Evolution and Creation Are Not Foes, Says Priest

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- As Benedict XVI begins a three-day symposium with his former students on creation and evolution, a philosophy professor in Rome says that the two theories are compatible.



The Pope's meeting, Sept. 1-3, is an annual one that the Holy Father has had with his doctoral candidates and former students for some 25 years, addressing various topics. This is the second one held at Castel Gandolfo.

Father Rafael Pascual, dean of philosophy at the Regina Apostolorum university, told ZENIT that "creation and evolution integrate one another, and do not exclude each other."

Father Pascual, who is also the director of the masters on science and faith, is the author of "L' evoluzione: Crocevia di Scienza, Filosofia e Teologia" (The Crossroads Evolution of Science, Philosophy and Theology) published in Italian by Studium publishers.

The volume is a collection of the minutes of an international congress on the topic held in Rome in 2002.

Father Pascual said that "the debate on evolution is open. A distinction must be made between the different levels: scientific-philosophical-theological, without confusing them or separating them completely."

In regard to the debate on intelligent design, Father Pascual pointed out that "it isn't a scientific question, but rather a philosophical one."

"But neither is the negation of finality, or recourse to pure chance and to necessity, scientific," that is why "it seems to be a mistake to present intelligent design as an alternative scientific theory to the theory of evolution," he said.

A theory

Asked if the theory of evolution should be taught in schools, Father Pascual replied "yes, but as scientific theory, with the arguments in favor but also recognizing the limits and still unresolved problems, and not as an ideology, as a kind of absolute, definitive and indisputable dogma."

He continued, "Whereas creationism and evolutionism are incompatible in themselves, this is not so of creation and evolution, which are, instead, on two different levels, and are compatible."

The dean of philosophy cited the book "Creation and Sin," written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, which states: "We cannot say: creation or evolution. The exact formula is creation and evolution, because both respond to two different questions.

"The story of the dust of the earth and the breath of God does not tell us how man originated. It tells us what he is.

"It talks about his most profound origin, it illustrates the plan that is behind him. Vice versa, the theory of evolution attempts to specify and describe biological processes.

"It does not succeed in explaining, however, the origin of the 'project' man, his interior derivation and his essence. Therefore, we are before two questions that integrate one another but do not exclude each other."

Father Pascual said that "we must distinguish between theory -- or theories -- of evolution and Darwinism, and then, within Darwinism itself, between the elements of a scientific character and those of a philosophical or ideological nature."