Thursday, July 07, 2005


Catholics: Evolutionary Theory Firmly Grounded in Fact

Christian fundamentalists and intelligent design proponents often act as though they speak for all Christians when they demand that Genesis or "the controversy" be taught in public school science classrooms.

The fact, however is that these biblical literalists don't speak for all people of faith, or even all Christians.

Here's an excerpt from an article in The Catholic Telegraph, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, that shows how Catholics are beginning to organize to counter the influence of evangelical Christians on science education.

"We like science. It teaches us how Creation began," said Dave Riley, OEC [Office of Evangelization and Catechesis --RSR] regional director. The bigger issue, he agrees, is what happens next.

As clear as that teaching is, David Byers, executive director of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Science and Human Values from 1984 to 2003, believes Catholic educators need to develop better teaching programs "to correct the anti-evolution biases that Catholics" are hearing, in light of community conflicts about creation and evolution popping up in the United States.

"The official church sees little danger in evolution," said Byers, in a bylined article in the Feb. 7 issue of America, a weekly magazine published in New York by the Jesuits. Citing a 1996 speech by Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Science and a 2004 document, "Communion and Stewardship," by the Vatican's International Theological Commission, Byers said the document "properly recognizes evolutionary theory as firmly grounded in fact."

But, he said, "our educational leadership has been very slow to correct the anti-evolution biases that Catholics pick up from prominent elements in contemporary culture."

Sermons and religious education materials, he said, "routinely describe Adam and Eve as if they were an essentially modern couple," although "it is reasonable to suppose that the first humans, whatever their stature in the eyes of God, looked and lived like other hominids of their time."


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