Monday 7 November 2005

Pope John Paul II: God and evolution

While we’re on the topic of the Vatican and science: In 1996 Pope John Paul II presented an address entitled “Evolution and the Living God” to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. (The paper is reprinted in Science and Theology: The New Consonance ed. Ted Peters, pp. 149-52.)

The Pope affirmed that “evolution is more than a hypothesis,” and that “this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge.” He went on to say that the church “is directly concerned with the question of evolution, for it involves the conception of humanity: Revelation teaches us that humanity was created in the image and likeness of God.” This means, the Pope said, that there is an “ontological difference” or “ontological discontinuity” between human beings and other creatures.

The Pope concluded his address by affirming that the gospel “can shed a higher light on the horizon of research into the origins and unfolding of living matter.” For the Bible “bears an extraordinary message of life.” Above all, life “is one of the most beautiful titles which the Bible attributes to God. He is the living God.”

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