Official: Bible and Darwin Could Both Be Right

Vatican Plans Conference to Study Evolution Theory

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- There is no a priori incompatibility between the Bible and Darwin's theory of evolution, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, also president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, affirmed this Tuesday when he presented an upcoming international conference that will gather theologians and scientists to discuss Charles Darwin's theory.

The March 3-7 conference, to be held in Rome, marks 150 years since Darwin publicized his findings in "Origin of Species."

The conference is organized as part of the Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest project, a venture sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame are also sponsoring the event.

According to Archbishop Ravasi, the congress aims to establish dialogue between philosophy, theology and science.

Theologians, philosophers and scientists move in "different terrains," he said. What is important "is that the line of demarcation not be turned into a 'Wall of China' or an 'Iron Curtain,' which looks upon the other with contempt. [...] The distinction is not separation. The distinction is necessary.

"Hence, an act of humility is also necessary on the part of the theologians who must listen and learn; on the other hand, the arrogance of some scientists must be overcome, [people] who slap those who have faith, and regard faith and theology as a heritage of a Paleolithic intellectual."

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a professor at the Gregorian University, added that "the debate on the theory of evolution is ever more heated, both in the Christian as well as in the strictly evolutionist realm."

Explaining the motives that led to convoking the congress, the Jesuit priest said, "We think it is our duty to try to clarify some points, given that Christian scientists, philosophers and theologians are directly involved in the debate, along with colleagues of other confessions or those who have no confession."

The conference is an attempt to have "an ample exchange of opinions from the rational point of view, to foster fruitful dialogue between experts of different areas," Father Leclerc added. "The Church is profoundly interested in this dialogue, fully respecting each one's field."