Catholics, Evolution, and the Soul

Disappointing statistics about American Catholics…

“One way of dealing with the dissonance is simply to ignore or even deny the science. The influence of Evangelical churches that embrace creationism has clearly had an impact on Catholics, particularly in the United States. The last Pew survey (2013) showed that 26 percent of white U.S. Catholics do not believe that humans evolved over time. For U.S. Hispanic Catholics the number was even higher—31 percent.”

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Concluding thoughts from the article:

“But there remains the nagging question of the soul’s special creation. In 1996, Pope John Paul II expanded upon Pius’s earlier assertions on the soul, and he added his own view that the emergence of the human being, endowed with a soul directly created by God, amounted to an “ontological leap” in the history of evolution, one that could not be uncovered or located by science.”

Can the special creation of the soul be integrated into an evolutionary understanding of our emergence as a species?"

“As it happens, perhaps the best answer to this question was provided by the man who would succeed John Paul II as pope. Back in 1973, Josef Ratzinger was pondering the question of the soul as it related to evolution, and his solution is as startling as it is simple.”

“Ratzinger looked back to Teilhard’s observation that the history of matter is best understood as the prehistory of the spirit, a spirit that emerged when man spoke out for the first time to recognize the Thou beyond himself and beyond the world. “If creation means dependence of being, then special creation is nothing other than special dependence of being,” Ratzinger wrote in his book Dogma and Preaching…”

"From this vantage point, one can immediately see that an adam emerged in history at that moment when a human being was first capable of forming, however dimly, the thought “God.” As Ratzinger writes, “The first ‘thou’ that—however stammering—was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed.” If this is true, then the theory of evolution neither invalidates nor corroborates faith. But, as Ratzinger acknowledges, “it does challenge faith to understand itself more profoundly and thus to help man to understand himself and to become increasingly what he is: the being who is supposed to say ‘thou’ to God in eternity.”