a long time. But man cannot reduce himself to a pure product of the evolution of species without contradictions: in other words, man is not reducible to mere animality.”

“Good philosophical criticism shows that man can justify the first beginnings of his knowledge,” Father Leclerc argued. “The human being has a capacity for reflection, self-knowledge, and freedom that necessarily transcends pure animality and cannot be simply the product of evolution,” he added.

“As Catholic theology rightly affirms,” he continued, “each human person is the object of a singular creative act by God, who also inserts himself naturally in the homo sapiens species, and appears at the end as the culmination of an immense evolutionary process about which some secrets are now being discovered.”

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