Busted Halo
November 13th, 2008

Is Evolution Making a Monkey out of the Catholic Church?


Father George Coyne, SJ, former director of the Vatican Observatory, talks with host Mike Hayes about the Catholic Church’s official view on evolution with regards to scientific theories and religious interpretations of the origin of the world. As part of our ongoing series “Googling God: Resources for the Spiritual Seeker,” Fr. Coyne covers topics like:

  • Is intelligent design science?
  • Can a Catholic believe in evolution?
  • Are the stories of scripture scientifically based?
  • What does science say about our religious beliefs?
The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • zuma

    What did Pope Pius IX want Christians to do towards those fellow Christians that support all things were the divine work from God through evolution?
    The following is the extract from Catholics and Evolution, wiki:
    On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, during the papacy of Pope Pius IX, who defined dogmatically papal infallibility during the First Vatican Council in 1869–70…..
    On God the Creator, the Vatican Council was very clear. The definitions preceding the “anathema” (as a technical term of Catholic theology, let him be “cut off” or excommunicated, cf. Galatians 1:6–9; Titus 3:10–11; Matthew 18:15–17) signify an infallible doctrine of the Catholic Faith (De Fide):
    1. On God the creator of all things
    1. …..
    2. …..
    3. …..
    4. IF ANYONE SAYS THAT that finite things, both corporal and spiritual, or at any rate, spiritual, emanated from THE DIVINE SUBSTANCE; or that the divine essence, BY the manifestation and EVOLUTION of itself BECOMES ALL THINGS or, finally, that God is a universal or indefinite being which by self-determination establishes the totality of things distinct in genera, species and individuals: LET HIM BE ANATHEMA.
    5. …..
    Comment upon the speech from Pope Pius IX as listed above and observe carefully those letters that are in capital letters.
    As the phrase, If anyone says that…the divine substance (could be God)…by…evolution of itself becomes all things…let him be anathema, is mentioned in his speech above, it seems to be that he discouraged Christians to have faith in evolution. The phrase, finite things…spiritual…the divine substance, as mentioned in his speech, could refer to God in which Christians support the divine work of God in evolution. Thus, the phrase, the divine substance…by…evolution…becomes all things, could be interpreted as these Christians should have supported that God by evolution that becomes all things. What did he mention about these people? Let him be anathema. Excommunicate!

  • mad max

    paul – did you even watch this video? evolution doesn’t undermine the existence of God at all. it’s completely possible (and absolutely reasonable) to believe whole-heartedly in God with body, mind and soul AND to give credence to scientific theories of evolution. it’s disturbing, this fact you point out, about the growing body of Catholics who question evolution – because you’re talking about a people of faith who question knowledge and a logical assessment of reason. and unfortunately the church (“in her wisdom”) compels the flock to believe a number of other misleading and wrong things: gay marriage is bad, women aren’t worthy of being priests, a magical wealthy man in rome with a funny hat is our leader…

  • Paul

    Evolution does not challenge the existence of God, but I believe it may undermine Catholic doctrine. I also have not come accross any scientific fact to support macro evolution. Thankfully, I believe there is a growing body of Catholics who question evolution, and the church in her wisdom does not compell her flock to believe in this theory.

  • Simon

    Matt, John, & Present, can you religious fanatics not step back and see how ludicrous your medieval belief systems are?

  • Matt

    What kind of god would use the death and suffering of billions of years worth of animals to “form” what we see today billions of years before the fall of man? All of this in a world that the God of the Bible said was “very good.” The Bible says that death entered into the world because of man’s sin and is the punishment for it, it is a curse, not a tool used to create the world.

  • John

    I am embarrassed by this video and of the catholic church teaching on this subject. I am a practicing catholic and I have faith in the Word ( Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior )
    Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7* ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, * 8 and the two shall become one.’

    Jesus believed Adam and Eve were from the beginning.

    • Mike Hayes

      This is fundamentalism not Catholicsim

  • I AM HE

    The light on first day came from GOD. I am light, in me there is no darkness.

  • Claire Noonan

    Folks interested in this topic who live in the Chicago area might want to join the conversation at Dominican University. We’re looking at “Evolution and the Human Spirit” all year. The programs are free and open to everyone. Here’s the web address for more information http://albertusmagnussociety.dom.edu

  • Houston girl

    Great video!!! I am currently going thought the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) because I want to be baptized and receive the sacraments to become a full catholic. Mine is a 10 month process that teaches people who went to enter the church or just catholic who want to learn more all about the Catholic faith. I was very surprised when I learned that Catholics are not fundamentalist and they do not take the bible literally or as fact. It is alright to believe that God used evolution as his means to create the universe and humans. As a person who has studied evolution through my years of school I was very glad to hear this, because I believe in creation and evolution. Catholics believe that God is our creator, but no one can say how exactly he created everything.

  • ruah

    This video is excellent! It summarizes Catholic teaching and puts things into perspective. Helpful for those who are confused. I’ve used it with high school students.
    The comment calling Father Coyne a false prophet is either not a Catholic or a poorly informed one. Everything on the video is in accordance with Catholic teaching, while what the person who commented says is not. He seems to be influenced by fundamentalist preachers or writings. Thank you for having this video and others here. More please!!

  • present the other side of the argument!

    this priest is a false prophet. he is cursing in the video!!! he is obviously not a righteous man. he has been deceived!

    If you believe in evolution, answer this question. how did we get a soul if we just evolved from slime? The possibility that evolution exists is a 1 in 1 chance with 40,000 zeros behind it. that is like a tornado going through a junkyard full of airplane parts and forming a boeing 747 ready for service.

    Why don’t you actually present the SCIENTIFIC research behind NOT believing in evolution. There is actual research and scientific proof that evolution does not exist. THAT would be an amazing video for people to see and so instead of constantly being presented with only ONE side of the science, they can be presented with the other side of the science and actually have a choice to come up with a decision.

    remember it is still a THEORY of evolution. it has not been proven correct or infallible.

    if God was a “his or her” then why would Jesus call him the Father? and say My Father in Heaven???

  • DC

    Great video. As university student with a technical understanding of evolutionary theory, this really presents the “polarizing” issues of evolution and religious faith as they ought to be– as related, but unopposed. I’m proud to be part of a Church that actively pursues knowledge.

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